A certain phrase that I would use to describe my self would be ‘a day late and a buck short’. This assesment might be a little harsh, but most people that know me will at least agree that I tend to be a bit oblivious at times.
In this regard, it’s time to make a 1 month over-due list of what 2013 sounded like to me. Some of these songs and albums weren’t released in the past year, but they played a rather important part in my year.
Without further delay, my jumbled 2013 Top 10:
Driver Friendly – ‘Messidona’ (Peaks + Valleys)
The Wonder Years – ‘There, There’ (The Greatest Generation)
These two songs are in a tie for the song that I connected with the most this year
Driver Friendly is my current obsession and no matter how many times I listen to this song, I still get the same deep, cutting feeling in my heart and gut. I’ve been travelling a lot recently with work and it gets pretty lonely. This song just seemed to encapsulate everything I was feeling with being on the road and just trying to figure it all with work and life.
But earlier in the year, The Wonder Years stormed in with this opening track off of their 2013 album, ‘The Greatest Generation’ and totally floored me. It’s emo for grown-ups; rather, people who are supposed to be grown-ups, have grown-up problems, but have no clue what to do in adult, social situations.
Finding ‘There, there’ and ‘Messidona’ encapsulate my favourite type of music discovery. The band or the song you’ve been searching for, but can’t find. You dig through countless song, artists and albums thinking the well has gone dry and then you hear it…Eureka.
The Menzingers – ‘Good Things’
This year I was able to travel to Texas and Louisiana with work and I had a hell of a time getting there and around because of some bad weather.
In the end, my travel problems resulted in the best part of my trip. One of my flights was cancelled, from Houston to San Antonio, and I managed to hitch a ride with very nice Texan who took me to the best barbecue in Houston and told me what the world of Texas was really like.
In the The Menzingers’ track, there’s a line about feeling American and since moving away from my native soil I’ve always wondered about what it means to be American and to be perceived as American. I asked myself, ‘What have I done that people see as American that I see as normal?’.
This song made answering that question a little easier.
Balance & Composure – The Things We Thing We’re Missing & Separation
The final band from the recently labeled ’emo revival’ is a little heavier than the others. There were days I would listen to few tracks and have to stop because of how personal and raw the lyrics were.
I’d rather not into detail on this one because such personal music evokes similar personal reflection, but it can be vaguely summarised in the title of Balance & Composure’s 2013 release ‘The Things We Think We’re Missing’. Too cryptic? Too self involved and self aware? Yeah, maybe, but that’s emo.
Kanye West – Yeezus
Most people think ‘Yeezus’ is unlistenable and want Kanye to go back and to making ‘All of the Lights’, which is fair considering how amazing that song and album were.
Though if I had to arranged this list with rankings I would put this record at number two for the year. Not putting this album at number one is very important in regards to the work as a whole and how it will stand up in relation to the rest of Kanye’s music.
When this album came out every critic loved it.
No one who was affiliated with the music industry or pop-culture in general dared to speak ill of the album; however, I did not see one ‘end of year’ list place it at number one.
I believe this is because that everyone knows that Kanye West is the most predictable ‘unpredictable’ artist in the world. He is so self aware of this record and what it means and sounds like that in the larger spectrum of his work it will serve as a stepping stone for the next album.
And I predict that next album will be filled nothing but catchy singles with chart topping potential.
Just like ‘808’s & Heartbreaks’ was this raw break up record that was out of character and led the way for ‘Fantasy…’
This discourse behind the record validates all of the high rankings and praise, plus the drop on ‘Blood on the Leaves’ can bring down mountains.
Justin Timberlake (Feat. Jay Z) – Suit & Tie
I award this song ‘Single of the Year, Every Year’ and if you have to ask why, then obviously you’ve never heard it.
That is all. JT 4 Ever.
Haim –’If I Could Change Your Mind’ (Days Are Gone)
The winner for my number one album and artist of the year goes to Haim. I played this record to death when it first came out. “If I could change your mind” is my personal favourite from the record with “Falling” and “The Wire” close behind.
End to end, I loved to listening to it and trying to hear all the little fills and influences. ‘Days are Gone’ just felt fresh and oddly familiar as well. I could talk a lot about how in certain songs you hear Prince or in others you can tell which ones were produced by the same guy who produced Vampire Weekend’s most recent album, but I think you need to hear this one for yourself.
It doesn’t need over analysing. It’s a great record and should be listened to, not talked about (maybe a little).
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – ‘Just Dropped In’ & The Doors – ‘Break on Through’
This year I realised my interest in psychedelic music, which I thought was a phase, is here to stay, for a few more months at least.
An essay I once read about The Doors claimed that in everyone’s life, they will go through a two week phase where they will love Jim Morrison and The Doors. They will obsess about them and want to listen to every available recording and learn as much about their history and lore until, without any warning, they stop caring.
I went through that phase this year and it was very strange.
I’ve never liked The Doors, but I’ve never disliked them either. My only real memory or attachment to them prior to this odd aligning-of-the-planets type interest was when my Dad used to, hilariously, torture one of our pet cats by making it dance to ‘Break on Through’.
However, I woke up one morning in 2013 and decided I really needed to listen to what Jim Morrison had to say and then another morning around two to four weeks later, I stopped. My opinion , or lack there of, remains the same.
Kenny Rogers came storming into 2013 after I heard a friend singing ‘Just Dropped In’, allowing it to bore its way deep into my psyche and help me discover that The Gambler not only loved gambling, but LSD as well. Not because it is particulary better or worse than any other hit from this era, I just found the chorus catchy and wondered what condition Kenny’s condition was in.
Baths – Animals (Cerulean)
Last, but in no way least goes to this little, electronic gem. Baths actually released a new album, Obsidian, this year, but I wanted to give credit to this song from his previous release because after I discovered it I desperately kept trying to put it in as the soundtrack to a few video projects I was working on. It took a while to finally get it to click in one, but I managed to include it in a time-lapse video I did at the end of the year.
It’s a testament to the song that I still listen to it, considering I listened to it at least 50 times and cut it into 3 different videos over the space of six months.
So there you have it, my ‘Audio Tour of 2013’. I hope you enjoyed the ride.