Friday, January 3, 2014

the best albums of 2013

So for my roundup summary of the 2013 music year is one of confusion. Consistently all year I have been confused by reviews and hype. It seems like everyday was opposite day this year in terms of music criticism. Artists that seem to have very little to no artistic aspirations were being hailed as artistic "geniuses". Artists that would have been laughed off the respectable artistic community landscape were now being heralded as kings and queens. For arguments sake I am going to take a look at Pitchfork's top 10 list for albums of the year. Let me start by saying that there are 3 albums on my list that are also in the top 10 of Pitchfork's. They are Savages, Majical Cloudz, and Danny Brown(all who's artistic merit is explained below). So let's see what we have left, Arcade fire(released their version of early 80s Talking Heads and was boring), Daft Punk(I have said enough on the subject of that album), Deafheaven(one of the lamest examples of metal to come by in a long time), The new My Bloody Valentine(extremely not noteworthy and they should have just ended it at the reissues), Disclosure's debut(easily one of the worst albums I have ever heard, who needs a thirds rate Basement Jaxx, when Basement Jaxx was already a second rate Daft Punk...I cannot stress enough how shitty I think this album is) Kanye West's new one(Death Grips rip off with really dumb lyrics), and Vampire Weekend(was home to the worst single of the year with "Ya Hey"). Not too mention people still love Drake(for some odd reason), The Odd Future camp was pretty limp dick this year, all of the overhyped yet done a million times indie shit(wataxhachee, speedy ortiz, julia holter, the national(really dont get it), deerhunter, blood orange. A lot of the hip hop was crap this year...i'm looking at you ASAP MOB, chance the rapper, run the jewels. Also a lot of electro pop shit sucked too, chvurches, jon hopkins, dj koze, autre nu veut, forest swords, boards of cananda. Last and defintely the least, HAIM-Days Are Gone....yes you are right HAIM, the days of actual good music getting the exposure it deserves are gone, long live the days of mediocrity, thanks to spoiled little rich kids from Studio City, with any hope and justice the Haim album that came out this year will litter the dollar bin in the, hopefully, near future. I hope you enjoy the albums that were ACTUALLY good from this year....lord knows, thanks to the media, you havent heard em yet.
Arca-&&&&& One track that just pummels you and pummels you with one good idea after another. This is meant to soundtrack a weird druggy night out or at least i think so. These are future sounds. RIYL: Trippy electronic music that is influenced by hip hop.
Atom TM-HD Cold, dancy, and he wrote one of the best attacks on the major label music industry that i have heard in a while. get down with the robot sound. RIYL: Cold electronic stuff with a dance beat, Prince, Kraftwerk.
Danny Brown-Old I hated this at first, the first half had no nasal Danny Brown and I was pissed, then I listened to it again and again and started to realize the fact that he didn't rap in that voice all the time made him even that much more versatile. It then blew my mind and my second favorite Hip Hop song of the year was Lonely, who knew Danny Brown and Paul White would invent Tropical Hip Hop tm. RIYL: Cypress Hill, good hip hop.
Death Grips-Government Plates Super loud, super aggressive, the greatest thing that Death Grips has done yet, and this is due to the fact that they started using MC Ride as a musical tool and not as an MC. This thing is all vocal cut ups, nasty phrases and very little flows and it's all the better for it, not to mention the music is ramped up 10 fold. RIYL: Hella, Food For Animals.
Emptyset-Recur Sounds like a fucked up factory collapsing around you in perfect coordination. RIYL: The Haxan Cloak, Dubstep, dark ambient.
Foxygen-We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic This album sounds like every good 60s album all rolled into one that occasionally touches some of the weirdness the 70s had to offer, this album is straight up incredible and filled with ideas that could sustain a lesser band for at least 3 records. Oh and it is all a good time! RIYL: The Velvet Underground, Kinks, The Who, indie rock the way it was from 1991-2003.
Future of the Left-How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident This album hates the music industry and for good reason, it fucking sucks. if drake and chris brown can have a career than albums like this MUST exist! RIYL: Mclusky.
J-Zone-Peter Pan Syndrome He returns in fine form back to make fun of you and everything you do and everything you hold dear in life. RIYL: Really good old school influenced hip hop
The Knife-Shaking the Habitual All I can say is that this album was the artistic album that Daft Punk should have and wished they could make at this stage in their career. This is equal parts electro jams meets pure crushing art. RIYL: Bjork, MU.
Majical Cloudz-Impersonator What this guy does with a few piano melodies and his buddy Otto on electronics is nothing short of awesome, the fact that he slams his baritone voice all over it and makes an album that is both upliftingly depressing and depressingly comfortable is nothing short of astounding. RIYL: Scott Walker, Daughn Gibson.
Melt Yourself Down-Self Titled Take a pretentious Jazz band, then suck all the snobby air out of them and have them get a lunatic Spanish vocalist to make a shitload of weird noises and phrases all over it. Now have these guys throw the craziest funk dance party of all time and you have something close to the muscular adrenaline rush that is the first Melt Yourself Down album, here's hoping they top this one in the future. RIYL: Antibalas, The Budos Band, Boredoms.
Parquet Courts-Light Up Gold Smart as fuck indie rockers shine a light on the stale indie rock scene by going back to all of our roots and playing like the real musicians who will always matter. riyl: The Modern Lovers, The Minutemen, The Meat Puppets.
Derek Piotr-Raj Takes the human voice and fucks it up in 1000s of different ways to utterly confuse you! RIYL: Cut up vocal samples you can kind of maybe but maybe not dance to.
Pissed Jeans-Honeys These guys hate all the dumb things you do, and I can't blame them, there is a lot of mundane and truly unbelievably crappy things going on in this world right now and these brave musical warriors are not afraid to hold a mirror up to your face to make you see what you have been doing, and then they will make fun of your stick figure family decal, and your meaningless job, and all the shit we think we need to make life work. Go ahead, if you don't like what i wrote, pretend i wrote something nice and romanticize me! RIYL: Hating things, Black Flag, Jesus Lizard.
Pretty & Nice-Golden Rules for Golden People Very Dorky, spastic, happy, all over the place, everything but the kitchen sink, or wait maybe that fucker's in there too. This will annoy people who are annoyed easily, for those of us who love a little shot of gonzo in our rock these nerds are for you! RIYL: Dismemberment Plan, Of Montreal.
Saint Pepsi-Hit Vibes Vaperwave artist does way better for himself by ditching the Vaporwave cliches and gets down with it. riyl: The Avalanches, old Daft Punk.
Savages-Silence Yourself They ban cell phones at their concerts because they don't like your stupid selfies. They also make better music than most indie bands going these days. So you should put down your phone for 2 seconds, silence yourself and pay the fuck attention! RIYL: Siouxsie and the Banshees with more bite, post punk.
The Stranger-Watching Dead Empires In Decay Leyland Kirby returns to envelop you in a blanket of darkness and it's better than a warm Tiger-striped onesy. RIYL: The Caretaker, Demdike Stare, Dark Ambient
Syclops-A Blink of A Eye Can't say much more than funked up weirdness from the wonderful Dr. who brought us MU. RIYL: Fucked up jazz fusion and funk, MU.
John Wizards-Self Titled This guy took all the tropical African inspired crap did it one better, added some electronics, actually is from Africa and bested all the little turds that think that White culture appropriation is...well...you know...appropriate. RIYL: S.E. Rogie, African music, Max Tundra.
Young Dreams-Between Places Sunshine, kaleidoscopic, rays of sunshine blasting in your headphones, this is nostalgia music, nostalgic for lost summers, for collecting bugs, for just being in a happier stress free place. This is pure escapism in music, let it embrace you. RIYL: XTC, The Beach Boys, Animal Collective.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold/Tally All the Things That You Broke EP (What's Your Rupture?) 2012/2013

So first things first. This is mainly a review of the brand new EP but I have to address the fact that Parquet Courts hit one completely out of the park on their second album "Light Up Gold". Easily one of the best things I have heard in the past year. The bands this album references are all excellent ones but you can't really call it a rip off. The band touches upon The Fall, Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Pavement and definitely The Modern Lovers. All these influences swirled together make for an excellent sound that owes a great deal to the past while having one foot firmly planted in the future. The melodies these guys write are all their own and damn catchy, every one of these songs could be a single(and should be) This is one of the most fun albums to have come out in years and everyone should give it a spin, it's pretty much ideal for any situation. Now having said all that I will address the EP and some of the issues I have with it, for better or worse. The EP is very short, 5 songs, 4 of which dont break the 3 minute mark. These 4 songs are very much in the same vein as the previous album. I really cant complain about em except that a couple dont really grab you as much as the earlier material(i am assuming these were made during the same sessions and they were cut out of the full length) I'll take those songs and be happy we have access to them. Now the final track is the one most people are no doubt talking about. This track is a 7+ minute pseudo rap about riding your bike through the city called "He's seeing paths". The song rides a cheesy drum machine/synth beat for the entirety of its 7 minute run time with a few detours into deconstructed noise. I have to say I love this new direction, albeit it could have been paired down a minute or two but i do like that they are stretching out and trying something new/old but new to them. The track is very reminiscent of Beck's Loser or something along those lines. So yeah these guys are definitely worth your time, Light Up Gold is essential listening and the EP is good for a download. CHECK THESE DUDES OUT!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Colleen Green - Sock It To Me (Hardly Art) 2013

This is the second album by Los Angeles resident Colleen Green. It is a laid back fuzzy affair. The music is mostly fuzzed out and distorted guitar and bass over cheap drum machine beats. The style is in that of the hazy sounds of some of the more lo-fi Breeders songs. Throw in a little Best Coast vocal melodies and lyrical influences and you have an ode to "alternative" rock era songwriting as well as a healthy dose of pop punk attitude. This music is very "high school" in a good way. It captures a young spirit, one that embraces the rush of young love and the mundane simple pleasures that are, to a 30 year old, lost to time. The lyrics read like naive diary entries(in a good way). Songs about crushes and who you eat lunch with, etc....This also has the attitude of a turned down Be Your Own Pet. Youthful exuberance after it's told to "shhhhh" by the chemistry teacher. There is nothing relevatory about this album, nothing shocking, just chilled out, fuzzed out punk rock without pretension. Some will love this, others might find it boring and played out. I find it to be pretty alright.