I’m going to spare you a long introduction because I don’t want to create any innuendos that suggests I didn’t scribble half this list in my little red journal while riding the train yesterday afternoon, and the other half by racking my brain over the last year for albums that I remember playing over and over as my three week obsessions. With that said, I don’t have many three week album obsessions, so this list, to me– is special.
I did go back and listen to all of these albums through again to make sure this list is authentic for the bands and anyone who values my opinion. So, I love you all. Let’s get to it:
Teenage Sweater – Concentration
(Tricycle Records – Tricycle0025)
This album delightfully took me by surprise. I caught wind of this Bay Area band in my very early days at The Deli Magazine, and I became a bit obsessed with this electro synth alt record. There’s a real classy ebb and flow to every track on Concentration. Every song is intricately crafted and full of well-placed arcs and bridges. Very nice. I appreciate not being banged over the head by every album I listen to. I like to hear romantically spiced albums that pull me in. Concentration is an excellently produced full-length debut effort, and always a pleasure to listen to.
Xiu Xiu – Nina
(Graveface Records – GRAVE103)
Nina Simone was a gift to our planet. She was a militant Goddess of the musical astral plane. Anyone, particularly the risk taking experimental music project, Xiu Xiu taking any time and effort to interpret her virtuosic style has my full respect. Nina doesn’t come across as a rushed concept project, but this album was very intentional. This record moves and intrigues me. I need experimental jazz albums in my life to survive. Xiu Xiu’s Nina keeps me going.
Dead Meadow – Warble Womb
(Xemu Records – XM 1027LP)
I quite literally waited for this album for three years. 1000 Dreams, which was co written by Imaad Wasif, another one of my fave L.A. musicians, is an epic anti-ballad that stays true to Dead Meadow’s pagen-esque psych rock universe. Nonetheless, Warble Womb as a whole, is a collection of structured psych-western odes that are genuine and imaginative. Of course, Steve’s bass walks you right through the entire album, and we get hear an introduction of acoustic-electric folk riffs that are maturely emotive, and strays away from the band’s early sludgy atmospheres. There’s a real tone of beauty to Warble Womb that’s cultivated and done confidently.
The Warlocks – Skull Worship
(Zap Banana Records – ZAPBLP002)
Skull Worship resembles Bobby’s earlier albums. This record is less reverbed and arty, and is laced with a cleaner guitar presence. Bobby’s voice has held up very well over the years. It’s always nice to hear an artist who can still write and compose great songs consistently. The Warlocks’ well runs deep and Skull Worship just keeps up with the high standard that Warlocks listeners expect. I like that we can trust Bobby to put out good records without question. Skull Worship was definitely an anticipated and welcomed album of 2013.
Ashrae Fax – Static Crush (Reissue)
(Mexican Summer Records – MEX159-1)
Yeeeees. I didn’t know much about Ashrae Fax until I inadvertently saw them live in Baltimore earlier this year. You give me a serious female vocalist who sings from her soul over post punk synth rock and I’m in heaven. Please listen to this album. It’s the only way to understand why Mexican Summer Records reissued this 2003 LP with very little effort on the band’s part. If I had the means and heard this record, I would have reissued it as well. It’s a work of art.
Blaze Foley – Cold Cold World (Vinyl Release)
(Secret Seven Records – SEC-7-010)
Blaze Foley died 20 years ago. I learned of his music from Lucinda William’s song, Drunken Angel, which was written about his death. Cold Cold World is a classic, pristine and near perfect country record. Blaze Foley wrote and sang like an angel, and the title track was one of those songs that I played over and over again. This album was released on vinyl for the first time in 2013. It was one of the staple records of my year.
Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
(Tan Cressida – 88883 75170 2)
2013 was also the year I became a proper hip-hop journalist. I’ve dabbled here and there but listening to and reviewing Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris ushered me in in a very respectful and auspicious manner. I had a hip-hop album to write about that had nothing to do with sexist, emasculating or violent content. Doris is an album written by a thoughtful, self aware and articulate 19-year-old boy who was sent away to boarding school by his upscale mother to ensure that he did not receive his predestined fate as a rapper. But fate is fate, and Earl Sweatshirt wrote this album, and raps about love, pain and his family in a sincere and disturbingly vivid manner. I really love this album. If you want to hear an album with true perspective and honesty, I highly recommend you check Doris out.
Weekend – Jinx
(Slumberland Records – SLR 183)
Weekend is a great band, and Jinx is a dark, moody and eerie record that pushes the envelope in regards to the manner it crept up into the indie mainstream (you’d think that’d be an oxymoron, but it’s not). Weekend really outdoes themselves as this record is very different from their noisy and dissonant debut. Jinx exudes a level of sadness and expression that is highly relevant, while making you think they could give Interpol a run for their money. I’m into it.
Wet Brain – Too Much Fun
Riot Grrrls. Wet Brain is a kick ass, all female punk rock band that consists of two bass players, a guitarist and drummer. This underground lofi album is what keeps music, pure, holy and on an even playing field. I have a lot of respect for Wet Brain because Too Much Fun has a classic punk vibe that has nothing to do with bells or whistles. You’ve got the band jamming the hell out without any electronic aesthetics for atmospheric amplification. I like it pure and underground. Great record.
Disappears – Era
(Kranky – KRANK182LP)
This album drives me insane, like I’m on catnip. I’m intrinsically attached to the sound, and I can’t particularly explain why this brash, experimental death rock album has such an effect on my musical taste. But Disappears’ Era is the most influential album for me of 2013. Dig on it.
Crisis Arm’s Caterwaul
My Bloody Valentine’s MBV
The Black Angels’ Indigo Meadow
Dead Lead Echo’s Thoughts and Language
The Flying Eyes’ Lowlands
Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail