I’m really happy to not be living in 2013 anymore; thank god we process time linearly! Can you imagine how terrible it would be to always (and conversely never) be stuck in that dump of a year? Anyway, just in case this is your first time reading one of my album lists, a quick recap: I don’t consider myself a music critic, and I spend my time listening to a lot of albums (over 90 last year) searching for something that just gets me. It’s not a very scientific process, but it is a quick moving one – let’s go!
Stop! Before we go any further, I’ve got to give some shout-outs. Because believe me, a year with new releases from basically all my favorite bands – Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Phoenix, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sigur Rós, Neko Case, the Shout Out Louds, Atoms for Peace (featuring Thom Yorke), Jim James (of My Morning Jacket) – would have to be pretty interesting to not see any of them making my favorite ten. So… I still don’t know what to say about CHRVCHES. Tegan & Sara fucking rocked it at Bumbershoot and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a soft spot for Heartthrob. That new Los Campesinos! album is actually pretty cool too. Spreading Rumors, by Group Love, was a pleasant surprise. I just checked out that Magical Cloudz album, it seems pretty sweet, but I need to listen to it way more. Actually, this might take too long, there’s a bunch more that a liked a lot. Of course basically anything in the 2013 Rundown that didn’t make the cut was certainly close to it. Running out of time, I’m sorry! OK, list!
This year’s music recap, called the rundown because the title changes every year and it sounds cool, started pretty early, with my list in still a very nebulous state. Up until I started writing this post, there was a lot of competition for every single spot, as even my shoo-ins column was overflowing. Basically, what I’m getting at is don’t be upset that an album made the cut that I didn’t ever say a damn thing about before this moment. It happens. It was definitely going to happen. There were a lot of potential posts to write, and I ran out of steam before I got through all of them. And besides, they call this baroque-folk and I can sense you rolling your eyes in the future as a write this. Love’s Crushing Diamond‘s a warm, comforting album and I’m a fan.
The first track of Muchacho is a little bit misleading. Its ethereal and swirlingly sound seems evocative of Animal Collective or something like that. But that’s not what you get from the rest of Phosphorescent’s latest. No, the rest of the album is more simple, slower, and achingly personal. I think I remember reading somewhere reputable comparing this to Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, as it is a comparably personal testament from Matthew Houck as Justin Vernon’s opus. Phosphorescent is somewhat dark and mature in the story Muchacho tells, but that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to hear it over and over.
Move over Tegan and Sara, I have another band of rocking sisters to celebrate this year. And this time, they’re American. The Haim sisters know how to find a sweet hook and use it to catch a whopper, as most of the songs on Days are Gone are catchy and memorable. Hold on, let’s check what Colin wrote about this. Something about Wilson Phillips? I don’t know who that is. Being turned into a 13-year-old girl? Ha, ha, ha, how embarrassing! And yet brave, so very brave. I mean, I wouldn’t write that. Good for you Colin, way to expose yourself with your writing. That’s not an easy thing to do. Just like it’s probably pretty hard to write great music like the stuff on this album? Nailed it.
“You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves.” And so the great 2013 tradition of burning cars began, as millions of kids around the world fell victim to my pick for summer jam of the year. Yes, “Diane Young” had me more excited for an album that any single has gotten me before, but Modern Vampires of the City is more than just that one badass track. It’s a bunch of them. Sure, Vampire Weekend will apparently never again seem as irresistibly catchy to me as the did on their first album, but it turns out that actually don’t suck now. How fortuitous! But seriously, baby, baby, baby, baby right on time.
If you can’t take be serenaded by a dude with a light, delicate voice, you’ll probably not be into the sweet sexiness that is Woman. But let’s talk about what this album is. We live in a time when most of popular music is about fucking. Go to the club, have a one night stand. Get rich, smack yo bitch up. Hop in the truck, go down to the river and do the lord’s work. The unifying message we get is that everybody should either be having sex or working toward that goal. Now here comes an album that is sensual, but not at all in that overt way. It is more about sensuality, about connection. And it’s really pretty. Am I so wrong for liking that?
If you don’t like The National at this point, what do you like? Never mind, whatever your answer is will make me sad. But come on man, what’s the deal? You don’t like music that has a tendency to focus on the depressing instead of the uplifting? You know, I get that. But sometimes you need to eat your greens, it can’t be all cake all the time. That is a horrible metaphor. I didn’t have to force Trouble Will Find Me down just to clear my plate. No sir, I ate it right up. And then I sat on in for a while. And then I came back to it in the fall and I liked it even more than the first time. Someone should tell those guys to put there next album out in like January. It would dominate.
Is that picture of the Washed Out dude sitting in flowers a little unsettling? Yeah, I’m sorry about that. But when I first listened to Paracosm, I was worried he was going to go down the weird path of using bird song and the sound of water droplets over electronic beats because of pictures like that and the flowery album art. And to naive me’s credit, the album does indeed start on a track with birds chirping. But you know what? I think what actually happened was he made an album even better than the first. I mean, maybe right? Who’s really to say in matters of taste? What do I really know? What does anyone really know? What does it mean to know? What does it mean? What?
I still think it’s really impressive that Daft Punk finally made an album that works as an album. Maybe that’s never been their objective, since surely their raison d’être has always been to get people to throw their hands in the air and wave them, as if – and this is the funny part – they do not actually care. Anyway, I’ll think back to 2013 as that time I always had “Get Lucky” and “Doin’ it Right” just a second away from being stuck in my head at all times. That, and that weird “Giorgio by Moroder,” easily my most listened-to interview of all time. That’s weird, right? I pointed that out in my review and no one really said anything. But it’s weird, right?
You can see why I was so surprised I hadn’t mentioned Baths anywhere on the blog before. There was no album that I listened to more when I didn’t know what to listen to than Obsidian. Why is that? Is it the tone, which is both dark and pretty? The music is fast and layered and not overly complex and oh shit it’s really late. Time to copy and paste from the rundown: uh wait, can’t do that. I’ve basically said everything I did there. Oh god. Don’t panic. Do not panic. There’s nothing more dangerous than a panicking tired person. Is it weird how “panic” becomes “panicking”? They just throw a ‘k’ in there. But then again, it would look weird without it. Am I spelling that word right?
Always write the number one spot first! God, I’m such an idiot. I’ve already used all my best moves! Now all I’ve got in sleepiness and a general distaste for writing this list. And that doesn’t convey the fact that “Mute” was my favorite song all year, and basically my template for what I want from music in general. It doesn’t show you how Wondrous Bughouse makes me so happy I want to cry. I’m left without the tools to explain how I found this music so weird and blunt that it became fascinating for me. How I just listened to it over and over. I never do that anymore! God, I don’t even have any jokes left! Man! Shit! Exclamation points are for lazy writers! But sometimes, they feel useful. And that’s all any of us want anymore right? In this age of technology and distance and coldness? To feel?
Anyway, those were my favorite album that came out in 2013 as of January 7, 2014. Or as it might be known, my brother’s birthday’s eve. Will this list change? No, in that I won’t ever edit it. Yes in that my tastes will surely change, given enough time. Maybe it won’t even take that much time. One things for sure, I definitely agree with Colin that it’s more fun to do these lists on a podcast.