Sunday, December 8, 2013

Music I've Liked This Year In No Particular Ranking Or Order

If you're interested in music you will have noticed (ahem) that most music  publications are very busy compiling and letting out their lists of the "10, 50, 100… best albums of the year". I always found the ranking of albums in music weird. Even worse many music reviews  grade albums with 1 to 5 stars or from 1 to 10 (one US online publication is notorious for awarding grades like 3.73 out of 10 for albums. How ridiculous can it be?). Sometimes the written review doesn't square up with the final grading so you're left to wonder why a largely positive account of a record ends up grading it with 4.781 out of 10.

Nonetheless even my social network friends are now posting their own lists of the best 10 albums of the year. I've been asked a couple of times what mine would be. Er, I don't know?
I'd be at a loss to do that because for one thing I don't listen to as much music as most of my friends do, and there are genres I really don't know much about (dance, electronica, metal…) or that I loathe (French hip-hop, contemporary commercial R'n'B, dubstep…).
Secondly, due to very low finances I haven't bought many records this year. I did go to a few gigs including King Krule who was amazing on stage, very charismatic, but I'm still not convinced by the record, and Savages whose record reminded me of Siouxie & The Banshees circa 1978, and if I want to listen to that, I'd rather go to the original. Also, they're OK on stage, but not the phenomenon I was lead to expect.
So, instead of writing down  a best of whatever happened in music in 2013 according to my own uninformed opinion, I'm just going to list in no particular order the music I really enjoyed this year, and that includes some bands I know only via their bandcamp and I'm not even sure their music came out this year.  So all mistakes and errors below are mine. I've linked all bands/records to a website that isn't Amazon where you can purchase their music/listen to it. There are a couple of iTunes on there, but as usual, go shop at an independent record store near you if there's one. They usually can order whatever you need and have it within 2 or 3 days. And you can browse their bins and buy more cool stuff.

A) John Luther Adams, Inuksuit
B) Primal Scream, More Light
C) Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold
D) Willis Earl Beal, Nobody Knows
E) Wire, Change Becomes Us
F) Hookworms, Pearl Mystic
G) Houses, A Quiet Darkness
H) Puppet Rebellion, Chemical Friends (it's an EP)
I) Sauna Youth, Dreamlands
J) David Bowie, The Next Day
K) Wooden Shjips, Back To Land,
L) Fidlar, Fidlar
M) Thee Oh Sees, Floating Coffin
N) Males, Run Run Run
O) Killwave, Killwave.

Now there were plenty of commercial records that made a splash this year, and also non-commercial ones that left me cold. In no particular order, Yeezus which I think is so crappy (trying to be ambitious, ends up being pretentious without much to hold on to, and the lyrics are in most part beyond terrible. For someone whose creds are the "genius (ahem) hip-hop artist with intellectual leanings" it's not such a good testimony to his talent. And I generally like Kanye West), The Knife's Shaking The Habitual (ditto. They try way too hard, it ends up being contrived and unnecessary),  the new Daft Punk who I think have become this century's equivalent of Lake, Emerson and Palmer (don't try this at home),  the new Janelle Monae whom my Brits music contacts seem to be super proud of (very well made bouncy pop. Too manufactured for yours truly and the production is way too clean, but then you can say that of 99,99% of music being commercially released in this century). And despite all my best efforts because most of my friends love Bill Callahan, I can't seem to get into his new record.

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