Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favorite Albums of 2013: HONORABLE MENTIONS

Oranssi Pazuzu, Valonielu [black metal sorta, 20 Buck Spin]

Oranssi is Finnish for “orange” and Pazuzu is a Babylonian demon king, a thing from Futurama, and also the super creepy demon guy from The Exorcist that haunted my childhood. Not linking to that because its spooky.

Lycus, Tempest [metal/funeral doom, 20 Buck Spin]

Slow mostly but also sometimes fast. Grade A funeral doom. Cool album artwork by Paolo Girardi.

Power Trip, Manifest Decimation [thrash metal, Southern Lord]


Nails, Abandon All Life [hardcore/powerviolence, Southern Lord]

So fucking heavy. I feel that powerviolence has been benefiting lately from vastly improved production work.

Portal, Vexovoid [black/death metal, Profound Lore]

Also heavy. And Australian.

Pinkish Black, Razed to the Ground [metal/experimental, Century Media]

Very unique sounding metal record. Borrows from a wide range of genres.

Kvelertak, Meir [metal/hard rock, Roadrunner]

I liked it but more rocky than their last record, which I thought sounded better. Artwork once again done by John Baizley of Baroness.

Jai Paul, BTSTU/Jasmine [electronic/soul, XL]

Jai Paul is v mysterious. An album leaked but it was apparently not actually an album and all download links have been removed. The sheer strength of “BTSTU” is enough that not mentioning this album would be a crime. (don't fuck with me).

Raspberry Bulbs, Deformed Worship [punk/hardcore/crusty stuff, Blackest Ever Black]

Another unique sounding record. The album art reminds me of berries.

Milk Music, Cruise Your Illusion [Fat Possum]

Throwback to 90s acts such as Meat Puppets and Wipers. Which is one of my favorite time periods/scenes musically. Also throwback to like the 70s n shit, too. Perry got this album for Tom on Record Store Day and Tom was super pumped.

Drug Church, Paul Walker [punk/post-hardcore, No Sleep]

Only knew who Paul Walker was from this album. Literally never heard of him until he died. Thanks Obama.

Perfect Pussy, I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling EP [punk/indie, self-released]

Part of the Syracuse, NY scene I sometimes hear about. Sorta reminds me of a more lo-fi Japandroids fronted by a girl. The lead singer is wicked cool.

Oozing Wound, Retrash [thrash metal, Thrill Jockey]

Thrash again! Also psychedelic!

Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt [indie/emo, Don Giovanni]

Didn't totally fucking depress me as much as American Weekend did, but still this album made me very sad.

This mashup of “All the Small Things” and “Christmas Canon” featuring a ridiculous sentimental British video of confused looking flying children and magic.

Artists with probably good albums in 2013 I didn't listen to: Earl Sweatshirt, Death Grips, Burial, Pusha T, Julia Holter, The National, Boards of Canada, James Blake, Drake, Deafheaven, Danny Brown, Iron Chic, Iron Lung, All Pigs Must Die, LE1F

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Favorite Albums of 2013 (4 of 4)

Power, Bremerton Zoo [hardcore, Twelve Gauge]

Another record Perry always played in the room and in the car when we went to get groceries and such. We saw them play with Sabertooth Zombie and Verse in Pawtucket. The toilets at the venue were gross. There was a van outside that sold grilled cheese. I'm still sorta mad that I only had like ten bucks and they made me choose between buying merch and buying a grilled cheese (I chose grilled cheese) (but also I stole a sticker). There were a bunch of high school dicks in the pit throwing punches, which is why I ate my grilled cheese alone in the corner.

William Tyler, Impossible Truth [ambient/guitar, Merge]

Another contender for favorite album of 2013. Tyler is from Nashville but this album reminds me of the desert. But a pretty desert that doesn't totally suck to walk through. Parts of Nevada or Arizona maybe. A good ole American desert. It makes me nostalgic for the western-style ranch childhood I never had. “The Geography of Nowhere” is not only a good song but also a good book I bought because I thought the song was good.

Tim Hecker, Virgins [ambient/electronic, Kranky]

“Virgin” is one of the best insults to throw out when you are pretending to be a big stupid bro. I call all my friends at college “virgins” or sometimes “virgin perverts” when we are pretending to be big stupid bros. Bros are so anthropologically fascinating. This album aurally explores the concept of virginity. Innocence coupled with inevitable corruption. Bell-like keyboards and harps combine in harmony with harsh noise. One and the same. Tim Hecker sounds like a real fucking virgin pervert.

Bill Callahan, Dream River [indie/folk, Drag City]

Over the last year and a half Bill Callahan (aka Smog) has slowly become one of my favorite songwriters. I dozed off to him once in a Jersey shore beach house with Gingy, Ingrid, Hannah and Hannah's friend Molly, but that was a different album. This album is more of the same, in the best way possible. Simple chord progressions, dispassionate baritone, dark irony, etc. I read an interview with Callahan where he talked about having insomnia and wandering his hometown streets at like 4am. I do that sometimes, but not in NH because there are bears.

Forest Swords, Engravings [ambient/experimental, Tri Angle]

One time the night before my Sociology final I had insomnia and decided to wander campus for an hour or two while listening to this album on repeat on my iPod. I ended up in GHH and played Nintendo 3DS for an hour and watched the sunrise. Then I ate breakfast (s/o to waffles) and took a nap until my final. My professor was reading Morrissey's autobiography during our exam. I aced it.

Hoax, Hoax [hardcore, self-released]

If someone asked me what the punkest thing I listened to was, I'd probably say Hoax. Jesse Sanes hates himself for having the audacity to exist. He regularly makes a point of bleeding from his head during live shows. Google dat shit. Nihilistic brutality is directed at himself as much as it is directed at modern society (or whatever). A high point in Mass hardcore, though the band will probs break up next year. “Drive” has a ridiculous breakdown.

KEN Mode, Entrench [hardcore/metal, Season of Mist]

KEN Mode is one of those bands that combine heavy riffs, hardcore attitude and the right amount of melody in just the right way to make me want to punch and kick stuff and not feel wicked lame about it. “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick” is a good song but the name is bad and dumb.

Mammoth Grinder, Underworlds [metal, 20 Buck Spin]

This band sounds like they should be named Mammoth Grinder. Listen to them and see that I am right. The name reminds me of a giant Neolithic sausage machine, but not in a funny way. I remember I listened to this album on Youtube after my Macbook shat itself and I had to live in the library. I came back to the apartment and Perry was playing it in his room. “Oh shit, dude”s were exchanged. Then Tom also was really into that album that same day.

Windhand, Soma [metal/stoner metal, Relapse]

This is Windhand's first full release. I discovered them after they did a hella good split with Cough. I listened to a lot of stoner/sludge/doom metal this year, but I think this was the only album that was actually from 2013. I still need to get stoned and listen to this tho.

Kanye West, Yeezus [hip hop/god, Def Jam]

My first experience with Yeezus was when I was incredibly stoned at a lake house Lydia was getting paid to sit. We were watching SNL when Kanye performed “Black Skinhead”. I was legitimately mesmerized. I spent the entire song glued to the television set (figuratively). There was also a wicked creepy dog that totally wanted Andrew's dick. Also a hot tub. Anyway, aside from maybe 808s and Heartbreak, I always find Kanye albums uneven. I adored most of Dark Fantasy, but I loathed “Runaway” and “Blame Game”. I can't really say that was the case with Yeezus cause I only really listened to it through like twice. Don't really have any thoughts on it. Some tracks I loved but never really made a point of listening to on a regular basis. But I feel like if I don't include Yeezus on my year-end list Kanye will somehow send me a passive-aggressive email. And I don't want that (or do I??).

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Favorite Albums of 2013 (3 of 4)

Jerusalem in My Heart, Mo7it al-Mo7it [experimental/world music?, Constellation]

This album mixes my love of Middle Eastern culture with my love of weird experimental ambient shit. I listened to it a lot to get me pumped about doing my homework for Minorities in the Middle East. Its made by a guy from Montreal, but it can still be best described as Arabic experimental music. Traditional Middle Eastern sounds meet a more Western fascination with space and noise. I've never really heard anything like it. I don't know enough about weird ass music to say smart things about it. Good album.

Iceage, You're Nothing [punk/post-punk, Escho]

This was I think the first great album of 2013 that I listened to. Denmark is alongside Sweden with their very unique sounding brand of regional punk and hardcore. This album is particular is a great mix of occasional melody with vocals drowned out by full-out instrumental aggression. Combination throwback and new school punk. Indie/alternative/post-punk sensibilities thrown in there too. “In Haze” is one of the catchiest tracks.

M.I.A., Matangi [hip hop/worldbeat, Interscope]

Pitchfork wasn't super into this album. Fuck Pitchfork. MIA is an immortal worldbeat hip hop goddess. YALA.

Mohammad, Som Sakrifis [experimental/drone, PAN]

I listened to this a lot when reading Scorch Atlas. These guys are Greek I think, or at least this album is inspired by traditional Greek music (sorta). There might be a cello in here. Possibly a contrabass. I don't actually know. I really like drone music for some reason, but I don't really know what makes it good or bad. I think this is good, but probs just because a person who reviews stuff told me it was good. Who knows.

My Bloody Valentine, MBV [alternative/shoegaze, self-released]

Last semester my roommate Perry had this on vinyl and always listened to it. A weird amount of nostalgia attached to this album. I think My Bloody Valentine is one of my favorite bands that I haven't realized is one of my favorite bands. The whole shoegazey genre just gets me so fucking bad. “Who Sees You” reminds me of the concept of college.

Omar Souleyman, Wenu Wenu [Arabic pop, Ribbon]

I plowed through this album every time I would chip away at a term paper about Algeria (Souleyman is Syrian but I didn't let that dampen my inspiration). A lot of dumb pretentious hipsters who make shitty ~conceptual~ indie-world music cite Souleyman as an influence (guy's been active since like 1994), but those people are racist and I hate them. This album is very poppy and dancey, and I guess it could be described as electro-dabke (a genre of Levantine wedding song). Kinda discoey, too.

Pity Sex, Feast of Love [indie/alternative, Run for Cover]

I think everyone I know who makes a point of listening to music was at one point obsessed with this album. It was often spinning on Derrick's kinda shitty turntable we have in the living room (sorry Derrick). Brings up all sorts of happy and sad feelings. Quintessential college rock. “Keep” and “Hollow Body” are the songs that CUT DEEP.

The Range, Nonfiction [electronic, Donky Pitch]

I guess this might be house music but it seems more peaceful. All these songs are very pretty. Sorta transcendent. The songs have breakbeats, drums, basses, and other neat stuff. I like the album art, too. “Everything But” sorta sounds like a reimagined chillwave song.

Tree, Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out [hip hop/trap, self-released]

Been really into trap music the last month or two (#turnup). Tree describes his music as “soul trap” (which is also a thing from Skyrim according to Google). All of the samples off of this mixtape are pretty soulful. Obviously soul samples are absolutely nothing new in rap music, but in trap music I can't really think of a precedent. It ends up being pretty enjoyable. “The King” is hands-down my fav track just cause the Elvis sample is so damn hypnotic.

Sigur Ros, Kveikur [ambient/sorta post-rock, XL]

I'm a sucker for anything by Sigur Ros. Years of listening to them makes Jonsi's cooing falsetto feel like home. A familiar sense of melting. I remember when I was at a New York Model UN conference my pseudo-reggae weed-rap loving hotel roommate bonded with some Australians who were going to hit up a Sigur Ros concert that night. He had no idea who Sigur Ros was. When I showed him one of their songs he was very upset and confused. Later that night we all got wicked drunk and ran from hotel security and I made out with a Russian girl named Nadya. Me and her Korean roomie took selfies.

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Favorite Albums of 2013 (2 of 4)

Kool & Kass, Peaceful Solutions [hip hop/dumb, Greedhead]

Also a contender for fav album of 2013. I love everything Kool AD best rapper in the whole world does. He's like three-quarters of what I aspire to be. Dumb stupid funny smart type of guy. I want to be that guy! Kassa Overall's rhymes here are not as good as Kool AD's but that's kind of the point and the not-trying amateur vibe makes me love this even more. I put a Kool AD song at a party once and everyone thought it was terrible (but that's the point, you guys). Best tracks are “Pleasance (WDGAF)”, “Triflin” and “Yaper Capers”. The music video for “Pleasance” is really good.

Everything else released by Kool AD (best rapper ever) this year.

19, 63. And as of like yesterday (#TYBG) NOT O.K.

Chief Keef, Almighty So [hip hop/trap, Glory Boy]

Lotta folks didn't like this mixtape. Chief Keef moved from the projects to the suburbs and now has a shit ton of money from his last few releases. He spends most of it on drugs. As a result, you can't understand half of the shit Chief Keef slurs on these tracks. The production work and his delivery still carry his trademark flow tho, deadpan and lurking-beneath-the-surface psychotic. Also, half the intro track is just the words “TURN UP” like twenty times in a row.

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories [electronic, Columbia]

Sorta embarrassed to put this on my year-end list but fuck it. This album is so fun. At first I wicked hated “Get Lucky” cause I had to hear it blasted from some dickhead's room in my quad and also at every shitty party I went to and immediately regretted attending. I'm more ambivalent now tho. I'm a sucker for “Instant Crush”. I will always fuck with Julian Casablancas. To hell with my brand.

Colin Stetson, New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light [ambient/jazz, Constellation]

Colin Stetson is a saxophonist. This entire album is saxophone. While that might sound boring or terrible or terribly boring, it is not. This shit is transcendental. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver provides vocals for some of these tracks, but mostly its just Colin Stetson sing-moaning long drawn-out “oohs” and “aahs”. I am reminded of the sea. “Among the Sef” is a good song and I think there is an accompanying video somewhere on Vimeo that I also like.

Swearin', Surfing Strange [indie/pop punk, Salinas]

I like this album a decent amount but not as much as their first album. Still pretty good but it's less of the chugging pop punk riffs and has a bit more sophistication and better production work (I think?). The band is built from remnants of bands like PS Eliot, which operates in my fav style of girl-fronted pop punk. Catchy and honest. Girls are cool.

Dirty Beaches, Drifters/Love is the Devil [ambient/experimental, Zoo]

Dirty Beaches follows the stylistic legacy of the No Wave bands of the 70s/80s (re: Suicide). But while his first album was more lo-fi sluggy retro-50s type stuff, this album seems way more concerned about space. What I like most about Dirty Beaches is that he is a globetrotter. Dude's lived in a lot of places and spaces. He is Taiwanese. He has this fascination with spacial beauty which he captures here in the form of noise. Sometimes this album is scary. DHT would probably be a fun drug to take with this album.

Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels [hip hop, Fool's Gold]

El-P and Killer Mike are two of the most enjoyable rappers out there. Both are well-read and hard-hitting. Sorta like a punches made out of words. El-P and Killer Mike are rapping boxers. I get very pumped listening to them. I get very pumped on this album. Production work by El-P compliments the verses nicely. “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” might be my fav track mostly because it uses jingle bells.

Inter Arma, Sky Burial [metal, Relapse]

This album is heavy and vaguely psychedelic. Its sorta black metally, but other times has more progressive, melodic instrumental sections. It occasionally veers into stoner/sludge territory. It manages to keep things varied and fresh without ever losing a sort of pervasive exhilaration. The album art is neat.

The Haxan Cloak, Excavation [experimental/drone, Tri Angle]

This is a scary ass album most of the time. One of those albums I don't usually like to listen to alone at 3am because I have an acute fear of supernatural darkness and it makes me uncomfortable. But sometimes I do it anyway cause I ain't no bitch. “Consumed” is essentially the soundtrack every high-tension movie trailer.

Julianna Barwick, Nepenthe [ambient/post-rock, Dead Oceans]

Very peaceful. Barwick's sound is always angelic. Her voice is looped over itself to create a type of vocal post-rock. Its kinda post-church choir more than anything else. Postmodern hymnal maybe. “Pyrrhic” sounds a lot like Sigur Ros. “One Half” has actual lyrics sorta. Best taken as a whole imo.

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Favorite Albums of 2013 (1 of 4)

In no particular order.

Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven [ambient/electronic, Warp]

Def a top contender for my favorite album of the year. The artwork is a sick Giorgio de Chirico-type deal made by artist Robert Beatty. Strikes me as reminiscent of 60s/70s futurist sci-fi, which is like the only aesthetic I can actually identify because that stuff rules (re: Fantastic Planet). Aurally it is very similar. A bunch of reviews tell me all about Oneohtrix Point Never's aesthetic goals and theories, but I am not going to pretend I understand them. Something about taking old sounds (MIDIs, digital horns, etc.) and making it sound transcendental or whatever. The words “arpeggiating” and “crystalline” could probably be used. Anyhow it all sounds very very good and I like it a lot.

Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City [indie/alternative, XL]

Vampire Weekend has recently undergone the “Nirvana effect” for me, where I was super into them in high school, then thought they were hella lame for like 3 years and then later realized they were actually pretty legit. All these preppy vampire guys seem really sincere which makes their quasi-pretentious omnivorous culture reappropriation more endearing than problematic/annoying. I had a horchata once in San Diego and it was really good and made me think of this band. Ezra Koenig is one of the best people to follow on Twitter. “Step” may possibly be one of my fav songs ever in history while conversely “Unbelievers” sucks shit and I hate it.

Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady [soul/pop, Bad Boy]

This album (actually Monae's whole discography) is loosely based on a futuristic time-travel theme where androids are second-class citizens and metaphorical stand-ins for minorities and disenfranchised groups. But even without that sort of tie-together this album can stand on its own pretty well. “The Electric Lady” the song gets stuck in my head every other day. I showed it to Gingy but he didn't like it. Janelle Monae is probs my fav feminist thing of 2013. Seriously look at her. Five-foot black woman with great hair. A sexuality she refuses to comment on. Sings electro pop/soul about androids and the empowerment of POC women. Isn't that everything you've ever wanted?

Grouper, The Man who Died on His Boat [ambient/experimental, Kranky]

I've spent more than a couple hours listening to Grouper with Ryan and Jesse and also by myself. Grouper is an exercise in tuning out and having your heartstrings tugged. These songs are dreamlike, haunting and mentally spacious. Floating through a mountainous landscape would be a cool thing to do to this album. A very slowed-down Fleet Foxes comes to mind.

Salaam, Train to Basra [jazz/world music?, self-released]

A weird occasion where I found an album from an NPR article. Basra is the second largest city in Iraq and trains are a mode of transportation. This album is Iraqi traditional music mixed with more American jazz sensibilities. I like it and think it is good. “Rast Saffari” is a song and good pun.

Anamanaguchi, Endless Fantasy [electronic/chiptune, Dream.Hax]

Possibly the funnest album from 2013. Anamanaguchi is so catchy and danceable and sentimental. Chiptune is a genre after my own heart. My biggest complaint is that I can't violate the laws of gravity to properly dance (slash beat people up) to this. Plus, “Viridian Genesis” samples the intro to Hey Arnold!.

Night Birds, Born to Die in Suburbia [hardcore/punk, Grave Mistake]

These guys have sure come a long way since me and MY '10 CREW saw them at a Dover, NH houseshow. I only got to see like two songs before the cops showed up and we were stranded in the basement with 60+ drunk punk folk. Couldn't make any noise cause the cops apparently didn't know we were in the basement and the owner didn't want to give them an excuse to search the place. Needless to say, every loud fart was hilarious. As for this album it's more of the same good suburban basement surf-punk. I always thought the lead singer's nose looked sorta beak-esque, which is appropriate because this band is named after birds.

Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana [indie/emo, Carpark]

Clever lyrics, catchy music and one of the many examples of girl-fronted bands fucking dominating the punk/emo scene in 2013. I love Sadie Dupuis's voice (also Sadie is a name I like) as well as the band's half-stripped down vocal-guitar melodies. The whole thing has an interesting mix of sugar and venom that really gets to me. Missed them at UNH which is sad. Fav track is probs “No Below”, which is good for long bus rides by yourself.

Kevin Gates, Stranger Than Fiction [hip hop/trap, self-released]

What I like best about Kevin Gates and this mixtape in particular is that a certain weirdness pervades. Gates doesn't seem to like “the rules”. Its grade A trap music, but more earnest. Still about selling drugs and gunning for glory tho. The production is hella melodic and bumps hard. Gates isn't amazing at telling stories, but he's got enough charisma and flow to make me wanna listen. “White Tan” is fun to play at parties unless everyone there sucks.

Charli XCX, True Romance [pop/electropop, IAMSOUND]

Probs the only traditional pop album I legit liked this year. Many of these songs make me wish I partied more and harder, and/or that I a shared an emotionally fluctuating relationship with a girl who has a cute nose. But that would probs be v damaging to “my brand”. “You – Ha Ha Ha” and “Take My Hand” are my two fav tracks.

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