List Of The Day (NEW)

The Best of 2013, Pt. 2!

List Of The Day

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My first list of notable 2013 releases ended around April 7. This second batch takes us through till the beginning of June! And now I've thrown nine more onto an even newer list meant to finish off the year in November-December! But with my 'Lowering of the Standards,' who knows what will happen to those plans?

The laws of inclusion are simple. Amuse me in some way. Strike a chord that runs deep or hits me quickly over the head. Make a fool of yourself that's irresistible. Mope like you mean it. Rock till you drop. Or until your mom calls you home for dinner.

The one record to get dumped from this list -- since there were actually 26 at the cut-off date -- is The National's new album, since I can't tell if it was growing on me or just attaching itself due to overexposure. I think they might be just another band who play to their reviews and who fail to find the second gear. I love monotony even more than the next guy, but even I have my limits.

Wondering what missed my cut-off? Pastels, NAAM, Olms, GRMLN and five more.

In truth, though, most days, I'd rather be listening to Terry Reid's River album.

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25) Willy Moon -- Here's Willy Moon: Sure, this is likely crap. New Zealand pop star does what so many before him have tried. But I loved the idea that some people are cool with it due to the Jack White connection while others compared him to Jimmie Ray! If you're not familiar with Jimmie Ray, let's just say he's a lot funnier now that we know he never amounted to anything. Does Willy have a career in him? I should hope not.

24) Frank Turner -- Tape Deck Heart: One listen to his voice and I'm suspect. The way he jumps for higher notes in "The Way I Tend To Be" has a shiny emo touch that makes me want to hit him. The British singer-songwriter relocated to Burbank to record his "breakup" album, which is not where people go to be at one with their depressed selves. I suppose I should champion his 'can-do' spirit. I would if it didn't seem to get in the way of the decent songs in hiding here.

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23) Junip -- Junip: Despite all the sincere 'New Nick Drake' pom-poms thrown Jose Gonzalez's way, he's probably better off sticking with this low-key trio. They just need to get on a proper release schedule to show us they're serious about this stuff.

22) The Blank Tapes -- Vacation: One of the joys of listening to roughly 40 albums a week is that a few stand up and say "I'm not as bad as you think I am!" Turns out The Blank Tapes is a man named Matt Adams who's recorded a bunch of albums on his own. He's one of these guys who loves music from so many eras that had he lacked for musical talent, he could've been an angry, bitter blogger like the rest of us!

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21) Deerhunter -- Monomania: I know a lot of the kids have been doing that '80s revival thing but Deerhunter are in line for the 1990s revival once things kick a little harder in a few years. That I can hear even a smidgen of Pavement in their music makes me reminisce over the days when we were kidded into thinking Pavement made a consistent album and not just a few great tracks like most other people. Ah, come to my garage sale sometime!

20) The Thermals -- Desperate Ground: I knew the day would come where this trio would scare me. All young bands are constantly in danger of falling to the wrong side of their influences and this pretty good record has enough hooks to sustain whatever damage occurs when they go emo instead of clear. I just tell myself it's their Mountain Goats homage and not emo at all and hope that sticks.

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19) Meat Puppets -- Rat Farm: I admit it. Of all the SST bands, the one I threw in the towel on was Meat Puppets (well, and everything they released after 1985). Huevos was the last album I remember loving with any consistency. I even stood through a nearly 3 hr concert in 1992 to witness their anarchy. But we went our separate ways. Not even St. Cobain's adulation could bring me back. Yet, I find enough here to feel like it's me, not them. I hear good things. I just can't make the crossing as easy as I'd prefer.

18) Appleseed Cast -- Illumination Ritual: The years have been good to Appleseed Cast. Well, if getting a thumbs up from this dreary little blog is what they've waited their lives for. Whatever they were doing before has been replaced with a band that sound like they know what they're doing. It sounds much like what an improvisatory band such Sonic Youth might sound like if they hadn't been so convinced that making "edgy" music had to be so gosh-darned loud and abrasive all the time.

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17) Keaton Henson -- Birthdays: I'm a sucker for young singer-songwriters who sound as if they want to be all the people I admired when I still had a shred of hope in this miserable life. Surely, some people will hear the spirit of Elliot Smith or Bon Iver, if your comparisons are of newer vintage. I'm moderately-ancient, so I hear Steve Forbert. Now, let me get my glasses...

16) Wolf People -- Fain: Since the music industry makes so little money for anyone, a band can start up in the image of Jethro Tull or Traffic or Fairport Convention and not feel like they're bypassing fortune and/or fame. Should a song like "When The Fire Is Dead In the Grate" have a 2013 copyright? As much as "Tam Lin" could have one in 1969.

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15) Rod Stewart -- Time: Being a Rod Stewart fan means accepting a lot of strikes outside of the zone. No matter how banal the sentiments, he's still got that voice to offer. Screw the sentiments, though, it's the arrangements that usually tank him. And I don't mean the 80s-synth pop stuff. I actually like some of that. It's the goopy orchestrated numbers where you think to yourself, 'He's Rod Stewart! He doesn't need to get this schmaltzy. He could scream like Henry Rollins all night and the ladies would think it was music. You're Rod Stewart!'

14) Natalie Maines -- Mother: The Jeff Buckley cover is what she's good at. The Patty Griffin cover makes the most sense. And if you can't get at least a chuckle over her singing Pink Floyd's "Mother," you shouldn't be here at all. For a mainstream move, Maines has made do with misfits.

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13) Yeah Yeah Yeahs -- Mosquito: After ten years of messing about, you can't call Karen O and the dudes 'kids" anymore. They've got four albums out and they use their budgets to make a sound that's louder, nastier and more interesting than most bands still clinging to the notion of rock 'n' roll.

12) Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood -- Black Pudding: Lanegan's become the 'go-to' guy when other folks want the devil to visit their recording sessions and they know Leonard Cohen isn't stopping by and Nick Cave would be too expensive/ obvious. Duke Garwood is an old acquaintance who toured with the Gutter Twins. Together, they make dark music that at this point you expect. Surely, this stuff will sound even better years from now when no one is making this kind of music anymore.

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11) The Postelles -- …And It Shook Me: If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm one of those impossible to please music fans who doesn't enjoy the 'advancements' I hear in most modern music. I like bass guitars to be loud but not to rip my speakers apart. The bands I do like are expected to find their innovations within the stricter, imaginary and arbitrary limits that I deem acceptable. The pop music made by the Postelles has the sound of the late 1970s New Wave down pretty well. But where can they take it that I will still like them? Hmmn, I see my point.

10) The Stranglers -- Giants: I'm not even sure who's still in the Stranglers in 2013. True to form, the album stuck around for a year as an import, so by the time it hits these shores I'm slightly less enthused, even though I haven't heard a note. Then I put it on and hear the urgency driving the bass guitar and decide to stick it out. Welcome back, old friends. Even if I've never heard of any of you.

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9) Laura Stevenson -- Wheel: I always worry about female singers who linger at the top of their range. There's a lot of pressure on them these days to turn tics. To make cutesy what should be left alone. For the most part here, Stevenson uses GRAMMY-winning violinist Rob Moose from the Bon Iver sessions to color the sound along with Kelly Pratt to handle the brass. The guitars even get nasty for "Triangle." Please don't get cute!

8) Various Artists -- Way To Blue -- The Songs of Nick Drake: Tribute albums should mostly be banned. Unless the person in charge actually knew the artist well and is allowed 100% power to block a manager/ label's choice. (Sorry, J Mascis, you and Thurston, can't be "long-time fans" of EVERYONE). This album, however, is under the control of Joe Boyd, who produced young Nick, and stuck to his few friends in the family circle and refused to soil the reputation with stupid moves, though Robyn Hitchcock is the one surprise. You almost don't miss Nick, until it hits you that these are his songs.

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7) Patty Griffin -- American Kid: Patty has the voice of a natural Top Tenner. The problem has been that she's often tested that truism with sanctimonious material that's pure sentimental manure. So always with trepidation I await what the stringed instruments and the 'Trends of Americana' will yield. Hooked up with Robert Plant should be a good thing. Percy knows his heritage, too. Sounds good thus far, but there are years to figure this one out right.

6) Iggy and the Stooges -- Ready To Die: I wish the news were better, but it'll have to do. You can't capture lightning in a bottle on purpose. Even with all the elements in place. But you can get near the neighborhood where these things happen and Iggy with James Williamson is always a dangerous combination and with enough volume this sounds close enough. Nobody makes Raw Power II. Especially when the guys who made the first one didn't make it that way on purpose.

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5) The Del-Lords -- Elvis Club: The guitar tones are as eternal as the dreams. The hooks are called retro in many circles, which is sad, since so few can write them at all anymore. The band knows the world has passed them by with mostly inferior product. And they thought things were dire when they first kicked off. The only way to win? Turn "Flying" to 10 and fly, dammit.

4) Savages -- Silence Yourself: They're young, female, foreign, with smart black and white photography and an overall graphic sense that says they're not kidding around. Only young people can be this serious without getting a lashing. It's part of the social contract. We let them believe the world is theirs for the asking. We take the offer off the table a few years later. For now, dream, baby, dream.

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3) Jimmy Lavalle & Mark Kozelek -- Perils From the Sea: Artists are to the point where they know there's no point in trying too hard to make a 'hit.' Whether they write the tightest, catchiest three minutes of their lives or ten minutes of sprawling non-linear ambition, the people will just download it for free and kill careers anyway, so why not just experiment with what's in front of you? The Album Leaf's Jimmy LaValle throws together some atmospheric keyb patches and Sun Kil Moon's Mark Kozelek pulls from stories and ideas that interest him and this is what you get. Sound easy? OK, but can you sing like Mark Kozelek?

2) The Fall -- Re-Mit: Who am I kidding? I'd only recognize a bad Fall album if it was completely terrible and even then I'd think it was on purpose and, therefore, probably brilliant over the long term. I'm liking the usual turbulence here and I don't pay attention to the lyrics as closely as I should so he's off the hook there, too. I think Mark E. Smith should consider issuing a book of Complete Lyrics, published in a font that can be read, you old bugger!

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1) Laura Marling -- Once I Was An Eagle: Believe the hype, for a change. Well, depends on what the hype is saying. If it's telling you that the first four songs on this album feature a song cycle so alluring that it doesn't matter that the album is a trite too long and sags in the middle, well, then I'd say that reviewer knows of what he speaks! Let's invite him over for some snacks.

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