Wednesday, December 11, 2013


This is a tough list to compile. This year lots or musicians/bands I like released albums and many new acts appeared. I also spent a lot of time listening to some old and familiar music on vinyl instead of going through all the new releases as I simply felt a little overwhelmed by all the new releases and just couldn't keep up.
Nonetheless there were many albums I enjoyed for various reasons. Some of the releases I need to spend more time with and explore a little more in depth. I am not listing these albums in any particular order as they all served as good albums at different times and in different moo


This album grew on me quite unexpectedly. I gave it a listen out of curiosity since it had been a few years ago since Boards of Canada released anything, so I figured it might be interesting. I always enjoyed their albums, especially Campfire Headphase, but wasn't a huge fan. At first the album sounded a little too much like background music and didn't make much of an impression. 
I found myself revisiting it over and over and eventually realised it had become one of my favourite (an most listened to) albums of the year.

The album is ambient but not in the same way as all the other 'ambient' a.k.a yawn inspiring releases. Its atmospheric but has memorable 'hooks' that make it a genuine and well rounded release.

FAVOURITE SONG: Reach for the dead (4:49)

I guess it is a given that this album is featured on my list. Since I am a hugh The National fan, I was quite nervous that it might be a let down after their  highly memorable 2010 release 'High Violet'. Even though Trouble will find me is not as successful as High Violet it is an extremely solid follow up. The album features 13 well crafted songs which are not self-conscious or over the top but consistent and well written.

FAVOURITE SONG: Pink Rabbits (4:38)


There's not much to say about this release other than that it is hard hitting and to the point. I enjoy El-P's  albums so I thought I'd give this a listen (perhaps the creepy album art also had something to do with it?). At first I found it to be a little bit too 'agressive'. After a few listens I realised that what I at first found to sound a little 'agressive' was just assertive instead. I am not a big fan of Killer Mike, but in collaboration his input becomes more appealing. Other than that this album is good driving music and makes you feel cool, so all areas coverred!

FAVOURITE SONG: Job Well Done (Feat. Until The Ribbon Breaks) (3:00)


Chaz Bundick is the man! He seems to be into music purely for the fun of it and sees his music career as a side project, seconding his occupation as graphic designer. His release 'Anything in return' can be regarded as an alternative pop album. It's super suave and slick but not sleazy!

FAVOURITE SONG: Rose Quartz (4:45)

This is a brilliant album. I always sort of enjoyed whatever Bill Callahan released but was never really an over enthusiastic follower of his releases. When this album came out I thought it would have the same effect on me...A good solid album , but nothing mind blowing.Dream river completely took me by surprise. Not just in terms of the music, but also lyrically. Summer painter's lyrics are what sold it to me! One last thing- who else has managed to use pan flutes in a cool way? No one ever.

FAVOURITE SONG: Summer Painter (6:30)


Kurt Vile has a way.... Baby's Arms, featured on his previous album is one of the most melancholic but hopeful songs around. A lot of my friends have described his music as 'depressing', but there is an underlying positivity, Kurt knows it's all just fleeting :), and that adds a general air of positivity to his songs.
When the album 'trailor' for 'Wakin on a pretty haze' was released I was even more excited due to Steve Powers' creation of the mural photographed for the album cover. Let's just say the music lives up to ESPO's art and vice versa.

 FAVOURITE SONG: Pure pain (5:09)


This is another obvious one for the list!I've been a die hard Hecker backer for the last few years. Tim Hecker always manages to put something mind blowing, next level together. 'Virgins' is dramatic (such as most of Hecker's releases), but it shows great progress and has a new mature spin on it. The cover and songs 'Virginal I' and 'Virginal II' set the tone well! It's amazing how someone who has released so many album manages  to not get stuck in a rut, but instead matures within his sound! All around amazing release.

FAVOURITE SONG: Virginal (6:10)

This album is genius! It's an album that is going to withstand the test of time.
Strangely enough it feels more like a rock album rather than a hip hop album to me. The album features integrated samples originating from well known songs, which automatically make the songs more familiar and thus more memorable. Forget all your hate for Kanye and just give this album a listen.

 FAVOURITE SONG: Blood on the leaves (5:09)

James Blake got a lot of flack for his previous release. People said he can't write cohesive songs.
Overgrown definitely proves them wrong. The album is gripping and has a definite haunting edge to it. Toward the end it loses its substance a little, but the first half is very memorable and feature well crafted songs!

 FAVOURITE SONG: I am sold (4:04)


This year Werner and I went to Berlin. Months before I kept checking if there are any gigs happening that we could attend. I didn't really see anything that we like so I left it. Once we got to Berlin I had another look and  saw that Apparat was performing 'Krieg un Frieden' (War and Peace) the next day. We didn't have tickets but thought if we hang round there long enoug we might be able to make a plan. Eventually we got some 'reserve' tickets. The show was phenomenal. It was in a theatre, so it was a sit down thing. There were also projections which accompanied the music. The whole performance made me respect Sasha Ring even more as he is evidently morethan the average musician. The best part was that there were people present from all age groups (10-80).

 FAVOURITE SONG: 44 (noise version) (6:47)


As the alternate album cover gives away, Jimmy Lavalle is if the Album Leaf and Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon (previously Red House Painters). This is a surprising combination, not because of drastic differences in terms of the music they make, but siply because I previously never associated the two acts with each other. However, this odd collaboration seems very natural once you listen to it. Lavalle and Kozelek sound like they've been writing songs together for decades but have only decided that the rest of us get to listen to it now. The album is somewhat sad or rather melancholic (Kozelek-duh) yet Lavalle's influence also adds a hopefulness to it, which one might say puts a more positive spin on the album. In a nutshell, Mark and Jimmy make good music together!

FAVOURITE SONG: By the time that I awoke (7:26)

I always wanted to really like Nick Cave, but I was never mad about his music. His persona fascinated me more than his music excited me. I enjoyed some of his previous albums enough to keep listening to his releases though. Push the sky away got me. The title track is one of the greatest songs I've heard this year (or in a long time?). The album offers everything that I've always felt was missing in other releases. In general this album just feels rounded off well and has a timeless quality to it.

 FAVOURITE SONG: Push the sky away (4:10)


I never cared about hip  hop until I heard Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City last year. It gave me a different perspective of what hip hop is / can be and made me realise that I was previously clinging on to some stereotypical idea in terms of what hip hop sounds like and is about. I'm thankful for  Kendrick as I've since enjoyed a couple of other releases that are solid albums with sincere and well crafted songs such as this release by A$AP ROCKY.


Nils Frahm can do no wrong. That's all.

 FAVOURITE SONG: For Peter-Toilet Brushes-More  (16:49)


Phenomenal album which demonstrates immense growth and is loaded with surprises.

FAVOURITE SONG: At ease (3:58)

Grab the full and free album here 

Well crafted songs with subtle yet sincere hooks and a positive and hopeful atmosphere.

FAVOURITE SONG: This place (4:15)

Listen  / buy the ep here

GIVAN LöTZ  / SNARL (I,II,III,IV) (Unless, Only, Such, Snores)
Haunting, heartfelt and depressing in the best way possible.

FAVOURITE SONG: Andrew (8:19)

Listen / buy the albums here

Monday, December 24, 2012


2012 was a tough year for music. At least according to me. There weren't really a lot of releases I was looking forward to since most releases by 'bands' I enjoy were released last year.
Perhaps I didn't spend enough time exploring all the releases properly since it's difficult enough to really digest an album if you have my short attention span. Most music was listened to in my car driving to work or uni. A great deal of the music I listened to was not even released this year. A lot of it was on the 'lighter' side, which never used to be the case. I decided to list my favourite 20 albums in no particular order. Each album fulfilled a different need, so it would be unfair to have favourites I guess. 

Here goes.

Also-Joyeux Noel and love as always!

Mount Eerie- Clear Moon & Mount Eerie- Ocean Roar
Phil Elverum got it so right with his two releases this year. It's pretty difficult to describe the sound. His apparent influences for Clear Moon range from Burzum to Steve Reich. One could describe these influences as pretty vast (to say the least), which shows that these albums have a lot of promise. Where as Clear Moon (which was laos released first) is apparently the lighter of the two albums, Ocean Roar hits a little harder. Ocean Roar even includes a Popol Vuh cover, so again interesting influences are at works here. These two releases are defintely the most interesting and rich albums of the year.

best tracks: Clear Moon and Pale lights

A Hollow in the land-Self-Titled
This release once again proves that there is immense talent in South Africa.
The songs are well crafted and sort of hypnotizing. The music is so layered that it
would be difficult to get sick of as there is always something new to discover upon each listen. It doesn't come short of experimentation yet also offers well articulated emotions without going overboard. This is genuine and has without mistake been laboured over with passion and enthusiasm. Since it is a free download too you better be smart and get your internet paws on it.

best song: A call to arms

download it here:

The Cinematic Orchestra-In motion pt.1
I thought I was over this band when every single art house film started using their songs for trailers and when investment companies caught on and sort of spoiled the beauty of their songs for me by giving them a commercial connotation. When this album came out I didn't bother at first until a friend pointed out how good it is. The only downfall is that the album is possibly a little too long (or maybe my attention span is just a little too short?). Other than that definitely a step up for CInematic Orchestra.

best track: Necrology


Olafur Arnalds & NIls Frahm- Stare
Everything Nils Frahm touches turns to gold. Enough said. However, this is more of an Ep than an LP but let's let it slide...
best track: a1

Extra Life- Dream Seeds
Charlie Looker ( the band's frontman) is probably a serial killer or possibly once upon a time used to belong to an Amish community ( I mean that in a good way) and then neglected his roots. This album is heavy. Not in terms of the volume or manner in which instruments or vocals are approached, but rather due to Looker's manic self who's creepy self enriches the album and makes it extremely intriguing. Sort of like when you can't stop watching even though you know the wise thing would be to look a way and keep moving. The band has since the release disbanded, I guess one can only make such intense music for that long. I'm looking forward to seeing what Looker is going to pull next.

best track: blinded beast

Father John Misty- Fear fun
Father John Misty is not the name of a cult leader, but the moniker of musician Josh Tilman (ex- Fleet Foxes drummer). Fear fun is easy listening music, but it tells some sort of story. It's the perfect album to listen to when you're not sure what mood you're in. Having said that, that's what makes this album interesting, it's moodyness.

best track: Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings


Dan Deacon- America
Dan Deacon is strange. He seems hyper active yet in his outbursts there is some sort of careful consideration for everything he does. His music is noisy and assertive. I don't quite get the direct connection to America other than from the titles (four songs have USA int heir title), but an album that sounds like your hyper active friend that never runs short of energy can't be a bad thing right?

best track: USA IV: Manifest 

Julia Holter- Ekstasis
Julia Holter came from nowhere. Her songs seem like they could be from another time, sung by some weird elfish thing (hate to admit this). However they are still extremely contemporary, experimental and relevant.
The album impressed me as I can't find a direct or obvious influence. This does not mean that it is extremely unique and weird, but maybe rather that it is sincere.

best track: Our Sorrows

Jacob Israel & A Skyline on fire- Songs for Sunrise
Songs for Sunrise is a soundtrack created to accompany the 1927 silent film Sunrise. The music was originally created for a once off performance at IMPAC film festival. Eventually (a year later) the recorded tracks were finetuned and released for free. The performance took place one last time and now this is what's left. A soundtrack which negotiates a story from a different time and helps to make it strangely familiar. The soundtrack is heartfelt and intense.

best song: In the City Part I (also the most catchy part in the film)

download it here:

Perfume Genius- Put your back N to it
This album is really surprising. It's got well crafted songs and is memorable. A vast improvement from the debut album.The music videos are also quite  something. (Pretty) awkard comes to mind....

best track: Hood

Swans-The Seer
Michael Gira is unpredictable. He is sort of likeable and yet so misleading. This double album is NOT easy to digest. After the previous Swans full-length we were fooled into believing that they'd made it easier for us, but this is not the case. This album is not an easy listen but so worth it. Despite the long songs (longest being 32min), there are also bits that are a  little catchy (Lunacy). The album has an impact as it simply features Swans doing their thing, with you listening or not.

best track: Mother of the World


The Ocean Doesn't Want me- As the dust settles
This album is the most underrated release on my list. I have often wondered what would happen if these guys were in a different country where there is more of an appreciation for this type of sound. This album took about 3 years to make (obviously including the songwriting) and let's just say it shows. As the dust settles takes the genre a little further and challenges what a lot of heavy music has become by introducing a new element which remains unidentifiable yet clearly present. The lyrics are on a different level and the music drives them well.

favourite song: This castle stands alone

buy now & name your price:


Beach House- Bloom
Yes yes yes...another Beach House album. Not going to explain.

best track: Myth

This album did not deliver. It had so much promise as the single Apples made us believe, but it definitely does not live up to Efterklang's previous work. However, Efterklang is still one ahead of most bands, so when they produce something standard it still outsmarts the rest. Despite my initial rejection of the album it is a pretty soothing album that could have been better, but regardless still grows on you.

best track:  Between the walls

Advance Base- A shut in's prayer
Owen Ashworth has something to get off his chest, he has had for a while. Ashworth is the guy behind Casiotone for the painfully alone, which has been going for 13 years. He has released a couple of albums and then decided to change his name. I'm not sure why. Maybe because he is emotionally maturing (as are his songs) and this called for a fresh start? His music is sort of like someone that mumbles a side comment which might seem unimportant at the time, but on second thought seems sincere and spot on. (Also- O.Ashworth only owns this plaid shirt)

best track: New Gospel

Godspeed you! Black emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! 
I am no fan of bands reforming after being on a several year hiatus (Refused, ATDI, and no this!). Most bands lose their credibility when they have their grande comeback. When I heard that GYBE reformed I was far from thrilled. I was rather irritated because it seemed like 'selling out' (i know i know). When months later  a new album was announced I grew even more sceptical. Luckily I was curious enough, and as much as I want to say "it's OVER", I really enjoyed this release. It's just good ol' Godspeed!

favourite song: We drift like worried fire 

Grizzly Bear- Shields
Grizzly Bear's strength is that they are a consistent band that writes solid memorable tracks. This album has a few really good, well-written, layered songs on it. The only problem is that the 'filler tracks' could be a little more exciting to maintain the balance. Songs like Gun-Shy and Yet Again make one want to listen to it yet again and again though, so just as Grizzly's other albums it has proves itself by offering a few super solid songs.

best track: Gun-Shy

Frank Ocean-Channel Orange
This one is hard to put down. Not because it's not good enough, but rather because I hate admitting to myself that I actually like an R&B album. Frank Ocean made a massive entrance when he came out of the closet earlier this year. All the music blogs posted his letter. It was well written and sincere, which made people curious (or me at least). So eventually (months later) when running dry of music, I finally budged. I am glad I did. 
best track: Pyramids (duh)

Lower Dens- Nootropics
A friend pointed this band out to me. I liked the album cover so figured why not (shallow, I know). This album is defined by its minimal approach. The songs are stripped down to the 'bare necessities', but that's where its charm lies. Apart from being good living room dance music it also serves long distances rather well:).

best track: Lamb

Molly Nilsson-History
Despite only getting my hands on this album about 2 weeks ago, Molly needs to be on the list. I only discovered her sound this year. I mostly listened to her album 'These things take time' (2008), which is still a better release than History. However, History features a fantastic cover of You only hurt the ones you love, which I can't stop listening to.

best track: You Always Hurt The One You Love

John Maus- A collection of rarities and previously unreleased material  
This should probably not be on here. All of these songs were released pre 2012. Another 'best of' of previously unreleased Maus tracks has been released only about a year prior to this. Thus, this only leaves one with about 8 'new' tracks. Yet, these tracks are well worth it and since it's the first time we're hearing them the '2012' tag seems fair enough. Another thing that makes this great is that the Album cover is by Wolfgang Tillmans (say whaaat). 

best track: Bennington (2007) 

                                               (this guy knows all about sweatin' it up)

Chelsea Wolfe-Unknown rooms: a collection of acoustic songs
Not too smooth neither too raw. Also not goffff.

best song: Boyfriend


Death Grips- The Money Store

 The Men- Open up your heart

    Aesop Rock- Skelethon

Peter Broderick-

 Oren Ambarchi-Audience of one


 A Watermark High-In Flux

 The Antlers- Undersea