Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2013 (Part 2)

At this point, it's all kind of moot, because everything is excellent. All that said, we all expect rankings right? We could roughly group these into to groups of 10-6 and 5-1 and not play favorites, but I'm expected to pick something top so here we go. Here are my to 10-ish with some talky talky.

10. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

What a year for these debutantes. They may have made the list on the strength of their EP along, but the follow up LP built on that promise. "Recover" is definitely a candidate for song of the year. A great EP, then and great LP? It's a fine debut

9 Superchunk – I Hate Music 

After 2010, I thought Superchunk's comeback was done. I mean, who else does that?  Disappear for a decade and kick some major ass? What are the chances for a repeat? Apparently 100%. While not as in your face as "Majesty Shredding" this may be the stronger album front to back.

8. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork 

Hard rock still lives in the desert. Thank God. Is there anything else to say?

7. Savages – Silence Yourself 

Wow and whoa. Where did this come from. What a breath off of fresh air aimed right at the aural epicenter of me. Never too harsh, but abrasive this shit kicks ass.

6. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

One year, The National will release an album that is not automatically guaranteed to be in my favorites of the year list (see Arcade Fire). This year is not that year. There's easily enough here to yammer about incessantly. It's good. Just not as good as the last two.

5. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt 

Gotta have a country-ish pick right. I can't even justify this empirically other than the number of plays and outright love that I've had for it from the get go. What a voice. What songs. Love, love, love, love.

4. My Bloody Valentine – mbv 

22 years or so on, it starts where they left off. What's the fun of that you may ask? It's all about the destination. This album starts in the earlier 90s and ends with your brand melting. Brain melting... sounds like Kevin Shields to me.

3. Deerhunter – Monomania 

Call me a homer. I don’t give a crap. Deerhunter (er, Brandon Cox) might be the most consistently quality outfit (er, individual) working in indie music today or any day. This cold easily be top, but we’re splitting hairs in the top 5 people!

2. Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze 

Before this album, I wasn’t much of a fan. I had dismissed Mr. Vile’s work as mere “stoner music” or some such bullshit. This, however, was a revelation. While it’s not in the top spot for me, it may be the most melodic album for me this year.

1. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

With their fourth full-length LP, this Scottish band finally brings all the pieces together. I’ve rated their two previous efforts pretty highly, but this time everything clicks. There just aren’t any down moments or off notes. Just wow.

My Favorite Albums of 2013 (Part 1)

This was a weird year for me musically. During my recovery from surgery, I had a lot of time on my hands. So much time that new music that I was interested in didn't really fill my listening needs. Really. I spent a good chunk of two months confined to the house with nothing else to do but play low impact video games and listen to music (and download, mostly legally, a lot of it). So, I spent a lot of time this year on the "back catalogue". I rediscovered Big Star, delved more deeply into The Kinks, Zeppelin, and the Who (among others). Heck, Big Star is in the top 5 of listened to artists this year.

Also, I also rediscovered vinyl and dug into my actual, physical LPs for the first time in many, many years.

That said, there was some fantastic music that came out this year that I'd like to highlight. Of course, this is not a best of list, because no one that I know can listen to everything, and there are things that I haven't gotten to yet (Suede's return). This is merely a snapshot of my favorite albums of the year (part 1). Here are my favorites for 10 to 20 in no particular order (the next post will rank the top 10 with some comment):

20. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
19. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
18. Local Natives – Hummingbird
17. The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law
16. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
15. Camper van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida
14. White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade
13. Bill Callahan - Dream River
12. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
11. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

Part 2with the top 10 and some commentary to follow in the coming days.

My Year in Cities 2013

This as been my lightest travel year in a long, long time.Spending two months on my back in the middle of the year recuperating from neck surgery would have that effect every time. Here are the cities I visited in 2013*:

Raleigh, NC*
Raphine, VA*
Miami, FL

The rules: one or more nights had to be spent in a city. Those cities marked with an asterisk (*) were visited multiple times.