Top Albums of 2013

2013 is just about done with and although I didn’t update you all on my musical interests much this year, I thought I would at least list my favorite albums of 2013. Like last year, I’m not putting them in any particular order because each one is important to me in a unique way. 

Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

Son Lux- Lanterns

Poliça- Shulamith

Ólafur Arnalds- For Now I Am Winter

The National- Trouble Will Find Me

James Blake- Overgrown

Drake- Nothing Was the Same

Chance The Rapper- Acid Rap

Atoms For Peace- Amok

Local Natives- Hummingbird

Night Beds- Country Sleep

Almost Favorites:

Jim James- Regions of Light and Sound of God

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- II

Sam Amidon- Bright Sunny South

Autre Ne Veut- Anxiety

Rhye- Woman

Albums from 2012 that I loved but didn’t listen to until 2013.. 

Miguel- Kaleidoscope Dream

Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

Alt-J- An Awesome Wave

Damien Jurado- Maraqopa

Nils Frahm- Screws

Twin Shadow- Confess

Look! I made another Fall playlist. Consists of albums that have been released in the last month or two with the exception of Centipede Hz by Animal Collective which was released last year. Enjoy! 

Look! I made another Fall playlist. Consists of albums that have been released in the last month or two with the exception of Centipede Hz by Animal Collective which was released last year. Enjoy! 

sonlux:

I’m giving away my debut album over at noisetrade! You should get it & tell your friends. Yes, it’s free!
Photo by Tim Navis

Great album for 100% free. Tell your friends. 

sonlux:

I’m giving away my debut album over at noisetrade! You should get it & tell your friends. Yes, it’s free!

Photo by Tim Navis

Great album for 100% free. Tell your friends. 

Sufjan Stevens, Son Lux and Rapper Serengeti Releasing EP Due Out On March 20

From Pitchfork-

Sufjan Stevens has teamed up with two Anticon artists, Son Lux and the rapper Serengeti for a new project called s / s / s. They’ll release the four track Beak & Claw EP on March 20 via Anticon.

The six-minute track ”Museum Day” features Sufjan singing Auto-Tuned lines alongside rap verses from Serengeti. The EP features vocal contributions from Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond on closer “If This Is Real”, while Doseone from Subtle and Themselves appears on the opening track, “Octomom”.

Sufjan and Serengeti were introduced in 2009, when they worked together on Buck 65’s remix of Sufjan’s cover of Castanets’ “You Are the Blood” for the benefit compilation Dark Was the Night.

Serengeti will release the Kenny Dennis EP on Anticon on April 3. Watch the video for “Shazam” here.

Beak & Claw EP:

01 Octomom
02 Museum Day
03 Beyond Any Doubt
04 If This Is Real

This is great news for the music world. I am a huge fan of these three and look forward to hearing this EP! 

(Source: pitchfork.com)

sonlux:

NEW SON LUX LIVE EP!

Last summer, I recorded a set of solo live performances for BreakThru Radio. Today I’m releasing the recordings as a 6-song EP, available now on bandcamp!

ENJOY!

(Monday I’ll direct you to a video and podcast from the session…)


This takes me back to August when I saw Ryan live. If you all haven’t heard his live material or seen him play live, listen to this EP. Hearing him live is so very different from his studio-recorded stuff…in an excellent way. 

Top Albums of 2011

Okay folks, here are my top 12 albums of 2011. It’s kind of a weird number, but that’s what happens when there has been so much good music this year! 

1. Bon Iver by Bon Iver

2. Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes

3. Strange Mercy by St. Vincent

4. James Blake by James Blake

5. Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West

6. Kiss Each Other Clean by Iron & Wine 

7. Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars

8. Summer Echoes by Sin Fang 

9. The Goat Rodeo Sessions by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer

10. Beautiful Mechanical by yMusic

11. We Are Rising by Son Lux

12. El Camino by The Black Keys


Honorable Mentions (in no particular order): 

King of Limbs by Radiohead, All Things Will Unwind by My Brightest Diamond, Early in The Morning by James Vincent McMorrow, The Head and The Heart by The Head and The Heart, and The Rip Tide by Beirut

Top Live Acts of 2011

This year I made it to a point to go to a lot of shows. Some were awful, most were good, but there are a few that really stood out. Here are my nine favorites from this year: 

1. Bon Iver- My thoughts on the show

2. My Brightest Diamond- My thoughts on the show

3. St. Vincent- My thoughts on the show

4. Son Lux- My thoughts on the show

5. The Welcome Wagon- My thoughts on the show

6. Kopecky Family Band- My thoughts on the show

7. The Civil Wars- My thoughts on the show

8. Lord Huron- I saw these guys back in April opening for Rural Alberta Advantage, and I cannot wait to see them again. The already small set was cut short due to technical difficulties, but the songs they did get to play pulled me into their folksy beach tunes right away.

9. Fleet Foxes- My thoughts on the show
  

"Proven Badlands", written by Annie Clark, performed by yMusic from their new album Beautiful Mechanical.

A few months ago, the yMusic sextet (comprised of CJ Camerieri, Rob Moose, Clarice Jensen, Nadia Sirota, Alex Sopp, and Hideaki Aomori) completed their first album and used Kickstarter to raise money to officially release the seven song masterpiece.

I figured the album was going be good since it had songs written by Shara Worden, Son Lux, Annie Clark, Judd Greenstein, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Gabriel Kahane, but even with the impressive line up of composers, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. I weighed the options of donating vs. not donating to the Kickstarter fund, and decided it would probably be a good choice to donate because really, with all of these people involved in making the album (even down to DM Stith creating the artwork for the cover), how could it be bad? 

Fast forward to September 10, when I received the e-mail with the downloads. Within the first 45 seconds into the first track, Son Lux’s “Beautiful Mechanical”, I was blown away by how beautiful it was. These songs each stand on their own as very distinct pieces, but come together to create a gorgeous collection of modern-classical orchestrations. I love that with each piece, the writer’s personality and style comes through to create something unique from the previous song. 

The album, aptly titled Beautiful Mechanical conveniently comes out in two days on September 27 for your listening pleasure. Make your Sunday great and preorder it on Itunes

Son Lux at Millenium Park and Saki Records, 8.6.11

Sorry for taking so long to post about the Son Lux show…I’ve been busy getting ready to go back to school. I am now settled in, so you should hear a bit more from me hopefully. We’ll have to see how my class schedule pans out too…I’m hoping it’s not too crazy.  

The Son Lux show began at noon, and as I walked up and looked at the massive stage at Millenium Park, it was a funny sight to see there were just three people on the stage…they didn’t take up much space, but they certainly made up for it in sound. During the show Ryan Lott (Son Lux) played piano, keys, and worked his mac, and was accompanied by Johnny Rodgers on guitar, and Ryan Fitch on the drums. 

He started the show with Rebuild, one of my favorite songs from We Are Rising. Since the live instrumentation was sparse and a lot of the sound was created by Ryan’s keyboard or computer (there’s probably more to it than that, but I have no clue how electronic musicians produce the sounds that they do), his whole set was very, very different from the sound on the album. With Rebuild, I would have loved if there were live trumpets up on stage, but the samples sufficed and it’s understandable that he isn’t traveling with a full band since he is a solo artist.

Most of the songs he played were from his new album, but he did play a few songs from the first album and a new song called “Come Away” that had a lot of background vocals and was played primarily on the piano. 

Ryan has a classical background and it’s easy to see that as he performs. His electronic music is what got me hooked, but if he ever releases an orchestral album, or an album full of piano pieces, I’m pretty confident it will be phenomenal. 

Later that day, my sister and I made our way to Saki Records to see his in-store performance. There were about fifteen or twenty people there so it was really interesting to see a similar show in a very different setting. Actually, I take that back, it was not really similar to the other show at all. Ryan explained to us how in his live shows, he doesn’t aim to replicate the sounds on the record, but tries to improvise and create something a little different. This time around it was just he and Johnny, and as Ryan jumped around on the out of tune piano and experimented and played with his songs, he asked Johnny to follow as best as he could. I loved how organic it was- it was almost like I was watching a really, really, really good jam session between two friends. 

In the last song or two Ryan kept things simple and played piano…it was raw, graceful, and just plain beautiful. It’s so evident Ryan is passionate and in love with what he does, I’m very glad I was able to see it twice in one day. 

Setlist from Millenium Park:

Rebuild 

Wither

All The Right Things

Flickers

Betray

Come Away

Claws

Flowers

Leave The Riches

Weapons

Rising

During the Saki Records show, Epitonic, a Chicago based music site videotaped it as a part of their sessions collaboration with Saki. I am not sure when it will be posted, but keep an eye out, I will definitely be posting it here once it is released. It’ll be a gem. Also, if you are into vinyl, or even if you’re not, and you want to buy We Are Rising, you should consider buying the record instead of just downloading it or buying the CD. The artwork by The Made Shop is beautiful and the actual record is a light blue color that is just pretty awesome. Plus it comes with an mp3 download, so you really cannot go wrong. 

Follow Son Lux on tumblr here.

Follow Johnny Rodgers on Tumblr here.

Watch this a few times. 

I met Shara Worden and Ryan Lott today after his [Son Lux’s] show! I will write more about that in a post to come, as well as more details about both Son Lux performances (the one at Millenium Park and the other that was later in the day at Saki Records).