Tag Archives: Churchill

2013: Year In Review

What a year.  Most of my favorite artists added some soul, some funk, some humanity to their usual cold and sad sounds.  It was the year of the big release, the unleashing of the hype monster.  Seemingly everyone and their grandmother released something new this year and it was just a glorious and embarrassing goldmine for us music-Smaugs.  Looking back on a great year as my ears already enjoy 2014.

My Favorite Albums of 2013:

1. Empire of the Sun: Ice On The Dune
Nothing catchier or more joyful blessed my life all year.

2. Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
The most epic album of the year.

3. nine inch nails: Hesitation Marks
A return to form for Trent and a reaffirmation of rabid fandom for me.

4. Arcade Fire: Reflektor
The biggest grower of the year…just give it a chance.

5. Lady Gaga: ARTPOP
Most underrated “big” album of the year, absolute bangers from start to finish.

6. Queens of the Stone Age: …Like Clockwork
Cocksure (hee hee) swaggering sexy rock and fucking roll.

7. Lorde: Pure Heroine
Newbie of the year with an honest-to-goodness perfect set of tunes.

8. Kanye West: Yeezus
The biggest mindfuck, the biggest statement, and one of the hardest albums of 2013.

9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito
Possibly their worst album, but with such a discography, this rabid subterranean creepfest slays.

10. KT Tunstall: invisible empire // crescent moon
It’s about her late father and ex-hubby, so you know you’re in for some gorgeous heartbreak.

11. Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox
Perfect pop album.  Period.

12. how to destroy angels: welcome oblivion
Trent’s other release of the year, a quieter, more feminine affair.

13. Goldfrapp: Tales of Us
Sultry and languid, perfect for secret late night debauchery or a quiet come-down.

14. Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob
2013’s catchiest, prettiest pop-mindfuck dedicated to hearts and heartbreak.

15. Disclosure: Settle
The soundtrack to the permanent Uniqlo store in my heart.

16. Savages: Silence Yourself
Ferocious debut from a group of lasses with bigger, brasher thrash-balls than both Kanye and Trent.

17. The Strokes: Comedown Machine
A solid send-off(?) set from one of my favorite bands of the ’00s.

18. OneRepublic: Native
We liked “Counting Stars” a year ago…

19. Imagine Dragons: Night Visions
They don’t know who they want to be and every song sounds like another band, but they’re the best damn tribute band of the year.

20. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City
Now that they’re singing about death and sad stuff, I can finally relate to these chaps.

21. Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience, Part 1
This bloated album only receives placement because of “Mirrors”, its only reason for existing.

22. Austra: Olympia
I loved her from the moment she sang her first note in concert, so this set — however underwhelming or same-same — is still welcome.

Not Released in 2013 But Still Dominated My Life:

1. Ellie Goulding: Halcyon
Thank you, Skrillex, for breaking her heart, because this is a gigantic, emotional wubby ride.

2. Jessie Ware: Devotion
Pure, utter talent and class from this ’90s throwback queen.

Yeah, that’s right.  I only listed 24 albums.  Not 20.  Not 25.  I’m a rebel.  On to the songs…  These are the tracks that ruled my life for 12 months.  Ranking was tricky:  I based this purely on iTunes/iPod combined play count.  Not radio eargasms, not streaming on YouTube, not clicking “Back” to repeat a song and thus losing the extra count.  “Radioactive” should be higher.  Alas, it is a cruel world.  You all know how to use YouTube or whatever streaming-shit the kids are into these days, so I hope you don’t mind doing the leg work and searching for these yourself.  Embedding links?  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My Favorite Songs of 2013:

1. Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”
2. Coldplay, “Atlas”
3. how to destroy angels, “Strings and Attractors”
4. M83, “Oblivion (feat. Susanne Sundfør)”
5. Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”
6. Lady Gaga, “Venus”
7. nine inch nails, “Came Back Haunted”
8. Linkin Park and Steve Aoki, “A Light That Never Comes”
9. Lorde, “Buzzcut Season”
10. Phoenix, “Entertainment”
11. Ylvis, “The Fox”
12. Empire of the Sun, “Celebrate”
13. Lady Gaga, “Applause”
14. Kylie Minogue, “Skirt”
15. Avicii, “Hey Brother”
16. Churchill, “Change”
17. Empire of the Sun, “Old Flavours”
18. Giorgio Moroder, “Racer”
19. KT Tunstall, “Made of Glass”
20. Naughty Boy, “LaLaLa (feat. Sam Smith)”
21. Tegan and Sara, “I Was A Fool”
22. Bruno Mars, “Moonshine”
23. Disclosure, “Latch (feat. Sam Smith)”
24. Queens of the Stone Age, “I Sat By The Ocean”
25. Bruno Mars, “Natalie”
26. Drake, “Hold On We’re Going Home”
27. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”
28. Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”
29. OneRepublic, “Counting Stars”/”Preacher”/”Can’t Stop”
30. Kanye West, “I Am A God (feat. God)”/”Black Skinhead”
31. Katy Perry, “Roar”
32. Pitbull and Ke$ha, “Timber”
33. Sara Bareilles, “Brave”
34. Justin Timberlake, “Mirrors”
35. Imagine Dragons, “Radioactive”
36. Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash, “Reload (feat. John Martin)”
37. Selena Gomez, “Come and Get It”
38. Frank Ocean, “Eyes Like Sky”
39. Lana Del Rey, “Summertime Sadness”

Year in Gigs:

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (with Har Mar Superstar), May 12, 2013, House of Blues
Smushed into the front row by a crowd of surprisingly aggressive and scary young people, I gave into the chaos for the first time in my life.  No panic attack.  No diving for safer waters.  No passive aggressive elbow jabs.  I lost my mind for over an hour, parts of me forever smeared onto my neighbors (and parts of them melded into me).  One of the best shows of my life.  And Karen O held my hand.  I mean, c’mon.  We’re done here.

Karen O is my halfie queen.

2. nine inch nails (with Godspeed You! Black Emperor), October 11, 2013, TD Garden
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of attending a “heavier” show with me, you know I get a little wild.  Whiplash-y, drool-y, oh-my-God-get-away-from-me NUTZ.  Well last time I saw NIN (in Beijing), I reached that peak of utter insanity and have yet to replicate it.  This night was close, but in a section where 99% of the fuckers sat down (SAT DOWN. AT A NIN CONCERT.) it was hard to completely lose it with a straight face.  Alas.  Trent titled the tour “Tension” — which he said refers to the bubbling tension seething underneath the surface of the newfound control that he’s putting on the group — whereas I saw it as “SEXUAL TENSION.”  Everything was funked up — he even has soul sistahs now! — and I wanted to just grind myself into the arena flap-chairs like a horny mongrel.  And they played rarities like “Even Deeper” and “Into The Void.“  Hunh… even deeper into the void…  MY VOID.

We’re so high up you can’t even see Trent. Just that blast of light.

3. Empire of the Sun, September 7, 2013, House of Blues
An utterly blissful experience of smiles and joy.  The crowd was one of the few that did not annoy me once (shocking, considering it was mostly EDM fuckface kids) — not a single time!  And the euphoria was capped off by show-closing “Alive” where we all jumped in unison, smiling at each other, and one guy stopped, turned around to me and gave me a high five.  Fuck yeah.

Empyreans Unite!

4. KT Tunstall, September 25, 2013, Somerville Theater
A girl and her guitar.  That’s all you really need with KT Tunstall.  Crowded into a small, intimate theater (playing Insidious 2 next door…), we enjoyed such a special evening with one of the most underrated, hilarious and embarrassingly talented singers in contemporary music.  I laughed, I cried, I made bird sounds (yes, there was a bird-call contest).

KT is my quarter-Canto goddess.

5. Queens of the Stone Age (with The Kills), December 13, 2013, Agganis Arena
You want a balls out rock and roll show?  Indeed.  There were whiplash guitars, soaring choruses and absolutely crushing riffs.  I’ve waited AGES to see these guys and it was perfect.  A smaller setting might have been nicer, but they’re too big now for little old me.

QOTSA Rocking Your Ass

6. how to destroy angels, April 27, 2013, House of Blues
Trent.  Twice in a year.  Is this real life?!!  For this experimental set — one of only a handful of shows that the band will perform, ever — it was all about the mood, the stage show and the experience of seeing Trent, his wife, and his creative team just bend your mind and melt your brain with ingenuity.  “NIN with female vox” as they are often described.  I was lucky just to be there.

Marital Bliss

7. Alt-J, March 3, 2013, Paradise
Glad I saw them when (and where) I did: they came back 5 months later and played the Bank of America Pavilion.  In this tiny space (one of my all-time faves), they brought their stunning debut to life.  Like how to destroy angels, this was for the experience.  You’ll never get to see them at such an intimate venue ever again.

8. Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo, June 30, 2013, City Hall Plaza
Happy birthday to me!  This was a radio show where we caught a bevy of pop hits in a short amount of (free!) time.  The day was most memorable NOT for Ms. Selenerrrrrr, but for a mid-set crowd panic-rush that brought back terrifying visions of the Marathon bombing.  It was just a giant brawl, but for a moment, we all thought it was something much, much worse.

See you again next year!

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Playlist: January 2013

Well that month went by fast, hunh?  2013’s first is already in the bag; 11 to go before this year’s edition of the Year-End music writer/critic/blogger self-love orgy.  To keep tabs on my diet, I’m going to be doing a monthly “Playlist” of songs that are on constant repeat on iTunes.  And since nobody reads this, then surely it’s just for my own record-keeping.  I am so clever.

Let’s kick this off, then.  For honest disclosure’s sake, I chose to arrange songs in order of my iTunes play count.  That way, I won’t be able to weasel all the “cool” stuff on the top of the list and hope that you didn’t make it to the bottom of the rankings to see that I’ve listened to Josh Groban’s new single an insane amount of times.  Tsk, tsk.

[Editor’s Note: these songs aren’t necessarily January 2013 releases; they’re just the ones that Neil’s been listening to non-stop.]

1. The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio

A lush, bittersweet tune, reflecting some of my recent (but not exact) woes of late:  “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe/I never thought about love when I thought about home.”

2. Josh Groban – “Brave

Haha, sue me, I fucking love Josh Groban.  His songs swell with power and allow me to pretend I can sing.  Raising me up since 2003.

3. Churchill – “Change

This track is a fucking banger.  Lil’ bit of Fleetwood Mac, lil’ bit of Lady Antebellum.  Predicted to be a frontrunner in my year-end Top 20.

4. The Strokes – “One Way Trigger

Comeback singles are a bitch when a band tries to switch things up.  Like other songs that threatened to be crushed underneath nutso levels of hype (“Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, “Madness”, for example), this song turned out to be a grower.  I gave it many spins to prove itself and I’m glad I did.  Can’t stop listening to that falsetto.

5. How To Destroy Angels – “How Long?

The catchiest thing Trent has written since the last NIN album.  The groove is reminiscent of Year Zero, but there’s a distinct air of positivity to it all, likely injected by his wife’s vocals.  So pretty, so hypnotic.

6. Ellie Goulding – “My Blood

It’s hard to pick just one track off this perfect album, but I listen to this (and “Hanging On”) most.  I finally read the lyrics and see it’s about a breakup (damn you, Skrillex!): “And God knows I’m not dying but I bleed now/And God knows it’s the only way to heal now/With all the blood I lost with you/It drowns the love I thought I knew.”  Gaddamn!  Ellie makes injecting heart and soul (and blood) into seemingly cold electronic music.

7. Junip – “Line of Fire

Listen to this NOW.  It’s Jose Gonzalez and his band.  If you don’t know who he is, get into that back catalog (start with In Our Naturethere’s a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” that is a stunner).  The band bolsters his sound in ways that make me squeal.  It’s positioned at #7 only because I downloaded it today, but I can’t stop listening to it.  Gah!

8. Tegan and Sara – “I Was A Fool

Seriously, thank God they went along with their pop sensibilities and made this fuckitall album of gems.  It’s my January Album of the Month.  This is one of my favorite tracks.  It starts off like an old J-Pop song (Ayu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but it’s all 80s synth-slow-jam.  They’ll be on the Top Albums of 2013 all over the place.

9. Noisettes – “Let The Music Play

One of my favorite bands.  One of my Top 3 albums from 2009.  This is their latest, Contact, released last year in the UK, yet to have a release date in the US.  Gone is the gritty punk-rock snarl from their debut; they’ve ramped up the pop and R&B throwbacks from Wild Young Hearts into some smart pop perfection.  This song is a good place to begin.

10. Chuckie and Promise Land feat. Amanda Wilson – “Breaking Up” (Bartosz Brenes & Tony Romera Remix)

Kids, I’ve been listening to this so-called “EDM” since before you were born.  That being said, there is no bandwagon to jump on.  If it makes me want to dance, I’m in.  If it fools me into believing that I can handle dancing from dusk til dawn without destroying my knees and back (old!), then it has to be good.  This song is HUUUUUUUUUUGE and makes me miss the good old dancing days in Shanghai.  Likely locked-in to be my favorite dance song of 2013.  We shall see; it’s a bit early.

Other tracks making the rounds that may rise or fall in the February rankings:
Santigold, “Disparate Youth” – the most pop-accessible track off her list-toppling 2012 album
Frank Ocean, “Wise Man” – achingly beautiful track that was dumped from the Django Unchained soundtrack.
Neon Trees, “Hooray for Hollywood” – driving, high-energy pop-infused rock with a huge oh-ooh-whoa chorus.
Jewel and Kelly Clarkson, “Foolish Games” – update of the ’90s classic into a crushing duet that we didn’t know we needed so badly… just wait until Kelly Clarkson hops in.  It’s like that moment I always talk about in “Lady Marmalade”: when Xtina swoops in and steals the entire show with a killer run.
Metisse, “Boom Boom Ba” – unofficial theme to an old canceled show (Dead Like Me), Buddha Lounge-y trip hop preciousness.
The Knife, “Full of Fire” – fuck a duck, this song is brutal.  More industrial-NIN than they’ve ever been, it’s 9+ (!!!) minutes of head banging dance music.

 
And last but definitely not least, my good pal, Stephen Frost, with his new single, “Age of Gold.”  There’s a little Sean Lennon in there, some classic old-fashioned-y pop.  I’m just waiting for some Phil Spector Wall of Sound production to make it a classic.

 

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