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DVDVR BEST MUSIC OF 2013 Pimping Thread

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My sentimental pick is Black Sabbath's 13. First Ozzy fronted Sabs album in 35 years, and it was damn good.

My more clear headed vote is Dilliginer Escape Plan's One of Us is the Killer. Because DEP.

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I'm still going through my 2013 albums while at work (Currently listening to Fall Out Boy's Save Rock & Roll). Here's some unsung works that deserve some attention.

 

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound - Howl

 

Grace & Tony - November

 

The Civil Wars - Self Titled

 

Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart

 

Fitz & The Tantrums - More Than Just a Dream

 

My top 3 contenders right now are Turner, G&T, and Janelle Monae.

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The two serious openers for me are The Flaming Lips - The Terror and Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light. I still feel I need to do a lot more listening for this year though. I've heard quite a few okay albums but not that many I really feel like going to war over yet.

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Oh and Daniel Romano - Come Cry WIth Me is the best throwback country album of the decade so far. If you're an actual adult into that sort of thing.

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Autre Ne Veut's album Anxiety in its entirety on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpD1mya5h2A

 

Neko Case - "Night Still Comes" from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love Youhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhnFl3Y2FVI

 

Wavves - "Demon To Lean On" from Afraid Of Heightshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgHZwrwM9jE

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I assume I don't need to pimp 'Yeezus' again in here, as you should all know it, have formed your own opinion of it, and know how much I love it.  But it's the leading contender for my album of the year.

 

Here's the other albums that really rocked my socks and are serious contenders for AOTY

Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe: Staggeringly beautiful album.  It's basically an ambient album (Though there is a bit of singing here and there), but it's mostly acapella.  Barwick is fascinated by the sound of her own voice, and that of others, making them echo and reverberate and do all kinds of things.  And Sigur Ros had her come record this one at their swimming pool-turned studio, and even do some guest-work on the album.  It's gorgeous, ethereal and just stunning.

 

Washed Out - Paracosm: I used all my pretty words on the last write-up!  Well, this one is stunning, too.  A laid-back, chillwave/downtempo album that sounds like relaxing on a beach, taking a drive on a summer afternoon, or just lazing on the beach.

 

Yo La Tengo - Fade: I'd kinda fallen out of love with long-time indie rock trio Yo La Tengo after they were my favourite band for the latter part of the 90s/early part of the 2000s.  I found their last couple releases kinda dull and going through the motions.  I read someone describe 'Fade' as "a nice little album to put on while you're eating dinner or something".  And I felt the same.  Then I found myself coming back to it...again and again and again.  It's just a perfect album.  Breezy, sweet, a little sad, but ultimately hopeful.  Sounds like a band who has realized their place in the world and are completely happy with it.  Sounds perfect on night-time drives, regardless of the season.

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First, a quick seconding of "The Terror" by The Flaming Lips. If they've ever annoyed you, this is probably an album you should check out because it is such a tonal departure from their entire catalog, both in lyrical content and sound profile. Proof (with obnoxious video) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehndmRDT2WU

 

Alright so since a lot of the stuff I'm going to want to talk about for this is obscure, I'm going to try and bring stuff up in waves. If you want to just confront it all at once there's an RYM link in my signature to my 2013 list.

 

For counterbalance to all the guitar thangs posted right now, here's some electronic music. I'm going to do this in order of easiest to hardest listens.

 

Darkside - Psychic Very sleek and very French. The duo of Darkside makes a record that combines the lower key elements of the French House sound with a very 70s guitar approach, making subtle little distortions in both sounds. They also benefit from having a talent for being catchy as hell, as evidenced by Paper Trails, one of my favorite songs this year.

 

Kwes - ilp Essentially a psychedelic British R&B record that starts as a little reverby but definitely pretty, and slowly grows into an expansive, brilliantly colorful record. There's not a lot of the record on youtube but the single 36 is there, and that's a pretty good idea of the lighter end of the album. The more surreal elements slowly ripple under the surface in the bridges of the song.

 

Mesita - Future Proof I've talked up Mesita before, for pretty good reason. For a DIY bedroom pop solo artist the guy has an unreal ear and amazing ability to execute on what he's hearing or should be hearing. After putting out a pop rock fireball last year, this year he abruptly moved towards piano and dance beats and pulls that off with a confidence and ease that blows my mind. The whole album is right here. There is guitar stuff, but it ends up being used like funk guitar for most of the record.

 

DJ Rashad - Double Cup I am not going to pretend I know shit about Chicago House, Footwork/Juke, or Teklife. What I know is that when I put this album on, I feel joyously alive. It's like canned skip-in-your-step. Theory wise it's actually really intricate and delicate, working exclusively 3-against-4 rhythms like a harp player and keeping all the samples very tense by causing them to seize and glitch out. That tension releases often, though, so what could be a nervewracking listen turns into something engine-like. Here's how it starts, and here's an early highlight exactly one track later.

 

Laurel Halo - Chance Of Rain Laurel's last album, Quarantine, cut right into the center of me and just wouldn't dang leave. It was a record of isolation through art and art against isolation, centerpanning lightly treated vocals in the middle of these enormous soundscapes. Well she's two for two with me: Chance of Rain replaces the contemplative thought with a heartbeat and continues using the same kind of overwhelming tonality while leaving the structure open ended, creating a sound that seems to distort time. Here's the title track as an example.

 

Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven Total duality. Most of the instruments and patches used are uncool, trite, relics of the early 90s when people thought the 90s was just going to be 80s-er. Daniel Lopatin (the man behind OPN) then took all of these elements and strategically placed them in a super collider, and just brings the results of reckless musical collisions. The most mind-expanding record I've heard this year, but it's absolutely not for everyone. Still, I wouldn't be able to feel good about writing all this without including it in this process. Here's a great example of the chaotic representations of the mundane that I'm talking about: the "single" and music video for Problem Areas.

 

Arca - &&&&& When I got into that little spat over Yeezus a few months ago, I cited Arca as a dude I felt was central to the sound profile of that record. With a little more thought, I could see the use of Kanye softening that sound: this record is a little much. It's unpredictably noisy and defiantly mixed, so it might be wayyyy too much to handle for most people. Arca is credited on Hold My Liquor, I'm In It, Blood On The Leaves, and Send It Up. If you want to hear what that sound would be like if it was totally unhinged from any kind of commercial appeal, have fun.

 

okay i'm going to wait like a week or two before suggesting any more things

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I listened to a decent amount of albums this year and several were quite good but only a few so far has really struck me as something I'd listen to over and over again.

 

My recommendations as of now:

Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork - This is my favorite album of the year so far and what an awesome one!  It has everything people love about the band but it also has an added melancholy that wasn't there in previous albums.  I've listened this about 4 times already and could listen to it 20 more times.

 

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories - I love the mix of their traditional style but also mixed with their past influences that painted a history of dance and electronic music.  Awesome, awesome stuff.

 

Savages - Silence Yourself - This all-woman band don't reinvent the wheel with indie rock but it's a great album that speeds by as I listen to it.

 

Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals - Walk Through Exits Only - This takes several listens to really appreciate.  Even as an Anselmo fan, I wasn't into it when I first heard it.  It's definitely not the most accessible album.  When he said he wanted to make an extreme album, he did.  It's also one of the more interesting albums he's done.  He deconstructs the normal song structure and vents about seemingly everything.  From back surgery to the music industry to music critics, everything is a target for his anger.  It keeps getting better with each listen for me.

 

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge - Twelve Reasons to Die - An awesome concept album about the rise and fall of an infamous Sicilian hit man, Tony Stark, in a fake script for a 70s Eurocrime film.  Ghostface Killah weaves a great story through each track while Adrian Younge helps orchestrate the music that wouldn't be out of place on a Eurocrime or Giallo film from the great decade that was the 1970s.  The album comes with a bonus cd with just the instrumentals.

 

Milo - Things That Happen at Day/Things That Happen at Night - These two E.P.s were released on the web in January and both were excellent.  Since I don't listen to a lot of hip hop, this came as a breath of fresh air from mainstream.  The beats were quite different than what I'm used to listening and Milo raps about science, comics, movies, wrestling and the pressures and complications of life.  The first E.P. has a lighter atmosphere and is a lot of fun while the second which is my favorite is darker in atmosphere and he really explores more of his psyche.  Another high recommend.

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I'll hopefully do more pimping when the mood takes me, but for now here are my two top albums of the year. I already have a top twenty, but I'll do my best to check out other things in here that people sell me on and see if I can leaven it with some not-metal.


 


The Dillinger Escape Plan-One Of Us Is The Killer-Dillinger get an unfair advantage with me because they have an uncanny ability to read my mind and concentrate almost everything I like about music into one band. Their new one, for my money, is their best album since Miss Machine, with the biggest choruses that Mike Patton never wrote married to psychotic intensity and musicianship that I can't begin to understand. Check out 'Paranoia Shields', seriously.


 



 


Arabrot-Arabrot-Arabrot are a bizarre, arty noise rock band whose last album a couple of years ago was a bit too heavy on the art and light on the rock for me to get excited about. Their new one is a totally different proposition, starting out much more accessible while remaining utterly eccentric, before making a run at Album Of The Year with possibly the greatest run of closing tracks I've ever heard. 'The Horns Of The Devil Grow', 'The Bitter Tears Of Könt', 'Maenads'. Listen to the whole thing by all means, but those three songs are fucking stunning and deserve fifteen minutes of your life. They're epic to the point of absurdity, so seething with desperation that they're painful, and about as fun as listening to unhinged Norwegians screaming their guts raw about overpowering lust and terror can possibly get.


 



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I'm still working through stuff, but I have liked most of what I've picked up in 2013. I'll go more in detail about some of these albums once I get through Finals this week:

 

Arcade Fire - Reflektor 

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Are we treating these as one album or two albums?).

The Head and the Heart - Let's Be Still

Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Matt Nathanson - Last of the Great Pretenders (I am probably the only person on these boards who will highlight this one)

Fitz and the Tantrums - More than Just a Dream

The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars

Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

Phoenix - Bankrupt!

The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull

Iron and Wine - Ghost on Ghost

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Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Are we treating these as one album or two albums?).

 

One album. The second release was issued as "The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2" and the Complete Edition is essentially a box set, which doesn't clear the Compilations rule. If you want to vote for both, use two spots on your list.

 

EDIT: Since someone pimped Milo's EPs (HELLFYRE), I'm going to go ahead and over-clarify that even though they are companion pieces with the same release date I'm still counting that as two separate releases, and that's going to be the precedent for any similar companion EP things.

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And 20/20 Part Two blew chunks.

I don't know that I'd go THAT FAR...but it was definitely weak.  In fact, if he'd released the entire thing as a double-album last February, I probably wouldn't rate it at all.  Part 1 on its own, though, is a legitimate Top 10.

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And 20/20 Part Two blew chunks.

I don't know that I'd go THAT FAR...but it was definitely weak.  In fact, if he'd released the entire thing as a double-album last February, I probably wouldn't rate it at all.  Part 1 on its own, though, is a legitimate Top 10.

 

 

I think there are some strong tunes on Part Two, but I agree that Part One is a better album. It was in my top three of the year for awhile.

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I like Part One and it will make my top 25 probably, but Timberlake needed to be reeled in BAD. There's absolutely no reason why that album needs to be as long as it is. The average song length on the album is SEVEN MINUTES. For the type of music it is too, that's completely unnecessary.

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This new Big Business album is all I am listening to lately:

 

 

When i can tear myself away from it, it's to listen to some Death Grips:

 

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I like Part One and it will make my top 25 probably, but Timberlake needed to be reeled in BAD. There's absolutely no reason why that album needs to be as long as it is. The average song length on the album is SEVEN MINUTES. For the type of music it is too, that's completely unnecessary.

I actually love the song lengths and the way the songs change from one part to another.  I actually find it a pretty breezy listen considering how long it is.  Like 'Mirrors' starts out as an almost Coldplay song, then in the last stretch really picks up when it does the kind staccato repeated "You are, you are, the love of my life."

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Deafheaven is one of the last 5 albums I need to listen to to be done with my list.

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POS/WDELH/MDS/RMX  Full album stream on the youtubes.

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Still putting off talking about music with guitars for a little longer. Instead, here's the rap I've been way into this year, from most pop sounding to least.

 

Main Attrakionz – Main Attrakionz Niggaz

This one is a little unfair, because it just came out December 6th. Maybe it's a little too early to say it's one of the best of the year. Even so, Main Attrakionz does everything I like. Their selection of beats is all the kind of stuff I like to listen to (good swing on the drums, big chords, distorted samples) and while I get why some “serious heads” wouldn't be able to get past how they flow, I've always liked rappers that leave more space in their verses. On top of that, they also do actual tag team work on their verses, which is a style that I'm glad to see popping up in more places. Maybe it's not one of the best, but it's for sure one of my favorites. You can get the whole thing here.

 

Antwon – In Dark Denim

Before I say anything else, 3rd World Grrl is still one of the best songs I've heard all year. Now. This was my summer shit. Antwon's a recession playboy. All of his sexual exploits come with this dirty film quality but it's never objectifying or dehumanzing, and the music that goes with it is all huge, bright and distorted. As a rapper, Antwon's one of the best west coast styled rappers around right now, with a smooth flow and a lot of force in his delivery when the song calls for that. Really though, this has all been too many words for a record I just think is a lot of fun. You can get it here.

 

Pusha T – My Name Is My Name

I must've listened to Numbers On The Boards at least a hundred times before the album even got a release date. Everything about that song is amazing, from the droning glitchy beat to the defiantly artless Jay-Z sample, topped off by Pusha going hard as fuck. The way he uses his flow to create tension is captivating as hell, and a big part of how I was able to make it through some of the weaker guests on the record- I knew when they were done, it'd be Push's turn again and that made sitting through that shit easy. And then he closes the record with back to back three of the best verses I heard this year on S.N.I.T.C.H. I know everyone who follows rap this year's been about Danny Brown, R.A. The Rugged Man, Drake, and all that shit, but I take Pusha over all of that.

 

Zebra Katz – DRKLNG

It's pure style. He's not going to blow you away with lyrical insight or technical skill but the world he's crafted next to traditional pop rap, of dark club shit that blurs gender roles, is unlike anything else going. The mixtape itself is a thirty minute piece where everything bleeds into the other songs creating this oppressive atmosphere and story that Zebra just weaves in and out of, then letting all of the tension blow with a fucking banger in Last Name Katz. You can listen to the whole thing as one track right here, and iTunes has a version but it's missing a few tracks.

 

El-P & Killer Mike – Run The Jewels

I had to double check that no one brought this up. This one has a quick an easy sell: El-P was the best producer working last year, Killer Mike put out one of the best rap albums last year, and then they put out a tag team mixtape for free. Whatever reason you had to pass on this isn't good enough. It's right here.

 

Milo – Cavalcade

Milo's already come up once before, but the dude's put out four separate releases this year so there was a good chance I'd get beaten to “holy shit milo is on some next level shit in 2013.” His debut album was this weird middle point between nerdy and deep which didn't always sit well with me (although the song Just Us breaks my heart every time I listen to it). 2012 was a pretty silly experiment, where he released him rapping over a bunch of Baths songs. Then at the start of 2013 he just fucking bursts out of nowhere with Things That Happen At Day/Night, which showed immense growth from where he started in a pretty short amount of time. Six months later, Cavalcade came out, and from then it's grown into my most listened record of the year. There's not a second on it that I don't love, and it's perfectly long at 30 minutes. I could go on about this one for another couple hundred words, but instead I'm just going to link to it.

 

clipping – midcity

So I said this was going to go from most to least pop. Here comes the steep curve. clipping is declaring war on the idea of “authenticity” in music. Rap and noise both have fanbases that have a feverish hard-on for authenticity that the members of clipping feel is completely ridiculous, so their music demands people discard this thought. They do this by making the most “authentic” noise music straight out of the Merzbow school of thought, and then Daveed Briggs steps up and uses immense technical skill to rap about “real G shit,” telling stories of immense unlikable depravity that's built out of the uglier parts of hip hop culture. This album came out in February and it took me until about August to actually get it, so if you do try it you're in for a rough ride. Even so, I'd be fucking up if I didn't share it.

 

And speaking of authenticity...

 

B L A C K I E All Caps With Spaces – ONLY 4 THE REAL

It is totally cool if you listen to like twenty seconds of this and decide it's not for you. It's a completely understandable reaction. I still think you should know it exists. For four straight years, B L A C K I E has put out basically the rawest music without concern for anything but making exactly what he wants to make. He's slowly stripped more and more away from his music until it's just purely energy with as little flourish as possible, and he's managed to double down on that every year since 2010. I don't think it's his best work (last year's album GEN blew my tiny mind), but again, I'd be fucking up if I didn't share it. Dude's a hero to me.

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STUFF FROM THIS YEAR I LOVED WHICH IS WEIRD SINCE I DON'T LISTEN TO A TON OF NEW MUSIC --

 

1) The So So Glos, Blowout -- One of the best punk bands to come around in evvveeerrrr. They've been around for a while but they really upped their game with Blowout. I haven't really liked an album as much as this since The Hold Steady were at the peak of their powers. They're in the same genre of The Menzingers -- descendents of Jawbreaker and punk bands that really put their hearts on their sleeves. But this stuff is super aggressive and fast and awesome. And another plus: A few of the members are actually brothers! So friggin' great.

 

2) The Front Bottoms, Talon of the Hawk -- They're in the same class as The So So Glos. They definitely take a lot from Titus Andronicus, who are from the same part of North Jersey as these dudes. The lyrics have so much imagery and are super pointed and specific. Unlike Titus though, they never take themselves too seriously.

3) Kurt Vile and The Violators, Walking On A Pretty Daze -- The new king of low-fi BRINGS IT. He's our J. Masics and the best. Also, you should all find out about his brother, Paul "Jelloman" Vile ASAP. Jelloman goes to all sorts of festivals and makes his living selling Jello-shots out of some beat-to-hell RV. I'm pretty obsessed w/ the Jello Man.

That's the only stuff that comes to mind. I also like what I heard from Diarrhea Planet, the best named band ever, but I don't have the album.

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