Tag Archives: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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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NZY’s Best of 2013 (So Far)

And by “best” I just mean “my favorite” — since you and I both know that my tastes are eclectic and by no means the standard bearer for what is “best” of anything…  Disclaimer over, moving on…

2013 has been a year of massive releases (and massively underwhelming bombs).  Most of my favorite albums below have been accompanied by enough hype to drown them in outrageous expectations.  Most had to resort to very creative rollout campaigns to drum up interest.  And I’m happy to say that most managed to deliver on my crazy hopes.  For every album that really didn’t hit me like I wanted it to (see: Justin Timberlake, The Strokes), there was an album that I was so looking forward to that just rewarded me for being such a patient little fan (see: QOTSA, Daft Punk).  There’s some that have been overlooked in the glut of giant releases (see: The National, Vampire Weekend).  There’s still plenty I haven’t gotten around to (see: KT Tunstall) and one very big album coming in September that will likely shake-up the current Top 3 (see: NIN).  In any case, here are my favorite albums of the year, so far.  The top spot might surprise you.

 

10. DisclosureSettle
Key tracks: “Latch” — “White Noise” — “Simulation”
Sounds like: early ’90s techno; Bjork c. Debut; shopping at Uniqlo

 

09. Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Key tracks: “I Was A Fool” — “Closer” — “Now I’m All Messed Up”
Sounds like: bopping your way through heartbreak with a Trapper Keeper; the ’80s, with better production values

 

08. how to destroy angelsWelcome Oblivion
Key tracks: “Strings and Attractors” — “How Long?” — “Welcome Oblivion”
Sounds like: nine inch nails — at its most atmospheric and experimental — with a female singer

 

07. Bruno MarsUnorthodox Jukebox
Key tracks:  “Natalie” — “Moonshine” — “Young Girls” — “When I Was Your Man” — “Treasure”
Sounds like: the best jukebox at the coolest diner that never existed

 

06. Ellie GouldingHalcyon
Key tracks: “Hanging On” — “Figure 8” — “Only You” — “Anything Could Happen” — “My Blood”
Sounds like: heartbreak on the dancefloor; ethereal dirges; something that should have been on my best of 2012 list… (because I’m aware this came out last year but I just got addicted to it this year, so whatever)

 

05. Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito
Key tracks: “Buried Alive (Feat. Dr. Octagon)” — “Mosquito” — “Area 52” — “Under the Earth” — “Sacrilege” — “Despair”
Sounds like: creepy crawly subterranean glam punk

04. Kanye WestYeezus
Key tracks: “On Sight” — “New Slaves” — “I Am A God” — “Black Skinhead” — “Bound 2” — “Send It Up”
Sounds like: internal conflict; disgusting, violent and hateful shit set over amazing production; anger

 

03. Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork
Key tracks: every single song, except “Fairweather Friends”
Sounds like:  a dark, grimy joyride through a sexually depraved and gritty part of a dystopian downtown you pray you don’t break down in…

 

02. Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
Key tracks: “Get Lucky” — “Giorgio By Moroder” — “Instant Crush” — “Touch” — “Fragments of Time” — “Contact” — “Lose Yourself to Dance”
Sounds like: the most sensually seductive robots creeping up on you after a long night out; interplanetary porn music

 

01. Empire of the SunIce on the Dune
Key tracks: “DNA” — “Awakening” — “Surround Sound” — “I’ll Be Around” — “Celebrate” — “Old Flavours” — “Disarm” — “Concert Pitch” — “Ice on the Dune”
Sounds like: the best dance record of the year; pure joy and elation

 

See you in January for the thrilling conclusion…

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Playlist: May 2013

So yeah, it’s June.  What else can I say… at this rate, I should just type out my Year End Best-Of, because I can’t believe the year is almost half over…

I shall start by getting this out of the way: my Album of the Month for May was Daft Punk‘s latest.  As if it could have been anything else.  It’s on track to be my #1 for the year.  Unless Trent can whip something up before Dec. 31, 2013, it’s a safe bet.  This album is huge.  SPIN described it as a Bob Fosse meets George Lucas space musical.  Pretty much.  My song-by-song review is here.

How about the music?  Well, shit was bumpin‘ this month, likely influenced by Daft Punk.  Interestingly enough, my most plays did not come from iTunes, but from YouTube.  Like all the kids do these days, I was streaming music without downloading.

Desired reaction: @_____@

I watched/listened to the 15-minute animated nightmare teaser for the new Queens of the Stone Age album, …Like Clockwork, well over twenty times.  Over and over and over again.  It’s fantastic.  Credit that fucked up cartoon for making me fall in love with the new record.  It is gorgeous RAWK.  OK, so:

1. Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork short film

2. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
Just kidding!  But I did break a playcount record and vanquish the 200-play marker (combining iTunes and my iPod, it’s nearing 300).  Dizzam… no but seriously, it was a Daft Punk song.  Just listen to the album already!!!!

2. Daft Punk – “Fragments of Time
This is the one with Todd Edwards, he of “Face to Face” fame.  It’s my favorite track off the album and the moment the soft-rock cheese gives way to a synth/guitar freakout, a la Discovery, my head explodes with happiness every single time.  It’s glorious happy times.

3. Giorgio Moroder – “Racer
Geriatric Italians rock.  This track is for some Google car-racing game (hence the title, duuuuuh) and it is a banger.  If there were more tracks like this on Random Access Memories, the EDM kidz would stop bitching and whining.  It is a hypnotic doozy for the dance floor, the sequel to his 2-pronged attack at a comeback.

4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs“Buried Alive” (feat. Dr. Octagon)
My favorite track off Mosquito (April’s Album of the Month!), this is a wackadoo leftfield song featuring a killer verse from Kool Keith/Doc Ock, my favorite since his appearance on Prodigy’s “Diesel Power” — the best song on Fat of the Land.  It’s a creepy, funky little number, blown apart as soon as Keith drops the first line.  God, this song.

5. The Wanted – “Walks Like Rihanna
So I’m totally going to hipster-claim that I’ve liked The Wanted since I heard this song in Summer ’11.  Yeah, no shame.  This song has the stupidest lyrics ever and the chorus makes me cringe; I hate when songs reference things that plant them FIRMLY in a specific period (most egregious hate-offense for me: New Radicals’ references to Beck, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson… odd that the 3 of them are still around but that little shit is in a gutter).  Anyway, this drivel is very catchy.

6. Thirty Seconds To Mars – “Conquistador
I haven’t liked a 30STM (isn’t that what the kids call them?) since their debut single.  They have a massive international following that boggles me, but hey, kids like overblown, overearnest and trying-to-hard anthems.  So do I.  This song is driving, catchy and fit for massive arenas.  You’ll always be Jordan Catalano to me, kid.

7. Penguin Prison – “Golden Train
I missed this song from 2010… thank you Gap in-store music and Shazam.  It’s funky, it’s playful, it’s catchy.  I was dancing in the clearance section.  Blast this and pretend we’re back in the Off The Wall era.

8. Rihanna “Right Now” (feat. David Guetta)
I love how this “features” David Guetta, as if he didn’t write this song for one of his albums and this is a b-side masquerading as an a-side.  Whatever.  Anyway, it’s typical of the output that Rihanna and Guetta pump out: heavy, fever-sweat inducing hard house (there’s even some dubstep for the kidz) with impulsive youthful lyrics.  Makes you want to dance until you drop…or hump something until you pass out.

9. deadmau5“Professional Griefers” (feat. Gerard Way)
Confession: while I didn’t really like My Chemical Romance, I always had a soft spot for Gerard Way.  He’s got vision, he has passion and he can really shred the vocals.  This sounds like a remix of a MCR song (I mean that to be a good thing).  It’s aggressive and heavy.  I’m usually not a fan of deadmau5 either.  This is just a great case of worlds colliding.

10. Selena Gomez – “Come and Get It
Boy, the inclusion of the Bollywood-style music really elevates this song to something else.  On its own, it is a pretty basic and boring pop track, but I am a sucker for the ethnic sampling.  I will likely be sick of it by the end of the summer, but for the moment, it’s one of the songs that I don’t immediately change on the radio (see: “Mirrors”… groan)

 

Yikes, lots of guilty pleasures on this list!  See you at the end of June…

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Playlist: April 2013

This’ll be easy.

1. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

2. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

3. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

4. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

5. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

6. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

7. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

8. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

9. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

10. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky” (Feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers)

 

Seriously.  This song is already approaching the 200-mark on my iTunes play count (this is not taking into account my iPod play count, which my Civic can confirm is getting super worn out by this track).  Which is absurd.  No song — NONE — in my iTunes history has ever, EVER neared 200.  Not NIN’s “Hand that Feeds” or “Discipline.”  Not Scissor Sisters’ “Invisible Light.”  Not even previous champ, Gorillaz’ “Stylo”, which was heretofore the reigning repeat champ with a pithy 80- or 90-something.  Ha, Damon, HA.  I was worried my expectations would absolutely crush Daft Punk’s chances at releasing a song that could make me happy (see: The Strokes, Justin Timberlake), and yet they succeeded at releasing the Song of the Year (why even beat around that bush) a full 8 months before the calendar turns ’14.  This song elates me.

But…for the one or two of you in the universe who will ever read this, I suppose the show must go on.  There were other songs I listened to this month.  Sorry for them: NOTHING CAN BEAT DAFT PUNK.  But let’s toss them a bone.

First up, my album of the month is the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito.  It’s a grower, nowhere near as urgent as Fever to Tell, nowhere near as warm as Show Your Bones, and nowhere near as catchy as It’s Blitz.  There’s a lot of slow-building creepiness, with a couple all-out bangers tossed in for those like me with ADD.  It’s really claustrophobic at times, very weird (see: gospel choir, Kool Keith), but it all strangely works.  They never disappoint.

Now, onto the songs…

1. Lana Del Rey – “Summer Wine
Sultry and cool, as Del Rey do.  To me, this is the warm yang to the yin of Nick Cave and Kylie’s insanely dark murder ballad, “Where The Wild Roses Grow.”  It’s a Nancy Sinatra cover, done with Barrie-James O’Neill, the guy she’s currently sleeping with.  Why she didn’t do any songs with singers I’m actually a fan of (see: Ours, Marilyn Manson), this passes the test.

2. M83 – “Oblivion” (Feat. Susanne Sundfør)
This is one of those soundtrack songs that benefits from having seen the movie.  It’s epic as shit.  While the movie is a shameless amalgam of many other sci-fi classics, I still enjoyed the hell out of it.  And when the credits roll, I want to be hit in the head with something cinematic, something grand, something sweeping.  This is perfect.  She sounds like Sia, wailing over a future-throwback track that sounds like aliens recording hymns for an ’80s flick.

3. OneRepublic – “Counting Stars
Ryan Tedder is a little bastard.  I still won’t admit that I enjoy OneRepublic’s music, but he never fails to catch my ear.  This track is driving, like Mumford and Sons strained through Madonna’s “Hung Up” (and by extension, ABBA’s “Gimme Gimme Gimme”).  I’m not embarrassed to say I like it.  Thanks, meimei.

4. Daughter – “Get Lucky
Too good for Daft Punk?  Go kill yourself.  Or listen to this moody cover, which sounds like The xx taking a somber stab at Neil’s Song of the Year.  It’s a great cover, taking the happy-go-lucky vibe of the original, drowning it in pills and self-loathing, then mumbling it out in depressing fashion.  Kudos, you sad kids.

5. Stephen Frost – “Fire and Ice” (Feat. Jessi Coble)
Frosty went pop!  Sell-out!  Naaaaah, I’m just kidding.  This is unabashed pop goodness: a dancefloor-ready track with bold vocals.  It’s ripe for remixing.  Already a hit in the UK (what??????) and on Rdio, it’s an unexpected glimpse of the big time for Lil’ Stevie.  The gays are gonna love this song.

 

 

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