Todd Clouser, the Del-Lords, and more
1. John Zorn 60th Birthday Concerts: All over the world, a composer and groups of musicians committing in a way that can inspire generations of artists to come.
2. Craig Taborn, Chants: Craig Taborn’s depth is brave in eclipsing his virtuosity. Piano of tomorrow, yesterday, now.
3. Blind Boys of Alabama, I’ll Find A Way: Recorded a couple hours from Minneapolis, my friend JT Bates, who drums on it, hipped me to the record and a bit about how the band communicates and creates. All love. We need this music now.
4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away: “The tree don’t know what the little bird brings / We go down with the dew in the morning.” Wood pianos and howling flutes, somber voice.
5. Melt-Banana, Fetch: They do what no one else does and it’s vicious.
Todd Clouser released two albums in 2013, Naked Beat (Royal Potato Family) with A Love Electric in February as well as A Man with No Country (Amulet) in September 2013.
Har Mar Superstar, Bye Bye 17: Sean Tillman is the Ron Jeremy of R&B and this album has all the soul and vibe you’d expect with a distinction that cool. Bye Bye 17 will have you jiggling and jiving in your seat.
Jonathan Wilson, Fanfare: He’s one of our favorite musicians and producers. Everything he works on has killer mojo and his new album is no different. Each song takes you to a new musical setting. Wilson represents an old school aesthetic that we’re pretty in love with.
Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic: Foxygen recordings have so much attitude. The songs play back with a live show-like energy that’s hard to achieve without sounding too ragged. We really dig hearing the ‘60s and ‘70s influences shine through.
Parquet Courts, Tally All the Things You Broke EP
Colleens will be releasing their debut album Wild Dreams on 4 February 2014.
Conveyor’s T.J. Masters
The unique music and sounds of 2013: “Unique” here understood to be used as modifying the compound subject “music and sounds” to reflect the nature of the as-yet undeclared “music and sounds.” The word “unique” is used because it connotes a sense of individualization or singleness, which is to say that what stands out about the music and sounds listed herein is that they were only heard by as few as one person (myself) and as many as a handful (let’s say 20, arbitrarily, because it retains a certain component of intimacy that tapers off in higher numbers as 30, is all but gone by 40, and is nowhere to be found in 50 and above). Here, then, in no specific order, are the music and sounds that defined the year 2013:
1. Small group meditation: Starting in winter, in the early months of 4:00 PM twilights and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a small group of people that comprises myself and wavers between two and four others meets briefly in a small white and gray conference room on the fourth floor of 4 Washington Place, New York, NY to meditate for up to 30 minutes at a time. The sound, taken in against the gray/white landscape of closed eyelids, is small: contemplative nasal breathing, swallowing, apologetic throat clearing, the sharp adjustment of a cheap metal and plastic chair against linoleum, the slide of pant material against the same chair, concrete- and glass-dampened car horns, the scuff of a shoe, often-but-not-always a calm, female, guiding voice, and, the dénouement, a high-pitched, resonant bell.
2. “THINKIN CLEARLY”: My first experience of truly personal songwriting comes in the form of a quick, one-take, improvised song during the second quarter of 2013. I save the resultant audio file in the Microsoft PCM (.wav) format and title it “THINKIN CLEARLY.wav.” The song, consisting of acoustic guitar and voice, manifests early in the morning in the middle of a depressive and drug-induced paranoid episode. “Truly personal” because I have no intention of performing it, it is not created with the context of a larger oeuvre in mind, and I have not since performed it or shared the recording with anyone; in the moment I honestly believe it is the only thing that I am capable of doing, and I bury it in a folder and listen to it only on occasion to remind myself of a feeling that I consider to be still important.
3. Cumbiagra: In E. Garfield’s garage on 16 November and at some points on 17 November, the band Cumbiagra revolves hazily around us through rings of marijuana smoke, pools of spilled beer, and 2-3 clave. Here’s what else: idle party-inflected chattering, the shuffling of feet, electric guitar and bass, the de-pressurizing psht of carbonated drinks, N. Perez and S. Lopez, the chorus of “Happy Birthday”, bongos and congas, two dogs barking, laughter, a trumpet and a trombone, clapping, an accordion, “Indocumentado”, among others, and (get this) the pulsing implication of extra-sensory vibrations.
Conveyor is a Brooklyn-based art-rock band, which released its self-titled debut (Paper Garden) in 2012.
Here’s a list of our favourite musical things from 2013, in no particular order:
Low , The Invisible Way: This new album from Low is already one of our favourites of theirs. We particularly like the song Plastic Cup.
Telekinesis, Dormarion : Such good pop songs, and the drums on this album sound amazing.
Sweet Baboo, Motorhome Songs: A marvelous EP. “Motoring Home” has a brilliant chorus.
Smith Westerns, Soft Will: Definitely a favourite album of the year, even better than their last.
The Oreoh!s: Already brilliant, these guys get better every time we see them.
High Hazels, Hearts Are Breaking: Our producer Matt Peel made this record and we love it. The video is cool too: old footage from the guitarist’s family party in the ‘80s.
Deerhunter, Monomania : So exciting and interesting. It’s fizzing with ideas.
Temples, Keep in the Dark: We attended their gig at Queens Social Club in Sheffield and they blew it away. Great guitar sounds.
Hey Sholay, Cloud, Castle, ______ : Crazy and beautiful. “Wdyrwmtb” is our favourite song on this new record.
The National, Trouble Will Find Me: You can rely on the National to deliver something good every time they make a release, and this one’s no exception.
In 2013, Sheffield, UK’s the Crookes released their second album Hold Fast (Modern Outsider) in 2013, while working on a new full-length slated for 2014.
Deadstring Brothers’ J.D. Mackinder
We spent the whole year on the road, with a broken stereo for the majority of it, so discovering new anything was difficult. There are some things I truly came to appreciate though:
Carrie Anne Hearst singing anything, solo, with Shovels and Rope or dueting with Hayes Carll.
Hayes Carll, for that matter—definitely late to the game in that category, but he’s a great songwriter.
Austin Lucas was great at the AMA festival, I’d heard about him for years, but this was the first time I got to see him play. Great stuff.
Also hadn’t heard Dawes until this year—it’s quality stuff that is far too rare these days.
I only heard a bit of Jason Isbell’s new record, but I think his rising success is great for all of us out there working, and it shows that if you give the time and effort, you got a shot.
Shonna Tucker and Eye Candy were a blast to play with this year and I’m glad the record they made is starting to get some radioplay and I look forward to seeing them grow and doing more shows together next year.
Hellbound Glory out touring with Kid Rock was exciting for them and the underground country scene. I’ve known Leroy [Virgil] for a long time and I’m glad he’s rising up the ladder.
Also in need of mention are Matt Woods, Dock Ellis Band (always a favorite), Fifth on the Floor, Sturgill Stimpson, Chelsea Crowell (not to mention how great it is to see her dad and Emmylou singing together as well), and White Buffalo all turned my head and were great things that happened in our little musical world this year.
Deadstring Brothers released Cannery Row via Bloodshot in April 2013.
The Del-Lords’ Scott Kempner
These end-of-year wrap-ups always seem to be slanted towards events that are most recent. This year is no exception. On the positive side I am in the final week of the Del-Lords month-long European tour—our first in over two decades. It’s been exciting, spiritually rewarding, and a fuckload of fun fun fun. The audiences have ranged from thrilled to ecstatic. That is the positive for me.
On the darker side, our friend—and for me, a personal musical hero and inspiration—Lou Reed, has passed away. We got word at our second show of the tour, in Leiceister, England. We were stunned and saddened. I still am. Lou was so great to us when we toured with him back in the ‘80s, appeared in one of our videos, and it was always a blast to run into him in the neighborhood when I was still a NYC resident. We remained friendly acquaintances and sometimes had great chats on the streets of our beloved Greenwich Village. To me, Lou was the quintessential New Yorker, and the living breathing heart and soul of the city of my birth. He and my dear friend, Dion, were also pals, and formed a little mutual admiration society of their own. We have been performing “I’m Waiting For My Man” (a song we used to play back in the ‘80s) every night of this tour in his honor. It will take me awhile to adjust to a world without Lou Reed.
Lauded ‘80s band the Del-Lords returned with Elvis Club (Megaforce), their first full-length since 1990.
1. Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience: I feel like this record kind of came out of nowhere. There is no real hip-hop being played on the radio anymore, and the pop songs are monotone and terrible. I like the fact that a real R&B crooner record was able to make such a statement. I also like that all the songs are long.
2. Fat Freddy’s Drop, Blackbird: I happened upon this record listening to public radio and I couldn’t take it off my playlist for a few months. Just a great sound. Nice mix of influences and a strangely familiar voice.
3. Danger Mouse and Danielle Luppi, Rome: Just a beautiful album. The harmonies are way more interesting than I expected.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe is preparing to release its fourth album, New Ammo (Stoopid), on 4 February 2014.
Dott’s Anna McCarthy
● My Bloody Valentine, m b v
● Veronica Falls, Waiting for Something to Happen
● The Knife, Shaking the Habitual
● True Widow, Circumambulation
● Haim, Days Are Gone
● Chelsea Wolfe, Pain Is Beauty
● Villagers, Awayland
● The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Irish garage-pop act Dott just released its new album Swoon on Graveface in December 2013.
1. Smartest Tumblr post: Grimes’ manifesto about sexism in the music world
2. Coolest post-breakup projects: Kim Gordon’s Body/Head
3. Best internet trash talk: Mark E Smith talking about Mumford and Sons
4. Best most awkward backstage interaction: Jeff the Brotherhood at Middle of the Map festival
5. Prettiest/most friendly small town we played: Hot Springs, Arkansas, for Valley of the Vapors Festival
6. Favorite festival: Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City
7. Most exciting drunken show: MidPoint Music Festival in Cincinnati with Bob Pollard heckling
8. Best band argument about a band: The Toadies
9. Best band argument about a decade: The ‘90s
10. Funniest moment on tour: Opening with “Fuck you, Brooklyn” at a Brooklyn show
11. Guylaine’s new favorite British band: Joanna Gruesome
12. Jim’s new favorite L.A. band: Strangers Family Band
13. Best album that followed us everywhere during the March-April tour: Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold
14. Most reassuring fact: The Midwest will always rock
15. Best city on tour where anything can (and will) happen: New Orleans
French-American post-punk group DTCV, led by Jim Greer (formerly of Guided by Voices) and Guylaine Vivarat, just released the full-length Hilarious Heaven.
1. Ben UFO, fabriclive.67: This is a no-brainer. Could listen to this forever, definitely a future seminal mix. Seeing him at Blkmarket. Hessle Audio forever.
2. DJ Rashad, Double Cup: I’m really down with the ghetto house resurgence and even more so with DJ Rashad, because he does shit his own way.
3. Kyle Hall, The Boat Party: Spending a little time in Detroit this year got me excited about dance music again after a brief slump. (NYC was kinda barn for a second, am I right?).
4. Martyn, Newspeak EP: 10/10 would play out. One time I told Fatboy Slim to listen to this record and tell me if he liked it, but he never got back to me. I’m gonna assume he did.
5. Unicorn Hard-On, Weird Universe: Is there anything better than ladies who make weirdo electronic music? Why, no, there is not.
6. Hank Jackson, Deposit EP: Hankypoo at the cutting edge of outsider house.
7. Analogue Monsta, Boo: More badass ladies who I love and admire.
8. Milo McBride, Losaand: Space house techno future dance party kunst.
9. DJ Deeon, Debo G Chronicles Vol. 2: I know I am a feminist, but god dammit, I love ghetto house. Not embarrassed to say that I dance to this EP when I get ready in the morning.
10. Delroy Edwards, White Owl: Yup.
Ducky, aka Morgan Neiman, recently released the single, “Two Over Ten”.