Andrew’s The Year In Music 2013

Andrew Heffling makes his home in the Twin Cities

The Year in Music (2013) Andrew J. Heffling
I’m keeping the Top 10 reviews short and to the point this year. Too many good records came out to list them all and frankly I’m still discovering new releases that came out months ago. Here’s to hoping for another excellent 2014. Below is my extremely biased and limited list to disagree with:

Top 10 Records (2013)

10. P.O.S – WHELH / MDS / RMX
A year after “We Don’t Even Live Here” was released; this classic record was remixed, re-imagined and almost completely re-done with help from MPLS noise band favorites Marijuana Deathsquads. Released for free via Totally Gross National Product, it feels like a new and dare I say even better release. Key Tracks: “Bumper”, “Lockpicks, Knives, Bricks and Bats”, “Piano Hits”. Download this now:

9. Danny Brown – Old
Summer music festival mainstay Danny Brown released “Old”, his highly anticipated follow-up to 2011’s “XXX”. This is a concept record of sorts consisting of two sides. The first reflecting on how difficult his life can be when partying all the time. The second half serves as a soundtrack to – you guessed it: partying all the time. Key Tracks: “Side A (Old)”, “25 Bucks”, “Dip”, “Kush Coma”.

8. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
1991 was the last time My Bloody Valentine released an album. 22 years after the genre defining “Loveless”, Kevin Shields and company follow it up with “m b v”. Personally it’s hard to tell the difference between the two, which in my mind is a good thing. Key Tracks: “Only Tomorrow”, “New You”, “Nothing Is”.

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Daft Punk perfected the throwback 70’s disco sound with “Random Access Memories” while at the same time perfecting one of the biggest singles of the year with “Get Lucky”. I suggest looking past that single and give the record as whole the credit it deserves. Key Tracks: “Giorgio by Moroder”, “Touch”, “Doin’ It Right”.

6. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Give Arcade Fire credit: They do not shy away from switching up their style, and at the same time sounding just as large and anthemic as they did on Funeral. James Murphy (of the retired and personal favorite LCD Soundsystem) helped them find their inner dance party on Reflektor and also made a record that is sonically spectacular. For a double record I find some of the tracks lack a bit of staying power, but I’m sure they’ll turn these around in the live setting. I could cut the record in half and still be satisfied, but that’s a testament to the strength of the stand-out tracks. Of course I’m biased to the local music scene, but if you ask me Solid Gold has been making records like this since 2008. Key Tracks: “Reflektor”, “Afterlife”, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)”.

5. Disclosure – Settle
Considering there are 17 tracks, Settle is an excellent dance record that doesn’t seem to drag on or get old. For the strength of this debut record, their sophomore effort should be one to look forward to. Throw this on at your next house party. Key Tracks: “When a Fire Starts to Burn”, “F For You”, “Stimulation”.

4. Marijuana Deathsquads – Music Rocks Parts 1 & 2
Per the MDS website: “Part I was recorded and mixed in a bedroom during a gonzo 48-hour period at the end of the bands month-long “Music Rocks” residency. Part II was recorded live in Minneapolis in March of 2013.” For the entire month of May, Marijuana Deathsquads took over ICEHOUSE, a local neighborhood venue for me here in Minneapolis. Each show had a different theme and title. One of the nights was even featured on ESPN’s Grantland Blog after they dedicated an entire hip hop themed show to a video montage of NBA dunks. ( I attended 3 of the 5 shows with (2 shows were on Wednesday nights – not happening) with a good friend who shares a mutual love of the Minneapolis music scene. Without a doubt, they make up a few of my top live music experiences of the year. Another free release via Totally Gross. Please download immediately. WARNING: This music is not for everybody. I recommend replacing your speakers after every 3 listens: Key tracks: “Remembories”, “GhostCop2”, “Dark Farm”.

3. Volcano Choir – Repave
You can’t deny the somewhat biased ranking on this bogus list based on the Eau Claire/Wisco connection, but let’s make one thing clear: this is not a Bon Iver Redux record. Frankly I’ve grown tired of reading and hearing that comparison in other reviews of this record. After their first release: Unmap, I wasn’t expecting much from Repave. Actually I could have cared less. Then I heard “Byegone”. Whoa. I was blown away by the difference and the departure from the experimental sound that was Unmap. Repave is an album in every sense of the word, meant to be played as whole, front to back. Vernon and Co. came out swinging on this one, and they sure did connect. Key Tracks: “Tiderays”, “Acetate”, “Byegone”, “Alaskans”, “Almanac”.

2. Kanye West – Yeezus
One of my 2013 summer soundtracks. Forget who this guy is, or who he claims to be in the public light and try to focus solely on the music. A single was not released to promote the record – it just suddenly came out one day in June. Once again we are asked to listen to the record as a whole. When I first heard Yeezus I literally dropped my jaw and just said “wow”. Its 10 tracks that total 40 minutes of loud, aggressive, nasty, punch-you-in-the-face music that rewards repeated listens. Key Tracks: “On Sight”, “I Am a God”, “Hold My Liquor”, “Blood On The Leaves”.

1. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
I thought about copying and pasting my write-up of 2010’s High Violet into this space, but that would be taking credit away from this outstanding record. Berninger’s vocals sound richer and better than ever and the bands composition continues to be perfect. Seeing the band destroy Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul back in August helped bring the new tunes to a an even higher level. In a year that has championed the album experience as whole; Trouble Will Find Me holds the penultimate spot. Key Tracks: “I Should Live In Salt”, “Graceless”, “Humiliation”.

Top 20 Singles (2013)
20. P.O.S – Lockpicks, Knives, Bricks & Bats (MDS RMX)
19. The Postal Service – Tattered Line of String
18. My Bloody Valentine – Only Tomorrow
17. Phoenix – Trying To Be Cool
16. Disclosure – When a Fire Starts To Burn
15. Best Coast – Who Have I Become
14. Polica – Spilling Lines
13. Beyonce – Partition
12. Daft Punk – Get Lucky
11. Marijuana Deathsquads – Master Of None
10. Foals – My Number
9. Jay-Z – Tom Ford
8. The National – Humiliation
7. Kanye West – On Sight
6. Pony Bwoy – My Mouth Is a Tomb
5. Phosphorescent – Song for Zula
4. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
3. A$AP Ferg – Shabba Ranks
2. The War On Drugs – Red Eyes
1. Volcano Choir – Byegone

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