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2013 Top Albums February 9, 2014

Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Arbutus, Best of 2013, Don Giovanni, Fat Possum, Joyful Noise, Labels, Lists, Lovely Sorts of Death, Matador Records, Merge Records, Morr Music, Music, Mythryl, Pau Wau, Reviews, Videos, XL Recordings.
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In my tradition of February sharing my favorite and most earwormy albums of the prior year, I give you the 2013 list.

partygoing

10. Party Going by Future Bible Heroes

Stephin Merritt et. al. at his finest.  Underrated but pure pop.

“John Waters soirée we spun the Warhol” and “At Mink Stole’s birthday in gay Provincetown I came to DJ and left with the clown”

How can you go wrong?

Along with this release there was a vinyl release of all the Future Bible Heroes releases that was a joy to revisit.

Blue-Hawaii-Untogether9. Untogether by Blue Hawaii

Something was lost in the last Braids album, I don’t know what it was, but it just didn’t stick like their debut did.

The good news is that Raphaelle Standell-Preston put all her genius in her duo with Alexander Cowan on the Blue Hawaii release.

The vocal + electronic manipulations are mind-bendy, especially at high-volumes.   She’s channels Karin Oliver dreamy-ness to the n-th degree.

altthumb8. Flowers by Sin Fang

Mr. Seabear returns with another album as Sin Fang (shortened from Sin Fang Bous).

An intricate melding between organic and electronic sounds that the Icelanders are so well-known.

Along with the Half Dreams EP from the year prior — the two seem like a pair — they secure a footing in the woodsy-spacy-folksy orchestral pop.

Bonus from Half Dreams:

ole-1034-majical-cloudz-impersonator-537x537-13687140697. Impersonator by Majical Cloudz

I am reminded of Branden Perry’s The Carnival Is Over.

Sometimes when I hear Delvon Welsh sing, he’s like a ghost from a great band’s past.

The sparsity of his loops and the grandness of his song played over it is imbued with an assertive significance.

The first three songs alone are difficult from keeping on a tight repeat.

“If this is all that I have / If this song is the last thing I do I feel so good / That I sang it”

a3548728279_106. Lanterns by Son Lux

After being challenged by NPR to produce a full album in the 4-weeks of February, when he spent 4 years on his debut album, it could have been an impossible task.

One that he was ultimately successful, built with a patchwork of lyrics that upon repeating gain a undeniable spirituality.

Bonus:  His beats have an almost trip-hop effect.

“Easy, easy / Pull out your heart / To make the being alone”

Bill Baird - Spring Break of the Soul5. Spring Break of the Soul by Bill Baird

I’m happy to say that Bill Baird, out from behind his {{{SUNSET}}} moniker, still makes just plain good music.

He’s so prolific, never sacrificing quality or cheek.  Don’t let his esthetic in the videos trick you, he’s not lofi.

The songs are fun + clever pop, experimental, surfy (in fact each side of this album spells S-U-R-F), have moody marimbas, properly executed feedback, and understated vocals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjfZz1iUM-8

Bonus: Chris Christopherson sad covers FTW.

vw-13666577354. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

It doesn’t surprise me this album won best Alternative Album of the Year, it surprises me that the Grammy’s and I agree on anything.  Only a matter of time before the reached critical mass appeal.

Despite them, after VW’s meh Contra rested on their laurels from their debut and the worst use of autotune since Bon Iver, with their 3rd album they didn’t fall in the same trap.

Inevitably, their words and their sound is Vampire Weekend, diplomats and currency and communist revolution from the Upper East Side.

“A gardener told me some plants move / But I could not believe it / Til me and Hannah Hunt / Saw crawling vines and weeping willows”

Waxahatchee_cerulean_salt_cover3. Cerulean Salt by Waxahatchee

Channelling the best parts of Kim Deal and Liz Phair, Katie Crutchfield lands into my top three easily on her own two feet.

Messy and ethereal and, like all clouds must be, lonely:

“The atmosphere is fucking tired it brings us nothing / If you think that I’ll stay forever you are right and,
I’ll give you everything you wanted when I can”

Bonus: Pod-love

1386331137_cover-32. The Time Has Come to Shoot You Down…What a Sound by The Flaming Lips and Various Artists

A late entry into my top-10, one that is so perfect in its reconception of The Stone Roses eponymous debut I’m forced to go back to the original and reconsider the bright sun-shine psychodelia.

Part of what makes this album so great is HOTT MT’s presence on several tracks including the divine jewel that is Waterfall.  My only complaint was how great Fool’s Gold was the first time around, it just doesn’t hold up here.

One of those 500 super-extra-limited edition RSD releases (if you have one to sell that is much less than $300, let me know), you can hear the full album on Soundcloud.

I Wanna Be Adored:

Waterfall:

e62eaf251. Wondrous Bughouse by Youth Lagoon

This album came out early in the year, I felt I’ve had to hold on to it, returning to it, listening to the greatness of it, to make sure it didn’t get overshadowed by novelty.

A carnival-ride, with so many layers and back alleys, this album represents the fruition of Youth Lagoons debut.  Like looking through a lens, if given the production time and equipment, it makes you wonder what what the fragility of The Year of Hibernations may have transformed into.

Who knew this 4-track wonder would become so psychedelic and anthemic.

“You’ll never die / You’ll never die”

Bonus:  Through the Mind and Back / Mute

2013 Top EPs and Singles January 4, 2014

Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Best of 2013, Captured Tracks, Carpark, Labels, Lists, Music, Polyvinyl.
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Here are my favorite EPs in 2013 and probably tops my list over the LPs.  I’m returning by keeping it simple.
So without further ado, in no particular order:

(more…)

Dear, iTunes November 13, 2011

Posted by reidmix in Music.
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An iTunes Wishlist

Here’s a running list of things I wish was in iTunes.  Inspiration comes mostly from discogs.com who understand what music lovers need & want.  I use playlists to add most metadata I need (not just mixtapes, but from where, when I listened to music, what series it came on, covers, etc.).

But for the uses below, playlists are weak at best.

  1. Label field – I use composer to store which Label a release came from because it is searchable.  I’ve been wanting a dedicated field for years and years, should act just like composers do (searchable, grid category, used in smart playlists, etc.)
  2. Mix/Remix field – These are common enough they should have their own field, should come up in a search.
  3. Featuring field – ditto as #2
  4. Multiple Label fields – Sometimes a single release comes out on more than one Label (ie. 4ad & Teenbeat). Bonus points to add the corresponding catalog number.
  5. Secondary Titles on Tracks – sometimes tracks have 2 names (usually in parenthesis, His Name is Alive, Flaming Lips are notorious for this)
  6. Secondary Titles on Albums – albums have subtitles too (often my comps)
  7. Album Section names – this happens often on deluxe re-releases/re-masters.  The original album plus the extras. Sometimes, groups of songs just have names.  I use grouping for this but it’s not useful, just informational.
  8. Ordering & Grouping Discs – multi-disc/boxsets sometimes name their CDs and are in some order.  I have to prefix the name with something like “Cloud Box 1:” to get them to stay together in the right order or not use their names at all (Disc 1 of 2, 2 of 2).  I’d like a better way.
  9. Sort Year – I want albums (usually anthologies or deluxe discs) that sort chronologically based on oldest song. For instance, The Cure’s Join the Dots has b-Sides and Rarities that go from 1978 to 2001.  It get’s sorted with albums at 1978.
  10. Sort within Year – I want to sort chronologically albums from an artist that is released in the same year.  Not alphabetically.  This happens alot with singles and The Beatles.  Let me also specify release month or day in addition to year in these cases.
  11. Album Artist vs. Compilations – I use album artist to specify alternate band names for the same artist. This happens more than you’d think: Final Fantasy vs. Owen Pallett, Manitoba vs. Caribou, The Beat vs. The English Beat.  Occur for legal and other reasons.  Discogs has to mechanisms to deal with this, Artist Name Variants and Aliases.  But Album Artist works fine, except with compilations where it breaks the album up. Please fix.
  12. Style vs. Genre – I use genre more generically than most people.  Other music fans put the style in the Genre field or use grouping (see issues above). Allmusic and Discogs both have style, I want that too.  I could have better smart playlists.
I’ve used iTunes since before Apple bought it and renamed it from SoundJam MP and I still rally that it’s the best player out there. Generally, I want iTunes to be a better application:
  1. Muscle with Large CollectionsThink Apeture vs. iPhoto.  I’m locked into iTunes because of the playlists-as-metadata thing where I lose information if I archive music by moving it out of iTunes (and in turn lose which playlists the tracks were in).  So I want a little more muscle to handle my 30K song collection.  But even with enough RAM, iTunes sputters alot more than I’d like it to.  You got me here, help me out – I’m guessing it will only get worse.
  2. Music Only – I’ve already split my books/movies into their own iTunes library, I cannot quite split my apps and iPhone syncing without a big hassle. Maybe separate, dedicated apps makes sense.  Also, it has an added benefit that it will match up to the apps on the iPhone (Music, Videos, iBooks, etc.)
  3. Music Store plugins – I buy rarely from iTunes but sometimes I do.   I also have an eMusic subscription, I download from Daytrotter, I sometimes buy mp3s from Amazon. I have an application to download from each of these, do I really need them?  I know they’re competitors and to allow a plug-in architecture to download from their stores would compete with iTMS, but guess what? I’m still buying from them and they are still your competitors.
  4. Specify bitrate/kind for iTunes Matching – iTunes will use iCloud to “matche[s] plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.” This is cool considering I started ripping my collection in the ’90s when space was sparce (128 Kbps, *shiver*).  But, 256-Kbps AAC? And really, no DRM, please.  Let me specify and I’ll pay you the $25.
All this social crap that’s been going in has been missing the mark (Ping, Recommendations, iMix) where Spotify has been knocking it out of the park. Here’s some basics to follow.  It will make me buy more music which you want:
  1. Let me Scrobble – Scrobble to Last.fm without a plugin.  Maybe keep things in sync.
  2. Friends – Let me link to friends, see their playlists, favorites, top artists & tracks, charge $5 a year.
  3. Shared Playlists – Truly peer to peer like Spotify, stream it, covered by charge in #2.
  4. Real recommendations – Let me push music to friends, stream it, covered by charge in #2.
Let me know what you think or your ideas for solutions to your iTunes frustrations.

Top 10 of 2010 at The Big Takeover January 2, 2011

Posted by reidmix in Music.
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I’ve been mostly writing top 10 lists and a few album reviews (so far) at The Big Takeover online.

Please take a peak at my Top 10 for 2010.

Also, I’ve been listing all my articles under the Big Takeover tab above as it is sometimes difficult to find older articles and lists I’ve written.

 

Privilege the Parenthetical Girls: Evelyn McHale February 9, 2010

Posted by reidmix in Free MP3, Indie, Labels, Music, Slender Means, Upcoming Releases, Videos.
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I’m a total fanboy for Parenthetical Girls.  I squee at paypal confirmations from Zac.  It’s a sad state I know but to discover their next album is being released in five parts is a collectors paradise for me (unless I’m one out like I was with the No Age series *sigh*).  You can pre-order the first part from their parentheticalgirls.com site.

Until then, here is the first video off the first 12″ in the series titled “Evelyn McHale”, a song that introduces the title character who is known for the most beautiful suicide and is a *ahem* springboard for other confessions — as stated by the press release. Zac promises us songs in the vein of early Roxy Music / Brian Eno and Hounds of Love era Kate Bush.  Where do I sign-up?

Evelyn McHale” (mp3) by Parenthetical Girls. Taken from the release Privilege pt. 1: On Death & Endearments, available digitally and as a limited edition 12″ via Slender Means Society on February 23rd, 2010.

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