Musically, I don’t know how best to describe 2013 other than to say that it was, well, above average. I realize that’s a less than enthusiastic summation of this past year’s output, but albums on the whole seemed to suffer. Yes, there were plenty of great songs that emerged, which is pretty much always the case. But like I’ve said in years’ past, there were a bevy of records in 2013 that lacked “staying power.” In other words, there wasn’t a whole lot of “great” in 2013. This doesn’t mean, however, there was no great; there was.
Maybe it was my fault? I mean, 2013 was an odd year, to say the least. Aside from getting hitched (which was, of course, the highlight of my year), a lot of, well, terrible things happened. I’m not convinced it has a damn thing to do with the whole “13” business, as that’s plain ridiculous. Rather, a shitstorm of bad news came down upon my collective family. I suppose the abundance of awful would have been enough to reflect nothing but sad bastard selections for my mixes, but that wasn’t the case at all. The music was independent of the bad tidings, and, in fact, provided an escape as opposed to a hole to climb deeper within.
Last year was dominated by what I referred to as “Garage Pop.” This year was certainly a bit more eclectic, despite an even greater influx of Doom Metal, Hip Hop and New Wave circa 1982. The other common thread that seemed to dominate 2013 was “older” bands releasing new — and very good — records. In other words, I don’t think 2013 was flooded by strong debut records, but by established bands either returning to form or continuing their habit of releasing grade-A material. Well, except for one band, that is, who blew the fucking doors off everything.
So, without further adieu, here’s a look back at the music that did its thing in 2013…
Album Cover of the Year:
Savages – Silence Yourself
Best Vocal Moments of the Year:
Of Montreal – “Imbecile Rages” (At the 3:27 mark of the closing track of Lousy with Sylvianbriar, I nearly lost my mind. Kevin Barnes’ sustaining note of the word “anymore” is beyond piercing; it’s astounding. He holds (and affects) it for a mind-blowing 16 seconds. To say I’ve listened to it repeatedly is a wild understatement.)
Connections – “Finally” (It’s not that this song featured a stand-out moment, per se; rather, it’s that Connections immediately channel Guided By Voices better than, well, Guided By Voices on their debut, Private Airplane.)
Song I Heard Once and New Immediately It Would Be On My Year-End List:
Swearin’ – “Dust in the Gold Sack” (You can check out the studio version — the one that’s on my actual mix — below.)
Most Overrated Record(s) of the Year Based On the Critics’ Picks:
Kanye West – Yeezus (To be fair, I can only assume this is among the most overrated records of 2013, as I haven’t heard it and have no intention to.)
Okkervil River - The Silver Gymnasium (Are you fucking shitting me, Magnet?! There’s one good song on this record. The rest is a total snooze. I adore Magnet, which is what makes their choice of Album of the Year so depressing.)
Worst Comeback Record By a Band Whose Comeback Record I Was Highly Anticipating:
The Dismemberment Plan – Uncanney Valley (What an unbelievable piece of dogshit!)
Video of the Year:
Arcade Fire - “Afterlife“
Ten Honorable Mentions of 2013 (in Alphabetical Order):
The Baptist Generals – Jackleg Devotional to the Heart
California X – California X
Mikal Cronin – MCII
Deerhunter – Monomania
FIDLAR – FIDLAR
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
The Octopus Project – Fever Forms
Palma Violets – 180
Telekinesis – Dormarion
Upset – She’s Gone
Top Ten Records of 2013:
10. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripely Pine
9. Throwing Muses – Purgatory/Paradise
8. Swearin’ – Surfing Strange
7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
6. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
5. Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
4. The Men – New Moon
3. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
2. Connections – Body Language
1. Connections – Private Airplane
Wait a minute. Did Cousin Brandon really just list two records by the same band as his best and second best records of the year? He sure as hell did!
Columbus, Ohio’s Connections absolutely killed it in 2013. Their debut record, Private Airplane, was as old-school Guided By Voices as a band can get without actually being GBV. It had all of the GBV anthemic staples, in that the album was both fuzzed out and wrought with singalongs and hooks. Body Language was nearly as perfect, but I had to give the edge to their debut in that it was the first of the two I heard, and I was floored instantly. Connections completely spit in the face of my diatribe above, in that I declared this the year of established bands. I’m completely happy to contradict myself in this case, though, as I would officially consider these albums “great.”
As is my way, I made two CDs worth of music this year, which once again forced me to leave several well-deserving candidates behind. I listened to an absolute shit-ton of albums I listened to this year before narrowing them down to the 26 and 22 finalists on Positive and Negative, respectively. Interestingly (and perhaps for the first time ever), both mixes open with an identical band, then close with an identical band.
As for the tracks below, I linked to studio versions of the songs and some live/alternate versions of the songs that actually appears on the mix, either because I couldn’t find the studio version or simply really enjoyed the live performance. For instance, I linked to the studio version of “Imbecile Rages” above, yet went with a live performance below. For some reason I couldn’t find any version of Upset’s “About Me,” so I spit on you, Internet. Again, apologies to all of those great, great songs I had to omit for the sake of space. Do better, Technology!
With that, I give you the 48 songs that comprise my 2013 mixes…
Positive front cover.
Positive interior artwork.
Negative front cover.
Negative interior artwork.
Positive (The Best “Fast” Tracks of 2013):
1. The Octopus Project – “Mmkit” (Fever Forms)
2. California X – “Mummy” (California X)
3. Connections – “Aimless” (Body Language)
4. The Thermals – “Born to Kill” (Desperate Ground)
5. Palma Violets – “Johnny Bagga’ Donuts” (180)
6. Upset – “She’s Gone” (She’s Gone)
7. Swearin’ – “Dust In the Gold Sack” (Surfing Strange)
8. FIDLAR – “Wake Bake Skate” (FIDLAR)
9. Wavves – “Gimme a Knife” (Afraid of Heights)
10. The Men – “Electric” (New Moon)
11. Deerhunter – “Monomania” (Monomania)
12. Iceage – “Rodfaestet” (Iceage)
13. Guided By Voices – “Xeno Pariah” (English Little League)
14. Wimps – “Nap” (Repeat)
15. Chastity Belt – “James Dean” (No Regerts)
16. Throwing Muses – “Sleepwalking 1” (Purgatory/Paradise)
17. The Joy Formidable – “Cholla” (Wolf’s Law)
18. Grooms – “Iskra Goodbye” (Infinity Caller)
19. Hospital Ships – “Joan of Arc” (Destruction In Yr Soul)
20. Superchunk – “Trees of Barcelona” (I Hate Music)
21. Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out” (MCII)
22. Eleanor Friedberger – “Stare At the Sun” (Personal Record)
23. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young” (Modern Vampires of the City)
24. Of Montreal – “Triumph of Disintegration” (Lousy with Sylvianbriar)
25. The Baptist Generals – “Broken Glass” (Jackleg Devotional to the Heart)
26. Arcade Fire – “Here Come the Night Time” (Reflektor)
Negative (The Best “Slow” Tracks of 2013):
1. The Octopus Project – “Sharpteeth” (Fever Forms)
2. Connections – “Mall Lights” (Private Airplane)
3. The Thermals – “The Howl of the Winds” (Desperate Ground)
4. Upset – “About Me” (She’s Gone)
5. Guided By Voices – “Islands (She Talks In Rainbows)” (English Little League)
6. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – “Crane Your Neck” (Ripely Pine)
7. Saint Rich – “You Ain’t Worth the Night” (Beyond the Drone)
8. Okkervil River – “White” (The Silver Gymnasium)
9. Islands – “Becoming the Gunship” (Ski Mask)
10. Rogue Wave – “Used to It” (Nightingale Floors)
11. Waxahatchee – “Lively” (Cerulean Salt)
12. Throwing Muses – “Triangle Quantico” (Purgatory/Paradise)
13. Crystal Stilts – “Nature Noir” (Nature Noir)
14. Hospital Ships – “Come Back to Life” (Destruction In Yr Soul)
15. The National – “I Should Live in Salt” (Trouble Will Find Me)
16. Swearin’ – “Loretta’s Flowers” (Surfing Strange)
17. The Baptist Generals – “Floating” (Jackleg Devotional to the Heart)
18. Dr. Dog – “Too Weak to Ramble” (B-Room)
19. Telekinesis – “Symphony” (Dormarion)
20. Of Montreal – “Imbecile Rages” (Lousy with Sylvianbriar) (NOTE: Go to 3:57 in the video link.)
21. Mikal Cronin – “Piano Mantra” (MCII)
22. Arcade Fire – “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)” (Reflektor)
Well, folks, that’ll do it for 2013. A shit-ton of work, as always, went into this year’s edition. Now, I demand you do the following four things:
- In the comments section, let me know your picks for the best songs, records, and anything else music of 2013. What did I miss? What do you violently disagree with? What are you wholeheartedly in agreement with?
- Should you choose to (or if you have already) put together a Best of 2013 disc of your own, by all means send me a copy of the disc, or at the very least a track listing. I’ll do my best to post them on my blog.
- If you’re feeling nostalgic, go back and check out my Best of… mixes from 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, etc.
- You’ve got Twitter, Facebook, and a thousand other social media outlets at your disposal. Share this with the world, even if you only have two Twitter followers (and one of them is me).
- UPDATE: I’m on Spotify now, and I’ve actually curated this year’s mixes there. You can find me under the name “Jewdy Blume.” Shocking, no? I may get around to posting all of my past mixes there at some point.
Until the Best of 2014, have at it, you vultures!