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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

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I Coulda Been a Contender 2006 February 5, 2007

Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Best of 2006, Carpark, Domino, FatCat, Free MP3, I Coulda Been a Contender, K Records, Kanine, Kill Rock Stars, Labels, Lists, Matador Records, Music, Reviews, Series, Tomlab.
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Here’s my last year-end list for 2006. I know, I know Febuary 4th! These are the albums I was considering for best albums of 2006 that did not make my Top 10. Each album made an impression on me whether it be hype, a song, or my affection for the artist. These albums are in no particular order — well, not really — I just didn’t feel like ranking them 🙂

Bedroom Walls - All Good Dreamers Pass This Way (Small)All Good Dreamer Pass This Way by Bedroom Walls
I heard these guys in Ameoba Records and liked what I heard. They are charming and twee and the only fault I can find is that I haven’t listened to this album enough.
In Anticipation of Your Suicide, Somewhere in Newhall

Beach House - S/TBeach House by Beach House
eMusic loved them, Pitchfork loved them, everyone loved them. I loved their subtle musicbox sound and summer faire feel but it hasn’t stuck yet. Another one that I need to come back to.
Apple Orchard, Saltwater

Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye (Small)So This is Goodbye by Junior Boys
So good that Pitchfork reviewed it twice. “In the Morning” is piece of synth magic that I discovered through a Mobius Band remix. Unfortunately, the magic ended there – check our their first album.
In the Morning

CSS - Cansei de ser Sexy (Small)Cansei de Ser Sexy by CSS
“Tired of Being Sexy” is the translation of the Bazillian, electroclash band and the self-titled album with the same sexy vibe as Peaches. Boomkat loved them and who could argue?
[Sorry, no downloads]

Anna Oxygen - This Is An Exercise (Small)This Is an Exercise by Anna Oxygen
As an alternative to CSS, try Anna Oxygen. This album is the epitomy of everything good in 80s New Wave music, but for 2006! These songs get better with each listen.
Fake Pajamas

I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo (Small) I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass by Yo La Tengo
Amusing title aside, some excellent tracks, but seem to respond to the fear that they straying from Velvet Underground roots. Still, I prefer the spacepad jazz of And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.

Let’s Build a Fire - +/- Let’s Build a Fire by +/-
A very polished album from James Baluyut’s post-Versus band. I still long for the playful innocence, experimentation, and simplicity of Self-Titled Long-Playing Debut Album.
Steal the Blueprints, Leap Year

In the Maybe World - Lisa Germano (Small)In the Maybe World by Lisa Germano
One of my favorite artists, Lisa Germano’s epic about death is hard to unlock. I hold 1998’s Slide, so close to my heart that I doubt any other will compare: this latest comes close.
Too Much Space

Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake - James FigurineMistake Mistake Mistake Mistake by James Figurine
Jimmy Tamborello under the Figurine moniker comes up with amazing electronica that’s surely under-recognized and is clearly the talented side of Postal Service. 55566688833 and Apologies are the standouts. Lame video @ stereogum.

Paper Television - The BlowPaper Television by The Blow
Parenthetical Girl Zac Pennington says “Khaela makes music that sounds like she might want to sleep with you, but hasn’t completely made up her mind yet.” Yup. Addition of Y.A.C.H.T.’s Jona Bechtolt is essential.
Pile of Gold, Parentheses, Hock It [Y.A.C.H.T. Remix]

He Poos Clouds - Final Fantasy (Small)He Poos Clouds by Final Fantasy
This enigmatic album still hasn’t given up it’s secrets. The only song I’ve been able to unlock is This Lamb Sells Condos. First album was a joy, so I’ll keep listening to this one.
This Lamb Sells Condos

Music for Plants - Mixel Pixel (Small) Music for Plants by Mixel Pixel
The singles off this album are marvelous. With covers of Momus, honest lyrics, references to the best 80s atari video games. But I wished that the other songs filled out like prior release, Contact Kid.
Coming Up X’s, You’re the Kind of Girl

Sirs - Welcome (Small)Sirs by Welcome
Well, I just love this album. It’s like a soft Sonic Youth dream — forgive the oxymoron. I have to say sunny Bunky is my favorite track and shows that good things will come from this band. More at FatCat.
All Set, Bunky, Sirs

Top 10 Albums of 2006 January 22, 2007

Posted by reidmix in Album Reviews, Asthmatic Kitty, Best of 2006, Free MP3, Labels, Lists, Marriage Records, Matador Records, Music, Reviews, Silver Mountain, States Rights, Tomlab, Warp.
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Enough with the lead in posts, January is coming to a close and I need to commit to my top 10, already! 🙂

This task is always difficult, to quantitize and qualify all those albums that were released over the prior year. And you know you missed some good ones (Annuals!), cuz no matter how much you listen to new releases, you can’t listen to ’em all and you’re always playing catch up.

The great thing about personalized lists is that they suit the individual — they aren’t based on statistics (Amazon we love you) or music snobs (Pitchfork we love you too!) — but are as acute and offbeat as the listener is adventurous to try new sounds and play them over and over and over.

These 10 albums gave me great joy throughout the year, and anytime during they year they could have been rearranged in any order. But alas, I’ve decided on a final order, and here they are:

Parenthetical Girls - Safe As Houses10. Safe As Houses by Parenthetical Girls

I had trouble placing this 10th place position and even though I discovered Parenthetical Girl’s panic-pop in the last week of the year, I love both this album and their first (((GRRRLS))). The standout songs on this album are the angry I Was the Dancer and The Weight She Fell Under. I love Zac Pennington’s (vocal) androgyny, the damaged women who are the subject of the songs, the glockenspiel, and clearly the funniest Pitchfork review I’ve ever read. Pennington’s own label, Slender Means Society, offers us these gems:

Sol Seppy - The Bells of 1 209. The Bells of 1 2 by Sol Seppy

Sparklehorse collaborator Sophie Michalitsianos as Sol Seppy offers us this dark and sincere The Bells of 1 2. The album came to me through eMusic’s Obscure Gems, a list I’m still mining. Human‘s “I am Human and I come from love” lyric has an honesty about it but Move is my favorite with its haunting notes rising from the depths before going into jangly guitar before going back down into the dark again. Every song is a jewel with electric beats, indie guitars, and roots that may have come from Mazzy Star — but don’t be fooled — Sol Seppy has certainly grown into something much more. Grönland doesn’t offer much outside of videos:

His Name Is Alive - Detrola08. Detrola by His Name Is Alive

HNIA holds a special place in my heart and with mastermind, Warren Defever’s, first release on his own label Silver Mountain Media, Detrola finds its way right along other amazing albums like Ft. Lake and Livonia. This album was actually released in several series which included the Raindrops Rainbow and Summer Bird EPs both which we got the first look of my favorite song off the album Here Forever Always. The song revives the amazing electronic manipulation of guitars and voices (both?) to create a remarkable pop song. Among other releases, the UFO Catcher LP offered us a more academic view into the construction of the songs off the album with their jazzy roots and muted beats.

Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche07. The Avalanche by Sufjan Stevens

I don’t care that these are outtakes and off-casts from its mother album Illinois. The secondary nature of these songs still do not belittle the fact that they are still more consistent and polished than most Top 40 albums. Three versions of Chicago? I like the Multiple Personality Disorder version. I named my Abyssinian kitty after Adlai Stevenson — the song not the person. And you know which song I listened to most. The complexity of this album does not reveal itself until several listens, the instrumentals are essentials and each song a story within a story which only enhance the prior release. Although none of these songs from Sufjan’s own Asthmatic Kitty are on the album they are still such a joy. C’mon, drink the kool-aid:

Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit06. The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian

The best thing to come along since their debut Tigermilk and follow up If You’re Feeling Sinister. Those other albums were just growing pains, really. This album was such a joy to listen to with the pop stylings of We are the Sleepyheads, the sweet synths on and Sukie in the Graveyard, and the happy funk of Song for Sunshine — all the songs are good. Sure, it may not have the pathos found on their first album but it gives enough twee for us fanboys to go on until their next album. Matador doesn’t like the deeplink (clever engineers!), but you can get the first song off the band’s page.


The final 5 bands were all new to me as of 2006, there was so much good music I’m glad I could add new favorites to my old stalwarts!Lucky Dragons - Widows05.Widows by Lucky Dragons

Buy this album! I’m currently obsessed with it. It’s another December discovery and I can’t put it down. Its like heroine to me. Each song have a personality living within them. My favorites include the epic The Sound of Waves and anthemic tones of Snowing Circle (also, a possible joke on the name of his compilation album A Sewing Circle). And it’s just that kind of humor that these beautiful “sound poems” don’t take themselves too seriously. Sheep and Sneezes is just that. V Pattern honks the familiar geese pattern onto your imagination. Parenthetical Girl Zac Pennington said it best on his links page:

Luke [Fischbeck] makes music that sounds like computers have feelings.

They sure do, enjoy these from Luke’s site, Marriage Records, and the very cool States Rights Records:

Grizzly Bear - Yellow House04. Yellow House by Grizzly Bear

I love this album, my introduction to the Grizzly Bear boys. Amazing in concert, the Beach Boys induced Easier still gives me chills. These songs are epic and size and say so much with so few words, such as Colorado, where the title of the song is repeated over the course of the full tune. The album feels both fresh and moody and begs for greater things to come. Okay, my dirty little secret, I adore the remix album of their debut, Horns of Plenty, more than this album. Simon Bookish, Dntel, Phiiliip and Final Fantasy rock my dub-world. Whichever album you buy, you cannot go wrong.

The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics 03. At War with The Mystics by The Flaming Lips

I think this album really resonated with me this year. You know the first song, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song played with every Little Miss Sunshine preview — it’s a tongue in cheek ditty about limits of (political) power and the lack of altruism. Another of my favorites, Vein of Stars, proposes “Maybe there ain’t no heaven / There’s just you and me” and “If there ain’t no heaven / Maybe there ain’t no hell.” And you can really get going with the groove of Haven’t Got a Clue which goes something like: “And every time you state your case / The more I want to punch your face.” Yeah, I voted.

Ms. John Soda - The Notes and the Like02. The Notes and the Like by Ms. John Soda

I la-la-love Ms. John Soda. I love this album (I mean, if you can get past the first song, A Nod on Hold, which I couldn’t for like 3 weeks, it’s that good). I’m sure I was searching for something Lali Puna when somehow, unimaginably I came across this album at Tower Records near the release date.

The next song is great too and the next one, Scan the Ways, is the ultimate in German avant-garde lyrics. And this is before you even get to the indie-rockin’ No. One; knob-twiddler, puh-lease! I played this album the whole summer even when my mom came to visit and when I saw her this Christmas, she specifically asked me if I brought this album. Mother approved! Listen to tunes off their website, Morr is stingy with MP3s.

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Etiquette01. Etiquette by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

This album is one of those perfect, raw albums. I may be alone in this (heh), but each song on this album reflects the 7th track, Scattered Pearls: each song a jewel, lost, rolling about on a dance floor, and sad because of their loss and sentimental value. Every song is a story, every story is a character analysis. Even the album cover is fascinating.

New Years Kiss follows the Jan 1 journey to recover what happened the night before and ends in pancake mix. Young Sheilds reminds us of those penniless and shallow college days. Nashville Parthenon is looking to recapture love that has moved on and out of Tennessee. And Love Connection ends us where we started: with a cover of the Parenthetical Girls and lyrics “find me quoting Pennington.” MP3 reposted, enjoy!