Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Favorites + 2008 Faves Reconsidered

I haven't listed my year-end faves in a while, but if there's one thing the nation is clamoring for, it's the half-baked opinion of an old white guy. Anyway, the only film release I saw was Gravity, which looked great, but did not have much to say beyond pointing out that in space no one can hear you scream. So I'm going to list my favorite albums and then go back and reassess my favorites from five years back to see how they've held up.

1. Superchunk - I Hate Music. This is my favorite album of the year because I am nothing if not predictable. And I love this video because old.

2. Earthless - From The Ages. I don't know why it took so long for Earthless to make their third studio album, but I'm really glad they did. Their instrumental guitar-god psychedelic metal is almost the exact opposite of Superchunk's tight indie-pop gems, but I love this album almost as much as I Hate Music.

3. Hookworms - Pearl Mystic. Do I like retro-fuzz psychedelia with krautrock influence? Yes I do! So much so that I'm listing this album right after the Earthless one, even though they share a certain mentality. I found this band thanks to KEXP and they work for me like gangbusters.

4. Mavis Staples - One True Vine. She has marched on Washington, loved Bob Dylan, revitalized secular gospel, been in the business for more than 60 years, and she still has it in her to come up with something interesting and fun. Jeff Tweedy's production is sympathetic, too.

5. My Bloody Valentine - m b v. This album appears to be a time machine to my 20s.

6. Thee Oh Sees - Floating Coffin. Perhaps not quite as fantastic as the last few, but still very, very, very good.

7. Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze. I love Vile's music, but he's basically the hipster Jack Johnson, right? I mean, there's all this good-time/lazy-time vibe to all of his music. I like that he lets loose on the guitar on this album.

8. Wire - Change Becomes Us. I've run hot and cold on the third (or is this the fourth?) incarnation of Wire, but I really like this album, which mostly consists of rewrites of unrecorded tracks from the late 70s/early 80s.

9. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels. This album from El-P and Killer Mike is excellent all around. And hilarious.

10. Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - Brooklyn Babylon. Argue's big band-free jazz society made a fantastic concept album.

Special Mention: Sally Crewe - "Making Plans For Nigel." Excellent new single from Ms. Crewe.

Other albums I liked:

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
The Dexateens - Sunsphere EP
The Fall - Re-Mit
The Flaming Lips - The Terror
Melvins - Everybody Loves Sausages
Pink Avalanche - Wraiths
Richard Thompson - Electric
Yo La Tengo - Fade


In 2008, I had a Top 20 list, but here's the top 10 of those for consistency.

1. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life/Year of the Pig EP
2. Boris - Smile
3. Oneida - Preteen Weaponry
4. The Instruments - Dark Småland
5. Why? - Alopecia
6. Robert Forster - The Evangelist
7. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
8. Black Mountain - In The Future
9 (tie). The Dexateens - Lost & Found
9 (tie). The Distant Seconds - Spectral Evidence
10. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull

Five years later, I would change this list up only a little bit. While I still like the albums by Oneida, The Instruments, Why?, Robert Forster (which was the toughest to move down, actually), and Black Mountain, the Harvey Milk, Earthless, Torche, and Benko albums are so great that they need to be on this list. I had heard the TV On The Radio and New Year albums that year, but I ranked them too low. There were a lot of other albums I have subsequently heard and liked a lot, too, and the ones that were real contenders were by Atlas Sound, James Blackshaw, Sally Crewe and the Sudden Moves, Fennesz, and Jay Reatard. All in all, though, not too bad a report card. I'll give myself a gentleman's B. Maybe a B-.

1. Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life
2. Boris - Smile
3. Harvey Milk - Life... The Best Game In Town
4. Earthless - Live At Roadburn
5. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
6. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive
7. The New Year - The New Year
8. Torche - Meanderthal
9 (tie). The Distant Seconds - Spectral Evidence
9 (tie). The Dexateens - Lost & Found
9 (tie). Benko - Welcome To The Follow Through
10. Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull


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