The 2013 lists are done here at ATYP. So here’s a rundown. (Follow this blog at its new home: alltheyoungpunks.com.)
The No. 1 album of the past year is Arcade Fire’s Reflektor but I also loved Savages‘ Silence Yourself. See the full list here:
The best album by a Chicago band in 2013 was Disappears‘ Era. Read the post here.
Some of the year’s top reissues included the Microphones‘ The Glow Pt. 2 and the Coachwhips‘ Hands on the Controls. See the list here.
And here are 10 more favorite albums from last year, including Fidlar’s debut.
Finally, here’s a little history:
In 2012, the ATYP’s album of the year was Woods‘ Bend Beyond.
In 2011, the No. 1 album was Girls‘ Father, Son, Holy Ghost.
And, in 2010, the National’s High Violet was voted the year’s best release.
Arcade Fire made the best album of the year and Savages released the top debut I heard. Mikal Cronin recorded pure pop bliss, while the new Deerhunter album reminded me how lucky we are to have Bradford Cox churning out intriguing music. See the full list for the year’s top 10 albums below.
1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor. The latest from Arcade Fire is far more diverse and imaginative than the Grammy-winning album The Suburbs. Produced by James Murphy, Reflektor mixes disco, Caribbean, dub and other styles. There is more than a nod to the Clash’s Sandinista!
2. Savages – Silence Yourself. This is an aggressive debut from a U.K. female quartet that pays homage to earlier post-punk bands. Think of Siouxsie and the Banshees only tougher.
3. Mikal Cronin – MCII. Cronin makes great music, but he really over achieved on this hook-laden record. Irresistible pop from Ty Segall’s collaborator.
4. Deerhunter – Monomania. Even by Deerhunter standards, this album is pretty edgy and raw. It’s one of the more overlooked albums this year.
5. The National – Trouble Will Find Me. The latest from the National doesn’t hit you in the face. But the depth of the songs will pay off after repeated listens.
6. Bill Callahan – Dream River. Callahan more often resembles a poet than a singer, speaking through his songs in his deep, impassive voice.
7. Kurt Vile – Walkin on a Pretty Daze. As meditative as this album sounds at points, Vile lays down some serious guitar licks. An original musician with a distinctive sound, he sometimes reminds me of mid-70s Neil Young.
8. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt. This is a personal-sounding album from Katie Crutchfield, who performs as Waxahatchee. The songs and music are reminiscent of the very best parts of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville.
9. The Men – New Moon. While New Moon explores a hodgepodge of styles, the new love for country rock stands out. Maybe because the album was recorded in a cabin?
10. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin. Some day, I expect Thee Oh Sees will make the No. 1 album of the year (at least on my list). Frenetic, infectious rock ‘n’ roll. Sheer enjoyment.
Rounding out the top 20:
11. Superchunk – I Hate Music. Elder indie rock statesmen make a record to keep your head nodding and feet moving. A strong offering from a band who has been going for almost a quarter century.
12. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. This has to be one of the most fun albums of the year from guys who take a real tongue-in-cheek approach to ’60s and ’70s genres.
13. Cass McCombs – Big Wheel and Others. Here is an excellent collection of songs from a great singer-songwriter. If you pare it down to the very best tracks, this would be a top 10 album.
14. Polvo – Siberia. What a great comeback for these ’90s noise warriors. Essentially, they stick to the same formula but it sounds fresh today.
15. Ty Segall / Fuzz – Sleeper / Fuzz. We again see the two sides of the prolific Bay-area rocker. With its slow to mid-tempo acoustic and electric numbers, Sleeper is similar to Segall’s 2011 release Goodbye Bread, while his new band Fuzz pays tribute to stoner rock from four decades ago.
16. King Khan & the Shrines – Idle No More. If you listen to just the upbeat, soulful music, you’ve got a great dance party. Underneath, Khan wants to make a statement about the wretched world we live in after battling his personal demons.
17. Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork. I really didn’t think Josh Homme had another good album in him (at least not as Queens), but Like Clockwork is a rollicking good time.
18. The Love Language – Ruby Red. Listening to the full sound of Ruby Red, you wouldn’t know the Love Language originally started as a guy making bedroom recordings. Stuart McLamb created a powerful pop album that’s also a blast.
19. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II. The second album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra is quirky, funky and sometimes breezy like its predecessor but I like the songs better on this one.
20. Wavves – Afraid of Heights. The latest album from Nathan Williams doesn’t stray far from King of the Beach (2011). Afraid of Heights is tighter and rocks harder.
Honorable mention. Here are some other albums you should check out: Majical Cloudz, Impersonator; Swearin’, Surfing Strange; Crocodiles, Crimes of Passion; Iceage, You’re Nothing; Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven; No Age, An Object; Yo La Tengo, Fade; Fidlar, Fidlar; Suuns, Images Du Futur; and Charles Bradley, Victim of Love.
HEY THERE! All the Young punks has a new home. Read this article and others at alltheyoungpunks.com.
One of the best songs on Arcade Fire’s latest album Reflektor is Afterlife, an epic piece of work that has to be on a short list for best tracks of the year. It’s a song that evokes emotion and deserves an equally moving film to go with it. The Spike Jonze-directed video for the YouTube Music Awards early last month didn’t quite do the song justice. But this recently released video produced by the Creators Project and directed by Emily Kai Bock is really stunning. Watch it below.
Bock has made memorable videos for other artists from Grizzly Bear to Grimes to Majical Cloudz. Read an interview with her here.
There’s no shortage of hype around Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor. The thing is: The hype may be justified. An Album of the Year Grammy winner, The Suburbs was a fine release but Reflektor is far more adventurous and interesting. With the help of producer James Murphy, Reflektor blends Caribbean beats, disco, punk and pop to create a mish-mash of musical styles that actually do form a cohesive album. As a fan of Murphy’s work, I hear the influences throughout and wholeheartedly embrace the production even as a longtime Arcade Fire loyalist. This is a much different sound than the earnestness of Neon Bible.
Early reviews (both derisive and favorable) for Reflektor point to comparisons with the Clash’s Sandinista! That was the first thing that struck me when I heard Flashbulb Eyes followed by Here Comes the Night Time on the first “disc” (the physical versions are released as a double album). Those two early songs, one dub style followed by a calypso-sounding number, is reminiscent of the multi-genre Clash classic made more than 30 years ago. But I never feel that Arcade Fire is aping the Clash or anyone else on Reflektor. There are so many good songs, from rockers Normal Person and Joan of Arc to the more dancey Afterlife, We Exist and the title track, that there’s a lot to like here.
I was really skeptical about this album given how commercial success has spoiled so many bands. But Arcade Fire delivers a thoroughly enjoyable record.
Barack Obama recently tweeted his campaign playlist on Spotify. It’s an interesting mix with ATYP faves like Wilco and Arcade Fire. U2, Springsteen and No Doubt make the list as do Earth Wind & Fire, Aretha Franklin and Al Green. For the white boomers: James Taylor, REO Speedwagon and ELO! Ricky Martin makes an appearance. And here’s one I didn’t expect: Noah and the Whale. Check out the full list here.
Wilco should make the list. Jeff Tweedy has been an outspoken supporter of Obama. However, four years ago, he chided the president for not mentioning Wilco when Obama asked what was on his iPod.
I find it really interesting that Lollapalooza sold out so early.
Either scalpers are far more confident about the economy or fans are feeling better about their financials. Because at 90 bucks a day, Lolla ain’t cheap.
Lolla’s early-bird specials sold out right away. So did Pitchfork’s three-day pass. That’s understandable. The budget-minded are going to jump on those deals.
So how did Lolla sell out so quickly? Maybe this year’s four biggest acts — Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Muse — trumps last year’s Soundgarden (yawn), Green Day, Lady Gaga and (pre-Grammy) Arcade Fire. But it’s hard to say.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some tickets are released closer to the event to generate some buzz.
By the way, Pitchfork was cool this year.
Is it bad that I really don’t want my favorite bands to be nominated for Grammy awards? Neil Young didn’t win a Grammy until this year. Kurt Cobain won after he died. Since 2001, the music industry’s sham awards show has dubbed a best alternative album (won three times each by White Stripes and Radiohead). Arcade Fire is not only up for best “alternative” album but is nominated for best album overall.
To win the very best album, Arcade Fire will have to beat Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Yikes! To win best alternative LP, the Canadians will have to defeat Band of Horses, Black Keys, Brokens Bells and (drum roll) Vampire Weekend. Double yikes!
I’m sorry, but if someone buys an album because it either won or was nominated for a grammy, then that person is certainly a loser, right? And, to state the obvious, The Suburbs, is hardly Arcade Fire’s best album. As usual, these idiots in charge of nominating are years too late. Is there anything more irrelevant than the Grammys?