CRSSD unveils Phase 2 of Fall 2018 lineup

CRSSD Festival - Fall 2018 lineup - Phase 2

CRSSD Festival //
Waterfront Park – San Diego
September 29th-30th, 2018 //

Less than two months after releasing the first phase of its Fall 2018 roster, CRSSD has added even more artists to the bill now.

UK ambient/post-dubstep two-piece Mount Kimbie, California-based electronic producer Big Wild, Chicago DJ/production duo Louis the Child and 23-year-old singer-songwriter Kiiara all lead the two-day music festival’s Phase 2 lineup, while The Hacker, LEFTWING & KODY, Mija, Oliver, Will Clarke and Dateless are also among its new additions this September.

CRSSD Fall 2018 - Phase 2 lineup

CRSSD’s eighth edition will be headlined by British DJ/record producer Duke Dumont, who we saw close out last year’s inaugural Skyline festival (read our review here), and Canada’s Bob Moses, with Marian Hill, Sofi Tukker, Flight Facilities, Hayden James, PNAU, Autograf, Elderbrook, shallou, Claptone and more scheduled to perform in San Diego.

See the poster above for the entire Fall 2018 lineup. The bi-annual, 21-and-over event has GA tickets available here for $145 before they increase to $155.

FYF Fest cancels 2018 edition in stunning move

FYF Fest 2018

FYF Fest //
Exposition Park – Los Angeles
July 21st-22nd, 2018 //

In some stunning news on a Sunday, Goldenvoice has announced that the 2018 edition of FYF Fest has been canceled.

Just five weeks after revealing a female-focused lineup that saw Florence + The Machine and Janet Jackson booked as headliners, the renowned Southern California concert promoter has shockingly pulled the plug on the longtime LA music festival, explaining via its social media channels that organizers were “unable to present an experience on par with the expectations of our loyal fans and the Los Angeles music community this year.”

After expanding to three days last year, FYF was scaling back to two for its 15th installment this July, but as Billboard first reported, low ticket sales forced “the difficult decision” to be made with more than two months to go.

However, former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, who was set to perform at FYF this year with his band The Jicks, put the blame squarely on himself and other artists, citing the need for better songwriting.

Whether you agree with Malkmus or not (or you’re just bummed to hear about the shutdown like us), uncertainty surrounded FYF’s 2018 return after the festival quickly became mired in controversy when sexual misconduct allegations involving its original founder Sean Carlson surfaced in November. And even though Goldenvoice had already bought out Carlson’s stake to acquire sole ownership of the event and had veteran booking agent Jennifer Yacoubian in charge of securing talent, it wasn’t enough in the end to entice fans to shell out $249 for a GA weekend pass (or a whopping $549 for VIP). If you did buy one, fear not — ticket holders will receive full refunds over the next few days, so you’ll get your money back soon.

The news, however, raises bigger questions about the future of music festivals in the U.S. as the marketplace becomes more competitive and oversaturated. Because now that FYF’s own future is looking rather bleak, there’s really no telling where the industry goes from here.

FYF Fest - 2018 lineup

FYF Fest moves back to two days with Florence + The Machine, Janet Jackson headlining in 2018

FYF Fest - 2018 lineup

FYF Fest //
Exposition Park – Los Angeles
July 21st-22nd, 2018 //

After expanding to three days for the first time last summer and facing a widely publicized sexual misconduct scandal involving its original founder Sean Carlson just several months ago, FYF Fest has made its 2018 return official with another buzzworthy lineup.

But FYF’s announcement for its 15th edition doesn’t come without some noteworthy changes. The LA festival, for one, is moving back to two days this July, and with longtime Goldenvoice booking agent Jennifer Yacoubian now in charge of securing talent, it’s going in a somewhat different direction with this year’s roster.

In fact, Goldenvoice, which teamed up with Carlson as FYF co-promoters in 2011 and are currently the event’s sole owners, has taken some heat in recent years for its festival bills lacking female artists, and it appears Paul Tollett and company have gotten the message pretty loud and clear by billing Florence + the Machine and Janet Jackson as headliners.

Although last year’s installment of FYF had a good amount of female representation between Missy Elliott, Björk, Erykah Badu, Solange, Angel Olsen, Kehlani and some others, it seems as if Goldenvoice has made even more of a point to continue that trend in 2018, marking the first performance at the festival for either headliner and Jackson’s only scheduled show in LA as of right now.

Meanwhile, FYF has some other major gets to hang its hat on, including My Bloody Valentine, who will be playing their only West Coast date of the year, as well as the debuts of Future, The xx, St. Vincent, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kali Uchis. Of course, many fans of the festival will also be excited to see another crowd favorite listed on the lineup in The Breeders, while other names that are worth noting include Amber Mark, Car Seat Headrest, Daniel Caesar, Daphni, Destroyer, Glassjaw, Mount Kimbie, Nils Frahm, Protomartyr, Rhye, serpentwithfeet, Skepta, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Sudan Archives, The Internet, U.S. Girls and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Check out the poster above for the rest of the lineup.

FYF will be back at Exposition Park for a fifth straight year despite our hopes that it would return to LA State Historic Park following a three-year, $20-million renovation project that saw it reopen last April and host KCRW’s inaugural Skyline festival (read our review here). Alas, that unfortunately won’t be the case as festivalgoers will have to endure Expo Park’s unforgiving landscape of mostly asphalt and concrete (we just wish there was more green grass to roam — that’s all).

Weekend passes to FYF will be sold for $249, with single-day passes also available for $149 and weekend VIP passes available for $549. Tickets can be purchased starting next Friday, April 6th at 12 p.m. here. American Express Card Members will be able to purchase passes before the general public has a chance to, beginning Tuesday, April 3rd at 10 a.m. through Thursday, April 5th at 10 p.m. PT.

Ready for the “best weekend of summer” to return? Check out our past FYF coverage here.

FYF Fest 2018

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

New Music Tuesday: Laura Marling • Mount Kimbie • Baths • CocoRosie

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

Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Was An Eagle”
“Saved These Words”
“Where Can I Go”

Album Highlights: Sophisticated 23-year old folk troubadour Laura Marling has a remarkably prodigious output since her first record Alas, I Cannot Swim, which was released in the UK in 2008. Fast-forward to her fourth and best LP in five years Once I Was an Eagle, and it become less and less hyperbolic to declare Marling a virtuoso songwriter, a living legend in the making. The English performer’s distinct vocal range, including the gurgle-tinged Kermit the Frog voice on the baritone introduction of “You Know”, tees up the high notes, making them all the more effective. There are a handful of classics on the sixteen song (!) LP with “I Was An Eagle”, “Master Hunter” & “Where Can I Go?”, but Marling’s biggest success here is creating a cohesive piece that thrives as a whole, not a collection of individual songs. Once I Was An Eagle quickly establishes the illusion of a continuous performance, as Marling doesn’t allow the songs to fully end for the first four tracks, a span of 18 minutes. The tracks transition ever so smoothly to the next song, and Marling proved the first four tracks are meant to be ingested as a suite of songs by creating a breathtaking 18-minute music video to accompany the opening section of this album (view it above). This record doesn’t have too many over-the-top, standout moments – instead it’s steady and successful throughout.

Album Lowlight: A little trimming would have helped with excellent LP – some of the slower ballads like “Little Love Caster” and “Interlude” could have been cut to create a tight, 12 track classic. But hemming and hawing like this is trivial – Once I Was an Eagle is one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year.

Takeaway: At this current pace, Laura Marling seems to be a name that can go to the top of the female singer-songwriter list with Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris & Joni Mitchell. Marling’s vocal stylings can be reminiscent of the three mentioned legends, but Marling’s messages of female empowerment, which could also be viewed as a strong feminist songwriting point of view, is common throughout her short career and even more prominent in Once I Was An Eagle. For example, in the track “I Was An Eagle”, Marling sings “When we were in love, if we were, I was an eagle and you were a dove… I will not be a victim of romance or circumstance…You were a dove and I rose above you and preyed.” In a striking analogous way, Marling reverses traditional gender roles, which is especially effective within the patriarchal world of contemporary music. Themes of regret and love lost dominate the songwriting in a more general sense; at the end of the opening suite in “Breathe”, Marling says “You wanna woman who’ll call your name, it ain’t me babe.” With such strong songwriting, lyrically and instrumentally, it should be noted how good Marling is now, not some time in the future.

~Mike Frash


Mount KimbieCold Spring Fault Less Youth

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Home Recording”
“You Took Your Time” (feat. King Krule)
“Made to Stray”

Album Highlights: Mount Kimbie has delivered yet another beaming release that screams progression and forward thinking in a populous era for electronic-oriented music. Cold Spring is one beastly departure from an incredible first LP, Crooks & Lovers, shifting ever slightly more to instrumentation over programming, not to mention much more live vocals, primarily handled by fellow British heat-seeker King Krule. This release is also a perfect compliment to all the Boards of Canada buzz generated this week, as much like BoC, Kimbie craft sonic gold in a manner and way of thinking that is all their own. So many nods to a smattering of musical styles are just subtle enough to not compromise the Kimbie sound, but one can’t help but hear elements of Jazzanova, Artful Dodger, James Blake and many more.

Album Lowlight: Very few on my first half dozen listens. King Krule’s unique croon may not pull in first-time listeners with his quintessential cockney, teenage vocal style.

Takeaway: Cerebral music at it’s finest from two truly unique voices in the ever-changing landscape of post-dubstep music, Mount Kimbie won’t really ever fit neatly into a category, or even sub-category, with their ever-changing sonic approach. It really is hard to ignore the fact something special is being produced by Kai Campos and Dominic Maker while still being relatively unknown, especially in the States. The mood shifts and bobs with a whim on Cold Spring and is fully an album to lose yourself in. Pastoral feelings and minor transcendentalism are included, free of charge.

~Kevin Quandt


BathsObsidian

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ossuary”
“No Eyes”
“Miasma Sky”

Album Highlights: Bath’s second album is a well-crafted juxtaposition of beautifully produced pop beats and tragically desperate lyrics. Obsidian highlights the vocal range of Will Wiesenfeld, which fluctuates between a tenor and baritone, whimsically playing off corresponding pitches through call and response structures showcased within the track’s choruses. A generally upbeat album filled with fanciful melodies and intricate BPM layering is presented, so it’s easy to get lost within the enveloping fuzz without paying attention to Weisenfelds’ melancholy verses. Subject matter depicting internal turmoil, anxiety and emotionally devoid casual sex rarely sound so buoyant. Accentuated in poignant tracks such as “No Eyes” and “Ossuary”, Weisenfeld indulges in pitting extremely dark and jaded lyrics against a mostly lighthearted musical soundscape. An idea he’s been entertaining throughout his musical career, Obsidian draws heavy influence from fellow warped songwriter Azeda Booth, whom Weisenfeld was introduced to through friends and previous tour mates Braids.

Album Lowlight: I can’t find much fault with this album beyond issues that may arise out of personal preference or audible favor. It’s beautifully produced, has a great variety of songs and all are equally as engaging and interesting. Even the slower tracks such as “Ironworks”, although somewhat stunting to the flow of Obsidian, are gorgeous in their own right. You could tell that Weisenfeld made a conscious effort to create a playing field that both audiophiles and lyricists could meet on, and he did so in a seemingly effortless fashion. I doubt that this album will get much attention outside of the indie/electronic circles, but it should.

Takeaway: Bath’s sophomore effort is one to be reckoned with, and it should be a testament to not only Wiesenfled’s future success, but it should also be a game changer in the arena of experimental electronic music. Obsidian resonates on two completely stark contrasts, marrying a mainstream genre with a taboo mindset, and he pulls this off triumphantly.

~Molly Kish


CocoRosieTales of a Grass Widow

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“End of Time”
“Gravediggers”
“Far Away”

Album Highlights: Sister duo Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady, known as CocoRosie, are back with their 5th album Tales of a Grass Widow. The sisters’s “freak folk” style remains as evocative as ever in this album that tells tales of death and pain. Perhaps the most striking thing about CocoRosie’s sound is the vocal delivery of “Rosie”. Her voice is striking and subtle, with the kind of ferocity akin to Bjork, a definite highlight of this record.

CocoRosie’s sound is unlike anything else in mainstream music. They combine worldly elements, undoubtedly influenced by their Native American ancestry, with a beat-boxer providing a bulk of the rhythm section.

Album Lowlight: I love the beat-boxer, and think it works remarkably well on this record, but I would love to see what they could do with either a real drummer, or a DJ providing the beats. A beat-boxer can only knock so hard.

Takeaway: CoCoRosie is not well-known to mainstream music lovers, but that could soon change. Their style is unique and powerful and has been turning heads since 2003. The vocal delivery is some of the best I’ve heard in recent years, and that along makes this album a must-listen.

~Kevin Raos