End Of Year Report: 12 Different Perspectives On Music In 2013

6a00d83451b74a69e2017d3e40bf35970c-pi

If you’re a fan of mainstream and indie variations of rock music i.e. Arcade Fire, Kurt Vile, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re closer to my dad’s age and was still wishing for that new My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie album or that Replacements reunion back in January, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Pharrell, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re Kanye West, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a female pop star and your name isn’t Lady Gaga, 2013 was a good year for you.

If you’re a Lou Reed fan, 2013 was not a good year for you (though you probably went back through all your old Reed records and rediscovered your love for Transformer and “Street Hassle”, so maybe it was a good year).

If you like music, 2013 was a good year for you. 2013 was a good year for (almost) everyone, but there are several different way to look at this past year. Here are 12 of those perspectives as we celebrate the end of a historic year in music.

2013: The Year Of Lou Reed’s Passing

LouReed_WarholMotion

One of rock music’s most influential poets and explorers passed away in 2013, and fans around the world went back to their Velvet Underground and Transformer records and mourned. It was one of those deaths that united all people to celebrated an incredible life, for Reed was one of those few musicians that nearly everyone knew, even if they didn’t know that song they really liked is called “Walk On The Wild Side” (or that it’s about cross-dressing). Even towards the end of his life, Reed never stopped exploring the possibilities of music, and we’ll miss his sense of wonder and beauty that he found in even the ugliest of places.

Check out these 10 songs that’ll introduce you to Lou Reed.

 

2013: The Year Of Impressive Women

miley-cyrus-we-cant-stop-1-650-430

2013 was a quite a year for women in music. You had Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves, Beyonce, and Brandy Clark all making headlines and selling tons of records in 2013 (“tons” is adjusted to a modern time when few musicians are selling enough records to keep their jobs). We also had new music from Lady Gaga and, though Artpop wasn’t as good as we all thought it would be, it’s big news whenever a new Gaga album is released (in fact, it’s even bigger news that Artpop flopped and that the modern pop era that she helped create has moved on from her). And on the other side of the spectrum, we had Laura Marling, Haim, Savages, Sky Ferreira and more ladies making some of the best alternative music of 2013.

 

2013: The Year Of Nostalgia

david-bowie

If you told me on December 31, 2012 that in the next 12 months we would have new music from My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Dismemberment Plan, Boards of Canada and Jay Z AND that The Replacements, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Postal Service, The Breeders and *NSYNC (!) would reunite and perform, I would have told you that you were crazy. Well 2013 was a crazy year indeed.

 

2013: The Year Of The Modern Classics

936186_10151439180496538_1411978719_n

Vampire Weekend made their best album, Kanye West made his Kid A to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy‘s Ok Computer, Arcade Fire loosened up and still made an enduring rock record, Daft Punk returned with the biggest hit of their career, Arctic Monkeys became the best soul-rock band in the world, James Blake won the Mercury Prize, and we heard new music from Kurt Vile, The Strokes, The National, Kings Of Leon, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Queens of the Stone Age and many more.

Yeah, 2013 was a year for modern classics.

 

2013: The Year Of The Rookie

fcfce7c2

Back in January we didn’t know much about Haim, Palma Violets, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, CHVRCHES, Foxygen, Disclosure, Chance The Rapper, Savages, Perfect Pussy and Lorde, but now we all know who theses guys are.

 

2013: The Year Of Trying To Figure Out Spotify

royalties

It’s hard to remember life before Spotify and before having the ability to stream nearly every song you wanted to hear anytime you had an internet connection. For music fans Spotify is a blessing, a free gateway to (almost) any song you want to stream. For artists however, it’s a completely different story.

In 2013 Spotify became one the dominant music streamers in America, and we began to understand its place within a music industry that desperately needs to adjust to how most people listen to music. Those who oppose Spotify’s model include prominent musicians such as David Byrne, Thom Yorke, Beck, and many more who claim that Spotify still hurts musicians with their money breakdown.

The above picture is from a Stereogum article discussing how Spotify works and how it makes money and pays back the artists.

Only time will tell if the Spotify model can last and, more importantly, if it can be changed to benefit the musicians, but in 2013 there was movement (good or bad) to determine a future for the music industry.

 

2013: The Year Of The Open Letter

Sinead O'conner Facebook

In the age of smartphones and social media, it’s nice to see that musicians are keeping in touch by writing letters to each other and letting us all see what they’re saying.

Sinead O’Connor Reaches Out To Miley Cyrus To Not Whore Herself Out

Sinead O’Connor Writes Another Letter To Miley After She Compares Her To Amanda Bynes

Sufjan Stevens Corrects Miley Cyrus On Her Grammer

(But then we have this awesome Miley Sinead mash-up video that makes the whole fued ironic)

Childish Gambino Writes A Letter Via Marriott Hotel Stationaries

GoldieBlox To The Beastie Boys Concerning Girls

Jay Z’s song “Open Letter” Addressed

 

2013: The Year Of The Fox

 

2013: The Year Of The Rise And Fall Of The Harlem Shake

 

2013: The Year Of Pharrell

pharrell_620

Here are some of the things that Pharrell accomplished in 2013:

  • He was nominated for seven grammy awards for this upcoming Grammys.
  • He created the first 24 hour music video for his song “Happy”, which you can view here.
  • He’s featured on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”, two of the biggest hits of 2013.
  • He helped produce Jay Z, Azealia Banks, 2 Chainz, Mike Posner, Nelly, Mac Miller, Mayer Hawthorne, John Legend, The Weeknd, Aloe Blacc, Miley Cyrus, Pusha T and many more.
  • He helped produce the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2 and Man Of Steel, two of the biggest summer movies of 2013.
  • He got married and celebrated his 40th birthday (serious, the dude looks 20 and he’s 40).
  • He announced his next solo record for next year which will have the help of Columbia Records, and it’ll feature “no rapping”.
  • He seems like a real chill guy.

So yeah, Pharrell won 2013.

 

2013: The Year of Creative Album Releases

arcade-fire-reflektor3

In 2013 there were many popular musicians who were either willing (or desperate) to make their album release THE event of the year, which required a lot of creativity (and money). This year was full of creative releases that built up so much hype, or in some cases there was no time for hype to build. Here are some examples:

  • In 2013 Arcade Fire became The Reflektors and released cryptic messages via chalk on walls and performed with big heads on The Colbert Report and released the album on YouTube for one day that was matched to the visuals of the movie Black Orpheus, one of the key inspirations behind Reflektor.
  • Jay Z and Kanye, both members of The Throne mind you, released major solo albums in 2013, but they both promoted their albums in the most polar opposite ways. Magna Carta Holy Grail was announced via The NBA Finals and Jay Z partnered up with Samsung to sponsor the album. Yeezus had no radio, no TV, no sponsors – only Kanye himself proclaiming he was a God on one of the most memorable SNL performances of all time. He also projected his face on the sides of buildings and premiered a softcore-porn music video on Ellen. In short, Jay Z was corporate America, and Kanye was the counterculture.
  • For their Lollapalooza set, Death Grips decided not to show up at their own show (or they never planned on showing up, we’ll never know) and then they canceled the rest of their 2013 tour. And oh yeah, they happened to release a new album (Government Plates) to a sharply divided fan base and had everyone else talking about it – it appears that from now on, whenever someone unexpectedly drops a new album, it’s called “pulling a Death Grips”.
  • Childish Gambino released a massive 72-page screenplay for this year’s Because The Internet.
  • Daft Punk unveiled Random Access Memories by premiering “Get Lucky” at Coachella which was followed by multiple billboards and SNL appearances.
  • Katy Perry promoted Prism via a gold truck.
  • Very recently, Beyonce dropped her self-titled album out of nowhere. This technique has worked with Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and other indie artists (like I said before, Death Grips), but for a pop megastar like Beyonce to do this it was potentially revolutionary.

 

2013: The Year of Insanely Great Music

In addition to all these artists I’ve mentioned before, we also had great music from Deafheaven, Mikal Cronin, John Mayer, MGMT, Drake, Iron and Wine, Josh Ritter, Phoenix, The Thermals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phosphorescent and so many more. There were countless other hit songs that I didn’t include that are in my Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of 2013, and there were plenty of great records that I didn’t have room to talk about that are included in my list of my favorite albums of 2013. And of course, it was a fun year for Headphone Nation – there was never a time when there was nothing to talk about.

Here’s to a mind-blowing 2013, and here’s to what 2014 might bring us.

Happy holidays y’all.

My 31 Favorite Albums of 2013

6a00d83451b74a69e2017d3e40bf35970c-pi

In alphabetical order.

arcade-fire-cover

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

 

am

Arctic Monkeys – AM

 

bill-callahan-dream-river-album-500x502

Bill Callahan – Dream River

Stream the record here.

 

Chance_The_Rapper_Acid_Rap-front-large

Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

Download here.

 

charles bradley victim

Charles Bradley – Victim of Love

 

21dd905b-1

CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

 

4e6c6fb2

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

 

David Bowie's The Next Day

David Bowie – The Next Day

 

dawesstoriesdontend3

Dawes – Stories Don’t End

 

Deafheaven-Sunbather1

Deafheaven – Sunbather

 

Amygdala181113

DJ Koze – Amygdala

 

WAt2CAoPaM

Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

 

Jason_Isbell_Southeastern-_cover-by-Michael-Wilson1

Jason Isbell – Southeastern

 

john-mayer-1376403903

John Mayer – Paradise Valley

 

THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE ALBUM COVER AND TRACK LIST REVEALED!

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

 

Kacey-Musgraves-Same-Trailer-Different-Park-

Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

 

936186_10151439180496538_1411978719_n

Kanye West – Yeezus

 

Kings-of-Leon-Mechanical-Bull-2013-1200x1200

Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull

 

Kurt-Vile-Waking-On-A-Pretty-Daze

Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

Laura-Marling-Once-I-Was-An-Eagle

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

 

Mikal-Cronin-MCII

Mikal Cronin – MCII

 

my-bloody-valentine-mbv-608x605

My Bloody Valentine – m b v

Stream the album here.

 

The-National-Trouble-Will-Find-Me-608x608

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

 

Push-The-Sky-Away-PACKSHOT1-768x768

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

 

d98d01b2

Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar

 

rhye_woman_5x5_phys-29f00bf_custom-01679020529c267c46cfe4b4f6fb3ab08b37dc7b-s6-c30

Rhye – Woman

 

Savages-Silence-Yourself

Savages – Silence Yourself

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

 

Speedy-Ortiz-Major-Arcana

Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

 

the-strokes_comedown-machine

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

 

vampire-weekend-tour-e1359991028830

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the 

My Favorite Songs of 2013 (With A Spotify Playlist!)

6a00d83451b74a69e2017d3e40bf35970c-pi

Here they are, in no particular order, a Spotify playlist of all my favorite songs of 2013.

In Case You Missed It: Arcade Fire Reveals Official Reflektor Artwork, Audio and Music Video

arcade-fire-reflektor-cover-500x500

Above is the confirmed album artwork for Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor, and the band has bestowed upon us the official audio AND music video for the single that takes the name of the album.

The following has also been confirmed about the new album:

  • Release date is October 29th.
  • It will be a double album.
  • That’s David Bowie (!) you’re hearing on “Reflektor”.
  • James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem mastermind) helped produce the album.
  • Arcade Fire will be the musical guest for the season premiere of Saturday Night Live (with Tina Fey hosting!) on September 28th.
  • The album artwork features the statues of Greek legends Orpheus and Eurydice. Check out a quick Greek history lesson via Consequence of Sound.
  • Here is the awesome video below

Classics In The Making: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Movie Soundtrack

The-Perks-soundtrack

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a popular coming-of-age novel written by Stephen Chbosky in 1999 and is slowly reaching Catcher in the Rye status as an essential tale of the highs and lows of high school. I didn’t read the book, but I did see the 2012 movie adaption starring Emma Watson (which was actually written and directed by Chbosky).

The movie was great, and I – as probably most of us would quietly admit – felt a strong connection with Charlie, a quiet kid who was nice and meant well and liked The Smiths (ok maybe not that) and hated high school and fell in love and had that one teacher you actually liked and all that  jazz. I’ve been told that Chbosky changed a lot of the book’s story for the sake of making the movie more “watchable”, so everything I’m talking about concerns the movie plot.

But the best thing about the movie wasn’t the movie itself — it was the music.

“Over many years, I have collected songs…Some of the songs are popular. Some of them are not known by a whole lot of people. But they are all great in their own way. And since these songs have meant a lot to me, I just wanted you have them as a soundtrack for whatever you need them to be for your life.”  — Chbosky in the album’s linear notes

For a movie dealing with the awkwardness that is our teenage years, the music had to reflect that isolated part of our lives, and Chbosky nailed it with his selection of tunes.

Here’s the album:

1) The Samples – “Could It Be Another Change?”
2) Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come On Eileen”
3) Galaxie 500 – “Tugboat”
4) New Order – “Temptation”
5) The Innocence Mission – “Evensong”
6) The Smiths – “Asleep”
7) Cracker – “Low”
8) Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”
9) XTC – “Dear God”
10) Cocteau Twins – “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops”
11) David Bowie – “Heroes”
 

The movie also includes the following:

Simon & Garfunkel – “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”
Procol Harum – “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”
Nick Drake – “Time Of No Reply”
Misfits – “Where Eagles Dare”
Ride – “Vapor Trail”
Suzanne Vega – “Gypsy”
The Moody Blues – “Nights In White Satin”
Smashing Pumpkins – “Daydream”
Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”
 

To save you some time, frustration and money, check out this awesome Spotify playlist for all these songs from the movie.

To Charlie, these songs were sources of comfort and reminders, for better or worse, of life in high school. For any rock and indie loyalist, these songs form a fantastic mixtape of nostalgic songs written before many of us were born.

And there lies the beauty of this soundtrack — it manages to make you miss high school, or at least remember it more fondly. Music has that strange power to make us remember a past memory or emotion, and this soundtrack nails the high school feeling. It reminds you of a great John Hughes soundtrack for a movie he might of made if he were making movies today (and wasn’t so charming as he was cheesy).

Ok, maybe you didn’t grow up loving Smashing Pumpkins or Fleetwood Mac or maybe you were actually popular in high school, why care? Because this is still a killer mixtape of great songs. The bulk of these songs are plucked from the nostalgic late 80s and early 90s but go as far back as the 60s. From classic rock to goth to new wave, the best selections from various genres are represented here for your enjoyment. Because of this album, I’ve started listening to more Nick Drake, Ride, and Suzanne Vega — there’s a new artist waiting for you within this soundtrack.

I’m trying very hard to stay away from a Garden State comparison, though that soundtrack (and maybe movie) is the closest thing my generation has to something that speaks true to our times (even if we mistake clinical depression for modern fears of our early 20s). But if that soundtrack is for our post college years, then The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack should be for our high school years. Because even if you didn’t go to high school in the 90s, these songs speak universally for those four years that everyone remembers.

And if nothing else, maybe you’ll start listening to The Smiths?

Playlist: 20 Songs From March 2013 (Via Spotify)

Spotify-Logo

Is it spring yet?

Anyways, here are my 20 songs from March 2013.

Music History 101: The Bowie And Jagger Tragedy of 1985

In 1985 something terrible happened.

Two of rock & roll’s great singers came together to perform a classic Motown hit. Their intentions were good, but the product of their collaboration (which in hindsight probably wasn’t a good idea to start) did irremediable damage to the lives of their fans.

Music would never be the same.