Favorited ex.fm Songs

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Albums of 2013 (21-30)

With 2013 coming to a close, I've compiled another favorite albums list. Last year I published my 50 favorite albums and made note that I kept making my list longer every year. This year I've consciously decided I need to show just a small amount of restraint, so I'm limiting myself to "only" 30 albums this year. I think there's a pretty good variety on here, so hopefully there's something everyone can enjoy. Without further ado, onto the list...

30) Charles Bradley - Victim Of Love

Charles Bradley's second album finds him belting out love songs with an energy few 60+ year olds possess. My knowledge of the soul genre is limited, but he's one of my favorites and his story is as good as any you'll find. A few weeks ago he released a really cool cover of a Black Sabbath tune too that I recommend checking out. You can find that one here.

29) Great Apes - Thread

Great Apes are a punk band from San Francisco fronted by Hanalei singer/songwriter Brian Moss. I've written before about my love of Hanalei. While the music of Great Apes is decidedly different from the folkier Hanalei, Moss' influence and voice are still present and "Thread" is a very solid punk record. It's well worth checking out if that's your kind of thing.

28) The National - Trouble Will Find Me

The National seem like a pretty divisive band. Some people love their music and other people think it's boring and that the people who love it are crazy. I side closer to the former. They aren't my favorite band in the world, but Matt Berninger's baritone voice can be intoxicating at times. If you've enjoyed one of the band's previous five albums, I imagine you'll enjoy "Trouble Will Find Me" as well.

27) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II

"So Good At Being In Trouble" is one of my absolute favorite songs released this year. Throughout the year, the song's chorus has repeatedly just popped into my head out of nowhere. The album's lo-fi/psychedelic indie rock took me a bit longer to get into than some albums, but I've definitely come around on it. Plus any band that can write a song as good as "So Good At Being In Trouble" has my attention.

26) Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripely Pine

I saw Maine native Aly Spaltro (aka Lady Lamb The Beekeeper) open for Kaki King a couple months before her album came out. At the time, I was intrigued by how well she could fill up a room with sound using just her voice and a guitar. The album does a really good job of showcasing her talents while adding a few more instruments to the mix. It is a fantastic debut, and I look forward to seeing what she can do with her career.

25) Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Foxygen sounds a bit like a band out of place in 2013. Their music has a clear 1960's sound. The Velvet Underground is the biggest comparison I hear, but that's probably because I'm more familiar with them than other artists. I've seen some criticism from people claiming the band is just copying other bands before them. However, I feel like all bands do that to an extent, and Foxygen is at least really good at it. If you go into the album with an open mind, it's a pretty enjoyable 40 minutes of music.

24) Mikal Cronin - MCII

Following up his self titled debut with "MCII", Mikael Cronin is giving labelmates She & Him a run for their money for least creative album titles. Fortunately, Mikal Cronin is just another in a long line of really good artists releasing music on Merge Records, and everything else about the album is pretty good. I've actually listened to this album less than most of the other albums on here, but each time I have, I've found myself nodding along to his blend of pop/rock.

23) Hey Marseilles - Lines We Trace

Seattle-based Hey Marseilles first introduced the world to their orchestral folk/pop on their debut album in 2008. We've had to wait a long time, but 2013 finally brought the follow up to that album and it does not disappoint. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 5 years for the third album.

22) Kevin Devine - Bulldozer

A quick look at the blog archives indicates that I've somehow only written about Kevin Devine once on here. That's a real shame because he's one of my favorite lyric writers. One day I'll have to dedicate a post to him. This year, he ran a Kickstarter campaign that was funded in less than one day. The product of that campaign is this solo album as well as an album with his backing band. Both albums are really good, but I found myself coming back to the solo one a bit more.

21) Streetlight Manifesto - The Hands That Thieve

I don't listen to much ska music anymore, but I've got a real soft spot for it (dating back to my days of playing saxophone for a ska band in high school) that is likely never going to go away. Streetlight Manifesto was always one of my favorite bands, and "The Hands That Thieve" is a good indication of why that is. It's pretty close to physically impossible for me to listen to their horns without whistling along. Combine the catchy horns with Tomas Kalnocky's singing, and I'm hooked. If you want something with a lot of energy that's gonna get your foot tapping and your mouth whistling, then look no further.

I should be back tomorrow with albums 11-20. Until then, you can sample each of the albums from this portion of the list with a song below.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bob Dylan makes coolest music video ever

Bob Dylan, apparently not content to rest on his laurels as one of the greatest songwriters ever, decided to make one of the coolest music videos ever. The video, for "Like A Rolling Stone," allows the viewer to surf through 16 different channels while the song plays. You can watch sports highlights, shopping shows, cartoons, The Price Is Right, or a number of other things, but the catch is that regardless of which channel you turn to, the people are mouthing the words to the song. The video doesn't appear to be embeddable, but you can click here to watch it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A bit of new music from the interwebs

It's been a little while since I've been able to post, but I had a chance to poke around a bit the last couple days, and I discovered some new songs I thought I'd share.

First off, Charles Bradley continues to make fantastic soul music as evidenced by a new song called "Ain't It A Sin." The weather has gotten pretty cold here in Iowa the last few days, but some nice soul music can sure warm up a room. I may have to return to Charles Bradley pretty often this winter. If you're interested in Charles Bradley, there was a documentary made about him called "Charles Bradley: Soul Of America" that was really interesting. He's had a pretty incredible life, and it's a good thing he was finally able to share his music with the world. The documentary is streaming on Netflix, so check it out there if you have access.

Hospitality put out an excellent self-titled debut album in 2012 on Merge Records. The band has announced that their sophomore album, "Trouble," will be released on January 28. In the meantime, the first track released from the album is the delightfully titled "I Miss Your Bones." The track has definitely whet my appetite for the rest of the album in January.

I didn't expect to find myself enjoying an artist that is opening for Black Sabbath, but then I heard Reignwolf. I first encountered Reignwolf at Sasquatch this year where he put on a really solid set. He has currently only released two songs, but I'm looking forward to hearing a full length album sometime in the future. It's sure to pack plenty of punch whenever it comes out.

And lastly, I really enjoyed the open letter Lorde wrote on her 17th birthday. I haven't really listened to her music because I'm not too up on pop music, but she sounds a lot more mature than a lot of people older than her. I'll be rooting for her success in the future. The letter can be read here.

Hopefully I'll be able to start posting my favorite albums of the year list before too long and then maybe update this thing a bit more often.