dear readers to the annual “favorite records of insert year here”.
Been doing this for a number of years and its always fun to go back
and re-listen and place those records in a semi order of what you
enjoyed the most. As always a few “rules”. This is my favorite
records of the year. Some might be technically “better” than
others, but these are the ones that got the most attention from me
this year. Also, no live albums, re-issues or ep's are on the list.
Hope you'll poke around, sip a drink and comment with agreements or "you are a complete fool"....you decide.
20. Kinski - "Cosy Moments"
always seems like ages between this bands records and tours. This
year the album came out, I bought a ticket for a local show (which
just so happened to be the end of the Boston Marathon bombing
search..their shoot out with police started on the same evening a
stone throw for the venue). Enough of that. The band is comfortable
with doing things on their own terms. Opening with a 7+ minute slow
building track you get...vocals? Something the band has never really
done before. They suit the sound and even have some fairly decent
harmonies. If you are looking for fuzzed out guitars and some
“boom-bash” drum lines rumbling over wah-wah pedals this is for
List Appearances - Airs Above Your Station # 10 2003.
19. Boards of Canada - Tomorrows Harvest
was the year of bands releasing new material that hadn't released new
material in many years. For the Scottish electronic duo it was eight
years. Its ambient, down tempo type stuff. If you are looking for a
“rave” record this is not it. Listeners will likely find this
record appealing on snowy mornings, or early morning foggy days. It
just has that feel to it. Many of the songs you keep waiting for
them to really take off, but after a few tracks you settle in and
realize this what IDM is and you just need to be a sponge and soak
it all up.
List Appearances – first time
18. Pearl Jam - "Lightning Bolt
have been doing this for a while and I still seem to have a soft spot
for their output. You pretty much get what you get, and you don't
get upset with their releases. They've gone back to being okay with
rocking out and its a welcome return. They put out a steady,
listenable bunch of records. Nothing groundbreaking, noting that
should prevent you from check it out, or checking the band out again.
List Appearances - Yield #6 1998. Binural #19 2000. Backspacer #15
Out Tracks - “Lighting Bolt”, "Getaway"
17. My Bloody Valentine - MBV
long been rumored, or speculated that My Blood Valentine was broken
up. Or, they were really taking their time making a new record.
Their last was in 91 and they broken up in 97. The album was
recorded before the break up, and after the reformation in 2007.
Rumors of the record swirled then suddenly one day the internet was
abuzz, a new My Bloody Valentine was “out”. It was out on the
bands new web page the same day. The long wait had critics and fans
expecting something really special, and they go it. 9 songs spread
out over 45 minutes blending the swirling and brutal guitars with the
at times angelic vocal delivery. A record for late night chill outs
and freak outs.
list appearance(s) – their first
16. David Bowie - "The Next Day"
is the first David Bowie record in 10 years, and his 30th
release. The early reviews of this were strong, and sort of the
stealth like release of this record grabbed me. I don't have a ton
to personally gauge off but it sounds like a Bowie record should.
His unique vocals surrounded by tight musicians make for an enjoyable
listen. Bowie mixes tempos pretty well and he pushes himself vocally
at times which is rewarding. Dip your toes back in to the waters of
Bowie, or try it for the first time.
List Appearances – his first appearance.
15 - Pelican - "Forever Becoming"
based Pelican have quietly released some of the heavier instrumental
albums the last few years. The riffs are big, the bass and drums are
like an earthquake, yet mainstream success seems to elude them. It
is also a nice clean big sound. Who needs lyrics when you pretty much
sing every monstrous riff tossed your way.
List Appearances – The Fire in Our Throats Will Becon the Thaw #18
14 - Arcade Fire - Reflektor
get this out of the way. Double albums are usually not the best
idea. It always seems that a double album is self indulgent and that
if they culled the best from the two they'd have a killer record. At
least they didn't charge me for a double album. Anyhow, lets focus.
They are quirky, and seemingly arrogant at times, but they can write
some damn fine tunes. One thing with Arcade Fire has always been a
full sound. You'll see these list of players on a record and never
really hear anything beyond the guitar/bass/drum, but with Arcade
Fire it always feels like a rock symphony. I am probably over doing
it with that, but it just always sounds clean and full. When I
bought the record I felt “okay lets see what we have here” and at
the end I was pleased with the overall output. A solid and enjoyable
List Appearances – Funeral #2, 2004. Neon Bible #9 2007 Suburbs
Out Track(s) - “Here Comes the Night Time” “Joan of Arc”
"It's Never Over" , “Afterlife”
13. Mazzy Star - "Seasons of Your Day"
really been 17 years between records? Guns and Roses were not even
this bold! Hope Sandoval sounds just as wonderful as you remember
and David Roback plays what feels like every instrument under the
sun. The duo (of course with studio players) have that late night,
party has ended, clean up with 2 or three people hanging around
still. You can smell the stale beer, and the lingering smoke. They
just paint this image, but they could also paint the image of a
formal evening out. Fans can only hope the gap won't be this long,
but when the final output is as fine as this you won't mind...well
maybe a little.
List Appearances – first time
So I Watch You From Afar - “All Hail Bright Futures”
the Irish bands third full length release. The post rock noisemakers
offer up far more vocals on this record than before and honestly for
me that is the only downside to this. I understand that bands need
to grow and challenge themselves and their listeners. Don't get me
wrong, its not bad, but the sheer sound and feel of “Big Thinks Do
Remarkable” you almost feel like the vocal chant(s) are not needed.
When it all blows up at 3:22 to the end all is forgiven. The album
continues to follow similar patterns and everything, I mean
EVERYTHING gets a workout from bass to drums to guitars. Its a noisy
and fun ride.
list appearances – Self titled #9 2009.
11. The National - "Trouble
Will Find Me”
time I listen to a record from the band I need to remind myself they
are from Brooklyn New York. I am not sure why that is, or why I even
think they are from somewhere else. The National have released
consistent records. They are rich, full records with layer upon
layer of instruments. Everything is balanced well, and you don't
ever find yourself thinking “what a great guitar solo” because
this is a cohesive unit, no one person takes the spotlight. Singer
Matt Berninger is steadily climbing the ladder of “favorite lead
List Appearances - High Violet #14 2010
10. Russian Circles - "Memorial"
band continues to make records that sound so massive. I mean these
just sound “huge”and it is made by three musicians. At times it
feels like the soundtrack for a scary movie (but a cool part like a
chase scene). Each track seems to be more gigantic than the last.
It may lull you at one point, then all of a sudden overdrive pedals
are stomped on and the rocket takes off. Its a heck of a ride.
List Appearances - Station #4 2008. Geneva #14 2009. Empros #20
Out Track(s) - “Deficit”, "1777"
09. Arctic Monkeys - "AM"
bands is slowly building steam here in the US. Its been a long slow
burn, but people are coming around. The four piece has had 5
consecutive #1 albums in the UK and very little turn over in their 10
years of playing as a band. Put under the “garage rock” genre,
they just hammer out catchy, semi punk tunes with big hooks. The
guitar work on this record is great, and singer Alex Turner sings
with that scowl, that somehow still sounds as young as the band is.
List Appearance(s) - Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I Am
Not #17 2006
08. Foals "Holy Fire"
Oxford England band came out of nowhere to me this year. This is
their third full length and it was a great launching point for me as
a new fan. Lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis runs the gamut of range
and emotion from the punishing “Inhaler” to the dancy pop song
“My Number” he takes charge throughout. The foursome shows off
some great pop sensibilities, and wearing emotions oh their sleeves
(see “Bad Habit”) and explosive tracks like “Providence” As
a final aside, I was able to see them live in a small club in Rhode
Island, and it was one of my favorite shows of the year, or any year.
They were fantastic.
List Appearances – Their first
Out Track(s) - "My Number" (i love this video too), “Inhaler” “Bad Habit”
07 - Vampire
Weekend - “Modern Vampires of the City”
a record that found its way to many a year end list. The band has a
hard time doing anything wrong to both new and old fans. The long
time fans come back getting what they expect with the catchy guitar
lines buzzing at times over keyboard lines and deep bass grooves.
band really has us where they want us, the question is can they
continue to hold us. So far so good.
List Appearances - Self titled #8 2008. Contra #13 2010.
06. Hands - “Synesthesia”
quietly found its way in to the cd player a fair bit this year. Just
an indie pop band that seems to find really fun grooves, with layers
of keyboards. This one flew under far too many radars, you'll hear
more of them in 2014. Its synth pop, but not overly dance synth pop,
or at least the tracks vary enough you don't feel like you are at
some dance club.
List Appearances – First time
out Track(s) - "Lonesome Body" (live version), “Videolove”, “The Game is
05. Deafheaven - "Sunbather"
time buying records I've been pretty good with taking chances.
Sometimes throwing caution to the wind and just giving in to reviews
and general buzz. I did on this. Lets get this out of the way. Its
metal. Its more than metal its black metal. It also has shoegaze
and post rock elements. Easily the most challenging listen in a few
years for me, and utterly astonishing at the same time. This is a
hard listen. I am not even sure I can recommend this record to
friends without a word of caution, but I always say, and continue to
say “if you get it..you'll be amazed” otherwise you will be livid
you even get it time. There is no happy medium on this one. Its
either going to hit you, or annoy you. If it hits you I could go on
for days as to what is right and what makes this record so massive
and awesome. The band has interlude tracks, almost to give you time
to catch your breath (3 of them). If you don't get it, I'd be okay
with saying “I get it”. From the walls of guitar and machine gun
drums to start “Dream House” through to the end..man as I listen
list appearances – first time
Queens of the Stone Age - “...Like Clockwork”
sort of a given with me when certain bands release records they are
going to make my list. Remember this is my favorite records of the
year, perhaps not the best...but in this case QOTSA got back at it in
2013. After the time off, a health scare for Josh Homme and yet
another re-shuffle of the band they came back with their strongest in
years. Always “decent” stuff, this album seemed to be more
focused on what long time fans wanted. Heavy, long drone infused
tracks, but then speedier “My God Is the Sun”. A welcome back,
with rumors of a quick turn around for new material...I'll be
list appearances – Self Titled #17 1998. Rated R #1 2000. Songs
for the Deaf #1 2002. Lullabies to Paralyze # 3 2005. Era Vulgaris
03. Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze"
admit I am new to Kurt Vile. One of the great things is I have 4-5
records I get to go back to.
album is virtually a double album where songs stretch 6+ minutes
long, but the best part is they don't feel long enough. Coming the
web for reviews at the time of its release there was one writer
(Jayson Greene via Pitchfork) that said “ When you go to
listen to a Kurt vile record, it is like reaching for a glass of
water. It isn’t going to blow you away with anything overly sweet,
but it is going to be satisfying.” That is a prefect way to
reflect on this record. The guitar work is excellent, the
songwriting terrific. A year ago I was clueless as to who he was,
but now I can't get enough.
list appearances – first time
out track(s) - "KV Crimes", “Never Run Away”, “Pure Pain”
Ros – Kveikur
like Queens of the Stone Age, a band like this comes out with a
record chances are very high they'll make the list. Now in their
year Icelandic band Sigur Ros, who are now a trio, continue to
inspire me as a music fan. Pronounced “Quaker” the trio (of
course a slew of backing players) got “heavier” than ever on this
sprawling record. They are very polarizing. Either you get them and
love them, or you just sorta scratch your head and wonder what the
appeal is. Primarily due to Jonsi and his vocal style, but as always
that is one of the great things about this band. I always will push
people to check out this band, more often than not they “get it”.
list appearances - Agaetis Byrjun #1 2001. ( ) #3 2002. Takk #1
2005. Hvart/Heim #2 2007. Með
suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust
#1 2008. Viltari #5 2012.
out Track(s) - “Brennisteinn”, " Isjaki,", “Kveikur”
01. Lights and Motion - "Reanimation"
power of the internet I guess. Earlier this year I stumbled upon a
few rave reviews for this debut, calling it one of the best post rock
albums ever made. Since that is in my wheelhouse I took a chance and
one could hardly call it a chance. Its stunning. I mean stunning.
This is all the work of Christoffer Franzen, who taught himself how
to play the instruments and spent a lot of time in the studio, hence
the two full albums this year. He has been gaining more attention
with songs being used in film trailers and each song is a mini
symphony. It will take you to the highest of highs. Easily my
favorite record of the year.
list appearances – first time
out tracks - The whole thing is awesome but start with: "Home" (from about 2:20 on...you'll be moved....and about 2:50...whoa..), and "Aerials"
to all this Franzen was so prolific he released as second L+M record
in November. Its spectacular as well.
Labels: 2007 favorite cds, 2008 favorite cds, 2009 favorite cds, 2010 favorite cds, 2011 Favorite cds, 2012 Favorite cds, 2013 favorite cds, lists