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Top 50 Songs Of 2016: Part 4

December 1, 2016

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And the list continues on.  Enjoy.

Part 1 is HERE.
Part 2 is HERE.
Part 3 is HERE.

PS – I got a ton of take down notices, so you’ll have to listen via Spotify.

20)  :Thee Oh Seees – Plastic Plant:  Out of all the music that Thee Oh Sees released in 2016 (two albums worth, to be exact), this track is my favorite.  Total jam.

19)  :King Khan – Never Hold On:  The normally noisy King Khan contributed this gem to the soundtrack for The Invaders.  He should do more slow burners.

18)  :Hazel English – Make It Better:  Here’s one that I’ve been glued to since I first heart it.  There’s just something hypnotic about Hazel English.

17)  :Chook Race – Sometimes:  If you’re all about jangly pop, then this one from Chook Race is a must-listen for you.

16)  :Tangerine – Sunset:  This infectious pop tune from Tangerine is totally something that more people should have been yammering about in 2016.

15)  :Terry Malts – Used To Be:  I’ve jammed the hell out of this Terry Malts song.  Those guys sure know how to write a hook.

14)  :Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore:  I believe this one from Lucy Dacus was actually put out in late 2015, but I didn’t catch it until the re-release this year.  So it counts!  Anyhow, it’s a stellar track that drips with sincerity.

13)  :Car Seat Headrest – Does It Feel Good (To Say Goodbye):  This song by Car Seat Headrest is from the soundtrack for a short film called Loudini.  It makes me want so sit on a porch somewhere with a bottle of whiskey.

12)  :Nothing – ACD (Abscessive Compulsive Disorder):  If you still need to get in some quality shoegazing before 2016 fully comes to a close, I highly recommend doing it with this Nothing song blasting in your headphones.

11)  :Fujiya And Miyagi – Serotonin Rushes:  You’re dead if you can listen to this Fujiya And Miyagi track and not want to dance or at least smile.

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Thee Oh Sees

October 31, 2016

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I don’t know about you guys, but I’m really looking forward to the “relatively hushed affair” that is Thee Oh Sees’ next album.  The singles so far have been great, and I’m also just digging the idea of an entire effort where the band operates outside of their oft-kinetic wheelhouse.  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – You Will Find It Here:

An Odd Entrances is due out November 18 via Castle Face.  You’ll be able to see the band this weekend at Sound On Sound Fest.

Bonus Video:

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Thee Oh Sees

October 11, 2016

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When I set out to find something pleasant and calming this morning, I didn’t figure I’d end up with a song from Thee Oh Sees.  They’re a band that’s usually loud and chaotic, but their new track, which is off of Odd Entrances (it’s a companion piece to their other 2016 release, Weird Exits), is a rather pretty little effort.  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – The Poem:

Odd Entrances is due out November 18 via Castle Face.

Bonus Video:

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Quickdraw: Thee Oh Sees, Joanna Gruesome, Happy Diving, Field Mouse, Sleigh Bells

July 19, 2016

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – The Axis:  There’s something oddly intoxicating about this slow burner from Thee Oh Sees.  Do yourself a favor and toss on some headphones before you hit play.  A Weird Exits is due out August 12 via Castle Face.

:Joanna Gruesome – Pretty Fucking Sick Of It All:  Two things about this song.  1)  It’s Joanna Gruesome’s first bit of new material since singer Alanna McArdle left the band.  2)  It was influenced by their most recent U.S. tour, during which “the CIA took a special interest in the group’s movements.”  Guess that explains why the track’s title is so no nonsense.   The Pretty Fucking Sick Of It All single is available now via Slumberland.

:Happy Diving – Don’t Be Afraid Of Love:  Here’s the latest wall of fuzz from indie rockers Happy Diving.  Turn it up, and then join me in expecting good things from their upcoming album.  Electric Soul Unity is due out August 19 via Topshelf.

:Field Mouse – The Order Of Things:  This a rather jangly, very 90s rock track from Field Mouse.  On a related note, I just got sent their new album.  I need to listen to it ASAP.  Episodic is due out August 5 via Topshelf.

:Sleigh Bells – Hyper Dark:  The first time I listened to this track I figured it was slowly building up to what would surely be some sort of chaotic noise explosion.  Nope.  It actually just slinks about and generally doesn’t sound like Sleigh Bells at all.  I like it.  No word yet on when a new album will be released.

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Thee Oh Sees

May 26, 2016

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I’m hungover.  Normally when such a thing happens I want to listen to the chillest music I can find, but this time around it’s a frenetic new jam from Thee Oh Sees that’s doing the trick.  When you hit play, make sure to turn the volume way up.  Also, just so you know, this track is the first single from the band’s upcoming double album, A Weird Exits.  I can’t wait to get lost in it.  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – Plastic Plant:

A Weird Exits is due out August 12 via Castle Face.

Bonus Video:

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Top 25 Albums Of 2015: Part 1

December 10, 2015

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Now that I’ve completed my Top 50 Songs of 2015 list, it’s time to rundown my Top 25 Albums of the year.  Entries 15-11 are just down below.  Jump back tomorrow for the final 10 selections.  Enjoy.

PS – As always, this list is made up of stuff that I legit listened to a lot throughout the year.

25) Carly Rae Jepsen – E-MO-TION

There are a couple of tracks on Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-MO-TION that aren’t great, but overall it’s definitely one of the most fun albums that I came across in 2015.  If you’re into lady-led pop jams from the 80s/90s, you need to become one with CRJ’s latest LP.

:Carly Rae Jepsen – Let’s Get Lost:

24) Joanna Newsom – Divers

If Joanna Newsom’s Divers had come out earlier in the year, I think it might have ended up higher on my list.  Like her other efforts, this album is beautiful but dense, and it needs to be digested over lots of listens.  In another month or two I’ll be able to decide whether it’s really good or really great.

:Joanna Newsom – Leaving The City:

23) Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr’s The Agent Intellect isn’t exactly what I would call an easily accessible rock album.  On the bright side, if you fully commit to it you get back a rather rewarding experience.

:Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake:

22) Desaparecidos – Payola

Payola is exactly what I wanted Desaparecidos to deliver on their sophomore effort – it’s loud, inspired, angry and crazy infectious.  Here’s hoping they don’t stick to the 13-years-between-albums thing that they currently have going on.

:Desaparecidos – City On The Hill:

21) Gal Pals – Velvet Rut

While it still bums me out that Gal Pals jumped from Austin to LA, I do like that the move got them to finally put out a debut full length.  Velvet Rut is 29 minutes of garage pop perfection.

:Gal Pals – Ex-Marionette:

20) Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last

This is the fourth year in a row that Thee Oh Sees have managed to crack my Top 25 Albums list.  I don’t mind.  They make me want to be a louder person.

:Thee Oh Sees – Web:

19)  Sweet Spirit – Cokomo

I’ve jammed Sweet Spirit’s Cokomo a lot since it was released back in October.  It’s an upbeat listen that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

:Sweet Spirit – Baby When I Close My Eyes:

18) Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

Joanna Gruesome‘s Peanut Butter is a completely schizo (but really fun) album.  They continue to be one of the best noise pop acts around.

:Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst:

17) Sweet Talk – Double Perfect

Sweet Talk are one of the best bands in Austin, and Double Perfect is one of the year’s best straight up rock albums.  You need it.

:Sweet Talk – Witness:

16) White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again

These fellas out of Kentucky really delivered the goods on their debut LP, White Reaper Does It Again.  It’s nothing but super catchy garage punk tunes.

:White Reaper – Make Me Wanna Die:

15) Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy

A 29-track, 93-minute rock opera from the one and only Titus Andronicus?  Yeah, there was never a chance that The Most Lamentable Tragedy wouldn’t be on this list.

:Titus Andronicus – Dimed Out:

14) Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up

Colleen Green’s musings throughout I Want To Grow Up are both insightful and relatable.  Also, there isn’t a single track on it that isn’t catchy.

:Colleen Green – TV:

13) Leon Bridges – Coming Home

Leon Bridges pretty much owned 2015.  Coming Home is a warm, inviting effort, and it may just be the year’s most accessible album.

:Leon Bridges – River:

12) Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

Admittedly, it took me a little while to fully come around on Foil Deer.  I think I was expecting a simple extension of Major Arcana, but their sophomore LP is way more than that – it’s them really evolving, expanding their sound and becoming an overall better band.

:Speedy Ortiz – Raising The Skate:

11) Ratatat – Magnifique

I think Magnifique is Ratatat’s best album.  From start to finish it’s loaded with really interesting sounds, and all of the songs move incredibly well.  I left it on repeat a lot in 2015.

:Ratatat – Cream On Chrome:

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Quickdraw: Thee Oh Sees, Sweet Spirit And Britt Daniel, Creepoid, Migrant Kids, Annabel

April 27, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – Withered Hand:  Here’s the latest ripper from Thee Oh Sees.  At some point they’re going to stop putting out an album every year and then I’m going to be totally lost.  Mutilator Defeated At Last is due out May 18 via Castle Face.

:Sweet Spirit And Britt Daniel – Have Mercy:  Sweet Spirit are currently one of my favorite bands in Austin, and Britt Daniel is, well … Britt Daniel, so their pairing is an easy one for me love.  As for this track, I think it’s a melodic gem.  You’ll be able to grab the 7″ on Spoon’s upcoming tour dates.  See Sweet Spirit at Red 7 on May 10.

:Creepoid – Dried Out:  This new Creepoid single consumed a good chunk of my time this weekend.  It’s just hooky enough to be an earworm, and I (of course) love that it sounds lifted right out of the 90s.  Cemetery Highrise Slum is due out June 23 via Collect Records.  The band will play Levitation on May 9.

:Migrant Kids – Thread:  As I said on Lone Star State of Mind (my new radio show!) last night, Austin’s own Migrant Kids have never sounded more accessible than they do here.  The glossiness is a good fit for them.  Look out for more new music from the band as the year goes on.

:Annabel – Another Day, Another Vitamin:  I’m officially all about Annabel’s upcoming album.  They’re emo but not in an obnoxious way, and I think they have good vocals and a really well crafted sound.  Having It All is expected out in June via Tiny Engines.

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Quickdraw: M.I.A., Joanna Gruesome, Thee Oh Sees, Westkust, Chastity Belt

March 9, 2015

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Music!  Enjoy.

:M.I.A. – CanSeeCanDo:  Over the weekend M.I.A. randomly released this track.  It’s not a banger by any means, but it has a slick sound and is an entertaining effort.  No official word yet on a new album, but I assume one is coming soon.

:Joanna Gruesome – Honestly Do Yr Worst:  Here’s the latest sugary-sweet-but-also-fierce single from Joanna Gruesome’s new album.  I really wish they were playing SXSW.  Peanut Butter is due out May 19 via Slumberland Records.

:Thee Oh Sees – Web:  It’s a new year, so of course Thee Oh Sees have readied a new album.  They’ve always been a lively act, but I think this is a bit more dynamic than they’ve sounded in a while.  Manipulator Defeated At Last is due out May 18 via Castle Face.

:Westkust – Swirl:  While do some browsing I came across this “best new track” over at Pitchfork.  I love the guy/girl vocal combo and the wall of sound that’s perfectly situated just behind them.  Westkust’s Last Forever will be released on April 22.

:Chastity Belt – Joke:  I’m finally starting to come around on Chastity Belt.  This relaxed track kind of meanders, but I think it’s a gem.  Time To Go Home is due out March 21 via Hardly Art.  The band is set to open for Courtney Barnett at the Mohawk on June 5.

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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 1

December 9, 2014

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Well friends, I’m just about done with posting the site’s year-end music lists.  Today I have the first part of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 (25-11, plus various Honorable Mentions), tomorrow I’ll have my Top 10 selections, and then on Thursday I’ll have Top 5s from each of SOTO’s contributors.  Whew!  Anyhow, on with the rambling.  Enjoy.

PS – This year’s list is very heavily influenced by how often I revisited an album.

25) Swans – To Be Kind

There’s nothing about Swans’ To Be Kind that’s easy (or it would be ranked way higher), but if you can fully immerse yourself in its sprawling sound, you’ll find that it’s a rather rewarding album.

:Swans – A Little God In My Hands:

24) Interpol – El Pintor

While it’s no Turn On The Bright Lights, I do think that El Pintor is the best thing to come from Interpol in a long while.  Who knew that parting with Carlos D would turn out to be good for the band?!

:Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:

23) Future Islands – Singles

Future Islands’ Singles is one of those albums that I burned out on and then ending up excitedly coming back to.  It’s a pretty great effort, especially if you need something to dramatically dance to.

:Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You):

22) Sylvan Esso – Self Titled

Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut is an easily accessible effort that’s loaded with some of the year’s best electronic pop songs.  I often just put it on and let its warm sound fill the room.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee:

21) Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Just when it looked like Thee Oh Sees were going to take a lengthy break, they released the lively Drop.  I approve of such indecisiveness.  Here’s hoping they continue on maybe going on hiatus.

:Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye:

20) Ty Segall – Manipulator

Manipulator is the culmination of all the various sounds that Ty Segall has churned out over the last few years, and it’s great.  Way to bring everything full circle, Mr. Segall.

:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb:

19) Phantogram – Voices

I can’t say that Voices dominated my time the way that Eyelid Movies did (way back in 2010), but it’s definitely a high quality effort.  Phantogram craft great hooks.

:Phantogram – Fall In Love:

18) S – Cool Choices

Jenn Ghetto (formerly of Carissa’s Wierd) is S, and Cool Choices is her very sincere, introspective album.  She’s got the sort of voice that I can’t help but get hung up on.

:S – Vampires:

17) Mono – Rays Of Darkness/The Last Dawn

Technically, Rays Of Darkness and The Last Dawn are two separate releases, but I still consider them to be a two-disc effort.  As for the actual LPs themselves, I really dig how neither of them feel like the Mono that made the over-orchestrated For My Parents.

:Mono – Recoil, Ignite:

16) Jack White – Lazaretto

I can’t ever make any sense of the things that Jack White says and does these days, but I sure do like his music.  Lazaretto is a boisterous experience.

:Jack White – Lazaretto:

15) Abram Shook – Sun Marquee

Austin’s own Abram Shook put out the immensely pleasing Sun Marquee back in January, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.  It’s the kind of breezy, relaxed pop music that’s impossible to not get lost in.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:

14) Tune Yards – Nikki Nack

Nikki Nack is exactly what we’ve all come to want and expect from the talented Merrill Garbus (aka Tune Yards) – it’s creative and a whole lot of fun to listen to.

:Tune Yards – Real Thing:

13) Ex Hex – Rips

I miss Wild Flag, but their disbandment delivered Mary Timony’s equally catchy and rocking Ex Hex AND put Sleater-Kinney back together.  I’ll take that deal any day.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:

12) The Dead Space – Faker

If you are even the slightest fan of post-punk, then you need The Dead Space’s Faker in your life.  There’s not a track on it that isn’t rad.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:

11) Tacocat – NVM

I didn’t pay much attention to Tacocat’s NVM until kind of late in the year, but once I “discovered” it I was forever hooked.  It’s total surf-rock bliss.

:Tacocat – Crimson Wave:

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 Albums of 2014!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

To be honest, I could have easily detailed 50 albums this year, but since the bottom 25 slots would have been occupied by the various releases that I liked but didn’t listen to a whole super lot, I figured it was best to hold back.  For fun though, here are the LPs that more than likely would have made an expanded list.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
Alvvays – Self Titled
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Coathangers – Suck My Shirt
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Equals – Tracts
Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath
FKA Twigs – LP1
Flesh Lights – Free Yourself
Literature – Chorus
Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm
Owls – Two
Pompeii – Loom
Ramesh – The King
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Tontons – Make Out King And Other Stories Of Love
Warpaint – Self Titled
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Wye Oak – Shriek
Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos

Also, for even more fun, here are my five favorite EPs of 2014.

Speedy Ortiz – Real Hair EP
Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield EP
White Reaper – Self Titled EP
Otis The Destroyer – Dark Arts EP
Whiite Walls – Self Titled EP

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Stream This

April 18, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Pink Mountaintops – Get Back
Eels – The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett
Floor – Oblation
Teen – The Way And Color
Kelis – Food
Various – Farewell Transmission: The Music Of Jason Molina
Death – Death III
Fear Of Men – Loom
Various – The Space Project
Nas – Illmatic XX
Future – Honest
Dances – Whiter Sands EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Courtney Barnett

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Stream This

April 11, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Deleted Scenes – Lithium Burn

Woods – With Light And With Love
Megafauna – Maximalist
Horse Thief – Fear In Bliss
Wyrd Visions – Half-Eaten Guitar
Amps For Christ – Canyons Cars And Crows
Cloud Cult – Unplug
Slint – Spiderland (Remastered)
The Afghan Whigs – Do To The Beast
Plague Vendor – Free To Eat
Lockah – Yahoo Or The Highway
Odonis Odonis – Hard Boiled Soft Boiled
Kinky Love – Promise EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Warpaint

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Stream This

March 21, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Tony Molina – Diss And Dismissed

Owls – Two
The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
Future Islands – Singles
Liars – Mess
Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield
The Range – Panasonic
Withered Hand – New Gods
Ages And Ages – Divisionary
Lavendar Country – Self Titled
Howler – World Of Joy
Mr. Little Jeans – Pocketknife
Gang Wizard – Important Picnic
Horseback – Piedmont Apocrypha
Hiro Kone – The Unmoved Mover EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Ex Hex

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Burger Records (Dan)

February 19, 2014

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Like it or not, SXSW is just around the corner. I can’t say I’m ready for it, but I’m getting there. I’m currently working on the follow up to last year’s DC vs Austin show, but since we’re not yet ready to release the details for that party, I figured I’d suggest another SXSW show.

If you love garage rock as much as I do then you’re probably aware of Burger Records. It’s an independent record label and record store in Fullerton, California. The label was founded in 2007 by two members of Thee Makeout Party. The record store opening followed soon after in 2009.

So what makes Burger Records so special? First, they are known for releasing most of their music on cassette. Their loyalty to an outdated but cheap music format helped spark a most unlikely resurgence in tapes. I personally don’t long for the days of listening to music from the tape deck of my 1986 Ford Tempo, but to each his own.

My love of Burger is not because of cassettes. It’s all about the music. They have released tracks by some of the great garage bands of the past decade: Bad Sports, Black Lips, Diarrhea Planet, King Kahn & The Shrines, Hunx And His Punx, King Tuff, Mikal Cronin, Ty Segall, and Thee Oh Sees.  There are also a number of Austin bands on Burger Records as well – Grape St, Holy Wave, John Wesley Coleman, and The Zoltars (go see them on 3/1 with La Snacks at Spiderhouse!) all have released music through Burger.

I also love Burger’s DIY attitude. When I was younger I idolized Fugazi and everyone at Dischord Records for paving their own way. They set the example for punk and hardcore bands on how to succeed on their own terms. The founders of Burger Records have a different model for their business but the DIY motivation is the same.

All of that is to say that you must hear these incredible Burger bands next month during SXSW. The Burger’s 5th Annual SXSW Kickoff is on Wednesday, 3/12 at Trailer Space Records. Then the big party, Burgermania III, is on Saturday, 3/15 at Hotel Vegas. You can listen to the sampler below and also stream The Studio B Sampler and Taste of Burger Records.

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Quickdraw: Thee Oh Sees, Woods, Mirah, Pure X, Damaged Bug

February 18, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye:  Only Thee Oh Sees can announce a hiatus but then still put together a new album.  Those dudes just don’t know how to stop working.  Not that I mind, of course.  The band will release Drop on April 19 via Castle Face.

:Woods – Moving To The Left:  This has quickly become my favorite Woods’ track.  It’s total psych pop brilliance, and I really hope the new album has more of the same.  With Light And With Love is due out April 15 via Woodsist.  See the band at this year’s Austin Psych Fest.

:Mirah – Oxen Hope:  If you’re into break-up records, then Mirah’s new one is going to be just for you.  She apparently spent the last four years working on it.  Grab Changing Light when it gets released on May 13 through Absolute Magnitude Recordings.

:Pure X – Starlight:  Considering they’re based in Austin, I don’t know really know a lot about Pure X.  I should change that.  Anyhow, this single is beautifully crafted.  The band will put out Angel on April 1 through Fat Possum.  See them at the Austin Psych Fest in May.

:Damaged Bug – Photograph:  Just in case you don’t know, Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer is the man behind Damaged Bug.  I get the feeling that his upcoming LP is going to be a weird (but good) one.  Hubba Bubba is due out February 25 via Castle Face.

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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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