Archive for April, 2013

Top 15 Albums of Quarter 1

Here’s what I’m thinking. This is a rough and ever-changing list. What is constant so far this year are good singles. Most of these albums are still very new to me but it’s one or two tracks on each that have I’ve chosen to immerse myself in so far this year. Aside from the Strokes and Yo La Tengo, the lion’s share of these records are from brand new or very young bands; mostly on their first or second album. This is exciting. This year has been exciting. See here for realtime updates on this list and others my friends have made.

15. Kate Nash – Girl Talk
Talky but smart, annoying but honest.
14. The Men – New Moon
Dirtier than their last LP; going the lo-fi Credence route pretty uniformly here.
13. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
First half rocks. This is a new band now.
12. Yo La Tengo – Fade
A standard YLT album. Consistently poignant songs about friendship and loss supplemented by wide open production and airy, subtle instrumentation.
11. Mountains – Centralia
A new wave of ambient where the balance between new age schlock and pretentious beauty is nearly mastered, but wholly defined.
10. Darwin Deez – Songs for Imaginative People
Kate Nash’s feminine complaints undergo a sex change and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tone/style/persona is recalled through the lens of 21st century pop funk. What?
9. Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
Sometimes spooky, sometimes catchy, WFSTH doesn’t take many risks, but its delicate play-by-the-rules mantra is deserved and seamlessly executed.
8. The Besnard Lakes – Until Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Colossal, ambient rock for only the most patient of listeners.
7. FaltyDL – Hardcourage
Picture Axel Foley sneaking around a warehouse at midnight, or laughing at a Beverly Hills resident’s red leather garb. Hardcourage is an aesthetician’s dream; cinematic IDM that rewards and surprises with every listen.
6. Iceage – You’re Nothing
This is a haunting, tragic LP. I’m scared of this band.
5. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
Katie Crutchfield is a brave girl. Her candid expressions on this record are so real and pure. Short songs, great hooks, VARIETY, style, and understood limitations.
4. Merchandise – Totale Nite
Still don’t know what this album will do for me in the coming months. But they’ve gotten calmer and cooler since Children of Desire–don’t know if that’s good or bad, though. Points for Anxiety’s Door (what a tune), and giving a musical nod to Ambulance LTD–who does that anymore?
This is a stupid, vulnerable record that is held together by the glue of this band. They are tough but empty, forthright but apathetic. Hopefully once they get off tour with Wavves they’ll realize they’re a better band with so much more ahead of them than waking, baking, and skating.
2. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
 An unbelievable range of styles here. So many ideas are thought out and seen through in detail on this record. We’re looking at a classic indie-folk album that combines hard rock, blues, Appalachian folk music, and pejorative Riot Grrl intentions; asking what indie even means in 2013. I have no idea. Lady Lamb doesn’t either, but her music provokes the notion that the proper synthesis of style and mood can disassemble genre roles in a heartbeat. If you let it.
1. Mazes – Ores and Minerals
Let’s discuss why Television, Talking Heads, and Can are still relevant. No, let’s just listen to this album instead. Ores and Minerals drives with a pulsating and gawky presence through a world of dissonant and modal guitar lines. Weaving through and soaring above these at times atmospheric songs is a jerky sense of surrealism. And the plaintive vocal deliveries round out all the things I look for in an off-kilter rock album.

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