Hurry up with my damn croissants.

2013. Right. Let’s do this. Big thanks (again) to Waub for making me cycle through hot lead singer’s La$tNaMe$ to login to WordPress once a year. While I’ve neglected the site, rest assured gallons of my digital ink spilled into unfunny writing elsewhere, as any of my procrastinating-email recipients know. Or the sad bastards following me here.

It was a tough but spectacular year. Brain & budget-busting travel (Santa Teresa, ATX x 2, NYC x lots, MTL x 2, LA, Rome, Venice, Florence, London &…wait for it…Bologna, which is the bo’lo’mb.), art attacks & shenanigans. Overall, less music-y & more word-y, but we can’t have it all, right? Right?

Zipping through the Google Calendars of my mind, a few things pop out (besides hundreds of notifications for unattended gym classes). This was a year of screenings, performances, shorts, mo’docs, sketches & specs. Music was the quirky zing-throwing roommate in the background, no longer the co-star-romantic-interest. Sorry, music.

Sidenote: Turning 33 is weird. It’s half of 66 (you can type math into the browser, key 2013 lifehack). According to Time, this is your lifespan’s TSN Turning Point for happiness. One tries to not hate these happy(ier than us?) young people, but they aren’t making it easy, are they? How do you not harbour HAL9000-levels of suspicion towards interns that’ll inevitably usurp us with Tumblring SnapChats? Get off your phones to capture the important things coming out of our human verbal email holes, you little sprouts of entitlement! </sidenote>.

So like most other years I can’t restrict myself to 10 LPs (Draft #1 had 61). I’m musically schizophrenic. Or maybe Bi-Po’laylist. It’s less Baby Boomer-y than years past, tho. This might be a budding trend. Regretting those Lulu/Loutallica jokes. Oh dear.

Anyway, there’s two big buckets to 2013’s soundtrack: “My special Monday morning tape for YOU” (active) & “Barry, I just want something I can ignore” (passive).

IgnoreHiFi

Atoms For Peace – Amok: True, Flea’s basslines aren’t as groovy as his Young MC guesting, but remember how consistently solid Thom Yorke is. Now we can focus on finding those pants on eBay. I still go back to Eraser, but this is a beautiful b.g. record.

Bill Callahan – Dream River + Neko Case – The Worse Things Get: These are lethal when paired with open ears & hearts. BUT – if you’re zoned out & have’em low enough, they swirl like the twangy hum of a steam radiator. These lyrics will depress the daylights out of you. Neko doesn’t screw around with fruity analogies. Snippets of true moments’ll annihilate you with raw sadness & regret. Enjoy!

Beams – Just Rivers: History will be kind to this debut. Anna’s voice is spectacular, while the band comes together seamlessly in a rich warm country sound to support her. They live up to their live shows’ promise & drop a Portishead cover to sweeten the deal. & I’m not just plunking this into the list because of my love of the band IRL, even NOW mag gave it a glowing review. So there.

Body/Head - Coming Apart: Until Kim Gordon’s memoir comes out, we’ve got this gem of noise rock. What an insane year she’s had. (“Rap music is really good when you’re traumatized,” Preach!)

Deer Tick – Negativity: Despite grumbling above, this young lad gets a raw deal because of his age. This record was on repeat for months because of its perfect short sparse tunes. They picked up where your precious Whiskeytown left off, and you’re sitting around complaining about no more Whiskeytown albums.

amok 9646a82e homepage_large.9e1299c1 the-internet-feel-good just-rivers OLE-1042-Body-Head-Coming-Apart1 download TonyscalzoMFY Lou-Doillon-Places

DIANA – Perpetual Surrender: The band so nice I saw’em twice. In two days. During NX. They might get written off as a ship in the post-irony-fleet of yacht-rock, but they are truly, sincerely beautiful.  Plus: Sax solos sweeter than Huey Lewis & the News.

The Internet – Feel Good: If you’re not old enough to remember the Brand New Heavies, well, I expected you to stop reading after the intro; I’m sorry I resent your youth. That’s my wrinkle to work out this year. You’ll get wrinkles someday. Mwhahaha. AND if you like this record, you owe it to yourself & listen to everything that came out on Delicious Vinyl during the mid-90s.

Lou Doillon – Places: Get out of here with your Zou Bisou Bisou, cable nuts. She has a Bill Hicks tattoo for chrissakes. She is obviously from another planet of effortless cool. Daughter of Jane Birkin. Step-sis to Charlotte Gainsbourg. DNA aside, Places is a light sweet French macaron with the tiniest bit of tartness in the occasionally sassy lyrical aside.

Tony Scalzo – My Favorite Year + Wendy Colonna – Nectar: Anyone who’s known me for the past 10 years knows that the mere mention of Austin turns me into Golden Girls’ Rose musing about St. Olaf. It is a mythical, magical place where things are just better. Because. Proof: These two albums from exceptionally talented singer-songwriters who craft the killingest bridges in modern pop. Trust.

V/A – Arts & Crafts: X: This probably shouldn’t count as a record-record, but 2014’s about breaking silly rules. Or at least bending. The collaborations on this comp are pretty inspired. Gonzo + Stars; Feist + Timber Timbre; the other ones pairing up with each other. You know it’s good cause it’s A&C. Just get it already.

dick

Alt-10: At any point these were on the list, too:

Braids – Flourish // Perish

Anna Calvi - One Breath

CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

David Lynch – The Big Dream

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Laura Mvula – Sing To the Moon

Oh Land - Wishbone

Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

PARTYNEXTDOOR – s/t

Ty Segall – Sleeper

SucksHiFi

Here’s 19 LPs – some mixes, EPs, freebies, soundtracks – that’d make my special Monday Morning Mix. Coincidentally, 19’s also how old everyone looks when I go to a venue with a liquor licence. So there’s that. Bolded the top 5.

ASAP Rocky – Long.Live.ASAP

David Byrne & St. Vincent – Brass Tactics EP

Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

J Cole - Born Sinner

Drake – Nothing Was The Same

The Dream – Climax EP

Raz Fresco – Cakey Pocket$ (Actually came out in 2012 but I’m an old white lady so give me a break)

Superstar Jay – I Am Mixtapes 148 (This should probably be categorized under V/A but I’m getting lazy)

Jay-Z – Magna Carta…Holy Grail (Alphabetizing this one was hard)

Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back

MEN – LABOR *+* Julie Ruin – Run Fast (Le Tigre alumni prizepack. Great back-to-back. Didn’t mean for that to rhyme.)

Shad – Flying Colours *+* The Spring Up EP w/ Skratch Bastid

Tyga – Hotel California

V/A – The Great Gatsby Soundtrack (the movie was a hot mess, but I loved the s/t. Always a sucker for a cover.)

Wale – The Gifted

Kanye West – Yeezus

Young Dolph – South Memphis Kingpin

Eliminating procrastination resolution delayed until 2014…

But I still resolve to get this 2012 list in under the wire.

Big thanks, as always, to the lovely Waub for starting this tradition. Without him, numerous inboxes, harddrives, iPods & vinyl crates would be unenlightened.

It’s weird staring down a blank WordPress screen instead of a blank Celtex screen. While I’ve been writing much, much more this year (with/out writing partners…a story for another time, my friends),  I’m just not publishing it, & you can thank me for that later.

Maybe 2013’ll yield more benign bloggable topics. Hard to believe 2012 marked the 7 year anniversary for ‘withoutayard’ (archives mercifully under digital lock & key). The Twitter, Tumblr & 8tracks mistresses were also neglected, though not nearly as much as this poor old domain.

All in, 2012 was tough but fair. Lots of change. & not just hair colour, though I did cycle through my Riverdale High School role-playing fantasies with equal turns as a brunette, red-head & blonde.

As the film tour/screenings wound down at the beginning of 2012, new music/festival/conference work picked up. HPX’s inaugural year for digital & NXNE’s ongoing growth in this space were two massive highlights personally & professionally. Doing another Ignite was as terrifying as I remembered & SXSW talks get better every year, thanks to stellar conspirators.

Work-work ‘s been increasingly satisfying, too. Our digital team (& I can take absolutely ZERO credit for most of this cool stuff)’s progress in open data, web mod, intuitive design, visual identity, content strategy & outreach is inspiring (please remember that we work in a resource-restricted, foosball-free workplace before comparing us to Old Spice).

& with that rambling preamble-ing, I present two 2012 music lists.

One acknowledges my repressed-inner-Baby-Boomer-curmudgeon (or more optimistically the indelible mark of my Dad’s musical taste). The other tips its digital-hat to shiny new young(ish) things.

Juicy Rationalizations – 10 LPs for ‘The Big Chill II’ soundtrack supervisor job application

1) Dr. John – Locked Down: Swampy psychedelic southern-fried goodness.   Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s production adds a nice contemporary touch without changing the funky sounds you’d expect from the best Last Waltz guest of all time.

 

 

2) Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream: Poor Ms. Raitt doesn’t get a fair shake with anyone under 40. She’s BB King’s favourite slide guitarist for a reason. She’s equally badass as a lyricist & composer. Trust me.

 

 

 

3) Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II: Technically, this is an age-appropriate pick for a 30-something, but its family-friendly instrumental perfection makes more sense here. In terms of Chilly’s live performance, Pianovision never disappoints, the Winter Garden Theatre show was one of the best concerts of 2012.

 

 

4) Patti Smith – Banga: Zero objectivity when it comes to PS after reading ‘Just Kids.’ Zero.

 

 

 

5) Various Artists – Just Tell Me That You Want Me: This was for sale at Starbucks for chrissakes. The artists are really quite good though, & their (Fleetwood Mac, duh) covers aren’t entirely straightforward. I will stop trying to rationalize my love now.

 

 

6) Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game: All hail the return of the pop-y cabaret-ish troubadour Rufus. We missed him.

 

 

 
7) Sixto Rodriguez – Searching for Sugarman s/t//Cold Fact: Great story, beautifully shot/directed music doc & gorgeous timeless songs.

 

 

 

8 ) Rush – Clockwork Angels: I will not apologize for being from Northern Ontario. At least the R&RHoF agrees.

 

 

 

9) Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas: Perfect poetry. Unmistakably unique warm growl. Cheese-free accompaniment (which can’t be said for some past synth-y LPs, unfortunately).

 

 

 

10) Neil Young – Psychedelic Pill//Americana: See #8.

 

 

 

Youthful Declarations – 10 LPs that probably aren’t cool enough to get my Urban Outfitters job back (despite a marked improvement in T-shirt folding)

1) Bahamas – Barchords: Is it so wrong that I still tear up a bit if I actually listen-listen to ‘Lost in the Light’? No, right? Thankfully the rest of the record is more upbeat. The combination of Afie’s vocals – which can swing from raspy M.Ward-y to chirpy Buddy Holly to Auerbach’s Black-Keys-blues – & his retro-reverb guitar-work – sealed this as #1 – the year’s most played LP by a country mile.

 

 

2) Allah-Las – s/t: To call these guys garage rock wouldn’t be fair. It’s a sunny light gossamer mix of psychedelia, Californian pop & the best jangly bits of early 60s Brit-invasion.

 

 

 

3) Tame Impala – Lonerism: Fell in love with these (again, psychedelic/pop, but ) guys while visiting Melbourne/Sydney in the winter of 2010. The cities’ cutest record store clerks drawled that TA’ed be big here soon.  Not quite Crowded House yet but we’ll clue in eventually.

 

 

4) Robert Glasper – Black Radio: Ever since Guru’s Jazzmatazz series in the early 90s I’ve been a sucker for hip hop/jazz collaborations. Some standout vocalists appear (Mos Def, I mean, Yasiin Bey, Erykah Badu & Shafiq Husayn) & some very fun/risky covers (Sade & Nirvana, anyone?) show that Glasper can hop from ‘traditional’ jazz (whatever that means) to R&B to hip hop seamlessly.

 

 

5) Zeus – Busting Visions: There will always be a special place in my heart for these guys. Their sound is definitely changing & maturing, but their 70s rock influences still lay a solid foundation for their upbeat melodic pop-rock.

 

 

6) Bat for Lashes – Haunted Man: Just when I thought Natasha couldn’t be more Kate Bush-infused, she unleashes this sweeping, orchestral, brooding set of songs that are perfectly mixed, paced & balanced.

 

 

 

7) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant: I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t exactly a fair fight. I love both of these artists & own all their albums. Who knew that all-brass instrumentation was going to be the glue binding these pleasantly complimentary songwriters, though? One of the most joyous live shows, too – Byrne was very gracious in ceding the spotlight often to Clark – even when they were covering Talking Heads tunes. Class act.

 

 

8 ) Fiona Apple – Idler Wheel: Another act that stands out for a live performance as much as an album. This is a powerhouse of a recording on its own, though. Put aside the ‘angsty-90s’ stigma that you probably assign to Apple & listen to the new wry wisdom of a woman who knows who she is, what she wants & how she’ll get it. Well, maybe not the last bit.

 

 

9) Cold Warps – s/t//Slimer 7″//Endless Bummer: Halifax knows how to churn out amazing four-piece power-pop/punk bands like it’s nobody’s business. I haven’t been this excited about a CanRock band in this vein since Cub. Serious.

 

 

 

10) Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes: For lack of a better genre-name, I guess ‘glitch-hop’ will do the trick. Imagine Dilla & Caribou & Radiohead (Kid A-era) mixing an atmospheric trippy soundtrack for a co-pro from David Lynch & John Singleton.

 

 

Glaring Omissions – 10 LPs that I like-liked, but didn’t love

1) Gary Clark Jr. – Blak & Blu

2) Grizzly Bear – Shields

3) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

4) Nas – Life Is Good

5) Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d.

6) Bob Dylan – Tempest

7) Jack White – Blunderbuss

8 ) Bright Lights Social Hour – New Year’s Live

9) Asteroid Galaxy Tour – Out of Frequency

10) Vybz Cartel – Kingston Story

It was really, um, nice, 2011, but I have a really early morning tomorrow…

Thank you Waub for starting this tradition among our circle of now-extended friends 10 years ago.  Wow.  I’ve discovered so many great records (& more metal than a girl could ever dream of…) thanks to the initiative you took on that fateful day in Akron <3.

The real top ten, really (& I only cheated twice with double-entries):

1.  Feist – Metals:  Anyone who knows me a teeny bit won’t be surprised this is my top album. But it’s not pre-Monarch Feist bias at play, I swear.  This is a rich, dark record with challenging, complex & interesting percussive, vocal & melodic parts, which are completely different from the upbeat hand-clappy triple-a-radio stigma she suffered for the past six years. Not at all weirded out by her upcoming Mastodon collabo (what could be worse than LuLu, amirite?!?), it makes a lot of sense after listening to this (on repeat…for months on end).

2.  Singapore- do re mi fa q:  Not quite a full-length, but much more than an EP…& definitely a fair representation of what their live show yields. These (young!) guys shocked me with their polished presentation, unique sound (think a Nick Cave-fronted Strokes with a dash of Depeche Mode’s timeless sexy swagger) & smart songwriting. Hoping that 2012 brings big things for another ungoogleable band from Toronto.
3.  TIE:  Kate Bush- 50 Words for Snow & Director’s Cut:  Yeah, technically two different records but it’s nice to look at her songbook through a new lens, especially before tackling new material.  Listening to the director’s cut recordings of classic songs was almost as invigorating as last year’s Peter Gabriel covers record…& 50 Words will definitely help get you through the next two months & then some.

4.  Wilco – The Whole Love:  Would never self-identify as a big Wilco fan, cause it seems like a daunting chore…but this frigging record, with an almost prog-like churn, weird twists & turns & still catchy tuneful treats, has me revisiting all their old albums. This is one of those records that if you put it on during a dinner party you catch people pausing to enjoy it…or maybe I just throw really shitty dinner parties filled with awkward silences.

5.  Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire:  My boy got me through a near-hellish fall/winter. I’ll admit to leaning on the standbys: Pneumonia, Gold, Heartbreaker…& all-time fav Easy Tiger. BUT this album is stand-alone GREAT. Funny reading in the reviews that he took 2 years off, cause there are delicious Sad Dracula/bootleg/one-off breadcrumbs all over the interwebs to satisfy any dry spell, but you can tell that my future husband/ex-Mr. Mandy Moore put in some serious time sequencing, mixing, writing a near-perfect country/roots album.

6.  Chilly Gonzales
– The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales:  There are no words to describe how amazingly meta this man has become. Oh & watch Ivory Tower or die laughing/trying.

7.  St. Vincent – Strange Mercy:  Everyone who wrote off her last two albums as too swirly, orchestral, busy & lush has run out of excuses. This is a fierce stripped down record where two things are glaringly obvious: bitch can shred & hot damn she has complete vocal range & control.

8.  TIE:  Thurston Moore – Demolished Thoughts & Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic:  Combo slots on the list because of the common producer credit – Beck. Solid records for 90s icons on both sides of the studio glass.
9.  PJ Harvey – Let England Shake:  Spare me the Arab-Spring/political interpretation undergrad angst bullshit. This is a structurally sound trudge through the most painful moments in life, the inexplicable, the horrible & the terrifying. A tough slog, but somehow still beautiful.
10.  Bill Callahan – Apocalypse:  With his unique voice, folk tendencies &, well, a goofy approach to lyrics, I worry that a guy like this’ll get a ‘character actor’ stigma (I have more interesting things to worry about but it’s nice to switch it up). What can you do though, right? Wait 20 years & guys like Buscemi are revered as leading men…I trust that history will be equally kind to Mr. Callahan. At least in a big-payout-for-his-estate-Nick-Drake-level-of-reverence kind of way. (Watch “America” & it will all make sense)

inch by inch, life’s a cinch (part two – parentheses edition)

Might as well get these out of the way before the 2012 Mayan calendar apocalypse thing happens, too.  (Again, stalling, yes.)

Top five records in 2011 that were really good, but only in small doses (reasons outlined in handy parentheses):

  1. Austra – Feel it Break (Shrill…Sorry, but it’s true.)
  2. James Blake – s/t (Cold & melancholic, like a poorly curated pop-art exhibit soundtrack.)
  3. tUnE-yArDs – whokill – (Too much, too busy, too piercing in its jangly-ness.)
  4. K Flay – I Stopped Caring in ‘96 (Two words: white guilt.)
  5. Raphael Saddiq – Stone Rollin’ (Too happy.)

Top five records I bought in Australia, still listen to on a regular basis, and secretly wish were released in 2011 because they’d have a fair shot at the real top ten:

  1. Darren Sylvester – s/t (2008 – SERIOUSLY GET THIS. The Cars & T Rex honeymooned in Oz & this record appeared 9mos later.)
  2. Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (2010 – Swirly psych without hippie dippy-tude, still nice & fuzzy around the edges. Sent it to all my Black Angels/WarPaint friends.)
  3. Mystery Twin – s/t (2010 – So different than anything I’ve listened to in ages, great work-music, which isn’t to imply that it’s a total snoozefest, cause, it’s, ugh, just go listen.)
  4. Angus & Julia Stone – Down the Way (2010 – a bit folk-twee, in a Felicity soundtrack kind of way, but not as cheesy as the godawful CD-ROM-flashback-website would have you believe.)
  5. Cut Copy – Zonoscope (FastFact: this came out in 2011 but I had nowhere else to put it.)

Top ten records that I didn’t weigh fairly because I have it in my mind that they should be as great as the artist(s)’s previous LP, which is wrong:

  1. Wild Flag – s/t (It’s hard to not expect more from this amalgamation of grrrl hrrros… REMINDER:  before you get angry, remember the intro about the total unfairness of this list)
  2. Das Racist – Relax (Meh. Maybe it was their lackluster SX appearance…)
  3. Tom Waits – Bad As Me (So so so good.  But still…)
  4. Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune (‘Nice, Nice, Very Nice’ was TOO darn nice.)
  5. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes (‘Little Bit’ less than what I’d hoped.)
  6. The Roots – Undun (Solid…)
  7. Black Keys – El Camino (Again, they set the bar SO high…)
  8. Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde (the NEXT record will be insane…right?)
  9. Ian Kamau – One Day Soon (SO GOOD…but the mixtapes spoiled me.)
  10. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life (concept albums, are, you know, um, tough to pull off…)

inch by inch, life’s a cinch

Faced with debilitating top-ten-list-related anxiety, I’m posting this to stall for a couple days.  It’s not just my indecisiveness that’s delaying the big one, but it’s too lovely to be at the house with my parents.  Hopefully we’ll all pare down screen time in 2012.  Life’s too short.

Apologies in advance if my choices offend…or you could just take this as a challenge to convince me otherwise:

Top ten 2011 records I seriously tried to like but can’t get into:

  • Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  • Joanna Newsom – What We Have Known
  • M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  • Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest
  • Bon Iver – s/t
  • Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
  • Radiohead – King of Limbs
  • Destroyer – Kaputt
  • Drake – Take care
  • The weeknd – all of them