Tag Archives: Vampire Weekend

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: June 2013

Yep.  It’s June.  The year is half over.

Summer blends together for me; it’s all one giant month.  I listened to one thing almost exclusively this entire month: Empire of the Sun’s sophomore effort, Ice on the Dune.  It is a perfect album.  Absolutely perfect.  How do I gauge whether an album is “absolutely perfect”?  If I don’t skip any songs and keep it on repeat.  It’s so good, I can’t even stand it.

 

What about the other songs that crept in over the month?  Here they are.  Click on this Songbricks link to see/listen to them in order while you’re reading this lovely word vomit (seriously, do it.  I put the playlist together and it will benefit your reading experience.)

1. Groove Armada – “History” (Feat. Will Young)
I haven’t listened to Groove Armada since the ’90s.  This song popped up on our local EDM channel the other month and it was instant love.  I listen to this on repeat, ad nauseam, and am still not sick of it.  Will Young’s insane glass-shattering hyper-falsetto is just divine and that skittering groove gets into my bones.  It’s beautiful.  So damn good.

2. Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive”
First time I heard it, I didn’t like it.  Same for the 2nd and 3rd and…. you get the point.  I can’t stand their other songs and that filtered in to my judgment of this track.  But I can’t deny it anymore.  It’s on the radio all the time and it weaseled its way into my heart.  The pounding drums nail me in the chest every time and it’s a great banger.  The video is pretty awesome too.

3. nine inch nails – “Came Back Haunted”
Of course I love this song.  But before I go hardcore NIN-nerd/apologist on you, I will say it is nowhere near any of Trent’s top output.  It’s a decent track.  Everyone’s gushing that it’s a “return to form,” but to them I say, “Have you listened to anything of theirs since 2005?”  All of Trent’s shit sounds like this now…  this could easily fit onto 2008’s The Slip (with all the blips and synths and same-old-same-old lyrics).  If it found its way onto Year Zero, it’d probably be the best song on that annoyingly boring album.  Anyway, it’s good.  I hope it bodes well for the rest of the album (Hesitation Marks, out 9/3 on Columbia!), though I hope Trent spends more time on developing some soundscapes and atmospheres, instead of this 4-on-the-4-floor stuff.

4. Kylie Minogue – “Skirt”
This song is deceiving.  It starts out really blippy and bloopy, the sound of computers seducing each other.  It’d fit nicely onto Body Language or something.  There’s even some dubstep, because 2013/EDM, bro.  But then there’s a swell….a build-up….an unbearable wait… and then that chorus drops and the galaxy explodes and holy shit this song is fucking amazing.  Everything in life is worth it for that chorus.  Once it drops, all the dubstep becomes bearable.  And then it kicks back in and I can’t even take it anymore.  And that’s why my skirt came down.

5. Empire of the Sun – “Old Flavours”
After hearing about 5 seconds of this track on their outrageously overblown cinematic trailer for the new album, I was almost as excited as when I heard the initial tease of “Get Lucky.”  Yes, I did just say that.  This melody is undeniable and my #1 go-to on this fantastic release.  It kicks of a 4-song chain at the end of the album that is 15 minutes of pure dance bliss.  This song, “Skirt” and “History” have been keeping my goosebumps very busy this summer.

6. Kanye West – “I Am A God (Feat. God)”
Speaking of goosebumps… the 3:03 mark on this track, wherein Kanye is screaming (not dude-yelling, but straight terror-wails), sends chills down my spine every time I hear it.  The track itself is home to my favorite lines on this album (see: croissants) and my favorite “feature” (who can beat GOD? lolz).  The minimal drone makes this one of the most “industrial” tracks on Yeezus, sounding like the spawn of NIN and Human After All-era Daft Punk.  It’s so driving and anxiety-ridden, so when that final screaming release comes in, it feels like you’re breaking down right next to Kanye.

7. Vampire Weekend – “Ya Hey”
God?  Yahweh? Ya Hey.  This is my favorite track off this album.  It’s light, breezy and carries the listener along a pretty tuft of clouds.  The chorus is catchy too; it sounds like the Chipmunks.  I still have trouble getting past their Ivy League douchey image, but props for this awesome song.  It makes me feel happy.

8. Savages – “Husbands”
Here’s where the good feelings go away.  If you want that same anxiety and frantic spasm-inducing frenzy (like when listening to Yeezus), try on these chicks.  Holy crap, this is intense.  It’s Siouxsie meets Joy Division.  After listening to this, I feel invigorated, jittery and in dire need of some anti-anxiety pills.  Whoo!

And that’s it.  “Where’s 9 and 10?!?!” you ask.  Nothing made the cut.  Listen to some Empire of the Sun and check out my Best of 2013 (So Far) list.

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