Our favorite performances from 2017

Best live shows of 2017 - The xx, Miguel, Moderat & Coldplay

2017, where the hell did you go? It just felt like the other day that we were ringing in a new year, and yet, here we are again as we plow straight ahead into 2018.

But before we officially put a bow on 2017, it’s time for us to revisit the past 12 months at Showbams. This year, we had the opportunity to capture many amazing moments in live music, and while we couldn’t pay homage to every single performance we witnessed, we made a conscious effort to include a wide range of talent spread across the industry.

Whittling down our list, though, was not that easy. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order) whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

21 Savage, The Accidentals, Action Bronson, Alice Cooper, Alina Baraz, alt-J, Amber Mark, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Animal Collective, Atlas Genius, The Avalanches, The Band Perry, Beach Slang, Belle and Sebastian, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Bleachers, Blonde Redhead, Bob Moses, Car Seat Headrest, Cate Le Bon, Cigarettes After Sex, Circles Around the Sun, City of Caterpillar, The Coathangers, Claude VonStroke, Chris Robinson, Con Brio, Conor Oberst, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, Crystal Castles, The Crystal Method, Daniel Caesar, Dawes, Dead Meadow, Deafheaven, Deep Purple, Diet Cig, DIIV, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. Dog, Dr. Octagon, Duke Dumont, Eagles of Death Metal, Electric Guest, Emancipator, Emily King, Empire of the Sun, Foxygen, Future Islands, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Gatecreeper, Girl Talk, Gone Is Gone, Grizzly Bear, Gucci Mane, Hamilton Leithauser, Hazel English, Hinds, The Hip Replacements, Hiss Golden Messenger, How to Dress Well, Iggy Pop, Isaiah Rashad, Jack Johnson, Jagwar Ma, Jamestown Revival, Jamie Isaac, Jay 305, Jen Cloher, Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, Jessie Ware, Jim James, JR JR, Julie Byrne, Julien Baker, Justice, Karen Elson, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, KAYTRANADA, Kelis, K. Flay, Khalid, Khruangbin, Kilo Kish, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kurt Vile, La Femme, LANY, Lauv, L.A. Witch, Lettuce, Lil Yachty, Little Dragon, Lo Moon, Lorde, Lord Huron, Miike Snow, Milky Chance, Minus the Bear, Mister Heavenly, MØ, Mondo Cozmo, Neon Indian, Nicki Bluhm, Norah Jones, North Mississippi Allstars, NVO, Oh Sees, OK Go, Once and Future Band, Pallbearer, The Palms, Passion Pit, Peaches, Perfume Genius, Petit Biscuit, Phoebe Bridgers, Playboi Carti, Pond, Porcelain Raft, PRAYERS, The Radio Dept., Real Estate, The Revivalists, Royal Blood, Sampha, ScHoolboy Q, Sheer Mag, serpentwithfeet, Silversun Pickups, Sleep, Sleigh Bells, SOFI TUKKER, Solange, Spiritualized, Styles P, Sunflower Beam, Talib Kweli, Tank and The Bangas, Tash Sultana, Tei Shi, Temples, Tennis, Tennyson, Thou, Thundercat, TOBACCO, Touché Amoré, Tool, Tove Lo, Travis Scott, Twin Peaks, Ty Segall, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vagabon, Vance Joy, Vic Mensa, Warpaint, Weezer, White Fence, Woods, YG, Young the Giant.

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2017.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2017

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2017:


Best of 2017 - Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels

Date: February 1st
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Yet, in just four years, Run the Jewels have already reached hip-hop’s mountaintop with their politically charged lyrics and hard-hitting beats. Just take last Wednesday’s sold-out show in LA for example. With the duo’s third studio album still only a few weeks old, 5,000 or so fans poured into the spacious Shrine Expo Hall to watch El-P and Killer Mike fuck shit up (for lack of a better term). And that’s exactly what they did after opening sets from The Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangasta Boo and CUZ. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - BADBADNOTGOOD

BADBADNOTGOOD

Date: February 23rd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

As one of the bands to take the coveted headlining spot for NoisePop25, BADBADNOTGOOD seemed as — perhaps more — excited as all of the fans who made it to their sold-out show at The Fillmore. Combining consummate instrumentation with classic MC-style showmanship led by drummer Alexander Sowinski, the Canadian jazz-rock quartet has mastered the art of keeping the audience guessing where they’re going. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Spoon

Spoon

Date: March 7th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

In total, Spoon performed five songs from the new record, including “First Caress” to open a brief encore that left us eager for more. But as the five-piece rocked “Rainy Taxi” from 2014’s They Want My Soul to close, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is one band I never should have slept on. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós

Date: April 8th
Location: Greek Theatre – Berkeley, CA

Now a trio, Sigur Rós have been delivering goosebumps for over two decades — and it’s a delight to hear Jónsi’s voice-as-an-instrument this clear, this powerful and as confident as ever. It would be a wonderful treat to check in on this outfit every 5-10 years going forward and realize they are still going strong. -Mike Frash, photo by James Nagel


Best of 2017 - DREAMCAR

DREAMCAR

Date: April 9th
Location: Great American Music Hall – San Francisco

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Jared Stossel, photo by Jared Stossel


Best of 2017 - A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle

Date: April 13th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver. -Andrew Pohl, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2017 - Radiohead

Radiohead

Date: April 14th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

Yes, the sound problems (all three instances) put a real damper on what was easily one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend. This was the third time Goldenvoice called on Radiohead to headline Coachella, and for one of rock’s most important bands over the last 30 years, it certainly wasn’t a charm as the saying goes. In that moment, it was pretty hard not to feel bad for Thom Yorke, who could only make light of the situation by cracking a joke even if it wasn’t supposed to be one — or so he claimed. But Radiohead more than made up for it with a masterful setlist that opened with A Moon Shaped Pool cuts “Daydreaming”, “Desert Island Disk” and “Ful Stop” before circling back to older hits such as “Everything in Its Right Place”, “There There”, “Idioteque” and even “Creep”. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar

Date: April 16th
Location: Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Weekend 1 – Indio, CA

All hail, King Kendrick! Or should we say “Kung Fu Kenny?” The Compton rapper reached hip-hop’s mountaintop more than two years ago with his Grammy-winning masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly, but headlining Coachella was still on his to-do list. In fact, it was only the second time he had ever been booked to perform at Coachella after being listed on the last line of the 2012 poster. Closing out the fest is no short order for any artist, let alone one who dropped his new album less than 48 hours before taking the stage, but K-Dot lived up to the billing with a show that provoked as much thought as it entertained. -Josh Herwitt, photo courtesy of Coachella


Best of 2017 - The xx

The xx

Date: April 17th
Location: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco

Playfully alluding to their material’s emotional sentiment, Romy Madley Croft (vocals, guitar) and Oliver Sim (bass, vocals) managed to entrance all of us with their tension-filled gazes and syncopated dance moves. Prolonging vocal arrangements, especially during their accelerated live interpretation of “Infinity”, were also stunning to witness. About halfway through the set, Jamie Smith (beats, MPC, production), aka Jamie xx, took the lead and transformed the room into a giant disco party thanks to an onslaught of consecutive dance hits before finishing with “Loud Places” from his 2015 solo LP In Colour. -Molly Kish, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - Moderat

Moderat

Date: April 20th
Location: Mayan Theater – Los Angeles

Moderat subsequently circled back to III, performing “Intruder” before exiting the stage to a rousing applause. Yet, when the house lights didn’t come on right away, the suspense began to build once again. Less than a minute later, the three-piece reemerged, giving the audience more than its money’s worth. Two-encore shows are usually reserved for high-profile groups with extensive catalogs like Radiohead, but Moderat have never played by any rules. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Date: May 9th
Location: The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles

The Lips, of course, made sure to play that song, and even though it was without Watts, it still proved to be an unforgettable moment due to the fact that Coyne rode a life-size unicorn from one end of the stage to the other as he belted out lines like “Yeah, there should be unicorns / The ones with the purple eyes / It should be loud as fuck / Hope the swans don’t die” to open the tune while wearing a big smile across his face. If that’s not psychedelic to you, then I don’t know what is. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

Date: June 3rd
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

Fresh off a stop at Berkeley’s Hearst Greek Theatre the night before, Adams showcased some older favorites and a slew of new tunes from his 16th and latest studio album Prisoner, which came out in February. SoCal fans were treated to some extended full-band jamming, a couple of solo acoustic performances and Adams’ usual witty banter over the course of the evening.
-Stephanie Port, photo by Stephanie Port


Best of 2017 - Jay Som

Jay Som

Date: June 17th
Location: Potrero del Sol Park – San Francisco

Melina Duterte’s band goes by the name Jay Som and hails from Oakland. Do yourself a favor and remember this name: Jay Som. The Polyvinyl-signed songstress bathed the crowd at the Potrero Stage in her dreamy vocals and inanely catchy tunes that appeal to a wide-range of music fan; her songs could feel just as viable in the 90’s college rock area as they do today. Highlights from the set included a vibe-soaked rendition of “Baybee” as well as “The Bus Song”, arguably the artist’s first real “hit.” -Kevin Quandt, photo by Emmeline Munson


Best of 2017- AIR

AIR

Date: June 23rd
Location: The Masonic – San Francisco

AIR’s live performances focus on capturing the crisp, detailed production style that the duo has honed over two decades. It’s a vibrant, textured sound. Centered around acoustic guitar, synthesizers and the breathy timbre of the duo’s immaculate harmonized vocals, the use of live drums helped round out the contrast between both the artificial and acoustic sounds in songs like “Cherry Blossom Girl”. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - PLANETARIUM

PLANETARIUM

Date: July 21st
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

PLANETARIUM’s music, which channels Stevens’ reflections on astronomy, science and even the intricacies of human consciousness, is a fusion of styles from all four band members that evokes feelings of unity. The group’s performance was accompanied by otherworldly visuals that filled the backdrop as it traversed the Solar System with quite a few emotionally charged songs inspired by the planets and other celestial bodies like “Neptune” and “Jupiter”. -Norm de Veyra, photo by Norm de Veyra


Best of 2017 - The Drums

The Drums

Date: July 21st
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

By the time The Drums took the stage, the intimate venue was packed to the brim with fans. The Brooklyn outfit made as much of an impression as it did when frontman Jonathan Pierce and company exploded onto the scene in 2009 with their initial EP Summertime! From then on, it became glaringly obvious with their eccentric band members and seemingly effortless style that they possessed an energetic presence. And at their SF show, it didn’t take long for the capacity crowd to fall into a groove as the venue’s whole atmosphere lit up. -Jacqueline Moore, photo by Jacqueline Moore


Best of 2017 - Miguel

Miguel

Date: July 23rd
Location: Annenberg Space for Photography – Los Angeles

Once the sun set and Miguel stepped onstage, the audience was transported somewhere else entirely. Born and raised in LA, the 31-year-old’s silky-smooth voice floated through the cool evening breeze over the twinkle lights in the trees, giving the impression of an island retreat rather than a concert in the park. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs

Date: August 5th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

Granduciel’s raspy voice, as well as his driving (no pun intended) guitar rhythms and reverb-laden riffs, are largely what separates The War on Drugs from the rest in a crowded indie-rock scene, but the sum of the band’s parts — Charlie Hall (drums), David Hartley (bass), Anthony LaMarca (guitar, keyboards), Robbie Bennett (keyboards) and finally Jon Natchez (saxophone, keyboards) — also creates a sound that while familiar, still feels uniquely different. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Larry Hirshowitz


Best of 2017 - Gorillaz

Gorillaz

Date: August 11th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Easily one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend, Gorillaz’s Humanz tour made its West Coast debut on Day 1 at OSL. After a six-year hiatus, expectations ran extremely high for this headlining performance. On previous tours, the band’s members had played second fiddle to the cartoon projections of their alter egos onstage, but everyone was visible this time around. Several collaborators from Gorillaz’s previous albums, including Kali Uchis, Yukimi Nagano and Del the Funky Homosapien, came out to join them, and the Damon Albarn-led group still pulled some even bigger surprises with cameos appearances from De la Soul and Pusha T. -Molly Kish, photo by James Pawlish


Best of 2017 - Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Date: August 12th
Location: Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

While the cancellation of Queens of the Stone Age was a blow a week prior to the event, the replacement that was lined up more than delivered a blistering set of rock ‘n’ roll. Cage the Elephant are now being widely considered festival-headliner material, and frontman Matt Shultz is making a strong claim for that accolade as he continues to elevate his stage act to near-Mick Jagger levels of pomp and energy. “Come a Little Closer” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” received hearty sing-alongs from a decidedly youthful crowd as Cage have become a favorite of Generation Z. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2017 - J.I.D

J.I.D

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

While the headliners thrilled as expected, it was at the side “Day” and “Night” stages where the festival’s biggest highlights were generated. J.I.D, the rising Atlanta rapper who is signed to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, absolutely thrilled during his set. Dazzling with his rapid-fire and agile flow, J.I.D showed off his ability to command a crowd with songs such as “General” and “EdEddnEddy” before jumping into the crowd for the tempo-changing hit “Never” that left the crowd chanting for “one more song!” -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - SZA

SZA

Date: September 9th
Location: Day N Night Fest, Angel Stadium – Anaheim, CA

Saturday, meanwhile, featured the vintage gospel spirit and warm vibes that have elevated Chicago emcee Chance the Rapper to superstardom. Earlier in the day, SZA, this summer’s breakout star, delivered her first festival performance since the release of her well-received debut album Ctrl. Swaying, spinning and singing her raw emotions and shortcomings while coming of age, the Top Dawg Entertainment songstress didn’t disappoint. -Joseph Gray & Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2017 - Bonobo

Bonobo (Live)

Date: September 27th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

The real reason things felt different this time around, though, was the music. Extending and reimagining his tracks for easily one of the largest crowds he has ever performed in front of, Bonobo followed an uplifting opening set from Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses with an array of soothing sounds that paired beautifully with his lighting setup and entrancing stage production in the same way Scott Hansen (aka Tycho) creates an awe-inspiring audio-visual experience during his live-band performances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2017 - Coldplay

Coldplay

Date: October 4th
Location: Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA

Coldplay took the stage shortly before 9 p.m. as a video montage of fans who introduced them as “the biggest band in the world” played onstage. While I’m pretty sure there are a few other artists or groups from their side of the pond (ehem, U2) who might take issue with that claim, they certainly did nothing during their electric, almost two-hour performance to dissuade that sort of thinking. Chris Martin and company, in fact, wasted no time getting down to business, flooding the stadium with confetti and firing off pyrotechnics at a steady clip while opening with “A Head Full of Dreams” and subsequently all throughout the night. -Steve Carlson, photo by Steve Carlson


Best of 2017 - Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene

Date: October 26th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

Here’s the thing about BSS — after 15 years, the web of musicians that makes up the collective have created their own individual projects, from Metric to Stars to Feist to Do Make Say Think to Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. And while many of the band’s members who have gone on to find success in their own solo careers didn’t happen to join the group on this particular tour, the sense of professionalism built into the BSS live experience remains prevalent. Every person who stepped onstage demonstrated consummate abilities in their own realms, never missing a beat or a note. -Brett Ruffenach, photo by Norm de Veyra

Best of 2017 - Jim James

Showbams_Sticker_Rectangle2

Jagwar Ma incite a high-energy, psychedelic dance party for their Bay Area fans

Jagwar MaBy Norm de Veyra //

Jagwar Ma with NVO //
Mezzanine – San Francisco
May 24th, 2017 //

Australian psychedelic-dance outfit Jagwar Ma lit up the Mezzanine stage last Wednesday as they currently tour North America in support of their 2016 sophomore LP Every Now & Then.

Providing equal parts high-energy dance party and hazy, dreamy soundscapes, the Sydney trio straddled an exciting line in the current gamut of psych-indie bands.

NVO, another electronic-leaning three-piece from SF, got the crowd worked up with a funky opening set.

Setlist:
What Love
Loose Ends
Uncertainty
O B 1
Give Me a Reason
Ordinary
Come Save Me
Four
Slipping

Encore:
Say What You Feel
Colours of Paradise
The Throw

Goldenvoice reveals 2017 Coachella sideshows

Goldenvoice Presents: April 2017

We’re already six weeks into 2017, and for many music fans residing in California, that means Coachella isn’t all that far away. But while much of the talk around this year’s lineup has been centered on Beyoncé’s debut and more recently her pregnant-with-twins news (the jury is still out on whether it will put a wrench in her plans to perform both weekends), Goldenvoice has turned a good portion of April into a long stretch of top-notch shows, similar to what Red Bull Sound Select has done in November with its month-long “30 Days in LA” series that last year included artists like Nick Murphy (formerly Chet Faker), YG, Jhené Aiko, AlunaGeorge, Pusha T and Isaiah Rashad (look back at our coverage here).

Much like in 2016, Goldenvoice has once again released a list of sideshows that will take place at venues in the greater Los Angeles area, with a select few extending into Orange County (at The Observatory and Constellation Room), Santa Barbara County (at the Santa Barbara Bowl) and the desert (at Pappy & Harriet’s).

Florida emcee Denzel Curry will kick off the festivities on Friday, April 7th at The Glass House before LA outfit Chicano Batman close things out at the same venue on Saturday, April 29th. In between those gigs, Sampha, Banks, Jack Garratt, Crystal Castles, Francis and the Lights, Bishop Briggs, SOHN, Oh Wonder, Future Islands, Little Dragon (with Sophie Tukker), The Head and the Heart, Joseph, Kaytranada, Banks & Steelz, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Nicolas Jaar, Car Seat Headrest (with Preoccupations), Bonobo, Mura Masa (with Kamaiyah), DJ Shadow, Breakbot, Blossoms, New Order (with Poliça), Hinds (with Twin Peaks), Bonobo, Galantis, Local Natives (with Tennis), S U R V I V E, The Avalanches, Glass Animals (with Little Dragon and/or Jagwar Ma), Empire of the Sun (with Broods), Tacocat, Bastille, Roisin Murphy, Whitney, Lil Uzi Vert, Mitski, Röyksopp, Future Islands, Pond (with Ezra Furman), Moderat, Swet Shop Boyz, Floating Points (Live), HONNE (with Arkells), Daphini, Jai Wolf, Guided by Voices and Phantogram will all perform — some even more than once — inside and/or outside of LA’s city limits.

Furthermore, British independent record label Young Turks will host a special showcase for its roster of artists with performances by Ben UFO, Four Tet, Francis and the Lights, Jamie xx, Kamaiyah, Sampha and special guest PNL in Palm Springs on Thursday, April 13th. Check out the full list of sideshows in the poster above.

It’s hard to believe that Goldenvoice has found a way to top their efforts from a year ago, but the renowned concert promoter has managed to do just that. This year’s Coachella sideshows are jam-packed with alternative-electronic and indie-rock acts, with Nicolas Jaar’s headlining performance at Pappy & Harriet’s alongside Floating Points (Live) and Pond as well as Future Islands’ date at The Glass House featuring support from Car Seat Headrest as two of the bigger highlights — and no doubt there are plenty on this bill. Yet, one of the most enticing pairings has to be the Glass Animals-Little Dragon-Jagwar Ma one that’s slated to take over the Santa Barbara Bowl, arguably our favorite venue in Southern California, on Saturday, April 23rd.

Tickets for most of the sideshows go on sale here this Friday, February 17th at Noon PT with the rest of them available Friday, February 24th at Noon PT or Friday, March 3rd at Noon PT.

Goldenvoice

FYF Fest drops 2016 lineup, led by Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala & Grace Jones

FYF Fest 2016

FYF Fest //
Exposition Park – Los Angeles
August 27th-28th, 2016 //

If you thought Kanye West and Morrissey were big gets for FYF last year, the two-day music festival is going even bigger in 2016.

Led by headliners Kendrick Lamar, LCD Soundsystem, Tame Impala and Grace Jones, the lineup for the 13th annual FYF Fest is jam-packed from top to bottom.

The rest of the bill includes performances from Air, Beach House, Anohni, Grimes, Hot Chip, Father John Misty, Explosions in the Sky, Rae Sremmurd, Blood Orange, Young Thug, Moby (DJ set), Saves the Day, Vince Staples, Wolf Parade, Shellac, Todd Terje & the Olsens, Charles Bradley, Ty Segall & the Muggers, Junior Boys, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Jagwar Ma, The Black Lips, Peter Bjorn and John, DIIV, Chelsea Wolfe, Kelela, Bicep, Wild Nothing, Floating Points, Gold Panda, Corbin, Hop Along, Viet Cong, Oneohtrix Point Never, Julia Holter and more at Exposition Park near downtown LA.

UPDATE: FYF has added slacker-rock king Mac DeMarco, LA electronic duo CLASSIXX and Banks & Steelz, a new collaboration featuring Interpol frontman Paul Banks and Wu Tang original member RZA, to its already stacked 2016 lineup more than two and a half months after dropping the festival’s initial bill.

Founded by Sean Carlson back in 2004 and produced in association with LA concert promoter Goldenvoice, FYF will sell weekend passes for $199, with single-day passes also available for $125 and weekend VIP passes available for $339. Tickets can be purchased starting this Friday, April 1st at 12 p.m. here.

Excited for FYF now? Make sure to check out our coverage from 2015 here.

FYF Fest 2016 lineup

LA gets a taste of Down Under thanks to Jagwar Ma, Flume

Jagwar Ma & Flume


Australia’s Jagwar Ma (left) and Flume (right) played to big crowds in LA last week.

By Josh Herwitt //

Over the past five years, Australia has become a hotbed for electronically-tinged music, and Los Angeles got to experience that first hand last week from two of the country’s biggest up-and-coming acts in 2014.

Headlining the Twilight Concert Series‘ fifth annual “Australia Rocks the Pier” show, Sydney psych-dance trio Jagwar Ma returned to Southern California for the first time since packing the Gobi Tent on Coachella‘s opening day back in April. And with a rather youthful crowd flocking to the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday night, Gabriel Winterfield (vocals, guitar), Jono Ma (guitar, beats, synths, production) and Jack Freeman (bass, vocals) ran through a large chunk of their 2013 debut Howlin’. Having played Lollapalooza in Chicago and Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montreal the weekend before, the band has maintained one of the most rigorous touring schedules this summer.

Yet, you wouldn’t have known it from the way Winterfield and Freeman jumped around on stage while Ma manned the decks, pumping life into each song through a number of synths and drum machines. What makes Jagwar Ma such an intriguing act right now is the way it can stretch out its songs and make the most of its relatively limited catalog — much like we reported after the band’s set at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on Saturday.

But what was just as impressive to see was Jagwar Ma’s ability to maintain an element of surprise even with Howlin’ being almost a year old now, as it doled out covers of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and Nirvana’s “All Apologies” after winning over the audience earlier in the night with fan favorites like “Uncertainty” and “Man I Need.” For those who hadn’t heard anything from the Aussie outfit until arriving at the beach that night, they couldn’t have asked for a much better introduction to a band that has sold out shows all the across the globe at this point.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to say that there’s an artist who has created more buzz for himself in the last year than 22-year-old Australian prodigy Harley Streten — or as his fans better know him, Flume. Streten, who started making music at the age of 13 after discovering a production software disc in a box of cereal, released his self-titled debut in late 2012 and a year later, found himself winning awards for “Best Male Artist” and” Best Independent Album” in his home country.

Since then, Streten’s newborn success has only continued to spread across the Pacific Ocean and into the states, where the shift toward electronic music is more apparent than ever these days. By the time he played Coachella this year, he had already proven to be too popular to be performing in a tent, evidenced by the thousands of festivalgoers who were spilling outside of the Gobi’s canopy for his 50-minute set.

Opening the first of three sold-out shows at Club Nokia on Friday night, Streten proved to not be in any rush, strolling out on stage almost 30 minutes after his expected 11 p.m. start time. If he was told that showing up late was the “cool thing to do” when you play in LA, it’s not — not when you have fans that waited in line as early as 4 p.m. for a chance to stand up front.

Maybe that didn’t matter to Streten, though. After all, he seems to be everywhere of late, squeezing in sets last weekend at Splash House in Palm Springs on Saturday and Outside Lands in SF on Sunday (read our report, which included some hilarious tree dancing) between his three headlining gigs Friday, Saturday and Monday in LA.

At Club Nokia, he was absolutely adored by the 18-22 demographic that dominated the dance floor. He broke out the hits early, getting the crowd moving to his infectious single “Holdin’ On” before dropping some hip-hop on the crowd compliments of “On Top,” which features New York rapper T.Shirt.

However, for as catchy and well-produced as Streten’s tracks are, there’s still something about paying to watch a so-called “musician” stand behind a laptop — without anyone knowing what he’s truly doing — that feels somewhat disingenuous. That’s not to say that technology has no place in today’s music scene, but in an industry that has become increasingly dependent upon live performance to survive economically, very little about Flume’s show felt “live.”

If there was one element of the 75-minute show that stood above everything else, it was undoubtedly the visual component, which featured original video clips synced to each track. As cool as that was, it wasn’t anything worth spending $90-100 on, which is what tickets were being resold for on StubHub as well as Craigslist (retail ticket prices were $20-40, plus service fees).

With Jagwar Ma and Flume leading the way, there’s certainly plenty of promise for the future of music in the land Down Under. Whether both acts can continue living up to the hype that they’ve garnered from their debut albums, well, that remains to be seen.

Outside Lands Day 2: HAIM take another step toward the top

HAIM_postPhotos by Marc Fong // Written by Mike Frash //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

Saturday brought a more celebratory tone to Outside Lands Music and Arts Festiva despite the typical August fog’s return to SF’s Golden Gate Park. Following Kanye West’s exciting Friday set that was marred by multiple man-baby moments, it was time for smiles to become contagious and for the communal spirit of the fest to take flight.

No one led this Day 2 transition better than HAIM. “I want to see babes on babes on babes. Totem pole!” demanded ESTE FUCKING HAIM of the Outside Lands crowd, and oblige they did. An effective festival technique, Alana, Danielle and Este quickly counted as festivalgoers doubled up toward the sky like a meerkat looking for a predator. And by the time the awesome threesome blasted into “Forever”, the crowd had been primed by funny, engaging banter.

More importantly, they are remarkably talented at what they do. HAIM fucking rocks live. They elongate and have adapted some of their songs, like “Forever”, for the better. Before introducing “The Wire”, Danielle prepped the audience for the call and response of “Right!”. Full buy-in permeated the Lands End stage as most everyone joined in the fun.

If HAIM continue to write undeniably catchy songs while retaining their fierce attitudes, the sky’s the limit. The atypical vocal phrasing never gets old, and I hope they continue to create music that develops around their quirky approach to modern pop while re-purposing the familiar. These Los Angeles-based sisters could be headlining big festivals in 3-5 years.

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Jagwar Ma displayed noted improvement since their show last year at The Independent, the group has expanded their sound further on stage, stretching out the vocal mantras into delirious territory. Jano Ma’s production showed shades of Nine Inch Nails, balancing Moog synthesizer and a squelchy analogue sound.

Big Freedia was everywhere Saturday. The Queen Diva brought a taste of NOLA to the new GastroMagic stage, allowing proactive patrons to cook up a beignet while they got there bounce on. Then, Freedia was at the Soundwave tent, and finally for her proper set at the Panhandle Stage. Ass Everywhere!

• SF-based graphic designer-turned-musician-turned-full-band Tycho had a prime spot mid-day at Twin Peaks, but it’s unclear if Scott Hansen’s minimalist approach translates in a big, open field at a festival. While the crowd energy was low as expected, it was a solid set accompanied by a new, intriguingly odd video component.

• The Sutro Stage was alive with an intimate crowd for Deer Tick. Screaming fans belted out lyrics and danced with interlocked arms to the group’s raucous, twangy Southern rock.

Duck Sauce is refreshing for embracing the absurd, boiling down dance music into explosions of bass with melodies as obnoxious as “Gangum Style” or happy hardcore. But A-Trak and Armand Van Helden have pinpointed the perfect equation for a ridiculously good time, making sure not to ever get too jarring or obvious. When looking for a raging, good time in a festival setting, nothing may be more fun than Duck Sauce. Quack.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are just about as “legend” as it gets, and tracks from Petty’s 2014 LP Hypnotic Eye were laced throughout the main stage headliner’s set. “Friend of the Devil” was covered, a nod and a wink to the Grateful Dead’s home turf, while “American Girl” finished of the night on a high note.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at Twin Peaks was way more crowded than Tom Petty’s show. Macklemore brought out Mary Lambert for the GBLT anthem “Same Love”, which included a wedding proposal well-suited for SF.

What was your favorite show or moment on Saturday? What are you looking forward to Sunday?

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Outside Lands 2014 daily lineup highlights

Outside-Lands-2013

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

So, three-day tickets for Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival sold out in record time. Now’s your chance to snag single-day passes for SF’s premier music festival. Get ready: tickets go on sale Thursday, April 17th at 10 a.m.

Still choosing which day might be best for you? Here’s our take on the headliner options, along with choice picks and reasons to get there early this August in Golden Gate Park.

OSL-2014

Friday, August 8th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Kanye West Vs. Arctic Monkeys (or Disclosure)

Yeezus himself will handle headlining duties on day one, but the real question is whether or not Arctic Monkeys or Disclosure will helm Twin Peaks come nightfall. Both acts are worthy of a headlining slot — time will tell.

CHOICE PICKS:

Run the Jewels: El-P + Killer Mike , “Rap’s most dangerous Duo”, are returning to SF after their game changing shows last year at the Independent. Expect top notch beats over future-forward production. In a perfect world they would open for West.



Phosphorescent: Matthew Houck’s understated, twisted take on indie rock is refreshingly breathtaking, exemplified most strikingly by the majestic “Song for Zula”:

Holy Ghost!: Ready for a disco-dance party fed by instrumentals? Yes you are. One of our favorite acts from the last year will set Golden Gate park ablaze.



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Mikal Cronin
• Greensky Bluegrass
• Typhoon
• Bear Hands

THE VERDICT: Eclectic with as many rap options as dance choices.

OutsideLands

Saturday, August 9th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers vs. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

This one’s going to be a pretty simple choice for most folks — the classic rock singalongs versus the contemporary pop-rap anthems. These headliners starkly contrast from one another.

CHOICE PICKS:

SBTRKT: Known to perform with iconic tribal masks, Aaron Jerome fuses innovative electronic production with drums, synth, keys & live singing, usually with help from touring partner Sampha. SBTRKT’s new EP Transitions delves into icy-instrumental territory.



Atmosphere: Slug and Ant are back this year, and they’ve got a new song entitled “Kanye West”, which doesn’t go after the Day 1 headliner, but it does address hip-hop crowd interactions in a playful, positive way.



Tycho: Scott Hansen is as much a visual artist as he is a musician — his projected imagery melds simple geometry and super slow-mo romanticism and works in hand with his newly cemented band’s ambient, yet driving beats. This one deserves a night time slot, say closing down the Panhandle Stage?



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Woods
• Jagwar Ma
• Valerie June
• Trails and Ways

THE VERDICT: Save for a handful of rowdy spots (Macklemore, Duck Sauce, Capital Cities), the offerings are relatively mellow.

OutsideLands2

Sunday, August 10th

HEADLINER OPTIONS: The Killers vs. Tiësto (or The Flaming Lips)

These two options to end the weekend are, once again, clear cut. But here’s hoping Ranger Dave harkens back to the early years and offers a third headliner option in The Flaming Lips. Their drone-psyche spectacle of a freak out deserves darkness and would offer an incredible third option.

CHOICE PICKS:

Cut Copy: Every time these electronic-oriented Australians swing through the Bay Area, we’ll be there. Dan Whitford & Co. will make you dance and reach for the sky.



Lykke Li: The Swedish Songstress is returning to the touring circuit this year, and her first offerings from her forthcoming LP I Never Learn are more sedated than swirling. Li’s ownership of the stage and visceral passion request your attendance.



Flume: Skyrocketing electronic-music amalgamator Harley Streten creates big, bold beats centered by a chill tone. Since releasing his self-titled LP to worldwide acclaim in 2012, he’s brought in a host of top level rhymers to give the music new meaning and fresh life (listen below). We’re excited to see how this influences his live show.



DIGGING DEEP: (reasons to get there early)

• Gold Panda
• Courtney Barnett
• Jonathan Wilson
• Tumbleweed Wanderers

OVERALL VIBE: Sunday has a lot of high-decibel acts. A good day for dance enthusiasts.

Check out our Outside Lands 2014 playlist:

OL 2014 Daily Lineups

Outside Lands 2014: Lineup locks, likely acts & long shots

OSL_Windmill-Scene-by-Tim-HampsonPhotos by Tim Hampson // Written by Mike Frash & Kevin Quandt //

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival //
Golden Gate Park – San Francisco
August 8th-10th, 2014 //

As we inch towards springtime, leading to summer, and Coachella is within a month’s reach, some Bay Area music freaks (like us) begin to speculate about who is gonna be gracing those stages freckled throughout Golden Gate Park come August. Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival is set to return to SF on August 8th-10th.

The greatest indicators are the group’s touring schedules — Osheaga Music Festival in Montreal and Pickathon in Oregon have announced their schedules the weekend prior to Outside Lands (with Lollapalooza to still be announced). Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia is the same weekend as Outside Lands, but Vancouver is close enough for artists to double dip.

Conversely, we can confirm some big acts that won’t be on the bill due to scheduling conflicts. But if this is even close to what the Outside Lands 2014 lineup looks like, the Bay Area should be in for a delicious, fog-enhanced treat.

UPDATE 4/7: The lineup has been announced!

Girls-on-Fire-Main-Stage-Tim

Lock It In (we think)

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: A new album on the way and a lack of dates out West makes him a solid candidate for top billing this year. Also, keep in mind that OSL has never repeated headliners, as well as the fact that Super Fly (Bonnaroo), who along with Another Planet Presents, handles the bulk of the booking.

Arctic Monkeys: [CONFIRMED] These festival stalwarts announced an extensive tour with a noticeable gap in the western demographic which leads to speculation that they’ll return for a sub-headlining set. Confirmed for August 10th at Osheaga.

Chromeo: [CONFIRMED] A Red Rocks date on August 5th is a good sign that these party starters are en route back to San Francisco for a possible Twin Peaks headlining spot. 

Modest Mouse: Confirmed for Osheaga, and with no California dates on the calendar for the recently announced tour, Modest Mouse is starting to look like a lock.

Cut Copy: [CONFIRMED] Cut Copy and Chromeo are on parallel tracks. Both will have played APE shows in the past year, and their tour buses are aligning toward the Bay in early August.

CHVRCHES: [CONFIRMED] Confirmed for Osheaga, it just makes sense that one of the the biggest breakout acts of 2013 will triumphantly return to the Bay after playing the Independent, Mezzanine & Fox Theater Oakland over the past year.

Flume: [CONFIRMED] It’s due time for this EDM heat-seeker to return to San Francisco, and what better place and time than Outside Lands. Flume’s popularity could land him Twin Peaks headlining duties.

Tycho: [CONFIRMED] Having become the darlings of Another Planet, what better progressive act to grace the bill than Tycho. Sold out shows in the coming weeks lend to a strong demand.

Foster the People: Performing at Squamish Valley Music Festival Friday lends a good possibility that Mark Foster and band will trek down to Golden Gate Park for a Sunday set. A slot at Osheaga Festival the weekend prior says they’ll be hitting many large events as they support their latest release Supermodel.

Iron & Wine and Glen Hansard: These two artists are booked to play Hollywood Bowl on August 10th, leading most savvy music aficionados to make the leap that these acts will be present.

Danny Brown: A lack of Bay Area dates coupled with spots on the ‘OSL crossover’ festival, Squamish, could mean we are in for a ‘Kush Koma’ with oddball, Danny Brown. 

Mad-Rush-Tim

Likely To Appear

Elton John: The announcement of Sir Elton playing Bonnaroo has fueled this rumor nicely, even if questions of availability swirl. The main issue would be surrounding a clause with Caesars where John has a residency. However, this Vegas run ends in April, so it looks possible.

Green Day: These Bay Area legends have surprisingly never played Outside Lands, and it seems possible we’ll see them grace the main stage for a night with Billy Joe and company. 

Coldplay: New music on the way, coupled with scheduled appearances at South by Southwest is a clear sign that Chris Martin and lads are gearing up to re-dominate the world with their anthemic rock. Also, never headlined OSL.

Tiësto: [CONFIRMED] Ranger Dave likes to book some of the biggest names in the EDM world to ‘compete’ with headliners, attracting a slightly younger crowd to congregate at Twin Peaks on most evenings. Tiësto’s production would fit nicely into the bigness of past DJ spotlights.

Frank Ocean: Frankie is mounting his come back after a relatively quiet past few years. His billing on Bonnaroo fuels the speculation that Super Fly booked him, and other acts, for more than just Roo.

The Flaming Lips: [CONFIRMED] Wayne Coyne has had a busy past few months with a recent release and some serious Fall touring. Now, as summer looms, it appears the Lips will be omnipresent at summer festivals. Recent Another Planet shows coupled with Bonnaroo presence make these weirdo legends a likely booking.

Lorde: Has any act ever gone to sub-headliner status this quickly? Based on her popularity and the way she’s altered the pop landscape, Lorde deserves it. She’s confirmed to play Osheaga and her April dates at Fox Theater sold out immediately.

Chance the Rapper: No longer Chicago’s secret, Chancelor Bennett needs to get better acquainted with the Bay Area. There is a gap in his schedule, and the Acid Rapper is confirmed for Osheaga.

HAIM: [CONFIRMED] For being California girls, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana could show a bit more love to the Bay Area (They’ve played in England over 20 times). Their first ever show in the Bay was at Treasure Island Music Festival last year, and their fauxchella Fillmore dates were tough tickets to snag as they sold out in seconds.

Lykke Li: [CONFIRMED] Confirmed for Friday of Squamish, it’s very possible the breathtaking Swedish singer-songwriter could grace Outside Lands on Sunday.

Foxygen: Even though there has been turmoil (broken legs, inner-band conflict), the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic should come play “San Francisco” in it’s namesake. The group is confirmed for Pickathon as well.

Mikal Cronin: [CONFIRMED] The singer-songwriter has become quite the popular local musician and would be ideal for a showcase of SF rock. Booked for the Oregon Pickathon means he’ll be active around this time. 

Valerie June: [CONFIRMED] The American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is playing Pickathon and other West Coast dates prior to Outside Lands. June’s sound will fit nicely into the festival’s curation net.

On-The-Rail-Tim

It Could Happen

Kanye West: [CONFIRMED] As it appears OutKast will not be the infamous first hip-hop headliner, we look to Kanye West as an outside possibility as the debut of rap taking center stage one summer evening. Inclusion on Bonnaroo’s docket makes a reasonably strong start to an argument for Yeezy.

Eminem: Already a rumored headliner for Lollapalooza, Slim Shady has also booked a co-headlining date with Rihanna at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena the Thursday before Outside Lands while also confirmed for Squamish on Sunday the 10th. Starting to trend toward “likely”, should we be adding RiRi as a rumored headliner?

Tool: Already playing two SF shows in March, would it be that much of a surprise to see Tool headlining one night? Certainly they are big enough to handle top billing duties.

Pharrell Williams: A Ranger Dave’s “hat” tweet has led many to speculate the possibility of Williams’ presence on the festival grounds. Limited dates pepper his itinerary, so it’s anyone’s guess.

The Avett Brothers: Having not played the event in over five years and select festival appearances over the summer, one could make the argument that Avett will return. Bonnaroo booking also helps this case.

Kendrick Lamar: K-Dot’s touring schedule is open, but there are no obvious indicators an Outside Lands appearance will happen. But for a festival that’s usually short on hip hop & rap, it would be too fun to see the Outside Lands stage and surrounding area get crazy during “Backseat Freestyle”.

Gogol Bordello: The Gypsy-punk freaks are confirmed to play Osheaga, and they played Outside Lands in 2010. A return seems possible.

Jagwar Ma: [CONFIRMED] Being rather active in the festival realm in 2014, these party-starters can easily jump from Osheaga over to SF. A previous Another Planet-booked show at the Independent demonstrates there is communication present.
 
Polo-Field-3-Tim

Long Shots: Already booked elsewhere (don’t count on it)

OutKast: Andre 3000 and Big Boi might be playing over 40 festivals this year, but Outside Lands won’t be one of them. OutKast is confirmed for Flow Festival in Finland the same weekend as Outside Lands.

Arcade Fire: Win Butler and company are performing at Squamish Valley Music Festival, but they have a date set at Shoreline in July, and they headlined three years ago.

Jack Johnson
Queens of the Stone Age
Robert Plant
Santana
Neutral Milk Hotel
Janelle Monae
DARKSIDE
Mac Demarco

Twin-Peaks-Scene-Tim

Showbams Photography 2013: A year in review

Purity-Ring

Purity Ring // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


The power and impact of a great photo is undeniable. Striking photos take you to another place, inserting you into a spectacular moment from the past.

The photographers in the Bam Fam have produced many memorable, inspiring live music photos in 2013. Feast your eyes on 50 of our best shots from the past year.

Click a band or artist name to view the original article.

Fiona-Apple-and-Blake-Mills

Fiona Apple & Blake Mills // Sam Heller
Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley //10.8.13


Killer-Mike

Killer Mike // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Crystal-Castles

Crystal Castles // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.27.13


Phantogram

Phantogram // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Warpaint

Warpaint // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.17.13


Cut-Copy_

Cut Copy // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.2.13


Geographer_post

Geographer // Sterling Munksgard
Bimbo’s 365 Club // 11.23.13


Thee-Oh-Sees

Thee Oh Sees // Pedro Paredes
Great American Music Hall // 12.18.13


Grouplove

Grouplove // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.14.13


James-Blake

James Blake // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.20.13


Matthew-Dear

Matthew Dear // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.22.13


Palma-Violets

Palma Violets // James Nagel
The Independent // 4.23.13


Polyphonic-Spree

Polyphonic Spree // Marc Fong
The Chapel // 8.19.13


Zedd

Zedd // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 10.9.13


Robert-Randolph

Robert Randolph // Steve Kennedy
Notes For Notes Benefit // 12.6.13


Savages1

Savages // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.27.13


Steve-Aioki

Steve Aoki // Sterling Munksgard
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 11.16.13


The-Flaming-Lips

The Flaming Lips // James Nagel
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 10.31.13


The-xx

The xx // Marc Fong
The Greek Theatre // 6.1.13


Atoms-For-Peace

Atoms For Peace // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Thundercat1

Thundercat // James Nagel
The Independent // 11.13.13


Trey-Anastasio-Band

Trey Anastasio Band // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.20.13


Alabama-Shakes

Alabama Shakes // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.5.13


AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.11.13


Autre-Ne-Veut

Autre Ne Veut // Mike Frash
The Independent // 3.11.13


chk-chk-chk

!!! // James Nagel
Great American Music Hall // 2.28.13


CSS

CSS // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Danny-Brown

Danny Brown // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Father-John-Misty

Father John Misty // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.24.13


HAIM

Haim // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


How-To-Dress-Well

How To Dress Well // Sam Heller
The Independent // 8.26.13


Jagwar-Ma

Jagwar Ma // James Nagel
The Independent // 12.11.13


Jamie-Lidell

Jamie Lidell // Sam Heller
The Independent // 3.29.13


Primus

Primus // Sam Heller
High Sierra Music Festival // 7.5.13


Run-The-Jewels1

Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Toro-Y-Moi

Toro Y Moi // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.15.13


Wild-Belle

Wild Belle // Eldon Christenson
The Independent // 9.26.13


alt-J

Alt-J // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 8.29.13


Andrew-Bird

Andrew Bird // Sam Heller
Congregation Sherith Israel // 12.16.13


Andrew-WK

Andrew W.K. // Marc Fong
The Independent // 10.12.13


Anna-Calvi

Anna Calvi // Marc Fong
The Independent // 11.17.13


Big-Boi

Big Boi // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.17.13


Deerhunter

Deerhunter // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


MS-MR

MS MR // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Phoenix

Phoenix // Chaya Frash
The Independent // 4.1.13


Rogue-Wave1

Rogue Wave // Marc Fong
The Independent // 7.12.13


Sigur-Ros

Sigur Rós // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oaklnad // 4.16.13


STS9_Post

STS9 // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.1.13


Washed-Out

Washed Out // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13

Jagwar Ma offer intense song expansion at The Independent

Jagwar-Ma_cover2Photos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

Jagwar Ma with Fascinator //
The Independent – San Francisco
December 11, 2013 //

It’s mind-boggling what two months of touring, an improved venue space and a more engaged crowd can do for a band and their live show. This emerging Aussie group performed their second sold-out show in the City Wednesday — they made their SF debut at Popscene October 3rd — and Jagwar Ma has improved exponentially in the short time between these two shows.

The performance Wednesday at the Independent revealed intense expansion of all songs performed. “Man I Need”, a would-be radio hit that doesn’t get very exploratory on the band’s debut record Howlin, elongated into hybrid dance-jam territory for over eight minutes, leaving more people to internalize the heady sound as opposed to displaying dance party rage.

The group’s intense mix of tripped out classic rock and EDM influences leaves the live listener grappling with the decision to close eyes and float away with the music or attempt to inspire a pogo-pit of dancing.

Jagwar-Ma

Through vocals, samples, drum machine use and live instrumental production, Jagwar Ma offer repetition and reverb to the point of transcendental euphoria quite effectively. “Uncertainty” contained a long, improvised outro section that had guitarist and lead singer Gabriel Winterfield surveying the crowd for the room’s pulse. Most everyone at the Indy appeared deeply immersed.

After seeing the group in October, it felt like Jagwar Ma needed to transition songs more effectively as a DJ would to keep the flow of the set going (Jono Ma, a founding member of the band with Winterfield, is essentially the group’s DJ on the road). But the biggest change Jagwar Ma has implemented since October is zealously enhancing the existing songs they have by making them even more epic and overwhelming. This time the breaks between songs allowed for a welcome breather.

No other act mixes psychedelic rock with electronic music that repurposes elements of house, techno and bass quite like Jagwar Ma — yet somehow the output feels sublimely poppy, steeped in musical elements from the past while embracing the future of awe-inspiring sound.

Jagwar Ma are poised to join the Aussie elite with Tame Impala and Cut Copy — this trio is most certainly an act to watch going into 2014.

Showbams’ top tracks of 2013

Best-tracks-post

Sometimes the more music you listen to, the feeling of missing out on a song or an album can make you feel a little neurotic. You simply can’t give every piece of good music it’s proper due. So when it comes to picking your favorite songs, a safe bet is to pick the songs that not only soundtracked your year but also helped define it.

Showbams presents our Contributor top tracks of 2013. What are your favorite tracks of this dwindling year? Holler with links in the comment section…


James Blake at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

James Blake at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/20. Photo by Marc Fong.

Mike Frash // Founder, Editor, Columnist // @MikeFrash

01. James Blake – “Retrograde”
“Retrograde” perfectly represents the state of music in 2013, providing an amalgamation of cutting edge electronic, bass & R&B sensibilities. Also, the track is hauntingly memorable — How many contemporaries can use their pitch-shifting croon-hum as a low melodic layer like this? Lyrically, manipulative seduction is the center piece as Blake propositions his subject, asking to “show me where you fit.” Retrograde means ‘moving backwards’, and the theme is splendidly represented in the song’s payoff through elongated synth that modulates enough to sound like slow degradation.


02. Disclosure – “When A Fire Starts To Burn”
The mantra of the year, “When A Fire Starts To Burn” can ignite a party or help work get done faster. Somehow the motivational speech sample never tires, and it’s one of the only samples on Settle, proving the keen production sense Guy and Howard Lawrence have ingrained in them. The simple four on the floor house beat slightly evolves every 16 bars, allowing the sample to dominate throughout. An instant classic, it’s a track that uses long-used underground themes and brings them to the forefront as Disclosure continues to explode with popularity.


03. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
The penultimate song from Reflektor explicitly stares death in the face and dares you to live. More than any other song on the record, “Afterlife” successfully digs into the idea of what happens when we die in Arcade Fire’s serious, intense style. The song offers multiple rhetorical questions that function as a challenge. Our time is finite, and love should be the focus. “It’s just an afterlife with you…”


04. Foals – “Milk & Black Spiders”
So much of Foals’ music is about being on the verge of total loss, although the message is almost always vague. A far cry from yelling at “Cassius” that she’s “second best”, “Milk & Black Spiders” centers on the idea of confidence in finding the right mate and openly admitting it. Found in an album full of potential top tracks, this cut contains the best moment of the album at about 3:30. Is it hyperbole to consider this one of the most euphoric crescendo of all time?


05. my bloody valentine – “in another way”
To be truly understood, my bloody valentine needs to be felt, not only heard. To experience MBV live or in the comfort of your living space like the Maxwell Guy is encouraged (although it may be too late to catch them live). The sound is jarring at first, but upon adapting to the volume level, “in another way” transforms into magnificent hypnotism once the first major chords hit. It’s like a persistent, awesome airplane is taking off in your face, in a very good way…

06. Baths – “No Eyes”
07. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
08. Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean – “New Slaves”
09. The National – “I Need My Girl”
10. Rhye – “Open”
11. Volcano Choir – “Byegone”
12. Phosphorescent – “Song For Zula”
13. Run the Jewels – “Job Well Done (feat. Until the Ribbon Breaks)”
14. Mount Kimbie – “Made To Stray”
15. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
16. Darkside – “Paper Trails”
17. Autre Ne Veut – “Play by Play”
18. Jon Hopkins – “Breath This Air”
19. Haim – “Falling”
20. Bill Callahan – “Small Plane”


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Molly Kish // Artist Relations Manager, Columnist // @MollyKish

01. Vampire Weekend – “Unbelievers”
Far from the New England prep rock of their previous two albums, the boys of Vampire Weekend explore new territory both in songwriting and soundscape on their 2013 release Modern Vampires of the City. This breakout pop gem explores the frivolity of faith, dissecting spirituality in the context of a contemporary domestic relationship. Paying homage to blissful rockabilly melodies executed by such greats as Buddy Holly and the Crickets and Jerry Lee Lewis, Vampire Weekend put a current spin on an archetypal pop formula, composing easily one of the best tracks of 2013.


02. Big Black Delta – “Side of the Road”
Jonathan Bates, of Mellowdrone fame, delivers one of the catchiest terrestrial dance jams of 2013 with the lead single off of his debut album, Big Black Delta. A solo project, Bates performs the entire song through layers of modified vocals, electronic improvisation and innovatively tracked percussion. He succeeds in developing an addictive one man dance party that’s just as entertaining to see live as it is to listen to on record and calls for near immediate loops of repetitive play.


03. Disclosure -“F For You”
UK sibling duo Disclosure deliver one of the hardest hitting and simplistically rendered club hits of 2013 with “F For You.” Stripping away frivolous electronic production, they find success in a modest deep house composition featuring a pulsating baseline, repetitive chorus and a stylistically pert, finger-snapping beat. The song’s sassy subject matter and infectious groove are bound to get any dance floor moving and set the song apart as a standout hit on the band’s 2013 debut album.


04. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
Departing from their traditionally art punk mold, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s burst back on the scene with the first single off of their fourth studio album, Mosquito. Highlighting rooted soul riffs and Karen O’s bluesy wails, the beat driven arrangement pays homage to the band’s time spent writing and recording in New Orleans. The track in a fiery choral cameo by the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir and serves as the band’s rousing call to arms for their alternative counterparts. The song exemplifies the band’s successful feat in retaining some of the genres fearlessness and artistic credulity as well as their willingness to step outside of the convoluted mainstream box.


05. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
Often compared to fellow DFA records’ flagship artist LCD Soundsystem, Holy Ghost! assumed the label’s inherent responsibility of producing the next wave of synth-pop super hits with their 2013 album Dynamics. The most comparable track, coming in the form of this funk laden jam, draws directly from the genre-defining record label’s indisputable formula for discotheque domination. Rhythmically resonating with old and new fans alike, Holy Ghost! seamlessly transitioned into their new reign of the DFA universe with this stand out party anthem that floored live music venues and festival stages, all summer long.

06. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
07. Atoms for Peace – “Default”
08. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Nighttime”
09. Toro Y Moi – “Say That”
10. Empire of the Sun – “Alive”
11. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”
12. STRFKR – “While I’m Alive”
13. Jagwar Ma – “Man I Need”
14. Phoenix – “S.O.S. in Bel Air”
15. Washed Out – “All I Know”
16. Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
17. CSS – “Into the Sun”
18. Devendra Banhart – “You’re Fine Petting Duck”
19. Wild Belle – “Another Girl”
20. The Strokes – “One Way Trigger”


Palma Violets at The Independent 4/23. Photo by James Nagel.

Palma Violets at The Independent 4/23. Photo by James Nagel.

Kevin Quandt // Assistant Editor, Columnist // @KJQuandt

01. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”
When the ‘Song of the Summer’ (sorry “Blurred Lines”) is as thoroughly enjoyable as this interstellar first single off of RAM, you know you won’t get nearly as tired of it as past summertime jams. “Get Lucky” is still is as fresh as the first time it was debuted on a Saturday night at Coachella, eventually ruling airwaves across multiple genres all over the globe. This track has it all; from a space disco groove that rivals any legendary disco jam to the sultry vocals of the multi-talented Pharrell Williams. Was it the single that most fans were expecting? Probably not, but lends even more to the production and writing talent of these two mysterious French robots that most of us know by the name of Daft Punk. Though we haven’t seen how it’ll shake out on stage, if ever, it is sure to be on repeat for the foreseeable future. 


02. Foxygen – “No Destruction”
What a fun slice of American tinged psych-pop these young San Franciscans delivered this year. Sure this band has had a rough year on the road, but these issues never diminished their stellar sophomore release, spotlighted by this rousing tale of youthful urban life and love. Dylan-esque crooning coupled with phrasing that would make Ray Davies blush lends a nod to some of rocks legends in the form of “No Destruction”. Every listen also shines more light on the storyboard that these lyrics build, adding another key component to Foxygen’s success.  


03. Foals – “My Number”
I’m not sure exactly when Foals became masters of catchy song structures, but many are happy to hear this British act upping their game to dazzling new heights. The formula of placing the hook early in the track is part of the key, and this is not to mention the amazing returns to said hook while balancing afro-inspired guitar lines, piercing melodies and unpredictable rhythm shifts. “My Number” signifies the next era for Foals while displaying they are ready to leave the clubs to larger theaters while bearing the banner of Bono-esque grandeur in the face of a changing landscape in popular rock music. 


04. King Krule – “Baby Blue”
Young Archie Marshall has come along way for a 19 year old Brit with a refreshing spin on bedroom-produced darkwave music. Though in all honesty, King Krule can not be defined as he bends genre lines all over his debut LP, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. Archie’s unique vocal stylings paint a brilliantly simple portrait of love lost over a stripped down production that is akin to the muted style that launched acts like the XX and Toro Y Moi. The baritone delivery pitches and bends on the singer’s whim over gentle guitar flourishes and minimal beat production equally something fully unique. In an age of EDM maximalism, it’s tracks like this that demonstrate the idea of ‘less is more.’ 


05. London Grammar – “Hey Now”
London Grammar may not be an artist that the majority are familiar with, but a head-turning debut LP released in the fall has garnered this trip-hop trio much deserved attention. Hannah Reid’s vocals soar all over this chilled-out track that slowly builds to a mellow peak that could remind you of early Zero 7 (the Sia years). A feature on Disclosure’s album closer and vocal comparisons to Jessie Ware are promising signs for these up-and-comers that understand restraint can be extremely powerful as demonstrated in this powerful single.  

06. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
07. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
08. Palma Violets – “Best of Friends”
09. Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean – “New Slaves”
10. Jake Bugg – “Lightning Bolt”
11. A$AP Ferg feat. A$AP Rocky – “Shabba”
12. HAIM – “The Wire”
13. Queens of the Stone Age – “My God is the Sun”
14. Vampire Weekend – “Diane Young”
15. The National – “Humiliation”
16. Ducktails – “The Flower Lane”
17. Deerhunter – “Dream Captain”
18. Jon Hopkins – “Open Eye Signal”
19. iceage – “Ecstasy”
20. White Fence – “Pink Gorilla”


Holy Ghost! at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19.

Holy Ghost! at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19.

Pete Mauch // Festival Manager & Columnist // @PeteMauch

01. Daft Punk – “Get Lucky”    
The summer anthem is just too good to be denied the number one spot. With Nile Rodgers laying down the funk chords on guitar and Pharrell Williams’s resurgence back on the scene with smooth croons, it gives the song has some serious lasting power.


02. Kurt Vile – “Wakin On a Pretty Day”
Best morning song ever besides Dylan’s “New Morning”? I absolutely love waking up to this song — it’s bright, catchy guitar licks are matched perfectly with Vile’s earnest lyrics about solitude, yet he’s optimistic about this pretty day. 


03. Foals – “My Number”  
This song come firing out of the gates with infectious dance grooves that are nearly impossible to not move your feet to. The hypnotizing multi-guitar work is such a great complement to the vocals on this should-be hit single.


04. Jagwar Ma – “Come Save Me”
If the Beach Boys started to make electrified, psychedelic dance songs then I suspect it would sound a lot like this. These Australian rockers put together one hell of a dream-like track this year.


05. Superhuman Happiness – “Sentimental Pieces”
One of the most fun and creative songs I’ve heard in a long while. The way they combine dance grooves, hand claps, piano work, and some serious vocal harmonizing is quite impressive.

06. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
07. Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
08. White Denim – “Pretty Green”
09. Sigur Rós – “Isjaki”
10. Phosphorescent – “Song for Zula”
11. Youth Lagoon – “Mute”
12. Savages – “She Will”
13. Anders Osborne – “Peace”
14. Ty Segall – “Sleeper”
15. Atoms for Peace – “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”
16. Jim James – “Know Til Now”
17. Deerhunter – “Back to the Middle”
18. Johnathon Wilson – “Moses Pain”
19. Bonobo –  “Cirrus”
20. Darkside – “Paper Trails”


Washed Out at First City Festival 8/24. Photo by Marc Fong.

Washed Out at First City Festival 8/24. Photo by Marc Fong.

Kevin Raos // Columnist // @Semirec

01. Vampire Weekend – “Hannah Hunt”
The best song, on perhaps the best album of the year, “Hannah Hunt” is an instant classic. Modern Vampires of the City is littered with tracks that will be considered amongst Vampire Weekend’s best, and “Hannah Hunt” leads the pack. Despite the lack of “quirkiness” that Vampire Weekend is sometimes known for, the track gently builds the listener up to one of the most jubilant climaxes found on any record this year.


02. Youth Lagoon – “Raspberry Cane”
Another song that builds you up and sweeps you off your feet, “Raspberry Cane” is a bright spot on Wondrous Bughouse, a sophomore effort that fell slightly short of expectations. Hauntingly fascinating and beautifully psychedelic, this song takes the listener on a musical journey.  


03. Arcade Fire – “Afterlife”
“Afterlife” is a song that took a few years to see the light of day. When it was released, Win Butler commented on the history of this song, saying it began “with a Haitian percussion loop we recorded way back at the end of the The Suburbs tour and “took a while to get the chorus right.” Enter producer James Murphy and the result is an extremely danceable synth-pop tune that is up there with the year’s pedigree.


04. Rhye – “Open”
Passion oozes from this song. Simple and pure love in it’s most basic form. Lyrics, musicianship and delivery make this track one of the most soothing songs of the year. Turn this on,  embrace those you love, and all will be right in the world if only for a couple minutes.


05. Washed Out – “It All Feels Right”
The title of this song says it best. Washed Out’s sunbathed reverb vibes can instantly transport you to a beach and put a beverage in your hand. Fact. Move aside “Get Lucky”, this was the summer anthem of 2013 on my stereo.

06. Major Lazer – “Get Free”
07. Wild Belle – “Keep You”
08. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas”
09. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
10. James Blake – “Retrograde”
11. Phosphorescent – “The Quotidian Beasts”
12. Daft Punk – “Instant Crush”
13. Boards of Canada – “Nothing is Real”
14. Mikal Cronin – “Weight”
15. Sigur Rós – “Brennisteinn”
16. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
17. Phoenix – “Trying to Be Cool”
18. Foxygen – “San Francisco”
19. Junip – “Line of Fire”
20. Disclosure – “White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)”


Cut Copy at Fox Theater Oakland 11/02. Photo by James Nagel.

Cut Copy at Fox Theater Oakland 11/02. Photo by James Nagel.

Brooks Rocco // Columnist // @brooksrocco

01. Jagwar Ma – “Uncertainty”
In the wholly subjective exercise of selecting a favorite song of a year, one must consider one’s most notable experiences, focusing upon those driven by the most notable soundtracks. 2013’s best dance party, in my little sphere of dominion, was Jagwar Ma’s headlining set at Rickshaw Stop, and it was the song ‘Uncertainty’ that made me most notably lose control of my senses. Even upon sober reflection, the song (defining the tone of the album it appears on) is a sledgehammer of a good time, a song that revels in the Clichés that in an earlier year would have manifested in sardonic irony. It’s finally time to embrace what works, and in doing so, create the future that pushes towards the goal: a musical tribute to our ecstatic humanity, as we remain fueled by uncertainties.


02. Deafheaven – “Dream House”
In some ways, “Dream House” is the end of black metal. It’s been a long time coming though, with American kids raised on the stuff tilting their combo amps backward, screaming their fresh-faced idolatry for the legends that dared to not give a fuck. With the pink Pitchfork kiss of approval, black metal has become another texture in the tech-savvy hipster’s chest, to be yanked out when the time is appropriate (then and only then!). ‘Dream House’ is the black metal song that everyone can agree on. Euronymous is Dead. Long live Black Metal.


03. Cave – “Arrow’s Myth”
Shifting space, coagulating color, sound, motion; breaking barriers, and driving the motorized swirl ever farther, Cave returned in 2013 with some of their most funky and delicately harmonious hues yet. Once again they delivered just the right the stuff we all need—imbalance your chemicals (whatever that means to you), throw on “Arrow’s Myth”, and wrap your head around whatever comes natural. If it feels good, right?


04. Carcass – “A Congealed Clot of Blood”
I got a little worried when I found out Andy Sneap was producing the followup to Carcass’ swan song, Surgical Steel, as said producer is the type of surgeon to sterilize all his instruments thoroughly before performing his delicate incisions. Fortunately, this sublime return to force by the UK legends is necrotising death metal masterpiece; ‘A Congealed Clot of Blood’ worthy amongst their greatest.


05. my bloody valentine – “in another way”
I wasn’t listening to Loveless in the 90’s like it was my religion. In my erumpent musical debut, I was blasting stuff like Emperor, Dissection, Meshuggah; bands louder, noisier, and far, far more unsettling than My Bloody Valentine. But for a lot of people, MBV were the anti-music of their spheres. That said, the night m b v dropped, I got sucked into the tornado along with everyone else.  A cursory pirated listen and I was in. ‘in another way’ was the tune that made me whip out the plastic capital and order the wax. Full disclosure for Mr. Shields: it was that guitar.  How did you…

06. RP Boo – “Invisibu Boogie!”

07. Dispirit – “All Paths End The Same”

08. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

09. Föllakzoid – “9”

10. Foals – “Late Night”

11. Thee Oh Sees – “No Spell”

12. Mikal Cronin – “Shout It Out”

13. The Five Eyes – “HEY HEY NSA (Tinfoil in Every Hat)”

14. The Knife – “Old Dreams Waiting to be Realized”

15. Kanye West – “On Sight”

16. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Desert Ceremony”

17. Parquet Courts – “Master of My Craft”

18. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”

19. Anthroprophh – “Hermit”

20. Telekinesis – “Power Lines”


MS MR at The Independent 6/16. Photo by James Nagel.

MS MR at The Independent 6/16. Photo by James Nagel.

Nikki De Martini // Columnist & Photographer // @SweetSoundBites

01. M.I.A. –  “Y.A.L.A.”
Seducingly rhythmic percussion loops, heavy dropping bass lines and a shining bratty-tude mock US society fads on this effortless dance track from my favorite Sri Lankan West-Londoner. M.I.A.’s signature ballsy Bollywood flavor minus the familiarity of foghorns will make you want to get up and dance before realizing what she’s singing about sets in and when it does, this track gets even better. “Y.A.L.A.” makes me wonder why Interscope Records repeatedly shelved her 4th album for not being “dark” or “controversial” enough.


 
02. RAC Featuring Kelle Okereke and MNDR – “Let Go”
As a fan of MNDR for years and a Bloc Party fan for even longer, this collaborative RAC track won me over since the very first time hearing it — the emotionally charged lyrics paired with it’s uplifting melody just melt into one so well.


 
03. MS MR – “Hurricane”
Easily one of my favorite tracks off of their breakthrough debut album, the first single “Hurricane” showcases the multitude of MS MR’s talents to a tee with rich, relatable lyrics and an underlying electro-pop essence wrapped up and delivered in a neat indie rock fashion.


 
04. Arctic Monkeys – “Do I Wanna Know?”
It’s heavy drums, low bass chords and dirty guitar licks reminiscent of The Black Keys are that draw me to this song. Then the lyrics hit and that was it. Every time I hear this song I turn it up and sing along.


 
05. Schoolboy Q Featuring Kendrick Lamar – “Collard Greens”
The catchy hooks and layered verses are a throw back to old school “dirty” rap yet remain fresh, leaving me hungry for more Kendrick Lamar!  


 
06. Lana Del Rey – “Summertime Sadness” (Cedric Gervais remix)
07. LORDE – “Team”
08. Cage the Elephant – “It’s Just Forever (featuring Alison Mosshart)”
09. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Wedding Song”
10. Queens of the Stone Age – “Sat by the Ocean”
11. Jay Z – “Tom Ford”
12. Little Boots – “Strangers”
13. Portugal the Man – “Purple Yellow Red and Blue”
14. VV Brown – “Apple”
15. Sleigh Bells – “Bitter Rivals”
16. Broken Bells – “Holding on for Life”
17. NONONO – “Pumping Blood”
18. CSS – “Hangover”
19. Atlas Genius – “Electric”
20. Smallpools – “Dreaming”


Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Pedro Paredes // Photographer // @pedropar

01. Atoms for Peace – “Before Your Very Eyes”
Every great album needs an opening song worthy of it, and “Before Your Very Eyes” gives just that to the supergroup formed by members of Radiohead (Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich), Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea), Beck (Joey Waronker) and Forro in The Dark (Mauro Refosco). With dense, steady percussions, electronic arrangements, a simple guitar section, and the soft sound of Thom Yorke’s voice, this song walks to the beat of life and death, joy and sorrow, and begins the path for one of the best albums of 2013.


02. Vampire Weekend – “Obvious Bicycle”
Vampire Weekend’s first song of their amazing Modern Vampires of the City sets the mood for an album that takes a different route from their previous work, with a warmer, more mature sound. A beautiful song for a beautiful album.   


03. James Blake – “Retrograde”
Melodic Bass Music are the words James Blake chose to describe his work, and “Retrograde” seems to fit that description quite well. It’s a love song for the future, coming from the darkness of the dawn.


03. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Jubilee Street”
Nick Cave is a natural storyteller that makes use of his musical talent to make any story come alive (his music scores for films like ‘The Assassination of Jesse James’ or ‘The Proposition’ are enough to prove my point)  Jubilee Street starts simple, growing in complexity in the subtlest of ways, beautifully contained under the spell of Nick Cave’s voice.


05. Blood Orange – “It is What it Is”
“It is What it Is” is exactly what it should be — Deliciously elegant, precise, presenting a new version of 80’s pop-reset. This song is the cherry on top of one of the best albums of 2013.

06. Mutual Benefit – “Golden Wake”
07. Arcade Fire – “Here Comes the Night Time”
08. Daft Punk – “Instant Crush”
09. Lorde – “Royals”
10. William Tyler – “Cadillac Dessert”
11. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”
12. Phosphorescent – “Ride On/Right On”
13. Deerhunter – “Back to the Middle”
14. Darkside – “Paper Trails”
15. Nine Inch Nails – “Copy of A”
16. Parquet Courts – “Stoned and Starving”
17. Low – “Plastic Cup”
18. Blue Hawaii – “Try To Be”
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Despair”
20. Foxygen – “No Destruction”

Showbams’ 40 best albums of 2013

Best-Albums-of-2013

“Best of” lists are always subjective, and this one is no anomaly. When it comes to the best albums of any given year, we can most likely agree that the best records are excellent from beginning to end — no “skip ahead” songs — and that groundbreaking new music can emerge from any genre.

At the same time, we imprint music on moments in our lives, and this will always influence personal taste. Combine these past influences with modern streaming capabilities in 2013, where new records are now accessible before an album release date, and our collective creation and criticism of music begins to transform, adapt and influence more rapidly.

Here are our most addictive albums of 2013, the records we couldn’t stop spinning.

01. Arcade FireReflektor
02. DisclosureSettle
03. Atoms For PeaceAmok
04. FoalsHoly Fire
05. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
06. Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
07. Kurt VileWakin On a Pretty Daze
08. James BlakeOvergrown
09. White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
10. Toro Y MoiAnything In Return

11. RhyeWoman
12. DarksidePsychic
13. Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
14. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
15. My Bloody Valentinem b v
16. Sigur RósKveikur
17. Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
18. Danny BrownOld
19. Holy Ghost!Dynamics
20. Jagwar MaHowlin

21. Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) – Run the Jewels
22. Washed OutParacosm
23. ClassixxHanging Gardens
24. Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
25. Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork
26. The StrokesComedown Machine
27. Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
28. Volcano ChoirRepave
29. A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
30. Anders OsbornePeace

31. Jon HopkinsImmunity
32. Yeah Yeah YeahsMosquito
33. King Krule6 Feet Beneath The Moon
34. Kanye WestYeezus
35. Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth
36. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
37. BonoboThe North Borders
38. Tyler, the CreatorWolf
39. PhoenixBankrupt!
40. PhosphorescentMuchacho


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.


Vampire Weekend at Fox Theater Oakland 4/17. Photo by Marc Fong.

Mike Frash // Founder, Editor, Columnist // @MikeFrash

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
1The focus on larger themes of mortality and spirituality in Modern Vampires of the City have catapulted this indie group from angst-ridden collegians to mainstream players — and in the process Ezra Koenig and company crafted an American classic. Compulsively listenable, this record matured with age in 2013, just like the artistic path Vampire Weekend seem to be on. The album continuously waxes poetically about death and higher powers, and “Unbelievers” sums it up best: “Girl you and I will die unbelievers, bound to the tracks of the train.” The ambiguousness is biting, as it is tough to tell if the statement is earnest atheism or harsh criticism of Godless existence. In “Step”, we’re told, “Wisdom’s a gift but you’ll trade it for youth, age is an honor it’s still not the truth…we know the true death, the true way of all flesh. Everyone’s dying, but girl – you’re not old yet.” Even “Dianne Young” is a double entendre for ‘dying young’. Every track is filled with high-level substance lyrically, but sonically it’s multi-faceted as well, melding baroque sensibilities and African grooves at a wonderfully variant pace throughout. Ultimately, it’s a supremely empowering coming of age album from Vampire Weekend, one that stares mortality in the face while celebrating time’s finite quality.

Run the Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike)Run the Jewels
2Early in Run The Jewels, Killer Mike announces, “Producer gave me a beat, said it’s the ‘beat of the year’, I said ‘El-P didn’t do it, so get the fuck outa here.’ El-P, the sole producer of rap music’s most dynamic duo, bases his production in captivating weirdness, micro-sampling everything from classic organ to nintendo glitch sounds to electric guitar, building epic beats for Killer Mike & El-P to deliver clever rhymes, based both in reality and playful hyperbole. One of Run The Jewels’ greatest successes is that it can be both funny and deadly serious within the same song, and often within in the same flow or line at times. So motherfuckin’ grimy, “Job Well Done” highlights how successfully dolphin sounds can contrast with aggressive lyricism, for example. Killer Mike broaches serious topics, bringing up the “elephant in the room” whenever possible, and EL-P is hyperactive and light-hearted as he spits his ‘future shit’. Put these two together and you have the best hip hop album in years.

FoalsHoly Fire
3The beauty is in the build with Foals, and that is the case with Holy Fire more than prior album as the UK-based festival-headliners-in-the-making have largely abandoned their post-dance punk sound aesthetic for a more ballad-based approach. Sure, “My Number” and “Providence” continue the upbeat, math rock-dance-freak-outs, but overall Foals have centered their 2013 record around patient song development in order to establish more memorable, ecstatic moments. “Milk & Black Spiders” does just that, taking a full three minutes and forty five seconds to reach it’s blissful summit. “Late Night” is a harrowing slow burner, repeating the line, “Calling out your name,” asking for the subject of the song to “Stay with me.” Lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ impassioned vocals, paired with Foals’ guitar interplay and non-standard rhythms make Foals a unique force in the world of modern rock.

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
4Matt Berninger has a way with words — who else could make the phrase “full of punks and cannonballers” sound eloquent and measured in the track “I Need My Girl”? The National thrives on non-literal lyricism, but the instrumental elements from The National in Trouble Will Find Me prop the singing up on a pedestal better than prior records. Void of any filler, this contemplative record easily allows the listener to take their own meaning from any given track, applying it internally. The first half impresses quickly with “I Should Live In Salt” through “Sea Of Love”, but it is the second half that solidifies the effort as The National’s best work to date. An album that also gets more addictive with subsequent listens, Trouble Will Find Me works well as both a “pick me up” record and one to embrace life’s good times, an odd duality indeed.

Volcano ChoirRepave
5Who needs Bon Iver when Justin Vernon is making music like he has with The Shouting Matches and Volcano Choir in 2013? Vernon, the creative centerpiece behind Bon Iver, announced while promoting Repave that Volcano Choir is his new band. Arguably, this is a genius move, as Vernon is exhibiting a higher level of confidence and innovation with this possibly permanent collaboration with members of Collections of Colonies of Bees. Repave traverses a path that balances grandiose and minimalism, choosing off-beat, unexpectedly contrasting moments to ‘drop the sound hammer’ in both “Comrade” and “Byegone”. “Drop the sound hammer” refers to the mesmerizing technique Volcano choir uses to quickly transition from falsetto-based minimalist intros into hard-hitting Philip Glass-like synth blasts and authoritative drums. I’m fine with Vernon considering himself a legend, as long as he continues creating music with cryptic, poetic lyrics and the progressive intermingling of intense and soothing sounds.

06. Darkside – Psychic
07. James Blake – Overgrown
08. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
09. Rhye – Woman
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
12. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
13. Atoms for Peace – Amok
14. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
15. Washed Out – Paracosm
16. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
17. Bonobo – The North Borders
18. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
19. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
20. John Vanderslice – Dagger Beach


Atoms For Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.


Atoms for Peace at Treasure Island Music Festival 10/19. Photo by Marc Fong.

Molly Kish // Artist Relations Manager, Columnist // @MollyKish

Atoms For PeaceAmok
1Alternative Rock super group Atoms for Peace delivered one of the most evocative, skillfully executed and notable debuts of 2013, completely as expected. Bringing together some of the most innovative, iconic and artistically defining tastemakers of the past two decades (most notably Thom Yorke & Flea), Atoms for Peace composed a near-perfect representation of contemporary sound evolution. Touring this past year promoting Amok through intermittent concert dates and festival-headlining performances, Atoms for Peace captivated live audiences on a global scale while generating critical acclaim, and for good reason.

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
2Drawing artistic influence from elements of 90s dance music while paying homage to the iconic hip hop sounds of the era, Chaz Bundick departed from his signature “chillwave” style to compose his third studio album, Anything in Return. Revisiting harder house elements from his 2010 debut Causers of This, Bundick taps into a funky soundscape filled with intensified vocals and hard hitting jam-based percussion. Paying homage to legendary producer J Dilla, Anything in Return touches upon intimate subject matter while remaining accessibly pop-driven, delivering Bundick’s “biggest sounding” album to date.

DisclosureSettle
3UK sibling duo Disclosure was one of the most successful breakout acts of the past year, largely in part to the global commercial appeal of their debut album, Settle. Mixing the perfect blend of R&B vocals, UK garage, two step and deep house cuts, Settle is a seamless composition of dance floor ready hits. Disclosure’s first full length succeeded in curating a sound both primed for the band’s spellbinding live improvisation and the album’s inevitable mainstream sampling and remixes.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4Preceding its April release date with a show-stopping album trailer debut at Coachella (and nationally syndicated on Saturday Night Live) and a video website series presented by The Creators Project, Daft Punk set the bar early this year for the future of mainstream album promotional campaigns. Defying the expectations of their devoted fan base along with the speculatory opinions of many EDM counterparts, Random Access Memories marks the band’s groundbreaking introduction of live musicians into their otherwise strictly electronic body of work. Their most successful album to date, Random Access Memories is a definitive album that highlights the robots’ personal influence, and the effect is a lasting impact on popular music.

Arcade FireReflektor
5Arcade Fire’s Reflektor serves as a testament to their creative ingenuity as a modern art rock group. Its evolutionary sound was produced by nu-disco vanguard James Murphy and features collaborations with David Bowie, Kid Koala and an armada of additional percussionists and recording personnel. Promoted and released through an ingenious guerrilla marketing campaign, intriguing the attention of a frothing worldwide audience.

06. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
07. Kanye West – Yeezus
08. Washed Out – Paracosm
09. Holy Ghost – Dynamics
10. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
11. Devendra Banhart – Mala
12. Major Lazer – Free The Universe
13. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
14. Starfucker – Miracle Mile
15. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
16. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
17. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
18. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
19. St. Lucia – When The Night
20. Jay Z – Magna Carta


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.


Thee Oh Sees at Phono Del Sol 7/13. Photo by Mike Frash.

Kevin Quandt // Assistant Editor, Columnist // @KJQuandt

Parquet CourtsLight Up Gold
1In a year with many strong rookie efforts (Haim, Disclosure, Lorde, etc.), it was this Brooklyn quartet that rejuvenated garage-tinged, punk rock with a blisteringly fierce debut LP, Light Up Gold. Opening track “Master of My Craft” lets us know we are in for one helluva a ride and it doesn’t let up in the least as Andrew Savage belts out anthems full of modern tales of urban decay and the slacker lifestyle. This we do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want mentality was also clearly present on a recently released EP entitled Tally All the Things That You Broke, which was equally as impressive as the full length. Alas, all is not lost when it comes to irreverent rock music in a sea of shiny synths and EDM takeovers. 

My Bloody Valentinem b v
2If this album was a person, it could legally drink in this country. Now, after that fact settles in, we can concentrate on how impressive m b v actually is. Kevin Shields and cohorts took 22 years to deliver this baby and it is chock-full of all the aural beauty that made these shoegaze legends modern rock royalty a couple of decades ago. Standout final track “wonder 2” is a whirling dervish of otherworldly drums, guitars and distorted vocals, slowly building into one serious rapture. Attention to detail is not lost on this album as meticulous craftsmanship is ever-present, especially when listened to fully, or in the distinct ‘3 EP’ structure that m b v is recorded in. All I ask Kevin Shields is that I don’t have to wait till I’m almost 50 years old to hear another new release from My Bloody Valentine.

Arcade FireReflektor
3There’s little surprise that this ‘double’ release ended in my, and many others, top albums list. Why? Because Arcade Fire make great albums, and I enjoy great albums. The grab bag of influences on this album is truly startling and lends much to it’s overall success whether it be deep Haitian rhythms or the the electro-dance production of James Murphy. With so many standout tracks, it really makes you wonder what they are putting in the water up in Canada. “Joan of Arc”, “Normal Person”, “Afterlife” and so many others create something fully unique and fully Arcade Fire. 

Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest
4It was a bit of a long wait for fans of BoC, but well worth the interesting journey that was to become Tomorrow’s Harvest and it’s unique marketing campaign which precluded the June release. Not much has changed from the ambient electronic soundscapes that put these Scots on the map nearly two decades ago. What makes Boards so significant is their knowledge of analogue gear they use to transform sound into warm ambience that is loaded with emotion, complexity and cinematic themes. Songs like “Nothing Is Real” fully demonstrate their textbook mix of instrumentation and warm, vintage synths which gracefully paint a picture of the natural world which we live in. It’s albums like this which should make every listener wanna go out and spend four figures on some serious headphones, and Boards of Canada wouldn’t object.

Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin
5It’s been a long time coming for the San Francisco garage titans that, most popularly, go by Thee Oh Sees. John Dwyer once used this moniker as his solo effort, but eventually became his primary effort, eventually growing from one man to a full blown band. Floating Coffin shows a shifting of the tide as the once tin-can recording sound has matured to a sonic boom of heavy guitar, driving rhythm and quintessential weirdo vocal. All these elements, and many more, equated to the most comprehensive sounding release in their extensive discography. “Come From the Mountain” opens this album with atomic bomb-shredding guitar and doesn’t really relent from this style till the soothing album closer, “Minotaur”. What’s most profound about Floating Coffin is that they have arrived with a permanent lineup, a better produced sound and a band mentality that creates a more unified front as opposed to it being solely Dwyer’s project. Oh yeah, they are also straight bananas on stage.

06. Disclosure – Settle
07. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
08. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
09. Atoms for Peace – Amok
10. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf
11. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
12. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
13. Rhye – Woman
14. Danny Brown – Old 
15. David Bowie – The Next Day
16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires in the City
17. White Denim – Corsica Lemonade
18. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
19. Pickwick – Can’t Talk Medicine
20. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.


White Denim at Bill Graham Civic Center 10/31. Photo by James Nagel.

Pete Mauch // Festival Manager & Columnist // @PeteMauch

Arcade FireReflektor
1All-star collaboration of these Canadian rockers and producer James Murphy proved a success with their fourth release. The album, filled with instant hits like “Reflektor” and “Here Comes the Night Time”, is heavily influenced by traditional Haitian music that adds a deep rhythm to the elongated grooves, but the real treat is how its all tied together. Arcade Fire let loose on Reflektor, finding comfort in initiating a party atmosphere while staying confident with a dash of weirdness.

Jagwar MaHowlin
2There seems to be a psychedelic air blowing in Australia these days, and Jagwar Ma’s debut album is filled with trippy yet danceable songs like the opening pair “What Love” and “Uncertainty”. “Come Save Me” evokes a dream land where the Beach Boys created acid-dance music. This album is gonna get a lot of play on Friday nights for many years to come.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3These Texas rockers put out an intense album in 2013 filled with screaming guitar solos layered over intense time signatures and wailing vocals, but White Denim makes it all sound so simple. Songs like “Pretty Green” and “Cheer Up/Blues Ending” are straight up rocking songs, rooted in the genre’s past while offering a progressive take at where rock is heading. It never hurts to have Jeff Tweedy producing as well.

Daft PunkRandom Access Memories
4The instantly classic single “Get Lucky”, the summer anthem of 2013, is still hyper-catchy, but “Instant Crush”, “Lose Yourself to Dance” & “Doin’ It Right” succeed as pleasantly repetitious tunes that represent a variety of decades. What makes Random Access Memories work completely is all the mellow cuts, perfect for bedtime or a drive down the coast. The music lesson that is “Giorgio by Moroder” just takes off after the ballsy call to include an interview with Giorgio Morodor before launching into an exploratory space jam. 

Anders OsbornePeace 
5Underground New Orleans guitar slayer Anders Osborne released a very impressive long player, filled with deep personal songs that are truly outstanding. Title track “Sentimental Times” showcases Osbornes’ brilliant songwriting, and his guitar work is simply phenomenal and engrossing. Personal favorite “Sara Anne” begins with a reggae feel that builds into a great bouncy song that has me repeating it often.

06. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
07. Atoms For Peace – Amok
08. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
09. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
10. Foals – Holy Fire
11. Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
12. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
13. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
14. Darkside – Psychic
15. Bonobo – The North Borders
16. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
17. Savages – Silence Yourself
18. Deerhunter – Monomania
19. Ty Segall – Sleeper
20. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15.


Toro Y Moi at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Kevin Raos // Columnist // @Semirec

Toro Y MoiAnything in Return
1Toro Y Moi just keeps getting better and better with subsequent listens. Part dance, part melancholy electro, Anything in Return strikes many different chords. From feelings of longing and romance, to coming to terms with growing up, Anything in Return ranges the emotionally gamut. This album stood the test of time in 2013, being one the first albums of 2013 to make a dramatic impact, then remaining front of mind come Christmas time.

RhyeWoman
2Woman is the mellow album of the year — If you need to relax, fall asleep, or just chill out, this is the album for you. A go-to in the bedroom, Rhye’s Woman also has the uncanny ability to cradle and comfort you from start to finish. Equally as good in a live setting, Woman proves excellent musicianship can flourish in downtempo form. The record’s male vocalist, Milosh, also released an excellent solo record titled “Jetlag” in late 2013 that clicks at a slightly faster tempo.

White DenimCorsicana Lemonade
3Funky, fresh and just downright dirty, the guys from Austin can bring the heat. Corsicana Lemonade is an album that might not make many end of the year album lists, but it should not be overlooked. Cool and collected while still being rhythmically aggressive, Corsicana Lemonade pushes forward an innovative rock sound that should make The Black Keys nervous their throne is currently up for grabs.

Danny BrownOld
4Danny Brown’s Old creates a new genre of hip hop, one with an electronic psyche. Old may offend some and be lost on others, but Brown’s distinctive voice and tongue-flaunting rhymes constitute a “grower”. Here we have a rapper who isn’t afraid to talk about more than banging it out in the streets, and all together Brown breathes more fresh air into a hip hop landscape that has been seeing a resurgence the past few years.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
5It’s tough to deny that indie kings Vampire Weekend are on top of their game right now. If you haven’t heard of these A-Punks that escaped from Cape Cod, you surely have been living under a rock. With Modern Vampires of the City, an already huge band has gotten huger, blasting off into new territory more than in previous efforts. Did I mention they shout out Oakland and Alameda, too?

06. Foals – Holy Fire
07. Sigur Rós – Kveikur
08. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
09. Atoms For Peace – Amok
10. Disclosure – Settle
11. James Blake – Overgrown
12. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
13. Darkside – Psychic
14. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze
15. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
16. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines
17. Wild Belle – Idles
18. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
19. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
20. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.


Classixx at Fox Theater Oakland 11/15. Photo by James Nagel.

Sean Little // Columnist // @Splittle

FoalsHoly Fire
1Foals have made their best album to date with Holy Fire. It’s a wall of sonic noise mixed with strong doses of angst that starts with “Prelude” and continues to pin listeners to their seats until the last track. The British quintet have produced my number one record of the year, and their live performance is one to see if you haven’t.

ClassixxHanging Gardens
2Classixx made a superb album here. Being a primarily electronic poduction group, their skills show something much deeper and diverse as they move from bouncey disco tracks to deeper, more evocative tracks like “Borderline” where they showcase their ability to craft a tune that hits heart strings and nods heads. Classixx are vastly underrated and should be given a serious listen, even by non-electronic fans.

DisclosureSettle
3What can be said that hasn’t already about this brotherly duo? They hit the scene hard and made a lot of people snap their heads in their direction. Their production quality and use of instruments in their sets has turned many notions of a “DJ” set on its head and opened the doors for a whole new type of set that calls to the crowd more. This album is full of gems that will surely go down in dance history as classics.

Hanni El KhatibHead In The Dirt
4Hanni grew up immensely since his last album and really fine-tuned his sound. This is a pure rock album with no pretense. If you arere tired of pop rock bands trying to make the next iPod commercial-worthy track and long for a record that slaps you in the face to wake you up while still being a tad gentle about it, this is the one for you.

A$AP RockyLONG.LIVE.A$AP
5Hip Hop has fallen to the wayside in years past as electronic has made its resurgence. Fans have grown weary of the over-produced, same old lyric songs that most artists offer. A$AP though brings in, what I consider to be the finest hip hop album of the year. Production by Skrillex, and cameos by Florence Welch, Drake, and Birdyman attest to his range not just as a rapper but as a producer and curator as well.

06. James Blake – Overgrown
07. Queens of the Stoneage – …Like Clockwork
08. The Strokes – Comedown Machine
09. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala
11. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
12. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
13. Bass Drum of Death – S/T
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
15. MS MR – Second Hand Rapture
16. Tesla Boy – The Universe Made of Darkness
17. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
18. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
19. Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips
20. The Weeknd – Kiss Land

WKEND MIXTAPE: Jagwar Ma (Jono Ma) – ‘Livin in the Past’ Fader Mix Tape

WKEND-MIXTAPE-Jagwar-Ma

The Australian group Jagwar Ma released their incredible debut this year and are currently making the festival rounds on tour. Jono Ma, one-half of the group, put together this week’s mix. He incorporates the Jagwar Ma vibe with a range of artists including The Velvet Underground, J Dilla, Primal Scream, Cut Copy, The Animals, Serge Gainsbourg, The Wailers, and more.

If you like what you hear I would definitely check out the Jagwar Ma debut album.
Enjoy!



Tracklist
1. Bill Murray – Winter Prediction (Excerpt from Groundhog’s Day)
2. Sonny and Cher – I Got You Babe (Excerpt from Groundhog’s Day)
3. Jono’s Mangled Mosaic with bits and pieces from:
-3a. The Velvet Underground – Here She Comes Now
-3b. Jimi Hendrix – Living in the Past (Excerpt from Hendrix Concerts)
-3c. Lonnie Donegan – Love Is Strange
-3d. J Dilla – Nothing Like This
-3e. Serge Gainsbourg – Requiem Pour un Cour
-3f. Velvet Underground – Heroin
-3g. Primal Scream – Don’t Fight it Feel It
4. Jagwar Ma – Man I Need (Time and Space Machine Dub)
5. Cut Copy – Sun God (Andrew Weatherall Remix)
6. Mester Geraldo e Sua Bateria – Mistura No.1 (Ma’s What Love Dub)
7. Miriam Makeba – Amampondo
8. Storm Queen – It Goes On
9. A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo Ray
10. The Animals – The Story of Bo Diddley
11. Oscar Hamond & the Majestics – Soul Finger
12. Nelson Sanders – This Love Is Here To Stay

MIDTERM REPORT: Best Albums of 2013

BEST-ALBUMS-so-far-2013Photos by Marc Fong and Mike Frash

Is 2013 the year digital dance music makes the big leap, fully taking over the Top 40 but also ingraining itself into the hearts of critics? Daft Punk made all the noise as the year was young, but young EDM-upstarts Disclosure, Flume & Jagwar Ma have all made an impact on the Bam Team.

That stated, the musical output in 2013 so far is pretty damn strong overall. And just think, we will be hearing new LPs from Arcade Fire, Earl Sweatshirt, Washed Out, Ty Segall, Franz Ferdinand, Nine Inch Nails, Arctic Monkeys, Holy Ghost!, Chvrches, and many more still. Take a gander at our favorite albums of the year as of July 17, 2013 – What are we missing?

*Any album released in the US in the year 2013 is eligible for Best Albums of 2013.
**Check out all of our music reviews from 2013.

Vampire Weekend

Mike Frash
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
2. Disclosure – Settle
3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
4. James Blake – Overgrown
5. Foals – Holy Fire
6. Flume – Flume
7. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
9. Jagwar Ma – Howlin
10. Baths – Obsidian

Phoenix

Molly Kish
1. Atoms For Peace – AMOK
2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
3. Disclosure – Settle
4. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
5. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
6. STRFKR – Miracle Mile
7. Devandra Banhart – Mala
8. Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
9. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Thee-oh-Sees

Kevin Quandt
1. my bloody valentine – m b v
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
3. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
4. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
5. Thee oh Sees – Floating Coffin
6. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
7. Disclosure – Settle
8. Rhye – Woman
9. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
10. A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP

Sigur-Ros

Pete Mauch
1. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Superhuman Happiness – Hands
4. Foals – Holy Fire
5. Boards of Canada – Tomorrows Harvest
6. Deerhunter – Monomania
7. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
8. Bonobo – The North Borders
9. Kurt Vile and The Violators – Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze
10. Disclosure – Settle

Toro Y Moi

Kevin Raos
1. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
2. Rhye – Woman
3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
4. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
5. Sigur Ros – Kveikur
6. Foals – Holy Fire
7. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
8. Camera Obscura – Camera Obscura
9. Atoms for Peace – AMOK
10. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Classixx

Sean Little
1. Flume – Flume
2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
3. Classixx – Hanging Gardens
4. Jessie Ware – Devotion
5. Hanni El Kattib – Head In The Dirt
6. Disclosure – Settle
7. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
8. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune
9. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
10. DJ Koze – Amygdala

Starfucker5

Eric Shaden
1.  Jagwar Ma – Howlin
2.  James Blake – Overgrown
3.  Daft Punk – Random Access Memories  
4.  Starfucker – Miracle Mile
5.  Disclosure – Settle
6.  Phoenix – Bankrupt!
7.  Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
8.  Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety 
9.  Major Lazer – Free the Universe 
10. Thundercat – Apocalypse 

MS MR
Nikki De Martini
1. MS MR – Secondhand Rapture
2. Deap Vally – Sistrionix
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
4: CSS – Planta 
5: Little Boots – Nocturnes
6. Portugal The Man – Evil Friends 
7. Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
8. Kanye West – Yeezus
9. Great Gatsby Soundtrack
10. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

New Music Tuesday: Boards of Canada • Surfer Blood • CSS • Jagwar Ma • Gold Panda

NMT-Boards-of-Canada
Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.

Boards of CanadaTomorrow’s Harvest

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Nothing is Real”
“Cold Earth”
“Palace Posy”

Album Highlights: Tomorrow’s Harvest is today’s feast as Boards of Canada return with their first album in 8 years. Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin are just as good as ever, whether this record was 8 years in the making or they were on an 8 year vacation (or somewhere in between). Better? That is still up for debate.

Tomorrow’s Harvest is an “environmental” album, and if you’ve ever heard Boards of Canada, you understand this description. Their lo-fi, dreamy electronic beats are cinematic – the atmospheric flow evokes visual accompaniment. Their sound derives from 1970’s science fiction soundtracks, incorporating reverb heavy ambience and glitchy mechanical beats, sprinkled with thousands of samples and sounds. The more you listen, the more you hear. Songs like “Reach for the Dead,” “White Cyclosa” and “Split Your Infinities” sound like your hypothetical space vessel is being boarded by an aliens in the far reaches of the galaxy.

The songs on Tomorrow’s Harvest (and all Boards of Canada music, really) thrive in various environments for the listener. Your opinion and perception of a song, or the album, is heavily influenced by your surroundings, both physical and mental. There are an infinite number scenarios where Tomorrow’s Harvest will “click”, and when it does, it’s marvelous. A song might not work one context, but will work well in another. I got the most out of this record while driving at night or while sitting in bed with all of the lights off. It’s up to the listener.

I hear something new every time I listen to this record. To an extent, that is exactly what Boards of Canada was going for with this record. Giving a rare interview to the Guardian, Boards of Canada revealed some of the thought behind Tomorrow’s Harvest. This record could be much deeper than one might think with only a handful of listens, and we are just beginning to tap into what Board of Canada had in mind with this album. According to the artists themselves, Tomorrow’s Harvest is “loaded with patterns and messages” and “there’s actually more use of subliminals on this record than on any previous album we’ve done, so we’re interested to see what people will pick up on.” The patterns and messages were laid out early with the promotional scavenger hunt; the record store madness and impossible clues that led to the album reveal mirrors the concept in the record itself.

If I had to contextualize it, I would split most of Boards of Canada’s songs into two categories: beats and interludes. When creating an atmospheric ambient album laced with beats and samples, you simply cannot string one beat after another – You’ve got to connect them somehow. Reset the musical palette, if you will. Boards of Canada accomplishes that with this record. There are several beats on here that will be remembered as “classic” Boards when it’s all said and done. Beats like “Cold Earth”, “Nothing is Real” and “Palace Posy”, are connected together with spacey interludes such as “Telepath,” “Collapse” and “Uritual.”

Album Background: The story of this record might actually be more interesting than the record itself. Here we are, in 2013, not having heard from Boards of Canada since 2006, when along comes Record Store Day on April 20th and a mysterious unannounced Boards of Canada vinyl appears in a record store in New York. This vinyl record simply had the band’s name and “—— / —— / —— / XXXXXX / —— / ——“ as the title. The record contained a brief clip of music and a 6 digit code. What could this secret code mean? Several more codes were released through various media outlets such as NPR, Adult Swim and BBC. Eventually all 6 of the codes were discovered and when Boards of Canada launched a new website the codes were used to reveal information about the upcoming album. This guerrilla marketing campaign gave this record a mystique that fits right in Boards of Canada’s wheelhouse.

Takeaway: Boards of Canada have certainly not changed from its abstruse way of doing things. They seem to marvel in the mystery of their own creation. Tomorrow’s Harvest is an incredibly deep album, one that is an auditory journey that stimulates all of the senses. I can’t help but think about visual accompaniment to this record every time I listen to it. It is a record that is proving to be more complex and fascinating with every subsequent listening. Granted, Boards of Canada isn’t for everyone, and it takes a specific mood and environment for it to really shine.

~Kevin Raos


Surfer BloodPythons

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Demon Dance”
“Slow Six”
“Blair Witch”

Album Highlights: The second album from Florida alt-rock outfit Surfer Blood, Pythons, is based in classic surf rock instrumentation and song structure, but the group laces this traditional sound with just enough sonic psychedelic undercurrents and punk-rock blasts. Power-pop refrains and catchy, singsongy lyrics dominate on the surface level throughout, but punk-rock screaming juxtaposes many of the early songs. In the first single and best track “Demon Dance”, punk-inspired group chanting pierces the track a third of the way through, signaling this isn’t your father’s surf rock. The modulated screaming shows up again in “Weird Shapes”, but here it’s so folded into the candy-coated melody that it’s hardly invasive. The psychedelic noodling is less obvious; for example, the droning high-pitched texture at the end of “Needles & Pins” and the reverbing alien helicopter sound in “Squeezing Blood” requires headphones and observant ears to notice. The subtle psychedelic layers and the in-your-face punk exclamations create a fairly unique sound aesthetic in Pythons.

Two other tracks left a lasting impression. “Slow Six” starts with fuzzy reverb, then feigns tame moments by building into a triumphant, banging wall of sound that peaks and melts into a warm guitar picking outro. “Blair Witch” is tame and soothing in it’s entirety, a tender introspective track, yet it’s also coo for love.

Album Lowlight: Pythons gets a bit repetitious – springy drums, tight-fisted acoustic guitar strumming, lyrics that linger, extended words with low toned Beach-Boy harmonies – it ultimately projects a uniform tone that smothers the record at times. This is especially true during the second half of the LP, where the punk-rock injections dry up and give way to pleasantness over chaos.

Takeaway: This was an odd “grower” of an album for me. Upon first listen it was hard to enjoy the contrasting sound of traditional rock versus the psychedelic/punk outliers. Then I grew to accept, then love, the throwback classic surf-rock sound mixed with the jarring punk-vocal interludes and psych layering. Upon even further listening, it’s a bit one-note. One of the biggest challenges a recording artist endures is creating a unified, cohesive album, but the individual songs need to stand out on their own as well. Pythons is certainly cohesive, yet song to song it is too homogenous.

~Mike Frash


CSSPlanta

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Into the Sun”
“Teenage Tiger Cat”
“Hangover”

Album Highlights: CSS is back with Planta, a disco-laden new wave powerhouse of an album. Soldering out the rough edges of their three previous efforts, the Brazilian bevy continues to expand on their dance-pop success by introducing sci-fi synth loops and reggaeton hooks. A throwback to the dance halls of the late eighties, CSS utilizes the simplicity of drum machine beats and lazer cross-fades as a driving force behind this album. Especially evident in the songs “Into the Sun” and “Teenage Tiger Cat”, the influence of that era’s archetypes (New Order/Joy Division, etc.) is close to blatant.

Album Lowlight: Vocals remain at the forefront of Planta, per usual for CSS, but remain consistently in English as opposed to their normally bi-lingual recordings. Luísa Hanaê Matsushita undeniably delivers with her breathy semantics, yet the lack of Portuguese incorporation leaves Cansei de Ser Sexy fans craving a bit more of their Brazillian bravado.

Takeaway: Planta is a playfully crafted homage to an era of dance music that chose to look beyond the peripheral s of stale North American discos, branching out to the neighboring scenes across the pond and in South America. Although CSS tones down the riot-girl-rock this album, opting for a much more polished production, their infectious energy and pop tart personas remain consistent. A graduated effort resulting in a near perfect party album for the summer, Planta proves these ladies aren’t “tired of being sexy” just yet.

~Molly Kish


Jagwar MaHowlin

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Four”
“Come Save Me”
“The Throw”

Album Highlights: The first album from Australian duo Jagwar Ma sounds as if the psychedelic rock and dance music genres had sex and made the perfect baby. The best example of the inter-coursing between psych-rock and dance can be found in the twelve minute, 2-song punch of “Come Save Me” into “Four”. The two tracks stitch together as one and take the listener on a journey through recent music history – and it works magnificently. “Come Save Me” begins as a lovely, 1960’s Brit-Rock jam until muted lazer sounds, layered clapping, synth and vocal dubbing overtake on a super-extended bridge. Then the track repeats “Found my love looking on the ground”, preparing the ear for pleasurable, repetitious sound. When the clean bass beat and vocal sounds kick in seamlessly at the inception of “Four”, it’s both shocking and awe-inspiring. “Four” is simply one of the most powerful dance tracks of the year, especially within the context of Howlin. The clean beat in “Four” is extra effective due to the psychedelic fuzz that dominates much of the record prior to the minimalist jungle beat.

The record notably begins with a tripped out dance loop that defies traditional song structure. “What Love” only builds – it never trades off between verse and refrain – then after putting the song to bed (or so you think), the song reprises with a cacophony of sound from the same opening song, but it’s all jumbled up in a new way. This tribal outro is similar to what fellow Aussies Tame Impala do night after night on stage – yet Jagwar Ma have the intestinal fortitude to incorporate it into the the first cut of their first album. The premiere track signifies the unconventional, groundbreaking music that is to come.

“Man I Need” is as close as Howlin gets to pop music, as it doesn’t break into extended dance territory and it’s terribly hooky, especially when you consider the Kings of Leon-esque howls. Two other stand-out jams on this LP that must be heard are “The Throw” and “Exercise”.

Album Lowlight: The record ends with a couple mellow tracks in “Did You Have To” and “Backwards Berlin” – and even though they lowered the tempo, the tracks are still infused with psychedelic sounds. My only harp here is Jagwar Ma could have sequenced the end of the album a bit stronger by going out with a higher BPM bang. Still, the mellow final track “Backwards Berlin” mirrors the looping nature and lyrical content of the opening track “What Love”, bookending this excellent record.

Takeaway: Jagwar Ma have created one of the most successful first albums any new act has released this year. Fans of Tame Impala, the Stone Roses, Cut Copy and Django Django take notice: Howlin is a record that should be listened to immediately. Jagwar Ma’s vocal effects & guitar work are similar to Kevin Parker’s innovative treatment in Tame Impala, but even more critical to their forthcoming indie-cred success is how well they incorporate electronic dance loops into psychedelic rock – the two distinctive genres never contrast inappropriately.

Tracks on Howlin conform to conventional song structure at times, but it’s really all about the psych-dance party. It’s not until the fourth track “That Loneliness” that any kind of refrain is discernible – and even then there is fast paced clapping to spice it up. But even on this seemingly conventional cut, the Aussies build a Django-Django-like tribal beat based around repetition to create a dance song with rock sounds. San Francisco – do yourself a favor and buy tickets for their October show at Rickshaw Stop before it’s sold out.

~Mike Frash


Gold PandaHalf of Where You Live

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Brazil”
“We Work Nights”
“The Most Liveable City”

Album Highlights: Gold Panda’s newest album Half of Where You live takes the listener on a journey around the world with songs like “Brazil” that truly evoke the feeling that you’re at a nightclub in Sao Paulo. Songs like “Enoshima” take the listener to Japan and “The Most Liveable City”, which has bird calls throughout, sets us right in the heart of Australia. This album is a sonic soundscape to everyone’s traveling adventures.

Album Lowlight: “My Father In Hong Kong in 1961” and “S950” both just seem like transitional songs that the album could do without. I could see why the Gold Panda would want a couple songs like this on the album, but I think he could have spiced them up a bit more.

Takeaway: If you’re going on a long adventure to a faraway land that you’ve never been to before, than I highly recommend throwing on your earbuds and getting lost in this album. From the opening track of “Junk City II” to the last song “Reprise”, the listener is on a journey to the unknown, and I can’t wait to pack up my bags and have this album along for the ride.

~Pete Mauch