Friday, April 4, 2014

5 Best Albums in March 2014

March may not have been as backloaded with high profile heavy hitters as February, but there are a couple records here that will likely end up on a number of year end best of lists. These were the five I thought lead the league last month. All very different recordings, each with their own own charms and loveable ugliness.

Elbow - The Take Off and Landing Of Everything

In some ways it is hard to believe this is the sixth album from these gentlemen. It is also maybe hard to believe that their debut was released within the same twelve months as Coldplay's debut back in '00-01. Sadly, but maybe not surprisingly, Elbow have clearly never achieved even close to the same level of international success or notoriety. Emerging from the same era of bands as Doves, Travis, and company, Elbow have never wavered from what makes them such solid song craftsmen. People have fairly described them as one of the most dependable active bands. This new record not only has them sticking to their strengths, but there is an ease with their place in the current music game, that perhaps could make this their strongest effort to date.

The songscapes as usual are gorgeously composed and the mature themes and above average musicianship really shine on this record. Guy Harvey's voice still echoes unapologetically of Peter Gabriel, and his words continue to be thought provoking and engaging for listeners. This is a world class band, who are beyond comfortable in their skin and with their place among younger bands getting much more attention. I am so thrilled with how this album turned out. For people who love Coldplay, but have never heard Elbow, that is really too bad, but it is never too late.




Trust - Joyland

This second record from Toronto's Trust, is largely the solo work of main dude Robert Alfons. This album, as with the last, continues to see Trust discussed in circles with the likes of other Canadian electronic artists such as Grimes, Austra, Purity Ring, and Crystal Castles. Understandable, but for anyone who spends even a few minutes with Joyland, it should be obvious this is a pretty different animal from that very respectable company Alfons has been thrown in with. On tracks like "Geryon" you can hear the thumpy weirdness of Swedish synth gods, the Knife, but this record has an unmistakable listenable quality more akin to early 80's and late 70's synth. This is a synth album with modern elements of electronic music thrown in, and not the other way around.

On this album, Alfons seems more comfortable vocally, with natural pieces of falsetto incorporated over his more staple gothish delivery. Some dark synth stuff these days gets lost in posturing. This record carries an eeriness throughout, no question, but never shies away from melody. The synth track isolation midway through the title song, for instance, perfectly highlights the deliberate breeziness of the album. "Are We Arc?" even has moments where it could be OMD, but with Bauhaus-esque vocals. Joyland is a very 2014 sounding electronic album, and epitomizes perfectly what a dark synthesizer album should sound like. One where you can actually press play, bob your head quite a bit, and sink into the inherent sadness without needing to throw yourself into a pit of fire. Unless you are really into that sort of thing, in which case have at it.




Liars - Mess

Liars have never made the same record twice. Not even close. They may also be philosophically the same band as they were in 2001 on their debut, but Mess is about 180 degrees removed from how they sounded then. Admittedly, I have never been a huge Liars fan, nor have have I ever disliked them. I have found some of their output challenging beyond being enjoyable to me, but always kind of respected them for trying things that may or may not work. 2014 appears to be the year they decided to release a record that absolutely works for these ears of mine in every way. The increased use of electronic layers on their last album, WIXIW, was clearly, in retrospect, a sign of where they were looking to go next. Make no mistake though, this is still not for everyone, and I am not sure they will be opening for Mumford and Sons or their ilk on the strength of this one.

Mess feels like a band standing on a mountain proclaiming that this is where electronic music should be heading. As with just about every Liars recording, listenability is not the first consideration with these songs. Many of them are played from down in the mud or a scary factory basement, but there is a haunting repetition in rhythm and flow on songs like "Boyzone" that create, if nothing, an illusion that the band is interested to engage in a bit more of a friendly way with listeners. I am not sure Mess will make these guys a household name (I'm also pretty sure they don't give a fuck), but if my reaction is any indication, there will be those who have similarly sat on the fence, appreciating and respecting what these guys have been doing, and we are now finally able to participate a bit more. This is a fearless record from a fearless band.




Eagulls - Eagulls

Over the years it has become increasingly tricky to know whether Joy Division influenced post-punk type sounding bands are from the US or the UK. When I first heard the self titled debut from Eagulls however, I had to check, and found out they were from Leeds. Perhaps it is because the vocals have a bit more English affection, but regardless, there is still something aesthetically appealing to me with bands that sound more like UK post-punk than US punk. I recognize it is a bit of a silly hair splitting exercise really, since bands in this category who have recently brought solid energy and upbeat in your face type riffing, have tended to be North American. I think of Metz from Toronto for instance, but I digress.

There is a complexity in the songs here, even if they are framed in simple focused furious attacks of upbeat vocal blasts and tempo runs. Unlike a band like Metz though, there is clear effort to give these songs corners and hooks that pre-empt and sit on top of the fuzzy wall of noise. The playing is loose enough that these songs could never reside up on a shelf with so many pretty things, but the deliberateness of their approach to make compact songs means they also have no interest to be seen as just another silly sloppy punk band. "Tough Luck" is a great choice for a single. It has licks and riffs that pull from the standard New Order and Cure trough, but the singer's vocals maintain the same urgency that never wavers throughout the record. These are ten tight, potent, and listenable post-punk songs that never veer into tripe anthemic whoa whoa sing along stuff. I love this record more every time I listen. Likely to be a real sleeper favourite in 2014 for music nerds.





Future Islands - Singles

This is the fourth recording by Future Islands. Thanks in part to a superb and well shared online performance on Letterman, it could also very well be the record where larger numbers of people start paying attention to these lads. I was aware of the band prior to Singles, but sadly had never spent much time with their catalogue. Irrespective of the semi-viral late night clip, this album stands on its own as a tremendous collection of songs, but also as the sign of a band who are clearly hitting their stride quite nicely. They get described as an electro pop or a synth pop band, but that label feels a bit unfair to these guys. Sure there are synthy pop sounds, and maybe it is the exceptional vocal work of Samuel T. Herring that sets them apart from other bands in that crowd, but these are exquisite pop songs that just happen to have synths. Plain and simple.

As with the performance that has recently put them on a wider radar for folks, I find Herring's singing occasionally a bit forced, but I think it is more a case of adjusting to such a prominent vocal approach juxtaposed against classically simple pop song structures. It is unusual, wonderful and refreshing to hear a singer singing modern pop songs who sounds more like Al Green than Bernard Sumner. Whenever voice and lyrics become the focal point of three minute pop songs, it takes a pretty special singer to pull it off seamlessly. Many reviews have been and will continue to be focused on Herring. The playing here is extremely competent, and the songs are top tier, but there are just few other pop bands right now with their words being delivered so passionately and sincerely. There is not one bad song on Singles. Ten perfectly crafted and executed pop songs. Lovely melodies, interesting yet familiar chords and notes. This record should have appeal to every kind of music listener, regardless of their typical stripes.





Honourable:

Tycho - Awake
We Are Scientists - Tv En Francais
La Dispute - Rooms Of The House


Monday, March 3, 2014

5 Best Albums in February 2014

Now that we are into March, time to reflect on the month past, which had some really great releases. Probably stronger than January, but also heavily back loaded in the final week of new releases. For my ears, there were a number of artists who re-surfaced, refreshed to get back at it, and in some cases, challenging themselves to produce music that may sound a bit different than they ever have, or certainly in a while. These were the standout releases I spent a lot of time with in February 2014

Beck - Morning Phase

Colour me guilty of generally preferring Beck's sexy disco style parties to his dirty hippy acoustic gatherings. At least until now. Many would disagree, but my feeling is even when Beck has missed the mark on certain albums, his will to be weird has always carried and commanded a level of respect and admiration compared to so many other artists. The last 3-4 albums since 2002's Sea Change, now sort of blend together potentially into a forgettable sameyness. If there was any question however, as to whether he "still had it", Morning Phase should largely answer that for fans of all types and stripes.

At the time of Sea Change,  I was admittedly still in the whole "Odelay rules" head space, and never really gave the record as fair a shot as it deserved. There have been many comparisons made between the new record and Sea Change, for obvious reasons. He has his acoustic guitar out again. These compositions are masterful at marrying simplistic songwriting with ambitious spacious string and studio treatments. He also keeps the harmonica to a dull roar, which is good new for this guy, because I fucking hate harmonicas. Unlike Sea Change, there is a warmer optimism in its melancholia (not being a break-up record may have a bit to do with that). The single "Blue Moon" straddles that mix of sentiment on this record nicely. More upbeat and singable than other tracks, yet a far cry from the ass shaking on the last few outings. This is exactly the record Beck needed to make not only in 2014, but for where he sits as an artist today. A sincere and well considered offering from one of the most interesting and important artists of the last twenty years.




Breton - War Room Stories

War Room Stories is the sophomore full length recording from London's Breton, and even though the work they have done to date may not have been highly visible, it is pretty easy to hear that these guys have been together since 2007. The members create short films, as well as directing videos and remixing tracks for other artists. There is a vastness to the songs that captures this penchant for collaboration and experimentation, but not one track on this record compromises focus or flow. The tightness in playing speaks to their confidence as a collective, and the sound layers prevent the songs from becoming too anthemic or bloated. 

Breton to my ears nestle in nicely with other Brit acts of similar tenure like Foals, Everything Everything, or Alt-J, but there is no clear influence point on this record, despite sounding so familiar. They do not shy away from grooves and hooks, but the closing track, "Fifteen Minutes", shows their ability to build a song to crescendo in less than four minutes, with some clever ping pong in sound along the way. A very mature and accomplished record for a still reasonably young band. One of the most pleasant surprises I have heard in my listening travels so far this year.




Neneh Cherry - Blank Project

It has been eighteen years since Neneh Cherry's last solo album. With reasonable buzz leading up to the release of Blank Project, it feels like there is still an unfortunate tendency for many to largely reduce her career to the mammoth hit, "Buffalo Stance," from her 1989 debut record Raw Like Sushi. Fair enough, but what is striking as you listen to this album is how so much of what Cherry was doing twenty five years ago, in retrospect, was very much ahead of its time. Artistically and critically, she has always been known for melding elements of jazz, hip-hop, electronic and pop music into mainstream sounds quite seamlessly. Blank Project follows this path, but with freeness and abandonment that may have been less evident when Neneh had the pressure of writing the next Buffalo Stance. 

Her voice is absolutely gorgeous here, aging in a way that shows hints of a diva with nothing to prove, and that you can project legitimate female strength in words and sound without vocal gymnastics or high priced studio trickery. Looking back, Neneh Cherry has not actually made as much music as her critical darling status might suggest. On tracks like "Naked," "Weightless," and "Cynical" she confirms what many have been preaching from the beginning. "Buffalo Stance" was (and is still) a great song, but this is an artist with pure intentions and vast sonic and emotional capability. I am so pleased to be hearing new music from her this year, and even more pleased at what an amazing record this has proven to be.




Black Submarine - New Shores

Not unlike Neneh Cherry, The Verve are a band who are sometimes reduced en masse to the net effect of their commercially successful output. Most people who have invested in Urban Hymns, know it is a near perfect affair, but still there would be the folks who are familiar with "Bittersweet Symphony," but have no idea who recorded it. What perhaps works best about the Black Submarine project, is enough time has passed that Nick McCabe and Simon Jones are not burdened with any residual baggage from The Verve, yet they can benefit somewhat from the modest celebrity and attention it brings to this album. Because these two gents are heavily involved, you can certainly go looking for and find traces of their former band here, but make no mistake, this is not a Verve record. It is very much a 2014 record. 

The cast includes musicians who have worked with Goldfrapp, Coldplay, and Portishead. There are elements of shoe gaze, psychedelia, trip-hop and britpop throughout, with tracks ranging from under three minutes to upwards of eight minutes. To this point, throughout the whole record there is a clear vision of taking as long on each song as is needed to tell the story the way they want it told. It is occasionally and harmlessly bloated, but thematically New Shores  flows beautifully. Headphones showcase the subtleties of both craft and production, and it is definitely best heard in full either as background or a seated invested listen, rather than in bits on the fly. Comparisons to The Verve will be inevitable, but this record navigates that territory in the best possible way. A fresh recording that could have gone a number of different directions without the right patience and comfort among the players. This one is a keeper.




Wild Beasts - Present Tense

The steady evolution of Wild Beasts over four albums has been a beautiful thing to witness. Each recording maintains core elements of their theatrical foundation, while allowing the band to become increasingly more comfortable with listenability and matters of order. The vocal trade-off between Hayden Thorpe's falsetto and Tom Flemming's more sombre voice has always made their music intriguing, juxtaposing their sense of airiness and aloofness with heaviness and melancholy. Present Tense pulls in more bits of electronic instrumentation than its predecessors perhaps, and the influence of Bjork and Eno production alumni also seems makes this record a bit less manic. 

If you acknowledge how hard it is to make truly original music in this day and age, then perhaps the next best thing a band can hope for is to sound completely different than everyone else across the current landscape. That is what makes Wild Beasts a special band for me, and this record firmly plants them into the space where their following will grow, while commercial success is clearly and refreshingly not a priority. There are tracks like the single "Sweet Spot" that do not repel a listener like songs from their first album might, and in fact there is more gravitational pull and lustre on these songs than they have ever shown. This is the most comfortable the band has ever sounded in their seemingly haughty skin. A song like "Past Perfect" almost sounds the groove came first, and the bassline, as with other tracks, isn't necessarily an after thought.

All of this said, these guys are not for everyone. Thorpe's vocals alone are the stuff crinkled eyebrow looks are made for. For the adventurous listener however, Wild Beasts have made another record of such depth, beauty and complexity that its initial rewards are only surpassed by its ability to keep giving across multiple listens. There is a lot to soak in here, but now more than ever, we are catching the lads at a time when they can tighten things up into a compact set of songs that work brilliantly together and on their own, without compromising any of the things that have always made them such a special and interesting band. Subject to change, I would currently suggest this is their strongest, most focused and consistent album to date, and my favourite record I have heard this year (sorry Dum Dum Girls - you're number two now).






Honourable

Nina Persson - Animal Heart
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow
Neil Finn - Dizzy Heights






Wednesday, January 29, 2014

5 Best Albums in January 2014

It is a new music year at Rattled By The Rush. I am hoping this is the year someone actually calls it RBTR, but that presumes that someone might actually be talking about this blog, which seems a stretch given the curmudgeonly old fart running things around here. We are going to try something different in the interest of showcasing more new music each month, by offering a bit more commentary for a handful of new releases, while still curating a couple of big ass lists of cool songs and albums at year end.

Here are five of the best records I heard here in the first month of 2014.

Warpaint - Warpaint
It has been four years since this band of young women from LA released their full length debut, and as was the case on that album, they remain tricky to pin down or assign to one specific genre or sound tag. What I love about this record and what Warpaint do so well in general, is their natural ability to embrace overall music themes and core melodies that are shaded in dreariness and dark drifting, while dressing the songs up in subtle quirky little percussions and key strokes that don't shift anything into upbeat, but coupled with the dreamy vocals, allow the songs enough room to breathe. "Love Is To Die" was released later in 2013 as a single in advance of the full record and really is the strongest or perhaps most "single" ready track here. I would like to have heard them flex on this vibe a bit more throughout, but still a very mature and ambitious record for a young band.

 


Cymbals - The Age of Fracture

This is another band releasing their second full length album here in 2014, and this one has been a real pleasant surprise to my ears. Cymbals are from London, and if the opening track "Winter '98" was any indication, one would think this album was going to be a dark synth offering, which would have been fine, but no. It shifts on "Natural World" and "You Are" into bouncier synth pop, but with some of the timings one might associate with Brit guitar pop bands like Everything Everything, Dutch Uncles or Field Music. 

As much as I love active new bands that borrow from 80's originated synth pop, there is no denying that space is feeling a bit cluttered right now, with a large slice of pleasant but largely disposable and overly formulaic bands. I love this record because it slots in nicely alongside the stricter synth pop masters like Hot Chip, but also the more guitar based bands I mentioned earlier. The best bands like Cymbals are able strike a perfect balance between organic groove and hook instrumentation supplemented with fun electronics and keys. The song "Erosion" (below) catches them at their most Cure / New Order esque, while still being on the fresh side of things. There also are not many synth pop bands who can stretch to over six minutes on a few tracks without jeopardizing the natural flow of the overall record. I really hope these guys attract some attention in larger outlets this year. This record is super sneaky and cool.






I Break Horses - Chiaroscuro

With every passing year of new music, more and more is made of the fact that Sweden seems to have a disproportionate lock on pop music gold producing DNA. What gets less attention though, is actually what a diverse landscape of sound comes from Sweden, including even some of those arsehole bands with seven string guitars and WWF face makeup. What connects the best bands from said country, irrespective of genre or style, is an uncanny knack for song craft. The Swedish ratio of bands that suck to bands that exist seems unrealistically low. Enter I Break Horses. Yes, my third entry on this list by a band who have dropped their second full length album in January 2014. This record is much less guitar driven than the debut, but also far more engaging and textured. 

Much like with the XX, there are beats and hooks that disarm you as a listener into feeling you can relax and head bop for a spell, but there is an overarching frostiness that hangs above the record that precludes it from elevating into anything resembling a dance or pop record, even with those sensibilities seemingly there for the taking. This is a weighty, dynamic, and nifty record that draws more from The Knife than Robyn, but rounds out elements from just about all the interesting sounds coming out of this country right now. We are just under thirty days into '14, but this record is an easy year end top 10 album contender, and "Faith" is as amazing a song as anyone is likely to release this year.




Patterns - Walking Lines

I swear that I do not purposely go trawling for new bands from Manchester every year. Okay, maybe a bit. The funny part with Patterns, is not only do they not sound particularly like a Manchester act, but much of this record feels quite American sounding, at least on the surface reminding me of The Shins or Local Natives. The band seems to be facing occasional Cocteau Twins references, which are not unfair, but this album dances around quite a bit, without ever being disruptively manic. Songs like "Blood" have anthemic Coldplay type potential, but they never quite go there and certainly never in a way that panders to the sing-a-long clutch in favour of song fundamentals. The playing here is super tight and competent, but again, not at the expense of listenability. I would comfortably put Patterns in the category of young bands who are punching outside their weight class right of the gate on a debut album. This type of confidence in a young band can take them in a number of directions. Here is hoping they achieve some version of positive attention this year, but for what they already are and what they are capable of, rather than what the wrong label could do with them if they got their mitts on them. If you Rhianna appearing on a Patterns record, I would suggest something has gone terribly wrong (or terribly right depending on your perspective).




Dum Dum Girls - Too True

Previous releases from Dum Dum Girls were largely lo-fi, on the tinnier side of guitar production and overall esthetic. Too True does not switch gears into a full on stadium album, but the reverb and fuller post punk type sound looks fantastic on Dee Dee and her team for this one. The lead single, "Rimbaud Eyes" feels like a Siouxise and The Bunnymen track, but it is unmistakably Dee Dee. There is a clear confidence bump on this record with darker vocals and more expansive songscapes. Like so many records, where the writer has gone through some level of adversity prior to or during the recording, the lyrics carry a level of personal depth that augment these songs in the richest way. This is a compact album with ten flawlessly executed, famously crafted songs. My favourite record so far this year, Too True is a top tier piece of music that sounds like an already accomplished artist hitting stride and completely firing on all cylinders, and reinforces the notion that some of the best music right now is being made by strong, interesting, and bright feminine women who do not need to resort to matters of spectacle like wrecking balls or chair dances.





Honourable:

The New Mendicants - Into The Lime
Drowners - Drowners
Mogwai - Rave Tapes

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Top 100 Songs Of 2013

This was a whole lot of fun this year. It is always fun, but there were a lot of great songs released in 2013. So many artists embracing melody in simplistic yet often fascinating ways. I am always astounded by how musicians can continue to engage listeners when it sometimes feels like everything has been done before.

My take on the best songs in 2013 sticks pretty close to the annual gathering and compiling event of previous years. I like music that's listenable, compact, well crafted, honest, and more often than not just really fun. Lots of guitar pop, synth pop, and post-punk stuff here as always.

As I talk with other music nerd friends about the music year that was (or will be shortly), there is some consensus that there were very few clear runaway albums or songs in 2013. You could almost describe it as a tight race, where on certain days based on mood you could flip a coin and arrive at your favourite, or the best in class. I am certain I have quietly flip flopped already on a few of my top 5 choices over at my Top 100 Albums Of 2013 list.

There were also some extremely strong albums, that did not lend themselves to easily carved out "top songs" or singles. Albums by The Knife and Goldfrapp come to mind. Challenging and thoroughly rewarding listens as full albums, but more strong in the sum of their parts and as full works than isolated tracks. Hence why some of those heavyweights are not represented on my songs list.

For Rdio users and subscribers out there, I have also compiled these songs as a playlist. Five of the songs listed below are currently unavailable on Rdio, so as with last year, I have tacked a few extras on the end to make up the full 100.

Please feel free to check it out and subscribe to the playlist here.

So here goes. No real caveats, other than the standard acknowledgement that big lists are fun, and take a lot of time, but everyone knows taste is personal and sequencing is arbitrary after about the first thirty entries :)



100 Editors A Ton Of Love
99 Minor Alps If I Wanted Trouble
98 Beastmilk Death Reflects Us
97 Boy George King of Everything
96 Arctic Monkeys Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High
95 Matthew Good Arrows of Desire
94 Girls Names A Second Skin
93 Xander Harris Night Fortress
92 Gauntlet Hair Heave
91 John Grant Sensitive New Age Guy
90 Asif Illyas Electrical
89 Soviet Soviet Ecstasy
88 Shout Out Louds Illusions
87 Arcade Fire It's Never Over (Hey Orpheus)
86 White Lies Mother Tongue
85 LULS Never Let It Go
84 Weekend Siobhan
83 The Dismemberment Plan Living In Song
82 Sigur Ros Isjaki
81 Of Montreal Triumph Of Disintegration
80 The Black Hollies Unless It's My Imagination
79 These New Puritans Fragment Two
78 The Hunt Fifteen Minutes
77 Annie Hold On
76 Savages She Will
75 David Bowie Valentine's Day
74 Midnight Juggernauts Systematic
73 Phantogram The Day You Died
72 Mind Spiders Suicide
71 Brendan Benson Rejuvenate Me
70 Holograms Attestupa
69 Kurt Vile KV Crimes
68 Frankie & The Heartstrings Nothing Our Way
67 Rogue Wave College
66 The Love Language Calm Down
65 Little Boots Satellite
64 Warpaint Love Is To Die
63 The KVB Human
62 Cults I Can Hardly Make You Mine
61 The Naked and Famous Hearts Like Ours
60 Paper Lions Bodies In The Winter
59 Body Language Just Because
58 Franz Ferdinand Treason! Animals.
57 By Divine Right No One Can Fix Me
56 KA Off The Record
55 Coasts Oceans
54 The Grapes of Wrath Paint You Blue
53 Hilotrons Runaway Heart
52 Vampire Weekend Everlasting Arms
51 Anna Calvi Piece By Piece
50 Chvrches Recover
49 Visage Never Enough
48 Johnny Marr Upstarts
47 Sulk Flowers
46 !!! One Girl / One Boy
45 Frankie Rose You For Me
44 Pet Shop Boys Thursday
43 The National Don't Swallow The Cap
42 Janelle Monae Q.U.E.E.N.
41 Queens Of The Stone Age I Sat By The Ocean
40 Everything Everything Duet
39 The 1975 The City
38 Shad Stylin
37 St. Lucia Elevate
36 Hollerado Pick Me Up
35 Divine Fits Ain't That The Way
34 Sebastien Grainger Going With You
33 Jagwar Ma That Loneliness
32 Dutch Uncles Fester
31 Paramore Ain't It Fun
30 Local Natives Black Balloons
29 Classixx Holding On
28 Telekinesis Power Lines
27 Phoenix Trying To Be Cool
26 Lorde Team
25 Superchunk Me & You & Jackie Mittoo
24 The Limousines Bedbugs
23 Polvo Light, Raking
22 Holy Ghost! Dance A Little Closer
21 Suuns Bambi
20 Gary Numan Love Hurt Bleed
19 Atlas Genius Electric
18 Wavves Demon To Lean On
17 Jamie Lidell Big Love
16 Primal Scream Invisible City
15 Daft Punk Get Lucky
14 Disclosure When A Fire Starts
13 Haim Falling
12 Crocodiles She Splits Me Up
11 Blood Orange You're Not Good Enough
10 Cayucas Highschool Lover
9 Cut Copy In Memory Capsule
8 Junip Your Life Your Call
7 Empire Of The Sun Ice On The Dune
6 OMD Night Cafe
5 Suede Hit Me
4 Baths Miasma Sky
3 Miles Kane Better Than That
2 Mikal Cronin Shout It Out
1 Foals My Number



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top 100 Albums of 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Music year-end list time.

When I took a peak over some lists from the last couple years, it feels like 2013 was a pretty solid year for interesting music. There were a number of bands who created combinations of sounds like no one else can really lay claim to right now. There were also a number of artists who borrowed from their influences really well and wore them unabashedly on their sleeves to stunning effect. Some of the music I came across was instantly engaging, while other releases were tough listens, with rewarding endings if you were patient enough. Some veterans showed they can still compete with and even outdo the kids, while other seniors fell flat and missed the mark slightly.

As always, I threw the net quite wide in 2013, and got most of my biases and overreactions out of the way along the way. I was able to spend mostly meaningful time with upwards of approximately 250 records this year. Listening to as much new music as possible is quite simply what I like to do more than anything else. Some records were unfortunately brushed over prematurely, and hopefully they will float back into listening circulation in due course. Others just did not work for these ears whatsoever.

So this is where I landed. I reserve the right to shuffle things around, but really if that happens I will be the only one who notices or cares. I wanted to get this up, because I don't have the patience or capacity to bugger around with it anymore. The plan is to follow shortly with more detail, narrative and thoughts on the Top 10.





Artist Album
100 The 1975 The 1975
99 Yuck Glow and Behold
98 St. Lucia When The Night
97 Beastmilk Climax
96 Depeche Mode Delta Machine
95 Sulk Graceless
94 Frightened Rabbit Pedestrian Verse
93 !!! Thr!!!er
92 Wavves Afraid of Heights
91 Xander Harris The New Dark Age of Love
90 Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
89 Visage Hearts & Knives
88 Surfer Blood Pythons
87 Lorde Pure Heroine
86 The Grapes of Wrath High Road
85 Arctic Monkeys AM
84 Hilotrons At Least There's Commotion
83 Johnny Marr The Messenger
82 Kurt Vile Walking on A Pretty Daze
81 John Grant Pale Green Ghosts
80 David Bowie The Next Day
79 White Lies Big Tv
78 The Dismemberment Plan Uncanney Valley
77 James Blake Overgrown
76 Public Service Broadcasting Inform - Educate - Entertain
75 My Bloody Valentine mbv
74 Minor Alps Get There
73 Janelle Monae The Electric Lady
72 Queens Of The Stone Age Like Clockwork
71 Cults Static
70 Soviet Soviet Fate
69 Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of The City
68 Frankie & The Heartstrings The Days Run Away
67 Telekinesis Dormarion
66 Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest
65 Washed Out Paracosm
64 These New Puritans Field of Reeds
63 Little Boots Nocturnes
62 London Grammar If You Wait
61 Gauntlet Hair Stills
60 The KVB Immaterial Visions
59 Asif Illyas Synesthesia
58 Miles Kane Don't Forget Who You Are
57 Shad Flying Colours
56 Pet Shop Boys Electric
55 The Black Hollies Somewhere Between Here and Nowhere
54 By Divine Right Organized Accidents
53 The National Trouble Will Find Me
52 Daft Punk Random Access Memories
51 Everything Everything Arc
50 Jamie Lidell Jamie Lidell
49 Jagwar Ma Howlin
48 Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven
47 Of Montreal lousy with sylvianbriar
46 Sebadoh Defend Yourself
45 Arcade Fire Reflektor
44 Sigur Ros Kveikur
43 Chvrches The Bones of What You Believe
42 Phoenix Bankrupt!
41 Girls Names The New Life
40 Haim Days Are Gone
39 Woodkid The Golden Age
38 Moderat II
37 KA The Night's Gambit
36 Goldfrapp Tales of Us
35 Midnight Juggernauts Uncanny Valley
34 Factory Floor Factory Floor
33 The Hunt The Hunt Begins
32 Adult. The Way Things Fall
31 Gary Numan Splinter
30 Holograms Forever
29 Classixx Hanging Gardens
28 The Love Language Ruby Red
27 Tricky False Idols
26 Weekend Jinx
25 Superchunk I Hate Music
24 The Knife Shaking The Habitual
23 Suuns Images du Futur
22 Anna Calvi One Breath
21 Blood Orange Cupid Deluxe
20 Mind Spiders Inhumanistic
19 Tilbury Northern Comfort
18 Savages Silence Yourself
17 Sebastien Grainger Yours To Discover
16 Junip Junip
15 Frankie Rose Herein Wild
14 Holy Ghost! Dynamics
13 Crocodiles Crimes of Passion
12 OMD English Electric
11 Empire of The Sun Ice on The Dune
10 Dutch Uncles Out of Touch in The Wild
9 Disclosure Settle
8 Primal Scream More Light
7 Foals Holy Fire
6 Polvo Siberia
5 Mikal Cronin MCII
4 Suede Bloodsports
3 Baths Obsidian
2 Local Natives Hummingbird
1 Cut Copy Free Your Mind