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.
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.