Sunday, March 17, 2013

Listening Habits 01-02.13

Two of our all-time favorite bands have started 2013 by releasing excellent and long-overdue new records (one considerably more so than the other), so there will be no prize for guessing who’s at the top of our "Best Albums" list for the January-February period.

There is no denying that "mbv"’s impact would have been considerably greater had this record come out when it was supposed to, sometime in the mid-90s. The fact, though, that "mbv" still possesses such a great power two decades down the line since the heyday of shoegaze that My Bloody Valentine have practically invented, is truly a testament to this band’s timeless quality. My Bloody Valentine’s sound is beyond genre and era constraints. "mbv" opens up again the door to another dimension of guitar music that we thought it was closed forever. Welcome back Mr. Shields!

For The Bad Seeds it’s been 5 since their previous work (our 2008 Album of the Year "Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!") but Nick Cave has hardly been away, dividing his time between wreaking havoc with the blues punk stomp of Grinderman, writing screenplays and composing soundtracks with Warren Ellis. Having released so much primal energy with his previous albums (let alone the shootouts he wrote about in his script for "Lawless"), with "Push The Sky Away" it’s time for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to return to a more quiet, contemplative and restrained sound. As usual, Cave’s lyrical dark streak and unique sense of humor can lead the most beautiful melodies to sinister turns and unexpected surprises while The Bad Seeds successfully create the right atmosphere for this new batch of songs by giving an admirably minimal, less-is-more performance.

The sophomore efforts by Foxygen and Veronica Falls as well as Foals third LP complete our Top 5 for January-February. You can read about our stunned reaction upon listening to Foxygen’s excellent "We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic" for the first time here.

Veronica Falls gained our attention immediately with their first singles and debut album. With "Waiting For Something To Happen" the band stays on course, still mining their favorite sounds from the '60s and '80s, while refining their technique and melodic skills. Veronica Falls achieve guitar pop perfection not through innovation, but by staying true to the spirit of the music that has inspired them and by adding their own memorable contributions to the cause.

As for Foals, "Holy Fire" should be the album that will help them move up in the line ups of the summer festivals. Funk influenced dance rock tracks like "My Number" will sound perfect both in clubs and in open fields while the album’s lush production by Flood and Alan Moulder is another asset for the band in their effort to reach the wider audience that they deserve.

Here's the list of our favorite albums and tracks for the start of 2013:

Top 12 Albums

2.   Push The Sky Away - NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS
3.   We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic - FOXYGEN
4.   Waiting For Something To Happen - VERONICA FALLS
5.   Holy Fire - FOALS
6.   Fade - YO LA TENGO
7.   World Music - GOAT
9.   Wash The Sins Not Only The Face - ESBEN AND THE WITCH
10. Almanac - WIDOWSPEAK
11. Coming Out Of The Fog - ARBOURETUM
12. For Those Who Wish To See The Glass Half Full - SLOWNESS

Top 15 Tracks

1.   San Francisco - FOXYGEN
2.   Full of Fire - THE KNIFE
4.   Jubilee Street - NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS
5.   Ohm - YO LA TENGO
6.   Teenage - VERONICA FALLS
7.   My Number - FOALS
8.   Stoned and Starving - PARQUET COURTS
9.   World Split Open - ARBOURETUM
10. Spider X - CALIFORNIA X
11. 2013 - PRIMAL SCREAM
12. Locusts - WIDOWSPEAK
13. When That Head Splits - ESBEN AND THE WITCH
15. Calm & Dispel - SLOWNESS

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