Beck – “Blue Moon”

Posted in Music with tags , , on January 21, 2014 by Combotrev

beck-morning-phase-artIf you’re a constant reader of this blog or you’re one my friends (you don’t even need to be a close friend!), you probably know that I am absolutely infatuated with Beck’s music. Besides his extremely lo-fi anti folk releases from the early 90s, I’ve loved every single one of his records and I think the progression of sound between each album is one of the most interesting in music. Going from slacker rock anthems on Mellow Gold and Odelay, to weirdo country jams on Mutations, to sex freakouts on Midnite Vultures, to one of the most quintessential breakup albums of all time Sea Change, then to indie rock coolness on Guero, Information and Modern Guilt, I’m so excited to see where Beck goes next.

This new album is described as a companion piece to Sea Change, as it has many of the same musicians that performed on Sea Change as well as recurring tones and themes. The newest track, Blue Moon, definitely reflects that as it is mostly acoustic instrumentals and mostly sad song material. It’s immaculately produced, with a bit of cello, mando, booming percussion and of course Beck’s signature croon. The dude’s 43, but he still sounds youthful. Definitely wiser, but still has some kick. Check out the song below.

Morning Phase is out February 25th

 

CBK 40 Favorite Tracks of 2013

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2013 by Combotrev

favsongs2013This is a more informal version of my usual favorite tracks list, since I feel like ranking individual tracks as just one person is a little too impersonal and lacking common sense. Especially if there were 100 tracks, or 102 like there were last year. There was a ton of good music coming out this year and there could have easily been more than 100 songs on this list, but I opted to go for quality rather than quantity. There are still 40 songs here, which is a lot, but they’ve survived the cuts from 100, down to 70, to you know, 40. 40 great songs that really changed my year and made me think about what I’m exactly listening to in the year 2013, as compared to other years.

These songs have helped illustrate moments within my life in 2013, have them be soundtracking some stray thoughts in moments of boredom or allowing me to be completely obsessed with them for several weeks, if not months. Songs like these always come each year, but I always feel as though it’s important to highlight them, as a way to present them with some sort of prestigious award in my own mind. Even though I’m done with school and other work related things for about a month, I’m going to try and write a small blurb for each song, because they deserve it.

The * next to the song name notes that it’s in the Top 10 songs out of this bunch. They are the ones that you MUST listen to. MUST. They also won silly awards.

  1. Anamanaguchi – Planet*
    This song gets the “Unknown Nostalgia of 2013″ award. This is due to the fact that it sounds like the theme music for the end of a 8-bit video game that took about 60 hours worth of gameplay and beating a near-impossible boss to reach the dramatic finale, where the main character and rescued fair maiden or lad ride off into the pixelated sunset on magical dolphins. Just a thought.
  2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
    Putting this out as the first single from the prolific indie band was a smooth move; with James Murphy flexing his production glitz and David Bowie providing backup vocals, there was no way this track could lose.
  3. Ariel Pink & Jorge Albrecht – Hang On to Life
    UNF. That chorus tho. A slippery, smarmy cut of pop goodness, served up the only way Ariel Pink knows how. The extra telephone dialogue at the midpoint in the song really brings it all home, though.
  4. Beach Fossils – Shallow
    The guitar tone is so sharp and contains so much depth, and then the vocals, bass, and melody guitar line come in and add even more depth- creating layers upon layers of interlocking instrumentals that harken back to a similar sound to Diiv’s “Doused.” Coincidentally, they both have water-related song names.
  5. Beck – Defriended*
    This song gets the “The Main Man” Award, because Beck is the main man. After putting out an album only accessible through sheet music (a unique, not pretentious, move), he sneaks this new track out taking plays from an Animal Collective/Radiohead playbook with heavily sequenced drums and disorienting reverb but keeps the thing quintessentially Beck, which is his specialty. This track is superb and if this were a ranked list, it’d probably be number one.
  6. Bibio – A Tout A L’heure
    Probably the happiest, purest tones put forth in a Bibio song since his breakout hit “Lover’s Carvings,” this song squeezes the dopamine out of the crevices of the cerebral cortex with its groovy bassline, bright synth melody, and of course the warm acoustic guitar.
  7. Big Black Delta – Side of the Road
    M83/Muse ripoff? Nah man, this is some thick, catchy electro pop. Like many songs in this list, the chorus really makes this song stand out among the other songs, especially with the super theatrical vocals and throbbing synth line in the back.
  8. Chelsea Wolfe – Sick*
    This song gets the “Song I’ve Imagined My Own Death the Most To of 2013″ award, a much contested prize. I’ve written many paragraphs about this song, but I’ll try and keep it to a minimum. This song is massive, comprising of an orchestra, immense percussion, eerie synths, and two versions of Wolfe’s bellowing yet smoky vocals: one pitch shifted down and one normal pitch. The song embodies despair and has given many goosebumps. Wooooof.
  9. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
    Lyrics have never been a strong suit of mine, but on songs like these it makes me want to pay attention to other songs with equally as quirky, loveable, and hilarious lyrics. The song is about Barnett’s allergic episode in 100˚F heat, and the lyrics let the story play out wonderfully, always one-upping the next quotable phrase.
  10. Crying – Bodega Run
    Chiptune influenced pop punk sounds like it could be terrible, but this fuckin’ rules. The instrumentals are super basic and ultra catchy and the lyrics are impossible not to love. It’s basically a story of people going to a bodega and buying snacks. With lines like “Lil’ Debbie is giving me the eye, down the aisle,” and “but they don’t got them dank doritos or those jalapeño cheetos” there’s no way this song can lose.
  11. Daft Punk – Doin’ It Right (ft. Panda Bear)*
    This song wins the award “Favorite Alarm Clock Song of 2013.” The only electronically based song on Daft Punk’s newest album turns out to be my favorite, even though choosing one is almost an impossible task. The grooves on this are immaculate and the layering of Panda Bear’s vocals with the robot vocals of the punks is perfection. This was my alarm clock song for the majority of the summer, too, so its gotten a serious amount of play from me.
  12. Deafheaven – Dreamhouse*
    This song wins the “Probably My Girlfriend’s Least Favorite Song on This List” Award. Dare I say that this song is the perfect introduction to black metal, blackgaze, post metal, post rock, or shoegaze to someone who is unfamiliar? Potentially yes, but it’s the sheer emotion put through in these wretching vocals and the thunderous guitars that really punch this song through the roof. There’s a reason why it’s been embraced by metal and non-metal fans alike. Definitely in the Top 10 for me for this year. That simple guitar line around 2:30, tho.
  13. Dean Blunt – Demon
    I read an about a listening party experience with Blunt’s album The Redeemer where the album was played at deafening volumes in a pitch black room where the listeners were situated. The experience was intense, but extremely satisfying. I tried it out for myself, and found the same results. The thundering percussion and sequenced cello is messily juxtaposed with unprompted sound effects of shattering glass and car horns while Blunt’s vocals chant over the chaotic instrumental really is disorienting but sum up the album brilliantly. Check the whole thing out if you can.
  14. Delorean – Unhold (ft. Caroline Polachek)
    I crafted a theory the other day when I was listening to this song, which was the reason that  I like this song as much is because I can picture my 8th grade self Dance Dance Revolution’ing to it. The ultimate praise. It has a catchy beat, slick bassline, and Caroline Polachek’s vocals are amazing as always.
  15. Diarrhea Planet – Lite Dream
    This song definitely gets the award “The Song I Air-Guitared To Most of 2013.” The song is a straight up face ripper! Diarrhea Planet’s four guitarists really have a field day on this one, absolutely shredding the listener’s inhibitions throughout three melody changes, each becoming more radical than the last. Basically it will rock your entire world every single time.

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CBK Top 50 Albums of 2013

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2013 by Combotrev

best2013albums2013 has been an absolute monster year for music: countless reunions, comebacks, surprises, a few letdowns, band beefs, new bands, and great music overall. The top albums I have this year aren’t real surprises to anyone who knows me. I’m pretty vocal about the music I dig. However there are some albums in here that surprised me on how much I liked them.

As for trends, there’s a metal leaning album in the Top 10, which is the first time that’s happened. There’s only four hip-hop albums on this list, which I feel is lower than the past two years. It’s pretty balanced with everything else. One album in there will be a surprise for those who actually personally know the artist, which I know there will be at least one person. Other than that, no real surprises, mostly all pretty well known releases on pretty well known indie labels.

If you’re not familiar with the album, you can click the album title and listen to a song! Hope you enjoy!

50. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat
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49. Blank Banshee – Blank Banshee1
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48. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
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47. Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister
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46. Fuzz – Fuzz
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45. Russian Circles – Memorial
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44. Kelela – Cut 4 Me
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43. Infinity Shred – Sanctuary
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42. Young Fathers – Tape Two
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41. Laura Cortese – Into the Dark
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CBK Top 10 “Leftfield” Albums of 2013, or, 10 Albums of 2013 That Are Absolutely Worth Mentioning But Didn’t Fit Into Any Other Lists

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2013 by Combotrev

leftfieldThis is a new feature this year. With the broadening of my musical horizon, there were many albums that I came in contact with that I really liked a lot, but found that they didn’t really “fit” with the other albums on my Top 50 list. These records are usually the ones that align with musical styles that I’m not too well-versed in or they’re out there to such a degree that there’s no way to compare them to other albums that may have attracted more of a mainstream audience. When trying to put Oneohtrix Point Never’s album into my list, it didn’t make sense for it to be on the same list as say Anamanaguchi or Vampire Weekend. It just wouldn’t make sense.

There isn’t too much style discrepancy going on here, most of the albums here are pretty experimental or arty electronic music. Melt Banana and Melt Yourself Down satisfy the weird, foreign sounding album category, and then there’s the one, lone sludge metal album by CT punks Stone Titan. I really liked all these albums on here and hopefully they will enlighten some about alternatives to the alternative.

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CBK Honorable Mentions of 2013

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on December 5, 2013 by Combotrev

HonorableMentionsThere were a lot of really good albums put out this year. I’m usually pretty on top of things coming at the moment, but after becoming Music Director at WHUS, I had the opportunity to get introduced to many albums from bands that I had never heard of before. This has probably been the most hectic year when it comes to music, so all of these albums in this list are still super good, not just in the first 50.

This list is made up of albums that were previously chillin’ in the exec lounge that is my Top 50 and recent new additions that were good enough to make some sort of list. They are ordered alphabetically, because they are all special little snowflakes.

  1. Aye Nako – Unleash Yourself
    Aye-Nako-Unleash-Yourself2013 was the year of many musical introductions for me, but most especially lo-fi pop punk that’s super popular in the tri-state area. This stuff is emotionally charged and catchy as hell, along with many other group’s sounds, but this one really got me more than others.
  2. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
    blood-orange-cupid-deluxe1-500x500Know how people always say “oh man I was born in the wrong decade” bullshit? Well, here’s a legit time capsule that will take the listener on a one way trip to the 80s. Also it might persuade one to buy silk bed sheets.
  3. Buke & Gase – General Dome
    Buke-Gase-General-Dome-608x608Jagged and experimental to a whole new sense, this duo has made their own unique instruments and play to very unorthodox time signatures, figuring in unorthodox key changes at every quick turn. It’s a delight of an album that I feel was really overlooked this year.
  4. Dean Blunt – The Redeemer
    Dean-Blunt-The-Redeemer-artwork1I’d call this album experimental pop, but I feel like that wouldn’t do it justice. This album is a trip through a broken man’s mind, through illusions of grandeur, to a drunken stint, to a breakup. Of course, that’s not for sure, but that’s how I interpret it. It’s a jumbled mess of sounds and I’ve never heard anything quite like it that’s this beautiful.
  5. Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
    Diarrhea-Planet-Im-Rich-Beyond-Your-Wildest-DreamsAW FUCK YEAH YOU READY TO RAWWWKK!??!? You better be, because this album will shred the faces off our your future children. Diarrhea Planet are a motley crew that feel like they are comprised of the kids who were bullied in high school along with the kids who bullied in high school. It’s straight up destructive, fun, blast your face off rock n roll. You can’t hate on that.
  6. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
    Fuck-Buttons-Slow-FocusUltra-looped experimental electronic dudes rock out once again with intensity and weirdness on this album. The long song lengths allow for tracks to repeat, but also build off of other rhythms, melodies, and feelings, creating a wash of dense, rhythmic electronic music.
  7. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
    rsz_jon_hopkins_immunityThis classically trained pianist doesn’t turn in his ivories when it’s his time to create danceable but also pensive electronic dance tracks. With glitchy melodies and emotive piano playing, this record hits all the right sweet spots.
  8. Kanye West – Yeezus
    yeezus-new-cover
    I honestly don’t get all the #1 rankings of this album this year. I’ve seen four different lists rank Yeezus #1, and I just don’t agree. Let me get this straight: the instrumentals are absolutely fantastic. The song ideas and structures are great. Everything about this record for the most part is great.
    However, the low points almost outweigh the progress made with the moments I just mentioned. Some of the guest features are pretty lackluster (I’m lookin’ at you, autotuned Chief Keef) and the lyrics. Oh my. I’d get into a song, like “I’m In It,” until he says “eatin’ Asian pussy/all I need was sweet and sour sauce.” “Blood on the Leaves” is weighted down by “when ya popped your first mollyyyy” for me. I could pick out all the terrible puns I’d expect from a Childish Gambino album that are featured, but it would take too long.
    The reason this is on here is because I found myself revisiting this album to hear the brilliant production and beats, only to be shooed away by the atrocious lyrics. If you have a rebuttal for this, I’d love to hear it.
  9. Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
    kirin-j-callinan-embracismWeirdo rocker dude from Australia finally put out the solo full length I’ve been asking for. Combining warped rock n roll songs a la Nick Cave, he also lays down some more heartfelt moments to help show the softer side of Callinan.
  10. M.I.A. – Matangi
    mia-matangi-coverPossibly my the most pleasant surprise of the year, the new M.I.A. loads on the correct amounts of fierce and fun without getting too political. The triad of MATANGI, Only 1 U, and Warriors is my jam, among the other jammers on this album.
  11. The Range – Nonfiction
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    A recent addition to the list, this album is a mish mosh of different styles of electronic music. Not sure if it’s totally dance-centric, but it combines recent types of electronic crazes like footwork and combines them with old classics like drum n bass & a bit of jungle. There’s also a bit of hip hop influence in there too, reminding me of a few Anticon releases.
  12. Sky Ferriera – Night Time, My Time
    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADefinitely the most pop album on any list of mine this year, I was extremely pleased with how this album turned out. There are definitely some low points, but the high points on this album are electric. “You’re Not The One?” Are you kidding me? That song is gold.
  13. Slow Warm Death – Slow Warm Death
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    Ex-Snowing singer John Galm’s newest project is sort of a blues rock/emo/pop punk hybrid. Make sense? No? Yeah, but if you listen to it, you’ll believe it. It’s great to hear Galm singing again with a new band that sounds like they have a ton of promise for the future.
  14. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
    Toro-y-Moi-Anything-In-Return
    This album really grew on me as the year developed. At first I was uninterested in Toro Y Moi’s drift towards a more mainstream sound, but then realized that it’s chock full of delicious hooks and jazzy grooves. I can handle some of this pop, in this case.
  15. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
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    This album is more of the same in the extensive catalog of Thee Oh Sees, but I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. This record is chock full of saucy grooves and nasty riffs. If you’re familiar with their stuff, you won’t be surprised.
  16. The Underachievers – Indigoism
    The_Underachievers_Indigioism-front-large
    Part of the Beast Coast movement in NYC, these two dudes are unfortunately the most overlooked group of the movement. This album is one of the best hip hop albums of the year, combining the spiritual nature of their message with the druggy, cloud rap beats. I hope they really blow up in 2014, they deserve it.
  17. Various Artists – After Dark 2
    AFTER DARK 2
    This compilation album from artists on Italians Do It Better is ultra smooth, glitzy, dark, sexy, and varied enough to make each tidbit interesting. Possibly the best record of the year to drive around to at night.
  18. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
    Waxahatchee-Cerulean-SaltEarlier this year, Waxahatchee’s previous full length American Weekend completely consumed my life, making me fully obsessed with Waxahatchee, Swearin’, and PS Eliot. The more polished feel to this album is a pleasant change and all the songs have the same emotional punch as the songs on the previous album.
  19. Weekend – Jinx
    Weekend-JinxSince the 80s haven’t ended yet, why not enjoy some new wave/post punk rock from some dudes who can pull it off extraordinarily well. From the bass tone, to the vocals, jangly guitars and the reverb, this album could have come out in 1986 and the world would have been like “woah.”
  20. Yvette – Process
    Yvette-Process-608x608
    This album is the newest addition to the list, after seeing it on a few early Best of 2013 lists. At first I was put off due to its uncanny similarity to HEALTH and Liars, but after looking past this, I found this album to be quite an intense treat that might just blister your ears off.

CBK Top 15 EPs of 2013

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Combotrev

TopEPS2013

One could say that making a list of 15 EPs that came out this year is like saying “these are the 15 EPs that I listened to this year, ranked in such a way that doesn’t mean anything.” Well perhaps, but remember this: this year, 2013, was such a good year in music, that this list is STACKED with great projects, regardless of ranking. All of these EPs I wanted to include in the last few weeks of the year to hopefully introduce some folk to some wonderful, tiny works.

15. Recycle Culture – In Transit
Recycle-Culture-In-TransitCloudy, ambient, tracks with a great smoky ambiance to them that reminds me of Spirited Away. It helps that there are wafts of piano that drift into the haven of bliss, along with some guitar and found sounds. This EP is mostly beat driven, though, even for its ambient nature. Strains of cloud rap instrumentals lurk in this fog, echoing misty handclaps and lurching bass off of the floating grooves laid down by the synth. This dude put out some other EPs this year that are equally as good. Check em out.

14. Submerse – Algorithms & Ghosts
submerse_algorithms-ghosts_cover-500x500Wonky, bass music, post-dubstep, future garage, you name it, it’s probably this. This thing is super Flying Lotus like, tracks sounding like cuts during the Until the Quiet Comes sessions, full of snappy, beat driven music with elements of jazz woven into the bassy framework. It still has its own personal sound, but think of Rustie and Ryan Hemsworth fathering a child with FlyLo as the cool, influential uncle.

13. You Me & Us – Stay Inside
a1865948177_102013 was the year of getting into emo, pop punk, and “lo-fi because that’s what they can afford not just an aesthetic” and I’m pretty pleased with that. The songs are simple, sweet, and short, making repeated listens a breeze. This take on pop punk is familiar, but executed wonderfully. The bright guitars and adorable vocals on this caught my attention at first, but the hooky song structures really, well, GOT ME.

12. Lee Bannon – Never/Mind/The/Darkness/Of/It…
a2710727785_10I feel like when I listen to this EP, it places me into some sort of chasm or catacomb filled with ghosts of hip hop and RnB. Why? This entire thing is dark and pulsing, oozing all over the place. But the ghosts come in through all the muted samples cascading across the trap(?)/cloud rap(?) type beats. None of the vocal samples really come to the forefront, they all just add an instrumental layer, but for the most part you can’t understand what they’re saying, you just pick up the urgent emotion. The darkness transports to the catacombs, the samples haunt them.

11. Thee Oh Sees – Moon Sick
CF-022cover_largeThe Record Store Day exclusive EP by the San Franciscan garage punks fits right into their fantastic catalog. This EP in particular feels more Halloween themed, for some reason. Perhaps it could be because of the first track, “Grown In A Graveyard,” which has a off kilter beat that reminds me of a dance team on “America’s Best Dance Crew” comprised of only skeletons and goblins. They do the same dance every week. They end up in third place on the show. But anyways, the other highlight on this EP is the last track, “Candy Clock,” which sounds like it takes place in a fantasy land, featuring plucked strings, harpsichord, goblin-like guitar and an overall jolly melody. The band continues to impress, even with small projects like this.

10. Laurel Halo – Behind the Green Door
Laurel-Halo-Behind-The-Green-Door-608x608I was pretty disappointed when I first listened to this EP, after listening to Laurel Halo’s previous projects “Quarantine” and “King Felix EP” all summer. To find that Halo’s signature vocals weren’t at all featured was a bit heartbreaking, but after getting over that, I found that they would have been totally unnecessary. Halo trades in her vocals to allow her to experiment more with sounds and rhythms that would be a hostile environment for any organic, human-bred creation. This is harsh, retro leaning techno and deep house. Disjointed, weird, and unforgiving.

9. Hot Chip – Dark & Stormy
044acfeaI’m not actually sure this got a full release or this was just for me at the radio station, since the last.fm page for this project is just the single “Dark & Stormy.” Nevertheless, this thing is here for the remixes. The other new Hot Chip songs on here are alright, but the remixes by Sasha, Todd Terje, and Daphni (Dan Snaith of Caribou) are absolutely killer. The three of them take songs from HC’s previous album “In Our Heads” and stretches them out to nine minutes, making them into legit dance floor burners. Sasha’s manipulation is probably the most club-friendly, with a constant thumping beat and Alexis Taylor’s vocals looped in and out, he takes “Flutes” to another level. Todd Terje’s remix of “How Do You Do” is classic Terje, throwing in bright, bright synth textures that evoke whatever Ibiza is to outsiders, and the Daphni remix messes with you a bit with some fake outs, but it feels so good.

8. Whirr – Around
Whirr-Around-EPEven as a shoegaze/wall of gauzy guitars/pastel-like shades of sadness put through by distorted as hell guitars, sometimes it can get a bit dull. But when bands amp up the volume and incorporate different styles of music into their songs, that’s where it gets interesting. Whirr’s great EP Around is loud as hell, overwhelming the senses with distortion but at the same time wrapping up the listener with smooth, silky textures put forth through the vocals. It all feels like a dream.

7. Giles Corey – Hinterkaifeck
Giles-Corey-Hinterkaifeck-800x800
To give a bit of exposition on the title of this EP, Hinterkaifeck is the name of a remote farmstead in Germany that was the location of a gruesome massacre in the 1920s. The family that lived there were the victims, all killed with a pick-axe type instrument. The crime has never been solved, since the actual murders occurred days before they were discovered and that ways of collecting evidence were very primitive in rural Germany in the 20s. For any other musician, this might be a daunting subject to cover, but for Giles Corey, AKA Dan Barrett of Have a Nice Life fame, this is a walk in the park. The three songs featured are saturated with blackness, even though they’re minimal at the core. Mostly comprised of Dan’s voice, his guitar, and drum machine, the overwhelming feelings of dread put through by the lo-fi recording quality makes this EP one of the darkest projects you’ll hear all year.

6. Tirzah – I’m Not Dancing
915Report: if Tirzah doesn’t blow up completely in the blogosphere in the next year, I will be reasonably upset. This four-song EP is a brilliant collection of experimental electronic-leaning pop tracks, produced by Micachu of Micachu and the Shapes. Her voice is warm and fits in perfectly with the understated, soulful female singers mold and the instrumentals remind me of Arca, in a way, because of their unpredictability. Different sound effects pop in in different channels, and there seems to be a delay in one of my ears on the instrumental on one song, which is really dizzying. The star track is “Inside Out” which has the most infectious beat that is probably the most accessible weird thing that any normal listener could handle, because Tirzah’s voice is so familiar to those who listen to neu-RnB.

5. Shlohmo – Laid Out
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To be honest, this EP is in this high position because of the song “Later,” one of my favorite tracks of the year. “Later” is a piece of experimental electronic gold, featuring a wicked vocal sample that totally rips the track apart. The clicking instrumental locks in with the sample so well and it easily entertains for the six minute length. The rest of this EP is a bit smoother, featuring How to Dress Well on vocals for the track “Don’t Say No” which is a sensual, moody track that could easily fit in to the How To Dress Well catalog as well. It’s a bit cloud rap, a bit abstract, a bit downtempo, a bit jazzy, but totally sexy. Hell yeah.

4. DJ Rashad – Rollin
DJ-Rashad-Rollin-EPFootwork pioneer and legend DJ Rashad basically owned 2013, releasing two fantastic EPs, one genre-bending full length album, and a world tour, spreading the gospel of footwork across the globe. If you’re unfamiliar with footwork, it’s the biggest dance movement of the underground at the moment. It originated in Chicago, the location of many revolutionary forms of techno and house music, and focuses on quick, hyper-rhythmic beats with soul samples woven into the mix. This brief synopsis of an entire electronic subgenre is inadequate, however. To really experience footwork, one just has to dive in. This EP is definitely Rashad’s best of the two, combining other forms of dance music like jungle and Hyperdub style two step. I can’t wait to hear more from this dude as his sound develops to even bigger heights.

3. Crying – Get Olde
a3543664390_10My friend who plays in a few bands told me about this group, saying that “they’re the first chiptune oriented band that didn’t make me want to kill myself.” As a general proponent of chiptune, I didn’t really understand what he was saying, but after listening to this I totally got it. This group has it all: pop punk hooks played through guitar AND Gameboy?? And cute vocals? Hold up, there’s a song about going to a bodega to get snacks? Game over, man. This EP ensnared me for about two months after my friend recommended it to me and still has that ability. If your brain was a set of cartoon teeth, this album would be like a jackhammer made out of nougat hammering at your sweet tooth. The chemistry behind this project is undeniable, let’s hope that they continue to put out more quality stuff.

2. FKA Twigs – EP2
FKA_TwigsThe artist formerly known as Twigs better have an astounding year in 2014. Her first EP, titled EP1, tickled the senses of what she was capable of in the chilly RnB world. EP2, on the other hand, gave the world a slice of dark, sexy, trip-hop influenced of pop/Rnb that we never even knew we needed. Thanks to the fantastic producer Arca, who will be brought up in the next spot, Twigs’ vocals have a dungeon to work their way around in, complete with hidden traps and black magic. It’s so sensual and dark at the same time, innocent yet devilish, I haven’t been able to stop listening to this thing for the life of me.

1. Arca – &&&&&
94a60ac0I don’t really know if this counts as an EP in the internet books, but I needed to place this thing at the top of some list. I didn’t listen to enough mixtapes to do a mixtape list, and it certainly isn’t an album, so “weh” I put it at the top of this one. If I was giving out awards for first place and didn’t include this, Arca still would have been involved with the would be winner, FKA Twigs.

But anyways, this is potentially the top listened to project this year for me, mostly because I got the split-track version of it, so I can narrow down my favorite moments in this 25-minute excursion. After getting his name in lights on the Yeezus production credits, Arca puts this out: a strange, abstract, genre hopping slap to the face that effortlessly shapeshifts into shadows thrown by different forms of electronic music. The whole thing flows from one idea to the next so easily making one cohesive whole, but there are definitely some brighter moments on here like the pianos in “Century,” the overwhelming bass in “Knot,” the warped vocal loops in “Feminine” and “Pinch” and of course the closer, “Obelisk,” slowing the whole thing down and leaving the project on an unexpectedly harmonious note.

If you were to listen to any of the projects in this list, I would wholeheartedly recommend this one. It’s one of the most original, thought provoking, and ear-pleasing things I’ve heard all year and I can’t wait to hear what this dude has in store for 2014.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2013 by Combotrev

Working on my Top Albums of 2013 list and this is hard. There was a certain point in the year where I just didn’t add any albums to it, and now I feel guilty kicking some really good ones out.

So many honorable mentions.

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