I’ve got a new post up on some Yankees and Giants prospects in A-ball, including Jose Vicente Campos, and a draft blog post on Jacksonville RHP Chris Anderson. I’ll write up my look at prep catcher Nick Ciuffo later this week.
So far 2013 is shaping up to be a pretty good year for music, or at least the kind of music I tend to like. I don’t want to do a ranking this early in the year, but I’ve heard so many great songs already that I also didn’t want to wait until the midpoint or until December to start talking about them. I discuss my favorite song of the year first, but after that they’re not in any real order.
Everything Everything – “Cough Cough.” (video)The best song I’ve heard this year, first brought to my attention in January by reader Paul Boyé (aka @Phrontiersman), who said he thought their new album would fit my taste in music and absolutely nailed it. (The song provided the epigram at the start of my most recent Klawchat, too.) Everything Everything remind me of alt-J in their high level of experimentalism, with unusual song structures and frequent key and tempo changes, but where alt-J is meditative and minimalist, Everything Everything is effusive and layered. “Cough Cough” is the best track of the five on their U.S. EP release*, but I also love “Kemosabe” (video), slower-paced but just as dramatic, and “MY KZ UR BF” (video), a track from their first album featuring off-beat lyrics (literally and figuratively) and transitions from tumbling verses to the catchier chorus. I love how “Undrowned” references (and rhymes) Falklands and Balkans. Even “Torso of the Week” has its moments, something that can happen when you don’t limit each song to a single hook or motif. If you generally like my music recs – like alt-J or Of Monsters & Men – you should buy this EP.
* Is anything more anachronistic in the world of media than staggered release dates for music? Isn’t that just inviting piracy? I could sort of understand it in the era of physical releases, but we’re way past that point. The idea of the album itself is nearly dead (and, I still maintain, a violation of anti-trust laws prohibiting bundling), and making the songs available for digital downloads bears very little cost to the label.
Little Green Cars – “Harper Lee.” (a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHwMDr6dMHI >video) This Irish quintet (?) will inevitably get comps to Mumford & Sons, because that’s who everyone with an acoustic guitar and a harmony gets compared to these days, but I hear far more of the Decemberists here, mixed with a dose of the Mamas and the Papas.
Leagues – “You Belong Here” and “Spotlight.” (video) The latter track is the one getting airplay on XM right now, but the former is strong as well, and it’s free on amazon right now. Their music has sunny vocal lines, Motown elements underneath, with a hard edge to the guitar sound, giving the whole package a retro 60s/70s feel. This feels to me like the band everyone pretends the Black Keys are.
Wavves – “Sail To The Sun.” (video) I received a promotional download of their new album when it came out, and have been pleasantly surprised by its mix of melodic post-punk tracks like this one or “Demon to Lean On” and atmospheric tracks like “Everything is My Fault.” I prefer the faster-paced songs myself, but a full album of that would get old very quickly, and they’re smart to keep the punk-lite tracks on the short side.
The Mowgli’s – “San Francisco.” (video) Shame on America if we don’t make this the feel-good cross-over hit of the summer. It’s a shout-along piece of alt-pop silliness that seems destined to be overplayed before we hit Labor Day, and I mean that as a compliment. I picked up their entire EP, which is on sale for $4 on amazon; this is by far the best track, with “The Great Divide” and “Slowly, Slowly” also worth a listen, bearing the same everyone-sing-real-loud approach, but not nearly as hooky as this one.
San Cisco – “Awkward.” (video)I say it’s brilliant; my wife says it’s annoying and I need to stop singing it around the house. A call-and-response track about a first date where the two participants came away with rather different impressions of how it went, it’s the rare humorous song that can survive past the point where you’ve grown tired of the joke.
The 1975 – “Chocolate.” (video) I don’t love the Mancunian singer’s affected vocal style, but the catchiness of the pizzicato lick that drives the song and the “we’re never gonna quit” chorus (later clarified with “if you don’t stop smokin’ it,” undermining the song’s apparent exhortation to persevere). It’s getting airtime on alternative stations, but this is a straight-up pop song by a band that just isn’t mainstream yet.
The Neighbourhood – “Female Robbery.” (video) A little overplayed on XMU/Alt Nation, this one reminds me of a lot of the alternative tracks coming from Britain in the mid-90s that blended electronic elements with deliveries that were half-sung, half-rapped – Moloko, White Town, Space, etc.
Suede – “Barriers.” (video) A strong comeback track from the Britpop darlings of the early ’90s, fueled by a plaintive six-note guitar riff replayed through most of the song. I loved their first album, and the first track off their second album (after the departure of guitarist Bernard Butler), but after that they seemed to lose their aptitude for crafting post-glam pop masterpieces and disappeared from my view. Even if it’s just this one song, it’s good to see a glimpse of the old Suede again. (Also, this needs to be Brett Anderson’s warmup music, right?)
Foals – “Inhaler.” (video) I guess Foals’ typical music is less heavy and more dance-oriented, but the loud, dense guitar riff during and behind the chorus sold me on this one right away. Even the sharply picked lines before that seem menacing, foreshadowing the giant crunch that comes once the song hits the bridge.
Lemaitre – “Iron Pyrite.” (video) Self-described “discodudes” from Norway, using a ’70s-style funk riff (I assume it’s a sample) over a modern drum track, made successful by the staccato-picked guitar line that repeats throughout the song. I received a promo download of their EP as well, but this was the only track that stood out to me.
CHVRCHES – “The Mother We Share.” (video) A Scottish electropop group whose female singer sounds like she hasn’t hit puberty yet, CHVRCHES won a prize for the best “developing” non-U.S. act at SXSW this year, with this track and “Recover” both seeing some airplay on XM now.
Royal Teeth – “Wild.” (video)Released last summer, but just receiving airplay over the last few months, it’s got a great Foster the People/Naked and Famous vibe to it, with two vocalists over a pseudo African/tribal beat.
PAPA – “Put Me to Work.” (video)Another SXSW hit, PAPA, featuring the former drummer for Girls, tries to blend the sounds of early British punk acts (notably the Clash) and Americana/rock artists like Bruce Springsteen, with some hints of folk and R&B as well. I heard a little of the Hold Steady here, but like this better than anything I’ve heard from THS … and I won’t even get into how I’m not a Springsteen fan.
Young Rebel Set – “Measure of A Man.” (video) I tweeted a link to this song’s video the other day, suggesting it as a track Mumford and Sons fans would likely enjoy. The song was first released in the UK in 2011 but didn’t come to my ears until it appeared on a promotional sampler I got about a month ago, so I guess it’s getting a second push stateside. It could easily have come off either of Mumford’s albums, aside from the vocal style, which is more Irish-drinking-song than Mumford’s British-country-howl.
I’m also looking forward to new albums from Phoenix (April 22nd), Fitz and the Tantrums (May 7th), and, all on June 4th, Queens of the Stone Age, Rogue Wave, and Portugal. The Man. All that before the All-Star Break adds up to a pretty strong year.