Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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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