Vancouver's Tough Age
Best Albums of 2013
Why go for the obvious choices when there is so much more out there? Our correspondents have some Best OF choices you might have missed.
My Top 3 records of the year
Michael Elves, UMFM Program Director and host of Thank God It’s Free Range! Fridays from 6:30-8pm on 101.5 FM in Winnipeg and online at www.umfm.com.
Rhye – Woman [Loma Vista/Republic]
This has been my favourite album since I first heard The Fall EP (featuring songs that ended up on the full-length) at the end of 2012. I just knew that the boy who owned Sade’s Diamond Life on cassette was going to be the man who couldn’t get enough of Woman.
Royal Canoe – Today We’re Believers [Nevado/Nettwerk/Roll Call]
Local guys made good, Royal Canoe blew up big this year and it’s been great to see them get sweet supporting spots on major tours, a feature-Friday on Q, and all sorts of accolades. This is my #1 vote for the 2014 Polaris Prize – Today We’re Believers is a singular achievement that sounds like every piece of pop you’ve loved and nothing you’ve ever heard before.
Basia Bulat – Tall Tall Shadow [Secret City Records]
Bulat’s debut was one of only two records I’ve ever given a five-star review to. However, I thought her sophomore effort Heart Of My Own struggled under the weight of its production and smoothed away some of the charmingly rough-hewn edges of Oh My Darling. Tall Tall Shadow manages to deftly balance the ambitions of the second with the immediacy of the first, pointing at a five-star future.
My Top 6 records of the year
My name is Myles Gregory and I host Broken Glass, a weekly Punk show on CFBX 92.5FM in Kamloops, BC. It airs at 10pm PST on Tuesday. I have been a volunteer off-and-on at the station since 1999, and started this particular show in 2007. You can follow me on Twitter @theycallmemylo or www.facebook.com/BrokenGlassRadio.
Comadre – Comadre – (Vitriol Records)
A great punk/hardcore release which is consistent throughout. The vocals are powerful while still coherent. Sadly they called it a day in the Fall.
SNFU – Never Trouble Trouble Until Trouble Troubles You – (Cruzar Media)
Their first release since 2004. Honestly, even I had my doubts, but after one listen I was hooked. The lyrics, vocals and music are perfect SNFU.
Nuclear Spring – 12” EP – (Hysteria Records)
I first heard their 7”, and couldn’t stop listening to the track “Far Away”. It was a sign that more material would be unstoppable.
Perfect Pussy – I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling – (Independent)
One of several cassettes I purchased this year. Noise Punk at its best. I do have a weak spot for organs when used well, track 3 is phenomenal.
INVSN – INVSN – (Razor & Tie)
Everyone keeps calling this their debut release, or their English debut release…it’s not. But that’s beside the point, this one is highly recommended.
Billy the Kid – Perspective – (Lost Records)
She is a great artist. This year saw her release six tracks on an EP titled Perspective. She performed most of the instruments, and took on some producing roles.
My Top 10 Records of 2013
I'm Brandon Greaves, a DJ on CIVL Radio 101.7 FM at University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC. This fall, I started hosting an experimental music show called Pacific Trash Vortex every Tuesday from 12-1 pm, wherein I feature anything weird or avant-garde. Noise rock, free jazz, whatever works.
2013 was a crazy good year for me, especially musically. There were plenty of new acts emerging in my favourite city, Vancouver. Some of my favourite long-running Japanese bands put out solid material this year. In general, there was a lot of excitement and activity. Here's a list of my personal top albums of 2013, in no relevant order:
N.213 - Sungod Arena (Isolated Now Waves)
Vancouver's Nic Hughes is better known for his role in the fantastic Shearing Pinx, but his just-as-noisy solo output as N.213 also demands attention by seemingly embodying the term "experimental". Hughes, as N.213, released 4 tapes in 2013 alone on his Isolated Now Waves label; each channeling the same aggressive spirit in a different way. Of the four, Sungod Arena has what can most easily be called rock songs, but it covers expansive territory, including an appropriately sinister track based around a conversation from Mulholland Drive. The live band incarnation, N.213's Group Vision, debuted in June, lending the tracks from Sungod Arena even more weight.
OOIOO – Gamel – (Shock City)
Boredoms drummer Yoshimi P-We has led this band through countless different sounds for the past 18+ years, but the transcendent songwriting has been constant. This incarnation continues the layered psychedelic post-rock sound of 2009's Armonico Hewa and places the gamelan, a traditional Indonesian percussion ensemble, at the heart of it. Yoshimi's love of traditional Asian music comes through on this one. The results are as gorgeous as ever.
http://ooioo.jp/ - http://twitter.com/OOIOOOOIOOOOIOO
Perfume – LEVEL3 – (Universal J/Perfume Records)
I guess I would classify Perfume as Intelligent Jpop. Their songs are so varied and complex that they never feel condescending or crass. Producer Yasutaka Nakata's electro instrumentals are as hard-hitting as they've ever been, occasionally stretching out to full disco-length jams. In the middle of this pop album a legitimately sick 7 and a half minute house track punches you in the face.
– Wakin' on a Pretty Daze –(Matador Records)
I like Kurt Vile. His sleepy vocals are kept on course by super layered instrumentation that always makes the best possible use of the acoustic guitar. Just as folky, flowery and psychedelic as his past work. He spreads out for super long songs on this one, but his guitar is able to keep things on track for as long as he needs it to.
http://kurtvile.com/ - http://twitter.com/therealkurtvile
Jay Arner – S/T – (Mint Records)
Jay Arner has undeniable songwriting chops and the voice of an angel. He's also a master producer, and he's made a super distinct, slick sounding album loaded with hits. The bass continually makes its presence known, while still playing nice with cool, airy synth and sweet vocals. Everything comes together for a collection of perfect pop moments.
http://www.mintrecs.com/artist/jay-arner - http://twitter.com/jayarner
Body/Head – Coming Apart – (Matador Records)
With Sonic Youth dead and buried, Kim Gordon is forcing everyone to pay attention again. Gordon collaborates with improviser Bill Nace for 10 noisy, heady, confusing tracks. The guitar drones, abundant feedback, total abandon for song structure, super reverby vocals, and intensely personal lyrics inflict a very particular mood for 70 minutes.
http://bodyheadmusic.com/ - http://twitter.com/WeAreBodyHead
Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven – (Warp Records)
Daniel Lopatin's electronic solo project has taken the direction of ambient musique concrete, with each vocal edit and sample placed in a way that seems inspired and exact. Despite it's complex construction, listening to it isn't work, and each song kind of washes over you like a pleasant wave.
http://www.pointnever.com/ - http://twitter.com/0PN
Melt-Banana – Fetch – (A-ZAP)
Agata Ichirou's mechanical guitar riffs are always the most brutal and catchy things ever. They're often sampled in a way that sounds like a drill going directly into your forehead. This album is louder and less poppy than their previous stuff, crossing into Lightning Bolt territory at times. Impressive experimentation for a band in their 21st year! I got to see a lot of these songs performed when they came to Vancouver in October, and it was the loudest, most imposing thing I've ever seen.
http://www.geocities.jp/azaplink/mb/mxbx.html - http://twitter.com/melt_banana
http://www.mintrecs.com/artist/tough-age - http://twitter.com/toughage
New Vaders – Dynamic Traxx Vol. 1 – (Limb Soup Tapes)
Vancouver mega-talent Tom Whalen(also of Korean Gut fame)'s electro project New Vaders dropped two megatons this year. The first, entitled The Rappers, blew my brains open in January with its chopped vocal samples and nasty beats, each song melting into the next one, forming a cohesive start-to-finish listening experience. Dynamic Traxx came out in August, and seems to have a different approach. More meditative and spacy stuff, with each song standing alone. Like sitting in an ocean of swirling synth. Good dancing music or sitting alone in the dark music.
https://soundcloud.com/new-vaders - http://twitter.com/newvaders