Best Albums of 2013 from the Westword (including my picks)

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The Westword asked me for my top fifteen albums of the year for their mondo year end list. My choices are all mixed up with the other critics excellent choices, what a great year for music! Please note that Kurt Vile is on my year end list, but he was already chosen.

Read the list here: http://www.westword.com/2013-12-19/music/backbeat-nationalistic-2013/

15. Cayucas, Bigfoot

14. Eleanor Friedberger, Personal Record

13. Of Montreal, Lousy with Sylvianbrier

12. Princess Music, Odobenidae

11. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, self-titled

10. Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia

9. Foxygen, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

8. Jagwar Ma, Howlin’

7. Black Joe Lewis, Electric Slave

6. Man Man, On Oni Pond

5. FUZZ, self-titled

4. Portugal. the Man, Evil Friends

3. King Khan and the Shrines, Idle No More

2. Dr. Dog, B-Room

1. White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade

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Ten Songs I’m Listening To Right Now

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1. Swearin’ “Hundreds & Thousands” http://swearin.bandcamp.com/track/hundreds-thousands
Allison Crutchfield, twin sis of Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee fame shows that she can do the 90’s jangle pop thing with flat vocal intonations even better than her sister.

2. Sides of Chaz “Sweet Tea” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8dfaOakGJk
Better known as Toro y Moi, Chaz Bundick shows off his weird, psych art folk pop side here and it sounds both derivative and modern at the same time.

3. Naturally Born Strangers “Tie Breaker” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MIgDW8C7tg
Toronto MC Rich Kidd produces and rhymes in this new rap trio that mix old school beats with real life narratives. This one about a shorter chick wanting to be a basketball player is unique and positive.

4. St. Vincent “Birth in Reverse” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c5BhXdVBqw
Artpop queen St. Vincent produces a catchy, poppy tune with a vocal style that makes you listen to every word.

5. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsoqmFL1vlU
Mellow stoner synth pop meant to be played when hitting the open road.

6. Gap Dream “Shine Your Light” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOcBmvEwjq8
Music that sounds like the Never Ending Story soundtrack on ecstasy. Epic pop.

7. Natural Child “Ain’t Gonna Stop” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_2EMbmIU70
Nashville’s Natural Child does the southern psych thing better than anyone, and the vocals bring to mind Lynyrd Skynyrd in the best way.

8. Yellow Ostrich “Shades” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Lo53Hr0fc
Alex Schaaf has a whole band now and his sound is bigger and more psychedelic.

9. Temples “Mesmerise” https://soundcloud.com/templesofficial/temples-mesmerise
Psych rock with hooks and heavily layered vocals that sound like a flower child choir.

10. Orchestra of Spheres “2,000,000 Years” https://soundcloud.com/firerecords/orchestra-of-spheres-2000000
Sickeningly fun futuristic Blondie-tinged dance funk from New Zealand.

Chasing Sunsets

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I love watching sunsets, and have been spoiled to live close to a lake with a western unobstructed mountain view. When the clouds start to go pink, I grab my camera and head to my spot. Sadly, a group of guys that get drunk and listen to music loudly from there cars also like this spot, so I’m usually getting whistled at when taking these. I’ll miss this spot when we move.

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Courtney Barnett – Artist to Watch

photo by Chris La Putt

photo by Chris La Putt

Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett is a refreshing, dry witted DIY performer who releases her earnest, psychfolk tunes on her own label, Milk! Records. Her single “Avant Gardener” made Pitchfork’s Top 100 singles list this year, and for good reason. She’s got a tint of Bob Dylan in her rambling, beat driven narratives that poke fun at herself and the rest of the world, with a deadpan singsong voice with inflections reminiscent of Liz Phair.

Listen to and buy the album here: http://store.milkrecords.com.au/album/the-double-ep-a-sea-of-split-peas

Natural Child – Band to Watch

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Nashville’s Natural Child have had some buzz for awhile, their southern tinged psych rock being a highlight for me this past year at SXSW. They have a new album coming out February 25th on the always on point Burger Records, and I think it’s going to get them even more attention. Their golden country sound with phase shifters and dashes of psychedelia is a treat, making me want to play some Flying Burrito Brothers. They will be performing at the Bluebird on January 18th, come watch these guys jam out live.

“Saturday Night Blues”: https://soundcloud.com/burgerrecords/natural-child-saturday-night

Gap Dream’s Shine Your Light album review

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Gabriel Fulvimar a.k.a Gap Dream was invited to live at Burger Records, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Fellow Burger Record star Bobby Harlow came in to help record and produce the new album, and it’s a synthy, sexy dream of an album. The new album hits harder than Gap Dream’s previous work, drum machine right up front giving an industrial and harder hitting sound that comes closer to his live show. It’s the perfect balance of a gritty modern aesthetic and chill psychpop. Title song “Shine Your Light” has an epic feel to it, and the video’s film production quality and matter only add to that feeling. “Fantastic Sam” has the perfect flat vocal delivery that brings an edge to the synthloaded beats. The whole album is pretty midtempo, and while I wish maybe some songs were a little sped up, the mellow sound lets more interesting effects come into play so it works itself out. The 60’s sounding reverb drenched “Immediate Life Sentence” brings a great layer of fuzz and Galaga sounding laser noises while “Shine Your Love” has a synthy horn melody reminiscent of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. It’s like the garage rock version of The Neverending Story score.

The Streets of Philadelphia

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This fall I got to visit Philadelphia for the first time, and instantly fell in love. Cobblestone streets, American history, and tons of well dressed young adults; what’s not to love?

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