Favourite bits of music from 2013:
Jon Hopkins Immunity
I got this album in the weeks that followed the end of my last relationship. And the first time I heard it, the titular track comforted and completely crushed me all at once. It felt like the most important song I’ve heard this year.
This album can be aggressive and danceable yet soft and emotive; it goes to a lot of different places and the sequencing is perfectly executed.
My fav moment: Climax of Immunity with King Creosote’s vocal hidden in the churn of the drums.
Kanye West Yeezus
Although he’s made himself look like a fool fairly frequently of late (which makes it easy to forget how great he is AT MAKING MUSIC), the production on this album is genius. I respect any artist that pushes their audience, especially when your audience is this huge. I think you can really hear ideas being tried out on this album. Sometimes they jar a little or sound a bit cheesy but ideas are being thrown at the wall, risks are being taken and that gives it a genuine creative energy. Plus it’s scary and maximal; listening to the end of I Am a God loud in a dark room is terrifying.
My fav moment: When the verse drops in Hold My Liquor: that screaming distorted sound on the 4th beat.
Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City
In a parallel universe where every band on the planet sounds EXACTLY like Vampire Weekend, this would still be a significant album. It’s a really fucking good Vampire Weekend album. The ideas are executed with such poignancy and precision and the production has been so laboured over to make sure each idea is seen in the appropriate light. Relentlessly interesting, cerebral, the arrangements of the songs are so dexterous and sprawling, the melodies are laser beams into your brain, the lyrics are whimsical genius with some of the best lyrical story telling since Paul Simon. It’s just a super fun, super smart, super inventive album.
Fav moment: Vocal in the last verse of Hannah Hunt: completely raw, exhilarating, unexpected, amazing vocal sound, boom.
Darkside - Psychic
This is another record I feel like I recovered something from. It’d been a long time since I heard something that felt this strange and intriguing. Wonderfully detailed. Nicolas Jaar’s voice is so versatile and the pacing of the songs is perfect. The sounds themselves and the climaxes are so visceral and enveloping. Definitely a commuter album for me, eats up the hours you don’t want in the day. Let’s you completely forget you’re on a train or walking to work.
Fav moment: Enter drums in Golden Arrow.
Yo La Tengo - Fade
Probably the most cohesive YLT album since And then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out; and it’s one of the first times I’ve felt like they’re deliberately delivering an album in a comprehensible, linear sequence. They focused on their knack for writing beautiful but elusive pop songs with dew-drop soft vocal deliveries. Put it on on a Sunday morning and just try get out of bed before it finishes.
Fav moment: The improvised guitar solo in I’ll Be Around or the vocal in Cornelia and Jane.
Also, absolutely YES:
Jai Paul - Str8 Outta Mumbai
Drake - Started From the Bottom
Phosphorescence - Song for Zula
Arcade Fire - Oh Orpheus (It’s Never Over)
David Bowie - Love is Lost (James Murphy remix)
Karen O - Moon Song
The National - Demons
Sam Amidon - My Old Friend
Arctic Monkeys - Arabella
James Blake - Retrograde
The War on Drugs - Red Eyes
Haim - The Wire
Justin Timberlake - Mirrors
Eleanor Friedberger - Other Boys
Phoenix - Bankrupt