Since the year is now half-empty (or half-full or whatever), a friend asked me for a list of my favorite records of 2013. He felt that, apart from the new Yo La Tengo record, there was no real “slam-dunk” this year. I courteously, yet vehemently, disagree. So here’s a list of several records that captured my attention in the first half of 2013. (The order here means nothing, I don’t want to rank them just yet.) Let’s see if they stick around for my year-end list…
Thought and Language by Dead Leaf Echo
Dead Leaf Echo has been around a few years now and finally delivered the solid album that should get attention. I tend to like any new shoegaze band, so an album like this, full of perfect and hazy pop songs, always gets my attention.
Fade by Yo La Tengo
One of the band’s best and most concise albums in a catalog full of “best” albums. I love it. A great starting point for anyone unfamiliar with Yo La Tengo or life itself.
mbv by My Bloody Valentine
Pandemonium ensued the night My Bloody Valentine released its new record. Kevin Shields hinted a week earlier that it was coming, but after nearly two decades since the band’s last record, I was skeptical. It doesn’t overwhelm with shock and awe at first, instead the band takes its time. Shields has delivered a fairly quiet record with some classy songwriting. Until the end, then it gets crazy.
You’re Nothing by Iceage
I went nutso a few months ago when Iceage released its second album and played at The Riot Room. I kinda feel like it was as close as I’ll get to ever seeing Joy Division. Not only is its live show amazing, but the new record is also fantastic. A little more dry-sounding and mature than the last one, it’s also brief, demanding repeated plays.
The Next Day by David Bowie
I’d be a millionaire if I had a nickel for every time I read the phrase, “Bowie’s best album since Scary Monsters,” to describe The Next Day. It’s kinda maddening, really, considering how much good material filled Heathen and Reality. (Sure, those weren’t totally solid albums, but whatever.) This new record is awesome. With each song sounding like a different stage in his career, it almost feels like a best-of collection, except that they’re all new songs.
She Beats by The Beaches
Fuzzy, Aussie band that’s spent far too much time with its Sonic Youth and Neu! albums. Enough said.
Without a Net by Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter turns 80 this year, but you wouldn’t know it by his playing. Sometimes he deconstructs songs with reckless abandon, squawking away on his soprano sax. Sometimes he composes super-ambitious, 23-minute pieces for a large combo. At his age/stature, he could/should be the star of his own records, but Shorter seems content to step back and let listeners enjoy his insanely-talented band, as well.
The Terror by The Flaming Lips
Why am I even writing about this? I’m not sure I even ‘get’ this record yet. Dark, weird, lots of synthesizers and that one Suicide beat in nearly every song. I think I just answered my question.