Hey there everybody. Every year I end up making a list of my favorite albums of the year – though I should probably just say “releases” – and I have taken far too long to share mine for 2013. I figure that if maybe there will be something on this list that you haven’t heard yet and you will look into it and just maybe you will love it and it will help you make it through the musical drought that is (normally) winter. I hope this little list proves interesting to at least somebody…and I ask that you have patience; a longer post like this takes longer to write so hopefully I get done with this little project before June.
Dr. Wormhole’s Favorite Music of 2013 (Part 1)
40. Recycle Culture – In Transit The most compelling remix artist around put out six of his own releases last year, each a confident offering of an artist who refuses to slow down. But it was In Transit that the elusive producer shone brightest, crafting a half-hour of restrained, unclassifiable wonder.
39. Bill Callahan – Dream River
For those in the know in the 1990s Bill Callahan had already earned himself a place in the critical conversation about the greatest songwriters of all time for his work as Smog. His deep voice and unapologetically wry sense of humor have always set Mr. Callahan’s work apart and they are still present on the eight superbly crafted songs of warning, pleading, and regret that comprise Dream River. Most songwriters transform into parodies of themselves as they age, let go of their convictions to guarantee record sales with a new demographic, or simply run out of things to say. Then there is Mr. Callahan, who continues to proves that his keen eye, sharp wit, and knack for writing deeply affecting songs are still very much in tact as he approaches the half-century mark. Let’s hope it stays this way for a long time to come.
38. A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord There is a very real thing in this world called swagger that a universe of #swag’s cannot diminish. Harlem native A$AP Ferg has swagger to spare and it comes through in every line on his album debut LP. Ferg is one of a slew of young MCs who have breathed new life into hip-hop by moving beyond simple bragging to actually pushing the genre forward with an anything goes flow that is symbiotically attached to the beat, often times surprising to the point of inducing a smile, and consistently exhilarating to hear. The content might not be Kendrick but when the style is so exciting, it doesn’t need to be.
37. James Holden – The Inheritors
Sometimes it seems like it would be easy to produce minimal techno music. Or maybe it just seems that way because I value the practice of meditation – and inevitably end up using variations of that word to describe such thought-out music all too often. Interestingly enough, Holden’s behemoth 75-minute LP is anything but meditative. As Mr. Holden states in the album’s press release The Inheritors is an “English pagan saga” presented as an “idealistic version of what an album is”, meant to be “a whole new world, a mythology, complete”. Mr. Holden has done more than to live up to these efforts: he has created a superbly coherent guide to a world known only to our ears out of sounds that are equally unexpected and antiquated-sounding, melding them together with such assurance that it seems like he is actually having fun.
36. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight the More I Love You
Neko Case has been putting out exceptional music for her entire career, which is more like two careers since she is a major player in The New Pornographers as well as performing under her own name. If there are two obvious things that make case stand head and shoulders above her peers it is that a) she doesn’t really have any peers, since her blend of American country/rock/soul balladry is distinctly Case, and b) her voice is so much more confident, strong, and clear than just about any other female vocalist. She is a miracle-worker of lyricism, commanding the attention of listeners, bringing them in with vulnerability and vivid story-telling, and finally condemning or celebrating them – sometimes both within the same breath. This album is another collection which shows Ms. Case as capable as ever of painting vivid pictures that will involve the emotions. And once again: they are all as catchy as hell, to boot.
Stay tuned for the next