This is neat! (Haven’t tried it yet though.)
The bestest of releases of music of 2013. I take no responsibility for my bad memory - or yours for that matter! You can find most of the highlighted tracks (two from each artist) in this Spotify Playlist:
Back in 2010, I remained mostly in disregard of this new Danish band, thinking it was nothing more but a simple pop act. I could not have been more wrong. Adagio blew me away with its wonderful experiments and catchy tunes, and when upon reaching the two gloomy tracks, Corruption and No Morning Comes, halfway through was I completely sold. I can’t wait to go back and pay a proper revisit to the first LP, Under the New Morning sun, now.
Oh, Akron/Family. You never cease to amaze me. Sub Verses is perhaps slightly less spacy and more rocking than S/T II: The Cosmic Birth And Journey of Shinju TNT from the year before last. The production is more akin to solid neo-psych bands, like The Black Angels or Black Mountain, yet without compromising the crazy compositions and heartfelt singing Akron/Family for which the band is so well known. The record is a rollercoaster of emotions. It is truly a masterpiece. (And while I’m at it, I’m seizing the opportunity to mention my number one concert of all time: Akron/Family at Roskilde Festival 2007 sharing the stage with a dozen or so members of African Footprints – holy shit!)
While Moderat’s long-awaited second album was both pretty and pretty straight-forward, albeit a trifle too vocalised for my taste, Apparat really surprised me with Krieg Und Fried, a full-length orchestral piece made to accompany a theatre production of Lev Tolstoy’s classic novel. It’s a monumental example of just how well electronic and classical sounds go together.
A clear-cut contender for the song of the year, The Windmill of the Autumn Sky is so filled with beauty, one is guaranteed mesmerising. I’m linking to the EP, because, although the song is also to be found on the band’s self-titled LP from 2013, the EP’s got some rare treats of folk and blues, like the funky Dead Blues.
I am an admitted fan of all things The Blue Angel Lounge, and judged by this year’s double-sided single Walls, the next LP, hopefully coming early 2014, is a definite day one purchase! Anton Newcombe and Fabian Leseure suits the German band perfectly.
Euporie Tide’s eighth track, Sota El Cel, is the perfect interlude to prepare you for what is the record’s grand finale. The two remaining tracks on the record is a complete experience in themselves, and you should really just let go and let Causa Sui’s progressive mixture of jazzy rhythms and stoner rock engulf you.
In 2011, McCombs surprised releasing not one but two equally wonderful LPs (although I suppose Wit’s End grew on me the most in the end), so naturally he would release a double LP in 2013. As always with McCombs, he manages putting together a record spanning folk, blues, rock and country with such ease, it’s really no surprise Big Wheel and Others is a near-perfect relationship through and through.
Cloud Boat’s first LP, Book of Hours, is a somewhat sombre, yet surprisingly soothing acquaintance somewhere between James Blake, Holy Other, and Burial. Lately, the record has seriously grown on me, and I am looking forward to giving it many a spin.
To me, Crystal Stilts has always been a band I’m coming back to from a year or so apart. I tend to the records a good spin too many when they first land. I doubt this record is any different, having already listened to it more times than I care to count in the last couple of months. The melodies are as beautiful as ever and the production is crisp and clean, making Nature Noir such a pleasure listening to.
Psychic is a wonderful journey through melancholic soundscapes, taking you aback with catchy beats carefully placed here and there forcing you to start dancing, making you think you actually look cool doing so. Take Metatron for a spin and tell me that one isn’t fit for getting a groove on.
Need I say more?
I have yet to watch either Breathe In or The Beauty Inside, both films scored by the fantastic Dustin O’Halloran, but both official soundtracks had me blown away the moment I gave either a listen. If the music is any indication for the films, we’re in for a sentimental and thoroughly gorgeous experience. I don’t think I’ve felt this warm and fuzzy inside since Stars Of The Lid’s 2007 masterpiece, And Their Refinement of the Decline.
Let me say from the outset, I am no fan of At War With The Mystics. In my book, it will forever mark an all-time low in The Flaming Lips otherwise enviable career. But along came Embryonic in 2009 and with a new and promising future for the band! The Flaming Lips have once again grasped and mastered the noisy, playful, experimental, and awe-inspiring I so adore them for. 2013 even saw a second record, following the magnificent The Terror. Originally intended as a score to the Ender’s Game-film, all but one song was turned down by the filmmakers. Their loss, because Peace Sword is wonderful record, slightly more melodic and old-school-Lips than The Terror. The psychedelic and noisy tunes of The Terror is my personal favourite, should I choose between the two, but Peace Sword is not falling far behind.
I still regard Yellow House among the finest of all records. Grizzly Bear has ever been such an enormous inspiration and pleasure to listen to. This year, the band released the B-sides to 2012’s Shields. The EP does contain some remixes I honestly haven’t really cared to dive into. I’m here for even more fantastic song writing gems. The five “new” songs are a perfect example of why you can never really go wrong with Grizzly Bear. You will be hard-pressed to find a finer ensemble of sublime musicians and songwriters.
Not to be confused with Swedish weird-heavy-psych-band (which is awesome, by the way) bearing the same name. Admitted, I am more or less new to this type of Goat, seeing that the Australian trios 2010 debut didn’t grow on me as much as this one has. Circles combines wonderful singer-songwriter melodies with desperate and cool vocals. The low fidelity production perfectly fits the punk-like attitude and hard-hitting acoustic guitar sound present throughout the record.
Having only recently familiarised myself with the Dutch Jacco Gardner, I’ve only been listening to his debut for a couple of months now, but oh god is this the finest little thing! Everyone seems to embrace the term nowadays, but to me Jacco Gardner is proper psych-pop. Somewhere between The Zombies, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, and Patrick Wilson. It is playful and fantastical - and equally as fantastic live!
Ever since I played Braid, which features tracks from Sieber, I’ve honestly been in love with her beautiful, beautiful soundscapes. Sieber is striking all the right notes with me. Her music paints adorable pictures of a world that is made of life’s many vicissitudes. Timeless has this magical ability to fit in any situation. I’ve been enjoying the tunes walking the dry fields of Spain, travelling the Danish windblown countryside, or racing through a colourful lit up city at night. Timeless is triumphant in creating a melancholic yet uplifting experience with little more than the droning of strings and hazy vocals.
I guess one is excused for only releasing one album every five or six years as long as every release is of such mind-blowing quality as the records by Hopkins. Having eagerly awaited a new album since the perfect Insides from 2008, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got to take Immunity for a spin – well, not exactly surprised, seeing that I’ve come to expect such high standards from Hopkins. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Insides was released closer to each other. The two are highly alike, which is in no way a bad thing I might add. Like its predecessor, Immunity excels in creating atmospheric worlds of melancholic woven melodies and tightly knit beats. I’m always amazed how Hopkins manages to create these outstanding pieces with such apparent ease.
Ever since the debut in 2009, Barwick has been a huge inspiration to me. The way she’s using simple loops and effects with her powerful singing creates songs that are out of this world. Like a choir praising the universe in all its beauty. New age ahoy!
King Krule is awesome! He manages to do soul, hip hop, what have you, all circling around Marshall’s distinct and accent-filled singing. It is as if Frank Ocean was a ginger Londoner, or something… Anyway, count me in! I’m looking forward to follow King Krule’s lovely endeavours in the coming years.
Everything Spencer Krug touches turns to gold! Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade, Moonface, and more (and Swan Lake, I guess… Sometimes… When Spencer Krug writes). 2009’s collaboration with Finnish band Siinai Heartbreaking Bravery completely blew me away with its post-rock, post-punk accompanying Krug’s always enticing song writing. Julia With Blue Jeans On, on the contrary, is Krug up-close and personal. Aimed with a piano and his extremely powerful voice, Krug has nearly outdone himself this time. The record takes a little getting used to, but in the end awards you with so much more. I’m covered in goose bumps listening to this masterpiece. Krug has never been more honest and heartfelt.
Every Mount Eerie record is oddly familiar yet exploring completely new territories. As such, every meeting is a welcoming return to Elverum’s calming voice and unsettling experiments in the best possible spirit. This time, Elverum is exploring a spacy, shoegazing sound with “auto-tuned” vocals on top. Normally, I’m no fan of auto-tune, often functioning as a rundown tool than an advancing one, and yet Pre-Human Ideas becomes this fittingly futuristic dystopic relationship filled with weird emotions and a fitting title on top.
This does not really need any clever explanations or arguments. It’s a near-perfect follow up to one of my all-time favourite albums. Enough talking. Push play.
2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers arrived at a time when excellent indie rock used quirky and cool titles to instruct its listeners how to cope with simple love lives, that we all suffered from, but was too scared to talk about (see, e.g., Anthems For The Could’ve Bin Pills, Good News For People Who Love Bad News). Nevertheless, I was on board and I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since, even though there’s not much of innovation going throughout The National’s successful ride. What The National does, though, is delivering forever touching songs of loves lost. This year’s Trouble Will Find Me being no exception.
When did Cave become Prince? I mean, look at that spelling: We No Who U R! I don’t get it… Is it a cunning reference? Fortunately, the album opener’s cringe-worthy title isn’t an indication of what is actually on show here. Push the Sky Away blew everyone away with its collection of Caves strongest song writing in a long time. However, what I keep coming back to this album for is the record’s atmospheric and drone-like strings and baselines. Although I am a huge fan of Dirty Three, the slightly sinister Grinderman-Ellis is more apparent on Push the Sky Away than on any Bad Seeds-album before, and it adds a welcoming tension to many of Caves love songs.
Kogetsudai may very well be the Chaevaeu-record that’s hardest to get into. It is the second of a planned trilogy of deconstructed song structures inspired by a certain concept or piece of art. The first entry in the trilogy, 2010’s Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated), found inspiration in abstract painting, and was a pleasant encounter with Chauveau’s beautiful baritone voice and piano pieces. Kogetsudai is inspired by Japanese zen gardens, and the result is a much more ambient and soundscape-oriented record. This one should be enjoyed with one’s eyes closed without any interruptions.
Tim Hecker is a master of creating menacing yet absorbing ambient worlds. Like his colleague Aidan Baker, and to a degree Murcof as well, listening to Tim Hecker is often a very dark but awarding endeavour. Virgins has charmed me with its grandiose production and awesome instrumentation. It’s extremely epic and completely out of this world.
Lost features a handful of very promising and capable vocalists, but I have to admit, I’ve come to love Trentemøller’s instrumental edition of the record even more. Take The Dream – Instrumental for a spin. It is striking like nothing else, and as with all things Trentemøller the production is simply top notch. That said, you mustn’t forget the vocalists. Take Come Undone for example, featuring vocals by Kazu Makino: I heartily hope Trentemøller will be producing the next Blonde Redhead. “Oh, Kazu, you, you are so special.”
Ever since the song Fail Forever took a spin at a party in 2009, I was hooked. The band’s second album, 2011’s Konkylie, was an even greater achievement, and now with Infinity Pool the band just keeps on impressing with an even more experimental and darker approach to pop music. Vonsild’s vocals on top of the excellent production and delicate melodies makes When Saints Go Machine one of the most interesting acts right now – and they are equally as awesome live, mind you!
Tyler’s Behold The Spirit was, if not the album, then definitely up there with the other 30 albums, of 2010. As if this wasn’t enough, the opener Terrace of the Leper King was hands down the greatest track of 2010, and it even comes with a cool name (a nod to Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King?). This year’s Impossible Truth is a slightly less solemn acquaintance, some may even say easy-going. The production seems slightly more low fidelity, and that is in no way a bad thing. The result is another masterstroke from one of the masters of modern fingerpicking.
Nnon is oozing with grim coolness and remorseless romances of demons, death, and destruction. The heavy rhythms and baselines and distorted synth fits the hard-hitting post-punk perfectly, resulting in The Woken Trees taking the genre to a different and much-needed darker territory, also making room for longer, gloomy, and instrumental sequences. Most songs on this record would only have benefitted from having a generously production doubling their length.