Archive | December, 2013

2013 Year End List

10 Dec

2013’s Year End List in random order of course

1.Iceage-You’re Nothing

Iggy Pop himself says the only band that sounds dangerous right now is Iceage. He is absolutely correct. They certainly don’t look dangerous, but their minds are in some weird plane, which leads to odd playing and fantastically dark noisy sections. Few songs were as captivating as the closing track and symbolize the dischord of modern times better than You’re Nothing.

2. Jagwar Ma-Howlin

I’ll argue Jagwar Ma is the band I have the highest hopes for on the list. They have the most potential to do such a wide variety of things. As much as I enjoy the acid-house electronic, rock feel of this album, I can’t help thinking about what cool thing the band might do next, whether it’s a new album, remixes, or even just guest appearances.  That’s a testament to how good the album is.

3.  Savages- Silence Yourself

I’ve certainly talked about them more than any other band of the year. Has a sensational balance of great songs on both sides of their record. Loud, in your face, buzzing post punk just happens to be something that I really like, so it seems a no brainer that this band and album are great.

4. Kanye West-Yeezus

No mainstream hip-hop albums have sounded like this. The only hip-hop that really sounds like it is Dalek or Death Grips. Even still they never knew how to organize, produce, overproduce, reduce like Kanye.  It’s probably the only album of the year that provoked such a varied reaction and became the one album that was defended, recommended, or reviled by music fans.

5. Speedy Ortiz-Major Arcana

I like Sadie Dupuis and her lyrics. Has as good an opening 3 songs as any album this year.  Sounds like one of the best grunge records in 1993.

6. My Bloody Valentine- MBV

There’s a new MBV album and it ADDS to their legacy? It turned out to be true and it is as listenable, deep and rock out as a shoegaze album can be.

7. Boards of Canada- Tomorrow’s Harvest

Boards of Canada made a new album…do we really have to explain why its on here? Actually since Campfire Headphase was so disappointing, I wondered if long form albums played to BOC’s strengths. Turns out they do. There’s still some magic left in those synths. In fact the moody electro scapes of this one rank amongst their best, if not their most consistent full-length album.

8. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories

I like that they made the dance record they should’ve made in 2004 in 2013.(Because realistically Human After All was the most heartbreaking follow up since Air’s 10,000 Hertz at the time.) The slow burn italo they do so well on RAM would’ve gotten them an insane amount of street AND club cred at that point, but in 2013 it is out of step with every single dance trend going. That’s a good thing and they produced the hell out of it so it sounds like a great lost time capsule we dug up from outside Danceteria.

9.Camera Obscura-Desire Lines

Their 5th great album in a row(fulfilling the great critic, Steven Hyden’s fascinating theory in the process) something even their excellent twee predecessors Belle and Sebastian haven’t done.  Maybe more of a mid 80’s sophistipop version of twee, which ends up serving as a bigger stage and production for Tracyanne Campbell’s melancholy.  As much as I like this one, it doesn’t move me as strongly as their previous recordings have.  It makes my year list, because good Camera Obscura is better than most bands’ best days.

10. Disclosure-Settle

They certainly didn’t reinvent the wheel as much as they found a spare. Grabs from the good school of dance(house, acid-house, dnb) as opposed the awful school(EDM) and includes the best survey of British singer vocals/samples(nouveau heavy hitters like Aluna Francis, Lianne La Havas, and Jessie Ware) we’ve seen since Mark Ronson put out Version a few years back.

11. Mazzy Star-Seasons of the Day- It’s the fourth Mazzy Star album you always wanted.  If you didn’t like them before it won’t sell you. If you like Beach House, but don’t own any Mazzy Star, you can just as well start with this one. Dream pop’s best band.

Favorite local record-Mirror Travel-Mexico.

I really liked them when they were Follow That Bird. I could never understand why the name change until I actually heard this. They sound like a very different band.  Still kinda surfey, still kinda noisey, but with more maturity and occasional wisfulness.  They remind me of a moodier version of Bleached.

Most disappointing album of the year- Those Darlins-Blur The Line

I love Those Darlins, I don’t love this album. It certainly is an ok release. However, they took away all the cool things that made them sound like a Southern version of The Runaways!  Jessie Zazu still reminds me of Joan Jett’s adorable brattier Southern cousin and she definitely brings the sass and charm. But, where are the cool sneering glam rock guitars? Where are the big Southern power riffs? Where’s all the rhythm and swagger? I have no idea where all the things that worked so well on Screws Get Loose, went on this album…Even worse it strips away much of the witty countrified romps that made their first self titled album a good listen. This band still has me as a fan, but this one left me as disappointed as any record this year.

Most unnecessary album of the year(tie)- Fall Out Boy/Black Flag

Fallout Boy-Save Rock and Roll

If you ever claim a Fallout Boy album is good or on your top 10 list as a critic, your critic card must be revoked.

Black Flag-What the

I don’t need to listen to it. “Black Flag” without Morris/Rollins/Robo/Dukowski involved at all isn’t really Black Flag.  Just go listen to Off’s newest record instead.

Best live gig-Savages- The Parish

They played so well live that is has actually affected my view on the record. And makes me wonder why there isn’t just a really awesome live version of it out. It was a masterclass in an hour of post-punk rock and roll.

Random songs I liked this year(from bands who don’t have albums on the list)-

Haim-Falling(only because Don’t Save Me was on my list last year)-Great bass line, those super produced drums, and hopefully a replacement for the array of bad pop jams clogging the airwaves. Don’t Save Me is still probably their best song though.

A$AP Ferg-Shabba- 8 gold Chainz like I’m Sha Shabba Ranks is as memorable a chorus as there has been this year.(The video = even better)

Chelsea Light Moving-Lip-Thurston Moore making what essentially a great noisy skate video jam.

Quadron-Favorite Star-Did R&B better than anything Weeknd/Janelle Monae did.

The Knife-Full of Fire-The whole album is uneven, but this song is brilliant and unhinged. Karin Dreijer hasn’t been this passionate vocally since her days in Honey is Cool. The beat and progression of it all is just totally jank as well. That’s probably why it made for great dance music.

Awkwafina NYC Bitches-No one’s keepin it more real than Awk. Someone’s gotta give voice to native New Yorkers, why not an Asian rapper from Queens who is developing a pretty good flow.

Diana-Strange Attraction-I tend to be fairly bored with 80s revivalism(because seriously bands have been making those records longer than the original decade). I do like the heavier Depeche Mode esque of production of this song though which mixes well with the Canadian new wave melody.

Wild Belle- Shine- I feel like Wild Belle’s whole album does have great songs that I probably won’t play very often, but every time it will sneak up on me and I will remember “This band is really good, why don’t I listen to them more.” Which makes them 2013’s answer to Love is All.

J.Cole-Let Nas Down-I like his album simply because it hits a frenzied horn loop that makes for a really good 90s East Coast vibe that = really listenable. This is still probably the best song on probably the pop-rap record of the year.

Major Lazer-Bubblebutt/Get Free-The video gets it a mention…the song is kind of terrible. However if Get Free doesn’t count on last year’s songs then downloading the reggae greatness of that one is a must. Get Free is a brilliant song.

And here is a twitter link to the spotify playlist with some of these great songs.(since it’s a pain to link to spotify via a direct link.)