Lately I’ve been really into songs about the moments leading up to a breakup. From Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine' to Best Coast's 'Fade Away,’ these songs have a way of capturing the feeling of dread and releasing it into something you can groove to. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ is a perfect example of this. (It’s so danceable, I admittedly thought the song was about falling hard for someone until about a month ago.) The Boss himself once referred to this sixth single from his most iconic album as “…a forgotten masterpiece,” and I wholeheartedly agree.
Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” has often been revered as one of the best albums of 90’s and, honestly, it’s not hard to hear why: the composition of every song is alluring and driving, the lyrics are moving, and Jeff Buckley’s voice is hauntingly beautiful. The album is best known for Buckley’s cover of Lenard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” but is full of originals that are just as good, if not better. One of my favorites is Lover You Should Have Come Over, a song mulling over the end of a great love in the confusing years of one’s mid-late 20’s. The song is jazzy with a fantastic build up that leaves the listener with goosebumps and that strange feeling of hope and hopelessness at the same time. Just when I thought this song couldn’t get any better, Holly Miranda stripped it down with an acoustic guitar and her equally as haunting voice. Well connected in the indie scene (she’s toured with The xx, Florence and the Machine, and is now backing Karen O) Miranda is definitely someone to check out.
Mastodon has a new record out. It’s really good. Not really much of a metal fan anymore, but these guys still get my motor running.
As I said before, Sharon is amazing. She’s always trying something new. Just take a listen to here where she’s gone now.
Sharon Van Etten has always been one of my faves. Ever since I heard her first album in I’ve thought she has some sort of songwriting charm that I could never quite put my finger on. Her work since then has been in more of a stripped-down rock vein, with the exception of a single called Love More. That single was lush with instrumentation I’ve been begging for more ever since. From the sound of this trailer, her next album might be the one that finally satiates my desires.
As submitted by WALHOWE and Strongerer again.
Best Alternative Country Album Not Trying Too Hard to Sound Like Alternative Country
goes to Phorsphorescent for the album Muchacho.
I love the way this album plays from start to finish. There is just the right amount of classic country mixed in with Phosphorescent’s sound. Here’s the first track of the album:
Best Album from a Band I Discovered on Some Delighted People
goes to Lucius for the album Wildewoman.
This band is incredibly infectious. Someone posted a their NPR Tiny Desk Concert a couple months ago and I fell in love. They lived up to their first EP by releasing a totally awesome, poppy full length album. Check out the title track below.
As Submitted by WALHOWE and Stongerer.
The Biggest Surprise in Music For Anyone Who’s Ever Liked Electronic Music Award
goes to Boards of Canada for their new album Tomorrow’s Harvest.
In 2013, one of the most influential bands in modern electronica stunned the world with their (out of nowhere) first release in 8 years. And boy did they milk the suspense! BoC updated their website (their first website activity in years) with crazy-ass passwords prompts and a bunch of static-heavy Youtube videos. As it turned out, the password codes were came to us through Record Store Day. Wikipedia summed it up well: “On Record Store Day 2013, a vinyl record containing a short clip of music surfaced which was believed to be the work of Boards of Canada. Shortly after the release, Warp Records vouched for the record’s authenticity. The record (titled———/———/———/xxxxxx/———/———) contained a short clip of audio followed by a voice reading six digits similar to that of a numbers station. The record revealed what was to become one of six unique numbers that were part of a type of alternate reality game that was used to promote the release of their next studio album. The rest of the codes were hidden through various websites and online communities, as well as broadcast over BBC Radio One, NPR, and Adult Swim. After much speculation, the official website for the band redirected users to another website which asked for the user to enter a password. Once entering all six unique codes in, a video is shown announcing Tomorrow’s Harvest, their fourth studio album.”
One dude who was lucky enough to find one of these six albums even sold it on Ebay for $5,700. A true testament to just how hardcore Boards of Canada fans are.
Check out one my favorite tracks from the album:
The Straight-Up Best Collaboration Award
goes to The Uncluded for their debut album Hokey Fright
Indie gods Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock teamed up to release their first collaboration album in 2013. Not surprising that these two are friends, but quite a surprise to everyone just how damn well they were able to mash up Kimya’s acoustic singer-songwriter style with Aesop’s beats and raps. The two come together as wordsmiths of quite different genres, but make it work in a way that is fun, pretty, and at times touching. Check out the videos for Earthquake and Delicate Cycle. oh and Tits Up is just classy.
The Most “Down Home” Local Newcomer Award
goes to Tree Party for their self-titled debut.
Saw these folks play this year and was seriously impressed. You can’t watch them without having yerself a good ‘ol boot stompin time. Check them out. Their cd even comes branded by a Tree Party hot cattle iron brand.
Best Family Album
goes to Akron/Family for their 2013 release Sub Verses.
A bad-ass eclectic album. Akron/Family have always walked the line between folk, psychedelic, punk, electronic, and what have you. Sub Verses is a solid release that is no exception to their eclectic proclivities. check out some of my favorite tracks…including one beautifully shot in a crater/cave of all places for christ’s sake!
The Shameless Plug Award
goes to Balloon Race for the album Subtle Transmissions.
You guessed it. This is my shameless plug for my own music, but I had to do it. I’m proud of this one. spent a few years writing and recording this one and were actually able to have it professionally printed with a little help from our friends and Kickstarter. Stream the album HERE
and here’s a taste:
The Underdog Gone Arena-Rock Award
goes to The National for Trouble Will Find Me.
A solid showing by one of my all-time favorite bands. The National are just one of those bands that, until 2013, had few casual followers. National fans are effing devout. And for good reason. They’ve been the underdog favorite for about a decade now by releasing incredible album after album and slowly gaining the respect and undivided attention of middle-aged-sad-bastard-music-loving-fan-boys. 2013 was a good year for them indeed. The first year you’d find them touring arena’s across the world as opposed to small venues in the States. There are precious few bands that have worked this hard to achieve that. The National and their new tunes have earned it. Check out their sweet stop-motion chalk-drawing video for “Demons”:
The Relentlessly Optimistic and Talented Award
goes to Cloud Cult for the album Love
Minnesota mainstay Cloud Cult released yet another beautiful album of beautiful music this year Simply titled “Love.” It shows that they love what they do and they love spreading the love to others. They don’t have the manic-depressive-artist thing going for them anymore, but are definitely on top of their game for virtuosity and pop-sensibility.
The Been Around Forever And Still Making Some of Our Best Music Award
goes to….a TWO WAY TIE between Yo La Tengo for Fade and Low for The Invisible Way.
I mean seriously…both of these bands have been making incredible music for over 20 years and both released super awesome albums in 2013. Some are even calling it the best year yet for Low. check out some highlights:
The “Metal As Fuck” Yet Catchy and Poppy as Hell (How the hell is that even Possible?!?) Award
goes to Queens of the Stone Age for…Like Clockwork.
Such a solid album. It quickly rekindled my relationship QOTSA. Whether you’re a long time fan or new to QOTSA, please please listen to this album.
The Lived Up to the Hype Award
goes to Vampire Weekend for Modern Vampires of the City
Yep, that’s right. The Vampires delivered. Catchy, fun tunes by talented dudes.
I have nothing but good things to say about S. Carey. A few years ago I had the privilege of seeing him play at the Varsity Theater here in Minneapolis. That show dense with instrumentation but magically serene. I purchased his only album at the time, All We Grow, and have been a fan ever since. His second release , Hoyas, was a bit of a digressive walk down an electronic alley. On April 9, however, he will release Range of Light, serving as the true follow up to All We Grow. The teaser track for that album, “Fire-scene,” captures the serene beauty that I remember from that night at the Varsity. There are some muted guitar plucks around the midpoint that remind me of why I love hearing new music so much in the first place: to hear sound expressing emotions in a way nothing else can. I’m greatly looking forward to the new album and an opportunity to see S. Carey in concert in April.
This track is haunting, but it makes me feel alive. Reminds me of Sharon Van Etten’s first album. Angel Olsen’s new album, ‘Burn Your Fire For No Witness,’ out Feb. 18 2014.
Recently I came across a vinyl reissue of Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline in a clearance bin in Duluth. Actually, Walhowe found it and I said “hmm, seems like a no-brainer.” I brought it home and was immediately captured by the warmth of Johnny Cash accompanying good ol’ Bobby D. on Girl From the North Country. If you’ve got some time on your hands, give this tune a whirl. If you’ve got some more time, listen to the whole album.