Low Fidelity

Music reviews by Andrew Berkowitz

SONG OF THE WEEK

"Nowhere Bound" by Places to Hide

Places to Hide may describe their own music as “pretty songs about fucking,” but any fan of the four-piece from Atlanta, GA, knows that this is a bit misleading. Taking cues from 90s indie-punk legends Superchunk and Sebadoh, Places to Hide separate themselves from the pack by never really committing to any sound. Call it noise-rock, indie-pop, stoner-punk, or whatever you must, but one minute into “Nowhere Bound,” and you get the sense they don’t really care either way. With well-balanced boy/girl vox, high-fueled guitars, and crazed drumming that would Cloud Nothings proud, you can see why PTH got picked up Carolina label Tiny Engines just this week. Add-in an entertaining live performance —- think:  crude sex jokes, cultish fans screaming to every word, and a band chemistry that makes your heart warm —-  and you have one hell of an outfit.

In “Nowhere Bound” PTH make a slight departure from their mostly all-noise punk antics and arrive in a more composed, smokier land, as Kyle Swick, and Deborah Hudson lazily sing back and forth too each other, offering puzzling advice (“talk less / never drive” and later “work less / never die”) before sweltering drums and overdriven guitar take over and the old memories of Places to Hides start to reform.

In a genre already so crowded, Places to Hide may appear to be just another bourgeoning band with a short lifeline, but if “Nowhere Bound” is any indication of the future, it might safe to say the Atlanta quartet can come out of hiding for good.

My Top 5 Favorite Artists



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Not sure how many followers I have here but I am now writing for the Music Writers Collective for this column, but I will continue to post here. My first post for them was my top five favorite artists so here it is.

Top 5 Favorite Artists

5. Sufjan Stevens

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One of the most ambitious songwriters ever, Sufjan Steven’s résumé would take its own article to properly illustrate. I’ll try to do it in 1 sentence; Since 2000, Sufjan has released 13 albums, (including 1 each under s/s/s and Sisyphus), orchestrated the groundbreaking Planeterium project with Nico Muhley and Bryce Dessner, and most recently, premiered the suite of Run Rabbit Run, based on the orchestral album Enjoy Your Rabbit from 2001. Not to mention he has made quite the name for himself as a grammarian, criticizing Savages and Miley Cyrus for their contemptible penmanship. For me though, it’s not his ambition or sheer volume of material that impresses me about Sufjan, but his uncanny ability to strike gold every time he releases anything, no matter how left-of-field it may be. I have close to 350 Sufjan Songs on my iTunes and I don’t think I can name more than 10 songs I would subject to the skip button. I admired his now-defunct 50 states project with the staples Michigan and Illinois, sing high praise for Planetarium (“Mercury” is up there with the best of them), and even as an apathetic Jewish kid, I adore all 100 of his Christmas songs (“The Child With The Star on His Head”, “Christmas in the Room,” “Barcarola,” “Sister Winter,” “That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!,” to name a few). There really isn’t anything I am adverse to that Sufjan has ever done and for that he sits safely in my top 5 list.

Amidst his massive collection of tunes though, his best release for me is unequivocally The Age of Adz in 2010. Coming off the vastly underrated All Delighted People EP, Sufjan shocked the world with his electronic, schizophrenic freak-disco-folk record that was The Age of Adz. For 75 minutes, we are invited into the creative, expansive, and precise world of a maturing Sufjan, as he replaces banjo and sentimentality for heavy glitch soundscapes, experimental percussion, and heavily layered vocals. It’s an absolute trip, and one that leaves you wondering what the hell you just listened to when it’s all over. The Age of Adz is also home to possibly my favorite song of all time, “Impossible Soul,” a 25-minute maniacal sing-along that will never leave you the same again.

Favorite Songs: “Impossible Soul,” “John Wayne Gacy, Jr,” “From The Mouth of Gabriel

4. Built to Spill

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Unlike the other bands on this list, Built to Spill didn’t come into my life into college, a long, long time after their undeniable peak between 1994 and 1999. In fact, I’ve never even been around for the release of one of their albums! Instead, I am forced to enjoy the legacy they have left for me, and for me that is one hell of a treat. Unlike Sufjan, I admittedly do not like everything Built to Spill have ever done, but the material I do like have reached such heights of obsession that they still earn a place on my Top 5 list. Wherever you fall on the ever-too-popular debate on what the best BTS record is, all fans seem to agree that their rise to genius started in ’94 with There’s Nothing Wrong with Love. With timeless classics like “Car,” “Distopian Dream Girl,” and “Stab,” Doug Martsch had successfully written him into Indie Rock history for eternity. In fact, his impact was so huge that Built to Spill is namedropped by almost every guitar-centered rock band of the last twenty years. For me, it wasn’t necessarily Love’s youthfulness that won me over, or even the commercially successful Keep it Like A Secret in ’99 thanks to “Carry the Zero,” but instead it was ‘97’s Perfect From Now On that made me a true believer.

The first time I heard the record was after dissecting Love for two months straight. I thought I had BTS figured out, loving their compact 3 minute indie-pop songs and enjoying the occasional guitar throwdowns (namely, “Stab.”), but when I graduated to Perfect, I had to forget everything I knew and start over. What I heard was no longer the adolescent whining of an above-average indie-pop group, but instead a massive, haunting, drone-y, hypnotic 60 minutes of psychedelic rock. It was an unprecedented transition from Love, one that took the whole indie rock world by surprise. Ten years since it’s release, the cosmic shift in sound between albums is still hard to fully comprehend. The songs are much longer (“Untrustable” is 9 minutes), the tempos much slower, the lyrics much stronger (“God is whomever you perform for”), and the instrumentation much more accomplished (lead cello solo in “I Would Hurt a Fly,” hello!) It’s a perfect album, ha, and like Age of Adz, is home to another one of my all time favorites “Velvet Waltz.” For eight and a half minutes, “Waltz” is the centerpiece of the record and has been accurately described as “pure musical catharsis,” featuring waves and waves of guitar textures and sad, distant strings. It’s a song that whenever it comes on, I stop what I’m doing and meditate. This past May, I flew 700 miles to see them, and was blessed to be able to see “Velvet Waltz” live. For 20 minutes I stood shell-shocked, unable to properly process emotions or bodily functions. I’ve never stopped thinking of that night since.

Favorite Songs: “Velvet Waltz,” “Broken Chairs,” “Carry the Zero,”

3. Bon Iver

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This spot on my list mostly belongs to Justin Vernon in general, rather than specifically Bon Iver, but I will give Bon Iver credit since he has releases the best material through them. Since 1998, Justin Vernon has released gem after gem under very different umbrellas, namely Mount Vernon (experimental), DeYarmond Edison (folk-country), The Shouting Matches (blues-rock), Gayngs (soft-rock), Volcano Choir (indie-folk) and of course Bon Iver (indie-folk). You’d be hard-pressed to find a Justin Vernon supporter that doesn’t agree his material with Bon Iver is the strongest, but I believe the best of Gayngs and Volcano Choir are a close second.

I first latched on to Bon Iver with the release of For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008 with every other wannabe trendsetter, and I have never been able to let go since. Yes, Emma is an immaculate album, and “Re: Stacks” remains to be one for my all-time list I’ve now mentioned three times, but much like Sufjan, it was the next 6 years of Vernon’s career that cemented him a spot at #3 on my list. When “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” came out in 2011, I was so confused. Coming from the soft whispered sounds of Emma, and Blood Bank EP, the initial explosion of percussion on “Perth” took me aback. I still remember listening to “Perth” with my headphones, thinking I put on the wrong album. When the sexy opening guitar riff of “Minnesota, WI” comes in on the second track, I was sure I had lost my mind. It took me about six months to admit, but now three years later “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” is easily my favorite release Vernon has ever put out. It’s just so damn earwarming. Every note is so well-placed, the horns precise, the fingerpicking on point, the lyrics mysterious and enchanting at the same time, and the drums powerful as ever. It always blows me away when people, particularly Bon Iver fans cite their dislike for album closer “Beth / Rest,” a cheesy, albeit incredible homage to 80s heartland rock legends such as Bruce Hornsby or Michael McDonald. For me, particularly the overdramatized iTunes Session version is one of the greatest 6 minutes of music I’ve ever heard. It’s so cliché, it’s so overdone, yet I love every second of it. Here’s praying for just one more Bon Iver record, Justin?

Favorite Songs: “Beth / Rest,” “Re: Stacks,” “Wash.

2. The Antlers

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Oh, boy. If you asked anyone that knows me personally (or even just passive viewers of my Facebook page) what my biggest passion is in the entire world, 4 out of 5 people will probably answer with “The Antlers.” Having seen them 10 times, and worshipping Hospice like a cultish religion every day for the past four years, I can safely say I am probably the biggest Antlers fan in the entire world. The first time I saw the Antlers was in 2011 in Baltimore, when they opened for Explosions in the Sky. After they opened, I drank a beer with Darby and Peter, and they gave me their e-mail addresses as well as a spot on the guest list for their show the next night in Upper Darby, PA. Nine shows later, and consistent communication with the guys over the past three years, I can safely say the Antlers have written themselves into my life permanently.

My personal attachment to the Brooklyn trio aside, I have consistently been impressed with their musical output ever since Peter released Uprooted in 2006. Another band incapable of releasing bad material (save for the embarrassing Together remix EP in 2011), The Antlers have continued to develop and mature their sound with each new album. While the album I always come back to is the emotionally poisonous Hospice, subsequent releases Burst Apart, Undersea, and most recently Familiars have all delivered. Sure, I will always yearn for the whiney, youthful catharsis of early Antlers, but I deeply respect the bands persistence to create new and innovative material, no matter how risky or foreign it may be to them. On Familiars, Peter ditches conventional song-structure for long, airy pieces, most of which run over six minutes long. No more are the over-explanations of a dying patient from Hospice, or the obvious metaphor of loss through the death of a dog at the end of Burst Apart, or even the peaceful aquatic soundscapes of Undersea; instead the Antlers have reached the appropriate theme of self-exploration; figuring out who they are and who they are not. Despite each album brining vastly different sounds, The Antlers have always been partial to patience and serenity rather than immediacy or turbulent. Considering my personality is much more aligned to the latter description, I will never understand my deep infatuation with this sort of ethereal slow-burning music, but I guess that’s part of the beauty, isn’t it?

But let me just revisit Hospice for a second. Easily my favorite album of all time, Hospice has been playing on repeat in my iPod, car, computer, and head for 4 years straight, since the first time I heard it. It’s mostly unexplainable too. I don’t relate to the story, have never been depressed, and was never even told to listen to it in the first place, but when I did that first time – lying in bed one random summer night – I knew it would forever be with me. From “Prologue” all the way to “Epilogue” there is not a moment not to be cherished, as balanced brain activity is overtaken by the amygdala, and bodily necessities brought to a halt. Every lyric, every clashing of the symbol, and every openly plucked string feel likes the most important moment in the world, and once it’s all over and I regain consciousness, I smile, look at my hands, and laugh at just how powerful music can be.

Favorite Tracks: All of Hospice, “Putting the Dog to Sleep,” “On the Roof

1. Radiohead

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While this band is hardly “mine” like The Antlers are, Radiohead are undeniably the greatest band of all time not named the Beatles. They are pioneers of grunge-rock, guitar-rock, electronic-rock, glitch-rock, and sure, indie rock as a whole. They are purveyors of god, solely put on this earth to blow the minds of plebeians with half the brains as them. They are Radiohead, and they are my favorite band.

Ignoring Pablo Honey, there is not a single Radiohead album I don’t love. Every time I turn on a Radiohead album, I can’t listen to another band for days. They have this rare power to put you in a different world that you honestly can’t naturally escape. Anyone who has seen them live will also understand their impressive power to keep you engaged, mesmerized or even possessed for over two hours at a time, no matter how much your feet might hurt from waiting in line for 9 hours.

What can really be said about Radiohead that hasn’t been said before? Their thumbprint on contemporary music is evident everywhere you go, and their musical prowess is further supported when you consider the resume’s of everyone not named Thom Yorke. Coming off the underwhelming, yet entertaining glitch-heavy effort of King of Limbs, I’m very curious to see where Radiohead will go next, as they are currently recording what will be their 9th studio LP. Hopefully “Identikit” will be on there; I love that song.

While I’ve listened to Radiohead since high school, I was still introduced a year or so later than some of my friends. At first, all I had was the Bends and OK Computer, as that was what was recommended for a dilettante like me. For months, I struggled to understand the appeal, and thought maybe I had a bad taste in music. Why was I listening to Brand New and mid-western emo when the cool kids were listening to Sigur Ros and Radiohead? What was I missing? Why don’t I get it? Then I discovered Kid A.

I’m pretty sure “How To Disappear Completely” changed my life in 2008. With all the complexities Radiohead brings on OK Computer and the majority of Kid A, “Disappear” is a completely basic song, consisting of solely four chords and a string section. The lyrics – melancholy and lonely —- evoke emotion I didn’t know a high-schooler could process. Later on, I would appreciate “Motion Picture Soundtrack” as my favorite Radiohead song, but forever I will remember Kid A as the album that made me a Radiohead-head.  Seven years later, with four Radiohead shows (not enough) under my belt, I can proudly say, I get it.

Favorite Songs: “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” “Exit Music (For a Film),” “How to Disappear Completely

If you want to read my list of the Top 12 Radiohead songs, check out my post here 

Mid-Way Review: Best Albums of 2014 So Far (+ Top 10 Songs)

So I’ve had this written in my head for a month or so now (since the actual mid-year), but the busyness of this summer hit me like a ton of bricks and I haven’t been able to write anything until now. It’s a shame because I might argue that 2014 has been the best year for music in the last decade yet I haven’t had the time I wish I had to discuss it more. Hopefully as I move back to Atlanta and settle into my second year of teaching, I will find more time to dedicate to my truest passion: music and writing. Anyway, despite having little time to write, I have still been ingesting a ton of music this year, which has made this list harder than ever to create. Since these are not album reviews like I normally do, I will not spend too much time actually describing the music, but rather listing it, saying why I like it, and moving on. Definitely check out all the albums though.  While these are my opinions based on how I feel when I listen to them, feel free to dispute any misses I made (please don’t shove Swans down my throat, though). Links are included for Bandcamps on #10 and #4:

Top Ten Albums

10. THANKS. - Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

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For the last few years, Philadelphia based singer-songwriter James Falandays has been pleasing hundreds of college students in dingy basements of Delaware house parties with his Morrissey-inspired, DIY flavor of indie blues. Now with the release of his long-awaited debut, and an updated, albeit inferior band name, he hopes to reach a wider audience. When this Newark proprietary makes it big in a few years, Joe Biden will no longer be the only name you think of from the state of Delaware. 

9. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

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In March, I was able to see Ms. Clark as she supported this release, and it was incredible. While I believe this album still pales in comparison to Strange Mercy overall, the album is much more fun and danceable, most likely thanks to the influence of David Byrne. To get on a top 10 list for me, the songs needs to be consistent throughout, and like her other efforts, Annie Clark is the queen of production - there is not a single dud on this album.

8. Future Islands - Singles

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I admit it. Like many others, I was completely sold once I saw the glorious dancing Samuel Herring on Letterman earlier this year. Yes, they’ve been around since 2006, and no I did not know them until this year, but I don’t care. I have jumped on the bandwagon, and I’m riding strong. “Seasons,” as well as the rest of Singles continually blows me away thanks to the synthy-groove textues, not to mention Herring’s intoxicating growl (listen to “Fall From Grace” for the best example of this). This band is doing interesting things and I can’t get enough of it.

7. Mac DeMarco - Salad Days

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My hero, my disgusting serial-murdering/pumpkin carving/lobster-eating hero, how I love you Mac DeMarco. How he can make such lovely jazz-inspired tunes and still be such a foul-mouthed frat bro at the same time is truly inspiring to me. His latest effort “Salad Days” picks up where “2” left off, with effortless melodies and rich folk-jizz-jazz textures that make me want to dance around in a parasol in France. Hoping his next album starts where “Chamber of Reflection” left us, arguably his greatest and most divisive song to date.

6. Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else

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Maybe I’m a dilettante when it comes to really loud music, but I can’t even name ten albums that make me as pumped up as this one. Absolute fist-through-the-wall heartpounding noise, Cloud Nothings dominate the post-hardcore scene for a brief 31 minutes before you quickly press the replay button. With only 3 members, Baldi and company often sound like a symphony of noise, much thanks to drummer Jayson Gerycz’s ridelin-infused percussion. Seriously, listen to the end of “Psychic Trauma” and tell me your neck doesn’t hurt when you’re done.

5. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

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It’s funny -  when this album came out, I was raving that it was the best album of the year and nothing would top it. I even have a text from my friend claiming it the best album of the decade. With Song of the Year contenders “Red Eyes” and “An Ocean in Between the Waves” on the same album, it’s hard to imagine a list without this album on it, but as the year passed, I found myself quenching this album less and less. Maybe it’s the length, the patience it takes to fully appreciate the nuances, or the lackluster second half of the album, but I have since bumped this to number 5 on my list. That being said, it is still incredible. The endless guitar textures Granduciel is able to create is mind-numbing, as well as his ability to sound like every Dad Rock band of the 60s without ever sounding the least bit cheesy. Kurt Vile, you may have a day dedicated to you in Philly, but after Lost in the Dream, you no longer reign supreme.

4. Sharpless - The One I Wanted to Be

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Okay, so chances are extremely high you have never heard of this band so let me explain them a little bit. Sharpless is the product of Jack Greenleaf, leader of a community of great musicians that call themselves The Epoch, and yes, it is indeed epic. Inspired by K-pop, Weezer, and musicals, Sharpless are the overly-dramatic, adolescent soundtrack to your high-school memories. It’s music that should be incredibly embarrassing to listen to, and still might be, but it so undeniably catchy and relatable that it’s easy to forgive. Throughout the course of the record, Greenleaf tells stories of teenage heartbreak, growing up, and drinking forties, that anyone that had a typical childhood can relate to. Lines like: “When we were kids we looked at bars with amazement / but now we’re here and all we talk about are basements” produce insane nostalgia whereas lines like “the pain of something that can never be explained is the same pain that makes a person grow” make my head spin from it’s beauty and eternal truthfulness. I’m sure when you listen to this you would scoff and turn it off for it’s bombastic, surely immature sound, and really, I’m okay with that. It’s my list and I’m content having Sharpless to myself.

3. The Antlers - Familars

Ed - I cannot possibly write about the Antlers in a cohesive, unbiased way so I apologize ahead of time.

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You all knew this was coming. The impossibly-long wait for a very dedicated fan, The Antler’s new Familars is a very satisfactory return from 2012’s aquatic-sounding Undersea. With an added emphasis on horns thanks to Darby, and more patient songwriting, The Antlers have truly produced a gorgeous piece of work. Experimenting with new sounds, such as the effeminate ”Palace” or the baritone on “Doppleganger,” Pete (I can call him that) continues to evolve each album as a singer, becoming more and more patient with each release. The Antlers are certainly a less-is-more band nowadays as opposed to the verbose speaking-singing of Hospice and Attic. While many have criticized this album for not reaching it’s full potential on many songs, despite some impressive groundwork, I believe this is the exact reason why this album is so successful for me. The nuances are so small - dare i say infinitesimal - that when they hit, it’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world. I’m talking 2:33 of “Director,” the sexy 7th minute outro of “Revisted,” or the impossibly low voice at the beginning of “Doppeganger.” For the rest of the album, it’s like a wave about to break, and while nothing ends up climaxing like “Epilogue” anymore, that is no longer the point. The Antlers are no longer concerned with where we’re going, but instead how we’re getting there. The only outliers on this album are “Hotel” and “Parade” which are superb indie-pop gems that deserve complete individual acclaim.

2. Sharon Van Etten - Are We There

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A little history. In May, the record came out. In June, I saw her preform live in Philadelphia. Yesterday, July 14, I friended her on Facebook. Yes, my love for Sharon has grown quickly and creepily, and I have no shame professing it. After all, she was the one to call me cute at her concert in front of 300 fans. Despite being a decently long-time listener, Are We There is her most brilliant effort to date. Not quite maturing, not quite changing her sound, but simply polishing, this release rarely misses a beat, save for the tame chorus of “Our Love.”

Sharon is a master of the effortless melody, a gift all hardworking musicians seek but can’t naturally achieve. No matter what she is singing about, it sounds beautiful, broody, and bountiful. Personally, she is a cute, awkward, and funny woman, but the second she starts singing, all limbs become numb and the emotions take over. Between “Your Love is Killing Me” and “I Love You But I’m Lost,” you will need a Costco amount of tissues to account for the waterworks. The crazy thing about sve is that, her lyrics aren’t spectacular (most songs tackle the same strained relationships of her past - she really should move on to greener pastures aka me), she’s not a great musician, and she lacks ambition, however, her songs induce an outer-worldly amount of emotion for the listener. This is the music that makes me pull over on the side of the road and stuff my face in the small holes in the steering wheel, the music that makes me eat the whole box or Oreos when I should only have eaten a couple, or the music that makes me hate people who share baby pictures on Facebook. It’s that powerful.

1. Sun Kil Moon - Benji

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Everyone knows I’m a hyperbolic person. I make statements I can’t defend. I call every positive experience “the best time ever,” and every negative experience “the worst time ever.” So when I write that Benji by Sun Kil Moon is the most life-changing album I’ve ever heard, I will assume it won’t be taken that seriously. But in all reality, it is.

I’m cried myself to Hospice over 1000 by my iTunes count, basked in the greatness of Kid A since high school, but never have had such a life-changing, personality-checking experience as I have to Mark Kozelek’s life-affirming Benji. 

On the surface, Benji is a depressing retelling of every relative and friend that Kozelek has lost in his life. For over an hour, we are invited into the intimate, personal details from Mark’s life that end up being almost 100% factual, despite being incredibly unbelievable. His uncle and cousin both dying in freak aerosol can explosions, his father beating him when we was younger, his best friend dying from an aneurysm to his wrist, or his long-overdue apology for bullying a kid in high school, are just a few of the stories we are so intricately brought into. But it’s not in these tragic stories that make this album so meaningful. Rather, it’s the lessons Kozelek teaches us through the details; his response and reactions to the deaths, and his overall outlook of the universe. After digesting this album for months, I am sure Kozelek is a role model, a man to look after, and a man to truly respect.

He teaches patience, respect, humility, love, graciousness, and appreciation in a way that has never stuck before, solely based on his unique and thoughtful commentary of the last 47 years of his life. While the instrumentation is secondary to the storytelling, the gorgeous classical style acoustic fingerpicking would be a sin not to mention, as well as the infrequent, yet crucial use of percussion and horns.

I know people say this all the time about “important” records, but this album takes a long, long time to fully appreciate. If you put this on in the background it will most likely wash over you as a boring acoustic folk record. But when you have time to really sit down alone to absorb the album, or drive with more than an hour to kill, I guarantee this album with resonate with you. By your umpteenth listen, you will realize this was never a depressing record to begin with. Instead, it’s the most eye-opening, uplifting piece of work that’s ever been written.

Top Ten Songs 

Not going to write about these because I already spoke about most of the albums so just listen and enjoy.

10. Wye Oak - “Glory”

9. tUnE-yArDs - “Water Fountain”

8. Sharpless - “Greater Than (>)”

7. Alex G - “Hollow”

6. Future Islands - “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

5.  Sharon Van Etten - “You Know Me Well”

4. The Antlers - “Hotel”

3. Sharon Van Etten - “Your Love Is Killing Me”

2. The War on Drugs - “Red Eyes”

1. Pile - “Special Snowflakes”

Muito obligado,

Andrew 

Summer Shows in Philadelphia

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The school year is over and that means I will be returning home to Philadelphia for the majority of the summer in an effort to avoid the brutal Atlanta heat, and spend some quality time with friends and family. Another plus of the City of Brotherly Love is its music scene and the quality of shows it brings. I have created a list of the shows I will see this summer in between my 2 week trip to the World Cup in Brazil. I have tried to briefly describe each band and attach a song to listen to (from each band’s most recent effort) Feel free to join me at any of these shows - most are sub $20 and I’d love the company.

June 5 - Gold Bears @ Kung-Fu Necktie

Scuzzy-indie punk band from Atlanta. Sounds like: an above-average hipster house-party band. Listen to "Record Store."

June 11 - Porches. @ Baby’s All Right (NYC)

Grimy, gritty, indie-rock. Sounds like: Bob Dylan meets Pavement. Listen to "Headsgiving"

June 13 - Swearin’ @ Boot & Saddle

Scuzzy-indie pop band. Sounds like: Speedy Ortiz or Waxahatchee’s evil twin. Listen to "Dust in the Gold Sack."

June 14 - Mutual Benefit @ Dogfishhead Brewery

Lovely, patient, soft lo-fi beauty. Sounds Like: The Folkesy side of Sufjan mixed with some Devendra Banhart. Listen to "Advanced Falconry"

June 15 - tUnE-yArDs @ Union Transfer

Experimental, multi-instrumentional indie pop. Sounds like: a bunch of kids playing in a goat farm. Listen to "Water Fountain."

June 18 - Sharon Van Etten @ Union Transfer

Brooding, life-affirming, bottom off the well, indie rock. Sounds like: pure devastation in the highest form. Listen to "Your Love is Killing Me" 

June 19 - Alex G @ Golden Tea House

Adolescent, lo-fi pop. Sounds like: the love child of Elliott Smith and pre-Perfect From Now On Built to Spill. Listen to "Memory."

June 20 - Kurt Vile @ Union Transfer

Indie folk-rock. Sounds like: A breezier The War on Drugs. Listen to "Wakin On a Pretty Day"

—— Brasil —-

July 11 - Wild Beast @ Union Transfer (Mutual Benefit is opening)

 Synthy indie pop-rock fused with R&B. Sounds like: a Dev Hynes injected Alt-J. Listen to "Mecca" 

July 23 - Sun Kil Moon @ Union Transfer

One-man autobiographical confessional indie. Sounds like: The saddest, yet most uplifting eulogy ever. Listen to "I Can’t Live Without My Mothers Love."

July 26 - The Antlers @ Webster Hall (NYC)

Cerebral, airy, spacey, dream indie rock. Sounds like: my favorite band. Listen to "Hotel"

See y’all there.

Shaky Knees 2014 Festival Review - The Good, The Bad, and the Extremely Weird

Last weekend, four of my close friends and I attended the Second Annual Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, GA. My friends had driven 15 hours from Delaware to attend, it was my friend Ben’s birthday, and Modest Mouse and The National were headlining. In other words, expectations were high. Overall the weekend was a blur; a combination of sweat, rain, dirt, beer, interesting strangers, and of course, music. While I could easily write about this weekend in a totally different context (read: “extremely weird”), this is a music blog, so let’s stick to the tunes, for the most part. image

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I took my first day of work off all year to make all of Friday. With the kids out of site, out of mind, we took to Atlantic Station, where a giant, ugly parking lot awaited us, complete with four stages, eight food trucks, and 350 port-o-potties. After being literally the first people to use the port-o-potty of the day (amazing feeling!), we approached one of my favorite bands from the whole festival, Mutual Benefit. 

Mutual Benefit - 12:45 

Having seen them a few months back at The Earl in what was a completely revelatory experience, this was certainty a letdown. Simply put, this band is not a festival band. Their soft sound, and airy arrangements belong in the depths of basements, not the wide expanses of a sunny day. Coupled with the fact the sound technician had the sound much too low and the stage next store was loudly sound-checking their drums —- ruining two songs of the already super short set —- it made for a fairly underwhelming 30 minutes. I was lucky enough to talk to frontman Jordan Lee later in the weekend, and after telling him I’ve seen him three times now, he told me I’m his biggest fan outside of NY. Yay!image

White Denim - 3:00 

While I’ve never become a huge White Denim fan simply due to lack of motivation, I had been tipped off by several friends about their talented live performance. They were right. Each member is incredibly talented on their own, and together they create this weird brand of a Blusey-Souly-Jazzy-Rock and Roll. The songs gracefully blend into one another as the frontman James Petralli makes really funny faces. Overall, it’s a very entertaining spectacle and one that will leave you saying “wow, I suck at guitar.”image

Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires - 4:00 PM

An absolute highlight of Friday, this man is a machine. Originally a James Brown cover artist, a group of talented young Brooklyn musicians approached him and asked if they could be his backing band, which ultimately served as his entrance into the Indie World, despite being as old school an American funk/soul artist as they come. The man rips it live, as he demands energy from the crowd with his sexualized jams. Just look at this photo —- his passion is contagious. image

Man Man - 5:00 PM

Man Man is one of my favorite experimental rock groups and one that always entertains, based solely on their unique live approach. Between the constant costume changes, fluorescent decorative tape, aleatoric instrumentation, there’s always something going on. Unfortunately, they relied heavily on their disappointing new record, and the best song came from the hilarious “Loot My Body.” This was also the part of the day that was met with 1) A Downpour of Torrential Rain and 2) A Crazy Drunk Girl who Clinged to My Arm Like a Teddy Bear. Let the weird begin.image

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Foals - 6:00

Who is this band and why do they talk funny? This performance was very polarizing between my friends. Ben thought they tried to hard to be something they’re not, Wynn thought the set-list was weak, and me…I was too busy dancing my face off to even care. Easily the most fun band to see all weekend thanks to the awesomely wet crowd, Foals (stupid band name) threw down a fury of arena-rock ready tunes, that sometimes sounded like Carly Rae Jepsen and other times sounded like Metallica. Either way, I was enjoying it.

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Spoon - 8:00 PM

While I unfortunately didn’t get a great view of Spoon since we wanted to get good spots for the National, the main stages were strategically set up so we hear one band while we waited for another. Spoon are clearly a polished band that know what they’re doing, as every song sounded clear and festival ready. Their setlist crushed too, as they plugged through just about every hit they’ve ever had in just over an hour. 

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The National - 9:30

Nearing the end of Day 1, we were absolutely exhausted and all wanted to go to sleep early. My friends were still recovering from a 16 hour drive, we were up until 3 AM the night before, and we were soaking wet from the 2 hour constant downpour. But of course we didn’t go home, because the National is the National and that’s why we bought our tickets in the first place. Having seen them a few months ago, I had very high expectations and they were met, for the most part. While I was hoping for more from Alligator, their live sound is one of the most polished you’ll find today. The National, thanks to the brilliant Dessner Bros. have effectively taken their somber sound from the record and turned into a straight-forward Rock and Roll band. Soaring guitars intermingle a-la Radiohead, as frontman Matt Berninger plays the role of a possessed man, banging his microphone on his head, smashing wine bottles, kicking over speakers, and screaming at his band members. It’s all a play, and one that truly adds to the intensity of the performance. The visuals were easily the best of the entire weekend, as the band played in front of a colorful and gorgeous display of reflected mirrors and abstract images. The Weird? As we waited for 3 hours, I had to listen to the life story of an 8th Grader before he continued to stare at me for the duration of the concert. A bit distracting when I’m trying to get my cry on to "Pink Rabbits."

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Saturday

Saturday was chill day. Acknowledging that there were no must-see bands Saturday morning and afternoon, we took advantage and slept in until noon and regained our consciousness. After a birthday brunch, and some accompanying Blood Orange mimosas, we moseyed (I had to google how to spell that word), our way over to Giant Parking Lot around 5:00, just in times for Phox. I don’t remember what this band sounded like, but I do remember she looked like this (see picture below), which was much more appealing that the other band that was playing at the same time, which looks like this:  image

Portugal. The Man - 6:00 

Portugal. The Band (not the Country), used to be a favorite of mine in High School. They represent a lot of different sounds throughout their career, but as any self-respecting douchebag says, I like their old stuff better. Their fan base consisted off mostly 18 year old versions of me, and their band consists mostly of 30 year old versions of 18 year olds. Their music? People say it’s experimental pop now, but it used to be more straight-forward indie rock.image

Modest Mouse - 9:30

While I witnessed a few other bands in between, such as Conor Oberst and the Replacements, I was not paying attention enough to offer a serious opinion. It was pouring rain and I’ve never been a dedicated fan of either. I can say that Conor Oberst had a lot of emotional fans, and The Replacements had a lot of Hot Mom fans. So, that was cool. But back to Modest Mouse. 

This was the first time I have seen the legendary pioneers of Indie Rock, and was excited to say the least. Throughout the course of the day, I had somehow lost my friends, relocated Crazy Drunk Girl from Man Man, and pushed my way to nearly the front of the holy shit, aggressive fans. The music started and the next 90 mins was a rush.

Modest Mouse started off flawlessly, with a 1-2-3 of “Dark Center of the Universe,” “I Came as a Rat,” and “Paper Thin Walls.” After the first 10 minutes, I was already hailing it the Show of the Weekend. What followed was an onslaught of blockbuster hits, which as someone who had never seen them, did not bother me at all. “Dashboard,” “Bukowski,” “Dramamine,” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” “Float On” “The World At Large” all followed in quick succession before the show finally checked its pace with the mediocre new tune “Sugar Boats.” Set highlight was “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” as Brock lit up the stage with screeching guitar and screaming vocals that was as fierce as any hardcore band could produce. After the show, we continued to party for Ben’s birthday, because, even with one day left, we knew that after Modest Mouse, the best was already over.

Sunday

After a decent sleep, we found our way to Giant Parking Lot for Day 3 of Shaky Knees. With a line-up including Alabama Shakes, Edward Sharpe, Iron & Wine, Deer Tick, Trampled by Turtles, and Mason Jennings, it was clear this was the Folksy Day (with the obvious exception of Local Natives and Hold Steady) After two days of pretty intense music, this wasn’t the worst way to close out. Once we arrived, an early highlight proceeded in that of San Fermin.

San Fermin - 1:30

San Fermin is an 8-piece baroque pop band that got its name from the Spanish Running with the Bulls Festival in Pamplona, Spain. I discovered the band as I was teaching a culture lesson to my students, and quickly after realized they would be playing at Shaky Knees. I was intrigued. The band consists of two singers, one male who sounds very similar to Matt Berninger of the National, and a female, whose vocals soar to incredibly heights and sometimes does not pay off. Performance-wise, the band was enticing. Full of brass, keys, and other orchestral flourishes, San Fermin impressed with their grandiose sound, that is mostly beautiful, yet at times a little saccharine. Still, if there is one band I would recommend looking up from the festival, it’s this one. image

Deer Tick - 3:00

I might not absolutely love the music of Deer Tick (I called them Deer Dick all weekend), but their live show rules. Led by the hilarious John McCauley in a bright red “LSD” t-shirt and a skirt, Deer Tick was sure to catch the lackluster audience by surprise. Deer Tick’s sound is hard to explain but I’d probably describe it as a rare brand of indie rock/country but without the twang. The Weird? Frontman McCauley is married to Vanessa Carlton. They sang a song together and shared a kiss which was, according to McCaley himself “disgustingly cute.”

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Iron & Wine - 4:45

Just before 5, Iron & Whine took the stage, which was undoubtably the worst set of the entire weekend, and possibly my entire life. But hold the phone. This was entirely the sound technician’s fault and not Beam and Co’s fault. For a mostly acoustically fueled band, the only sounds that came through were the bass and drum, which were both set for a dub-step concert. Beam’s guitar and vocals were inaudible and for the entire show fans were screaming “turn it up! turn it up!” but to no response. Things got so ugly that at one point a local radio station came through the guitar amp. Tsk tsk tsk. I left early.

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The Hold Steady - 5:45

Another highlight of the whole weekend, The Hold Steady are arguably the greatest Bar Band of All Time. The performance of half classics and half new tunes engaged new fans and old as frontman Craig Finn works the crowd with his weird, yet entertaining stage presence where he alternates between pointing at crowd members, and making flamboyant hand gestures, all while screaming his lyrics like they’re coming out of his head for the first time. With the hardships of traveling and routine performances, I’m always impressed when a band genuinely looks like they’re having a blast. The Hold Steady blew me away in this department, as I’ve never had more fun singing along to the next guy as I did with You Can Make Him Like You

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Local Natives - 6:45

In what was a jam-packed afternoon, I rushed back to the other side of The Parking Lot just in time to squeeze to the front railing for Local Natives. A predictably young crowd hoping to scream the refrain of  "Airplanes," I knew exactly what I was in for, having just seem them in Atlanta six months ago. With only two albums, the band played through the majority of their new and superior album Hummingbird, as well as the essentials from Gorilla Manor. A unique Johnny Cash cover of “Out Among the Stars” neatly split the set in half and as always, “Sun Hands” closed out the set in style. If you ever get a chance to see Local Natives, please stay until the end, as “Sun Hands,” is one of the most exciting and energetic songs I’ve ever had the privilege to experience live. It’s like “Mr. November,” live, for any National junkies. 

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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - 7:45

Like most bands at this festival, this was my second time seeing this band, and both times I’ve been very impressed. Despite not ever listening to Edward Sharpe’s music, they have continued to be a highly entertaining live band, thanks to Edward (I’m guessing that’s his name?) infectious personality and improvisation style. Both times I’ve seen them they haven’t had a set-list and instead ask the audience for song suggestions. They’re instrumentally flawless, as they can bend and break to play any sound that they feel like. 

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Alabama Shakes - 9:15

Alabama Shakes are more enjoyable musically, but less entertaining overall. They are still riding hard off the success of their debut album Boys & Girls from 2012, and had a mostly tired crowd. In fact, half the festival (including us) was gone before the encore. After the first half of the set being hit after hit, the Shakes played eight songs in a row of unknown, presumably new material, that didn’t particularly instill excitement in any of us. That being said, Brittany Howard is still one of the most interesting woman in the music game right now.

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After the Shakes, we went home, cleaned the mess we had accrued in my apartment all weekend, and started to dread the week ahead of us. Despite the shaky weather, shaky performances, and shaky times, Shaky Knees proved to be a very sound weekend.

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Finally something from the Antlers. After being personally told by Darby (keyboards/backing vocals/horns) that the album would be finished tracking in January last October, a teaser in March is exactly what I need to restore my faith in them. I expect them to release a single and a tour in the upcoming weeks, followed by an album that might just change our lives. Quote from Darby: “think Van Morrison with horns. Lots of horns.”

The Antlers have established themselves as a band that truly understands how to set a mood and more difficulty, keep the mood. Since Peter’s early recordings of Uprooted, the Antlers have gone from a dark, brooding three-piece that makes grown men cry at concerts (me), to a triumphant, uplifting ensemble that still makes grown men cry at concerts (me). 

On Hospice, Silberman takes us through the toxic relationship between patient and hospice worker, serving as allegory for truly any destructive relationship; on Burst Apart, we see the hangover of the darkness from before, and the start of a new journey, and on Undersea, we are temporarily taken into an underwater dream state where time remains untouched and we dream with the sea creatures about a world where the small things we suffer are truly “infinitesimal.” It’s truly incredible that through it all, they’ve still been able to write as affecting of music as before. The AntlerCorp, and particularly Peter have quickly learned that less is more, and sometimes beauty doesn’t have to be spoken to be heard.

This teaser, while offering some beautiful soundscapes, does not offer any insight into the next album.  Instead, in the brief 2:18 minutes, it almost seems their teasing us with Hospice-style arrangements, despite direct confirmation that that is not the direction they are headed in. For the first minute we hear the eerie strings and open guitar flourishes we’ve become used to since “Prologue” on Hospice, before it shifts into the tense “Kettering-esque”squabble, all before we start to see some faces and a song seems to take shape, although you never really know with them. Yes, in perfect Hospice order, I hear the haunting organ of “Sylvia” as we watch moving pictures of a Darby on the grand piano and trumpet, a ponderous Peter, and a mellow Michael patiently shaking away on his shaker. Of course, the background music does not match the music the Antlers appear to be playing, and that is why this is a teaser, nothing more. 

Now let’s just cross our fingers until the single is dropped.

Live Review: St. Vincent at Atlanta’s Tabernacle (3/8/14)

Last night, I attended The St. Vincent aka The Annie Clark aka The Sexy Robot Extravaganza.  Yes, the Einstein-haired, black-clad woman and her entourage of evil misfits spent the better part of two hours preforming a mind boggling choreographed, scripted, and pre-Madona-like full-scale production. And it was good. Really good.

As she has all tour (her set-list never changes so if you see her once this tour, you’re good to go), she began the set with the thunderous Rattlesnake, as Annie and her scary robotic rhumba slithered (get it?) around the stage. Her songs began incredibly choreographed, full of mechanical arm movements and synchronized dancing alongside her charmingly mysterious Japanese axe/synth player. She plugged her way through the majority of her new album first, with the exception of the bouncy Cruel (one of my favs). Right when the robot act was getting a little stale, Ms. Clark changed the pace and preformed her gorgeous “I Prefer Your Love,” completely on her back on a three-tiered platform. As she slowly made her way to the bottom of her stage, her gobstopping falsetto filled the room with the profound “but all the good in me is because of you.” 

The middle of the show moved on steadily and the crowd eventually rose in energy as she preformed the stunning hits “Cheerleader” and “Surgeon” back-to-back. She concluded the set with the rock-anthem “Northern Lights” before getting absolutely psychotic to her Record Store Release Day A-Side “Krokodil,” a downright scary tribute to the powerful sedative. I was really wishing she would stage dive to this like she used to. By the end of the first set, I was fired up. Clark had all but stripped herself of the electro-robot schtick and was completely losing it. Three minute-long guitar solos took the place of her mechanical scales, she actually made eye-contact with the crowd, and she proved herself human by smiling a few times. 

I should mention throughout the show she had a few weird monologues where she made a bunch of comments about how she “knew” the crowd, and proceeded to list a litany of things about us that no one could actually relate with (making clothes out of aluminum foil, thinking everyone is out to get us on subways, and playing the stacking game with red solo cups after beer pong games). I was impressed with her knowledge of Atlanta geography, though (she mentioned Bankhead, Buckhead, Midtown, andGrant Park somehow). But I digress.

The encore. We all knew it was coming. But not like this. This was not one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to by any stretch, however, her encore was. Let’s start with ”Strange Mercy,” the best song of her entire catalogAlone, on top of her platform with only her and her guitar, Annie slid her way through the gorgeous song, flawlessly, proving herself as an incredibly competent guitarist technically.  When she got to her iconic lyric “if I ever meet the dirty policemen who roughed you up…” the crowd absolutely lost it. Despite the crowd being overall terrible due to drunk frat-bros and excessive “I love you Annie!” cheers, nothing could distract me from the beauty that was “Strange Mercy,” last night. For five minutes, I stood love-struck, mesmerized, sad, happy, paralyzed; all at once. After she plodded through the lovely “Chloe in the Afternoon,” she finished with the second-best song of the night, “Your Lips Are Red.” An absolute merciless song about murder or cheating or something wild, Vincent completely crushes this song, as she gives us 8 straight minutes of organized chaos before hushing the crowd with the gorgeous “your skins so fair” refrain. By the end of the song, I was ready for her to start the set over again.

While St. Vincent has never been a top-artist for me, she really proved herself worthy of the big stage last night. She has clearly picked up a lot over the years, and I’m sure David Byrne had no small part in that evolution. While I believe her Strange Mercy songs are more enticing then her new electronic robot obsession that comes with her eponymous St. Vincent, her carefully constructed set proved effective as she played to her strengths and brought the house down. After the show, a homeless man took me to the subway, and I did not feel unsafe. Take that, Annie.

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Song of the Day - Janurary 14, 2014

Broken Social Scene Kevin Drew - “Good Sex”

Anytime Broken Social Scene makes a headline, I get butterflies similar to the feeling I get when watching the scene in Mean Girls where Lindsay Lohan realizes “calling someone fat doesn’t make you skinny.”  It’s a beautifully poignant thought (i’m being dead serious here, guys), and one that neatly mirrors the candidness of Kevin Drew’s bouncy new single, “Good Sex,” off his new album Darlings, his first release since 2007 (okay, i’m not being that serious with that comparison). 

Drew is back with the usual suspects of glorious noisemakers. Reflektors-esque synthesizers, bouncy piano, all laced together with a unbelievably simple kickkicksnare holding the tempo. To sum it up best, listen to the first 30 seconds and honestly tell me you don’t think it sounds like a The National song.

Despite the lyrics highlighting a perplexing relationship, (“good sex will never make you feel clean”), Drew sounds unnaturally happy, giving the song an overall uplifting vibe. The ending is especially rewarding; Drew brings out all the guns at once, as he sends us into the sunset with a gorgeous synth and piano arrangement, repeatedly singing “I’m still breathing with you baby.” Let’s all hold our breath for more like this on Darlings, coming our way March 18.

Song of the Day - January 6, 2014

Beyoncé - “Rocket”

Happy New Year, and welcome to Beyoncé appreciation month. After dropping her eponymous 5th album out of nowhere on December 13th, critics and fans have taken turns either praising the album for its innovativeness or spurning it for its lack of instant accessibility. Whatever side of the line you take, one thing can’t be argued, Beyoncé is a lovely looking lady.

On “Rocket,” besides offering enough cunnalingus references to make Miley Cyrus proud, Beyoncé shows off her experimental side in a 6 minute R&B jam, thanks to her team of 44 writers, and well, her undeniable sex appeal.

What I really love about this song though is its structureless form. For the non-musically conscious, a time signature is hard to identify, let alone a true verse or chorus. At times it almost appears Beyoncé could be ab-libbing, yet with a fluidness that sounds so sweet (“what about that ching-ching-ching/ what about that what about that”). The beat constantly drops and re-enters, harmonies appear out of nowhere, and melodies are created on the spot and seldom recycled. For a six-and-a-half minute arrangement, it drifts right on with its free-form style. A true testament to the multidimensionality of Beyoncé, ”Rocket” serves as a personal highlight on an overall shining album full of different genres and influences.

2013: A Year in Review

Despite having a new, much busier life in Atlanta than the one I had in Delaware only 6 months ago, I always find room for music. Lots of music. On my 15 minute drive to work, on my 30 minute drive home (traffic), I am listening to new music. And when I get home from work, I always unpack the day with one hour of uninterrupted, focused listening before I switch to, well, more music. In order words, I take this stuff seriously. I listen to music and then I pick apart music. I don’t take it this seriously for any real reason, expect for the fact that I love to take all my passions incredibly seriously. That being said, I am a teacher, not a music critic, and it’s hard to convince any of my students (let alone, anyone) to listen to the new Beyoncé albums 10 times in 3 days just so they can talk about it with me. Instead, my obsession with music pays off in different ways. From the $10 Majical Cloudz show with 20 other people on a Tuesday night, to the 54 set list’s hanging proudly on my wall, my dedication to music always finds a way to come around. The shared experience of loving music is a beautiful one, and that is ultimately why I write this blog, to share my love with you all, even if it’s very apparent that no one really reads it. For those that do, I appreciate it.

For me, choosing the best albums or songs of the year is simple. Which albums stuck in your car the longest? Which songs gave that jolt of euphoria at that same point in the song, every single time? Which albums had the least amount of tracks that were subject to the skip button? What does your 25 Most Played on iTunes look like? The best song or album of the year is not necessarily the song or album that got the most critical acclaim, radio airtime, or buzz, but it’s the song that resonated the most with you.

With that being said, these are my top 25 Albums, top 25 songs, top 10 Radio Hits, top 5 Most Overrated Albums, top 5 Most Underrated Albums, and just for the hell of it, top 5 lyrics of 2013. I’d love to hear your opinions. I wish I could’ve written about each individual album/track, but I honestly don’t have it in me.

Top 25 Albums

  1. Kanye West – Yeezus 
  2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
  3. Majical Cloudz - Impersonator
  4. Porches. – Slow Dance in the Cosmos
  5. Volcano Choir – Repave
  6. Beyoncé – Beyoncé
  7. Bill Callahan – Dream River
  8. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
  9. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  10. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze
  11. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
  12. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  13. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
  14. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
  15. Atoms for Peace - Amok
  16. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
  17. Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond
  18. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
  19. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
  20. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
  21. Mikal Cronin - Mcii
  22. Jai Paul – Jai Paul
  23. Darkside - Psychic
  24. The Shouting Matches – The Shouting Matches
  25. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

Top 25 Songs

  1. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
  2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “So Good At Being in Trouble”
  3. Jai Paul – “St8 Outta Mumbai”
  4. Majical Cloudz – “Bugs Don’t Buzz”
  5. Kurt Vile – “Wakin’ On a Pretty Day”
  6. Kanye West – “I’m In It”
  7. Volcano Choir – “Comrade”
  8. The National – “Pink Rabbits”
  9. Youth Lagoon - “Mute”
  10. Atoms for Peace – “Amok”
  11. Local Natives - “Breakers”
  12. Los Campesinos! – “Avocado, Baby”
  13. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
  14. Vampire Weekend – “Ya Hey”
  15. Kanye West – “Bound 2”
  16. Son Lux – “Lost It To Trying”
  17. The Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
  18. Bill Callahan – “Winter Road”
  19. Mikal Cronin – “Weight”
  20. Autre Ne Veut - “Counting”
  21. The Spinto Band – “Memo”
  22. Beyoncé – “Drunk In Love”
  23. Beyoncé – “***Flawless”
  24. Still Parade – “Actors”
  25. Waxahatchee – “Misery Over Dispute”

Top 10 Radio Singles

  1. Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors”
  2. Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
  3. Lorde – “Royals”
  4. Katy Perry – “Roar”
  5. Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop”
  6. J. Cole – “Power Trip”
  7. Lady Gaga – “Do What U Want”
  8. Robin Thicke - “Blurred Lines”
  9. Migos - “Hannah Montana”
  10. Sean Kingston, Chris Brown, Wiz Khalifa - “Beat It”

Top 5 Most Overrated

  1. Disclosure - Settle
  2. Deafheaven - Sunbather
  3. Death Grips – Government Plates
  4. Haim – Days Are Gone
  5. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Top 5 Most Underrated

  1. Porches – Slow Dance in the Cosmos
  2. School of Night – School of Night
  3. The Shouting Matches – The Shouting Matches
  4. The Spinto Band – Cool Cocoon
  5. William Tyler – Impossible Truth

Top 5 Lyrics

  1.  “Hurry up with my damn croissant!” – Kanye West, “I am a God”
  2. “Phone ringing off the shelf/I guess it wanted to kill itself” – Kurt Vile, “Wakin’ On a Pretty Day”
  3. “If life could be forever one instant, would it be the moment you met me?” – Majical Cloudz, “Bugs Don’t Buzz”
  4. “When things are beautiful, just keep on.” Bill Callahan, “Winter Road”
  5. "You threw all my papers in kerosene, because you lost connection to the memory.”  - The Spinto Band, “Memo”
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