Posts Tagged ‘2013’

5 LP’s of 2013 pt1.

July 28, 2013

Arbitrary list of music albums ordered by preference during the Roman calendar year MMXIII

This article could be summed up in a single tweet. (Don’t read this tweet if you don’t like spoilers or tweets.) But why use 140 characters when 1400 will do? I don’t know the answer to that question. My top 5 albums of 2013 up to July? That’s not really phrased as a question but I’ll answer it anyway.

5. Foxygen, with their mandible-mangling title ‘We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic’ alluding to the glorious, psychedelic years of so long ago. By all accounts the band have gone their separate ways and left the world with one, well crafted album and nothing more. The album is highly derivative, or if you prefer a wonderful homage.

defunct buzz-band

I became aware of this album in January during an early year dirge and while a valiant effort and worth checking out I can’t imagine it’ll be in my top 5 by the end of the year. While it doesn’t pull up any innovatory trees. It certainly appreciates on further listens like a Californian IPA. You can read a much more in-depth review of the album below.

4. Local Natives’ Humming Bird is a sweet, heartfelt pop album as the title indicates. The breezy, opening channels The National ‘Boxer era’, featuring subtle lyrics and strong vocals from Taylor Rice.

music to sip flat whites to

“Powder in your hair
Staples in your jeans
Fireworks in the water
You were holding
A styro-foam cup
Held between your teeth
Telling me how you’re going to outlive your body”

The band have garnered favorable comparisons with “Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and Vampire Weekend,[5] as well as “sort of a West Coast Grizzly Bear.”[6]According to Wikipedia.

Definitely hitting the Grizzly Bear circa Veckatimest spot on this year’s list.

3. David Bowie – The Next Day. The long-awaited 26th album from Britain’s greatest Artist/Chameleon/Cultural icon. Delete as applicable. It’s better than the later era of Bowie’s oeuvre. Better than I had reason to expect it to be. Benefiting from the unexpected arrival, without much fanfare, during early spring when there was little else to touch it. A sterling 3 star effort from Elder Ziggy.

Full of self-referential allusions to a living legend.

Bowie is acutely aware of his own importance to British culture. Like many great artists he draws heavily on his earlier works in ‘The Next Day‘.


2- The National sweep into second spot with their pessimistically titled ‘Trouble Will Find Me.’ This is not the easiest album to write about, 6 albums in and you pretty much know what you’re getting from Ohio’s favourite maudlin, song-smiths.  Featuring melancholic lyrics (if I had to guess I’d say he’s recently broke up with someone but then all of their albums sound like that.) delivered with Matt Berninger’s lauded, marble baritone (-Ed).  It’s perfect, rainy-day, bus-music  and I’ll leave it at that. The album cover is pretty cool though.

Children of Israel

1- Vampire Weekend have definitely taken it up a gear with their third album ‘Modern Vampires of the City.’ With standout singles like Diane Young, Ya Hey (that’s Hey Ya! backwards!) & Unbelievers, VW have managed to maintain their radio-friendly sound while easily surpassing anything that they’ve previously produced.

‘Modern Vampires of the City’ contains elements of chamber pop, prog-rock and Judaic inspired lyrics, With references to Zion, Unbelievers, Israelites, this Orthodox girl and er …Falafel. In fact Vampire Weekend have created the best mainstream, Hebrew influenced album since Youth by Matisyahu.  Also they win the award for most stylish stage set design. Mazel Tov!



Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (Jagjaguwar)

March 13, 2013

Q) What do you get if you consume records by Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane and Mercury Rev? 
A) Well apart from terrible indigestion you get ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.’ The second album from Californian duo Foxygen.

Foxygen’s level of Magpiery is almost overwhelming on first listen. Musically centred on the experimental rock sounds of early 60’s British Invasion & late 60’s San Francisco. The title is reminiscent of records by The Kinks and Pink Floyd which would be lavished large over 12 inch Vinyl LPs. Incidentally Foxygen is an appalling name for a band.

The opener begins the voyage tellingly from the darkness introducing optimism of alien races and non-scepticism leading in to “No Destruction.”

Which  begins with ‘Candy Says’ by VU with a Spandau Ballet (Bah, ba ba, bah bah) beat. The themes of emerging Americana are littered throughout “I’m sending you this photograph of me in my brand new car.” The ubiquitous pot references, “someone who smokes pot in the subway with me“, and “but the door of consciousness isn’t open anymore. Oh you think it’s over, oh, you think it’s over to me”, possibly lamenting the end of the flower power era.

” The pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators.”

“On Blue Mountain” introduces the overarching religious theme that creeps through this album “I was looking through the bible”, “Try and be what God wants you to be…”  It’s the most MGMT-like track on the album so far, the pitfall for any modern Psych-band is sounding more like Scooby Doo on crack than the 13th Floor Elevators. The ‘spot the song’ accolade in this track goes to Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds.’

Track 4 is the most representative song on the album. For fucks sake it’s called San Francisco with a Magic Roundabout refrain. This song channels the male/female duo espoused by popular bands of the hippy era. The vocal goes a little Syd Barrett at one point and references to “The new sensations” are reminiscent of early British Invasion, The Kinks et al.  And happily (depending on your outlook) it carries on the Christian theme with “Jesus was from Israel” and a bit of Hindu mythology with the introduction of a sacred Cow, perfectly summarises these fickle times and reflected by the lyrics “I left my love in San Francisco. That’s okay I was bored anyway.”

Kicking in to the saxophone thumping, desert drive interlude. “Bowling Trophies” feels like it’s been ripped straight out of Las Vegas desert road-trip film (Wild at Heart or Fear in Loathing in Las Vegas) a sentiment alluded to later “I’ve got a movie playing in my mind…”

The album listening journey (oh no) plays like a fabled acid trip, the album goes up a hill, interspersed with jazz interludes and psych freak outs. The titular track has everything from Mick Jagger aping vocals to staccato 13th Floor Elevators freak outs right across the board.

Despite all its obvious faults, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is actually a pretty enjoyable listen. I gather it’s what others get from modern day throwbacks like Tame Impala, who I’ve never been able to stick. Maybe the Australians over-reliance on Merseybeat era Beatles feels awkwardly hollow, much in the same way as an actor adopting a poor imitation Scouse accent causes me immediate anger and pain. Maybe in these economically rife times we need the nostalgia of times when faux-spirituality, reckless drug-taking and free love were de rigueur and no one was arsed if it made any sense.  I mean try listening to “Oh Yeah” and not being happy, the beat is practically begging for a hip hop remix.