Argument-starter/band Deafheaven are hard to pin down. They’re most commonly described as a mix between post-rock, black metal and shoegaze. I’d like to think that I know a little bit about all three of those genres (though according to some the fact I like Deafheaven means I know nothing about music at all) but truthfully, to me, a song like “Dream House” doesn’t sound like it would fall under any of those labels. It’s a cacophony of beautiful guitar solos, screamed vocals and empowering percussion breakdowns –it just sounds good. I know that kind of seems like a lazy thing to say when writing about music but when the discussion is so heavily muddled by genre nitpicking and superiority grabs it feels like a necessary statement.
When it came to picking song of the year that I both enjoyed and felt that I could write about, I was torn between two songs from vastly different acts: “She Will” by the stark all-girl post-punkers Savages, or “Q.U.E.E.N” by funky android woman Janelle Monáe. Savages are dark and serious, while Janelle just wants to kick up a groove. Savages are intimidating with their all black clothes and glowering stares but Janelle seems intimidating only because she’s probably way cooler and definitely a better dancer than you.
However, both songs are similar in their messages of empowerment and bucking societal regulations. “She Will” attacks puritanical restrictions of female sexuality and “Q.U.E.E.N” attacks restrictions of anyone who feels ostracized by mainstream society.
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. For this particular post we’ve disregarded local albums, though they’ll get their own respective “Best of 2013″ post in the upcoming week or so. We also made the decision to disregard station philosophy while compiling this list, so Billboard chart success has not excluded any deserving artists from making the cut. Below the jump are our top ten picks for the year accompanied by brief thoughts from members of our editorial team. At the bottom of the post you can see our entire top fifty list ranked in order of points garnered from the voting system. Have a happy new year and thanks for taking the time out of your day to check this out! – Nathan Kerce, blog/music director.
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. This use of particular artist selection is what gives the album its abundance of character and varietal depth. Even though the two guest MC’s feel like placeholders for Hynes’ immaculate production skills to shine, the guest vocalists are an essential part to the record’s charm. Tracks such as “Always Let U Down” and “Chamakay” are unimaginable without their female counterparts who drive the song into being the powerful midnight grooves they are. This is all taken into consideration that Hynes’ vocal output and production are noteworthy on their own. The real brilliance of Cupid Deluxe, however, lies in Hynes’ knowledge of how to fill the gaps of his own weaknesses with artists who can add character to his solid ideas that may not be executed as well on his own. – Jonny Williams
This is the six piece so-fun-it-hurts indie pop act’s fifth release. As usual, it is snarky, biting and tongue in cheek sophisticated. Gareth Campesinos! [everyone in the band adopts the same last name, exclamation point and all] sings all about heartbreak but in his own overly high strung and sarcastic way. You can almost understand why it never works out for him. Lovely, catchy and littered with European soccer [football?] references it’s a worthy successor to their previous albums. Perhaps they’ve settled down a bit, the screechy, grating shout-along-in-your-car songs are few and far between. “Avocado, Baby” is the only song that comes close to the franticness of say, “My Year in Lists”- with the last chorus of the song shouted by a pack of cheerleaders. “Let it Spill” is probably the definite hit, “Glue Me” is lowkey and slower [while still sharply angry and antagonistic] and “Cemetery Gaits” wins points for being an obvious winking Smiths allusion. Like the Smiths, the album mixes naval-gazing moroseness with self-aware snark but nlike the Smiths, Los Campesinos! are flashy and poppy and easily danceable. However, while albums described as fun and catchy are often forgotten in a few months, LC!’s turns of phrase and obscure asides and allusions make No Blues an album to keep coming back to. – Brett Bennett
Spring Songs EP
Beautiful. No other word can simply describe how Title Fight have evolved as both a band and a figurehead of modern punk rock and hardcore. The album starts off with “Blush” and it’s the most traditional sounding song on the EP. Pounding drums, thumping bass and driving guitars all echo around the indescribable howl of lead singer and bassist Ned Russin. The EP begins to stray away from their melodic hardcore sound and into something more akin to Jawbreaker or Dinosaur Jr. in the second track “Be a Toy.” This song is built around an instantly nostalgic riff that never gets old as it is played again and again over Jamie Rhoden’s vocals which foil Ned’s angsty howl with a mid-toned slacker drawl that fills the track with a fuzzy and warm mood.The last two tracks, “Receiving Line” and “Hypnotize” both add to the fuzzy, nostalgic feel of the album with droning yet punchy basslines mixing perfectly with Jamie’s mild vocals and singing guitar leads. It’s a wonder to me how Title Fight are able to meld the intensity and dynamism of hardcore with emo’s sincerity and thoughtfulness so perfectly and still be able to write some of the catchiest tunes of the year. If you have loved the past two Title Fight LP’s prepare to see your favorite Philly Punks continue to be one of the most innovative and beautiful bands in modern punk rock. Viva la Revelation. Viva la Hardcore. Viva la Title Fight. – Lucas Carver
Edited by: Nathan Kerce
Back in May we heard a snippet of rapper ScHoolboy Q’s Chromatics-sampling “Man of THe Year” at the end of his TDE label mate and rising superstar Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” video. The thirty second preview could only satisfy fans for so long and after several delays of the release of his debut Oxymoron and a few less-exciting singles (”Collard Greens” excluded), it seemed like ScHoolboy’s hype had run dry among the online hip-hop community that gave him success in the first place. Well, forget all that because the full version of the track is finally here (released as part of the NBA Live videogame soundtrack) and it appears the ScHoolboy support movement has roared back to life. Lyrically we find Q back doing his hyped up sex fiend schtick. He’s rich, horny and has access to a lot of drugs, this isn’t new territory but he fits the role so well it doesn’t matter. The real star here is the beat, produced by Nez & Rio (and mixed by Ali as always), it features a prominent sample of Chromatics track “Cherry“ and manages to simultaneously resemble the best of cloud-rap production (in fact cloud rapper Deniro Farrar flipped this same sample in a song earlier this year) with the radio potential of mainstream bangers.
Listen to “Man of THe Year” here and check out Oxymoron when it drops sometime early next year via TDE/Interscope.
By: Nathan Kerce