Friday, January 3, 2014

Favorite Albums of 2013

2013 was a pretty disappointing year for me, musically. I did not like a lot of the overhyped records or a lot of the ones that people raved about. I didn't even like a lot of records by artists I've loved for years. I can't quite figure out why; was it me or the music? I didn't even binge on too many artists (which is something I tend to do).

Well, anyway, onto the music...

1. Frightened Rabbit-Pedestrian Verse
Sigh. What more can I say? This was a complete surprise but let me tell you, from the first listen to "Acts of Man," I was hooked. It was really fun coming home after work on those February nights and popping this record on. It is just a really well-written, well-produced record, and it shows just how much and how well the band has grown musically. It's a real shame this record went virtually unrecognized by everyone, and it's an even bigger shame that Frightened Rabbit is generally unrecognized and underrated.

Favorite Tracks: Acts of Man, The Woodpile, State Hospital.

2. Frightened Rabbit-The Midnight Organ Fight
Yes, I'm being controversial by putting a five year old record on this list but I always believe that you won't realize how great a piece of music is until you're still listening to it years later or you can still listen to it years after its release. Of course this doesn't apply fully to The Midnight Organ Fight but I really can't get over how brilliant this record is. Every song is just fantastic, and it blows my mind that a band could release something so good and still be unknown. Anyway, I stuck this on my list because it truly was my second favorite record of the year. When I think back on 2013 and the music I listened to, I think about Frightened Rabbit and listening to "The Modern Leper" and "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms" and "Old Old Fashioned" (and "The Loneliness and the Scream" but don't worry, The Winter of Mixed Drinks will not be on this list).

Favorite Tracks: Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms, The Modern Leper, Keep Yourself Warm 

3. Phosphorescent-Muchacho
What a beautiful record. It's subtle but intricate and has an addicting quality to it. Matthew Houck's vocals on it remind of a Southern Glen Hansard. Probably the most beautiful record released in 2013.

Favorite Tracks: Song For Zula, The Quotidian Beasts, Sun, Arise!

4. Neko Case-The Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
2013 was the year Neko Case became one of my favorite artists. I've always really liked her and her music but this record was just all-around fantastic. Her vocals are incredible (duh), her lyrics are amazing (another duh) and I think this is definitely her best album. After Pedestrian Verse, I think this record was the one I listened to the most this year.

Favorite Tracks: Man, Calling Cards, Ragtime

5. Volcano Choir-Repave
Shouty Justin Vernon! I think that's why I love this record so much. Look, I miss Bon Iver just as much as the next person but if he's going to put out records like this, he never has to perform/record as Bon Iver again as far as I'm concerned.

Favorite Tracks: Acetate, Comrade, Dancepack

6. Haim-Days Are Gone
At first I was very dismissive of Haim because of all the hype. I didn't quite get why they were getting so much attention. Do I think they're truly something spectacular? No. Are they fun and catchy and very well-written pop music? Sure they are. I just enjoy listening to their music, plain and simple.

Favorite Tracks: Forever, My Song 5, Don't Save Me

7. Laura Marling-Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Marling has always sounded beyond her years. She's always been such a mature song-writer. However, I think Once I Was An Eagle is her best record; her music is still mature, still well-written but this collection of songs was dark and elegant and just plain beautiful.

Favorite Tracks: I Was an Eagle, You Know, Breathe

8. Baths-Obsidian 
This record is a dark one too. But dark in an unsettling way; Baths isn't someone with whom I'd want to be alone in a room after listening to this album. It's still a perfect mix of electronics and emotions (something I feel is missing in electronic-oriented music).

Favorite Tracks: No Eyes, Incompatible, Worsening

9. Austra-Olympia
I described this record as a "dancier" Beach House. (I suppose "dancier" isn't a word but you get my drift.)

Favorite Tracks: Home, Fire, Forgive Me

10. Tegan and Sara-Heartthrob
A return to form for a duo that means a whole lot to me. I love their poppier sound, and I hope they expand on it.

Favorite Tracks: Closer, Now I'm All Messed Up, How Come You Don't Want Me Now

Honorable Mentions:
James Blake-Retrograde
Jim James-Regions of Light and Sound of God
Majical Cloudz-Impersonator
Chvrches-The Bones of What You Believe

Two Artists Who Deserve to Be Mentioned in My Recap of 2013:

1. Frank Turner
The only artist I binged on in 2013, other than Frightened Rabbit, was Frank Turner. Yeah, I liked Tape Deck Heart alright but not enough to put it in my top ten, unfortunately. It doesn't matter because I grew to adore Frank and his music. He gets compared to Frabbits a lot (which is how I came to find him, I believe) and while I get it, I don't necessarily agree. He reminds me more of Flogging Molly/The Pogues/The Frames but it doesn't matter, he is awesome. A great songwriter and a great, great performer. I've never seen someone with such strong stage presence. Honestly, he makes you feel like you're in his living room.

2. Ellie Goulding
Am I supposed to consider her a guilty pleasure? Screw that. Ellie makes fun, catchy pop music that isn't dumb. She always makes me want to dance. Plus she seems completely likeable and can actually perform.

Records I Found Disappointing:
Josh Ritter-The Beast In Its Tracks (so boring!)
The National-Trouble Will Find Me (look, I liked enough of it but it's definitely their weakest record)
Bell x1-Chop Chop ("A Thousand Little Downers," or what the hell has become of Bell x1?)
Cloud Cult-Love (I liked this record but after Light Chasers, this is a complete disappointment)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I'm struggling, and I'm stumbling, I need you in my heart

I missed this one on my Favorite Songs of 2013 (because I only heard it for the first time on 12/30!) but I cannot stop listening to this. The Districts were the best opening act I saw in 2013 and I have a feeling they are going to be big.