Week In Review (1/30/15)

With guitarist and founding member Chris Walla gone, Death Cab For Cutie (almost) sounds like a new band

New album Kintsugi comes out March 31st via Atlantic Records. They’re also going on tour soon.

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Mikal Cronin announced his follow up to MCII with, wait for it, MCIII

God bless consistency, both in album names and great songs. MCIII comes out May 5th via Merge.

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Electronic music doesn’t get more compelling than Novellus’s “Twenty Eight”

Seriously, when was the last time you hear good, honest lyrics in such a moody, cryptic electronic song?

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Nick Leng – “Inside Your Mind (ft. Carmody)”

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The Twilight Sad – “The Airport”

Scottish Indie Rock sounds mighty fine.

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 Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb the Beekeeper continues to be awesome with another taste of her upcoming album

After might already be a candidate for one of my favorite albums of 2015 if it just gets released already.

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Make sure to play this Diet Cig song when you eventually breakup with your Ivy League, sweater-wearing partner

Thank you Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman for getting me through this imaginary breakup that I’m going through.

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I will share anything that features BADBADNOTGOOD, but this Marvel Alexander track is especially great

https://soundcloud.com/marvelalexander/untitled

Keep your eyes on this guy, as he’ll probably make some big waves soon.

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The new Natalie Prass album is finally out

Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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Calexico is back with a new single and a new album coming out later this year

Check out their new single from this groovy Latin Americana band.

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Colleen Green – “TV”

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Make sure to check out Coed Pageant’s latest EP Drag

Indie pop goodness that you can buy on bandcamp for whatever price you want!

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Fucked Up’s Ben Cook aka Young Guv released the music video for his tasty lo-fi power pop single “Crushing Sensation”

A little softer than his other band’s music.

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This new Only You song needs to be in a Quentin Tarantino movie ASAP

https://soundcloud.com/hit-city-usa/only-you-let-me-burn

Looks good on ya Rachel Fannan.

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……uh…….

…I like the song…but…uh…

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 Rye Pines – “Pessimist”

https://soundcloud.com/bobrecords-1/pessimist-by-rye-pines

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The best part about this new Open Mike Eagle song is that it samples Broken Social Scene’s “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl”, even if it does sound like Voldemort.

Listen here via Stereogum.

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Hear Glen Hansard cover the late Jason Molina

From his upcoming tribute EP, which will be released this March.

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Courtney Barnett announced that she’ll release her proper debut album this year, and now 2015 is already better than 2014

She made one of my favorite albums and songs of this decade so far, so there’s high hopes.

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The upcoming Will Butler album sounds better and better with each new song we hear.

First there was the Kinks, and now we hear the Talking Heads influence. I’m excited to hear what’s next.

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Beach Slang’s “Too Late To Die Young” reminds me of a Paul Westerberg/Replacements ballad in the best way possible.

Listen here via Stereogum.

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Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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My 31 Favorite Albums of 2013

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In alphabetical order.

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Arcade Fire – Reflektor

 

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Arctic Monkeys – AM

 

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Bill Callahan – Dream River

Stream the record here.

 

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Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

Download here.

 

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Charles Bradley – Victim of Love

 

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CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

 

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Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

 

David Bowie's The Next Day

David Bowie – The Next Day

 

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Dawes – Stories Don’t End

 

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Deafheaven – Sunbather

 

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DJ Koze – Amygdala

 

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

 

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Jason Isbell – Southeastern

 

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John Mayer – Paradise Valley

 

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

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

 

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Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

 

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Kanye West – Yeezus

 

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Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull

 

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Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

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Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

 

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Mikal Cronin – MCII

 

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My Bloody Valentine – m b v

Stream the album here.

 

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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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Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar

 

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Rhye – Woman

 

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Savages – Silence Yourself

 

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Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

 

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Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

 

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The Strokes – Comedown Machine

 

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Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the 

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Mid-Year Report: My Favorite Albums of 2013 So Far

2013 has been very kind to the inner rock and roll loyalist in me.

When I’m talking about rock and roll I’m not talking about four dudes playing loud guitars with no electronics, though there was plenty of that in 2013 which I also loved. I’m talking about the idea of an album crafted by your favorite band meeting some sort of expectation or a new band coming out of nowhere with a debut that blows you away. The past couple of years have been great for music, but there were only a handful of true classic albums that’ll stand the test of time, though I’m sure I’ll be eating my words in 2029 when I’m reviewing the reissue of a Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album.

But the first half of 2013 is already full of classic albums that we know now are fantastic. We had comeback albums from classic artist (David Bowie, Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, The Strokes), career-peaking albums from established artists (Vampire Weekend, Kanye West), and we’ve heard albums that will finally bring bands from the underground and possibly into long(er) careers (Savages, Deafheaven, Kurt Vile). And even take away all the critically praised albums, there were plenty of other albums that were just great, albums that even if they weren’t life changing were still worth shelling out fifteen buck for.

2013 is already the year of the classic album, and I’m not the only one who is relieved to hear that. Here are my favorite albums of 2013 so far in no particular order:

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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I could go on all day about Vampire Weekend’s maturity from Columbia lads to adult New Yorkers and how this album comes full circle to their realization of all our expectations of this band destined to make the best popular music not made by Paul Simon. And believe me, I really want to. But I won’t. Partly because it’s too easy to judge Vampire Weekend based on how far they’ve come from Oxford Commas to Diane Young, which most other reviewers (including myself) have done.

But my main reason is simple and innocent enough – Modern Vampires of the City is just a great fucking album. Forget their quirkiness, forget their cleverness, forget their backstory – just focus on the music. Listen to every note, harmony, and lyric and hear how everything is crafted with the upmost care and that these songs are true works of art. Gone is any sense of pretentiousness and instead we have an earnest album from a band finally hitting their stride.

If nothing else, listen to “Hannah Hunt”, which as of now is my song of the year, and just sit back and be grateful that a band in 2013 could make something so great.

Read my full review here.

 

Kanye West – Yeezus

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Here’s something that won’t shock you – I love Yeezus. I love Kanye West being Kanye West at his most Kanye West, I love this anti-pop album that’s both abrasive yet instantly likable, and I love to see haters shake their heads at Kanye simply for being Kanye. Here’s something that might shock you – Yeezus it not the album of the year. Not even close. Well how about Kanye’s best album? Nope, that’s still My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

But still Yeezus is so far (and will be) the most fun album to talk about in 2013 and it will still stay fresh in our ears come around December. Whether you love or hate this album you probably already have a strong opinion on it, which makes Yeezus the ultimate pop album and Kanye the ultimate pop star.

Read my full review here.

 

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

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Comedown Machine is my favorite Strokes album. I know that I’m supposed to say that Is This It? is my favorite, but that album has been wrapped up in so much legend that I think we like the idea of that album more than the actual music. Comedown Machine is great because the songs are strong and The Strokes actually sound like a band again having fun playing with each other. If the band decides to split for good, then this wouldn’t be a bad way to end things.

Read my full review here.

 

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

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I’ve always liked the idea of JT doing a classic throwback blue-eyed soul album, but at first 20/20 left me uninspired. Now I’ve seen the errors of my ways. The most impressive thing about this album is how JT manages to sound modern yet classic at the same time. This is partly due to some fantastic production, but you have to give credit to JT for being able to appeal to rock fans and pop fans with the same song. The album is very hit and miss and most of the songs are too long, but when JT hits it’s a home run.

Read my full review here.

 

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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Trouble Will Find Me is the sound of The National becoming the arena indie-rock band they were always destined to be and having nothing left to prove, so of course this is the most National-sounding of National albums – gloomy, beautiful, and depicting every day worries as if they were life or death. Even if it’s too moderate for its own good, a good National album is still better than most albums released in any given year.

 

My Bloody Valentine – m b v

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Radiohead had to follow up Kid A, Springsteen had to follow up Born To Run, and My Bloody Valentine had to follow up Loveless. It’s always a daunting task to make your next record when your last one is already hailed as a classic, which immediately puts a world of pressure upon a band that most of the times proves to be too much.

It’s one thing to release an album that has been in the works for nearly 20 years, but it’s a completely different for that said album to actually be satisfying. m b v sounds like the next logical album for My Bloody Valentine; a little different from Loveless but still capturing that signature swirling guitar sound that helped define modern indie-rock. Don’t worry kids, Loveless is still the band’s masterpiece, but what’s incredible with m b v is how well it stands on its own feet. There are only about two songs that remotely sound like “singles”, but no one goes to MBV for singles but for albums, and this album delivers. And if nothing else, many people will go back to discover Loveless, which is a beautiful moment for any music fan.

 

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

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Daft Punk’s place in electronic dance music history has never been in jeopardy, but for a while their relevance was. Their last album was made eight years ago and it was a dud and their contribution to the Tron soundtrack was weaker than anyone will admit.

So how does Daft Punk confront their weakening relevance in modern music? They made a classic throwback non-electronic dance album of course. Random Access Memories is full of dance tunes that sound like tributes to 70s and 80s dance music. An incredible list of contributors and some quality production can only do so much, but in the case of Random Access Memories they secure Daft Punk as relevant as ever. And if nothing else, “Get Lucky” is the perfect single for 2013.

Read my full review here.

 

Savages – Silence Yourself

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There were stronger albums made in 2013, but what separates Silence Yourself from every other album this year so far is Savages’s total confidence in itself, and this is their debut album! The album is a ruthless onslaught of post-punk confronting the modern sense of losing touch in a time when we’ve never been so connected. The guitars and drums match the intensity of Jehnny Beth’s vocals who also manages to write lyrics that stand tall among a genre that is mostly known for noise. Expect plenty of great things in the future from Savages.

 

Other great albums to check out:

Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

 

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away

 

James Blake – Overgrown

 

Deafheaven – Sunbather

 

Mikal Cronin – MCII

 

Albums to (hopefully) look forward for the rest of 2013:

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Self Titled (July 23)

John Mayer – Paradise Valley (August 13)

MGMT – MGMT (August 20)

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks (September 3)

Arctic Monkeys – AM (September 9)

Drake – Nothing Was the Same (September 17)

Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull (September 24)

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Part 2 (September 30)

Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues (?)

Arcade Fire – TBA (?)

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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Playlist: 20 Songs From May 2013 (Via Spotify)

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In May we said goodbye to a legend from the 60s, we all listened to new albums from Daft Punk, The National and Vampire Weekend (and they were all good!), and I listened to a lot of Brit-Pop (more specifically I listened to a lot of music from the Brit-Pop era).

Here are my 20 songs from May 2013.

Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber

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