Friday, December 27, 2013

A Tentative Top Twenty of 2013

Maybe I'm just getting bad at year-end lists, but one was quite difficult. First off, ordering the releases became a Sisyphean task - leading to an expanded list of twenty. (Yay??) I am confident that #1 is a better album than #20. But as you close in on the middle ground, my foundation turns to shifting sand. The official #7 could be tomorrow's #13, and today's #11 could be next month's #3... Plus there was so much this year that I just completely didn't hear.

I'm not even talking about crazy stuff like Kanye West or Daft Punk. I never got around to new albums by recurring favorites like Blut Aus Nord (What Once Was... Liber III), Barn Owl (V), or The Time & Space Machine (Magic Hour EP). Plus I could have maybe tried out new guys like Parquet Floors, Deafheaven... or even oldsters like Broadcast or Guapo. Who knows?

O well, here we go!

#1 The Next Day - David Bowie

"The Next Day" from The Next Day (2013)
"Where Are We Now?" from The Next Day (2013)

Genre - Return of the Ziggy Duke Oddity
Official -
Location - London, England

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - The Quietus
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Bowie Shop, Amazon

Look, we all know what a mischievous elven trickster is David Bowie (#6, 1972 & #10, 1974). So I'm fully prepared to admit later to being duped. But for such a geezer, this seems a surprisingly, shockingly good album! Whatever part some medieval tyrant might play, the opening title rocker's chorus of "Here I am, not quite dying, my body left to rot in a hollow tree" has got to reference his semi-recent death-defying and subsequent silence. I love high-quality Bowie (though not so much the average stuff), and this should fit the bill. "Listen."

#2 Nomad - Bombino
"Azamane Tiliade" RSD 10" single - Bombino

"Azamane Tiliade" from Nomad (2013)
"Tamiditine" [live solo] from Nomad (2013)

Genre - Tuareg Ishumar
Official -
Location - Agadez, Niger

Review - The Guardian
Download - Nonesuch, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Nonesuch Records, Amazon

Once acclaimed by some as "probably the biggest surprise of Austin Psych Fest" (#1 Live Show of 2012), Bombino is for guitar lovers. Desert blues jams for a new world, North Africa in Nashville (studio of that Black Key). Laid-back good-times music in any language. Mostly new with a couple of updated versions of best earlier tunes: "Her Tenere" and "Imuhar."

#3 The Cult of Dom Keller - The Cult of Dom Keller
The Seed: Relics & Rarities - The Cult of Dom Keller

"Swamp Heron Blues" from The Cult of Dom Keller (2013)
"We left this world behind for a place in the sun" from The Seed: Relics & Rarities (2013)

Genre - Drone-Psych-Rock
Official/Facebook -
Location - Nottingham, U.K.

Full-Album Stream - Reverberation Society, Mannequin Records
Review - Roadburn
Download - Reverberation Society, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - US vinyl/MP3, Euro vinyl/MP3, Euro CD

Another discovery from APF (#4 Live Show, 2011), I inexcusably missed them at this year's fest. The self-titled full-length debut mostly reissues top-notch songs from previous self-released EP's, with a few swell new ones. The Seed compiles unheard songs and unreleased tracks from their tremendous YouTube channel. A Kickstarter donation reward, I'm going to take indirect credit for the entire idea based on a vague Facebook comment to their wall. Prove me wrong! Beforehand: #12, 2012 and #15, 2011.

#4 Pearl Mystic - Hookworms

"Away/Towards" from Pearl Mystic (2013)
"Preservation" from Pearl Mystic (2013)

Genre - Noise-Psych Post-Punk
Official/Facebook -
Location - Leeds, Britain

Full-Album Stream - Gringo Records
Review - Drowned in Sound
Download - Gringo Records, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Gringo Records, Amazon

Only mentioned before in passing, about Carl Saff... This record was a shocker! Whereas CODK is dank & doomy, Hookworms are more spikey & aggro. Catchy enough at times, quite bonkers often, from a long revered line of its influences. You better recognize.

#5 Danish & Blue - Lilacs & Champagne
Black Tar Prophecies, Vol's 4, 5, & 6 - Grails

"Refractory Period" from Danish & Blue (2013)
"Invitation to Ruin" from Black Tar Prophecies, Vol's 4, 5, & 6 (2013)

Genre - Eclectic Library-Music Post-Rock
Official - L&C FB, Grailsongs
Location - Portland, Ore.

Review - D&B, BTP-456
Download Danish & Blue - Mexican Summer, Amazon, iTunes
Download Black Tar Vols 4-6 - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - D&B @ MexSum, BTP @ TRL

Lilacs & Champagne (#6 of 2012), they are 2 of 4 from Grails (#1 of 2011, #6 of 2008, and #19 of 2010). The main band's retro-psych-Kraut post-rock has been gravitating closer to the side project's obscure-soundtrack found-sound mash-up's. L&C's 2nd goes even deeper into whatever you'd call it... obscurantism? I believe some/most/all of the titles might be inspired from other songs: "Alone Again And...," "Police Story," "Sour / Suite," etc. Grails' 2nd BTP collection does the same as the previous: all of 2 recent limited EP's, plus additional new materials. Some of it's real cool, and some sounds like working into a brand new bag. But that's what I call experimentalism.

#6 II - Föllakzoid

"9" from Föllakzoid II (2013)
"Trees" from Todo Muere, Vol. 2 (2012)

Genre - Chilean Kosmische Space-Rock
Official/Facebook -ÖLLAKZOID/
Location - Santiago, Chile

Full-Album Stream - Bandcamp
Review - The 405
Download - Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Sacred Bones Records, Amazon

Only mentioned before in passing, about Chile's scenery... What do you like: (A) psychedelic music, (B) Krautrock, (C) space music, or (D) all of the above? I've got a strong suspicion that Föllakzoid & I share the same answer. Kinda weird that it's unusual that they have some vocals, but not too many.

#7 Master - Teeth of the Sea

"Reaper" from Master (2013)
"Responder" [live] from Master (2013)

Genre - Electro-Noise-Prog
Official/Facebook -
Location - London Town

Full-Album Stream - Rocket Bandcamp
Review - Head Heritage
Download - Rocket Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), Boomkat (UK)

Well, I truly resisted as long as I could. TOTS's mutation into an electronic crew was not a welcomed one for me. I tried to keep an open mind, and resisted, then somehow I adjusted my expectations and found a real interesting smörgåsbord of... not quite everything, but a lot. Still can't imagine it supplanting the two previous albums (#9, 2009 & #10, 2010), and I would welcome a stylistic U-turn. But for what's on offer, well worth exploring. O yeah, and that's an experimental, neo-Italo-disco narrative sci-fi/horror-soundtrack pseudo-concept album.

#8 (Ensemble Pearl) - (Ensemble Pearl)

"Painting on a Corpse" from (Ensemble Pearl) (2013)
"Wray" from (Ensemble Pearl) (2013)

Genre - Drone
Location - Seattle x Tokyo

Review - Tiny Mix Tapes
Download - Drag City, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Drag City, Amazon

Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))) and Æthenor (#7 of 2006, #16 Non-Metal of 2009, and #13 of 2011), plus drummer from Boris (#6 of 2007) & Michio Kurihara of Ghost (#6, 2004). That TMT review calls them "chamber doom." LOL ;)

#9 Find What You Love and Let It Kill You EP - Linus Pauling Quartet

"The Road" from Find What You Love... EP (2013)

Genre - A Mellow Side of Linus
Official/Blog -
Facebook -
Location - Houston, TX, USA

Full-Album Stream - LP4 Bandcamp
Review - Aural Innovations
Download - LP4 Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - LP4 Bandcamp

Houston super-regulars: #2 of 2012 and #3 of 2007, just to mention a couple. This is a ltd-ed 7" EP, with all three tunes written and sung by Ramon, two of them being smooth & sad. Only "USA" kicks up some dust, and local lore. Surprisingly effective for what's not usually an LP4 superpower.

#10 Valonielu - Oranssi Pazuzu

"Tyhjä Tempelli" from Valonielu (2013)
"Olen Aukaissut Uuden Silmän" from Valonielu (2013)

Genre - Psychedelic Black-Space Metal
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Tampere-Seinäjoki, Finland

Full-Album Stream - 20 Buck Spin
Review - Treble Zine
Download - 20 Buck Spin, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - 20 Buck Spin, Amazon

Unprecedented... maybe I linked on Facebook once? So if you're anything like my own personal friends, you probably barely tolerate my occasional Black Metal outbursts. And you know me, I really understand - I don't push too much. But you should really check this one out! This might be your chance to get it, or at least to get past the BM lizard-demon vocals. Extra-cool band.

I couldn't stop with just ten...

It made no sense.

#11 "Stonegoat/Dreambuilding" single - Goat
"Run to Your Mama" RSD remix EP's - Goat
Live Ballroom Ritual - Goat

"Stonegoat" from 12" single (2013)
"Run to Your Mama (Gnod & Raikes Parade remix)" from RSD remixes Vol. 2 (2013)
"Goathead" live @ Electric Ballroom, London (06/27/2013)

Genre - Scando-Afro-Funk, live, remixed
Official/Blog -
Facebook -
Location - Korpilombolo, Sweden

Full-Album Stream(s) - Rocket Recordings Bandcamp
Review - The Sleeping Shaman
Download - Rocket Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), S>u>B P<o<P, Amazon

They were already my #1 of 2012 before I saw them at this year's Austin Psych Fest. The single's definitely worth getting, the RSD remix EP's are pretty interesting, and the live album sounds real good. But 2012 was the Year of Goat, and 2013 was kind of a whole lot like that again. Still love the band, but the same lightning can't strike the same place twice - at least not this soon.

#12 From The Ages - Earthless

"Uluru Rock" from From The Ages (2013)

Genre - Heavy-Duty Exploratory Jams
Official/Facebook -
Location - San Diego, Calif.

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - The Obelisk
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Tee Pee Records, Amazon

Finally! It's been so long since Earthless had something of their own. As expected: relentless jamming. The epic title song was actually on my first Earthless album, Live at Roadburn (#3 of 2008). Their last normal full album... five years ago! Next year's APF should be my first live Earthless - so psyched.

#13 CAN's Ege Bamyasi played by Stephen Malkmus and Friends

"One More Night" from CAN's Ege Bamyasi (2013)
"Vitamin C" from CAN's Ege Bamyasi (2013)

Genre - Pave-man covers Kraut klassic
Official -
Location - Portland, Ore.

Review - Paste Magazine
Download - Record Store Day vinyl-only release
Purchase - Turntable Lab

My #7 Artist of 2005 doing my #4 Album of 1972! Terrific sounding live show of full-on covers. If Malkmus had actually written all this music and this was a record of his new material, it would be higher. But it's cool & fun & great for fans of either/both.

#14 ... Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age

"My God Is the Sun" from ... Like Clockwork (2013)
"I Appear Missing" from ... Like Clockwork (2013)

Genre - Post-Stonerism
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Palm Desert, California

Review - The Quietus
Download - Matador Records, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Matador Records, Amazon

Last post: #3, 2002. More (less?) recently #6 Live, 2011, and I should be seeing them again in a couple of months. Haven't had this record too long, so we'll see... could go either way, or stay the same. I'm getting a really strong Bowie vibe from a whole lot of it. So far, I'm digging it - more than maybe anything since Songs for the Deaf.

#15 Watching Dead Empires in Decay - The Stranger

"Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?" from Watching Dead Empires in Decay (2013)
"Providence or Fate" from Watching Dead Empires in Decay (2013)

Genre - The Caretaker by any other name
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Manchester, Britain

Full-Album Stream - Bandcamp, SoundCloud
Review - FACT Mag
Download - Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Forced Exposure (US), Amazon

The Caretaker was notably #10 of 2011, #1 Drone/Ambient of 2005, #3 Drone/Ambient of 2009. Plus you can read all about the Leyland Kirby Sadness... trilogy. The Stranger now sits somewhere between The Caretaker (disintegrating audio of memories) & later Leyland Kirby (rhythms 'n' tension). Fortunately for me, a bit more of the former than I'd been lead to believe. The tension is there, but the rhythms aren't so... uhhhh, beaty?

#16 The Terror - The Flaming Lips
Peace Sword EP - The Flaming Lips
2nd Cassette Demo 7" - The Flaming Lips

"Look... The Sun Is Rising" from The Terror (2013)
"Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)" from Peace Sword EP (2013)

Genre - Newfangled Downerism
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Oklahoma City, Okla.

Review - Consequence of Sound
Download - Amazon (P.S. EP), iTunes
Purchase - Flaming Lips Store (ltd-ed vinyl), Amazon

Can't list all of their accolades again - just did that last weekend for the #2 of 2002 module. The Terror's the "Dark Side Of The Coyne" album. You definitely want to be prepared, and in an appropriate mood. Heavy, man. There's a lot to unpack, but do you want to? The Peace Sword EP seems a little bunk to me, except for the OST title track. Maybe I just haven't been in that mood yet. Brand new '83 demo 7" was just released on Christmas Eve, and my turntable's messed up. Probably super-raw? It's autographed by Wayne.

Also, this year was a Tame Impala split EP of mutual covers, and apparently a song from a cable-TV soundtrack. Probably a few albums encased in gummy as well...

#17 Engravings - Forest Swords

"Thor's Stone" from Engravings (2013)
"The Weight of Gold" from Engravings (2013)

Genre - Witch-House Drone-Psych Dub
Official/Facebook -
Location - Liverpool, U.K.

Review - Pitchfork
Download - Amazon, iTunes
Purchase - Amazon(US), Tri Angle Records (UK)

Forest Sword's official debut EP was my #21 of 2010, and here's his full-length debut. As cool as that is, I kinda think it should have been another EP. But I understand - expectations were high. When he hits a roll though, there's a pretty unique alchemy. All the various components (which are mostly pretty obvious) merge & interact & transmute in unexpected ways. Also, nice job getting a Lee "Scratch" Perry remix!

#18 Earth Rocker - Clutch

"Earth Rocker" from Earth Rocker (2013)
"Mr. Freedom" from Earth Rocker (2013)

Genre - Rawk
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Frederick, MD

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - Sputnik Music
Download - Amazon (live bonus), iTunes
Purchase - Amazon, ltd-ed 2xLP (w/ live disc)

Clutch return to rockin' form (#3, 1995)! It's been awhile since I've really dug what they were doing. I had tickets to their local show in May, but couldn't make it. Turns out they used some of that set for a later ltd-ed vinyl bonus disc.

#19 Shapwick - Jon Brooks
Study Series 09: Projections - The Listening Center/Pye Corner Audio
Study Series 10: Message and Method - Belbury Poly/Spacedog
Empty Avenues 10" EP - John Foxx & The Belbury Poly

"Please Drive Carefully" by Jon Brooks, from Shapwick (2013)
"Titoli" by The Listening Center, from Study Series 09: Projections (2013)
"Find Me" by Belbury Poly & Spacedog, from Study Series 10: Message and Method (2013)
"Almost There" by John Foxx & The Belbury Poly, from Empty Avenues 10" (2013)

Genre - Electronic Hauntology
Official - Café Kaput blog
Official - Ghost Box UK
Location - England

Review - The Active Listener
Download/Purchase - Ghost Box shop
Shapwick by Jon Brooks is OOP, and seemingly unavailable...

The Advisory Circle is Jon Brooks (#6 Free Internet, 2010). Shapwick was a boutique ltd-ed CD release, then in vinyl by popular demand, because it's a thematic study of pastoral English countryside dread via electronic miniature vignettes. The Ghost Box Study Series of collaborative 7"s has appeared as the #9 of 2010 and #19 of 2011. These two are the last, and they're good but not the greatest. Belbury Poly has specifically shown up as #4 of 2004, #17 Non-Metal of 2009, and #14 of 2012. I particularly like their earlier, funnier material.

#20 She's A Temple - Space Debris

"Time Traveller" from She's A Temple (2013)
"Cloudwalker" from She's A Temple (2013)

Genre - Kraut Jam
Official -
Facebook -
Location - Odenwald, Germany

Full-Album Stream - YouTube
Review - Aural Innovations
Purchase - Green Brain Krautrock (DEU)

Much like Space Debris. Their earlier, more Krautrock-influenced stuff (#8 of 2004, #2 of 2005, and #7 of 2008) has been giving way to a more improvisational live acid-blues-rock jamband... which is fine. Plenty of nice little details spread out over this surprise 2xLP. (I was surprised to just find it at my local Sound Exchange.)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

do you actually have the malkmus/can record?