Hunx, Inter Arma, and more
1. La Luz, It’s Alive
2. Sky Ferriera, Night Time, My Time
3. Kim Deal solo singles series
4. Veronica Falls, Waiting for Something to Happen
5. Cherry Glazerr live
6. The Julie Ruin live and “Run Fast”
7. Cold Beat single
8. Crazy Band live and “Live from Prison”
9. Miley Cyrus, “Bangerz”
10. CSS, “Hangover” single
Hunx and His Punx released Street Punk on Hardly Art in July 2013.
Imaginary People’s Dylan Von Wagner
Mutual Benefit, Love’s Crushing Diamond: Sometimes, artists have to ask how far down the rabbit hole they wanna go or they must ask themselves are they prepared to do what the other guy won’t. I think when you go reaching emotionally and melodically, if you’re lucky, you might end up with some strong songcraft and, if the talent is there, you end up with magic. Every band tries, but like the line in Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca, “We all try, you succeed.” So bravo!
Self-described “dance Americana” band Imaginary People released their self-titled EP in 2013.
Ings’ Inge Chiles
Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia: Do you ever have days when you can’t drag yourself to the coffee shop to send those stupid emails? This album is for you. I blast it into my headphones when I’m having trouble accomplishing my tasks. Marnie is solid, always and forever. Weirdness and janky time sigs abound, and her finger-tapping style is never too esoteric to be fun.
Also, she loves her dog, Fig, and makes tons of cute YouTube videos to prove it—this year Marnie Stern gave a concert for dogs! DOOOOOGE!
Springfield, Missouri’s Ings released the Dog Physics EP in October 2013.
Inter Arma’s Trey Dalton
Before I get started, I’d like to preface this. Last year kind of bummed me out on the heavy music front. There were some good things released, but not a lot stood out to me as game changing or even game improving. It was all very static. Don’t get me wrong, I thought hip-hop had a good year with Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and Channel Orange, but outside of a couple heavy records, I was left unsatisfied. I feel this way, I think, because I tend to lean towards more oddball music. And precisely because of that, I think 2013 has been a GREAT year for heavy music. Two giants in the industry—Carcass and Gorguts—managed to release comeback albums that surpassed almost everyone’s expectations. A lot of good bands that were relatively unknown before this year are starting to make a leap into the public view, and that can only be a good thing. To further this, almost all of my favorite records of the year are not incredibly straightforward.
My album of the year is undoubtedly Gorguts’ Colored Sands. Gorguts has been one of my favorite bands for the past ten or so years. (I was a late convert, sue me.) Even in times where I found myself listening to less heavy music, I’d still find a way to integrate “From Wisdom to Hate” or “Obscura” into my listening rotation. That being said, I wasn’t exactly sure what to think of a new record from one of my favorite bands, which had been dormant since I was a sophomore in high school. That’s a lot of time out of the game, and most bands’ “comeback” records fall well short of the band’s and their respective audiences’ expectations. Regardless, I still held out high hope that Luc Lemay would be able to conjure up something palatable at the very least. He managed to do that and then some. He recruited the best possible lineup for the band with the additions of Kevin and Colin from Dysrythmia, and John Longstreth far exceeded my expectations for him with an incredibly tasteful, creative, and wondrous performance on drums. This record is mind blowing. Layers upon layers of aural decadence mixed with truly engaging Tibetan symbolism form just the surface of what might be my favorite heavy record of the past five years. Nothing else comes close to this.
Another heavy record that I will give a ton of credit is Oranssi Pazuzu’s Valonielu. Again, I’ve been following this band for a while, ever since our singer Mike introduced me to them shortly after the release of their first album Muukalainen Puhuu. This Finnish quintet manages to merge psychedelia and black metal-influenced soundscapes into something that isn’t as cheesy as it sounds, and Valonielu is their most cohesive effort to date. I’ve always been partial to music that is simple and isn’t afraid to repeat itself. Most of the songs on this album consist of only two or three parts, and if you play your cards right, which they do, that’s all you need. The final two songs are pretty brilliant, and the subtlety therein seems to be flying right over a lot of people’s heads.
Also, and you can hate all you want, but The 20/20 Experience Part One is pretty amazing. Justin Timberlake is basically Michael Jackson, if he could act and not be as creepy as the brothers from KEN Mode, and The 20/20 Experience is his Bad. Sure, Jay-Z’s part in “Suit & Tie” is wack, and I wouldn’t mind if he left off a couple of the filler tracks (I’m looking at you “Let the Groove Get In” and “Don’t Hold the Wall”) and replaced them with the singles from the second, and inferior, part of the Experience, but that doesn’t take away from how wonderfully produced and masterfully executed a pop record this is. I also appreciate that he foregoes the standard four-minute pop song in favor of adding additional layers and minutes to songs. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but when it does it’s awesome. I always respect risk takers. Hear, hear, JT.
Castevet’s Obsian is another record that I like immensely. Sometimes I feel as if guitarist Andrew Hock and I are kindred spirits, though his spirit is much more eccentric than mine own—or he might say that I’m just boring. His sense for incorporating melody, albeit subtle, into a pretty dismal sonic landscape is uncanny. Further, because a lot of this music is understated in its intricacy, Ian (drums) does not get nearly enough credit for how good of a drummer he is. Nick McMaster (of Krallice) is also an important addition that will go sorely undernoticed. He provides a more creative presence in the low end, adding a boost to the spectrum of sound they can now traverse. Obsian represents a singularly focused effort that is simultaneously mesmerizing and punishing.
Queens of the Stone Age also released one of my favorite “rock” records of the past several years with 2013’s ...Like Clockwork. Though I’m still partial to Songs for the Deaf, this is probably the most well-rounded release they’ve ever done and doesn’t have a weak song on it. I’m also a huge sucker for synthesizers (of which this album has a ton) and weird musical details that you don’t notice until you sit down and actively look for them, which ...Like Clockwork also has in abundance. It ranges sonically from proto-glam jams like “I Sat by the Ocean” and “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” à la T. Rex or early Bowie, to the Talking Heads-esque “If I Had a Tail”. The final two tracks, “I Appear Missing” and the title track, are my favorites and by far the moodiest numbers on the record. I’ve become very familiar with the album as it is one of the more popular traveling selections in our van. It is really good, though, so no complaints from me.
Finally, I’m choosing Bölzer’s Aura EP. This is some really cool death metal. It’s simultaneously very straightforward and creatively constructed. I think “Entranced by the Wolfshook” might be my song of the year. Though only three songs long, this EP has generated enough interest to get the Swiss duo invited to both Roadburn and Maryland Deathfest. I can’t wait to see what these dudes manage to throw at me with a full length. Stoked.
Honorable mention: Windhand, Soma; Domovoyd, Oh Sensibility; Ulcerate, Vermis; Carcass Surgical Steel; Danny Brown Old.
Inter Arma released Sky Burial (Relapse) in March 2013.
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey’s Brian Haas
Three incredible post rock albums from 2013!
1. Samuel Jackson Five, Samuel Jackson Five
2. Fuck Buttons, Slow Focus
3. All Hail Bright Futures, And So I Watch You from Afar
Jazz experimentalists Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey released Race Riot Suite in 2012.
1. Phantogram, “Black Out Days”
2. On an On, “Hunter”
3. On an On, “Ghosts”
4. FKA Twigs, “Papi Pacify”
5. Midlake, “The Old and the Young”
Denton, Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe released the “Satire” single in 2013.
Jetman Jet Team
● The Flaming Lips, The Terror
● Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest
● Bibio, Silver Wilkinson
● Autechre, Exai
● David Bowie, The Next Day
● Lumerians, Thee High Frontier
● Julie’s Haircut, Ashram Equinox
● White Fence, Cyclops Reap
● My Bloody Valentine, m b v
Seattle neo-shoegazers Jetman Jet Team released its debut album We Will Live the Space Age this year on Saint Marie Records.
I listen to albums and mixtapes with the same ear. Aside from DJ drops, which can sometimes add or subtract from the overall vibe of a mixtape, they both showcase the same things—original music and ideas. At first iIwas gonna split them up into two separate categories, but I decided not to because I don’t separate them in my iTunes. I listen to so much music I couldn’t name everything I rode out to this year, but I can give you an honest list of the music that really grabbed and held my attention. So in no particular order, here are the projects that left a memorable stain on my brain.
● Drake, Nothing Was the Same
● Partynextdoor, Partynextdoor
● J.Cole, Born Sinner
● SL Jones, Way of Life No Hobby
● Metro Boomin, 19 & Boomin
● Future, Future Presents F.B.G.: The Movie
● Nipsey Hussle, Crenshaw
● Gucci Mane, Traphouse III
● Key!, No One Is Ready
● Scotty, FAITH
● Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap
● Lorde, Pure Heroine
Nothing compliments a dope song better than a dope video. There have been times where a video was so good it made me like the song even more. These are the videos that I couldn’t stop watching this year.
● 2 Chainz, “Feds Watching”
● French Montana, “Pop That”
● Partynextdoor, “Break from Toronto”
● Drake, “Started from the Bottom”
● A$AP Rocky, “Angels” and “Fashion Killa”
● G4SHI, “Laughing”
● Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness”
● Gesaffelstein, “Hate or Glory” and “Pursuit”
● Pretty much everything that Fleur & Manu have shot. Their work is genius
● Pharrell Williams, “Happy”
● K. Roosevelt, “Do Me Now”
The dopest moment in music this year by far had to be Puffy starting Revolt TV: Music moguls are known for venturing out to do big business that expands beyond music—acting, sports, fashion, liquor, etc. What makes Revolt TV all the more unique is not only that it’s music-related, but it’s a platform that directly gives back to the art form. Diddy could’ve started any kind of network, but he chose to do a music channel. It’s like the ultimate “never forget where you came from” statement. He created an outlet for artists to be heard at the ground level. That’s special coming from a guy who came from where he started, the bottom.
Little Rock rapper SL Jones most recently dropped the Way of Life No Hobby mixtape in September 2013.
JJUUJJUU’s Phil Pirrone
● Lumerians, Horizon Structures: Purveyors of space & time. The future is now.
● Savages, Silence Yourself
● FUZZ, FUZZ: Best new live band / great record—Ty Segall will never let me down.
● Kurt Vile, Walkin on a Pretty Daze: Gold. Hit the nail on the head.
● Chelsea Wolfe, Pain Is Beauty: Great follow-up to the last one. My expectations were high, and she somehow exceeded them!
● Deap Vally, Sistrionix: Rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well. Bigger balls than most dudes. Especially in this day and age of whatever wave pop-synth crap-o-la…
● Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork: Again, hail hail rock ‘n’ roll! No explanation needed here.
● White Fence, Cyclops Reap: He done did it again, I tell ya!
● Night Beats, Sonic Bloom: Sonic goddamn! These dudes keep getting better! This record sounds better than anything they’ve put out and the songs are great too!
● Dahga Bloom, No Curtains: Get ready to die & love it
L.A.-based experimentalists JJUUJJUU released the FRST EP (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) in 2013.