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2013 SOTO Staff Picks

December 18, 2013

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It wouldn’t be fun if only I just rambled along about what I liked this year, so I reached out to my very diverse staff for their Top 5 Albums of 2013.  I think you’ll see that the SOTO clan like a lot of different things.  Enjoy.

You know what can, sometimes, kind of blow? Getting old. Yup, watching the old life clock tick on by, the responsibilities of life pile around your ears, those precious moments when you could just wile away an hour or five listening to a handful of new records. Well kiddies, those days are dead. Nowadays I’m happy if I can listen to the new Lil’ Wayne single more than a few times when I’m driving to the gym to work my gut out with my trainer Francis. What I’m getting at here is that though I wish my list was full of a shocking selection of diverse and mind-expanding music, well, it’s not. I stand by each and all of these picks but I can’t say I did the extra work this year to blow any minds.

Forgive me, and enjoy.

5. The National – If I Stay Here, Trouble Will Find Me
4. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
3. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
2. Fuzz – S/T
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

In keeping with my column, I fully intended to select nothing but chick-fronted albums in 2013. Laura Marling was one of my most-streamed, and my girl Neko’s latest was an insta-fave. But once I got back to looking at things, I realized my list was a little more eclectic than anticipated. Vampire Weekend never ceases to be the catchiest around, and Local Natives continue to lyrically break my heart with everything they put out. And there’s nothing like a little Washed Out to soundtrack a Sunday afternoon. Notable mention? Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds stopped by KCRW, resulting in a record store day release that I haven’t stopped listening (and crying) to since purchasing.

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Washed Out – Paracosm
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
Local Natives – Hummingbird

I see it this way … 2010 was the first date, 2011 was the good times, 2012 was the breakup, and 2013 was when music took some “me” time. That does not mean this year did not generate some great or even classic records, it does mean that there was some experimentation that may or may not have worked out so well; see Drumgasm. That being said, there was still plenty of illuminations happening all over the musical cosmos in 2013. Labels like Chapter Music and Paradise of Bachelors killed it this year, as did Bedroom Suck and Fire Records. Though some more successful than others, 2013 saw artists and bands the world over restate time honored sounds and genres.

5. Fat History Month – Bad History Month (Exploding In Sound)
4. The Stevens – A History Of Hygiene (Chapter Music)
3. Purling Hiss – Water On Mars (Drag City)
2. Dick Diver – Calendar Days (Chapter Music)
1. Steve Gunn – Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors)

When I received my assignment to pick my Top 5 albums for the year, I thought that It would be a piece of cake: “5 albums? No problem.” But then I started to recall the various new releases from this year and felt twinges of panic and regret: “Who do I choose ? Who do I leave off the list ?”. I don’t have a complicated system for deciding on favorites; it usually comes down to what I listened to the most.  The focus for my 2013 Top 5 are all Austin-based artists, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy records from bands from other places. This year was also a fantastic year for some outstanding releases from some of my favorite local bands. They all share a common love for melodies, harmonies, and top notch songwriting.

Royal Forest – Spillway
Black Books – Black Books
Wiretree – Get Up
The Zoltars – Walking Through The Dark
Yum – Take My Blue / Santiago Dietche – Waxing And Roaring (tie)

This year there have been some amazing metal releases, I am not even giving lip service about my genre, it has been incredible the caliber of albums coming out, and to narrow it down to five, I had to switch a few things around from other lists I have made. Excluding Dillinger Escape Plan, Cult of Luna, Arsis, Black Dahlia Murder and All Pigs Must Die is heart wrenching, but these five bands have created some of the best music metal has heard in two decades. From noisy extremes like Nails, to groove laden jams on the new Clutch album, and the rebirth of the dormant Carcass to win the top spot on every list I have done.  So let it be written, so let it be done, the best metal albums of the year are:

5. Nails – Abandon All Life (Southern Lord)
4. Kvelertak – Meir (Roadrunner)
3. Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
2. Protest The Hero – Volition (Razor And Tie)
1. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

Hey, everybody! It may surprise you that here in my natural habitat of the music blog, I am supremely uncomfortable making lists.  Yes, I listen to a lot of music, and yes, there is stuff I like more than other stuff, but really when it comes down to taking my favorite albums from an entire year and ranking them on such a fine gradient, I just get miserable and ambivalent.  There was a lot of great hip hop produced this year and these are all great albums, and these are only in an order because John Laird forced me to do it.

5. Shad – Flying Colours
4. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
3. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
2. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
1. Danny Brown – Old

2013 was a big year for pop music. Miley’s tongue was inescapable, British teens ran rampant, and through it all I reveled in the weirdness. The latter half of this year found me really embracing my not-so-guilty pleasure of pure female fronted pop, so I thought I should theme my Top 5 to mainstream pop with female vocalists. Specific enough for ya? But after all, there’s so much of it, sometimes you need a spirit guide. Like Katy Perry–those of you who wrote her off for bubblegum pop need to check out Prism, where her dark side shines and emotions run rampant. And Ariana Grande–the next in line for a breakout from the Disney dynasty actually has the pipes to back it up, and I can’t stop spinning her tracks. Meanwhile, singles shine for Lady Gaga’s Artpop, where any track could be a hit–and Do What U Want is climbing charts for a reason. None of the Lana Del Rey songs on 2013′s Tropico are new–all taken from last year’s Paradise–but these three songs might be her best so far and provide an excellent primer for burgeoning Lana fans. Number one couldn’t go to anyone but Lorde–sure, brush her off as a one hit wonder, but I’d take Tennis and Ribs over Royals any day–it’s an incredible album.

5. Katy Perry – Prism
4. Lady Gaga – Artpop
3. Ariana Grande – Yours Truly
2. Lana Del Rey – Tropico
1. Lorde – Heroine

So 2013 was pretty good year for music, yes? My thirst for catchy punk rock and fuzzy garage rock was quenched throughout the year. There were a bunch of albums I loved that did not make the very top of my list. I’m looking at you Ty Segall, Bad Sports, Mind Spiders, A Giant Dog, and Thee Oh Sees. I love you all but there can only be five:

5. Radioactivity – Radioactivity
4. Vaadat Charigim – The World Is Well Lost
3. Sweet Talk – Pickup Lines
2. Mikal Cronin – MCII
1. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

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Top 25 Albums Of 2013: Part 3

December 13, 2013

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This is it! I’m done listing things for you people. If you’re curious about what the staff loved, look for an all-inclusive post next week!  Enjoy.

05) Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

If I were to jot down a list of my biggest surprises of 2013, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires Of The City would be at the top.  I’ll forever feel sort of silly for assuming they could never be this good.

:Vampire Weekend – Step:

04) Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches were pretty much all the rage this year, and it’s easy to see why when listening to The Bones Of What You Believe.  There’s just not a bad song anywhere on it.

:Chvrches – Recover:

03) Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen

I’ve listened to Waiting For Something To Happen at least once a week since it was released back in February.  I love the songwriting.  Also, I think there’s only a handful of indie pop acts that can claim to be as infectious as Veronica Falls.

:Veronica Falls – Buried Alive:

02) Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

Speedy Ortiz’s Major Arcana is a sloppy slice of 90s alt-rock, and I absolutely love it to no end.  I only wish I had managed to give the band more love on SOTO throughout the year.

:Speedy Ortiz – Tiger Tank:

01) Mikal Cronin – MCII

Mikal Cronin dominated my 2013 with MCII.  From front to back the album is nothing but one stellar pop rock song after another, and it pretty much made me a forever fan of Mikal’s.  Here’s hoping a follow-up isn’t too far away.

:Mikal Cronin – Shout It Out:

5 Honorable Mentions:
Bleached – Ride Your Heart
Quasi – Mole City
Mirror Travel – Mexico
Russian Circles – Memorial
Action Bronson – Blue Chips 2

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Top 25 Albums Of 2013: Part 2

December 12, 2013

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Here’s another 10 of my favorite albums of 2013.  Jump back tomorrow for the top five on my list!  Enjoy.

15) Polica – Shulamith

If you’re pessimistic and happen to remember how high my expectations were for Polica’s Shulamith, then you might look at this “middle of the pack” placement and call the album a disappointment.  Believe me though, that would be silly.  Lots of great tracks to be had on this one.

:Polica – Chain My Name:

14) The Mantles – Long Enough To Leave

If I had things my way, everyone would start including the Mantles in the first wave of bands that roll out of their mouth whenever the Bay Area comes up in conversation.  Long Enough To Leave is loaded with very catchy retro pop tunes.

:The Mantles – Hello:

13) The Octopus Project – Fever Forms

The Octopus Project have long been a solid act, but I think Fever Forms is proof that they’re actually a great one.  I’m excited to see where they go from here.

:The Octopus Project – Whitby:

12) Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Only one album in 2013 actually made me want to throw up rock horns in a non-ironic way, and it was Diarrhea Planet’s I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.  Listen loud.

:Diarrhea Planet – Separations:

11) Haim – Days Are Gone

The girls in Haim have been making music for most of their lives, so of course Days Are Gone is packed with some of 2013′s better crafted pop songs.  On another note, this album is a sing-a-long lovers dream.

:Haim – The Wire:

10) A Giant Dog – Bone

Pop punk is fun stuff, but I usually wear the albums out and then promptly shuffle on to something else.  This didn’t happen with A Giant Dog’s Bone though, the songs are too good to just let go of.

:A Giant Dog – All I Wanted:

09) Kanye West – Yeezus

Kanye West’s Yeezus is such an intense album that I can’t listen to it on a regular basis.  With that being said, I think it’s a stellar piece of work from one of the biggest, most interesting pop stars on the planet.

:Kanye West – New Slaves:

08) Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

Thee Oh Sees release so much music that I always move on to whatever new thing they’re doing instead of allowing the “old” effort to settle.  Floating Coffin managed to hook me though, and I plan on jamming the gloriously kinetic album for years to come.

:Thee Oh Sees – Maze Francier:

07) FIDLAR – Self Titled

FIDLAR seem like an act that could fizzle out at any moment, so I’ve been loving them while I can.  Their self titled debut is as catchy and loud as I hoped it would be when the band first popped up on my radar last year.

:FIDLAR – Cheap Beer:

06) Sigur Ros – Kveikur

I didn’t think Sigur Ros had a bombastic post rock album in them at this point, but Kveikur is just that.  If their last few efforts were too far out in left field for you, then this one should win you back.

:Sigur Ros – Kveikur:

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Movie Breakdown: The Hobbit – The Desolation Of Smaug (Noah)

December 11, 2013

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

I might be one of the handful of folks who genuinely loved the first film in forthcoming The Hobbit trilogy. I found it silly (in the best way), adventurous, and thought Martin Freeman shat a steaming pile of second breakfasts on all other hobbits who’d come before him. I can’t wait to see that dragon singe his hairy little feet.

The Reality:

I’m pretty sure I’ll find myself in the minority yet again with my opinion, but I loved Desolation of Smaug even more than the first film. Gone are the extensive bits of character development through dish-washing songs and food descriptions, replaced instead with a bevy of set pieces involving orcs, arrows, barrels, fire and death. Though I loved the slowish pace of the first film, this film just rollicks right along, in a way that highlights just why I love this second (or first or … whatever) trilogy more than the boorish Lord of the Rings fare: these are adventure movies not epics. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fucking epic film and you get to spend almost forty minutes with a beautifully rendered dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch amongst other things, but for the most part this is an adventure in the same vein as Indiana Jones. Yes, yes, there’s speeches and pontificating and a general sense that “something big is happening” but at the end of the day this is the story of a reluctant hero, his band of goofy friends, and the quest for buried treasure. Martin Freeman continues to run circles around his hobbit forefathers, somehow being both scared, conniving, intellectual, and a total badass all at the same time, and even the sprawling dwarf cast manages to pop as individuals. The film is laden with action, but I never found it to grow tiring, instead I couldn’t wait until Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly got to smite some fools with their arrows. My one issue, as it as always been with all the J.R.R. Tolkien adaptations is that the CG is almost too all-encompassing. Jackson loves a green screen, and when used this much you can actually see its effects in the sort of weird greying of the visuals. It didn’t distract terribly, but I wonder more and more if this is less something to wait out, or just something to get used to.

The Lesson:

Haters are going to hate … mostly hobbits it seems.

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Top 25 Albums Of 2013: Part 1

December 11, 2013

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Because I want to makes sure you know I listen to too much music, here’s another year-end list.  This time it covers the albums I couldn’t take off repeat when I wasn’t pouring over various singles.  The countdown will come to a conclusion on Friday!  Enjoy.

25) Chelsea Light Moving – Self Titled

Thurston Moore’s new band put out their self titled debut in the first part of 2013, and I’ve been listening to it fairly often ever since.  It’s a meaty, noisy indie rock effort that gets better the more time you spend with it.

:Chelsea Light Moving – Burroughs:

24) Thao And The Get Down Stay Down – We The Common

We The Common didn’t resonate with me as much as Thao’s previous two albums, but I still find it to be a really good effort.  She continues to be one of my favorite songwriters.

:Thao And The Get Down Stay Down – We The Common:

23) Marnie Stern – The Chronicles Of Marnia

Despite being a long-time fan of Marnie Stern, The Chronicles Of Marnia is the first album of hers that I’ve fully liked.  Probably because it’s easily her most focused effort to date.

Check out the album here.

22) The Men – New Moon

I know everyone prefers the Men’s heavier efforts, but I adore the almost folkish indie rock sound that makes up New Moon.  Don’t be afraid to toss on headphones for this one.

:The Men – The Seeds:

21) Grape St. – A Date With You

A good chunk of my 2013 was spent singing-a-long with Grape St’s A Date With You.  The Austin act sure knows how to put together a catchy garage rock tune.

:Grape St – A Date With You:

20) Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere

Terry Malts’ Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere took a few listens for me to completely warm up to it, but once I did I never wanted to let go.  If you like fuzzed-out pop punk, then you need this album.

:Terry Malts – I Was Not There:

19) White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade

Even if you’re not a big fan of White Denim, you have to appreciate how hard they work to constantly expand their sound.  Corsicana Lemonade is really nice step forward for them.

:White Denim – At Night In Dreams:

18) Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

Weird Sister is one of the more scatterbrained, largely crazy indie pop efforts of 2013, but it works.  Here’s hoping Joanna Gruesome never change.

:Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush:

17) Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic

Foxygen’s poor/bizarre live showings seem to have soured most people’s opinion of the band, and that’s just too bad.  We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic is a really good album that proudly showcases the band’s various influences.

:Foxygen – On Blue Mountain:

16) Bosnian Rainbows – Self Titled

Omar Rodriquez-Lopez (The Mars Volta) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) are at the center of Bosnian Rainbows, and their self titled debut is full of well crafted alt-rock gems.  Still not sure how I feel about their name, though.

:Bosnian Rainbows – Morning Sickness:

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Top 50 Songs Of 2013: Part 5

December 6, 2013

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Well, this is the end of it.  Feel free to comment and mention anything I may have missed.  Otherwise, take in all the songs, and then join me next Wednesday through Friday for my Top 25 Albums of 2013.  Enjoy.

PS – You can check out 47 of the 50 tracks on this list on Spotify here.

10)  :Jonny Fritz – Ain’t It Your Birthday:  If I were doing a list of the year’s most fun songs, there’s a good chance I would slap this in the #1 spot.  Jonny Fritz is a rad dude.  From Dad Country.

09)  :Veronica Falls – Buried Alive:  This song is so hopelessly romantic.  And well made.  And catchy.  And just awesome.  I’ve actually listened to it so much that I’m surprised I didn’t burn myself out on it.  From Waiting For Something To Happen.

08)  :Quasi – You Can Stay But You Gotta Go:  The return of Quasi was fronted by this wonderfully sloppy 90s-ish indie rock track.  It deserves to be played at a volume that might get you evicted.  From Mole City.

07)  :Ellie Goulding – Tessellate (Alt-J Cover):  This is actually the second year in a row that Ellie Goulding has landed a one-off cover in the top 10 of my song list.  If you ask me, that probably means she should hurry up and do a covers album.

06)  :Haim – The Wire:  I know everyone digs Falling, but this is the song that made me appreciate/love Haim.  It’s like Shania Twain meets arena rock, which is weird but apparently what I’ve always wanted.  From Days Are Gone.

05)  :Diarrhea Planet – Separations:  Yes, the name Diarrhea Planet is silly.  Now with that out of the way, please allow this song to rock your soul.  From I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams.

04)  :Yuck – Middle Sea:  Yuck lost a frontman and then just continued on like it was nothing.  That’s impressive.  I think this is one of the best songs in their catalog.  From Glow And Behold.

03)  :Chvrches – Recover:  The Mother We Share is a great track (that ranked high on my song list last year), but part of me feels like this is Chvrches’ best single.  Such synth-pop goodness.  From The Bones Of What You Believe.

02)  :Mikal Cronin – Shout It Out:  I was so very close to putting this Mikal Cronin gem in the top spot.  It really is one of the better pop rock songs to come along over the last year or three.  From MCII.

01)  :Vampire Weekend – Step:  It wasn’t until I sat down to do this list that I realized just how much I adore this Vampire Weekend track.  I think it’s an endlessly impressive piece of pop music that’s totally deserving of all the time and attention you can spare.  From Modern Vampires Of The City.

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Movie Breakdown: The Punk Singer

December 6, 2013

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People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Riot Grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin) gets a documentary.

The Reality:

The Punk Singer is essentially a linear, big screen version of Kathleen Hanna’s Wikipedia page.  If you’re a big fan of Hanna, then you won’t mind this, as the documentary is loaded with nothing but praise and admiration for her, her music, and the feminist work she has done.  Personally, I would have like to have seen a few well spoken detractors just to keep things interesting, but I admittedly did enjoy the 80 minute celebration of the Riot Grrrl.

The Lesson:

Kathleen Hanna is cool.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2013: Part 4

December 5, 2013

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We’re now down to the final 20 songs!  Ah!  Enjoy.

20)  :Minks – Margot:  I know some folks weren’t a fan of Minks cleaning up their sound, but I thought it was an alright move.  This song in particular is great and reminds me of early 2000s indie pop.  From Tides End.

19)  :Okkervil River – It Was My Season:  As I said when this made my Austin Essentials list, it’s that one song Okkervil River seem to have on every album that I can’t get enough of.  From The Silver Gymnasium.

18)  :Parquet Courts – You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now:  To be honest, I totally didn’t get all the love for Parquet Courts until this song came along.  I appreciate its adequate amount of snarl.  From the Tally All The Things That You Broke EP.

17)  :A Giant Dog – All I Wanted:  Austin’s finest pop punk band is A Giant Dog, and I think this is their best song.  It rocks and does well to show off Sabrina Ellis’ stellar voice.  From Bone.

16)  :Wavves – Demon To Lean On:  I didn’t at all think Wavves would ever turn into a 90s-esque alt-rock band, but here they are doing it and doing it well.  I approve.  From Afraid Of Heights.

15)  :White Denim – At Night In Dreams:  The heaviest song on White Denim’s 2013 effort is also my favorite from it.  I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to blow out my speakers via this track.  From Corsicana Lemonade.

14)  :Swearin’ – Watered Down:  I love any sort of indie rock that feels lifted out of the 90s, so I was hooked on this pretty much immediately.  Be warned, Swearin’ will make you want to dig up tons of old records.    From Surfing Strange.

13)  :Four Fists – MMMMMHMMMMM:  POS and Astronautalis as one act?  Yes.  Forever.  If we’re lucky, this rad track is just the beginning of something awesome.  From Four Fists’ self titled 7″ single.

12)  :Polica – Chain My Name:  Earlier this year I couldn’t wait to get a hold of Polica’s sophomore effort, and it was largely because of this track.  It’s super dancey and completely set on never leaving your head.  From Shulamith.

11)  :Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener:  This wordy number from Courtney Barnett was a favorite of mine before I was even done listening to it for the first time.  She’s a fantastic storyteller.  From the A Sea Of Split Peas EP.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2013: Part 3

December 4, 2013

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We’re now firmly in the mid-section of this list.  I hope that so far you’ve been digging it and have maybe found some new stuff.  Let me know if you have any guesses on what will be in the top spot!  Enjoy.

30)  :Action Bronson – The Rockers (Featuring Wiz Khalifa):  Out of the ton of good stuff that Action Bronson released in 2013, this track is my favorite.  He sounds great in it, and I especially dig the Wiz Khalifa verse.  From the SAAAB Stories EP.

29)  :Phantogram – Celebrating Nothing:  At some point in 2014 I’m going to finally get a new Phantogram album.  Until then, I’ll just let this gem swirl around in my head.  From their self titled EP.

28)  :Divine Fits – Ain’t That The Way:  If you ask me, this is the best Spoon cover that Divine Fits have ever done.  Ha!  Seriously though, it’s a pretty great pop song.  From the Ain’t That The Way/Chained To Love digital single.

27)  :M.I.A. – Y.A.L.A.:  Another year, another great single from M.I.A.  She may be a bit unhinged, but her work is consistently interesting and worth your time.  From Matangi.

26)  :Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush:  This infectious piece of noise pop has been a favorite of mine for months.  Also, as a Joanna Newsom fan, I’m admittedly a sucker for the name Joanna Gruesome.  From Weird Sister.

25)  :The Orwells – Other Voices:  While the hard working, fresh out of high school dudes in the Orwells make me feel lazy and old, I can’t help but dig their music.  This rock tune is as catchy as it gets.  From the Other Voices EP.

24)  :Son Lux – Lost It To Trying:  This song is definitely Sigur Ros-light, but I think that actually makes me like it more.  Toss on headphones or just crank your stereo, either approach works well with Son Lux.  From Lanterns.

23)  :The Men – The Seeds (Acoustic Version):  The original version of this track is rather nice, but I think the acoustic take really makes for something special.  It’s definitely my favorite song by the Men.  From the Campfire Songs EP.

22)  :Youth Lagoon – Dropla:  Throughout the year this Youth Lagoon song was one of my go-tos for when I just wanted to kick back and listen to something.  It has such a stellar, well layered arrangement.  From Wondrous Bughouse.

21)  :Lightning Dust – Loaded Gun:  I ended up not loving Lightning Dust’s new synth-enthused sound as much as I thought I would, but I do think this particular song is rad.  Be sure to jam it.  From Fantasy.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2013: Part 2

December 3, 2013

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Because it would just be totally weird to skip part two of my Top 50 Songs Of 2013, here it is.  Enjoy.

40)  :Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Sacrilege:  I can’t at all figure out what overall direction the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are heading in, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  I gave this weird track a lot of plays in 2013.  From Mosquito.

39)  :Desaparecidos – The Left Is Right:  To be honest, I equally dig each of the four songs that Desaparecidos released this year.  I listed this one simply because it reminds me the most of the band’s 2002 effort, Read Music/Speak Spanish.  From The Left Is Right/Anonymous 7″.

38)  :Terry Malts – I Was Not There:  Terry Malts and this fuzzy pop punk gem of theirs muddled up a good portion of my summer.  Fortunately, I didn’t mind.  At all.  From Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere.

37)  :Eat Skull – Space Academy:  Way back in January I called this Eat Skull effort the first great rock track of 2013, and in the time since then I’ve only grown even more fond of its swirling guitars.  You need this if you like noise.  From III.

36)  :The Callas – Anger:  The great thing about the Callas on this track is that they give you two of the things that tend to make rock n’ roll a lot of fun -  a good hook and shit ton of attitude.  I approve.  From Am I Vertical?.

35)  :Sleigh Bells – You Don’t Get Me Twice:  I thought that perhaps I was done with Sleigh Bells, but then this raucous anthem came along and reminded that when inspired, not many are as fun as they are.  From Bitter Rivals.

34)  :Metronomy – I’m Aquarius:  This might be my favorite Metronomy song ever.  If you can manage to not adore it whenever the “shoop doop” part kicks in, then there might be something wrong with you.  From Love Letters.

33)  :Tennis – Mean Streets:  Tennis have now completely moved away from sounding like they just got off a sail boat, and I love it.  I really didn’t think they had a slinky dance pop number like this one in them.  From the Small Sound EP.

32)  :Tony Molina – Breakin Up:  This little pop tune from Tony Molina is just a minute and half long, but it packs some great songwriting and a really nice guitar solo.  Talk about being efficient.  From the Six Tracks EP.

31)  :Charles Bradley – Strictly Reserved For You:  With Sharon Jones battling cancer, I looked to Charley Bradley for my soul fix, and he didn’t fail me.  This is one of his better songs.  From Victim Of Love.

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Top 50 Songs Of 2013: Part 1

December 2, 2013

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Now that I’ve shared with you my Austin Essentials of the year, it’s time to just talk about singles in general.  As usual, the songs were picked from the large pool of tunes that I shared here at SOTO throughout the course of 2013.  Look for the list of 50 to wrap by Friday.  Enjoy.

50)  :Daft Punk – Get Lucky:  Yes, this is the most over-played song of 2013.  No, I don’t really care.  Daft Punk really nailed it with this earworm of a track, and I’ll probably hum it for the rest of eternity.  From Random Access Memories.

49)  :Black Milk – Sunday’s Best/Monday’s Worst:  Technically this is two songs, but I decided to leave them merged to better help you understand why I think Curtis Cross (aka Black Milk) continues to be one of hip hop’s best storytellers.  From No Poison No Paradise.

48)  :The Tontons – Veida:  The Tontons are from Houston, and I think they’re pretty close to being special.  If I were you, I’d snatch up this shimmering gem and find a seat on their bandwagon now.  From the Veida digital single.

47)  :Anamanaguchi – Planet:  I’m on the fence when it comes to most of Anamanaguchi’s stuff, but this track really works for me.  I think it’s because it has a fleshed out sound and doesn’t just come off as a piece of meme/8-bit fandom.  From Endless Fantasy.

46)  :Phoenix – Entertainment:  Once again Phoenix swept me off my feet with a killer lead single and then promptly tossed me on the ground with a bland album.  Fool me twice, something something.  From the Bankrupt.

45)  :Alpine – Gasoline (Mystery Skulls Remix):  The original version of this Alpine track is good, but it plays kind of small.  I definitely prefer this bigger, more confident take by Mystery Skulls.  This remix is a one-off release.

44)  :Best Coast – I Don’t Know How:  Admittedly, this is one of Best Coast’s more cheesy efforts.  I love it, though, and I have no shame in saying I’ve had some serious sing-a-long sessions with it in the car.  From the Fade Away EP.

43)  :Majical Cloudz – Childhood’s End:  If you want something that’s hauntingly beautiful, then this Majical Cloudz track is for you.  Just be sure to toss on some headphones before hitting play.  From Impersonator.

42)  :Savages – She Will:  This song is so intense that sometimes when I listen to it I worry that Savages will show up at my door and yell at me for not rocking hard enough.  From Silence Yourself.

41)  :The Appleseed Cast – Great Lake Derelict:  It’s kind of amazing how quickly this track can put me in a mood to listen to nothing but post-rock all day.  It’s good for the world that The Appleseed Cast are still a quality act.  From Illumination Ritual.

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