So like clockwork, it’s time for me to dust off the neglect of the old c.t.overdrive for some good old year end reflection.
First up on my hit list of things to reminisce about for 2013 is my favourite records of the year. And unlike the past couple of years, I actually had a chance to listen to records in 2013 and to my shock there was enough music to make this list a bit of a challenge whip up. So even though my list doesn’t match up with many of the other lists out there (Yeezus? Really? Arcade Fire? Sort of Really?), here are my favourite records of the year and a couple of also rans to brighten the final days of the year.
P.S. I’ve even created a playlist to make it easier to listen too. I know I’m such a sweet heart.
Before 2013, I absolutely hated Vampire Weekend.
Like, really hated them.
Everything I’ve heard about the band and their music just screamed upty-hipster-douchenozzle. It also doesn’t help that I can’t stand listening to Paul Simon records, but overall Vampire Week was never my cup of tea.
… that was until Modern Vampires of The City rolled out. Either way, it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t the record of the year. Such a brilliant record from start to end that was on a continuous loop throughout our rickety household. Hell we even ventured out to the Ottawa Folk Fest to see them live. Which truth be told was one of three fun evenings we had in Ottawa all year.
I absolutely fell in love with these guys because of some random Washington based Cable TV Program and their killer set at the 2012 Sweetlife festival in Maryland and boy did they kill it with More Than Just A Dream. Such a fresh poppy and throwback sound in comparison to all the vomit inducing auto-tuned crap out there.
Break The Walls is one of the most underrated tracks of 2013.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have an unhealthy man crush on Josh Homme. So it goes without saying that a QOTSA Album would end up on this list. It also helps that Like Clockwork was a solid tripped out musical ride from start to finish… even if it could use a little more uptempo songs of the My God Is The Sun variety.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have an unhealthy man crush on Alex Turner. So it goes without saying that an Arctic Monkeys album would end up on this list.
Wait a second, didn’t I just f###‘n write that line.
Oh well… Mr. Turner and the rest of the Monkeys are up to their best on this album. A far better product than the epic disappointment that was Humbug and AM brings the Monkeys’ back to their wittiest. Plus who can’t be excited about a record with a song called Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
It’s been over 14 years since I was sliding Millencolin and Face To Face records in my Math 30 textbooks, but out of the long slumber The Bronx managed to rekindle my long forgotten love with Punk music in 2013. IV is a fantastic and tight 40 minutes of pure energy and joy… It also helps that their hysterical side project Mariachi El Bronx is just as epic.
CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
Truth be told CHVRCHES deserves to be on the top five list. I just couldn’t find a space to fit it in. While the Lorde record will probably steal most of the limelight from CHVRCHES this year, The Bones of What You Believe is a great record in the same vein as early Portishead. The track Lies is an inescapable track that should easily be one of the best of the year.
A Tribe Called Red – Nation II Nation
Can’t deny how amazing a year it has been for A Tribe Called Red. Sure they’ve been plagued by that ridiculous Head Dress controversy, but from breaking out of the Can-con doldrums to becoming an international musical success in less than a year is pretty impressive. Also, in my opinion, A Tribe Called Red may do more for Canadian/Native American relations in the long term than any piece of legislation passed in the House of Commons this year.
Cults – Static
I actually really don’t like this record as a whole, but the song I Can Hardly Make You Mad is so damn good. I’d say it’s a track of the year contender, but I don’t have any streetcred left in my old age to make that claim.
Pusha T – My Name is My Name
One of my favourite records from my short lived Music Reviewing career is The Clipse – Hell Hath No Fury. Pusha T, the main reason the Clipse were so brilliant, released My Name is My Name and it totally flew under the radar, but it is worth a spin or two or three.
Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines
I can already hear people rolling their eyes, but hear just me out. Alright, here’s the truth Robin Thicke totally out Justin Timberlake’d Justin Timberlake, by making a record that is the essence of cheeseball R&B at it’s best. Yeah, yeah, yeah … Blurred Lines is over played, but anyone who can openly sing the song Give It 2 U with a straight face deserves my respect. No seriously, listen to that track and try not to burst out laughing when he sings Angel … Try it, I bet you can’t do it.
So earlier this month I took part in my umpteenth Month of New Music and like clockwork I almost, almost completed the fully 30 days of listening to a new record. You can see the full list and what I listened to here … or if you’re bored you can see the top five records that I found during Month of New Music right here.
One half of Death From Above 1979 churning out some poppy gems. One really can’t go wrong here.
I know it’s a bit of a cliche, but I really, really dig that infectious Royals song.
A big surprise from Mr. Russ Fee. A pretty solid record from top to bottom, probably a record that has flown under the radar of pretty much everyone out there, but worth a listen for sure.
I’m calling it now, this guy will be our generations Bob Segar… or already is our generations Bob Seger… I’m not sure which is more true.
Fogerty rerecording his classic CCR songs with the Foo Fighters and and Bob Segar… don’t mind if I do.
Guess what time it is again kids? If you said Movember, you’re right, but it’s not what I was going for.
If you guessed Month of New Music then you’d be a 100% correct. Yes, it’s finally Month of New Music.
A quick back history for those curious and trying to figure out what I’m talking about, Month of New Music was started by Colin Sproule and some other cool Calgary Twitter people way, way, way back in 2008. The idea is simple, for the month of November try to listen to one new to you record for each day – the record doesn’t have to be a new one, just new to you. You can then share what you’re listening to for the day via twitter using the #monm hashtag.
Since 2008, many of us #yyc’ers have partaken in this yearly ritual. Personally, it wasn’t until Rdio came along that I was even remotely close to being able to complete this task. Last year I was able to almost hit the goal of a full month, by hitting the 23 record mark. This year I’m going for broke and as god as my witness I’m going to pull off 30 records in 30 days.
So if you’re up to the challenge feel free to join in. Feel free to use a clone of my monm Google Spreadsheet to track your progress and join the conversation on twitter with #monm.
Let the fun begin.
Earlier this month, one of my most beloved (and long overdue for a redesign) side projects Music-critic.ca launched it’s annual best of feature. Not being one to miss an opportunity to wax on and on about the state of music, I crafted my top five records for the year.
Now, the problem with trying to rank your top five favorite records of the year is that you inevitably can’t find a spot for a record you really adore or you discover something that blows your mind after the fact. So since I’m taking a bit of recharge time this holiday season, I thought I’d whip up a full post to discuss my top five choices and also some also-rans that didn’t seam to make the cut. (Again here’s the full post for reference)
It’s no secret that I’m a massive, massive fan of The Deftones. Yes, who can’t love a bunch of old metal heads from Sacramento who adore Weezer, The Smiths, Joni Mitchell, The Cure and Duran Duran? But it’s also no secret that the Saturday Night Wrists album turned me off them for a while. It was such an offensive trainwreck that I couldn’t get over it. So I was incredibly weary of Koi No Yokan, but it turned out to be absolutely perfect. I know The Deftones are not everyone’s cup of tea, but do give it a couple of spins and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the depth.
fun. isn’t something that I’d typically sandwich in to a top five spot, except for the fact that Some Nights is probably the one record that my wife and I have been listening to constantly throughout 2012. It’s not just the lead single that’s really sharp, but the rest of the album is filled with great catchy anthems. Pardon the pun, but it really is a fun record and one that grows on you more and more with every listen.
To be honest, I totally forgot there was a new record from Japandroids in 2012. If I’m being frank, because of the similarity between the cover art of Celebration Rock and their earlier Post-Nothing, I totally spaced and thought Celebration Rock was just a special side EP or some collection of cheap B-Sides. It took me until November to realize it was a whole new album. Which is a total shame because 2012 was a pretty crummy year and if I had known about this before hand, I probably would have enjoyed the year a teeny bit better.
I’d like to thank Lou for getting me hooked on both Passion Pit and The xx in 2012. Yeah, I was familiar with both bands because of earlier remixes and best of lists, but I hadn’t actually listened to them like I did with both Grossnar and Coexist this year. Both bands broke through the typical one hit wonder status from previous years with their latest releases. Coexist is a great headphone record, while also a great record to play in the background while working away. And Grossnar is just a pretty darn awesome CD.
The also rans…
This record was ever so close to bumping Coexist from my list, but I couldn’t get over a handful of nit-picky things. First, Born To Die was hyped to the nines and plastered all over every single Starbucks in North America … and as an elitiest super snobb I couldn’t swallow my pride to add it to the list. And then of course there were the distracting controversies – her background, her history, the scenester backlash and of course her lackluster performances on SNL. But at the end of the day Born To Die is a pretty standout record. I’m still on the fence of how if I’ll appreciate the record as much in six or seven years, but for the time being it was very close to cracking my list.
Another close but no cigar record. Don’t get me wrong, I still adore Sleigh Bells, but Reign of Terror while fantastic, wasn’t as jaw-dropping or as addictive as Treats. I’ll blame it on familiarity and the lack of surprise, but it could have been a tiny bit better. Comeback Kid is still a fantastic track and far better than a majority of what was released this year.
Last but definitely not least, is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist. I completely missed this album when it came out and wish it didn’t take syphoning off of other friends lists to catch it. Catchy and reminiscent of older Kanye Wesst & A Tribe Called Quest, The Heist really is one of those CDs that you know will stand the test of time. It also helps that it contains two tracks of the year with Thrift Store (which is fucking awesome) and of course Same Love (which really is one of the best songs in the past few years).
In what seams like the yearly signal that Christmas is around the corner, last month was Month Of New Music. Again, I could get into the history of it or you could just read my previous posts, essentially Month of New Music (#monm) started in December 2008 by a handful of Calgary Techies. The idea is to challenge yourself with help of peer-pressure from the online community to listen to one new to you CD for each day of November.
In years past, I’ve struggled to get past even the 15 day mark without an immense amount of effort. But now due to the advent of Rdio and online streaming , I’m happy to announce that 2012 was my most successful year, with 22/30 records nailed down. Or for those math nerds out there a 73.3% completion rate. Sure, I had to push my listening well into the first day of December to reach 22, but I’m just happy that I was able to push myself to new levels in this yearly challenge.
If you’re curious as to what I listened to you’re in for a treat, as I kept a spreadsheet of all the records I listened to over the month. I even included some incoherent ramblings… which I haven’t gone back to read over.
Now in regards to my take on the state of music right now, I’m not sure what to say. I might just be in denial, but I’m stuck between two conflicting stances that lead me to believe that I’ve turned into the thing I feared the most as 16 year old… that I’m an out of touch fossil. See on the one side, I have a gut feeling that bands and cds that I tend to really enjoy are a dying bred within popular culture. Bands such as Sleigh Bells, Queens of the Stone Age, MUTEMATH, The Distillers, The Foo Fighters, BTTLS and Rural Alberta Advantage are just too few and suitable alternatives are far between. But on the other hand, maybe, just maybe my musical tastes have aged and I’ve just become that out of touch 32 year old that is living in the glory years of music.
Either way, at the end of 30 days of exploration, I can say that there is far too much crummy dance music out there, Death Grips are a fascinating band to watch and The Deftones new record is probably one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time.
BTW kudos to all of those who are keeping the Month of New Music torch glowing. Special shout out to all of those who completed the task, very well done guys.