Some of the year’s worthy records that you may have missed
By Puluche , July 3, 2013
It seems clear that 2013 has been an exceptional year for new music. The months of May and June in particular saw an astounding run of great records, some of which arrived on a huge crest of hype (Daft Punk, Kanye West), some of which bubbled up from the underground (Deafheaven, Dirty Beaches, After Dark 2). But there are always excellent records that you miss, releases that for one reason or another don’t get around as much. Here are some of our favorites in that vein. None of these releases received a Best New Music designation and not all were rated above an 8.0, but they’re all worth revisiting. Read, listen, and click through for the full reviews. We’ll be back with album reviews on Monday.
Aye Nako: “Cut It Off” (via SoundCloud)
Pop punk has generally been considered the province of teenagers (or at least adults in a state of arrested development). But lately the genre seems to be having its twentysomething moment, as a generation of bands who grew up on Drive-Thru Records comps, studded belts, and VFW-hall all-ages shows bring their power chords to (ever so slightly) more mature concerns. In the same spirit of the prolific Don Giovanni roster or Swearin’s shambolic 2012 self-titled LP comes Unleash Yourself, the charmingly scrappy debut from Brooklyn four-piece Aye Nako. On tunes like “Molasses” and “Cut It Off”, the band specializes in the kind of rumbling, ramshackle guitar pop that always sounds one step away from utter chaos– which is a perfect vibe for songs about that youthful art of trying (and more often failing) to get your shit together. “Watch me hit snooze again and again,” singer/guitarist Mars Ganito sings on the overcast “In Sickness, Pt. 1″, his voice warbling in all the right places. Hopeful, disillusioned, and occasionally sharply funny (“The Bible Belt gave you a rash, too,” he howls on “For the Inverted”) Unleash Yourself turns the growing pains of its members and its chosen genre into gold. –Lindsay Zoladz
Classixx: “Holding On” (via SoundCloud)
L.A. producers Tyler Blake and Michael David ride the momentum established by some choice remixes into the low-frills Hanging Gardens, a straightforward dance record that’s easy to love. Contributors like LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang, Kisses’ Jesse Kivel, Active Child’s Pat Grossi, and Sarah Chernoff give the proceedings a warm, friendly feel, resulting in swirling jams like the Chernoff-featuring “A Stranger Love” and bouncing, squealing songs like “Holding On”. The best example of the album’s joyful nature is probably “I’ll Get You”, a shimmering cut that features Junior Senior’s Jeppe Laursen chanting “Do you like bass? Do you, do you like bass?” As mentioned in our review, it’s the kind of moment that could easily come off as cloying or silly, but Classixx find a way to make it work. That’s a snapshot of Hanging Gardens as a whole, a modest record that sneakily transcends its limitations. –Corban Goble
New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Colin Stetson: “High Above a Grey Green Sea” (via SoundCloud)
Despite the consistently vast and overwhelming nature of the music that Colin Stetson has released over the last 11 years, it can be easy to forget him when it comes to listing what could be termed “big records,” the ones that come out of nowhere and shake you until you’re dumbstruck and limp. In the past 12 months, that list includes releases like Swans’ The Seer, the Knife’s Shaking the Habitual, and Deafhaven’s Sunbather. The final part of the Montreal saxophonist’s New History Warfare trilogy deserves to stand alongside any of those for its vanguard approach. To See More Light uses the same tools as 2011’s Judges, though switching the voices of Shara Worden and Laurie Anderson for Justin Vernon (on his best non-Bon Iver turn yet), but somehow pushes Stetson’s harrowing sound somewhere far more heartbreaking and desperate.
The two things I admire most about Stetson are his willingness to eschew external narratives and imagery from his music and his ability to wring something profoundly moving and meditative from a bludgeoning palette. His torrent of howled vocals and steaming saxophone lines are couched within the percussion of his instrument’s keys, constructing a desperate vista something like a landmass broken apart by an earthquake. And although Stetson’s performance style would bust anyone else’s lungs for the sheer force of it, on To See More Light, he’s flexing more musical muscle; there are mercilessly manic attacks, elephantine bellows, yanked-away, bungee-tethered teases of catharsis, courtly, complex mournful filigrees. Listen to feel cleansed, and awed. –Laura Snapes
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