Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite Albums of 2013

I have kept up with this blog for the past few years and it is fun for me to look back and see what I was thinking about music at the time. This year is the year of SPOTIFY. I mentioned in last year's post that this was my plan and that I'd fill you in this year on how the experiment went. I joined ($10 monthly rate to listen without commercials and be able to download albums onto my phone) in January and rode out the whole year only buying albums that I couldn't get through the streaming service (which only consisted of about 4 artists, thus far).

Spotify really worked for me. It lets you taste-test a ton of music. It's cost is cheaper than what I would pay per month for new music. It usually gets every new album that comes out on the day it comes out (with a few exceptions that either A. was offered a few weeks after the release date, or B. never was released because of artist or label).

This leads us to a few negatives. Thom Yorke of Radiohead pulled his ATOMS FOR PEACE record because he thinks Spotify is unfair to artists. This may be true but it is certainly better than downloading it illegally or just not even trying a new artist. However, I feel bad to think I am possibly treating my favorite artists unjustly. I do often go to live shows and buy merch, so that helps me sleep at night. The other problem is that you never actually own your music, you rent it. If I quit Spotify, I got a lot of albums to buy. However, this also has a plus because you can listen to it anywhere you can "log in" and you save on storage space.

My music can be broken up into two categories. Shit I listen to while driving and shit I listen to while writing. Driving music is usually very proactive and rocking. Writing music is usually more atmospheric and moody. You can probably guess which is which throughout. I also want to add that my vinyl purchases have calmed down pretty dramatically. Albums are often about twenty bucks a pop for a new one, which is insane. They used to be the same as a new CD! I can't justify buying anything on vinyl unless it is used/cheap or if it is an album I will love for life.

It has been a great year for music. I do the "top ten" thing for dramatic purposes only. This list's order changes daily but these are the albums that were the soundtrack to my 2013.


10. FIDLAR - S/T
Just when I thought punk was dead.

09. HAIM - Days Are Gone
This is so not in my wheelhouse that I actually dismissed it at first. I could tell it had some great songs but it just wasn't my style. However, I kept going back to those earworms they call songs and eventually got hooked. So glad I did.

These guys have really come into their own as being just a great rock band. A lot of great songs on this one.

07. JUNIP - S/T
Second solid album by these guys. Love their tension-building songs and instantly catchy hooks. The singer stays mellow throughout but the band rises and falls like the ocean's tides.

06. THE JULIE RUIN - Run Fast EP
Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre) is back and this new EP is fantastic punk rock. Looking forward to the full-length.

05. BLACK PUS - All My Relations
This band is insane. I do not recommend this album. However, there are a lot of tracks on here that I keep coming back to. The drummer/singer wears a mask and shoves a microphone under it to sing and play. I saw him play live with his other band, Lightning Bolt, and they scared the hell out of half the audience. Not for the faint-hearted.

04. DARKSIDE - Psychic
A fantastic headtrip of an album. I've listened to this thing a ton and I'm still surprised by its twists and turns every time I hear it. A great mix of atmosphere and funk.

03. FUTURE OF THE LEFT - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident
A crowd-funded album (!) that I helped fund and was more than happy to. For a few bucks on the front end I ended up with a signed copy of the final album and a bonus EP vinyl with a few extra tracks on there. Is crowd-funding the new way to get an album made? Hm? Only if you have a built-in fan base, I think. This album is as spotty as the last but the great songs are REALLY great! Listen to this track and try not to kick someone's teeth in...

02. NINE INCH NAILS - Hesitation Marks
This album meant a lot to me due to a passing of a close friend that was a huge NIN fan. I guess because he could never hear it, I felt that I was able to enjoy it vicariously for him. It also has some great tracks and it is truly a great "beat" album. There is some fantastic production happening here! Also, David Lynch got to be experimental as shit on this video...

01. CLUTCH - Earth Rocker
I have always loved this band going back to high school. They are not cool. They are not hip. They just play great rock music. This is easily the most listened to album I owned in 2013.

These are easily part of the top ten on any given day...

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS - Push the Sky Away
STEVE MASON - Monkey Minds In The Devil's Time
VAMPIRE WEEKEND - Modern Vampires of the City
THE KNIFE - Shaking the Habitual
FRIGHTENED RABBIT - Pedestrian Verse
BROADCAST - Soundtrack to Berberian Sound Studio
TRICKY - False Idols
VAMPIRE WEEKEND - Modern Vampires of the City
THE HAXAN CLOAK - Excavation

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