FKA twigs- “Video Girl”- Dark, avant pop is the pop for me. Tahliah Barnett came storming out the gates with her singles. LP1 follows through on all that hype.
Shabazz Palaces- “Forerunner Foray”. DOPE pyschedelic new track from Ishmael Butler and crew. Album drops 7/29. Cannot wait to the rest.
clipping.- “Work Work”. Dope new track to get you motivate to put in some work on a Friday morning. I dare you to not bob your head once that bass drops. I’m loving this whole album of future forward beats and razor sharp lyrics, but this track stands out the most for me.
Listen to the new Death From Above 1979 track, “Trainwreck 1979” from the forthcoming album, The Physical World, due out September 9th. It gets a little poppy for me at times, but still has a killer opening hook that gives me a little hope for the rest of the album.
Dope new video and track courtesy of DOOM and Bishop Nehru aka NehruvianDOOM. The album, produced entirely by DOOM is set to drop later this year. Get hype.
tUnE-yArDs- “Find A New Way”. Merrill Garbus’ new collection of manic modern world beats is shaping up to be one of my favorite albums of the year.
Ought- “Habit”. This sounds like Talking Heads had a baby with Television. Fucking perfect. Can’t wait ‘til these guys come to Texas in July.
Courtney Barnett- “Avant Gardener”. Really diggin this slow burning slacker garage track. Barnett’s sarcastic lyrics, dry delivery, and that wall of distortion really put this song over the top for me. Cop her new double EP here:
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- “Uno”. My favorite beat off the new instant classic album from these two… Jazzy, spacey, gangster anthems. MUST LISTEN
Cibo Matto- “MFN”- Can’t stop jammin’ this quirky, cool track off the dope new album by a band I never thought I’d hear from again. If you ever liked Cibo Matto, this album will be a welcome addition to your catalogue. If you’ve never heard them, prepare to be swept away to a strange, hip universe where where lyrics like “don’t throw the fuckin’ oyster shells at me” actually make sense.
De La Soul’s entire catalogue, free…Happy Valentines day…
"In celebration of the 25th anniversary of 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul are making their entire catalog—including remixes, instrumentals and rarities—available free for download on their site. They’re available for 25 hours only, starting today at 11 a.m. Eastern until tomorrow at noon. To get the music, you just have to sign up for their email list.”
Sonic Youth- “Wish Fulfillment”. Been on a real nineties kick, so naturally I busted out this classic Sonic Youth album. This song took me right back to my teens, and still rings true today.
2013 was another year of variety in all areas. A quick glance at this list reveals artists in the genres of hip hop, electronic, hard rock, and even a highly successful international pop star. It was actually really hard to limit this list to just 25 albums. Another year where genres were combined to form new sounds, and old sounds were given new meaning, 2013 seemed to also be the year of the young genius. Nearly half of the top 10 are albums crafted by kids that hadn’t yet reached their mid twenties, some of them can’t even buy a beer in The States. All of this is a product of the shear access we all share to almost anything we’ve ever wanted to listen to. With a $10 monthly subscription to the music service of your choice, you can take a big chunk of the entire history of music with you, anywhere you go. And while I still prefer owning the music I listen to, this “music in the cloud” phenomenon seems to be the way we’re all headed: that or vinyl. My friend, Grant, recently shared a very telling statistic: 2005 vinyl record sales were $15 million, while record sales in 2012 reached $162 million. I’m certain that number has only increased in 2013, as I see many of my friends making the shift, shelling out a few extra bucks for a much cooler package that also comes with a free digital download. More than anything, this shows me that appreciation of music has increased in all demographics, young and old alike. This can only lead to more appreciation, inspiration, and creation of my favorite art form. While it might still be hard for the average band to make a buck in this modern world, artists can at least be discovered a lot faster than ever before, while even marginally successful artists can start giving their album away for free, without huge marketing campaigns to back them up. The age of the internet is changing the music industry as we know it, giving the power back to the listener, and I’m all for it.
Spotify Playlist: spoti.fi/1dQtHXX
Disclosure- Settle- Two brothers from Surrey, UK come together to make one of the most accessible, ambitious, and downright dope dance records in years, on their first try. It’s almost impossible to listen to this album without turning it all the way up and grabbing the nearest available dance partner, who was probably already bobbing her/his head to the beat, too. These lads from across the pond are are still just babies; one of them isn’t even 20 yet, but they’re already so incredibly talented, it will be interesting to see where they go from here. First stop, Coachella.
Armand Hammer- Race Music- This record is basically a blueprint for everything I look for in a hip hop album. Heady, boom bap beats, intelligent lyrics, and plenty of it. It’s rare to find a hip hop record with 17 tracks that are all this freaking good. Each one transports you into a shadowy, complex narrative of a post modern world. And while that sounds a little bleak, Elucid and Billy Woods’ darkly comical observations keep you thinking, looking up every lyric, and wishing you could craft even one bar half as clever.
Daft Punk- Random Access Memories- The French duo’s foray into the music of their influences is a faithful and fresh interpretation that breathes new life into sounds and ideas that’ve been around for decades. It’s funky, it’s groovy, it sounds like it’s from the late seventies and early eighties. I was never so into that era of R&B, until now. Thanks Daft Punk.
King Krule- 6 Feet Beneath The Moon- I was hooked on this record in the first few seconds of the first track, on my first listen. As soon as Archy Marshall’s signature London crooning howl tears through the jagged strum of his electric guitar, you’re either gonna love or hate this album. The 19 year old’s slick, minimal production puts his voice at the forefront, of bright guitar chords and a darkwave urban landscape.
Deerhunter- Monomania- I’ll admit I didn’t rush to this record when it was released. An extremely prolific producer, Bradford Cox has put out so much swirling psychedelic music, that I wondered how this one could be any different. After heavy endorsement from my friend, Geoff, I finally gave it a listen and was blown away yet again. Going almost completely in the opposite direction of their indie dream pop past, Monomania is Deerhunter through a mostly jagged, lo fi filter.
Queens Of The Stone Age- …Like Clockwork- This is another album I didn’t rush to until all the reviews kept coming back stellar. And what I found was the most solid hard rock album of the year. Clockwork expands Queens’ signature synister sound by adding some truly beautiful, Bowie-esque ballads that showcase just how beautiful Josh Homme’s voice really is. Even as a long time fan of QOTSA, I never expected to like this album as much as I did.
Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold- Not officially released in the States until 2013, I’ve been jamming this record since 2012 and it has yet to get old. Stoner punk with catchy riffs and comically sarcastic, college educated lyrics about life as an everyday slacker, this album will have you rocking and smiling at the same time.
James Blake- Overgrown- 2013 was the year of young geniuses. And while Blake, now 25, has been on the scene since he was much younger, he’s got the talent of someone twice his age. Blending elements of electronic, R&B, hip hop, and pop, this album reveals an artist who has truly found his sound. The evolution he’s shown since his first album is unparalleled. From the moody electronic ballad bearing the record’s name, to the RZA guest spot on “Take a Fall For Me”, this album can’t be denied and definitely deserves your attention.
Earl Sweatshirt- Doris- Anyone who knows me, knows that I was absolutely obsessed with Earl Sweatshirt in 2013. His track, “Whoa”, was far and away my most played track of the year. And though this album didn’t end up being the genius jewel that every single preceding its release indicated it might be, it’s still a damn fine record, full of insane word play and lyrics that demand at least 10 listens. If I hadn’t been blown away by Armand Hammer, Doris would’ve been my favorite hip hop album of the year. As it is, it still easily cracked the top ten.
Jon Hopkins- Immunity- Jon Hopkins is a London based producer who developed a taste for electronic music at an early age. He studied to be a classical piano player, but found it to be too artistically limiting, and Immunity is the culmination of years of experimentation. Hopkins’ fifth solo release is the perfect blend of intoxicating, trance inducing techno, and danceable electronica. This is the album you put on to keep the party moving way past last call.
Elvis Costello & The Roots- Wise Up Ghost- This sounds like an odd pairing, until you actually listen to it, and then it all makes sense. They met when Costello performed on Jimmy Fallon, and the result is a funky, sexy record with extra syrup. Chock full of horns, organs, and ?uestlove’s impeccable drumming, this album is a real crowd pleaser, and my go to for any gathering.
Jim James- Regions Of Light And Sound Of God- The man with the golden voice has done it again. Regions of Light is a soulful expansion of Jim James’ usually acoustic leaning solo releases. I would never deny James’ constant musical evolution, but sometimes, for me anyway, he can be a bit of a snooze. This record’s mostly upbeat tempo is anything but a snoozer. And if you get the chance to see him perform it live, GO!
Danny Brown- Old- The most successful underdog in the rap game has followed up his impeccable debut with an ambitious double LP that proves he can rap about a lot more than sex and drugs. Don’t get me wrong, sex and drugs still make up about 60% of Brown’s lyrical content, but, with big league production and guest spots from the likes of Purity Ring and Charlie XCX, this album finds Brown taking advantage of everything that’s come his way since his come up with XXX.
Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires Of The City- If you don’t know Vampire Weekend by now, you haven’t been paying any attention. They need no introduction. Hell, their music has already been featured in a Honda and a Tommy Hilfiger commercial. But success has not watered down their talent or ambition one bit. This is by far my favorite VW release to date, they just keep getting better. It’s a beautiful mash up of almost every genre since the 80’s, without being too pretentious about it. It’s catchy, fun music and its infectiousness can’t be denied.
Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven- This is an album for dedicated listeners that doesn’t truly reveal itself until you’ve heard it a couple times. It’s not your average record in the least, and most people would hesitate to even call a lot of these tracks “songs”. They’re more like ideas, expressed in sound. If that makes any sense to you, check out this record. I find it especially rewarding to listen to it while being productive. It’s like brain food for the modern man.
Arcade Fire- Reflektor- Another band that needs no introduction. It’s not my favorite release in their catalogue, but even an average Arcade Fire album outshines 99% of the music being released today. This one mixes Haitian and Jamaican style rhythms with James Murphy’s neo disco production like only a band this talented could.
Daughter- If You Leave- Shoegazing, atmospheric guitars and smoky, reverb tinged vocals provided by a very Chan Marshall sounding Elena Tonra. This record wears its heart on its sleeve as each track builds to a steady climax before gently fading away into the ether from whence it came. It’s easily the prettiest album on this list.
Youth Lagoon- Wondrous Bughouse- Trevor Powers returns from hibernation with an incredibly dense trip through a super psychedelic house of mirrors and swirling synths. He’s still got that sweet voice we heard on The Year of Hibernation, but this time it’s swimming in layers of odd noises, an interesting departure from the minimal, bedroom production of his debut.
Forest Swords- Engravings- An album built mostly from down tempo beats and filtered guitar loops, this is a fantastic record that experiments with ideas of memory degradation. But that makes it sound really boring. It’s not just noise, and the pacing of these tracks makes it feel like more of a thoughtful excursion than some meandering walk in the dark. Sounds fade in and out, but these songs are so meticulously crafted that nothing seems out of place.
Death Grips- No Love Deep Web- The most in your face, experimental band to ever get a major label contract, Death Grips will test your patience, your speakers, and your friends’ impressions of your sanity. If you can get past all that, though, there really is a lot to like here. Interesting, post everything production and intelligent lyrics disguised in MC Ride’s rough, half rap, half protest leader delivery. This is as much punk as it is hip hop and noise. It’s ahead of its time, what I imagine your children listening to, so you might as well get down with it now.
The Field- Cupid’s Head- Slow building electronic journeys in every track. Axel Willner has perfected the art of trance inducing music that’s actually fun to listen to.
Daniel Avery- Drone Logic- I like albums that let you know what you’re in for right from the get go. This exactly the case for Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic, which dabbles in acid house, dance floor grooves, and of course, drone, albeit extremely melodic drone. This guy developed his skills as the resident DJ at London club, Fabric, and it shows. These songs are definitely meant to keep you moving.
Lorde- Pure Heroine- The antidote to Miley Cyrus’ oversexualized, super rich kid pop, Lorde hit the big time with the international smash “Royals”. Given her sugary sweet harmonies and pop leaning production, it’s easy to think of her as just another pop star, but that’s missing the point. Her lyrics are smart and the music is progressive. I’d much rather my kids listen to Lorde than that aforementioned twerking fool.
Charles Bradley- Victim of Love- He was a drifter, sleeping on subways and hitchhiking across country before landing a job in Maine working as a chef. When a coworker told him he looked like James Brown, Bradley revealed that in fact he’d worked a couple gigs as a James Brown impersonator in his youth, and the flame was reignited. Now 65, Bradley’s second album, Victim, exemplifies his own innate talent. His songs are real, and with help from the crew at Daptone Records, extremely funky and soulful. He’s also got a documentary about his life, Soul of America, which I highly recommend. This guy is legit. He’s got an amazing story, and he deserves all the success that’s come his way in the past few years.
The Strokes- Comedown Machine- Rounding out the top 25, is a band I really never thought I’d see on one of my lists again. I downloaded the album and never payed much attention to it. And then it kept popping up on shuffle, catching my ear and making me want more every time. A return to The Strokes’ signature catchy hooks, with a little 80’s synth thrown in for good measure, this record finds Julian Casablancas actually singing beyond his usual monotone and is a real treat for anybody who thought they had jumped the shark on Angles.
Most Played Tracks of 2013:
Earl Sweatshirt- “Whoa”
Thee Oh Sees- “Toe Cutter-Thumb Buster”
Cristobal Tapia De Veer- “Utopia”
Armand Hammer- “Black Ark”
King Krule- “Easy Easy”
Armand Hammer- “Shark Fin Soup”
Queens of the Stone Age- “If I Had A Tail”
Drake- “Wu-Tang Forever”
Disclosure- “Grab Her”
King Krule- “Easy Easy”. Took me a second to get to this album, but I’m so glad I did. Sharp, minimal production, and Archy Marshall’s thick UK accent and signature howling croon come together to make one of my favorite albums of the year. I’m absolutely hooked on this opening track, but I love how the album effortlessly ties in hip hop with post rock, amongg other influences. It’s an album for the modern man, or woman, and it’s a definite MUST LISTEN.
Free Download for the Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip collaboration? Don’t mind if I do:
“Busta Rhymes and Q-Tip have just released a new collaborative mixtape. It’s called The Abstract & the Dragon, and it features "Thank You", their recently released single with Kanye West and Lil Wayne. It’s also got guest spots from A Tribe Called Quest, Raekwon, Missy Elliott, Talib Kweli, and others. Grab it here.”