Best of 2013
Could the Village Voice Pazz And Jop Poll get any more irrelevant? If I wasn’t hitting deadline I don’t think I’d mention it at all but since we’re all here, this kinda is obvious
I’m sure I’ll discover more songs from 2013 that would displace some of these entries, but this is a solid list. If you haven’t heard “City Swan” by Neko Case or “Turn the Radio On” by the Suburbs, I highly recommend you check them out. Also, the entire Christianity meets old school funk album by the Relatives is a wah-wah pedal, fuzztone gas.
To me, the shocker is how great the extra songs on The Next Day are; if you save two songs from the initial release and add it to the newer songs you have a serious contender for the album of the year. Something the original release certainly wasn’t.
While I’ve claimed 2013 wasn’t much of a year, I did find 137 albums to love and really managed to spend every waking moment listening to music I loved so what I guess I mean is that it was a directionless year, there was no sense of a future within its grasp or a music scene that could unite us. In other words: 2013 was a year floating in space.
472 songs, over 30 hours of music, and all of this is good stuff, worth your interest and admiration. Some of it is more than that, my top song and Modern Hut’s “History” are important exposes of the world and its sins. Angry, pained, shaken, and walking through the mirror, they are as great as protest gets.
I don’t think I’ll ever go to this many concerts again in a year! I’m exhausted and by the time I reached December I was getting dimishing returns. I guess that’s age for you, right? Still, despite a terrible Jingle, a good year for concerts, and a surprise finish with a spectacular set by Bobby Womack.
To call it less than nihilism is to misunderstanding what it means to believe in nothingness, in an end where even time has no meaning, where everything has ceased to exist. We like to call this an existential bummer.
It is the sine qua non of rock, it is the post-rock and roll foundation vastly sturdier than psychedelia or any form of prog rock: the Ramones used it, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Titus Andronicus -worlds, universe of sound got their first lesson in how to do it through the Velvet Underground.
Tomas always sees a better tomorrow, he always sees a world where everything gets better through love and community and while he bristles in anger which his eleven piece band feeds off, in the end his answer is one voice, one love.
The two revelations here are Cody Chestnutt’s superb r&b album from late 2012 and Bernie Worrell’s brilliant new album which opens with Miles Davis and closes with Bob Marley and in between is a subtle and beautiful jazz masterwork for piano.
This mix of harangued fury, industrial strength beats and wildly brilliant samples have lived alone with mostly rock critics and rap geeks flipping out and the rest of the world.
This sounds like a downer and it is, but remember, great music restores truth with art and in song after song this is what Jahn and his terrific band do, songs are lovely as “Black Water Blues”, “Walk The Other Way”, full on romantic loss “Under The Moon”, “Hang Together” spotted among the biggest moments and held together by Xavier’s astounding vocal tour de force.
There is something about Laura which is less naiveté repressed and more privilege expressed; it comes across as a form of feminism: a sort of proto-rock star unwillingness to be signed up for anything approaching a long term commitment : she lies back, she stands up, next verse.
So Aaron posted his top 25 albums of 2013 and I didn’t know one of them, though I do know Richard X Heyman among the honorable mentions and, er, the Beatles At The BBC among the best compilations.
At 41 minutes the album is like a play cut into separate scenes but more like a play of the mind where everything is happening at once; it doesn’t feel linear, it feels as if the story is occurring simultaneously, and so less than a story and more like a series of emotions going through change after change and ending in anger
Music writing is an instant mix of po-faced beat dissections and ass kissing and usually both, except, in an attempt to prove themselves above the fray, a major publication will dis a major work by a major performer (pace: Pitchfork).
Popdust is probably my favorite music website, it looks like a dream and is wildly sarcastic and funny and fun. It obsesses over K-Pop and has better ears than Pitchfork; if Popdusts Top 20 songs of 2013 seems a little obvious, well, the whole point with pop music is that it be popular…
As the name suggest it is a self portrait of sorts, Beyonce attempts to balance her insecurities as a woman with her securities as a woman, her refusal to compromise her and willingness to share that with an audience (not me: wrong fantasy).
Linda’s cover of Anna’s “Fast As My Feet”, with her three kids and Grandson joining in, works as an antidote to Rufus’ sorrow, as though despite all odds there is joy in life and in family that can remove the sting even from death through love and art. Perhaps the moral of this entire album.
She builds an artistic house of seasons and times passing and love and hope and than she surrounds it with melodic to care for it and take care of it, and as she studies these feelings, and shares them, they have the permanence of true love.
The album is here because the tracks can function as songs, without really knowing what’s happening, just as separate songs, great songs with great words, lots of jukes. “There is no plane, no pilot, it is a thought experiment…” Perhaps. but one with a heart.
The complaint is the songs don’t link thematic in your mind, it is more like a random collection of tracks, a playlist, but both the sound is the linking and Natalies voices sounds unique throughout. A terrific album.
Rolling Stone And Pitchfork Have The Same # 1 And # 2 Albums Of 2013: The Word Of The Day IS Consensus Opinion
It is not that I don’t agree that Kanye West and Vampire Weekend released great albums, I agree and both albums made my top 20 albums of 2014, it is that…
The big thing with Rudimental is dance pop is fun, and they are having fun presenting it to us but Home takes awhile because they don’t record it with the sumptuous oof they give it live. “Feel The Love” doesn’t achieve the anthem quality on stage, the cresting waves of melodic soul hooks, and it is still great.
This isn’t subtext on Modern Vampires Of The City, with its strange echo of “The Elders Of Zion”title? I still don’t see why more isn’t being made of Ezra being Jewish when it reverberates through Rolling Stones album of the year
The band are a touch generic though it sure doesn’t hurt the knockabout “Super 8” ( and the accumulation of stories work themselves into a worldview and while it isn’t a happy one, it is true one, and while it is mostly a bunch of stories and they don’t always end well, they always show people at their most humane.
The album is strong and yet supple, it is a Taoist achievement about how life comes to it, to the couple and its friends, and how that is enough. In the familial, or at least in the communal, in the me and my friends at the center of these wonderful friends is a vision of a musical life as an ongoing community.
Tis the season to make lists and thank god for that because there is nothing going on in the music business and I’d be left reviewing Jingle Ball again in anticipation of next years where I think we will finally be getting Katy Perry. Or Taylor Swift. Or most likely both because they owe us for the disastrous 2013.
Who will judge the judgers? I will! NPR have put up their top 50 albums of 2013 and I have only two questions 1) Do I know it and 2) is it any good… no wait here is 3) Where is Queen Bey!. Well, let’s take a look at what the lefty muckety mucks have been listening to, 11 of em
From the kick it into gear “When The Drugs Kick In” to the jammed out masterful Neil Young cover “Southern Pacific” this album doesn’t falter for a moment, the guitars are tactile, ringing, powerful -a thing of real beauty and smartness like scalpels of sound.
At 45 years of age, Anthony has had his midlife crises and has now returned to his roots on this huge hit in Latin American, a perfect album which proves Anthony has the voice and the chops, and the arrangements, and the ear, to still be the biggest Salsa star living.
he provides support to a friend and potential love interest that dies prematurely of cancer. Not the feel good hit of the summer, but the wallop is devastating
Not that anybody asked me, and not that I am in major major contradiction, but Rolling Stone spend another year being relentless average, whiich is better I guess than being relentlessly average and avant garde a la Pitchfork.
Darkside – Tom Stoppard And Pink Floyd – A radio play that works as a record album that works as a radio with Stoppards rat-a-tat dialogue and concise storytelling. No, it isn’t “The Invention Of Love” but then neither is “The Coast Of Utopia”.
Love Is Love – Hello Steve Reich James Murphy for DFA Remix – David Bowie – Sure, he’s using an idea from Reich, but the way the clapping becomes the beat blows me away every time
M.I.A. – Terminal 5 – November 1st, 2013 – A masterpiece of modern pop with a conscience that puts former contemporaries like Madonna and Lady Gaga into the nostalgia files, while M.I.A. finds the middle ground between beats and beatings.
What I love most about Amazon’s yearly best of is that it feels voted on by friends and colleagues and not pros. How else to explain Miley Cyrus and Neko Case’s appearance?
As Fast As My Feet – Linda Thompson – A pop song but an old fashioned one that walks on its title melodic hook all the way there, with a sound not folk but folk-rock and of course, Linda’s gorgeous voice.
6. Something About Knowing – Maria Taylor – One of the top indie Queens finds a truth within the truth, a truer truth in true love, marriage and childbirth, then she tells us how it feels to be a mother and how it feels to know what she didn’t know. A miraculous album.
ARMS – Studio At Webster Hall, Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 – Todd Goldstein is a one band except he has a full band and they take the stage to a soundscape indie rock of power and beauty and a smart sound you would do well to listen to.
some of the most intricately arranged, gorgeous melodies you’ll ever hear and wrapped in acoustic strum and Eeyore monotone as Steinhardt sifts through self-loathing and misanthropy in a world view so bleak the only thing that keeps it collapsing is the act of songwriting itself.