(Finally) My 51 Favourite Albums of 2013

Before I could start enjoying the beginning of a new year in music I had to get this over with and share some love for some of my favourite albums of the year that passed. I may be 15 days late with publishing this list but hey it’s better late than never. So in the famous words of the late Heath Ledger, here we go. 

51. Amok- Atoms For Peace                                    

The textures and layers of the production create a very fluid and moving experience.

 

50. No Blues- Los Campesinos!

A fun, quirky, self-abasing party, one can’t help but dance to.

 

49. Modern Vampires of the City- Vampire Weekend

Better songwriting and less juvenile than their latest efforts. Definitely their best record yet.

 

48. Victim of Love- Charles Bradley

Soul man, this album’s got a ton of soul.

 

47. Muchacho- Phosphorescent

Matthew Houck soars to new heights, and discovers new depths, with his most ambitious album yet.

 

46. 8 Miles to Moenart- Tall Black Guy

A 33-minute cruise around the streets of Motown, and it’s good.

 

45. Flourish//Perish- Braids

Where Native Speaker fails, Flourish succeeds, creating a more engaging listen from start to finish.

 

44. Holy Fire- Foals

Oxford rockers most complete statement yet, more enticing, more enjoyable than their last two records.

 

43. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels

A straight-up straight fire project, a must listen for all hip-hop fans.

 

42. Is Survived By- Touché Amoré

Passionate, panic-induced, tormented, and it doesn’t ask for your sympathy.

 

41. My Friend Called Fish- Diane Coffee

With elements of glam rock and a dash of doo-wop, My Friend Fish feels somewhat out of place in today’s music, and I appreciate that.

 

40. Clash the Truth- Beach Fossils

Though it feels safe, it’s a very contagious record that is highly accessible.

 

39. Melophobia- Cage the Elephant

An infectious album through and through, I was pleasantly surprised.

 

38. Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze- Kurt Vile

Hits a cool, relaxing rhythm from the opening track that flows seamlessly throughout.

 

37. 12 Reasons to Die- Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge

The production on this album is stellar; it flows so eloquently and at the same time ferociously with Ghost’s absurd tale of love, revenge, and mortality.

 

36. Push the Sky Away- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Dark, lush, brooding and at times harrowing, Push the Sky Away has an undeniable energy that is hard to ignore.

 

35. Acid Rap- Chance the Rapper

Took a few listens to fully get it, but once I did I could not stop listening to this very fun and addicting mixtape.

 

34. Psychic- Darkside

An oddly hopeful experience, that shimmers with alluring textures and rhythms.

 

33. Drenge- Drenge

It’s messy, loud, and unsettling at times, but all in all it’s one of the best rock albums of the past year in my opinion.

 

32. Day of the Dog- Ezra Furman

Such an overlooked gem that is as wild as it is endearing. Reminded me of the Gun Club in some respects.

 

31. Light Up Gold- Parquet Courts

Parquet Courts prove that when you take a bit of Talking Heads, add some Television, and throw in a dash of Sonic Youth you create a winning formula.

 

30. Soft Will- Smith Westerns

A solid indie-rock effort, that is filled with songs that just grab your attention without being obnoxious.

 

29. Howl- This Routine Is Hell

A 21-minute sprint that comes with a lot of blood pumping and fist throwing, a very well thought out hardcore album, whatever that means.

 

28. Woman- Rhye

In a word: seductive.

 

27. San Fermin- San Fermin

A well-constructed record filled with great vocal performances and memorable moments.

 

26. Torres- Torres

The tones and the emotions that emanate from Scott’s voice and guitar are so intimate and sincere she made me feel like she wrote this album for me and me only.

 

25. Julia With Blue Jeans On- Moonface

Spencer Krug strips everything away except his voice and piano, and in doing so he creates his most personal, vulnerable record to date.

 

24. Blood Donation- Mariam the Believer

An enchanting listen, that is not necessarily dark but at times can feel like an unsettling spiritual undertaking, which I found absurdly serene.

 

23. Sunbather- Deafheaven

Deafheaven uses an unconventional formula of post-rock and black metal and in doing so they create one of the years more beautiful and hopeful albums.

 

22. Once I Was An Eagle- Laura Marling

The tenderness of Marling is hard not to fall for as she carries herself with a quiet yet convincing wisdom throughout this somewhat depressing record.

 

21. Race Music- Armand Hammer

Emcees Billy Woods and Elucid, come together to create a hard hitting, tough as nails, hip-hop album that deserves multiple listens.

 

20. Days Are Gone- HAIM

Every song is so damn catchy and their hooks just grab you, it’s almost impossible not to dance along with. Definitely one of the best pop albums of the year.

 

19. Fetch- Melt-Banana

 This album is akin to the birth of Abraham Lincoln, misunderstood, sporadic, incomprehensible, but let’s face it it’s the most fun you can have on a Sunday afternoon.

 

18. General Dome- Buke and Gase

 Buke and Gase continue to develop their eccentric brand of indie rock, by fine-tuning their sharp guitar riffs and experimental idiosyncratic songwriting.

 

17. Silence Yourself- Savages

 A phenomenal debut album that is so tough, so ballsy, and so in your face, it forced it’s way into becoming one of the hardest hitting rock albums of the year.

 

16. The Next Day- David Bowie

It’s a big record in terms of ambition and sound, but at its core there’s the heart of a true artist, that still bleeds over his craft. David Bowie I love you.

 

15. Reflektor- Arcade Fire

 I think this is a great record overall, and I appreciated the direction Arcade Fire went with this project, but if this list was Gotham, Reflektor would be Two-Face. Side 1: not my favourite. Side 2: I absolutely loved it.

 

14. The Knight’s Gambit- Ka

The Knight Gambit shows Ka is not afraid to be completely vulnerable and real with his listener, and that makes him an artist to pay attention to.

 

13. Nobody Knows- Willis Earl Beal

The passion that moves Beal is so evocative and undeniable, you can almost smell the smoke filled bar room that he is singing in.

 

12. Immunity- Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins uses his complex palette of fluid sounds and gorgeous textures so methodically and candidly, that he creates one of the most emotional and gripping electronic albums of the year.

 

11. m b v- My Bloody Valentine

 With gorgeously woven textures and tones My Blood Valentine shows that they still have some beauty to offer the world. Welcome back friends, you were dearly missed.

 

10. Shaking the Habitual- The Knife

 The vision of Shaking the Habitual is so uncompromising and raw, that it may take a while to fully appreciate what the Knife is doing at times, but once you do it’s hard not to find enjoy.

 

9. Loud City Song- Julia Holter

Loud City Song is a truly cinematic record. It’s grand in scale and reaches into stratospheres that are beyond noise, but at the same time remains down to earth and as approachable as anything else released this year.

 

8. Doris- Earl Sweatshirt

There’s a lot to love about Earl’s long-awaited studio debut LP: the dark melodic production, the flow of his stark delivery, the wordplay he methodically deploys, and the fact each track is straight bar after impeccable bar.

 

7. Dream River- Bill Callahan

The sounds and instrumentation Bill Callahan uses throughout this album give each song it’s own identity, but due to his warm welcoming vocals, it all flows down the same melodic river. (FF: Small Plane is my favourite song of the year)

 

6. Cupid Deluxe- Blood Orange

If you break this album down to its core elements, take away its smooth rhythms, and the sultry vocals, what your left with is an awkward, ashamed, and abandoned artist searching for acceptance. And isn’t that what music is all about?

 

5. 6 Feet Beneath the Moon- King Krule

King Krule brings such a unique energy to music, from his particular approach to songwriting, his harsh rugged vocal performances, to even the way he dresses on stage. Everything about him is fresh and exciting, including this fantastic debut LP.

 

4. Spaces- Nils Frahm

 The most compelling aspect about this album is not Frahm’s exquisite piano abilities (as impressive as they are), but it’s the human connection between him and his live audience, it plays out like an intimate conversation between strangers.

 

3. Trouble Will Find Me- The National

A flawlessly sequenced album that coordinates itself through lush elegant progressions and arrangements, as well as Berninger’s heartbreaking cynicism so intrinsically, that it feels like a constant wave of poetry and cathartic beauty.

 

2. Virgins- Tim Hecker

Canadian electronic musician, Tim Hecker, creates a stunning and brilliant collection of tracks, that are so confrontational and haunting, they evoke in the listener a sense of fear and despair. However that fear is so primal and fervent by nature, that there is an overwhelming sense of wonder flowing throughout this album.

 

1. Bowler Hat Soup- Kiran Leonard

The most endearing element (and I found many) of Kiran Leonard’s debut album, is that it is filled with so many different emotions, sounds, colours, and textures that every track has it’s own distinct personality. But it’s the passion and the spirit that Leonard creates his music with that keeps this album connected and engaging. 

And that’s all she wrote . . . well I wrote it actually, but you get the point.

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“For I Am an Engine . . . ”

” . . . And I’m rolling on.” Is the opening line to the Neutral Milk Hotel song titled Engine and it’s quite good. 

Anyways, rolling on. (See what I did there?)

It’s been a while since my last blog and I’m sorry to whoever actually reads my blogs for not being as consistent as I once was (writer’s block folks, it gets us all) but I’m sure it wasn’t too much of a loss for you worms and gals. If you were somehow disappointed in my commitment to this blog or my ability to be consistent, I truly am sorry and hope that the poem I wrote (shocking right?) this time is much to your satisfaction.

The poem is titled the Slip. It’s about this moment between two people who were walking hand in hand in the rain and one of them slipped out of the other person’s hand and he/she fell in a puddle of rain. Sounds lame right? That’s because it is. 

I’ll explain a bit more later if I feel like it. (I apologize if the poem is a bit long for you. Not really though.)

 

The Slip

I felt you slip

And into a puddle of rain

You fell

In my hands

You placed hope

And life

And all its eternal blessings,

But still your fingers broke

From my grip

And you were left

Shivering

Cold

And dirty

I remember staring,

Staring into your warm green eyes,

Betrayed

And broken

I remember the questions your eyes did ask,

And the unbearable answers I could never tell you

And then a second would pass

And then another,

And then another,

Still looking,

Still questioning,

But what could I do?

Words tried to form from my tongue to my lips

To pass into the atmosphere of sound

Those fractured seconds lingered

Like the ghosts of my past,

And your past

Till eternity became not only a grand concept

Of unfathomable formulas

Too vast to comprehend

But was in fact

Without question,

My reality

And your reality

Lost in an ocean of thought

And space

We roamed the backyards of our deepest desires

And our most treacherous wounds,

We sought treasures

And passions,

And the heart of all we could ever be,

We became phantoms,

Shadows of our own selves

In the hopes to find something more,

Something real

Then in an instant

That moment suffered its most sweet departure

Becoming but another ghost in our forsaken youth

And then there you were once again

Gazing,

Questioning,

Hoping

For sanity I fought each fleeting second

To save you from your own drowning,

To save you from your own inescapable memories

Memories of pain,

Of holding on till your fingers bled

And you had to let go

(What else could you do?),

Of breaking,

Of barely breathing,

Of your own self inflicted iniquities,

Of crying,

Of disappointment,

Of regret,

Of longing,

Of suffering,

Of monsters

And demons

And other evils that be,

Of unspoken words,

Of missed opportunities,

Of heartache,

Of abandonment,

My God you beautiful soul

How can you not hear the words of endearment

That echo through the very foundation

Of your beautiful existence?

How do you not notice the gardens,

The rivers,

And the fields

You’d experience as a child

When all was but a glorious fragrance?

How does the sweet nectar of honey,

The savoring texture of fresh bread,

The bright glow of summer’s first apple,

Not move you to poetry?

How can you no longer feel the beauty of life

As it passes through your fingers

Like a thousand blades of grass,

Like the ever-changing winds,

Like the fingers of your heart’s content?

How much longer must you be in darkness?

But still you gaze,

And still I yearned

To tell you the answers of which you so desperately sought

Answers of life,

Of existence,

And of what lies beyond the wonder of the skies

But from my mouth there was only silence

And your soul’s dismay

The only sounds that coul be heard

Were the millions

And millions of drops of rain,

The sad song of the dripping sparrow,

The leaves dancing to that song of sorrow,

And the wind as it passed us by over

And over again

But with my eyes I begged you to dig deeper

Into those melancholy choruses

Of life longing for itself,

I needed you to hear

The true heart of that blessed choir

Drops of heaven falling,

Songs of refreshment,

The joys of life

And movement

And the whispers of the greater Being

All around life permeates

With beauty,

With radiance,

With love

But with words

What could I have said to make you believe?

Not with ambitious speeches of fine eloquence

And grandeur language

Could I have convinced you of this truth

This truth

That I so desperately

Wish for you to place your hopes

And your failures

Oh most beautiful soul

All I could do in that moment

Was reach out my hand

And pray you believe in me

As you once did

 

So that’s it, that’s the slip. I don’t feel like having to make you read any longer so I won’t explain what this poem is, or why this poem is, or who this poem is, or even when this poem is. It’s a moment like every other moment, like this one and that one and all the others that are sure to follow. It’s insignificant and hard to measure but it happened and it found you beautiful and that’s all that matters. And before I end this blog remember someone somewhere loves you.

P.S. A link to the song I referred to earlier if you were interested.

A Pessimistic View On the Subject Of Gardening

I’ll give an explanation later . . .

The Garden

 There in the midst of beauty sought

The voices of faceless strangers and weary creatures

Bend and mold and stagger with helplessness

Drowned in charity and loved in regret

Oh the blinding! Oh my drunkenness!

Comfort the desolate serenade the despaired

And leave me with my own devices

These selfish desires that leave me wounded

Abandoned from the sweet kiss of time

Oh season of autumn how you bleed into winter

How your children sing with the freezing waters

There is no peace there is no sense of anything

Only the howling of sirens and cursed ambition

For the silent sing songs to only dream

And their hearts riddled with passion

Their minds rot with hope to see the sun

Their faith left dying in the twilight

For they swear there is beauty in a garden

They swear there is hope beyond the horizon

But monsters bear monsters and there is only burning

The memories forgotten become violent storms

The waters take the shape of isolation

And where is home when the silence is drowned?

Where is heaven in the darkest of skies?

And where is freedom in the confines of chains?

For I know the sorrows of old

Her gloom the unwanted shadow

The bastard child of light and decay

And before me lies the beauty of desperate want

Dying helplessly in the gardens they grew

. . . actually I don’t feel like giving an explanation but believe me it’s not meant to be “pessimistic” in anyway and should be more liberating than anything. Paradoxical I know with the image of “beauty dying”, but “beauty” in this poem should be read as more of an antithesis to joy or love as opposed to a product. That’s all I’m going to say but I hope that helped and remember someone somewhere loves you.

The Ballerina Who Dreamt She Was A Pilot

FYI: The title has absolutely no relevance to this post.

So it’s been a month . . .

This poem’s called Oh Beautiful Beautiful

 

Oh Beautiful Beautiful

Motionless and waiting 

Dare I cry the name of love’s lost melodies?

For once I held them in my aching palms

And loved them

They were precious to me 

And they cried back to me

Harmonious and insufferable

Fixtures of an erroneous race

Lost are the days 

And the moments

Swallowed by the darkened rooms

Where we rest our little heads

And ghouls now bellow their lost art

I am a tapeworm

I am an architect of dreams

Of nightmarish cinema

Fingers rotten and memories overturned

Oh beautiful beautiful

Paint the skies 

My wretched song

My shadowy fortress

And the lines pour in and out

Spilling over the metaphysical

Imprinted and betrayed

These walls where my body hangs in pieces

But the melodies

Drown 

Reduce 

Spoil

And call my name 

Oh pity me God in heaven

Am I not your son?

Oh tragic love

Love agonizing and spit out

These words

These demons 

My salvation

Forget me oh wondrous melodies

Let me love the sick hands of time

Of manufactured emotions of tenderness and regret

Let me get lost in it’s embrace of fabricated freedom

Where my love was drowned in a river of sorrow

Oh and how she beckoned

But how I sauntered

Oh beautiful beautiful

Know how I loved you

And how I sang your sweet songs

 

Story: Make one up for yourself you’ll like your version better than mine.

Morale of the story: Singing is better than not not singing.

Five “Short” Poems Make One Huge Blog (The “Because I Can” Blog)

Here’s five poems in one blog simply because I can. (Reason: Mainly because I feel individually these five poems work better as a series compiled into one blog than if they stood alone in their own single blogs.) 

Poem #1

And I’m Okay

There, among the faces

The hundreds of wanting hearts

Colliding and breaking into one another

Free falling into the hope of nothing

Of a seamless void

Colored with the smile of beauty

Beauty wrapped in a radiant light

I call the name of beauty 

And beauty’s call nostalgic

Flows into the nothingness

And all that was hoped all that I prayed

Before me like the drowning sea

Like the dream of air

Crippling to the brink 

To the brink of flying 

Everything is beautiful

There, among the faces

The hundreds of wanting hearts

Backstory: I think I was bored in class while I was still in high school and wrote a few poems and this is the only one I kept.

Poem #2

To Love

To lust only true loves shadow is deemed our fates

To kiss the kiss of vanity and our eyes desire is our hearts wait

To hold the allusion that forever’s said can be forever’s will

To give our hearts freely and mourn utter sadness oh ocean still

To you I will, not ours keep in the treasures of my most patient heart

To dream that the day to come to keep a most beautiful truth in my arms

To forever I pray that this oh most wondrous illusion to pass

To hearts true virtues may your tormenting and sorrow cease to last

To waking eyes finding only you and heavens touch alone

To the dreams dreamt and seasons kept may my yearning be known

To ocean dear though you are but drowned deep in ocean blue

To lover true pray you when all has passed forever I and forever you

Backstory: 2 years ago after watching Shakespeare In Love for the first time I felt this urge to write something and this is what transpired from said urges.

Poem #3

To Feel

The walls movie in perfect symmetry

Rhythm escapes the soul

The drum beats out of time

While catching daisies in the snow

I kill the hurting

And the hole that we dare not set our gaze

For the feelings we bury in its smile

Stares

Always it stares

As I count its ever-light

With my itchy palms I let go

To caress the only thing I’ve ever known

It cuts and spills into something so real

Something that shines

And I can’t ever forget

No

Never forget

Backstory: I wrote this for no reason in particular just kind’ve had the first line in my head and ran with it till I felt it’s end. (Fun Fact: Actually lost this poem and rewrote it from memory)

Poem #4

Sonnet I: The Rose

And then the rose of heavens springs

Into a blooming heart so coarse so true

Oh harp! Oh joy! The love it brings

As deep as wide as ocean blue

For wind and rain can sway the heart

But beauty lies in thine sacred storm

Among the ripples torn apart

Is crimson bright so soft so warm

Oh love! Oh love! This heart o’ mine

Where sparrows fly and sparrows flee

Stay gold stay pure your crimson shine

If not than break my breaking plea

“To love to die oh longing moon

To sink to shine oh precious bloom!”

Backstory: My first and kind’ve only sonnet. Wrote it on a whim.

Poem #5

From a Dream

I saw from a dream a light flashing bright

In the ethers stained golden

And my memory frame broken

For love like a flower so solemnly grows

And it’s fate is the winter and the razor sharp snow

And that light that was flashing did make me believe

That a flower in suffering could not be retrieved

In the arms of a lover or the inevitable spring

Or the beauty and wonder of what they would bring

For the sun and the stars and the moon in the sky

Dare not give into memories and in the earth they do die

And their faith over ridden with pain of December

And my heart ever gotten and never remembered

But in sleep there are flowers and lovers and light

For out of the darkness and into the night

Did my heart find a fortress in forgotten dreams

But upon waking and in through the seams

I saw from a dream a light flashing bright

Backstory: Wrote this in class because I didn’t know what the teacher was talking about. Wrote this while I was in Texas as a matter of fact.

 

2 Short Poems: The Candlelight Sessions

A couple of days ago the power went out in my house, it was a little after midnight, I was alone at the kitchen table, and everything was quiet and peaceful. To commemorate such a happening I lit up some candles got a pen and paper and decided the atmosphere was just right for writing poetry. I ended up writing two short poems (well shorter than I am used to writing). So here they are.

 

By Candlelight

 As memory flickers

Back and forth between light and dark

These inexplicable moments

Tarry with the ticking of the clocks

And the rustling of the stars

Scattered across an ill-fated sky

Where I once placed my passions

Oh murderous murderous

Disillusioned and unforgiven

The unanswered cries of my blessed isolation

Where I dream to only sleep

For the beckoning of madness

And her luminous tokens

Sieges me with an unspeakable harmony

And a most affectionate agony

Oh cursed mind how long must I suffer your woeful charms?

Can I ever be free of your prisons?

For to love by candlelight is not a dance that I would dance

But a fire that will consume me

And that harrowing beauty will flicker

In the darkness of my soul forevermore

 

So that was the first poem I wrote and right after I wrote this one . . .

 

The Tragedy of Waiting

 Oh tragedy!

How seductive are your cries

How folly are my ways

For the bird of thought no longer sings in my mornings

And it’s heart no longer flies in my evenings

But it perches itself on your footstool

Oh loveless creature know the vanity of your ways

And the purposelessness of your song

A song so uninspired and trite

Hope no longer lingers in your gardens

Where you were once free with all other living things

And how not even the sky could contain your passions

Your passions that woke me with each sun rising

And your promises that assured me of my closing eyes

That in the heart of tomorrow

And all the tomorrows that will follow

I should find you singing your songs of love

I should find you soaring on wings of freedom

And know that like the bird that serenades my soul

My hopes and my passions will fly also

Even at the setting of the sun

But alas I am still only waiting

 

. . . and that’s all I have to ay about that.

“2 Blog Posts In One Day!” Part Two: And Here’s the Poetry (14-19-14)

There’s a story behind how this poem came to be, but I don’t feel like telling it right now. Co-written with a good friend of mine here is 14-19-14 (A Beautiful Coincidence). 

14-19-14 (A Beautiful Coincidence)

It’s like this thing

That’s not there

But you feel it

And you can’t explain it

But it’s there

Breathing

It’s alive

But there’s nothing

Only traces of thought

That only you can put a name to                                                       

But not with words

But with expressions

And movement

And poetry

 

It’s like this tension

And expectancy

That you can feel

While you’re tarrying

There

In that place

Where light

And dark

Dance together in waves

Of motion

And sonance

And you drift

In

And out

Of black

And white

And color

Variances of intensity

And softness

 

A constant war

Not of flesh or mind

But of spirits

And concepts

And oceans

And galaxies

Lost in the soundless

And birthed

From the violent storms

Of tomorrow’s sparrows song

That was meant for love

But used for despair

And confusion

And wordlessness