Dec 12, 2013
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light (Constellation)
Listen: And In Truth
“Stetson is a master of overblowing and multi-phonics, which he has finessed to the point where his circular breathing has allowed him to play what sound like several other entirely distinct lines of song. Others frequently achieve this by live sampling and looping, but Stetson insists he doesn’t use such techniques, which makes for an extraordinary aural illusionism… The 15 minute ‘To See More Light’ contains Stetson’s most confounding sleight of hand, as he layers up gasping, phlegmatic fanfares over Nautilus-spiralling notes, then produces the real-time effect of slurred tape speed. On ‘Hunted’ and ‘Brute’, though, he pushes overblowing into realms previously only accessible with a fuzz pedal, finding timbres in the saxophone’s tubing that are rarely brought out. This gives Stetson’s sweeter melodies a bitter, eye watering sting.” ~ The Wire.
Eric Copeland – Joke in the Hole (DFA)
“Joke In The Hole walks a tricky tightrope between cut’n’piece electronica in the Steinski vein and the more serious art gallery fare that Black Dice tend to lean towards – the ‘auditory instalments’ of musique concrete. With the levels way in the red and the aura of a 1000 musical moments swarming, there’s no end and no beginning to Copeland’s insectoid blur, with absolutely zero meaning to be derived from his choices of what style to combine. It just is: mindless, unfathomable – a little like the digital fracas of our online lives.” ~ John Calver, FACT magazine.
Haim – Days Are Gone (Polydor)
“Did you love the sound of the hit parade in the seventies? How about the eighties, or the nineties? The Haim sisters have ingested several decades’ worth of radio pop, processed it, and spat it back out in the form of eleven pert, precise songs. For sheer pleasure per measure, Haim can’t be beat in 2013.” ~ Jody Rosen, New York Magazine.
John Wizards – Self Titled (Planet Mu)
Listen: Lusaka by Night
“The solo (and sometimes band) project of Cape Town’s John Withers is somewhere between indigenous and pastiche. Instead of hewing to one style, he jumps all over the map, as likely to affect a South African house strut as he is to nick a West African guitar riff. His self-titled debut album for Planet Mu has all the giddy reverence of a musical explorer, plus a perky personality that makes it pretty much irresistible.” - Andrew Ryce, Resident Advisor.
Lusine – The Waiting Room (Ghostly International)
Listen: By This Sound
“The Waiting Room has none of the social anxieties or insecurities bound within the downtempo Minimal Techno and light Glitch elements of its ancestor, focusing instead on a sound that is more hopeful and progressive, a sound that looks towards the future while we are stuck in this limbo state. It is the sound of change and separation, those final moments of preparation sat anxiously in the departure lounge waiting for the flight to take you away from your better half, but even then it still manages to end on a chipper and hopeful note.” - The Skinny.
Sapphire Flows – Allegoria (Not Not Fun)
Listen: As You Know
“Allegoria is a strong entry point into Sapphire Slows’ music and a varied enough recording to never really become a chore, even if several songs seems content to coast on her formula. But Hiramatsu’s first proper album is also important because it is a strong representation of what a particular Tokyo music community has been playing around with for several years now. Allegoria is an excellent distillation of this in-the-shadows scene.” ~ Patrick St. Michel, Pitchfork.
Slow Machete – Evening Dust Choir (SMTG)
Listen: Until Your Father Sleeps
“Even though this was recorded during Shaffer’s many volunteer trips to Haiti, this album is not polemical in its message. It is an album that is truly a tribute to Haiti’s spirit, raw and uninhibited and unbridledly beautiful. The harmonium‘s sound is lushly organic and, mixed with the vocal and other samples, creates a sonic tapestry of something akin to peaking behind the curtain of a really cool place.” ~ Tony Tileva, Vinyl District.
These New Puritans – Field of Reeds (Infectious Music)
Listen: The Light in Your Name
“Field of Reeds is the moment These New Puritans arrive as something more important than a tangle of neuroses iterating as a rock band — this is cohesive, full, and satisfying because of, not in spite of, its complications, absences, and general knottiness. This record demands attention, and once you’re through the door, it engages and encourages description, contemplation, thought; it wants worrying at. Field of Reeds may initially come across as inhumanely taut, straining, and indistinct to begin with, but this is the sound of precociousness finally arriving at a purpose.” ~ Alex Griffin, Tinymixtapes.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (XL)
“On their third album, Vampire Weekend’s songwriting has reached master-craftsman level: The band now truly merits mention alongside Paul Simon, the grandee to whom they’ve often been compared. Their vaunted “Afro-pop” stylings are now just one influence audible in a sound that takes in Brill Building pop, indie rock, hip-hop, and more. As a lyricist, Ezra Koenig is sounding like the heir not just of Simon but of Lorenz Hart: a wise, sour, New York Jewish wit, tossing off aphorisms and aperçus in songs like “Ya Hey,” which moves effortlessly from high to low—from Exodus 3:14 to 19th Nervous Breakdown.” ~ Jody Rosen, New York Magazine.
Widowspeak – Almanac (Captured Tracks)
Listen: Ballad of the Golden Hour
“Musically and conceptually, Widowspeak’s America — and Americana — derives its unique definition from both tradition and modernity: the cheery calm of the past mixed with the sulky paranoia that comes from expansion and war and modern growing pains. Armed with bolstered production and the band’s strongest songcraft to date, Alamanac represents not only the next step for Widowspeak, but perhaps the next point in our never-ending discussion of what “real” folk is in the 21st century.” ~ Zcamp, Tinymixtapes.
Xenia Rubinos – Magic Trix (Jaba Jaba Music)
“Rubinos has a voice like the view through a bay window, expansive and mutable; Buccelli plays the drums with a determined specificity, as if reminding his kit every few bars of what it was meant to do. Rubinos works with a small sampler, which she uses to trigger recordings of the sound of her own voice, keyboard parts, and a creaky door. The result is rhythmically fierce, vocally generous music that slips through the net of any known genre.” ~ Sasha Frere Jones, New Yorker.
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine (Paper Bag Records)
Listen: Fall for you
“What truly makes Ultramarine penetrate beyond the passé realm of feel-good electropop, are the subliminal hints of evanescent existence scattered amidst the stardust. All dreams must come to an end. Until then, McCandless intends to make the most of what precious time remains. “Come sleepwalk with me,” she beckons, and with that she whisks you away to a sparkling synthetic azure.” ~ Pretty Much Amazing.
Note: In 2012 and 2009 I didn’t had time to write my own thoughts on my favorite records from those years and I didn’t end up publishing the final results. Our favorite records from each year can easily be found on our ‘Best Indie Albums‘ list, however I love making proper year-end lists since I can expand on the reason I love these albums and I can get to recommend over 12 of them instead of two or three. Once again, I wasn’t planning on publishing a list due to lack of time to write my own thoughts but I’ve decided to borrow snippets of reviews from other sources that rated them favorably. If for any reason you want to hear my actual opinion or discuss any album in here with me you’re all welcome to do so in the comments section.
As a plus, there’s more of my favorite records of this year as well as a list of my favorite songs on my Spotify profile. I still haven’t cleaned up those lists so there’s stuff in there that I need to add/remove, I expect to have them nice and tidy some day around January.