Shearwater, the So So Glos, and more
Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg
● The Act of Killing documentary film
● Kevin Kline, off-book, reprising the Pirate King at a staged reading of The Pirates of Penzance
● Laurie Anderson’s farewell to Lou Reed
● Bells from the Deep, Herzog documentary about “faith and superstition in Russia”
● Unreleased and in-progress recordings by Sharon Van Etten, David Thomas Broughton, and Jesca Hoop
● Collaborating with Clinic, Baptist Generals, Jamie Stewart, Kahn and Selesnick, and Branan Edgens
● All those free gifts embossed with “LOSER” at the Sub Pop Jubilee (pencils? gumballs? chocolate?)
● Brian Reitzell’s secret audio laboratory and Old Style Guitars in Los Angeles
● The Forest Unseen by David Haskell
● The Emperor, Shah of Shahs, and The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinki
● Tsegue Maryam Guebrou’s beautiful, rolling, somnolent piano as recorded on Ethiopiques 21
● Middle Santiam Wilderness in Oregon
Shearwater recently came out with a full-length album of covers titled Fellow Travelers (Sub Pop) in November.
● My Bloody Valentine, m b v
● Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
● Gross Ghost, Public Housing
● Bill Callahan, Dream River
● Future Bible Heroes, Partygoing
● Denison Witmer, Denison Witmer
● Foreign Fields, Anywhere But Where I Am
● Junip, Junip
● Andrew Colberg, Minds Hits
● MRENC, All Around Surround
Described as the “female Mark Kozelek”, Tracy Shedd released Arizona (New Granada) in November 2013.
Royal Forest, Spillway: Friends and fellow Austinites hitting their stride with a great record full of odd discoveries under an art-pop umbrella.
Bill Callahan, Dream River: Beautifully delivered, well-paced, superbly articulate piece of work that makes you understand how music is a wondrous thing.
Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze: My first listen to this record was while driving out west Texas to the lake. Sun was bright, day was hot and lazy, and Vile just seem to put everything in perspective for me. What a great feeling!
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, ii: So simple yet so dense and full of surprise. The production is outstanding in that it creates a sonic world you can travel at length. Warm and wild.
Nat Baldwin, Dome Branches: Labelmate Nat Baldwin is a really adventurous songwriter. Amazing voice, great grooves abound on Dome Branches. Originally released in ‘07, this version labeled “demos” has a great playful urgency. Dig in and dig it!
Abram Shook (Shearwater) is preparing to release his solo debut Sun Marquee (Western Vinyl) on 21 January 2014.
Ski Lodge’s Andrew Marr
● Rhye, Woman
● Majical Clouds, Impersonator
● Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
● Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
● Haim, Days Are Gone
● Caveman, Caveman
● St. Lucia, When the Night
● Pure Bathing Culture, Moon Tides
● Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
● Ducktails, The Flower Lane
New York indie act Ski Lodge put out its first full-length, Big Heart, in August 2013 on Dovecote.
The So So Glos’ Matt Elkin
1. Joey Bada$$, “Unorthodox”
2. Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana
3. Sky Ferreira, “Lost in My Bedroom”
4. Nirvana, In Utero reissue
5. Wu Block
6. Krill, Lucky Leaves
7. Heeney demos
8. Carmen demos
9. New Desaparecidos tracks
10. Diarrhea Planet, “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II” (Kiss cover)
NYC power-punk quartet the So So Glos released their latest album Blowout (Shea Stadium) in April 2013.
Soft Swells’ Tim Williams
1. Roman Candle, Debris
2. Jonathan Wilson, Fanfare
3. Cass McCombs, Big Wheel and Others
4. Jim Ford, Demolition Expert
5. Andy Shauf, The Bearer of Bad News
L.A. indie act Soft Swells released the Lifeboats EP in July 2013.
Spotlight Kid has had an emotionally mixed year putting together the next album recording and mixing with Todd Howe from the Boxer Rebellion. Members have come and gone but the band is settled and ready to smash 2014. 2013 musically for us was best represented with albums by:
● Hookworms, Pearl Mystics
● The Haxan Cloak, Excavation
● David lynch, The Big Dream
● London Grammar, If You Wait
● Night Marchers, Allez Allez
● Haim, Days Are Gone
● The Bronx, The Bronx
● Joanna Gruesome, Weird Sister
● Labels such as: Tri-angle & Saint Marie
● Facing the Other Way: The Story of 4AD
● Alan McGee’s autobiography.
Spotlight Kid is readying a new album Ten Thousand Hours (Saint Marie) to come out in March 2014.
Of course we like showering our favorite bands with public props, but we wanted to share some of our top tour discoveries of the year, too. If you’re on tour in a band or road-tripping with your fam, you might want to work these finds into your route. They’re not all secret spots, but they’re all worth a stop.
Top tour food discoveries of 2013:
● Bida Saigon (Knoxville, TN): pork liver bánh mì sandwiches
● Bergeron’s (Shreveport, LA): fried boudin balls, cracklins, smoked boudin
● Louie Mueller BBQ (Taylor, TX): beef rib
● Honorable mention: Ken-Tex BBQ (Shelbyville, KY): ribs; Efrain’s II (Boulder, CO): chili verde
Top tour off-day destinations of 2013:
● Monument Valley (Monument Valley, Utah)
● Valley of the Gods (Mexican Hat, Utah)
● Fast Times Indoor Go-Karting (Indianapolis, IN)
● Honorable mention: Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Golden, CO); Mammoth Cave National Park (Mammoth Cave, KY)
Top ten most played albums in the tour van of 2013 (alphabetical):
● The 1975, Sex EP
● Arctic Monkeys, AM
● Biffy Clyro, Opposites
● Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe
● Darkside, Psychic
● Daughter, If You Leave
● Flume, Flume
● Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse
● The Killers, Battle Born
● Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork
NYC’s Spirit Animal released a new EP Kingdom Phylum in October 2013.
The Stargazer Lilies
● Black Hearted Brother, “Take Heart”
● Boards Of Canada, “Jacquard Causeway”
● The Casket Girls, “Suddenly”
● Dead Leaf Echo, “Kingmaker”
● Demon Queen, “Love Hour Zero”
● Happy Families, “New Forgetting”
● Little Tornados, “Manifest”
● Mazzy Star, “California”
● Medicine, “It’s Not Enough”
● My Bloody Valentine, “Only Tomorrow”
● Nightmare Air, “Escape”
● Ulrich Schnauss, “I Take Comfort In Your Ignorance” (Tycho Remix)
● Whirr, “Swoon”
Neo shoegazers the Stargazer Lilies released their well-received full-length We Are the Dreamers on Graveface in October 2013.
Top five albums and re-issues:
● Dirty Beaches, Drifters / Love Is the Devil
● Julianna Barwick, Nepenthe
● Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze
● Miles Davis, Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2
● Rebecca Martin, Twain
Top five, general life:
● Discovering El Bravo’s Green chilli burro, Phoenix, AZ
● Star Trek Into Darkness
● Chvrches tour 2013
● Reading Just Kids
● “Fireflies” video shoot in the Painted Hills, Portland OR
London dream-pop duo Still Corners came out with their sophomore full-length Strange Creatures on Sub Pop in May 2013.
Summer Cannibals’ Jessica Boudreaux
● The Thermals, Desperate Ground
● Roomrunner, Ideal Cities
● Savages, Silence Yourself
● Quasi, Mole City
● FUZZ, FUZZ
● Thee Oh Sees, Floating Coffin
● Sun Angle, Diamond Junk
● Wimps, Repeat
● Bloodbirds, Psychic Surgery
● Mikal Cronin, MCII
● Best Song: Katy Perry, “Roar”
Portland rockers Summer Cannibals put out the full-length No Makeup (New Moss) in August 2013.
Superhuman Happiness’ Stuart Bogie
Disclaimer: I’m not a journalist, and much of the music I come across is the music of my friends and colleagues, often stuff I’ve been involved with. So with that grain of salt, here is a short list of records I’ve been enjoying:
● Atoms for Peace, Amok: This record has all the rhythmic interplay to carry your sense of bio-math with Thom Yorke’s lyrical melodies.
● James Blake, Overgrown: This album is great. It reminds me of Beyondo with less humor. There weren’t any new Beyondo records this year so this will be hook me up while I wait.
● Chico Man, Magical Thinking: Marcos Garcia has been making some of the most bouncy tracks around for years now. This record features some of our favorite vocalists, including Kalmia from Rubblebucket. This music is a gorgeous blend of Afrobeat concept with an ‘80s sound palate. Touches my Howard Jones spots at times, with deeper roots, including African and modern dance influences.
● Iron and Wine, Ghost on Ghost: Sam Beam does not repeat himself, and with this record, he enlisted Rob Berger to arrange the entire record—going for something not dissimilar to Astral Weeks. Sam’s songs are drop dead beautiful, and full of word play in its finest form.
● Yellowbirds, Songs from the Vanished Frontier: Sam Cohen is a poetic and imaginative artist, and I love everything he does. His songs share music with you by showing rather explaining.
● Dr. Dog, B Room: “The Truth” gets played almost everyday. So good! Dr. Dog are so creative and relaxed in a rare and wonderful way.
● Arcade Fire, Reflektor: This band doesn’t need any extra promo, but damn they sure can make a great record. James Murphy worked on it, and he is the shit. I can dance to it, and my body doesn’t like to feel left out when all that brilliant sound is flying around.
● Fimber Bravo, Con-Fusion: An amazing steel drum player whose music just goes and goes with grace and beauty. I saw him performing outside the train station in Shepard’s Bush, London, only to realize a few months later we shared the same record label in England! The tonality of the steel drum works in strange ways against the rest of the track. It’s haunting—you really gotta hear it to get it.
Party-music supergroup Superhuman Happiness released the LP Hands in March 2013 via the Royal Potato Family.