2013 music wrap-up, and mixtape 136

In only approximate order of favoriteness, here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2013, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2013.

This year I acquired around 20% less new music than last year: roughly 120 new releases from around 84 bands, almost all released within the last 3 years. I wouldn't say last year was 20% better. Maybe 10% better. Now 2011, that year was probably 20% better. Musically speaking.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 32.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 5.
Go Team.

I haven't commented on all of these because every year writing this thing is my reminder to myself of "why I am not a music journalist". Or, alternately, "why music journalists seem to mostly write about anything they can think of except the music". Writing about music in a coherent way is excruciating. I apologize.

I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:

  • Ms Mr - "Secondhand Rapture"

    I saw them four times this year, so I guess it's no surprise that they made the number one spot. I really love her voice, and the lyrics are great. Lyrically they're goth as fuck. Fortunately the music is not.

  • Chvrches - "The Bones of What You Believe"

    That feel when you go to give a song one more star and it's already at 5. Oh, those analog synths. Is it still the 80s? Because I think it might still be the 80s.

  • K.Flay - "West Ghost" & "What If It Is"

    A fantastic collection of songs about alcoholism, self-loathing and depression! If you can listen to "Appetite for Consumption" without banging your head even a little bit, I don't know if we can be friends any more.

  • Harouki Zombi - "Objet Petit A"

    I don't even know how to describe this (short) album. Such bass. Whispery French weirdness. When I saw them live I wasn't sure whether to expect a DJ act or what, when they were joined by a troupe of glittergeishas who had a feather-cannon and fed us applesauce out of their hands. My jacket has a nine-month-old streak of blood down the back because I haven't been able to bring myself to wash it. That was a really, really good show.

  • The Naked and Famous - "In Rolling Waves"

    I can't really say that "In Rolling Waves" matches the high bar set by "Passive Me, Aggressive You" -- because, shit, that's a really high bar -- but it's still very good.

  • Icky Blossoms - "Icky Blossoms"

    Dirty, synthy pop. "Sex to the Devil" and "Burn Rubber" are the kind of songs you wish My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult were still able to write.

  • Emika - "DVA"

    Mopey music for sad robots. The video for Searching, where she's staggering drunk through the snow, really captures the tone of the album perfectly.

  • Happy Fangs - "Happy Fangs"

    They are stripey and loud and awesome, and we book them a lot. They also shot a music video in the Dazzle Room, but it's not out yet!

  • Five Knives - "The Rising"

    The micro-review I wrote when I saw them was, "This band is what Shiny Toy Guns should have been, though from lyrics, these songs may all be Niki Minaj covers." I can still stand behind that. If "industrial rock" were still a thing you might have been forgiven for thinking that these guys were that, but it's not so they're not. Very energetic live.

  • Stripmall Architecture - "Suburban Reverb"

    Look, they've been on like every one of my year-end lists. You should already be familiar.

  • The Joy Formidable - "Wolf's Law"

  • The Limousines - "Hush"

  • Sandra Kolstad - "Crux"

  • Jessie Evans - "Glittermine"

    A manic band-leader has a saxophone and a laptop full of bongos. Trust me.

  • Au Revoir Simone - "Move in Spectrums"

  • Grimes - "Visions"

  • Dirty Epics - "One Way Mirror"

  • Los Campesinos! - "No Blues"

  • Icona Pop - "Iconic" & "This Is..."

    It was when every third mash-up played at Bootie included "I Love It" that I realized this band was going to be inescapable this year. Also, amusingly enough, seeing Icona Pop at SXSW this year was the first time I had ever bribed a door-man to get into a show. "Go around back and see my friend," he said. "Say to him, 'I am interested in the clown.'" He really did.

  • Charlie XCX - "Iconic" & "True Romance"

    Honestly though, there's a lot of filler on both the Icona Pop and Charlie XCX albums, between the few really great tracks. This album is good, but I wish more of it was in the vein of "Nuclear Seasons". Charlie puts on a great live show, though, with a real band. Icona Pop are a laptop act.

  • Metal Mother - "Ionika"

  • Crystal Castles - "III"

  • Lorde - "Pure Heroine"

  • Feathers - "If All Now Here"

  • Wax Idols - "Discipline & Desire"


And finally, here's mixtape 136, which includes one track by each of the above artists.

Tags: , , , ,
Current Music: as noted

21 Responses:

  1. Alyx Loos says:

    I was about to say that you were half-assing it by not writing about each album, but I think I was encouraging you to give fewer fucks.

  2. ix says:

    I really love these lists, it usually takes me to the end of the next year to get through all of them. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jens Knutson says:

      +1. These annual wrap-ups always have several albums that become favorites of mine.

      Thanks for writing these up in spite of the fact that writing about music coherently is, in fact, excruciating.

  3. I am so proud to be included because I actually respect your opinion.

  4. Agreed on CHVRCHES. Find of the year for me. Curious, how did the new NIN album grab you this year?

    • jwz says:

      Hesitation Marks has 3-ish good tracks on it, but I didn't really hear anything notable there. I've kinda already forgotten about it. I saw NIN for the first time in many years at Outside Lands, though, and was pleasantly surprised at the live show.

  5. nooj says:

    Kate Boy just announced an album release for 2014!

  6. Patrick Berry says:

    The MS MR cover of Dance Yrself Clean is fantastic. I always look forward to your wrap ups so I can hear what I missed.

  7. Michael says:

    Here's a Spotify playlist for all but West Ghost and The Rising, which don't seem to be on Spotify yet.

  8. nooj says:

    Blackbird Blackbird - "It's a war"?

    The video's story is a little banal, but the music is good.

  9. Patrick Berry says:

    Okay, Icky Blossoms, I see what you did there on Burn Rubber. That is the bass line to PWEI's 'Can U Dig It?', right? Or did they sample that from someone else as well?

  10. Mike says:

    I think I found everything and put it in this Google Play All Access playlist.

  11. If you enjoyed the sax/bongo stuff on the Jessie Evans album, you might like Moon Hooch also. Saw them live in St. Louis in September, and they're highly amazing.

  12. nooj says:

    The Chvrches album is amazing. Track 2 "We Sink" is great! Every song sounds FAR and away better than the audio in the youtubes.

    I didn't know about the extended release and bought the basic CD. Is the bonus audio worth the extra? And how are the EP b-sides?

    • jwz says:

      It strikes me that I'm far more likely to travel to any other city on that list to see that show than to go to San Jose...

      • nooj says:

        They do need an SF date! Feb 12 @ DNA Lounge!
        (Probably impossible to put together, but it's fun to dream!)