Everything but the Top Ten: Tk’s Short & Sweaty List for 2013
2013 in music can be noted for being a year of transitions. Growing less relevant was indie-folk in the vein of Mumford & Sons to make way for a batch of mature, old-fashioned folk artists, such as Laura Marling, Martin Simpson, and Josephine Foster. Meanwhile, four-to-the-floor electronic music has yielded to EDM that borrows from other genres (Avicii) and real instruments (Daft Punk). Even Arcade Fire got interested in the dancey-with-real-instruments thing on “Reflektor.”
My list below can be noted for its short and sweaty quality. This year includes a simple combination of Favorite Song + 10 Honorable Mention albums, and that’s the short part. This year also includes music that if you turn upside down and squint hard enough, you may just see a sweaty glisten radiating from its pores. And that’s the sweaty part.
Song of the Year
Nils Frahm’s album, “Spaces,” came out in November, so I’ve only had about a month to chew on it. And boy, have I been chewing. The stand-out track and my song of the year is called “Says.” The song is long (8:18 to be exact) and repetitive. Its melody travels in waves through the listener’s ears, taking us to a different sonic world (is it underwater? Outer space?) Don’t miss the underwater spaceship taking off to embark upon an important mission from 5:30 to the end.
10 Honorable Mention Albums
Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety: Is this the beginning of a gringo indie R & B phenomenon? Perhaps. Autre Ne Veut resides in Brookyln and creates textured, impassioned music with an 80s sensibility. The only thing keeping it from my Top 10 is too many peaks and not enough valleys.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City: One of the joys of following music in the last 10 years is the realization that Vampire Weekend are not some flash in the pan indie group like, say, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! These boys grew up listening to all of the greats and it reflects in their ever-maturing, always-fresh sound. A joyful listen not to be missed!
Monoswezi – The Village: A Norwegian jazz group collaborates with Hope Mazike from Mozambique and the results are splendid.
Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob: Tegan & Sara have found their niche with early 90s synth-pop ear candy. There biggest liability as a band right now (and this is totally unfair to say) is that they are not Haim.
Guy Clark: My Favorite Picture of You: Raw Texas folk. Fans of Johnny Cash’s later works will probably love this album. It is hard to overlook the heart and craftsmanship in these songs.
Kanye West – Yeezus: I will not write about Kanye West’s offensive arrogance. I will not write about Kanye West’s offensive arrogance. A fiery, spastic, and fun album. A big and bold artistic statement that will change the landscape of rap music.
Forest Swords – Engravings: A subtle, experimental dub album from Liverpool’s Matthew Barnes. Deserving of multiple listens.
Arcade Fire – Reflecktor: This is not Arcade Fire’s niche. This is not their musical strongsuit. But it’s great. A not-entirely-unexpected-foray into dance, reggae, and even psychodelic is coupled with one of the better marketing campaings in recent memory. In the end, it works as a satisfying listen that progresses the careers of this Canadian troop.
James Blake – Overgrown: Blake’s new release is lush (relatively speaking) and expansive at times, but also has the intimate moments that he captures so well. He is still dabbling with where gringo R & B (there it is again) meets post-dubstep and has Brian Eno’s help to figure it out.
Martin Simpson – Vagrant Stanzas: English folk music from Simpson that takes cues from American and Irish folk music. While this is a 2013 release, it could have been 1957 or 1981. It is refreshingly not timely.
Watch for CK’s Not-Top-Tens soon, followed by Tk’s Top Ten of 2013.
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