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.
Do Divison is one of the best summer street fests in Chicago for music. That’s because the two stages of the blocks-long festival are curated by either the Empty Bottle or the folks who book Subterranean. A little competition goes a long way.
Let’s take this Saturday night, for example. The Subterranean stage features headliner Tilly and the Wall, a band that would vastly improve most of the street fests in Chicago. But I’ve got to go with Ariel Pink on the Empty Bottle-curated stage. How could I resist? Ariel Pink also is playing a sold-out show at the bottle later that evening.
Of course, that’s not all. Chicago’s awesome Disappears plays one headline slot Friday night. On Sunday, there’s only one stage but it features the always fun Jeff the Brotherhood headlining.
I didn’t hear enough local (Chicago) releases in 2012 to create a definitive best-of list for the year. (This is something I want to rectify in 2013.) But I did hear some solid albums, including those made by Radar Eyes, Disappears, Hollows (pictured above), Angel Olsen and Wes Hollywood. Check these artists out. I also really liked soul / R&B revivalists the Right Now.
Speaking of soul and R&B, I keep playing The Heavy’s The Glorious Dead. It’s not brilliant but it’s a lot of fun. I also give a thumbs up to albums from Purity Ring, Alt-J, Twin Shadow, Jaill, Casket Girls, Sleigh Bells, Prince Rama, Metric, Best Coast and Bear in Heaven. Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Americana has its moments.
Under the radar and fringe
I heard a number of interesting releases by experimental artists like Vinyl Williams and Vex Ruffin. There are always dozens of great garage bands that fly under the radar. I liked Plateaus a lot. Wooden Indian Burial Ground is a lot of fun, too. Moon Duo and Lower Dens aren’t exactly under the radar (at least by my standards) but neither band has yet to really catch fire even after multiple albums. Both made compelling records last year. The Intelligence missed my top 40 by a whisker.
I don’t usually include reissues in my top 10 or top 40 lists. If I did, Archers of Loaf’s Vee Vee reissue would have been a top 5 or 10 album. What an underappreciated band! I also liked Early Times, a collection of EPs released by Silver Jews in the early ’90s. This lo-fi treat is best appreciated by fans of the band or Pavement diehards. Fans of Factory Records, the legendary Manchester record label that once featured Joy Division and New Order will want to check out the compilation Fac. Dance 2. You won’t find the label’s most famous bands on this album but you’ll hear similar artists like A Certain Ratio.
I liked Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Psychedelic Pill and Jack White’s Blunderbuss. Tame Impala’s critically acclaimed Lonerism is good. I just didn’t go nuts over the album like so many bloggers and critics. Likewise, I think Swans is an awesome band but I actually preferred the 2010 release My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky over last year’s The Seer.
King Khan hams it up in Moon Duo’s video for Sleepwalker.
What a great show featuring two of Chicago’s best: Radar Eyes opens for Disappears at the Empty Bottle Friday. Both bands made very cool, highly recommended albums this year. Disappears will be playing after it headlines at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival at 9 p.m.
Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley joined Chicago’s Disappears in late 2010, and if you’re curious how that affects the band’s sound, just listen to the new album, Pre Language. Shelley is an excellent complement to the driving guitar sound of Disappears. Play this album loud.
If you’re a fan of Bradford Cox, I’m pretty sure you’ll really like Spooky Action at a Distance, the new album by Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt’s solo project Lotus Plaza. The jangly guitar featured on Deerhunter songs and the pace of the music is very similar. This is a really great solo offering. Lotus Plaza also plays this year’s Pitchfork fest.
Tonight, Lotus Plaza opens for Disappears at Lincoln Hall.
The album isn’t a big departure from past offerings and includes an almost 16 minute song, Revisiting (check it out below). Disappears plays Empty Bottle February 4.
Here’s the band playing Union Pool in Brooklyn: