Another year is rolling to a sickly end. I have to admit that I've lived through much better days, but at least there was a lot of good music, and I got out to several fabulous shows. So without further hugger-mugger, here is my year end list of my top 40 fav'rit rekkids, along with some highlight shots of the shows I made it to in 2013.
Neko Case. First Avenue. October 16th, 2013
1 Neko Case The Worse Things Get, the Harder I fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I love You (Anti)
The queen of alt-country indie rock returns from a mourning period with her finest work to date. Stunning. Daft Punk may have been the omnipresent single, but Case's "Man" was the best song of 2013.
2 Unknown Mortal Orchestra II (Jagjaguwar)
No sophomore slump here. Portland/Kiwiland's finest basement psychedelicists build on the promise of their first album. Aside from Neko's grandeur, this was hands down the best thing I heard all year, and easily the most heavily rotated disc in the office.
3 Yo La Tengo Fade (Matador)
The aging stalwarts of indie rock, Hoboken's finest surprised me with their best rekkid in over a decade, and possibly their most concise musical statement to date.
4 Goldfrapp Tales of Us (Mute)
When Goldfrapp make stomping electro dance-pop rekkids I really like them. When they make moody, pastoral, electro-art-pop like this gem, I adore them. Check out the video at the top of the page for further evidence. Truly magnificent.
5 Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse (Fat Possum)
This album might make the list just for having such a fantastic title. Continuing the Flaming Lips tradition of pretty, happy, songs about death, Youth Lagoon's second rekkid is a savory psychedelic stew for your ears.
6 Cian Ciaran They Are Nothing without Us (Strangetown)
The second solo outing from the erstwhile Super Furry Animals keyboardist is a doozy. Filled with lyrics which rage against the class divisions of the world, swimming in a broth of luscious harmonies and melodies reminiscent of his old band's best work.
7 Bibio Silver Wilkinson (Warp)
I don't know who coined the term "pastoral folk-tronica" (for all I know it could have been my co-worker), but there is no better way to describe this bit of wonderment. Standout track "A Tout a l'Heure" is one of the finest tunes of the year.
8 Connan Mockasin Caramel (Mexican Summer)
Skipping rope around the pencil-mustache-thin line between sexy and creepy, Caramel sees Connan Mockasin take his super-weird brand of psychedelic craziness even further underwater. Like Prince and Sud Barrett collaborating on a bizarre make-out album at the bottom of a swimming pool full of champagne and LSD.
9 Jacco Gardner Cabinet of Curiosities (Trouble in Mind)
A little dutch boy conjures up the ghosts of 1967 london and produces tasty fabulosity. If Roger Waters had gone insane and Pink Floyd had continued led by Syd Barrett and Richard Wright, they may have sounded a lot like this.
10 Soweto Kinch The Legend of Mike Smith (Soweto Kinch Recordings)
This is the one. This is the great hip-hop/ avant-garde jazz/ spoken word concept album you've been waiting for all this time. An epic tale of a day in the life of young British hip-hop artist trying to make it to an appointment. Fluid rhymes and radio-play storytelling interspersed with passages of pure, top grade post-bop jazz. Someday the world will wake up and recognize this man's genius.
Yo La Tengo. First Avenue. February 4th, 2013.
11 The Phoenix Foundation Fandango (Memphis Industries)
File under: Shimmering Grade A Kitchen Sink Kiwi Psych-Pop. Brilliant.
12 Crocodiles Crimes of Passion (Frenchkiss)
Satan's favorite surfing shoegazers' best outing yet.
13 Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action (Domino)
Scotland's finest crooner-faced dance-punk masters' triumphant return.
14 Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork (Matador)
Yet another master class from the finest heavy rock group working today.
15 Anna Calvi One Breath (Domino)
So many great second albums this year. Here is another. Siouxsie-esque post punk with fantastic flamenco/surf tinged guitar. I am digging Anna Calvi.
16 Lee Ranaldo and the Dust Last Night on Earth (Matador)
One of the grand old indie/alt guitar Gods lets loose.
17 Wire Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
Nearly four decades removed from their debut, Wire continues to regularly produce some of the finest art-punk in the business.
18 The Black Angels Indigo Meadow (Blue Horizon)
More yumminess from the latest bearers of the Texas garage psych banner.
19 Paul McCartney New (MPL)
Holy crap. Having just passed the 70 year milestone, Macca just dropped one of the finest records of his post-Beatles career. Totally gear, mate!
20 David Bowie The Next Day (CBS)
As long as we're giving props to the geriatric ward, the Thin White Duke's return from a decade-long hiatus was none to shabby itself.
Tame Impala. First Avenue. March 4th, 2013.
21 Washed Out Paracosm (Sub Pop)
22 Savages Silence Yourself (Matador)
23 Still Corners Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop)
24 Steve Mason Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time (Domino)
25 MGMT (CBS)
26 Superchunk I Hate Music (Merge)
27 Arctic Monkeys AM (Domino)
28 Neon Neon Praxis Makes Perfect (Lex)
29 My Bloody Valentine mbv (mbv)
30 Elvis Costello and the Roots Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note)
Prissy Clerks. Hymie's Vintage Records. Record Store Day. April 20th, 2013
31 Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed)
32 Daughter If You Leave (Glassnote)
33 Deerhunter Monomania (4AD)
34 The Besnard Lakes Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO (Jagjaguwar)
35 Midlake Antiphon (Bella Union)
Bob Mould. Rock the Garden, Walker Art Center. June 15th, 2013.
36 Atoms for Peace Amok (XL)
37 Pond Hobo Rocket (Modular)
38 The Knife Shaking the Habitual (Mute)
39 Jake Bugg Shangri La (Island)
40 Bombino Nomad (Nonesuch)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Cedar Cultural Center. June 23rd, 2013.