Amoeblog

50 Essential Albums Released in 2014

Posted by Aaron Detroit, December 5, 2014 09:20am | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for ten years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. Here is my extensive list of new essential listening, released in 2014. There is a wide range of genres and artists represented here because musical passion should not be static.





1. Swans - To Be Kind (Young God)
To Be Kind, Swans’ 3rd LP since their 2010 reformation (and 13th overall,) is an unlikely triumph after 2012’s seemingly unmatchable masterpiece, The Seer. Any trepidation one might have about the sprawling triple-LP’s intimidating track lengths should evaporate under it’s hypnotizing ebb-and-flow of mental blues, super-honed grooves, manic clatter and hushed passages; all of which are eventually crushed by monolithic waves of majesty. Nothing short of classic.



 2. Carla Bozulich - Boy (Constellation)
Boy is Carla Bozulich’s (of Ethyl Meatplow, Geraldine Fibbers and Evangelista-renown) 3rd solo affair, but in a lot of ways it feels like her first. Bozulich pours her famed, devastating whiskey-voice into a cocktail of funeral country, death blues and industrial noise that sticks to your guts. Carla herself refers to this LP as her “pop record,” and if that's a true description, we could sure use a whole lot more “pop” albums like Boy. Don’t overlook this one.



3. Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused (4AD)
If you’re looking for the classic Sunn O))) sound, you should look elsewhere. Soused is to its bones a Scott Walker album -- wild, weird and wonderful. Walker’s baritone swan dives into cascading riffs that eventually ebb into low hums and sudden fits of industrial noise; a perfect fit for the album’s lyrical narratives of violence and oppression. Despite all this, it is bizarrely accessible --so far as modern day Walker LPs go.



4. Andy Stott - Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)
Composer/producer Andy Stott once again collaborates with vocalist Alison Skidmore. Strangers takes us on a late-night drive through varying auditory terrains: Minimal, long, tone pieces make their way through field recordings and cut-up ethereal vocals before a beat even drops halfway into the second track. By the second half of the nearly hour-long LP, Stott eventual begins to work up a sweat. Lively and dissonant yet beautiful and otherworldly, the album rides a line between chopped-and-screwed 4AD and bonkers analogue jams but remains skillfully cohesive.


5. Mica Levi - Under The Skin (OST) (Milan)
Typically, one would not include a film score on a year-end albums list, but Mica Levi’s score for Under The Skin is quite the exception. The score does just what the title suggests: it gets under your skin. Ligeti-inspired string orchestrations center around the same three notes throughout. Sometimes they appear as a comfort after long passages of dark pulses and dry wind, but more often the notes unsettle as they sweep back in out of darkness; the herald of “something-wicked-this-way-comes.” Even without the stellar film visuals (also one of the best of the year,) the score works all on it’s own as a spellbinding piece.


6. Wild Beasts - Present Tense (Domino)
 Wild Beasts are all grown up. It sounds sort of cliché, but Present Tense makes no qualms about that point. Gone is the horny hooting and howling of Two Dancers and Smother and in its place is an emotional and existential folk that sugars it’s eccentricities with sleek pop production --the sort that Kate Bush mined on Hounds of Love.




 7. Fatima Al Qadiri Asiatisch (Hyperdub)
Fatima Al Qadiri builds a dark, grand, video game-like world on Asiatisch. The artist herself calls this sonic landscape an ‘imagined China.’ One cobbled together from modern western media perspectives of the East, commenting on its racism, villainization and exoticism. Pan flutes and gongs meet crisp digital grime production and lyrics mocking Disney. It’s an album that challenges your own enjoyment of it.




8. Perfume Genius - Too Bright (Matador)
On Too Bright, producer Adrian Utley (of Portishead-fame) helps Mike Hadreas puts some pretty sick f—me pumps on the feet of Perfume Genius’ once delicate balladry. Sometimes he dons Alan Vega’s shades or PJ Harvey’s gold lamé (Harvey collaborator John Parish appears on nearly every track.) Too Bright is a surprising, successful progression from one of the most honest and compelling young songwriters around.



9. Mirel Wagner - When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day (Sub Pop)
When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day is the sound of the Finland-based singer/songwriter Mirel Wagner mastering the style of death balladry she introduced on her striking and stark 2011 self-titled debut. Wagner embellishes her guitar/voice arrangements very little here, adding only a bit of cello & piano (courtesy of Craig Armstrong) to just two of the album’s ten darkly gorgeous, mortality-obsessed tracks.



10. Vessel - Punish, Honey (Tri Angle)
It’s not really fair to call Punish, Honey an “electronic” album -- it’s creator, Seb Gainsborough, built his own instruments and beat the holy hell out of sheet metal and guitars he crafted from old bicycle parts-- but it does owe a debt to industrial innovators like Fad Gadget, Coil and Einstürzende Neubauten. Despite its primitive instrumentation and 30 year-old influences, Gainsborough’s instinctive production and dubby flare make it thoroughly modern.


11. Gazelle Twin - Unflesh (Last Gang)
The music Brighton-based electronic producer Elizabeth Bernholz (aka Gazelle Twin) has crafted for her second LP, Unflesh, is a Cronenbergian dystopia -- one that she sees as an actual reflection, not a projection. Bernholz uses pitch-shifted vocals, industrial rhythms, and supermarket field-recordings to accompany her lyrical narratives concerning bodily unease in the face of corporate rule and global riots.




12. Pharmakon - Bestial Burden (Sacred Bones)
Margaret Chardiet's follow-up to her intense, confrontational and instantly classic power electronics/industrial debut. Burden builds on the layered electronics and primal energy of it’s predecessor and adds some accessibility à la the digital bonus track “Bang Bang,” a version of the oft-covered Sonny Bono track that features Chardiet‘s singing in lieu of her usual distorted screams (with an arrangement that sounds strikingly similar to the one done by industrial godfathers Coil.)




13. Weyes Blood - The Innocents (Mexican Summer)
Weyes Blood moves away from the lo-fi faux-vintage of her previous effort, (2011’s The Outside Room,) and into a classic lush folk that recalls greats like Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Requiem For Forgiveness”) or Bridget St. John (“Bad Magic”).




14. Lust For Youth - International (Sacred Bones)
 2014 delivered the unfortunate news of the break-up of the excellent Danish “super-group” VÃ¥r. Elias Bender Rønnenfelt went back to his duties in Iceage and Loke Rahbek returned to his work with Hannes Norrvide in Lust For Youth who then released the superb International. The album sounds like it could have been the sophomore VÃ¥r album, straying far from LFY’s previous lo-fi fare. The album keeps a punkish charm (mostly thanks to the vocal delivery) while still delivering well-produced synth-pop anthems and ballads alike (Rønnenfelt even makes a vocal cameo.)


15. The Body - I Shall Die Here (Rvng Intl.)
The unholy union of The Body and The Haxan Cloak’s production is fittingly titled I Shall Die Here. Both artists are masters at creating bleak sonic worlds, so it’s not surprising the collaboration returns in spades. Doom riffs, industrial noir soundscapes, distorted bass, insane shrieking and super-creep-factor spoken samples make up the best LP by The Body to-date.




16. The Soft Pink Truth - Why Do the Heathen Rage? (Thrill Jockey)
 A deconstruction, homage, and also a giant “fuck you.” Drew Daniel perverts black metal classics by the likes of Darkthrone, Scarfago and Venom into vogue-ball burners, sultry house jams, and gothic floorfillers.




17. Dan Bodan - Soft (DFA)
Berlin-based Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bodan makes off-kilter electro-soul. His pillow-talk R&B delivery is impossibly sincere for lyrics that deal in such unapologetic, romantic mush but Soft’s production features so many unsettling and jarring elements, it evokes a sort of paradoxical unease not unlike first love stomach-butterflies.





 18. HTRK - Psychic 9-5 Club (Ghostly International)
 On Psychic 9-5 Club, Australian trio HTRK (pronounced Hate Rock) wrap their warm dubby atmospheres around the laconic yet sultry vocal delivery of singer Jonnine Standish. It’s resulting sound is a sort of “Sade goes witch house,” which is actually pretty infectious and thrilling.




19. Jane Weaver - The Silver Globe
(Finders Keepers)

Brit singer/songwriter Jane Weaver pulls from a basket of tricks left behind by Silver Apples and Hawkwind on her new cosmic folk-pop album, The Silver Globe. The album takes it’s name and is inspired by Polish director Andrzej Żuławski's film On The Silver Globe, which should give one an idea of the sort-of 1970’s krautrock/soundtrack-vibe contained within. Weaver’s pretty and air-light voice floats above the fuzzy synths and rumbling bass, producing some wonderful earworms.



20. Ben Frost - A U R O R A  (Bedroom Community / Mute)
Composer Ben Frost’s new LP is the darkest of his career thus far. Thor Harris (Swans) and Greg Fox (ex-Liturgy) collaborate on this monstrous slab of searing synths and heavy percussion, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that eventually gives way to beautiful, somber and ethereal textures underneath all the buzz, whir and din.


21. Grouper - Ruins (Kranky)
Recorded solely with a portable 4-track, stereo mic and an upright piano, Liz Harris’ 10th album as Grouper sheds the layers of reverb of previous work for something more intimate. Ruins is the perfect rainy-day album (of which Los Angelenos can now also accurately enjoy since it’s FINALLY raining here!)





22.
Mykki Blanco - Gay Dog Food (UNO NYC)
Mykki Blanco is one of the most important figures in modern hip-hop. His lyrical sting, leftfield genre-bending, fluid gender presentation, and bold taste in production partners are all unmatched. Blanco’s rather experimental Gay Dog Food (currently only available as a digital download, but a physical release is imminent) displays seemingly unlikely collaborators Kathleen Hanna and No Bra weaved perfectly into executive producer Gobby’s aggressive electronic patchwork.


23. Sleaford Mods - Divide and Exit / Chubbed Up+ (Harbinger Sound / Ipecac Recordings)
Divide and Exit spins like the incensed rants of the bitter drunk at the end of the bar set over rollicking bass and chintzy-but-nod-worthy beats. Just about every other line is punctuated with “Fuck Off!” It’s endlessly clever and fun. The fortified singles collection, Chubbed Up+ (also released this year,) is an even better collection than the quite stellar LP itself.



 
24.
Ex Hex - Rips (Merge)
 Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag) returns with her best album in over a decade and easily her most accessible. Ex Hex is Timony’s smoldering trio and they play gum-snapping power pop and new wave. Rips does more than its title promises, it totally shreds.




 
25. Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love (Matador)
Iceage switch out their slash-and-burn style punk for a drunken, swaggering post-punk reminiscent of early Bad Seeds. It’s a surprising and much welcomed shift.






26. Harassor - Into Unknown Depths (Dais)
LA Local crew Harassor spew punky and raw black metal all over your stupid face; the kind that could only be conjured on the American Hellmouth known as Los Angeles. “Winter’s Triumph” is an adventurous highlight driven by a catchy Killing Joke-esque riff.


27. Black Rain - Dark Pool
(Blackest Ever Black)
No Wave/Industrial pioneer Stuart Argabright (Ike Yard, Dominatrix) had the luck of having a 1995 shelved industrial film score he composed under the moniker Black Rain finally see the light of day in 2012, due to the unearthing skills of UK imprint Blackest Ever Black. Argabright now picks up where he left off in ‘95 with aptly titled Dark Pool. Retro-future soundscapes and Bladerunner atmospheres are helped along by the spectral vocals of Zoe Zanias of Linea Aspera.



28. Myrkur - Myrkur (Relapse)
 One-woman ethereal black metal band, Myrkur (aka Amalie Bruun,), does not pioneer new ground for her debut, but she does a most excellent job playing with the template of second-wave Scandinavian black metal and imbuing it with a powerful femininity.


29. DonChristian - Renzo Piano (Camp & Street)
NYC- based singer/mc DonChristian gets extra amorous on his abstract R&B-flavored Renzo Piano. Taking cues from actual architecture in the construction of the songs, Don layers wordless but evocative vocalizations over his smooth come-ons. There’s also hot, hot production from Boody and The-Dream, plus the obligatory guest spot from Le1f.


 
30. Lucy - Churches, Schools and Guns
(Stroboscopic Artefacts)
Berlin-based producer Luca Mortellaro avoids anyone’s ideas about a sophomore slump wholly with his provocatively titled Churches, Schools, and Guns LP. Look no further than the 4/4 of “The Illusion of Choice” and its modular leads. The blanket descriptor for a whole lot of techno these days is “dystopian” and Churches mines that concept and mood quite well; it also pulls from deeper emotional wells on tracks like “Falling” with its repetitive airy vocals and “The Best Selling Show” with its
broken, eerie organ chords.

31. Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

(Prospect Park)
Major labels seem bent on keeping their most adventurous pop acts from public view and remain clueless as to what even makes them special. Last year, Capitol records finally wised up and let Sky Ferreira release her fuzzy tunes, but this year’s withheld gem had to be dropped back into the arms of its creator before the public FINALLY got to hear it. Azealia Banks’ Broke with Expensive Taste has a long and storied road dating back to 2012, which is surprising considering it’s quality and uncompromising, eclectic vision. It’s the kitchen sink of Hip Hop albums featuring everything from feisty ballroom tracks to indie surf-rock. Azealia Banks rides each track flawlessly, transitioning from her playful-but-always-fierce rhyming right into confidently singing her own damn hooks.


32. FKA Twigs - LP1 (Young Turks)
 There is miles of ink about Ms. Twigs already, and for good reason – her debut album, LP1, flawlessly melds a bonkers electronic experimentalism with mainstream R&B and pop with spellbinding results.





33. The Hidden Cameras - Age
(EvilEvil)
Joel Gibbs ends The Hidden Cameras long absence by adding dub and synth-pop to the projects' patented brand of “Gay Church Folk.”




34. Xiu Xiu - Angel Guts: Red Classroom (Polyvinyl)
 It is really no surprise that the darkest of all albums Jamie Stewart has produced under his Xiu Xiu moniker was conceived and realized in Los Angeles. Don’t dance away the bad thoughts, dance to them. Xiu Xiu is Dead, Long Live Xiu Xiu!




35. Aphex Twin - Syro  (Warp)
A matured but none-the-less utterly thrilling comeback LP. As a friend of mine noted, every song in the world should have a “Syrobonkus Mix.”







 36. Meshell Ndegeocello - Comet, Come To Me (Naive)
Meshell Ndegecello has had a impeccable string of albums for two decades but she really hit a glorious stride with her first post-major label release, 2007’s The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams. That stride has continued right up to this year’s excellent Comet, Come to Me. Meshell leads her band with longtime collaborator and guitarist Chris Bruce through a killer cover of Whodini’s “Friends” into tracks that recall another one of her adolescent heroes -- Prince. There’s also chunks of trippy dub, and reggae, plus homages to jazz-era Joni Mitchell.


37. Morrissey- World Peace Is None of Your Business (Harvest)
Morrissey’s comeback LP of sorts, the fantastically-titled World Peace Is None of Your Business, had a stumbling roll-out that eventually led to the ever-surly crooner leaving the label that released it. This led to its subsequent withdrawal from the market --all within in a couple months of its release. Despite the drama, it’s a fantastic set of relevant and timely songs that embellish Moz’s classic-era sound (the subtle synths are back) with occasional Flamenco guitar and mariachi horns.



38. Blonde Redhead - Barragán (Asawa Kuru LLC)
A quiet gem like Barragán can get lost or easily discarded with the instant gratification of large MP3 libraries and streaming now the norm. It’s the sort of LP that takes its time to reveal its many treasures; repeated spins of the album’s electro-pop, shoegaze riffing and chamber-folk unveil its massively rich rewards.



39. Marianne Faithfull - Give My Love To London (Easy Sound)
This is Faithfull’s best album since 2004’s PJ Harvey-produced Before The Poison and a late career peak. The sarcastically-titled Give My Love to London features gorgeous collaborations with Nick Cave, Roger Waters and Anna Calvi that perfectly suit the beautifully ravaged and ever-wise voice of Marianne.

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50 Essential Albums Released in 2013

Posted by Aaron Detroit, November 30, 2013 02:45pm | Post a Comment

Aaron Detroit, Buyer at Amoeba Hollywood. I've worked in Hollywood for nine years, but started my time with Amoeba - way back in 1998 -  at the San Francisco store. Here is my extensive list of new essential listening, released in 2013. There is a wide range of genres and artists represented here because musical passion shouldn't be static!

1. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
   


After a seven-year hiatus (not including 2010’s collaborative opera with Matt Sims and Planningtorock,) the Swedish sister/brother duo crafted something utterly singular with this sprawling, conceptual, yet immensely thrilling triple-LP. Habitual lyrically challenges gender constructs and unchecked privilege against visceral (and sometimes monstrous) techno that also refuses any box you throw over it. 

 

These New Puritans Field of Reeds



2. These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
   
 No guitars, no dubstep breaks, no angular post-punk posturing. Jack Barnett & Co. look to 20th century composers and Fado for inspiration on their third LP. Woodwinds, brass, field recordings, a magnetic resonator piano and additional vocals from Portuguese vocalist Elisa Rodrigues move TNP into a whole other category of artist, far away from the faceless NME hordes they once mingled with. 
 
3. David Bowie - The Next Day
 
 David Bowie The Next DayQuite honestly, it’s his best since his last great LP --33 years ago--Scary Monsters. This isn’t anything but Bowie being himself, but the emotional weight of his lyrics give the new tracks a vitality missing from much of his work in the previous decade. It’s exhilarating throughout, with most of his famous tropes (Space!!) sounding somehow fresh. New classics like the title track, “Dirty Boys,” the Scott Walker-nodding “Heat,” plus the stellar Bowie-doing-Morrissey-doing-his-best-Bowie moment on “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die.” 
 

Holden The Inheritors

 4.
Holden - The Inheritors
 
  Like The Knife, James Holden took a 7-year sabbatical before unveiling this wonderfully odd auditory landscape…with no sign of a dancefloor anywhere. Mystical and emotive electronic trips from the earth to the stars – complete with modular synth, saxophone freakouts and pagan chants. 
 

5. M.I.A. - Matangi
  
I’m completely mystified by folks’ general reaction to this album. By my estimation, this is a perfect balance of everything M.I.A. has done up until now with one foot forward. Its sequence focuses on keeping the party going, while Maya’s taunts, one-liners and rhymes are sharper than ever. Modern music needs M.I.A.!
 

 
 


 6. Pharmakon - Abandon Pharmakon Abandon
   
 Intense, confrontational and instantly classic power electronics/industrial from NYC’s Margaret Chardiet. The maggots on the LP jacket should warn you that Pharmakon is not everyone’s type of racket. Somewhere in a neighboring universe of Throbbing Gristle, early Diamanda Galas, and Prurient.
 
 
 

7. Vår - No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers
    Vår No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers
A romantic post-punk and melancholic industrial-pop LP from members of Iceage, Sexdrome, and Lust for Youth. An aural salute to young manhood and male bonding with nods to mid-80’s Coil and early The Cure. 
 
 






Forest Swords Engravings
8. Forest Swords - Engravings
   
Brit producer Matthew Barnes’ aural universe on Engravings is all at once creepy, dreary and lovely.  Dubby beats, spidery (and occasionally doomy) guitar-lines, glitchy and ghostly voices make this your new essential rainy day listening.
 
 
 
 
 

The Body Christs, Redeemers
9. The Body - Christs, Redeemers
 
  Portland-based two-piece The Body create a soundtrack for some sort of celestial hell; that is, music perfectly evocative of its time and space - Armageddon music, y’all. Desperate shrieking, angelic choirs, and sinister samples weave around cavalcades of riffs, drones, weighted pounding and tribal drumming. Once again includes help from members of The Assembly of Light choir.
     



10. Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band - Take Me to the Land of Hell
     
If your opinion on Yoko Ono is of the Boomer-constructed variety --Yoko Ono Take Me to the Land of Hell the antiquated B.S. that she broke up the Beatles and her music is just “a bunch of screaming”— this particular list is NOT for you. Now, if this album would be your first foray into the musical world of Ono, then it’s a really great place to start. Despite the LP’s sticker big-upping her various collaborators here, it’s a Yoko album through-and-through (though co- producer Yuka Honda – of Cibo Matto - clearly understands Ono’s strong suits.) Hell easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of her 1970’s work when she first took the avant garde to pop audiences. From angular and punky workouts to chilling personal ballads to funky political polemics, this is (just like Bowie) her best album in 30 –odd years. Very few really have the ability to so successfully straddle the line of profundity and absurdity like Yoko, and Hell demonstrates that quite well.
 

11. My Bloody Valentine - mbv
   My Bloody Valentine  
A year heavy with vets, but no one had anybody more excited than My Bloody Valentine (this guy included.) The logical follow-up to Loveless – 22 years later – and it’s a total stunner.  mbv is MBV doing what they do best, and quite certainly, it was worth all those delays and the epic wait. It has familiarity that’s instant, but still pushes guitar rock into new terrains like no one else can.



Grouper The Man Who Died in His Boat
 
 

12.
Grouper - The Man Who Died in His Boat
   
 Gorgeous, ethereal hymns. Liz Harris’s companion piece (of sorts) to 2008’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill… is her most accessible work to date and her most infectious while maintaining Grouper’s aural haze and dark themes (The title track is based on a true story of young Harris finding a dead body.)
 
 

13. Humanbeast - Venus Ejaculates into the Banquet
     Humanbeast
This gender-subverting Rhode Island duo formerly dealt mostly in brutal sonics. Now they have traded-in the ear-splittin’ for body-movin’ to brilliant results. Most surprising here are the gorgeous slow burner beat-laden ballads. The house diva on a bed of nails or the gospel singer wrapped in dirty, dirty sheets!






 John Grant Pale Green Ghosts
14. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
     
On his sophomore solo album, John Grant teamed up with Biggi Veira from Gus Gus to craft  an album that rockets him far above the heights of  his solo debut and his work with his former band, Czars. Dark orchestration, synths, and his always confessional lyrics propel the standout title track, but elsewhere he mines some 70's AM Gold while getting his hateration on with ‘I Hate this Town.’ Alternating on the axis of “ wry” and “soul-crushing.”
 

 15. Primal Scream - More Light
     Primal Scream More Light
Bobby Gillespie & Co. made one of their finest LPs of their career with More Light. It’s a very fine-tuned LP that succeeds at the cohesive weave of all Primal Scream’s disparate parts and genre-hopping form year’s past. The album easily stands next to career high-points like Xtrmntr and Screamadelica, Urgent political electro-rock with noice Psych furs-esque sax hooks and awesome guest spots from Mark Stewart of The Pop Group.
 

Cakes da Killa
 
 

16. Cakes Da Killa - The Eulogy
     
The Eulogy’s opening verse (after a crazy, pitched-up ‘MacArthur Park’ intro) is hard! Much in the same way Lil’ Kim announced herself to the world at the front of Hardcore. An important artist for the 21st Century; just getting started.
 

17. Factory Floor - Factory Floor
       
I know everyone was busy groovin’ to Daft Punk, but Factory Floor’s debut full-length was the album that induced body-spasms in my household. Think: Chris & Cosey with a little speed in their tea.
 






Death Grips
18. Death Grips - Government Plates
     
 As with their major label contract-killing  LP, No Love Deep Web,  Death Grips  released a new LP in November  with no lead-up hype and as a free download. Government Plates opens with the sound of a bottle breaking, signaling that the LA Based-duo is about to cut your throat. Like M.I.A.’s Matangi it’s a challenging first listen due to its uncharted electronic terrain full of twists, sharp, sharp turns and dead stops, but it’s a far, far darker ride. It inevitably leads you to obsessive listening as the tracks reveal their glitchy, sneaky and unconventional hooks. The vocals are more chopped, pitched and fucked-with than ever before, yet the album feels like the most cohesive statement the band has made thus far. There is no blueprint here, Death Grips are obliterating everything in front of them to form their own path. 
 

19. Jessie Evans - Glittermine
Jessie Evans Glittermine
     
It’s been a few years since Evan’s solo debut, Is It Fire?. She has spent the time globe-trotting, relentlessly playing shows, and honing her craft which her sophomore solo record, Glittermine, readily showcases. Snaky horn sections glide over icy-synth stabs, roller-disco, dubby & jazzy grooves and Evan’s sexy and optimistic beckoning. 
 


Teeth of the Sea



20. Teeth of the Sea - Master
     
Master is the perfect title for this ferocious untameable beast, UK quartet Teeth of the Sea’s ’s 3rd and definitively best album. A sprawling collage of sounds including eerie synthed-out Krautrock, Sci-Fi jams, ambient drone excursions, blasts of white noise and metallic riffing -sometimes all within the same song. 
 
 
 
21. Merchandise - Totale Nite
   Merchandise Totale Nite
Lengthy, sometimes psychedelic, somewhat nebulous, but always meaty rock tracks laced with crooner Carson Cox’s languid lyric swallowing. Sort of like listening to 1980’s college radio with fuzzy reception, Ian Astbury's and Morrissey's vocals blending together over some JAMC jam coming in from a different station. 

 




No Bra Candy
22.  No Bra - Candy
     
There has been a long hiatus in output from performance artist Susanne Oberbeck aka No Bra. 2006’s club hit “Munchausen” and  its follow-up album,  Dance and Walk, were ironic and wry minimal wave. This year’s “Candy” was somewhat of a surprise release after the long absence, but also a revelation since Oberbeck has adopted a more traditional guitar-bass-drum set-up for the lumbering no-wave sound on the album; most likely influenced by her new adopted city of New York. No Bra lets you know what you’re in for on the album’s stand-out track, “Date With The Devil”: “The Devil said ‘Sing me one of your songs’ I said, ‘Well, they’re not really songs, more like shouting!”  The one Arthouse-sex-horror-comedy-industrial-no-wave album you need this year.
 

23. Prurient - Through The Window
    
The sister album to 2011’s Bermuda Drain. Dominick Fernow’s own instuctions for his foray into late-night techno: “Listen at night in the hills watching as headlights approach.” 3 Tracks, 32 minutes. Perfection. 
 
 







24. Le1f - Fly Zone / Tree House
     
For me, hip-hop this year was all about Cakes, Mykki Blanco and NYC’s Le1f. He’s crazy prolific, having released two full-length “mixtapes” this year. (I put mixtapes in quotes because in the world of queer hip-hop the mixtape has become shorthand for “free album.”) Fly Zone is the slightly fiercer of the two.  Breezy rhymes over subterranean grooves that are as experimental as they are ear-worms. "I am whatever you say I am/ Stop worrying about how gay I am."
 

25. Kirin J Callinan - Embracism
    Kirin J Callinan   
Embracism is confusing as it is infectious.  It’s part tongue-in-cheek piss-take, part serious artistic statement.  Aussie guitarist/vocalist Callinan distills all the famous frontmen from his homeland (from Cave to Hutchence) into a wickedly affecting brew--sneer and smirk alike. 
 
 

Boards of Canada Tomorrow's Harvest





26. Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
     
Boards of Canada’s long, long-awaited Tomorrow’s Harvest is a doomsday soundtrack that makes you excited for the inevitable future days of the Arizona Bay.  Evocative of all the sci-fi, apocalyptic and horror films of your youth, giving nostalgic pings with its front-and-center Carpenter-esque synth work. 
 

 27. Leila Abdul-Rauf - Cold and Cloud
     Leila Abdul-Rauf
Grey weather listening.  Abdul –Rauf normally makes racket in much heavier projects (Vastum, Hammers of Misfortune, Saros, Amber Asylum) but on Cloud, she employs piano, brass and ethereal vocals to make the perfect soundtrack for a dreary day, even if that weather is just in your head. 
 


Stara Rzeka



28. Stara Rzeka - Cie? chmury nad ukrytym polem
   An EPIC blend of folk, kraut, black metal and Nico worship. You will not hear anything else like this in 2013, and likely not after…unless it’s from this Polish one-man band. 
 

29. Deerhunter - Monomania
      Deerhunter Monomania
Monomania is the first LP by Deerhunter since they revamped their line-up, and so it makes sense that this is a slightly different animal than their previous offerings. It’s noisey as hell and blatantly queer yet still manages to be their most consistently accessible LP to-date. 
 
 
 
 



Lisa Germano No Elephants

30. Lisa Germano - No Elephants
   
Germano’s 10th full-length was quietly released early in 2013 by Badman Recording Co. (She’s only on the coolest of labels – previous homes for her earlier releases were 4AD and Michael Gira’s Young God) to almost no fan-fare. Germano has never sold-out the house or gone platinum, but has consistently put out exciting, innovative and experimental LPs for over 2 decades. No Elephants is no different; its motif is built around iPhone ringtones and the random buzzing created by amps or PA speakers when a cellphone is placed too near. Her voice weaves through the sounds in its delicate rasp. It's unlikely you'll hear such magical and interesting pop music elsewhere. I deeply hope Germano is making music for more decades to come. 
 

31. Miles - Faint Hearted
      Miles Faint Hearted
Miles Whittaker --one-half of Demdike Stare but also known for his work with Andy Stott in Millie and Andrea—made exactly the sort of electronic record I’m a total sucker for; culling inspiration from my favorite early 90’s heavyweights Aphex Twin and Plastikman as well as occasionally throwing-in some Krautrock & Neoclassical flavors. 
 

 


Autre Ne Veut

32. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety
     
Autre Ne Veut, the off-kilter electronic-soul project of NYC’s Arthur Ashin, seemed like it initially existed to deconstruct R&B-flavored pop or maybe even as a slight piss-take. But Autre Ne Veut’s second long play revels in the genre rather than pulling it apart. Ashin’s falsetto often reaches beyond its boundaries. It's enough to make the listener blush; as if we you had just caught him in front of the mirror –hairbrush microphone in hand --  singing along to R. Kelly at the top of his lungs. 
 
 
33. The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees of Reality
    The Heliocentrics
  UK Psych-Jazz collective that take cues from Sun Ra, Alice Coltrane and the like but add their own modern magick for our paranoid, post-9/11 world. 
 



Nick Cave Push the Sky Away




34. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
   
  Warren Ellis And Nick Cave’s prolific soundtrack work seems to have heavily seeped into The Bad Seeds, breathing a welcomed new icy-cool atmosphere into the beloved institution. 
 
 

35. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My TimeSky Ferreira Night Time, My Time
    
You really won’t find another straight-up pop record from 2013 this friggin’ good. Big, BIG Benatar choruses juxtaposed against new-wave riffing, pulsing Suicide-esque rhythms and production notes cribbed from Bowie’s Low. Apparently, it took some 5 years to convince her label to record and release this album. The label then inexplicably shelved any plans to release the album physically (though plenty of “promotional” CDs are floating around) instead Ferreira’s pop masterpiece got a soft digital release. Regardless of format, if you need a big pop sugar-rush -- Ferreira’s got the hook-up.
 

Author & Punisher
36. Author & Punisher - Women & Children
       
Killer one-man industrial havoc ala Godflesh and Skinny Puppy from mechanical engineer Tristan Shone.  When I first heard his music, I wondered why it sounded so fresh to me even though its influences are so obviously pulled from the era when metal and industrial were forging their first unholy unions in the fiery pits of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Turns out, Shone makes the music on his albums with self-fabricated instruments that give his tracks those unique layers of sound. 
 

37. Dalhous - An Ambassador For Laing
 Dalhous
Dalhous’s debut LP is a great companion album to BOC’s Tomorrow’s Harvest. It conjures up much of the same apocalyptic imagery, but with it’s own path through the eroding landscape; a complex and exciting patchwork of samples and breakbeats.
 

 



The Asphodells
38. The Asphodells - Ruled By Passion, 
Destroyed By Lust
   
  Most would likely remember Andrew Weatherall from his popular early 90’s remixes for acts like Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine. The Asphodells is Weatherall’s collaboration with Timothy J. Fairplay and it’s not all that far removed from those heyday mixes; New Order-esque melodic funk, Acid squelches, WaxTrax! Beats, dubby bass, BLISS!
 

39. Janelle Monáe - The Electric Lady
   Janelle Monae  

Monae continues her far-out Sci-fi-Soul Metropolis song-cycle; following the continuing saga of "archandroid" Cindi Mayweather on Suites 4 & 5: The Electric Lady. She enlists some serious help from like-minded heavy-hitters (Prince, Erykah Badu, Miguel and Solange ) with infectious results. Her duet with Badu, “Q.U.E.E.N.,” is easily one of the year’s best singles. 
 


Melt Yourself Down



40. Melt Yourself Down - Melt Yourself Down 
     
 Pete Wareham’s MYD is a hot stew of North African rhythms, no-wave skronk, optimistic sloganeering and electronic peppering. 
 
      

41. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation 
     The Haxan Cloak

Music made to listen to alone in the dark. Bobby Krlic’s soundscapes are sinister but somehow inviting all the same.  
 
 


 



42. Throwing Muses - Purgatory/Paradise 
     
Their first album in a decade and it’s a monstrous 32 tracks. All the more to love. This is some of Kristin Hersh’s strongest studio work in years and despite its intimidating tracklist size, it’s a consistently gripping spin. Packaged in a lovely hardback book with essays by Hersh and graphic design by drummer Dave Narcizo.
 


43. Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day
    Mazzy Star
  Like MBV, Mazzy Star pulled off a supernatural comeback with a didn’t-miss-a-beat LP after a near two-decade absence. Hope Sandoval’s voice is the warm blanket it’s always been while David Roback continues to construct blue-tinted daydreams with his guitar.  
 
 
 



 
Satellit Transister44. Satelliti - Transister
      Italian synth/drums duo’s experimental jazzy krautrock (or is that Krautrock-y jazz?) tangents. Great, mind-melting companion listening with The Heliocentrics and Melt Yourself Down. 
 
 

45. Asia Argento - Total Entropy
 Asia Argento
   If you’re the sort of pop culture personality that Asia Argento is – actress, director, DJ, Giallo royalty etc. – this is exactly the sort of album you should make. A super fun and weird genre-hopping ride (from dancefloor to Lee & Nancy-style duets to psychedelic ballads) with lots of established collaborators; not unlike like recent efforts by Charlotte Gainsbourg, but maybe with a little bit more of a punk sneer. 

 


Holograms
46. Holograms - Forever
     
Bigger and better second LP from cherubic Swedish dudes putting a charming, romantic spin on the ol’ Killing Joke blueprint. 


47. Savages - Silence Yourself 
   Savages Silence Yourself
  This record was a grower for me. Its  influences (The Banshees, Joy Division, Patti Smith) so obvious at first that they were a distraction from the album’s ferocity and vital juices. Sure, innovative it is not but it’s passion and idealism is refreshing and exhilarating in the current pop music sea of nihilism and brand pushing.
 






48. Raspberry Bulbs - Deformed Worship
     
Rasberry Bulbs is Marco del Rio from Bone Awl’s project, so it often gets mislabeled ‘Black Metal.’ But Deformed Worship has more in common with late ‘80s Sub Pop singles: Lo-fi, raw, aggressive and influenced by metal as much as it is by The Stooges, Joy Division and Black Flag. 
 

49. Dva Damas - Nightshade
     Dva Damas
Reverb-drenched guitars that give off a campy-but-dark Cramps-vibe, detached-but-sexy vox, and minimal electronic beats make-up this much-welcomed debut from LA duo Dva Damas. 
 

 





Tropic of Cancer
50. Tropic of Cancer - Restless Idylls
 
 Ghostly ethereal, buried vocals move languidly through icy post-punk, captivating shoegaze and funeral hymns on Camella Lobo’s first proper LP. 
 
 
 


Honorable Mentions (Other worthwhile listening):
 
 
People at Parties
 
 
 
TOP 15 EPs:

 

1.                     Mykki Blanco Betty Rubble: The Initiation

2.                               The Body Master, We Perish
3.                                Katie Gately Katie Gately
4.              John Foxx and The Belbury Circle Empty Avenues
5.                                     Zebra Katz DRKLNG
6.                               NCW vs. Piss Golden Lands
7.                                   Soap&Skin Sugarbread
8.                                        Rainer Veil Struck
9.                       Pye Corner Audio Superstitious Century
10.                                             Anika Anika
11.                              Joey Casio Daybreak / Ignite
12.                              Pale Sketcher Just Won’t Sing
13.                                            Worn Feminist
14.                                             Moin Moin
15.                                        Miles Unsecured