Favorite Albums of 2013 So Far (Through June 4th).

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2013 has been a hell of a year so far.  Through June 4th, my cutoff date, I have counted over 60 albums that I believe could be considered for this list.  From those albums I have narrowed my list down to 30. Like my friend Blake, over at ghostgoth.blogspot.com, I have decided not to rank these 30 albums, but give them to you in alphabetical order.  Since it is only a half year list, a great deal can change in my feeling for some of these albums as the year goes on.  Therefor, I don’t feel completely comfortable ranking these albums at this point.  Finally, at the end of the list I will add a honorable mention section for a few albums that just missed the cut.

A$AP Rocky – Long. Live. A$AP

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Baths – Obsidian

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Blue Hawaii – Untogether

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Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

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Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Darkstar – News From Nowhere

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Deerhunter – Monomania

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Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love is the Devil

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The Flaming Lips – The Terror

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Foals – Holy Fire

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Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic 

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Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

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The Knife – Shaking the Habitual

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Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

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Local Natives – Hummingbird

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The Men – New Moon

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Mikal Cronin – MCII

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My Bloody Valentine – MBV

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The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

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Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

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Phoenix – Bankrupt!

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Phosphorescent – Muchacho

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Pissed Jeans – Honeys

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Rhye – Woman

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Savages – Silence Yourself

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The Strokes – Comedown Machine

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Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob

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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

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– Honorable Mentions – 25 albums that just missed the cut but are worth your time!

Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Atoms For Peace – Amok

Beacon – The Ways We Separate 

Charlie XCX – True Romance

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light

Christopher Owens – Lysandre

David Bowie – The Next Day

Disclosure – Settle

Ducktails – The Flower Lane

Ex Cops – True Hallucinations

Grouper – The Man Who Died in His Boat

The Haxan Cloak – Excavation

Houses – A Quiet Darkness

How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion

Iceage – You’re Nothing

Inc. – No World

James Blake – Overgrown

Majical Clouds – Impersonator

Night Beds – Country Sleep

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Torres – Torres

The Underachievers – Indigioism

Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen

Wavves – Afraid of Heights

Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

Thanks for reading,

Chuck Madden Jr. (Nolan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Album of the week March 19th: Phosphorescent – Muchacho

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I have always enjoyed finding or hearing about new bands.  In fact, I would estimate that I hear or find 20 or 30 each year.  Whether it’s a band that a friend has told me about, or a band that Pitchfork has labeled as the next best thing, it’s always a joy to find something that sticks with you and brings you passion.  Back in December a song surfaced on the internet by a band called Phosphorescent.  That track, Song For Zula, is not just a great song, but the best song I’ve heard all year.  After hearing that song, I wanted to not only hear more from them, but I also wanted to know more about this band.  After doing some research, I found out that Phosphorescent was not a new band at all.

It turns out the driving force behind Phosphorescent is a man by the name of Matthew Houck.  I also found out that Houck has been putting out records for quite awhile.  Houck started out as Fillup Shack and released a record in 2000.  After that record he changed his name to Phosphorescent and has been pounding out records ever since.  Starting with 2003’s A Hundred Times or More, Houck has released 6 records.  Count his new one Muchacho, and then you have record number 7. As I researched the band, the one problem I came across was the limited amount of information on Houck himself.  The best I could come up with after reading several interviews, is that Houck is middle-aged, enjoys drinking, has had heart-break in his life and is a very easy going individual.  And after listening to his new album, all of these characteristics stand out.

Muchacho is one of the most enjoyable records I have listened to this year.  Starting with Sun Arise! and ending with Sun Arising, this record knocks it out of the park. When I listen to this record I want to sit outside with my headphones on, a beer in hand and just waste the day away.   And that feeling starts with Song for Zula.  Houck really pours his heart out on the table on this track.  To begin, we get airy synthesizers combined with fiddle loops, drums and a pedal steel.  The sound that is conveyed is mesmerizing.   When Houck’s voice and words begin, the song becomes poetic.  He starts out by saying “Some say love is a burning thing, that makes a fiery ring. Oh but i know love as a fading thing, just as fickle as a feather in a stream.” Not only did these opening lines destroy me, but it multiplied when hearing the despair coming from Houck’s voice.  This is a man that sounds like he has been through a lot in his life.  You feel pain, struggle and just the voice of someone who has seen it all and lived it all.  As the song continues he compares love to being trapped in a cage with no escape.  At the end of the song, which clocks in just over six minutes, he depressingly says, “O and all you folks, you come to see. You just stand there in the glass looking at me. But my heart is wild. And my bones are steam. And i could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.”

As for the rest of the album, Houck doesn’t disappoint.  The song Ride On/Right On is a fun track that includes clapping drum beats, a organ and some really grooving guitar riffs.  The song is fun and is a completely different kind of song than Song for Zula.  Other stand outs include Terror in the Canyons and The Quotidian Beast.  The whole album has a indie rock meets folk flare to it. It completely works for me, and the album really does deserve to be listened to as a whole from front to back.  If you were like me and had never experienced Phosphorescent before, do yourself a favor and listen to this record.  I fell in love and I hope it can impact you the same way.

Thanks for reading,

Chuck Madden Jr. (Nolan)

Album of the week March 5th: Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

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Let me start off by welcoming everyone to a new weekly post.  I can’t promise that i will be able to keep this up on a weekly basis, for as we all know things come up in everyone’s lives.  I can promise that i will try my best, and hopefully this weekly posting will give readers a reason for excitement, and a eagerness to check out this blog.  With that being said, welcome to the first post of Album of the Week.

Trevor Powers has had quite a two year span.  The 23 year-old artist from Boise, Idaho known as Youth Lagoon,  has put out two records since the fall of 2011.  His first record, The Year of Hibernation caught on with critics and music fans alike.  His brand of lo-fi bedroom pop made it difficult for me not to have songs like Afternoon and Bobby on repeat all day.  These songs were intimate, but also they were well executed pop songs.  The album worked for me, and it became a favorite of mine in 2011.

This last week, Powers released his follow up album to Hibernation, titled Wondrous Bughouse.  Many people, including myself were looking forward to this record.  I expected more of the same from Powers, lo-fi pop songs that created intimacy.  What I got was some something completely different, and i couldn’t be more excited.   This album is a big step for Powers.  The first thing that jumped out at me is the length of these songs on this album.  Seven of the ten tracks clock in at over 5 minutes in length.  The album itself clocks in at over 50 minutes.  While longer doesn’t always mean better, for me it works on this record.  I get a great deal of Animal Collective influence from this album, and also a more mature approach at songwriting in general.  These songs need room to breathe, and in listening to the album, several spins are required to take the album in.  That’s not to say there are some standout pop songs on this album.  Songs like Mute, Dropla, and Raspberry Cane are well constructed pop songs that will stay in your head for days.

The next, and most important thing that stood out to me about this album are the themes.  When I first played some of this record to my friend Kendra, she said “This album reminds me of going to a carnival”.  After thinking about it for a second, i completely agreed.  The album uses sounds that remind me of riding a Merry-go-round.  The repetitiveness of the album also makes me think of riding that ride as a kid, going around and around, and never wanting it to end.  This concept is fascinating, at least to me, but as you listen to the album the deeper this concept becomes.  Stay with me here, but as the Merry-go-round goes in a circle, so does life.  We live, we die, and life continues in this world.  The lyrics in this album have somewhat of a morbid side to them.  In Dropla, Powers sings “You’re playing a song, one that’s for me. While my physical body is turning in my grave.”  He then goes on to sing in the chorus, “You will never die, you will never die, you will never die.”  In another song, Pelican Man, Powers ask, “You wanted, you wanted, to know that they won’t come back to life.  But they did, in a heartbeat, and chased you down the concrete.” In most of these songs, death is a main subject, but also the thought that life continues.  Like the Merry-go-round, the music and the lyrics have a repetitive nature, and a theme that resembles a circle of life type of concept.

Wondrous Bughouse is a hell of an album.  Do yourself a favor and listen to this album as soon as possible.  In a week that was full of great releases, including excellent albums from The Men, Blue Hawaii, Ryhe, and HTDA, this is the album that hit me the hardest.  In my opinion, this was a big step forward for Powers, and i can’t wait to see what he has in-store next.

Thanks for reading,

Chuck Madden Jr.

What up?!

Good day everyone! This blog has been started so i can share my opinions on movies, music, food and whatever else enters my mind on a daily basis.  I have a background in film studies, including a Bachelors degree at Missouri State University.  I am an avid collector of films and vinyl records.  I am addicted to watching food network, and LOVE all types of Asian food.  I hope there is something here that will attract anyone who reads my posts.

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