2013!

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Glyph

Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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  1. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    There’s some really nice stuff in here (I’m still making my way through it). I know I liked No Age and the Lips this year, and definitely Chromatics. Some other 2013 albums I’ve been listening to a lot:

    Yeezus by Yeezus, duh
    Acid Rap Chance the Rapper (technically a mixtape)
    Woman Rhye (I am a Milosh fan, damn it)
    Innanetape Vic Mensa (also a mixtape)
    The Northern Borders Bonobo
    Prisoner of Conscious Talib Kweli
    Silence Yourself Savages (I believe you turned me onto them in one of your posts)
    Long.Live.A$AP A$AP Rocky
    The Worse Things Get… Neko Case
    More Is Than Isn’t RJD2
    Overgrown James Blake
    A Thousand Faces, Act 1 Beats Antique

    I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting some. I like this year. I’d give it an A-.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      says:

      I haven’t kept up with Milosh. The only one I have by him is the one that has this on it:

      RE: this year. It could be me. None of these albums I posted are less than solid. I just realized, after I put it all together, that the post was pretty heavy on established artists and sounds, and it felt kind of disappointing. Maybe I’ve been too busy to give a lot of newer stuff much time this year? I know I haven’t had time to be scouring the MP3 blogs like I used to, so maybe I only learned about the stuff I am already familiar with/predisposed to like.

      i will say, I didn’t get the hype on Chvrches – I like it OK, it’s catchy pop music (if a tad busy), but people just seemingly went crazy for it.

      Hopefully y’all will fill me in…Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        I think my grade is more influenced by the year in hip hop, which was excellent. Kanye is at the top of his game, Chance is a revelation, the A$AP folks are kicking ass and taking names, Kendrick put out no new albums, but like 300 world destroying verses, Kweli has not one but two good albums, Jay-Z got a lot of praise even if I didn’t like it, and the overall state of hip hop remains remarkably strong. Even the bad hip hop is pretty good these days. Hell, Beyonce put out an album last week with some good rap on it. Oh, and Action Bronson exists.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        Oh, and Chvrches: it’s not my thing. I imagine its crowd probably loved Lorde, who my son likes a lot (and my girlfriend has gotten into, too, via my son). You and I are either too old or too jaded or something.

        I felt similarly about the Vampire Weekend album that came out this year. I can listen to it, it’s fun for a bit, but I don’t understand the volume of praise. I mean, I’ve seen it listed on pretty much every top 10 or 20 albums of 2013 list (looking just now, Pitchfork has it at #2!, behind Yeezus, so at least they got that right; oh, they have Phosphorescent’s Muchacho in their top 10, and it’s not bad). Or the new Arcade Fire (which Pitchfork has at #3).

        Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        I will admit to a perhaps-irrational prejudice against Phosphorescent, based largely on the insufferable cowboy-hatted, Laurel-Canyon-peaceful-shirtless-feeling photographs I see attached to anything about him.

        I mean, really:

        http://www.nogenremusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/phosphorescent1.jpg

        Are you serious? That might as well be this:

        http://img1.etsystatic.com/004/0/5851351/il_fullxfull.380160499_gd9j.jpg?ref=l2

        That said, that song isn’t bad. If a little bit “Chariots of Fire”.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      says:

      BTW, if you liked the Lips album, def. check out those vids. I think the tracks are even better live, would love to have been at that gig.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    My experience with the MBV album was one of familiarity. When I got loveless, I leaned in and dug for some of the songs. I knew that if I just dug deep enough, I’d get it. It’d click. I pushed against the curtains of noise to find the melody underneath… and found several different songs that rewarded me for finding them.

    MBV made me say “oh, yeah! This is like that.”

    And no more.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Well, that’s the problem, IMO. Loveless has songs.

      I featured this before, but I thought this was a revelation; a reminder that for all Loveless‘ alien sounds, there are simple, sturdy songs underneath:

      m b v just has the sounds, and not the songs.Report

  3. Avatar dhex
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    says:

    i did like the mbv album, but i would say it’s too competent, too well crafted. part of the wonder of loveless – and let’s face it, it would be impossible to follow up loveless in any real way –

    portal – vexovoid – probably the ugliest, most impossible to understand album i’ve heard since coil’s “constant shallowness leads to evil”. there are riffs…i think. it is goddamn ineffable and brilliant.

    locrian’s “return to annihilation”

    savages – “silence yourself” (i found it hard to get this until i finally got her voice)

    akron/family – “sub verses” (consistently one of the best band bands in america)

    autechre – “exai” (a qr code stamping on my ears for 70 minutes)

    boards of canada – “tomorrow’s harvest” (unlike mbv, though they will never match “music has the right…” they also never stop growing and really expanding their craft.)

    fuck buttons – “slow focus” (love these guys, see them live if you can)

    liked a lot of other stuff this year but as far as current releases i think these dominated my time.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to dhex
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      says:

      I was surprised by how much I liked Tomorrow’s Harvest. I played the Fish Buttons many, many times and either got impatient with it or fell asleep (literally, this is not a joke/slam) every time.

      Granted, I’ve been sleep-deprived, but still.

      I’m guessing THAT Portal, is not this one:

      Report

  4. Avatar Russell Saunders
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    says:

    Keeping it to things I’ve listened to for the first time in 2013, the first thing that springs to mind is “Partita for 8 Voices,” which I really love but can only listen to when I’m by myself, because the Better Half finds it incredibly annoying. Also, the newest Vampire Weekend album. Because I really like Vampire Weekend.

    Also, thanks to Mindless Diversions, I have listened to a lot of artists I would probably never have discovered. Right at the top of my list would be Hem (I seriously love “Half Acre” more than any new song I’ve encountered since I first heard Bonnie’ Raitt’s “Silver Lining.”) Also Lykke Li, Sonnymoon. I’ve learned that I kind of like a few Aphex Twin songs, and really, really intensely dislike the videos.

    And of course, there was “Sex Dwarf.”Report

  5. Avatar Roger
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    says:

    Starting in May, I decided to play my entire digital catalogue in alphabetic order by song. I listen all morning while writing, reading and surfing the net.* I have now made it through “M”. Constant rediscoveries.

    However, yesterday I read that the streaming service Mog has excellent near CD quality. I signed up and am thoroughly impressed. Just about every album I wish I owned but don’t is on there. Yesterday I listened to Bowie’s Hunky Dory, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, Don Cordelius’ Soul Train’s Greatest Hits and a Christmas album by the Four Mandolins (along with about twenty other artists). Today I pulled up The Tubes Now album.

    My standout record discovery of the year is probably Ray Brown and Laurindo Almeida’s Moonlight Serenade. Classical guitar and bass. Way cool. Another great discovery this year is an album of regional folk vocals from around the world by the audiophile label MA. It is called Voices.

    * my wife and I also listen to music for an hour after dinner over a cup of coffee. This is dedicated listening time and usually involves vinyl.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Roger
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      says:

      Roger, is Mog free or paid? I’ve been using the free Spotify and have been pretty impressed with the selection (I’ve found some pretty obscure independent stuff); sound quality is good enough (comparable to radio way back when maybe).

      If you pay, they up the stream quality and lose the ads, but I mainly use it to see if I want to purchase something from elsewhere (again, like radio used to be used).Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        MOG is a free trial that then turns into an ad based model. I was impressed enough to spend $5 month. Quality is very good but not great. Online reviews suggest it is similar to SpotifyReport

  6. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    By the way, since I mentioned Beyonce’s new album, which, if you haven’t noticed, is the biggest thing in the world right now, and since we’re talking about 2013, I wanted to note that it’s really pretty good. I don’t mean pretty good as far as Beyonce albums go (I am not a fan), but pretty good by any measure. And if you watch the videos (it’s 14 songs with 17 videos), it’s something to be reckoned with. It’s not musically ground-breaking or anything; you can hear precisely who she’s and her team have been listening to in every track (particularly Drake), but it is incredibly sexy (incredibly, at times maybe even uncomfortably so), smart, well produced, has some great guest appearances, and its approach to and relationship with feminism, race, marriage, and sex will be talked about for a long time. In fact, there’s probably an interesting post about Beyonce’s feminism and the way it makes some feminists crazy, the way it’s raised to the surface underlying racial dynamics in feminism that have been particularly pronounced in the internet age, etc. No politics, of course, but this is not your typical pop star album. None of it (literally none of it) is safe for work, but here’s a taste (which, given the song “Blow,” might be a poor choice of words):

    In a perfect world, someone would put her together with a good dub or d&b or just d DJ and a great hip hop producer.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      says:

      underlying racial dynamics in feminism

      Don’t know if you saw this interview with DeRogatis on R. Kelly, but it touches a little bit on that:

      http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2013/12/read_the_stomac.php

      The saddest fact I’ve learned is: Nobody matters less to our society than young black women. Nobody. They have any complaint about the way they are treated: They are “bitches, hos, and gold-diggers,” plain and simple. Kelly never misbehaved with a single white girl who sued him or that we know of. Mark Anthony Neal, the African-American scholar, makes this point : one white girl in Winnetka and the story would have been different.

      No, it was young black girls and all of them settled. They settled because they felt they could get no justice whatsoever. They didn’t have a chance.

      http://www.avclub.com/article/read-this-sickening-details-of-investigating-alleg-106543#

      For some reason the “link directly to comment” function doesn’t seem to be working for me, but this was from AVClub commenter Super Karate Monkey Death Bike re: Jezebel’s coverage of R. Kelly:

      Because they claim to be a ‘feminist’ site, although their brand of ‘feminism’ somehow doesn’t include mentioning the multiple underage black girls R Kelly has taken advantage of. Instead they do a ‘oh, ha ha” post about his album – with a link to put more money in his pocket, which instantly negates any “oh, it was totally sarcastic commentary and really critical but came across bad!” dumbass half hearted counterargument.

      Anyway, this all may be a wee bit political for Mindless Diversions (no politics!); if people are interested in discussing this (or get heated), we may need to move it out.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        The funniest thing I’ve read all day was an explanation of one of Jay-Z’s lines in this post. The Vice mag live-blogger doesn’t get the reference, because she’s probably too young and too white, and her mishearing of the line is hilarious. And it’s not a throw away line, it’s a line that complicates things. It’s a line that raises questions. And the fact that most Beyonce fans aren’t going to get it without an explanation gets to the heart of some of the cultural and racial dynamics at play, and who this is “for.” I’m not expressing myself well, because I’m trying to skirt around what would be obvious minefields and get us into politics, but man, this is when I wish this place was more diverse, because I would really like to see the discussion that came out of a black feminist writing about this album at OT.Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        send her an invite maybe?Report

      • Avatar dhex in reply to Glyph
        Ignored
        says:

        i did enjoy reading that, but i also feel like she got punked by her own righteousness; it’s a bit like getting mad at a mime for being bad at singing.

        though come to think of it, it is a reference from a movie that was made before a good chunk of beyonce’s fans were born, and certainly before most of them were ten. maybe there’s a lot of 40+ beyonce fans though? dunno.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        There was a popular Twitter meme yesterday surrounding “anime eat the cake.”Report

  7. Avatar Jonathan McLeod
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    says:

    “The album’s not far enough out there to blow my mind, nor catchy enough to lodge in it, despite dozens of plays.”

    This is a pretty good description of mbv. It’s not that the album is bad (I do enjoy it); it’s just… I dunno, it just isn’t, ya know?

    noting is is easily my favourite track, and that might be saying something right there.

    Report

  8. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    OK, now I’ve made it through all of the songs (whew!). Now I see Neko was in there, so I feel silly for listing her in a list of “other records.” I really like the Barn Owl and Darkside, and I think I learned about Beaches from you before, but they’re pretty awesome.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    You guys are all so much hipper than me. 2013 was the year I discovered OneRepublic. Turns out they’re pretty good.

    Also, that Nirvana band from Seattle. Those guys can really rock! When will they release their next album?Report

  10. Avatar Maribou
    Ignored
    says:

    I found a lot of good bands this year. Some good solo artists too.

    But, for me? This was The Year of Bastille. No competition, really since May when I first starting listening to them. Also the year for realizing how much I usually prefer quirky live performances to album tracks (even when I really dig the album tracks).

    Here’s my favorite song of theirs:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3EvXTTBaxQ

    Here, they cover City High at a show they played next to a bridge with like 50 people there, shaker played by random 4ish-year-old audience member who demanded custody of it during an earlier number:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRLC1cDqAcM

    Here’s another of my favorite songs of theirs, performed by the lead singer in a closet-like clothing store back in 2009:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRLC1cDqAcM

    And here they are …. mildly intoxicated… in a house party series from 2011:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_tCxr8TVto

    I haven’t listened to any of their tracks more than a dozen times on iTunes, or listened to the CD more than 20 times, yet. But I’ve probably listened to 50 different versions of almost all of their songs on YouTube.

    (If someone can fix my embeds, which almost never work, I will be grateful.)Report

  11. Avatar Maribou
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    says:

    The experience of chasing Bastille and a few other artists around YouTube also got me into channels (as a substitute for the old radio station experience, more or less), too. Songs from a Room, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, KCRW, KEXP, Live Lounge, QTV, The Crypt Sessions, The Mahogany Sessions, Like a Version, etc etc etc. It’s nice to feel curious about and browse new-to-me artists regularly again, instead of just pulling out what I love from the many songs my friends and acquaintances post (though I still do that a lot too).

    I think this is the song that got me into Live Lounge:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELdefRI3gDo

    And this is my favorite performance from the Crypt Sessions:

    Report

  12. Avatar Slade the Leveller
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    says:

    Wire revisited their Document and Eyewitness era tunes in 2013’s Change Becomes Us, and produced this gem (live amateur recording, but you’ll get the point, the sound is good). Let’s hope these British icons never quit!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lJXrQILq7A

    Chicago’s very own J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound put out record #3, for which this little gem was shot. Look for the shot by one of the world’s great record shops, Reckless.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hupdAoeHDjI

    Released in 2012, but discovered by me in 2013 (so it qualifies, damn it!) this catchy Django Django tune will get your head bobbing, but listen to the lyrics. One of the all-time great kiss off songs. The rest of the album is just as good.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDjpOrlfh0Y

    Finally, Wayne “The Train” Hancock released Ride this year, another collection of old timey Western swing that I just can’t get enough of. If Wayne plays your town, you owe it to yourself to get out and see him. Here he is live in an amateur video with passable sound covering an old Jimmie Rogers tune.

    Report

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