Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Best of a Mediocre Bunch, or Prerable Musical Stylings in 2013

It's been October since I posted anything here. In the meantime I was holed up for the apocalypse, which I assumed would happen either at the hands of the Mayans, the inept U.S. government, or a nuclear Iran.  It did not. So now that I've finally wiped the egg of my face, I'm ready to get back at the blogging thing.

Actually, the real reason for my neglect of this already-sporadically-updated blog is that in my "free time" I was busy doing important non-blog things.  Like submitting applications to PhD programs, finishing up a couple research projects/papers, and analyzing my fantasy NBA roster.  All that is done now, which gives me the freedom to finally write about the best rap album of last year.

The only problem: I couldn't possibly do a better job discussing Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d. city than Sean Fennessey did for Grantland.

So I guess I'll just discuss a few odds and ends related to the music that's been released in 2013, which, it should be noted, has been more or less forgettable.

Best Album...Local Natives - Hummingbird
Local Natives basically get this award by default since theirs is the only album I've actually enjoyed all the way through this year.  It's an ethereal, melancholy effort that is quite a bit heavier (in terms of mood) than their debut album.

Good Songs on Less-Than-Great and/or Yet-to-be-Released Albums
Frightened Rabbit - Late March, Death March and Holy and The Woodpile 
...Do you want a Scottish accent to go along with your anthemic alternative/indie rock? Pedestrian Verse, by the way, is probably my 2nd favorite album of the year so far.

Fiction Family - Give Me Back My Girl and Fools Gold.
...I absolutely loved Jon Foreman's solo work, but his new project, a collaboration with a Nickel-Creek-member-whose-name-I-forget-and-am-too-lazy-to-google, has only exactly two good songs. The first is an immediately-catchy yet mild-mannered acoustic frolic, replete with handclaps.  The second is a stripped down lamentation on a friendship torn asunder by time and the trappings of rock n roll fame.

The Dropkick Murphys - Rose Tattoo
...They're back with a brand new album, but let's face facts: "Shipping Off to Boston" is not walking through that door.  That said, if you like catchy, chant-a-long Irish punk rock anthems, this song fits the bill.

Foals - My Number and Late Night
...As far as I can tell, Foals is a darker, manlier, British version of Passion Pit.

Night Beds - Ramona
...A little Ryan Adams-y, a little Fleet Foxes-y.

 Jim James - A New Life and State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)
...Despite going solo, James, the lead singer of My Morning Jacket, continues his habit of making albums that have two songs I like and and then some songs I respect but prefer not to listen to.

A$ap Rocky - Long Live A$ap doubt A$ap is talented, and his major label debut is a quality slice of hip hop in a technical and creative sense.  My problem with it is the bankruptcy of A$ap's lyrical content.  His themes of materialistic opulence and his incessant self-promotion get old and tired. Still, his musical talent is evident throughout the album, including songs like this one.
Wavves - Demon to Lean On
...and now we get to the part where I post songs that are pre-releases from upcoming albums. Here's a low-fi bombastic beach-punk number for your eardrums.

Cold War Kids - Miracle Mile
...after the disappointing Mine is Yours, let's all hope that the Cold War Kids return to form on their new album. This song is good and everything, but if it's the best on the album, well...(sad face).

Drake - Started From the Bottom
...on first listen, I hated this song.  It's so incredibly repetitive, and the lyrics are so simple and defensive (no really guys, Drake has had a hard life!).  But the song has some sort of hypnotic effect to the point that I now nod my head and rap along to (almost everything in) the chorus whenever it plays.