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”

Coachella conflicts: 2013 set times announced

Coachella-2013

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival //
Empire Polo Club – Indio, CA
April 12th-14th & April 19th-21st, 2013 //

Set times dropped Tuesday evening, and Coachella shared they had been battling agents all day to explain the delay. Sounds like a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary …

Although set times didn’t unleash any surprise acts (what no Lou Reed replacement?), the brand new Yuma Dome is confirmed as the 6th main performance area, not including The Do Lab or Heineken Dome. The Yuma Dome will host Seth Troxler, DJ Harvey, Four Tet, Julio Bashmore, The 2 Bears, Jamie Jones, Jamie xx and so many more. This additional platform on the outskirts of the tents and Do Lab will be the anti-Sahara Tent with a minimalist-dance edge.


Friday features one of the most brutal headline conflicts in years. The Stone Roses are on a mondo reunion tour, while How to Destroy Angels and Earl Sweatshirt are playing their first major shows. Poliça will be performing in the Gobi Tent after The Shouting Matches, Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) new project. Vernon collaborated with the members of Poliça in his side project Gaynes. You connect the dots…

Toughest Conflicts:
• The Stone Roses vs. Earl Sweatshirt vs. How to Destroy Angels
• Blur vs. Grinderman
• Modest Mouse vs. Local Natives (SUNSET)
• Japandroids vs. alt-J
• Poliça vs. Jake Bugg
• The Shouting Matches vs. Youth Lagoon vs. Beardyman vs. C2C

Saturday headliners will depend on your energy and vibe, as Phoenix, Sigur Rós, Booka Shade, New Order and Knife Party will create inner-group conflicts. Upon seeing The xx above The Postal Service and Major Lazer at 6 p.m. while Moby sub-headlines the Sahara Tent, the “been fighting with agents all day” reference starts to make sense.

It’s almost as if Goldenvoice is attempting to set a new tone in the Sahara Tent this year after house-pop like David Guetta and Calvin Harris dominated last year. Are they challenging the Sahara stalwarts to go see Franz Ferdinand, Two Door Cinema Club or The xx … or go check out the Yuma during Moby?

Toughest Conflicts:
• Phoenix vs. Sigur Rós vs. Booka Shade vs. New Order vs. Knife Party
• Hot Chip vs. Yeasayer vs. Grizzly Bear (SUNSET)
• Danny Brown vs. Baauer vs. Savages
• Wild Nothing vs. Birdy Nam Nam vs. Action Bronson

Sunday will be a tale of two scenes. Eric Prydz and Disclosure will be packed while Dead Can Dance & Red Hot Chili Peppers should be relatively spacious. Tame impala secured a Sunset-ish slot, but Roodriguez and James Blake will be playing in the tents at the same time. Pretty Lights seems odd at 7:30, but he’s the only EDM artist to get a featured slot on an outdoor stage this year.

Toughest Conflicts:
• Eric Prydz vs. Disclosure
• Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds vs. OMD vs. The Faint
• Vampire Weekend vs. Pretty Lights vs. Father John Misty vs. La Roux (SUNSET)
• Tame Impala vs. James Blake vs. Rodriguez (SUNSET-ISH)
• Kurt Vile and the Violators vs. Grimes
• Thee Oh Sees vs. Jessie Ware vs. Jamie xx

New Music Tuesday: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds • Atlas Genius • STRFKR • Beach Fossils • Jamie Lidell • Iceage • Mark Kozelek • Matmos

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

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


Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsPush the Sky Away

2-BamsTop Tracks:
“Higgs Boson Blues”
“We No Who U R”
“Waters Edge”

Album Highlights: Nick Cave sets his dark tone right away with the haunting opener “We No Who U R.” The song, and really the whole album has very little guitar work, but instead focuses on percussion, violin, and Caves’ uncanny lyrics. In “Higgs Boson Blues,” Cave sings about how “Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake”, and there are plenty of gems like that throughout the album.

Album Lowlight: Nick Cave was definitely not making a rock ‘n’ roll album this time around, and that’s fine, but it barely changes tempo and didn’t captivate me until the second to last song “Higgs Boson Blues.”

Takeaway: One of Caves’ main themes is water, and the song “Mermaids” gives a sense of the whole album in one track. It references many different types of water and captures the overall feel of love and despair between a man and this mermaid. This is a borderline concept album that is very dark and lyric-heavy. This record would play nicely with headphones on in a dark room, but I wouldn’t play this on a sunny Saturday.

~Pete Mauch


Atlas GeniusWhen It Was Now

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Back Seat”
“Trojans”
“Symptoms”

Album Highlights: It is no surprise that “Trojans” would be the lead single of the album, as Atlas Genius has impeccably crafted a pop gem. A subtly sexy radio friendly hit, the song is infectious and will have you singing and clapping along from first listen. As a bona fide plan B, the track is strong enough to keep Atlas Genius relevant on the one-hit wonder circuit at least for years to come. Although, “Back Seat” will most likely prevent Atlas Genius from the one and done career.

Album Lowlight: An awkward departure from the New Wave sound of the rest of the album, the acoustic guitar-driven track “Through the Glass” gets muffled amongst the excess production as the band tries to blend the song’s elements into cohesion. The lyrical structure is off beat, trying to figure out its place within the composition’s confusion, and the meaning is lost amongst the noise.

Takeaway: “When It Was Now” is most exemplary of what Atlas Genius is capable of creating. The album definitely came off as a debut, full of potential stabs at mainstream airplay. The talent is there, and “When It Was Now” best dictates their strongest songwriting technique, and the direction their sophomore effort will most likely head toward.

~Molly Kish


STRFKRMiracle Mile

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“While I’m Alive”
“I Don’t Want to See”
”Leave It All Behind”

Album Highlights: STRFKR gets funky on its opening track “While I’m Alive”. Still tying in their signature Casio dance beats, they throw it back a couple generations with thumping bass lines, harmonizing falsettos and disco laden guitar riffs. Branching out from their standard indie rock formula, the boys embrace several different approaches to create a successful pop album. “While I’m Alive” opens their most ambitious effort to date with a pulsating hit ready for any dance floor.

Album Lowlight: Except for the lyrical mention of the album’s title, “Fortune’s Fool” serves little to no significance on the album. The track isn’t cohesive with the album’s composition or STRFKR’s overall sound. Furthermore, it is an awkward track that causes a division between the album’s experimental first half and more pop-centric second act.

Takeaway: Effortlessly segueing out of “Golden Light”, “Nite Rite” keeps you lingering for an entertaining seven-minute journey to the close out the album. More of prolonged jam than the typical STRFKR crafted track, the band plays with a mélange of audio effects accompanying a steady bass line, drum beat and tension building breaks. The effect is a wall of sound destined to stun in the capacity of a live show.

~Molly Kish


Beach FossilsClash the Truth

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Careless”
“Shallow”
“Crashed Out”

Album Highlights: It’s another decent slice of shoegazing pop from Dustin Payseur and company, perfect for a rainy day inside or a sunny drive down the coast. Personnel changes marred the band in the past year, so the fact that Payseur soldiered on shows great dedication to this act, even while it splintered. Songs like “Burn You Down” demonstrate their knack for a precious sound that one can easily get lost in.

The inclusion of singer Kazu Makino on the song “Vertigo” is a pleasant surprise, as the absence of Zachary Cole Smith displays the lack of melody that was a key part of this group in previous years.

Album Lowlight: Honestly, for the amount of time taken since the release of their heralded self-titled release some three years ago, this album falls a little flat. Maybe it was that many other similar bands like Wild Nothing and Real Estate released solid sophomore efforts well before Beach Fossils did. Maybe the departure of Zachary Cole Smith to form DIIV put a crutch in the writing and recording process of Beach Fossils.

Takeaway:Fans of this band will enjoy this listen, but likely still go to previous releases more often than this effort. Sometimes great stretches of time between recording can muddle the writing process, and this may be the case for Clash the Truth.

~Kevin Quandt


IceageYou’re Nothing

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ecstacy”
“Morals”
“Wounded Hearts”

Album Highlights: The follow-up to 2011’s New Brigade does not disappoint, full of blistering angst-ridden Danish post-punk in all it’s youthful glory. Songs like “Everything Drifts” showcase a more musical focus with clearer sounding vocals by Elias Rønnenfelt and more in depth guitar chords. The blistering thrash of their debut has made way for a fuller, dare I say more mature sound overall. There is also a sonic richness which is more prevalent on their Matador label debut.

Lyrics have not deviated much from the societal gloom these young-ins have demonstrated on “Ecstasy”: “But bliss is momentary anyhow / Yet worth living for — take me now”.

Album Lowlights: Fans who prefer the more thrashed-out side of this band may grumble at it taking a more commercial, emotive direction, comparatively. Yes, this album comes across as less detached than the previous, but it’s with this growth that the excitement is bred. You’re Nothing is still a rough-edged album, but this new depth will please many as they make their way to comparisons of Black Flag and Fugazi.

Takeaway: How awesome is it that a bunch of Danish teenagers are the face and sound of some of the more progressive punk and hardcore in the past few years? And with their first release on Matador, they’re showing that with a few extra resources, they can bring their game to the next level while not compromising their integrity.

~Kevin Quandt


Jamie LidellJamie Lidell

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Do Yourself a Faver”
“Blaming Something”
“So Cold”

Album Highlights: Jamie Lidell’s self-titled release is funky and soulful, yet takes a couple listens to grow on you. His first album since 2010, Lidell’s 2013 offering has an interesting flair. Most of this record sounds like a 21st century funk-infused disco that Prince commissioned to write for the Ghostbusters III soundtrack. It combines elements of 80’s R&B funk with contemporary elements of dubstep without getting too “wobbly.”

Fans of Lidell might be displeased with this departure, as electronic pop dominates over his signature soulful sound.

Album Lowlight: Jamie Lidell is at his best when he is channeling his inner Prince. (Aren’t we all?) Unfortunately, that channel breaks signal several times throughout the album, slowing down the upbeat pace of most of the songs. It’s a shame that the first single from the record is “What A Shame,” one of the weakest tracks on the record, in my opinion.

Takeaway: This album definitely has it’s moments, and for the most part, it is a very soulful funktronica album. The highlights outweigh the lowlights, which are sprinkled in just enough to cause this album to fall short of greatness.

~Kevin Raos


Mark KozelekLike Rats

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Free for All” by Ted Nugent
“Silly Girl” by Descendents
“Carpet Crawlers” by Genesis

Album Highlights: Mark Kozelek continues with the tone that made his 2012 record as Sun Kil Moon Among the Leaves such a success. Kozelek’s hypnotic acoustic guitar repetitions and soft baritone voice combine to strike emotional depth unmatched by most contemporary artists. And with Like Rats, Kozelek takes a diverse collection of tracks from other artists to create a record that completely transforms the songs into Kozelek’s wheelhouse — moaning sentiments of self-reflection and loathing “what could have been” feelings.

Album Lowlight: My personal lowlight is just realizing I missed Kozelek on Sunday evening at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco by one day, but seriously, this guy can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. His songs grow on you easily if you let them, and even the dark cover of “I Killed Mommy” by Dayglo Abortions works well enough, assuming you like tales of killing your family members.

Takeaway: Mark Kozelek, the prodigious singer songwriter also known as Sun Kil Moon, has embarked on a record featuring covers from other artists. The attempts at covers are wide-ranging and mostly successful; how many singer-songwriters could nail covers by Ted Nugent, Descendents and Genesis in one album? It’s worth a listen or two, but it’s hard to give Kozelek full credit since he is such an accomplished songwriter.

~Mike Frash


MatmosThe Marriage of True Mind

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Tunnel”
“Mental Radio”
“Teen Paranormal Romance”

Album Highlights: Electronic duo Matmos run the gamut of music genres with The Marriage of True Mind, and it somehow does it successfully without any obvious unified theme, other than vocalizing its love of “Triangles.” This record has influences in deep house music, jazz, blues, space glitch and everything in between. “Tunnel” builds tension with a growing chorus of bees and alarm sounds — and it starts as a jungle-influenced world music track but progresses to spoken word over didgeridoo that builds to a cacophony of sound, ultimately breaking to an outro release that finishes with a hacking-bong rip cough. It’s a busy track and record, but triumphs like “Tunnel” make this LP addictive.

Album Lowlight: Attempts at Amon Tobin-like ambient space jams in “Ross Transcript” put forth a good effort but work better as a transition as opposed to a listenable song.

Takeaway: The Marriage of True Mind is a crazy blast of noise mixtures. It is experimental in nature and not beholden to any one sound aesthetic. It feels like one long jam, as if the idea of making individual songs didn’t cross the creator’s minds. It works as a cinematic soundtrack, and it is fun to see Matmos toy with genre-mixing. This LP’s obsession with the triangle, combined with alt-J’s geometric dogmatic worship of the shape, shows that triangles are so hot right now.

Matmos is not afraid to fuck with any sound, and the record contrasts light and dark tones, as well as mellow beats and intense builds.

~Mike Frash

Coachella 2013: Predictions, wishes & rumors vs. reality

Coachella 2013By Mike Frash //

With a casual tweet, festival season is about to begin. Anticipation over the imminent 2013 Coachella lineup is building, and recent history shows the festival lineup could come this week.

Do you have your accommodations set? Hopefully your ticket is taken care of, because Coachella 2013 could already be close to sold out.

Presale ticketing for this year’s Coachella sold out within hours of going on sale both weekends last May, and it was the first time pre-sale sold out in such a quick fashion. The Coachella 2012 general on-sale sold out within an hour for both weekends a year ago, and if you weren’t ninja-quick at getting into the waiting room, you were shit out of luck. Take all this into account, and there might be a very limited amount of tickets available after the 2013 lineup drops. Is it possible Coachella 2013 is completely sold out from presale ticketing?

Coachella

Headliners: Reality vs. Rumors
The headliner rumors arrived early this year, with speculation over The Rolling Stones and Daft Punk dominating the conversation. At this point The Rolling Stones seems like the more likely of the two to be headlining, even though they haven’t played a whole lot of festivals since Altamont in 1969. Besides, Coachella rumors about Daft Punk and David Bowie playing Coachella are a yearly running gag at this point — we’ll believe it when we see it. Bowie even has a confirmed album coming out in the spring, but his bandmates are saying Ziggy has ruled out performing live … forever.

Reunions are a big part of Coachella’s top-notch lineups, and last year saw the regrouping of At The Drive-In, Pulp and Refused. This year it looks like The Postal Service and My Bloody Valentine could happen. Blur would also make sense since they reunited at the Olympics last year. Black Sabbath was reportedly on board to headline last year until they had to pull out at the last moment, and they have a new album coming out in June. Outkast would be the perfect hip-hop headliner, but that seems unlikely with Big Boi pushing his new LP. Wu-Tang Clan seems like the most likely rap act to play the main stage, but are they big enough to headline one of the three days each weekend?

Last year saw The Black Keys headline Friday along with Swedish House Mafia, and most people thought The Black Keys weren’t worthy of headliner status. But Coachella is good at king-making groups and artists, elevating them to the top level simply by making them headliners. Goldenvoice could repeat last year’s Friday concept by crowning Phoenix, The xx or Mumford and Sons headliners while putting deadmau5 on the top line to satiate the EDM masses.

Reality (likely headliners):
The Rolling Stones, The Postal Service, deadmau5, My Bloody Valentine, Black Sabbath, Pearl Jam, Phoenix, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wu Tang Clan, No Doubt, Mumford & Sons, The xx

Rumors (probable wishlist-fiction):
Daft Punk, Outkast, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails (How to Destroy Angels is likely)

Artists to see before they get big:
Last year, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips, Azealia Banks, First Aid Kit, and lots of other artists performed at Coachella before getting exponentially bigger by the end of 2012. Possible contenders for 2013 include Angel Haze, AlunaGeorge, FIDLAR, Foxygen, Wilde Belle, & Earl Sweatshirt, although the hype for Earl is already tremendously loud.

Coachella

Best EDM acts most likely to not perform in the Sahara Tent:
• deadmau5
• Bassnectar
• Tiesto
• Simian Mobile Disco
• Andy Stott
• Nicolas Jaar
• Dan Deacon
• John Talabot
• Disclosure
• Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs

Artists most likely to return for second consecutive year:
Kendrick Lamar and Dawes, because Dawes somehow plays every festival.

Headlines we’d like to see:
“Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator join Earl Sweatshirt’s first solo set”
“Progressive-house trend baffles Sahara tent candy-kids”
“Thom Yorke, Bradford Cox & Trent Rezner play a combined 9 sets each weekend”
“Katie Perry attends Coachella again, never considered for performing duties.”

Plausible Acts We’d Like to See:
Alabama Shakes
alt-J
AlunaGeorge
Andy Stott
Angel Haze
Animal Collective
Atlas Sound
Atoms for Peace
Bassnectar
Bat for Lashes
Beach House
Ben Howard
Big Boi
Bjork
Black Sabbath
Blur
Cloud Nothings
Chromatics
Crystal Castles
CHVRCHES
Dan Deacon
Divine Fits
Disclosure
Die Antwoord
Django Django
Ducktails
Earl Sweatshirt
Father John Misty
Fiona Apple
Frightened Rabbit
Grimes
Grizzly Bear (Added 1.17.13)
Haim
Hot Chip
How to Dress Well
James Blake
Jamie Lidell
Japandroids
Jessie Ware
John Talabot
Jim James
Kendrick Lamar
Kishi Bashi
Killer Mike
Local Natives
New Order
Nicolas Jaar
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Major Lazer
Matthew Dear
Mumford & Sons
Passion Pit
Penguin Prison
Phoenix
Pretty Lights
Sigur Ros
Skrillex
Spiritualized
Stars
STRFCKR
Tame Impala
The Faint
The Joy Formidable
The Knife
The Postal Service
The Rolling Stones
The Walkmen
The xx
Toro Y Moi
TNGHT
Ty Segall
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Vampire Weekend
Warpaint
Wavves
Wild Belle
Wild Nothing
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeasayer
Yo la Tengo
!!!

Coachella