Best Albums of 2013

What an outstanding year 2013 has been for music dear readers.  Kanye West continues to shock and ignite us.  Lorde and Sky Ferreira show us that woman in rock and roll can do just that.  Haim is one of the better all around new artists that we’ve seen in years and experimental music is taking over the world.  Here it is, what you’ve all been waiting for all year…the best albums of 2013! Enjoy!!!

1)  The National- Trouble Will Find MeNational

The Brooklyn via Cincinnati band releases its finest record to date.  Perfectly balanced, beautifully created and easily the most listened to record of the past year.  With every growing year the band improves on every creative level.  This is the best album of 2013!

2)  Kanye West- Yeezus Kanye West

While it may be tough to ever best ‘My Dark Beautiful Twisted Nightmare’ it doesn’t mean that the latest Kanye record isn’t one for the ages.  Unabashed then the previous record and at times even more nuanced, this record wallops a punch from start to finish.  Not only one of the greatest rap/hip-hop artists of our time but one of the best musicians working in music.  Bar none.

3)  Empire Of The Sun- Ice On The Dune Empire of the Sun

Maybe besides ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, my 2nd most listened to record.  Poppy without the sweetness, dancey without the heavily techno.  A great record from start to finish.

4)  Frightened Rabbit- Pedestrian Versefrightened rabbit

The Australian natives record their finest record to date.

5)  Haim- Days Are GoneHaim

Much has been written about and discussed from the Haim sisters.  The heir to Chrissy Hynde and ‘The Pretenders’.  This is 2013 indie pop music at its finest.  And one of the genres best albums in years.

6)  Disclosure- SettleDisclosure

I was instantly blown away when I heard the British brothers known as Disclosure.  Still only in their 20’s the dance/tecno/house record will do the same to you as well.

7)  Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My TimeSky Ferreira

Sky Ferreira has been in the music biz for some years now and finally releases her debut album.  This is the indie ingenue we’ve been waiting to take the world by storm.

8)  Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the CityVampire Weekend

The only thing I can say about Vampire Weekend that hasn’t been said is that with their 3rd album, they are quickly becoming one of the world’s great bands.  With this record they have proven that there isn’t a style of music from the world that they aren’t knowledgable about.  A truly smart and innovative band, and that’s something that doesn’t come about in music these days.

9)  Kurt Vile- Wakin’ on a Pretty DazeKurt Vile

One of the finest musicians working in music.  The ex-‘The World on Drugs’ frontman releases his fifth and finest record to date.

10) Darkside- PsychicDarkside

I can’t begin to put into words how amazingly beautiful this record is.  The sounds and noises that Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington put into my ears is beyond me.  Please find this record and listen to it over and over.

11) Foxygen- We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & MagicFoxygen

A debut record for the ages.  20 somethings from San Francisco find the perfect balance of 60’s era pop and 2000’s era rock and roll.  Fantastic.

12) My Bloody Valentine- MBVMBV

The most surprising record of the year, not because it’s good but because it came out.  Finally!!!  26 years in the making and Kevin Shields and company have hit the highest point in their careers.

13) Blood Orange- Cupid DeluxeBlood Orange

An outstanding hip-hop/r&b album that came out late in 2013 that should be listened to by everyone.

14) Depeche Mode- The Delta Machine/ Superchunk- I Hate MusicSuperchunk depeche mode

Easily 2 of my favorite bands and most influential bands in my life both came out with records in 2013.  I hope everyone working in music takes notes that anything is possible by just sticking together and being in the band.  As good as anything they’ve each released in 15 years.

15) Lorde- Pure HeroineLorde

Have you heard of this girl yet?  The album is so good that the worst song on the album is, “Royals”.  That’s saying a lot.

16) Ryan Hemsworth- Guilt Trips/Still Awake (ep)Ryan Hemsworth

A beautifully record (both the full length and the ep) that I just can’t stop listening to.

17) Chvrches- The Bones of What You BelieveChvrches

They release a small ep late last year (and one of my favorite tracks of 2012, “The Mother We Share”).  This is their full length and it was well the worth the wait.

18) Tim Hecker- VirginsTim Hecker

While not as good as 2011’s ‘Ravedeath, 1972’, this record is just perfectly created music that I think anyone will fall in love with.

19) Daft Punk- Random Access MemoriesDaft Punk

Each and every song on the latest Daft Punk record is a single waiting to be released.  With the help of some of the best musicians working in music this is a complete record from start to finish.

20) Danny Brown- OldDanny Brown

My favorite hip-hop record not released by someone named Kanye.  Better than 2011’s XXX.  If this (along with fellow rappers/friends A$AP Rocky and Schoolboy Q) then the music will be better for it.

And 20 more…

21) Mutual Benefit- Love’s Crushing Diamond

22) Bleached- Ride Your Heart

23) The Weeknd- Kiss Land

24) Justin Timberlake- The 20/20 Experience

25) James Blake- Overgrown

26) The Julie Ruin- Run Fast

27) Autre Ne Veut- Anxiety

28) Deafheaven- Sunbather

29) Juliana Barwick- Nepenthe

30) Mazzy Star- Seasons of Your Day

31) Drake- Nothing Was the Same

32) Bill Callahan- Dream River

33) Chelsea Wolfe- Pain is Beauty 

34) M.I.A.- Matangi

35) Neko Case- The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

36) Washed Out- Paracosm

37) Okkervil River- The Silver Gymnasium

38) Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven

39) Death Grips- Government Plates 

40) Indians- Somewhere Else

 

Most overrated album of 2013:

Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Most disappointing album of 2013:

Jay-Z- Holy Grail

Most underrated album of 2013:

Mutual Benefit- Love’s Crushing Diamond

 

A Second Opinion…(Thom’s)

1)   Chelsea Wolfe- Pain Is Beauty

2)  Kanye West- Yeezus

3)  Dropkick Murphy’s- Signed and Sealed in Blood 

4)  My Bloody Valentine- MBV

5)  Frank Turner- Tape Deck Heart

6)  Iron Chic- The Constant One

7)  Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels

8)  Arctic Monkeys- AM

9)  Johnny Marr- The Messenger

10) Kylesa- Ultraviolet

11) The Julie Ruin- Run Fast

12) Future of the Left- How to Stop Your Brain In An Accident

13) Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals- Walk Through Exits Only

14) Sky Ferriera- Night Time, My Time

15) Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds- Push The Sky Away

 
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Best Songs of 2013

Always the hardest list to make.  2013 was an outstanding year for music.  Some of the better bands currently released great records and the newcomers are getting better and better.  Here’s to hoping that 2014 is just as good and that all of these bands work on making great records.  Enjoy…

1)  Haim- The Wire

2)  The National – ‘Don’t Swallow the Cap’

3)  Daft Punk- ‘Doin’ It Right (Panda Bear)’

4)  Charli XCX- ‘You (ha ha ha)’

5)  Frightened Rabbit- ‘The Woodpile’

6)  Empire of The Sun- ‘Concert Pitch’

7)  Bleached- ‘Dead in Your Head’

8)  Kanye West- ‘New Slaves’

9)  Katy Perry- ‘Roar’

10) Ellie Goulding- ‘Anything Can Happen’

11) CHVRCHES- ‘Gun’

12) Vampire Weekend- ‘Diane Young’

13) Drake- ‘Started From the Bottom’

14) James Blake- ‘Retrograde’

15) Justin Timberlake- ‘Mirrors’

16) Sky Ferreira- ‘You’re Not the One’

17) Disclosure- ‘When a Fire Starts to Burn’

18) Thao & The Get Down Set Down- ‘We the Common’

19) Polica- ‘Chain My Name’

20) Eleanor Friedberger- ‘She’s a Mirror’

21) Jay-Z (ft Justin Timberlake)- ‘Holy Grail’

22) Lorde- ‘A World Alone’

23) M.I.A.- ‘Bad Girls’

24) Palma Violets- ‘Best of Friends’

25) Unknown Mortal Orchestra- ‘Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)’

26) Regina Spektor- ‘You’ve Got Time’

27) Miley Cyrus- ‘Wrecking Ball’

28) Ryan Hemsworth- ‘Empty Thoughts Over a Shallow Ocean’

29) Savages- ‘She Will’

30) Foxygen- ‘No Destruction’

Best TV of 2013

I must say that I do get pickier and pickier with the tv I watch.  This year there weren’t too many but the ones that I (we) did watch were outstanding.  This is just a few…enjoy.

1)  Girls (HBO)-  

For the 2nd year in a row the Lena Dunham scripted/co-directed HBO show tops the list.  Never has a show so personified what it’s like to be young, up and coming and trying to make it the cruel, cruel world of New York City.  With the outstanding supporting cast to help out, this may be one show that continues to get better and better.

2)  Parks and Recreation (NBC)-

Not only the best comedy on network television but easily one of the best in many years.  Amy Poehler and her “troupe” find new ways each season to push the comedy envelope in many years.

3)  Mad Men (AMC)-

The staple (arguably) of the AMC oeuvre.  The past season was one of the best.  With each season the creepy display and behavior of Don Draper seems to get more and more repugnant.  Yet, we the viewer still watch and watch.  The amazing Linda Cardellini plays an integral part in this season.  One of the best shows of our time.

4)  Parenthood (NBC)-

There are times when a tv show just hits all the right buttons.  Emotionally the show resonates like no other and continues to be one of the best scripted and acted dramas on network tv.  Whether it was the addition of Ray Romano’s, ‘Hank’ or Matt Lauria’s, ‘Ryan’,

5)  Homeland (Showtime)-

What is with all the haters on this tv show this year?  With the large amount of crap on tv why is everyone so down on the 3rd season of one of the better shows on tv?  While I won’t reveal the end of the season, I will ask all of you this…did you see that coming?  I didn’t.  Cannot wait to see what they do next season.

6)  The Blacklist (NBC)-

Guilty pleasure of 2013.  Addicting.

7)  Brooklyn 99 (FOX)-

From  the creators of Parks and Recreation.  Andy Samberg and the amazing Andre Braugher star in the most original comedy of the new year.  Funnier with each episode.

8)  House of Cards (Netflix)-

The first original Netflix series was one that started the great year of 2013 in tv off with a huge bang.  Kevin Spacey is as good as he has ever been and Robin Wright as his wife is just as great.  Finally a great political drama with an original voice that isn’t afraid to push the envelope.

9)  The Office (NBC)-

The last year of one of the better American comedies (even though the British was better) finished it’s last year with such original beauty that I hope comedy series on it’s last legs watch and take note.  Even though the beginning episodes were a little far fetched and forced the ending episodes encapsulated 7 years perfectly.  Well done.

10)  The Americans (FX)-

Only reason this show is so low on the list is that we are working through it as we speak.  Fantastically acted and brilliantly told.  The amazing Keri Russell finally finds a role that best her ‘Felicity’.

Best Books of 2013

Normally I give my millions and millions of readers a list long enough to get you through the next year.  This year was a little tough to get through all the great novels and non-fiction books of the year.  Here is an abbreviated list…

1)  Morrissey- Morrissey

It’s Moz.  The greatest.  Read it.

2)  The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards-  Kristopher Jansma

I’m a sucker for the stories within stories.  While some find the changing of narrators a bit too mundane, I loved how he captures each scene, country and village in ways few of the experienced writers of our time do.  One writer to watch.

3)  Night Film- Marisha Pessl

Years in the making, Marish Pessl finally releases her follow up to ‘Special Topics in Calamity Physics’.  On a dark October night, Ashley Cordova, daughter of the reclusive filmmaker Stanislas Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in Manhattan.  Through the next 400+ pages we take a trip alongside Scott McGrath, a reporter who suspects foul play.  Brilliantly told and explicably written.  This is one book that was made to be a movie.  Hopefully a good one.

4)  All That Is- James Salter

James Salter has already written one of the most romantic books of the past 40 years in ‘A Sport and a Pastime’ and he almost outdoes himself with this breathtaking tale of love and loss in the years after WWII.  A truly spectacular read from one of the most underrated novelists of the past 50 years.

5)  Speedboat- Renata Adler

The story of a young reporter coming of age in NYC was originally released in the 70’s and found new life thanks to The New York Review of Books.  Both this and her equally good Speedboat were both released this year.  An original voice.

6)  Me & Mr. Booker- Cory Taylor

Not your typical “coming of age tales” where we find the narrator annoying and too precious for our own good.  Cory Taylor tells the tale of Martha with humility and smarts that we don’t find in many mainstream novels.  One of 2 books from the great Tin House books on this list.  Easily my favorite publishing house.

7)  Wise Men- Stuart Nadler

A decades old tale of the Wise family and in particular the patriarch, Arthur Wise.  A multigenerational story that showcases Nadler as one of the finest voices in American novels.

8)  American Savage: Insights, Slights and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics- Dan Savage

One of this country’s best voices writes another non-fiction book on what makes America great.  The chapter on where his (their) son comes out is one of the most heartfelt pieces of writing you’ll read all year.

9)  The Flamethrowers- Rachel Kushner

Reno, Nevada.  1975 and Reno (aptly named) has decided to come to NY to find herself and to explode into the budging art scene with her love of speed and motorcycles.  One of the better novels of 2013 this is a timeless tale of one woman’s search for herself in a lost, lost world.  Fearless as she is and thrilling as riding on one of her Italian motorcycles.

10)  The Novels of Richard Stark- Richard Stark 

These novels, the pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake, are his more grittier and dirtier that his namesake novels.  More thriller than mystery they tell the tale of Parker and his many schemes and cohorts.  I’m only a couple of novels in but boy am I invested.

Best of 2012…

It’s a woman’s world we live in!  2012 was indeed the year of the woman.  For the first time, a female artist/writer/creator topped the list in every category.  And the world is better for having them done so.  We saw the return of Fiona Apple, the emergence of a future star in Girls’ Lena Dunham and Lynn Shelton made my favorite film of the year.  Good year all around in every category though the books that I read this year really knocked my socks off.  Here it is dear friends, your best in culture of 2012.  Scroll down to see the best in music, tv and books and others by Travis and Ellie.  Many thanks to their contributions.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Best Films of 2012

Films

While it’s still harder and harder to get to the movies, I try and see what I can, when I can.  I wish I could give you a more extensive list but alas I cannot.  So these 10 will have to do.  All of which are worth watching.  I’m sure some of the late releases from this year (Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained) might make the list if I updated it but this is what I give you.  The best films of 2012.  Enjoy!

1)   Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton)

Jack’s (Mark Duplass) brother just died and he escapes  to the cabin of his brother’s ex-girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt).  There he finds solace in the sister of Iris, Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt).  A love triangle is a simple way of describing this little seen gem.  The best way to describe it?  An outstanding performace by everyone involved.  Emily Blunt has never been better, Rosemary DeWitt is absolutely breathtaking and Mark Duplass proves that he may be one of the most talented person you have never heard of (hint, he co-directed a film on this list as well as playing the lead role on a great sitcom, ‘The League’).  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

2)   I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Full disclosure, Kore-eda’s earlier film, ‘Nobody Knows’ is the hardest I have ever cried in a film before.  He loves to make emotionally wrenching family dramas that get to you.  He painstakingly makes every detail about having children in the modern world seem flawless.  He’s unlike many directors working today.

3)   Moonlight Kingdom (Wes Anderson)

I’ve always been a big fan of Wes Anderson’s and his films have cracked the top 10 many times before.  With this film however, he may just have hit his highest point.  A beautifully told children’s tale of doing whatever it takes to get away and make a life for yourself.  Do the 2 main characters last on their own, no.  But the ride that Anderson takes us on is truly one for the ages.  I don’t know if it’s his most personal film but it is his most heartfelt.

4)   Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb)

There is no way you won’t want to run out and grab the best pieces of sushi ever after watching this sweetly told story of one of the most revered chefs and restaurants in the world.  I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, it’s a small venue (15 seats?) that is situated inside of a Tokyo subway station.  It’s amazing what the human spirit will do.

5)   The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)

With a career performance from Joaquin Phoenix and an equally incredible score by Johnnie Greenwood, ‘The Master’ is Paul Thomas Anderson’s answer to Scientology.  Phoenix plays Freddie Quell an alcoholic WWII veteran who scatters from job to job until he meets a man that will become his spiritual advisor, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymuor Hoffman).  The rest needs to be watched.  These 2 characters go at each other with every breath they can muster (and in one scene, literally).  And watching these 2 superb actors is amazing.

6)   Jeff, Who Lives at Home (The Duplass Brothers)

Yes, Mark Duplass from ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ is one of the co-directors on this little seen film.  Another good companion to Adam Wilson’s novel, ‘Flatscreen’.  The loser, stoner trying to make good on his life.  And I thought the ending on this film was surprising and incredibly rewarding.  Try and see it if you can.

7)   Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)

Most of the films I do get to see is when I take my daughter.  Brave was really good and just missed the list, but this fine piece of work is the type of “kids movie” made for someone of my generation.  And while I was never a big video game fan, it really brought me back to the late 80’s/early 90’s when you had arcades and Sega Genesis.  A finely crafted experience.  And highly original.  Hard to make in a kids movie.

8)   Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

David O. Russell is a weird director to describe.  This big indie (small studio) pic is making the rounds as a front-runner for Best Picture Oscar honors.  Great work done by everyone involved especially Bradley Cooper as the main character.  He brings an emotional characteristic and vulnerability to many actors that would be afraid to take on a role that was so complex.  And if you’re a Philly native or Eagles fan then there’s even more to love for you.

9)   Bernie (Richard Linklater)

Jack Black in his best performance plays Bernie the killer of his 81-year old millionaire wife.  In most director’s hands this film would come across as hammy and soporific.  Especially when you know the story before the movie starts.  But with Linklater, this black comedy becomes a well told tale and uncomfortably funny film.

10) Wanderlust (David Wain)

The director of ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (and member of the best comedy troupe of all time, ‘The State’) made the funniest film of the year.  Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are a perfect match for a couple trying to find a new slice of life.

Best Albums of 2012

Albums

2012 brought us a very solid year for music.  A couple of debuts on this list, a couple of artists that have never appeared and a few that continue to make my list (what can I say, I’m a fan no matter what).  But this year belonged to Fiona Apple in my opinion.  Eagerly anticipated by me and everyone, it has been on consistent playlist since its release earlier in the year.  If you haven’t heard it, listen to it.  If you didn’t like it, well, I don’t know what to say.  Scroll down for Travis and Ellie’s picks.  Many thanks to them.

1)   Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel…Fiona Apple

One of 2012’s most anticipated albums this record ignites from the very first track.  It’s been a couple of years since Fiona graced us with music.  We better not have to wait much longer for the follow up to this.  Her best to date.

2)   Grimes- Visions Grimes

Claire Boucher (aka Grimes) releases her 3rd disc in 2012 and finally hits the mainstream.  Every track hits you over the head with it’s originality.   She came very close to having the #1 album and #1 song of the year.

3)   Grizzly Bear- Shieldsgrizzly bear

Every album they make continues to surprise me.  I like to think if I made music I could fit in to the Grizzly Bear sound.  I then listen to the album again and realize there’s no fucking way.  Mature, heartfelt and personal.  There’s a strong case that they’re one of the best bands in America right now.  Read the cover story that was in New York magazine and you’ll like them even more.

4)   Japandroids- Celebration RockJapandroids

Vancouver’s rockinest band around (I don’t know many others).  This album has been on constant play since it came out.

5)   Beach House- BloomBeach House

Beach House is the reason you fall in love with voices, words and with music in general.  The 2 members gel so well together it’s astounding.  They topped 2010 with Teen Dream.  This is just as good (2012 was a better year as a whole however).

6)   Cat Power- SunCat Power

2012 brought us the return of not only Fiona Apple but Chan (Cat Power) Marshall as well.  And I never thought the 2 were similar but they both can wow us with their voices, ignite us with their presence and astound us with their durability.

7)   Cloud Nothings- Attack On Memorycloud nothings

To be honest, I was never a fan previously but this Steve Albini produced record just kicked my ass from the second it came out.  And yes, that’s a good thing.

8)   Sharon Van Etten- TrampSharon van etten

Another artist that I was unfamiliar with until 2012.  I will be forever.

9)   Django Django- s/tdjango django

The highest charting debut disc on the list.  Well produced electro-pop at its finest.  Well done newcomers.

10)   Windy & Carl- We Will Always Bewindy and carl

Beautiful ambient sounds from the experimental Michigan band.

11)   Chairlift- Somethingchairlift

Chairlift really hit the indie scene with this sophomore disc.  Highly regarded in the Brooklyn music scene the band has a tough task besting this record.

12)   The Walkmen- Heaventhe walkmen

Ten plus years in, this band can still rock harder as good as any other.  A band that I have grown old with from its beginnings as ‘Jonathan Fire*Eater’, I’m ecstatic that they keep making great record after great record.

13)   Chromatics- Kill For Lovechromatics

Dizzying post punk from this band that has been kicking around the indie music scene for a number of years.

14)   Frank Ocean- Channel OrangeFrank Ocean

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of Frank Ocean.  After last year’s amazing mixtape, ‘Nostalgia, Ultra’ he has hit the mainstream running.  Hitting the top of most music site’s best of list, he released the most personal of letters to the world and the world ate him up.  Exactly the type of artist we need leading us.  His words ignited chatter all over the hip-hop world and the world is better for it.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6me6uSdO81qdrz3yo1_1280.png

Jessie Ware15)   Jessie Ware- Devotion

There are times when you hear a sound of an artist singing and can sense every emotion coming out of them.  Personal and dreamy, Jessie Ware is one of those artists.

16)   Alabama Shakes- Boys and Girlsalabama shakes

After a successful gig playing last year’s CMJ, the Athens, Alabama band released their debut earlier this year.  Good ol’ fashioned rock and roll.  They do an outstanding job at taking the most oversaturated genre in music and bring an originality (think classic) that is much needed.

17)   The Men- Open Your Heartthe men

Post-hardcore noise rock from Brooklyn.  Need I say more?

18)   Purity Ring- Shrinespurity ring

Easily the hardest to describe band that I heard this year.  Synthpop, ethereal, indietronica?  Great beats, with an echoing voice.

19)   The xx- Coexistthe xx

It must be hard to create one of the best debut albums in recent memory and have to follow it up.  I’m not saying that Coexist is better then the first album but it should get more attention.  Fine, it’s not as loud and haunting but it is so beautifully made that it just feels, different.  Is that a bad thing these days?

20)   The Weeknd- Trilogythe weeknd

Ok, I cheated a little with this one.  Technically the albums that make up Trilogy came out last year but this “3 albums in one” disc was released last year.  Plus, I’m still trying to get everyone into The Weeknd.  If you’re not yet then I give up.

21)   Kendrick Lamar- good kid, M.A.A.D. cityKendrick Lamar

25-year old Compton rapper strikes it big with his major label debut.  This album has hit all the year end best of charts as well.  Associated with my other favorite rap act of 2012, ‘Schoolboy Q’.

22)    Tame Impala- LonerismTame Impala

The Australian band’s second album is even better than the first.  Borrowing sounds that the Beatles perfected in their career this is neo-psychedelic rock at its finest.

23)   Animal Collective- Centipede Hzanimal collective

Some people were disappointed by the follow up to Merriweather Post Pavillion (arguably the album of the decade) but this is still a solid disc and the boys are still the most talented musicians working today.

24)   Actress – RIPactress

Darren J. Cunningham is the artist known as Actress.  He makes killer electronic music that makes you want to dance your ass off.

25)   Twin Shadow- Confesstwin shadow

The second album from Twin Shadow.  More shoegaze for the world.

26)   Crystal Castles- 3crystal castles

Intense and loud from the 3rd disc by Crystal Castles.  Just the way we like it.

27)   Baroness- Yellow & Greenbaroness

Thom recommended this metal album to me.  Beautifully crafted, this is the new face of metal in the 21st century.

28)   Pinback- Information Retrievedpinback

I always thought this band was surely underrated.  This is their first disc in 5 years.  I hope we don’t have to wait this long again.

29)   Sleigh Bells- Reign of Terrorsleigh bells

Similar comments to The xx, how do you top an album that just kicked your ass over and over?  Well, you can’t.  Just go out and try and kick the same ass and hope everyone likes it.  I did.

30)   ScHoolboy Q- Habits and Contradictionsschoolboy q

The independent hip-hop world has been outstanding the past 2 years.  Everyone is making a mix tape and then following up with killer albums (see Frank Ocean last year) and ScHoolboy Q is another to that list.

 

31)   DIIV- Oshin

32)   Bat for Lashes- The Haunted Man

33)   La Sera- Sees the light

34)   Tanlines- Mixed Emotions

35)   Best Coast- The Only Place

36)   The Big Pink- Future This

37)    Catcall- The Warmest Place

38)    Perfume Genius- put your back n 2 it

39)    Dinosaur Jr- I Bet on Sky

40)    Dirty Projectors- Swing Lo Magellan

41)     Frankie Rose- Interstellar

42)     Friends- Manifest

43)     Polica- Give You the Ghost

44)     Spiritualized- Sweet heart, Sweet light

45)     The Tallest Man on Earth- There’s No Leaving Now

46)     Yellow Ostrich- Strange Land

47)     Howler- America Give Up

48)     Jens Lekman- I Know What Love Isn’t

49)     Hospitality- Hospitality

50)     Haim- Forever ep

Travis G’s picks:

 

1.   Lana Del Ray – Born To Die (The Paradise Edition) Lana Del Rey

Definitely my most played album of the year.  Say what you want about Lana (Lizzie Grant) but the girl has talent, beauty, style, and presence. Yes, she can’t sing live, but what current female “singer” can (excluding Beyonce and the the rest of the female artists below.)  The album is produced to a “T”! Every song is so well done they could be a single.  Her videos for Born to Die, National Anthem, and Ride are mini movies in themselves, with cinematography that out shines pretty much any music video made this year.

The Rick Rubin produced tune “Ride”, my favorite track, features an orchestral instrumentation, digitized percussion and a rock-band backing.  A formula heavily found on the album. There something about Lana’s lyrics, that were co-written by “Video Games” writer Justin Parker, and the pacing/ strength of her vocals that remind me of The Killers’s, Brandon Flowers.  Shot in Las Vegas, mashed up with Lana’s poetic voice over, the ten minute video for “Ride” is one of the best things to come from the blossoming star.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py_-3di1yx0

2. Marina + The Diamonds – Electra Heart Marina and the diamonds
The sophomore album of Welsh singer/ song writer Marina Lambrini Diamandis, A.K.A., Marina And The Diamonds, shows the range and growth for the artist. Every song was written or co written by Marina and produced by some of the biggest names in the business: Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Diplo, Greg Kurstin, Rick Nowels, and Stargate.

I had the chance of seeing her in concert recently and was surprised at how the girl can sing.  She took a hold of the crowd and belted out her hits.  The Dr. Luke, Cirkut, and Diplo produced song “Lies” was my favorite performance and one of the best tracks on the album. (insert lots of head bobbing)

https://soundcloud.com/marina-and-the-diamonds/03-lies

3. Jessie Ware – DevotionJessie Ware
With impressive comparisons being thrown her way like: Sade, Aaliyah, Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and so on, Jessie proves her skills as soulful new artist on the scene.  Her videos are often simplistic, think Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares to You, and focused on the talent: Her voice.  Expect to hear more from Jessie in the future, she’s only getting started.

http://youtu.be/bMJkddvJ4L4

4. Lemonade – DiverLemonade
From chilled out tracks like Infinite Style, Neptune; mid tempo songs like Softkiss, Ice Water, and full on alternative dance track Big Changes; Diver has something to offer for the hipster inside us all.  The best part of 2012’s Diver is that somehow all ten tracks cohesively blend together.  Grab a Pabst, your skinny jeans, a couple of friends, and a disco ball.

https://soundcloud.com/lemonademusic/softkiss

5. No Doubt – Push and ShoveNo Doubt
No Doubt’s sixth studio album, Push and Shove,  came out over ten years after the previous Rock Steady.  To me the album comes across as all grown up and verging on one note.  The anthem tracks Settle Down, Push & Shove, and Looking Hot help pep up the mainly adult contemporary effort.  Could it be that every song was co written by Gwen, Tony, and Tom?  Or that all eleven tracks were produced by Mark “Spike” Stent?

Luckily I guess I’ve age with the band as I enjoy pretty much every track on this album.  Not to mention that Gwen Stefani happens to be the coolest chick in the business.

The sinfully stylish, banned for Native American racism, Looking Hot video:
http://www.vuoh.net/no-doubt-looking-hot-video_5f47124fa.html

6. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – TroubleTotally Enormous
Orlando Higginbottom: DJ, artist, producer … Music teacher?  You might not get music Teacher from listen to Trouble, a mainly electronic dance album, but you will get excited.  Know for his crazy costumes and electro beats TEED (short for Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs) knows how to get the party started.

A few months back after purchasing a ticket to one TEED’s NYC shows I was slightly worried.  Would it just be a awkward, tall, skinny guy from the UK pushing play on his Mac book Pro?  Absolutely not.

http://youtu.be/odNebyVXsZg

7. Kimbra – VowsKimbra
She may be best known for the female vocals in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”, but it’s her solo efforts where the 22-year old New Zealand beauty shines.  Her album, described as indie pop/ soul/ jazz, debuting at number 14 on the billboard charts.  When you see Kimbra live, she proves not to need the auto tune that so many of her fellow young artist rely for their existence.

Check out this amazing live version of “Settle Down”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd7GLvMYSHI

8. Dragonette – BodypartsDragonette
One of my favorite bands from up north, Canada to be exact, released their third studio album this year.  Bodyparts is jammed packed with electro anthems and synth heavy ballads.  The band wrote and produced most of the tracks on the album theirs selves.  Turn it on and crank it up for a good time!

http://youtu.be/ca_W2FajtUQ

9. Niki & The Dove – InstinctNiki and the Dove
Young Stevie Nicks on acid.  That’s how I describe Swedish vocalist Malin Dahlström, of Niki & The Dove.  Falling somewhere in the indie electronic music, Instinct delivers dance beats, power ballads, and something fresh to the genre.

http://youtu.be/eHuci2LUHPA

10. St. Lucia – St. Lucia EPSt. Lucia
Brooklyn-based electro pop group St. Lucia has one of my favorite sounds of the year.  The EP ranges from the romantic “Closer Than This” to the chilled “All Eyes On You.”  Be sure to check out the non-EP hipster dance track they released this year: “September.”

http://youtu.be/SsOtyICowD8

Guilty Pleasure 2012: Carley Rae Jaspen – Kiss
Listen … Maybe?
http://youtu.be/Vf78alvpxRM

Party Album Of The Year: Calvin Harris – 18 Months
Harris’ 18 Months has produced a slew of hits this year: “Bounce (Feat. Kelis)”, “Feel So Close”,  “We Found Love (Feat. Rihanna)”, “Sweet Nothing (Feat. Florence Welch)”, “Let’s Go (Feat. Ne-Yo)”, and “I Need Your Love (Feat. Ellie Goulding).”   From his debut in 2007 Harris has consistently been one of my top 5 favorite DJ/ Producer/ Artist.
http://youtu.be/17ozSeGw-fY

Ellie’s picks:

Kendrick LamarFrank OceanJapandroidsAlt-JAriel Pink

GrimesTame ImpalaDirty ProjectorsWild NothingThe Oh Sees

1. Kendrick Lamar, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City: A Short Film by Kendrick Lamar”
– Favorite Track- “Money Trees”

2. Frank Ocean, “Channel ORANGE”
– Favorite Track: “Pink Matter”

3. Japandroids, “Celebration Rock”
– Favorite Track: “Adrenaline Nightshift”

4. Alt-J, “An Awesome Wave”
– Favorite Track: “Tessellate”

5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Mautre Themes”
– Favorite Track: “Symphony of the Nymph”

6. Grimes, “Visions”
– Favorite Song: “Vowels = Space and Time”

7. Tame Impala, “Lonerism”
– Favorite Track: “Music to Walk Home By”

8. Dirty Projectors, “Swing Lo Magellan”
– Favorite Track: “About to Die”

9. Wild Nothing, “Nocturne”
– Favorite Track: “Through the Grass”

 10. The Oh Sees, “Putrifiers II”
– Favorite Track: “Lupine Dominus”