Monday, 23 December 2013

2013 Year in Review: Top 30 Albums

In the wake of my Top 75 songs of the year, below you will find my Top 30 albums of 2013. Once again they are in alpha order with exception of the Top 5.

Happy Holidays!!! and see you in January.

Favourite Albums
Arcade Fire- Reflektor
Arctic Monkeys- AM
Austra- Olympia
David Bowie- The Next Day
Braids- Flourish//Perish
Courtney Barnett- The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas
Cults- Static
Diana- Self Titled
Factory Floor- Self Titled
Foals- Holy Fire
Foxygen- We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace and Magic
Frankie Rose- Herein Wild
Fuzz- Self Titled
Haim- Days Are Gone
Joanna Gruesome- Weird Sister
The Knife- Shaking The Habitual
Mazzy Star- Seasons of Your Day
Janelle Monáe- The Electric Lady
No Joy- Wait To Pleasure
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark- English Electric
Still Corners- Strange Pleasures
Washed Out- Paracosm
Wild Nothing- An Empty Estate
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan-Uzu
Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Mosquito

5. Young Galaxy- Ultramarine. Young Galaxy keeps moving further and further away from their space rock beginnings. With the help of producer Dan Lissvik, this Montreal band made the best "Swedish" album of the year.

4. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City. Number 1 on a lot of music websites and blogs. Just shows you how much this band has matured without changing their sound that much.

3. Chvrches- The Bones Of What You Believe. A great pop debut from the Scottish electro trio led by the spunky lead singer with the sugar coated voice, Lauren Mayberry.

2. My Bloody Valentine- mbv. Thought this album would never happen. I remember the night when the announcement was made and how social media reacted. Anybody and everybody who are My Bloody Valentine fans were trying to get into the band's website to download the album. Once I was finally able to get the LP, I stayed up all night listening to it. Well worth the wait.

1. Favourite Album of The Year: Savages- Silence Yourself. A vicious debut from the London post punk band. These ladies brought it with a ferocious mix of influences including Siouxsie, Patty Smith, Wire, Gang of Four, PJ Harvey and the Riot Grrrl scene.

2013 Year In Review: Top 75 Songs

Another fine year in music is coming to an end. Gonna do things different this year and list my 75 favourite songs in alphabetical order instead of a countdown. Countdowns are kind of silly.....but I will point out my track of the year. You can listen to 65 of the songs in the playlist at the bottom of the post.  Links are provided for tracks that were not available for the playlist.

My favourite albums, gigs and other fun stuff will be forthcoming in another post.....

Favourite Songs:

Alpine- "Gasoline"
Arcade Fire- "Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)"
Arcade Fire- "Reflektor"
Arctic Monkeys- "Do I Wanna Know?"
Arctic Monkeys- "Arabella"
A$AP Ferg- "Shabba"(Ft. A$AP Rocky)
Austra- "Home"
Courtney Barnett- "Avant Gardener"
Courtney Barnett: "History Eraser"
David Bowie- "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)"
David Bowie- "Where Are We Now?
David Lynch (Ft. Lykke Li)- "I'm Waiting Here"
Dirty Beaches-"Casino Lisboa"
Beck-" I Won't Be Long"
Braids- "Amends"
Braids-"In Kind"
Brendan Canning- "Bullied Days"
Chelsea Wolfe- "The Warden"
Chvrches- "Recover"
Classixx-"All Your Waiting For" (Ft. Nancy Whang)
Cults- "High Road"
Cults- "I Could Hardly Make You Mine"
Daft Punk-"Get Lucky"
Diana- "Perpetual Surrender"
Dum Dum Girls- "Lost Boys & Girls Club"
Elephant- "Skyscraper"
Factory Floor-"Fall Back"
Foals-"Bad Habit"
Foals-"My Number"
Foxygen- "No Destruction"
Foxygen- "San Francisco"
Haim-"The Wire"
Jagwar Ma- "The Throw"
Joanna Gruesome-"Sugarcrush"
Keep Shelly In Athens- "Madmen Love"
Keep Shelly in Athens-" Oostende"
The Knife- "Full of Fire"
The Knife- "A Tooth For An Eye"
M.I.A.-"Bring The Noize"
Janelle Monáe- "Dance Apocalyptic"
My Bloody Valentine- "New You"
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds- "Jubilee Street"
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark- "Metroland"
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark- "Night Cafe"
Phoenix- "Entertainment"
Poliça- "Tiff" (Featuring Justin Vernon)
Poliça- "Chain My Name"
POND- "Giant Tortoise"
Primal Scream- "2013"
Prince Innocence- "Golden Hour"
Pure Bathing Culture-"Pendulum"
Frankie Rose- "Sorrow"
Savages- "She Will"
Sleigh Bells- "Bitter Rivals"
Splashh- "Sun Kissed Bliss"
Still Corners- "Berlin Love"
Toy & Natasha Khan- "The Bride"
Kurt Vile- "Wakin On A Pretty Day"
Vampire Weekend- "Diane Young"
Vampire Weekend- "Ya Hey"
Warpaint- "Biggy"
Warpaint" Love Is To Die"
Washed Out- "It Feels Alright"
Washed Out-"Paracosm"
Wax Idols: "AD RE: Ian"
Wild Nothing-"A Dancing Shell"
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan- "One"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs- "Despair"
Yeah Yeah Yeahs-" Sacrilege"
Young Galaxy- "Pretty Boy"
Youth Lagoon-"Dropla"

Favourite Track Of The Year: Young Galaxy- "New Summer"

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Five Star Songs: Aztec Camera- Walk Out To Winter

It's only the second day of winter, and in Toronto, the weather has been absolutely abysmal. Last weekend - a week before winter even started- the city had a huge snowstorm which left it blanketed in 20 centimetres of the white stuff. As soon as all of that snow melted another storm came barreling in from Texas and has left the city plastered in ice. The storm blew in last night and has left thousands of downed trees and multiple power outages in its wake. Not a good start to a season that is often unpredictable in this area of the world.

Canada is often stereotyped as a cold, snowy land where we only get warm weather four months of the year. In many parts of the country that is true, but in Southern Ontario there have been many winters where we have received little to no snow. I remember a couple of years ago laughing at our friends in the Northeast United States who were hit with several Nor'easter storms. This left cities like New York and Boston snow bound while just a few hundred kilometres away in Toronto we were enjoying unseasonably warm weather, and what precipitation did fall was mostly rain.

Now it looks like it is our turn to suffer. December has been extremely cold and stormy and it looks like we may be in for the winter long haul. Might as well embrace it, after all, winter can also be very beautiful.

Scottish indie pop band Aztec Camera knew this and wrote one of the best winter love songs ever. "Walk Out to Winter" was written by the genius Aztec Camera singer Roddy Frame, and was featured on the band's 1983 LP High Land Hard Rain. How could you not like lyrics that are as genius as this:

"Met in the summer and walked 'til the fall
And breathless we talked, it was tongues
Despite what they'll say, wasn't youth, we hit the truth

Faces of Strummer that fell from the wall
But nothing is left where they hung
Sweet and bitter, they're what we found
So drink them down"

Listen below:

Friday, 20 December 2013

Music From The Inbox (December-Part 2): Featuring The Aikiu, Saintseneca, Painted Palms, Angel Haze + More

This is my last new music posting of the year. There will be two "best of" posts forthcoming before Christmas, but this is the last post that will feature new music. See you in the New Year.

Artist: The Aikiu
Song: "Win" (Featuring JD Samson)
Country: France
Genre: Electropop
Album: Win EP
Release Date: Out Now
Label:  Atlas Chair/Sony France
Further Information: The song features guest vocals from JD Samson who has been involved with both Le Tigre and Men.

Artist: Ambassadeurs
Song: "Make Me"
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Electronic
Release Date: Out Now
Label:  Self Released-

Artist: Saintseneca
Song: "Visions"
Country: United States
Genre: Indie Rock/Folk
Album: Dark Arc
Release Date: April 1st
Label:  Anti-

Song: "Wander"
Country: United States
Genre: Indie Rock
Label:  Heist or Hit

Artist: Angel Haze
Song: "A Tribe Called Red"
Country: United States
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap
Album: Dirty Gold
Release Date: December 30th
Label:  Island
Further Information: The album was originally due out in March, however the artist decided to leak the album and now the release date has been pushed forward to next week.

Artist: Painted Palms
Song: "Here it Comes"
Country: United States
Genre: Psych Pop
Album: Forever
Release Date: January 14
Label: Polyvinyl

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

New Music: Hibou- Hide Away

It's a cold, snowy night outside and along comes indie pop artist Peter Michel, aka Hibou, to warmly brighten all of our days up with his latest single "Hide Away." This is the first song he has released since the excellent Dunes EP earlier this year. This track is slightly different than those songs, as the jangle rock has been replaced by tropical sounding guitar, and the sound has more of an electro pop feel, however Hibou's magnificent washed out, dream like melodies are still in place. Listen below:

Hibou is working on his debut album which should be out early in 2014.

Music From The Inbox (December-Part 1): Featuring Peggy Sue, Pillar Point, JF Robitaille + More

Just because the year is coming to an end doesn't mean that there isn't any new music to listen to. As a matter of fact it is busier than normal right now. I will have to do two posts this December to include all of the great stuff that has been forwarded to me. Another post will becoming up before Christmas. Meanwhile, check these new songs out below:

Artist: Dearly Beloved
Song: "Living Proof"
Country: Canada
Genre: Alt Rock
Album: Hawk vs. Pigeon
Release Date: Out Now
Label:  eOne Music
Further Information: The album actually came out in 2012 and features guest appearances by Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning and Sloan's Patrick Pentland.

Artist: Peggy Sue
Song: "Idle"
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Indie Rock
Album: Choir of Echoes
Release Date: January 28th

Artist: JF Robitaille
Song: "Cry (To Keep From Laughing)"
Country: Canada
Genre: Singer-Songwriter
Album: Rival Hearts
Release Date: Out Now
Label: Universal

Artist: Pillar Point
Song: "Eyeballs"
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Synth Pop
Album: Self Titled 
Release Date: February 25th
Label: Polyvinyl
Further Information: Singer Scott Reitherman has also been involved with indie pop band Throw Me The Statue.

Artist: Mystery Twins
Song: "The River"
Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Stripped down Indie Rock
Album: "Poetry Sucks!" Anthology/Compilation
Release Date: Early 2014
Further Information: The duo consists of Doug Lehmann, on guitar/vocals and Stephanie Brush on drums/vocals. They've been playing together for over a decade as one half of The Clutters, who early on caught the attention of David Fricke and filmmaker Cameron Crowe.

The "River" will be included on the Poetry Sucks!" Anthology/Compilation that Third Man Records is putting out early 2014. This is curated by Ben Swank and Chet Weise featuring a collection of poetry and short stories accompanied by a record.

Monday, 16 December 2013

New Music: EMA- Satellites

When I saw South Dakota indie rocker Erika M. Anderson, aka EMA, play the Garrison here in Toronto back in 2012, she came across as one of the nicest, down to earth people performing in music at that time. She was very open and confident on stage and shared a lot of personal thoughts with the audience. And then after that gig she just kinda disappeared.

Well now she is back and seems to be a bit of an angrier mood, at least musically. Her newest single "Satellites" has a real goth like feel with Anderson upgrading her alt rock sound with added electronics and a thumping industrial beat. Listen below:

The track is taken from EMA's upcoming new album The Future's Void which will be out in the spring via Matador.

New Music: Ummagma- Rotation + Live and Let Die

After winning the Alternative Eurovision prize earlier this year, Ukrainian-Canadian dream pop band Ummagma are not resting on their laurels and have released a brand new double A-side single titled "Rotation"/"Live and Let Die". "Rotation" is the more electronic of the two songs and features a slow build up of wailing synth lines that leads into fuzzy, textured, grandiose dream pop. Meanwhile, " Live and Let Die" is maybe the funkiest song I have heard from the duo. The rhythmic track has really cool choppy guitar riffs, bombastic drums and I think I am not wrong in comparing this to some of Broadcast's poppier songs. Take a listen below:

The single is just the beginning as Ummagma plans to release more singles in 2014 on German label Emerald & Doreen RecordingsThe new single is now available on iTunesJuno DownloadAmazonBeatport and other major digital platforms. 

Friday, 13 December 2013

New Music: Snowbird- Porcelain

Here, in this part of the world it is cold, dark and this weekend we are expecting a large snow storm to make things even more wintry. It may not show it on the calendar, but winter is definitely here. It is a good time to stay indoors and chill to some great music.

Snowbird are a new duo who make music that is perfect for listening to at this time of the year. The project consists of Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde and singer Stephanie Dosen, who you may know from her collaborations with José González, Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers. The couple will release their debut album next month and they enlisted some musical heavyweights to guest on the record including Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway of Radiohead, and Ed Pullido of Midlake. "Porcelain" is the first single from the LP and it is a stunningly, beautiful piece of music. Watch the wintry video for the song below:

Moon will be out in January via Bella Union.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

New Music: Mode Moderne- Strangle The Shadows + She, Untamed

A couple of new songs from our favourite Vancouver post punk group Mode Moderne. The band will release a brand new record titled Occult Delight in January and the songs "Strangle The Shadows" and "She, Untamed" are the first taste of the new LP. The latter track retains that New Order/Joy Division sound that made them so good on last year's Strange Bruises EP and for "Strangle The Shadows" they have added some jangle rock to the mix which adds an air of dreamy mystification to the band. Listen to the two songs below:

Occult Delight will be available January 21st via Light Organ Records.

Monday, 9 December 2013

New Music: Swervedriver- Deep Wound

Maybe My Bloody Valentine started something when they finally released their long delayed album mbv earlier this year.  First, Neal Halstead helped form Black Hearted Brother, a band that is more akin to his 90's shoegaze band Slowdive than the folk music that he has been known for lately. Now, another former Creation shoegaze band is putting out new music. Swervedriver is back with the new single "Deep Wound", and they have brought singer Mark Gardener of fellow Creationists Ride, along for the ride (sorry for the pun). Actually, the song has been around for a little while now. It was available as a 7"inch single on the band's summer tour and they performed it live on Fallon last year. Listen below:

Your move Reid brothers.....

You can purchase the song from Swervedriver's bandcamp or from iTunes.

New Music: Warpaint- Biggy

"Biggy" is the second track to be featured off of Warpaint's upcoming new self titled album. The song is a little bit more subdued than the earlier "Love is to Die", but it is still a genius track. As a matter of fact, I don't think Warpaint has ever sounded better than they do on the this ghostly song. Listen below:

Warpaint will be available January 21st via Rough Trade.

Friday, 6 December 2013

New Music: The Orwells- Dirty Sheets

Happy Friday. Let's get the weekend started right with some dirty garage rock and a sexy burlesque video courtesy of Chicago band The Orwells. Enjoy.

"Dirty Sheets" will be released on 7" in January via Atlantic.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

New Music: Lanterns On The Lake- The Buffalo Days

Lanterns On The Lake are another band who released a song earlier this year, and who I am just learning about now thanks to a music video. The band could be best described as symphonic, especially when you listen to "The Buffalo Days", the first single from their sophomore LP Until The Colours Run. Watch the video for the anthemic track below:

The new record is already out in the UK and will be available on this side of the pond January 14th.

Monday, 2 December 2013

New Music: Twist- Where To Lie

The very busy Brain Borcherdt of Toronto indie band Dusted, and more notably the electronic group Holy Fuck, has a brand new project collaboration called Twist. Joining him in the collaboration is Twist is a new project conceived by Laura Hermiston, singer from the excellent garage rock band The BB Guns, and she enlisted Brian to help her record the music. The first taste of the duo's music, "Where to Lie" is a lo-fi charmer that features a simple guitar riff backed by Hermiston's beautiful, soft voice. This song has actually been kicking around since last March but recently the couple released a shiny new video for the track. Watch the video below and grab a free download of the song.

Twist - Where to Lie from Twist Band on Vimeo.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Five Star Songs: The Walkmen- Red Moon

Ughh... The Walkmen are the latest great band to announce they are going on the dreaded infinite hiatus. Once again, let's hope these guys will be back sooner rather than later. Writers of some of the best love songs by an indie rock band this century, the band's lyrics seems to possess a certain yearning that could only be perfected by the smoky voice of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser. A great example is the You & Me soft ballad "Red Moon", which, by the way, was featured in a Season 2 episode of Breaking Bad.  Listen below: