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Category: Album Reviews

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You know the deal. Here comes another year end list, this one highlighting the best local releases (anything from the state of Georgia) of 2013. Ranked in a mostly arbitrary fashion by local music director WIll Guerin, with special consideration to input from Patrick Boyle and Alec Livaditis, as well as a handful of other WUOG staffers. Don’t read too much into the individual rankings, we just put the numbers there so you’ll (hopefully) read the list. So go ahead and enjoy 20 of our favorite 2013 local releases, edited by Dafna Kaufman and Will Guerin.

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Hey everybody. A few quick details on how we put all this together: We compiled a small team of writers/editors out of the current and incoming executive staff at the station. Our weighted votes, along with the votes of 25 other WUOG staffers determined a definitive Top 50 list that we feel best represents the thoughts and views of the station. (more…)

Blood Orange
Cupid Deluxe
Domino
Known predominantly as a man who works for other artists, Devonte Hynes sure knows how to make music that is without a doubt his own. After providing the vital character for Solange’s True and writing tracks for Britney Spears new album that won’t see the light of day, Hynes has branched out on his own to create his second solo endeavor under the moniker Blood Orange. This isn’t to say Cupid Deluxe is entirely a solo record – each song features collaboration with a multitude of familiar names in the music scene. (more…)

Active Child
Rapor EP
Vagrant Records

This is Pat Grossi (alias Active Child)’s third E.P. and his fourth release overall. Ellie Goulding, who covered “Hanging On” appears here, as does relative newcomer Mikky Ekko. It’s a gorgeous, short piece of electropop that is pretty consistent all the way through. It’s as atmospheric and beautiful as early Depeche Mode but is admittedly a lot more fun to listen to. There’s a pretty clear R&B influence here which oddly fits with the atmospheric synthpop production. It’s a fun, catchy record that anyone can get into. – Dan Clifford

Cut Copy
Free Your Mind
Loma Vista Recordings

The new album by Australia’s finest dance-rock act Cut Copy, Free Your Mind is one of the most fun and enjoyable records released this year. Structured around a few psychedelic interludes, the record is filled to the brim with catchy tunes and subtle grooves. One of Cut Copy’s greatest strengths is the way they can build a groove and then create a catchy song around it. Dan Whitford’s voice is breezy and his production creates songs that sound equally great at a dance party or an afternoon spent in the sun. All those psychedelic interludes lead up to the penultimate track “Walking in the Sky”, which is essentially Cut Copy’s version of a power ballad. It once again repeats the mantra that gives the album its title. Free Your Mind does just that, providing 50 minutes of escape and pleasure. – Andy Tabeling

Connan Mockasin
Caramel
Phantasy

Filled with phased and reverbed and pitch shifted vocals, crystalline guitar, and luxurious synth, this album just wants to give you that Ooh Baby real smooth like. With AM radio soft rock and Ariel Pink-esque soft focused nostalgia holding hands at the forefront of the sonic pallet here, Caramel welcomes you in with wide open arms and holds you tight and give you that Oh La La with tracks like the slinky “I’m The Man, That Will Find You” and “I Wanna Roll With You.”  Give it a spin and get some of that sweet Caramel as soon as you can.  - Sebastian Marquez

Edited by: Nathan Kerce

Cass McCombs
Big Wheel and Others
Domino

In his first release since 2011’s two releases Wit’s End and Humor Risk, Cass McCombs has released a sprawling double LP filled with clever lyrics and delicate tributes to psychedelia, country and folk. The LP’s massive length makes this a dense journey but a close listen reveals the layers that McCombs employs to keep the listener engaged over a long period of time. While the instrumentation remains fairly in the realm of a normal indie rock band, McCombs effectively uses odd guitar sounds and the occasional gentle steel guitar to create a welcoming atmosphere that remains listenable across the album’s 85 minutes. Lyrically, McCombs is as witty and clever as ever and Big Wheel and Others yet again displays his storytelling ability as well as his wonderful sense of humor. The patient find themselves rewarded with a large collection of meticulously crafted, clever rock tunes.  – Andy Tabeling

Yuck
Glow & Behold
Fat Possum

With the departure of Yuck’s former frontman Daniel Blumberg many speculated that the London group’s dissolution was imminent. However, for Yuck’s sophomore effort, guitarist Max Bloom has taken over songwriting and vocal duties. The group’s sound has changed along with its lineup but they’re still clinging to their 90’s inspired roots.  Yuck originally garnered comparisons to nineties indie rock groups like Pavement and Yo La Tengo, channeling a fuzzed out lo-fi sound. Glow & Behold finds the trio leaning towards their more melodic work from their first album, polishing its edges for a lush, quieter sound.  The few remnants of the band’s raw debut are “Middle Sea” and “Glow & Behold” while the other tracks are softer and more refined to suit Bloom’s vocals. Glow & Behold still walks in the footsteps of its predecessor while working with a gentler, more lyrically abstract tracklist. – Thomas Jurgens

Parquet Courts
Tally All The Things That You Broke
What’s Your Rupture

Slacker rock takes on many forms. There’s the melodic, feel good vibes of Mac Demarco on one end but across the spectrum lies Parquet Courts, a garage punk group who’s lyrics conjure both a smile and a roll of the eyes. Apparently, not much has changed since the foursome’s breakout hit Light Up Gold was (re)released earlier this year to critical acclaim. The drums are as dampened as ever, the guitars are constantly strumming and Andrew Savage continues to fit as much “social commentary” as he can possibly mumble into his two minute (on average) songs. If anything, the group has expanded on the wacky atmosphere their lyrics can often create. Instrumentally, things get really silly. Album opener “You’ve Got Me Wondrin’ Now’s” use of sporadic flute and the closing track’s inclusion of a digital cowbell that sounds like it came from a child’s keyboard. The album’s cover is an especial indication of the elevated silliness with an obvious misspelling of their own name.  In essence, Tally All The Things That You Broke is nothing surprising, but it is a pleasant extension of a sound that garnered the quartet so much attention in the first place. – Jonathan Williams

Edited by: Nathan Kerce

DARKSIDE
Psychic
Matador

Producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington (otherwise known as DARKSIDE) have managed to generate much hype since their 2011 inception, releasing a noteworthy EP and even remixing Daft Punk’s album Random Access Memories. Their new LP, Psychic, not only builds upon their established industrial sonority—it transcends it. DARKSIDE once again utilizes minimalist percussion and bluesy guitar riffs, but also masters the art of using silence as an instrument—accenting every last nuance. As a result, their precise attention to detail enables them to bring together two juxtaposing genres to conceive an entirely new one, propelling ambient electronic music into uncharted territories. Psychic is intelligent, dark, modern—and certainly one of the most praiseworthy albums to be released this year.- Magnolia Triplett

 

Glasser
Interiors
True Panther Sounds

Cameron Mesirow, alias Glasser, strikes me as someone who could easily write straightforward pop songs but that wouldn’t be half as interesting as what she offers up on her sophomore LP, Interiors. Her style is incredibly difficult to describe – at times I was reminded of Madonna’s Ray of Light and moments later I’d think  of Aphex Twin. The one word that consistently came to mind was “beautiful.” This album shimmers and shines while still taking very strange and interesting directions, often mid-song. The track names have a theme of architecture; if this album were a building, there’s no doubt it would be as surreal and shiny as the album cover. I hate to use such bizarre metaphors but you’ll understand if you listen to the record… it’s quite difficult to describe. – Dan C.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The Speed of Things
Warner Bros

With a name that somehow made the jump from late night “hah- that should be a band name” to actually being a band, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s second album delivers a dose of dreamy dancey indie pop. Showcasing wordy hooks that are actually quite Reptar-esque [especially on the track “Run”], their catchiness is more lyrical than banal. Fairly typical indie rock goodness here, with enough innovative electropop elements, spacey breaks and little vocal harmonies/falsettos to keep you listening to your favorite songs. Sometimes memorable and danceable, like the aptly named single, “If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t on the Dance Floor]” or dreamy and low-key on songs like “Beautiful Dream” to straight up catchy but acerbic on “Don’t Tell Me.” This Detroit duo managed to avoid the Sophomore slump and seems to be working on a solid catalog to accompany their novelty band name. – Brett Bennett

Edited By: Nathan Kerce