|Art by: David Ellis|
Houndmouth - From The Hills Below The City was a gem of a release from Rough Trade Records. Which is saying something, considering that the Rough Trade vault has plenty of jewels. This four-piece band was an easy highlight for me at High Sierra. Their sound creates its own treasure within the richness of the alt-country scene. Two voices share this record, yet each tale is true and singular. Side A treats us to, Penitentiary and Hey Rose. The B side harbors, Krampus, Houston Train, and Palmyra.
M.I.A. - Matangi was released before it was released. Thank god she brought that world-crunk, anthem-like craze to her latest release. This is definitely my favorite M.I.A. record. The track below, Only 1 U, has an under appreciated message braided into its modern digital fabric. Bad Girls is a new world ode to the next generation of youthful women. Come Walk With Me deviates initially, sounding too poppy, but at the 90 second mark shit goes off. It's like scribbling with your mac. aTENtion is the next track, and if you like digital effects thrown in on vocals and decibel levels, you'll want to pay attention. Boom Skit is both fun and poignant, it's a brief lyrical juxtaposition that only M.I.A. seems able to see, let alone nail down. The closer of this party is Sexodous (featuring The Weekend). It's a gift to be both rough and smooth, sexy and militant, damn girl.
Arcade Fire - Reflektor was not only one of the most hyped album's of the year, it was also the most revelatory. This record cemented their brand, while simultaneously showcasing their chameleon-like ways. Arcade Fire is here to stay, they could possibly change the game, should they continue on as the curators that they have shown us to be.
Reflektor is the jam, it's prophetic, yet not over the head of anyone. It conjures images unbelievably well. It transports me into a state of self reflection, imagine that. Maybe we're caught inside, or outside of a mirror ball, continuously gazing into its multitude of falsified angels. This song feels like a warning, beware of that which is artificial, especially when they're singing, "just a reflector, we'll see you on the other side." Realize that what we are looking at, is what we see, there should be no false pretenses or assumptions. Move the obstacle that hinders, or reposition yourself in order to see what was hiding.
With, Here Comes the Night Time, Arcade Fire helps us to shed the dogmatic coat that covers up that which is apparent and real. To truly see with our own eyes can be scary. Then there's Joan of Arc, which hinges on the sounds of classic rock. It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus) and Porno are two other heavy hitters. The album is modern, this album is theirs, it's right now and perhaps, something more. They've blended a new, fever inducing cocktail. Their songs illicit such visuals, hopefully they're helping me to digest their genius.
I also really liked the truthful tracks dropped by Earl Sweatshirt off of his LP Doris. With a unique and sometimes unorthodox delivery, his words tend to stick to you, like the way a city does. Often times he touches on topics that don't make it on the top 40 charts, they're too honest. Hardships are a theme that has many forms, The Sweatshirt has obviously observed his share. He has guest spots from RZA, Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator. Earl is not your typical MC. I've been chilling to Hive (featuring Vince Staples & Casey Veggies). One of my favorites is Chum, hear it below.
Matthew E. White snuck in a wonderful follow-up EP titled, Outer Face. This young man is proud as hell to be from Richmond, Virginia. Mister White has been quite busy since he debuted Big Inner last year. This isn't an LP, but it is more than adequate with five deep grooves to digest. Human Style is rich in playful banter. The question though is, "When are you coming home." Listen below to Hot Hot Hot, it's reminiscent of Dr. John and Randy Newman.
My complete list of the artists who put out stellar albums this year were; Phosphorescent, Vampire Weekend, Jim James, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, with honorable mentions that included, Daft Punk and Foxygen. Minus Matthew E. White's EP you have a top ten, so there you have it. The end of the year is coming, as are the Besty's. Have fun with the rest of 2013. Happy holidays!