In random order once again, here is the best music we heard in the past year. Most, but not all, was also released in 2013.
The National, “Trouble Will Find Me” (2013)
Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, “Mind Control” (2013)
My Bloody Valentine, “m b v” (2013)
Arcade Fire, “Reflektor” (2013)
Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label (2013 reissue)
Doomriders, “Grand Blood” (2013)
Atoms for Peace, “Amok” (2013)
The Stooges, “The Stooges” (1969) and “Fun House” (1970) (I’m still coming to terms with “Raw Power” -h)
Paul McCartney, “Ram” (1971)
High on Fire, “Snakes For The Divine” (2010)
One of the year-end lists I’ve seen – can’t recall which… maybe one of the AV Club’s individual ballots – described Tricot’s album The in a way that sent me straight to Youtube. Results below; I love the physical joy this band takes in their music.
There’s not a lot of middle ground with metal; most people either love it, or stay as far away as possible.
My taste has gotten heavier over the years, but it’s hard to remember when I really started listening to metal. Not in school, though I loved Deftones and some other borderline stuff. Then five years ago (which is when my iTunes library basically starts) I was ripping Mastodon, Back When, and DragonForce CDs, and reading Pitchfork’s Show No Mercy column (Sunn 0))), Hammers of Misfortune, Kylesa) (sac)religiously. I went back to the beginning, and worked my way through Sabbath. So I came to metal as an adult, mostly on my own, through reviews. I’ll guess that’s an atypical initiation.
Nothing else feels like a great riff. Hearing one is a direct route to egolessness. It’s a creative destroyer; it can stop me short, ending my train of thought, and it may show me a new way to look at time, pitch, and timbre, too. It can give pain a voice or be cathartic, but the best are actually joyful. They communicate the experience of overflowing. They are too much – too much awe, too much saturation, too heavy, too loud, too fast or slow – so they point toward something beyond themselves.
I listen to it because it speaks to me. Because it challenges me (how did they make that sound? Write that riff?) Because it feels great, and at its best, better than anything.
If it bugs you, that’s just because I haven’t found your gateway band yet.
…when the AV Club’s Year in Band Names piece appears. I didn’t notice any locals this year (Matt maintains that Fifty Bears In A Fight would have been included, had we stuck with it and popped up on their radar).
Still, there were plenty of awfully great band names in 2013. All hail Warboner! (Maybe that could replace “hawks” in our political discourse? Instead of “Senator X is a real hawk on Syria,” we could say “Senator X has a real warboner for Syria.”)