1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Voting Points: 213
The spectacle of the album release was a wonder in itself, and Arcade Fire’s experimentation into Disco was the top voted album of the year by a wide margin in our poll.
2. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
Voting Points: 157.5
The second mix tape from Chance the Rapper caught the attention of multiple departments in our station, helping it be named the top hip-hop album of the year on our list.
3. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Voting Points: 142
The sound matured for Vampire Weekend, solidifying their role as one of the premiere pop artists in today’s music scene.
4. Local Natives – Hummingbird
Voting Points: 112
An inspired and experimental album from the group garnered them a lot of attention this year from media publications, and our DJs viewed it with a similar level of admiration.
5. FIDLAR – FIDLAR
Voting Points: 106
The debut album for the California Skate-Punk band brought a ton of energy with it during their screamed stories about drugs and youthful ideals.
6. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Voting Points: 102
A relaxing and pretty listen, Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze gave Kurt Vile a lot of artistic freedom to create long songs about his past experiences that have led up to this point.
7. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
Voting Points: 92
The sophomore album by the group tended to get mixed reviews from critics, but our DJs were supporters with it finding it’s way onto numerous lists.
8. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Voting Points: 90
One of the more consistent alternative bands out there released another very good album this year, while also having a documentary about them made by Berninger’s brother aptly named “Mistaken For Strangers” receive favorable reviews at film festivals.
9. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Voting Points: 87
Foxygen found themselves getting talked about a lot this year with We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors, and they were the most played artist on our station in 2013.
10. Kanye West – Yeezus
Voting Points: 77.5
Probably the most polarizing man in music added a new album to his discography this year and debate ensued about where the album actually stood in his discography. Our DJs liked it enough to have it round out the top 10.
Continue reading WCDB’s Top Albums of 2013
1. Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk
This Australian outfit’s short, neo-soul/R&B LP easily got the most plays in my music library this year. With a 30-minute runtime, this album behaves like a mixtape, and is delicious from start to finish. Its dynamic soundscapes oscillate between spaced-out hip-hop and future soul grooves, showcasing the band’s compositional prowess and musicianship on each song.
2. Jai Paul – Jai Paul
UK producer Jai Paul’s album was released amid controversy, heightening the anticipation for his long – awaited debut. A ploy? No matter, this is a surefire banger that is bound to make you move! Whether he intended to or not, Jai Paul serves up this year’s finest offering of electro pop, chopped with weird glitches, silky interludes and eccentric vocal harmonies.
3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
UMO’s sophomore release reveals a new direction for the group without abandoning its psychedelic roots. Singer/songwriter Ruban Nielson refines his song structures, even dabbling in some R&B along the way, as the band delivers a somewhat patient and more polished offering from their debut effort. Fans of their first will have their thirsts quenched by phased out guitar riffs, distorted horn lines, and psyche-funk breakdowns, as II intrigues listeners while luring them further down the rabbit hole.
4. Thundercat – Apocalypse
Stephen Bruner’s bass grooves have been in high demand for the past few years, notably lending them to Flying Lotus’ recordings while touring in Erykah Badu’s backing band. Apocalypse could be considered a concept album, exploring themes of friendship, love and loss, as Bruner responds to the death of long-time friend and keyboardist, Austin Peralta. A fusion of pop, soul and R&B layered with tasty vocal harmonies, scorching bass lines and a few wacky time signatures, Apocalypse delivers catchy hooks amidst its complexity that ensure repeat listens.
5. Matthew E. White – Outer Face
Matthew E. White’s follow-up to last year’s Big Inner, Outer Face serves as an extension of his solo debut – rooted in Americana, and confident. White’s attention to detail is what makes this album shine; with prudent panning, dynamic swells, subtle touches and bass grooves to boot, Outer Face is simultaneously patient and bold.
6. Bilal – A Love Surreal
A Love Surreal ventures toward the avant-garde side of neo-soul and R&B to accompany the Coltrane nod in its title. With unconventional melodies and harmony structures overtop smooth chord changes and back beats, Bilal explores his creativity on this release. The result is an album that engages listeners with multifaceted arrangements, dynamic swells and sexy spells, all without sacrificing accessibility.
7. Danny Brown – Old
The Detroit rapper’s follow up to his widely praised debut, XXX, features a slightdeparture from his established signature sounds, solidifying Old as this year’s gold standard for hip-hop. Functioning as a dual album, its A-side features more old school production, while the B-side nods to more contemporary, party-rap configurations. Now in his 30’s, Danny Brown explores stories of aging betwixt his inescapable past of poverty and drugs, carefully constructing this concept album as each song masterfully flows to the next.
8. Ducktails – Wish Hotel EP
Matt Mondanile was a busy man this year, releasing two albums for his solo recording project, Ducktails. On Wish Hotel, Mondanile records by his lonesome, diving deeper into the hazy soundscapes explored on his full-length release, The Flower Lane, from earlier this year. While the LP meanders, Wish Hotel maintains focus, clouding its listeners with phased out pop melodies and distorted keyboard tones, capturing the mood of its fall-time release.
9. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
No surprise here as Arcade Fire’s latest has made quite a bit of noise since its October release, finding itself atop myriad year-end lists. Clever marketing tricks aside, Reflektor is equipped with production from James Murphy, and showcases the pure craftsmanship of Arcade Fire. Perhaps in an attempt to capture their live sound, the album is lively and paranoid, switching seamlessly between carefully constructed choruses and limber electro-grooves, effectively keeping listeners on their toes.
10. Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Foxygen’s first full-length release feels as though its paying homage to their Sixties’ heroes while simultaneously poking fun at them right to their faces. Its playfulness is endearing and supports its lyrical prowess, alternating between folk tales and colorful anecdotes. We are the Ambassadors delves into psychedelic breakdowns amidst shifty time signatures and clever hooks; this album is more fun with each repeat listen.
Continue reading Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013
10. Silence Yourselves – Savages
Released May 6, 2013
Silence Yourself is Savages first full length LP. I was first introduced to Savages this year and when I finally got to listening to the album, I really enjoyed it. It’s loud but it also has it’s softer moments too. The track that I enjoy the most is Hit Me because it has all of this energy and craziness packed into a 1:41 song.
9. Overgrown – James Blake
Released April 5, 2013
I first got into James Blake after he released his first album James Blake back in 2011. With this album, James Blake decided to go with less of an electronic sound than his previous releases and went with more of an R&B sound. This album is a nice listen and it has the ability to appeal to more people than his previous releases, with my favorites off this album being “Retrograde” and “Overgrown“.
8. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
Released May 27, 2013
I wasn’t too familiar with The National’s previous work, but I really did enjoy this album. This is The National’s sixth full length album and it’s pretty sweet, I really enjoy the calmness of it. Take a listen to “Pink Rabbits” & “Don’t Swallow The Cap“.
7. Walking On A Pretty Daze – Kurt Vile
Released April 9, 2013
I wish I had this album playing whenever I would take long drives in the summertime because it feels like that kind of album. It’s sweet and an easy album to listen to. My picks are “Never Run Away” and “Was All Talk“.
6. Loud City Song – Julia Holter
Released August 20, 2013
Loud City Song is the third album Julia Holter has released. This is the first album where she recorded with a full band to add a more full sound that she was missing in her previous releases. The track “Horns Surrounding Me” is a clear representation of the full sound, and the album as a whole is really pretty and easy to listen to. My Favorites off this album are “This Is a True Heart” and “In the Green Wild“.
5. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Released October 28, 2013
On Arcade Fire’s fourth album they decided to go for more of a disco feel. This definitely was not my favorite Arcade Fire release, but I do believe that they accomplish what they wanted to do because they wanted to make an album with disco and dance elements in it. I do prefer Arcade Fire’s sound from their previous releases, but I still think that Reflektor is a solid album.
4. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon – King Krule
Released August 24, 2013
King Krule does a really good job of mixing rock, hip hop and other genres into this album. I started listening to King Krule back when he released his EP King Krule and then listened to his EP U.F.O.W.A.V.E that he released back when he went by the name Zoo Kid. Most of the songs from U.F.O.W.A.V.E made it to 6 Feet Beneath The Moon and have been cleaned up and updated. This album has beautiful moments like in “Neptune Estate” and more upbeat moments like in “A Lizard State“.
3. Hummingbird – Local Natives
Released January 29, 2013
It’s been four years since Local Natives released their first album Gorilla Manor, so as a fan of the band I was eagerly waiting for them to finally release some new music. This album is packed with meaningful songs that were written at the time of the passing of Kelcey Ayer’s mother. In the song “Colombia”, Kelcey is praying to his mother and asking her if he is giving and loving enough, and moments like this are what show the beauty in this album. “Colombia” and “Ceilings” are two of my favorites.
2. We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
Released January 22, 2013
I don’t remember how I heard about Foxygen, but I remember being obsessed with it as soon as I listened to the album. I went to the record store, bought the album, and played it all the time. Foxygen has a lot of elements from other bands, but they still manage to make their sound their own. My favorites off of this album are “Oh No 2” and “On Blue Mountain“.
1. Modern Vampires Of The City – Vampire Weekend
Released May 14, 2013
I was so excited for this album. Soon after it released, I had go to the store to pick up a copy. Vampire Weekend’s third album follows up the band’s 2010 release Contra with a different sound, as on this album Vampire Weekend goes for a less upbeat sound like their previous albums and focus a lot more on their lyrics. One of my favorite lines from the album is “Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth/ Age is an honor – it’s still not the truth” from the song “Step”. The themes of youth and faith are explored throughout this album and Vampire Weekend does it in a way where it feels effortless. Listen to “Unbelievers” and “Step“.
The year 2013 was the first year I, dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS, graced WCDB as a DJ. It was the best of years, It was a year filled with great music and plenty of hard choices. The top 20 albums according to me are officially out and the crowds have been quelled. Enjoy.
TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2013
20. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
This album came out on October 29. Many would call this indie rock-pop at it’s best, but I call it great music. That’s why its number 20. My favorite song, “Avocado, Baby”, strikes at my heart strings. The lyrics, “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, That’s why they call me the avocado, baby” really shows you how this band can be a little goofy but sing about some of the more serious things in life. Do I recommend listening to this album? Of course!
19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
I’ve listened to this album over and over again, and the music video for “Mosquito” continues to creep me out. This album has a song produced by the GOD James Murphy. The two songs that are to be listened are called “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito”.
18. James Blake – Overgrown
Overgrown is one of those albums you can have playing while you do EVERYTHING. Driving? Overgrown. Sleeping? Overgrown. Shopping for groceries? Overgrown. The song “Retrograde” just resonates with your ever living soul. You probably hum, I know I do. His previous album is just a preview of what he can do. This album really shows a mature James Blake. Amazing.
17. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
I started listening to this album by playing the song “Fireproof” through my speakers. It was like a wild fire and before I realized it I had listened to this album multiple times through. There are other songs to look forward to hearing, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “This Is The Last Time”, and “I Need My Girl” are just some of the few that need to be named.
16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
The pop that was seen on previous albums is again found in this album. The gang of four that call themselves Vampire Weekend have once again made a great album. Songs like “Step”, “Diane Young”, and “Unbelievers” really can be traced back to their first album. This album receives my 5 Diane Youngs out of 5 Diane Youngs.
Continue reading dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013
2013 wasn’t an amazing year for music, but a lot of cool things did happen. There were artists who re-emerged on the scene in Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, and The Pixies, and then there was a movement headed by Daft Punk and Arcade Fire to try and revive disco in a modernized way. The reason for my semi-disappointment is that a lot of the artist’s efforts this year to set a new standard for their peers failed in my eyes to create something overly significant and lasting (with one exception). Motives aside, and favoritism thrown out the window, here are my top 25 albums to get released in 2013
25. Of Montreal- Lousy With Sylvianbriar
Release Date: October 08, 2013
I’m really interested to know if this album’s stripped down and more accessible approach was a choice made by Barnes or his management. A part of me hates it because I view him as one of the most fascinating artists out there and really enjoy hearing what he creates when he tries to make electronic masterpieces, but Lousy With Sylvianbriar serves as a reminder to earlier Of Montreal days when he made his living off making pretty pop songs and displayed his thoughts in a less bizarre way.
Track Pick: “Triumph of Disintegration”
24. Thee Oh Sees- Floating Coffin
Release Date: April 16, 2013
One of the better noisy rock albums that came out this year, Thee Oh Sees is a band that must be an absolute blast to see live and tries to capture that energy on the album. When that does happen it’s an awesome thing to hear, but it happens inconsistently as interest tends to fade during the second half of the album, but there are some gems on it like the one suggested below in “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”.
Track Pick: “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”
23. Wavves- Afraid of Heights
Release Date: March 16, 2013
I like listening to Wavves because their music is fun, and that’s why Afraid of Heights gets mentioned here despite it’s struggle to be substantial. They can do much better than this and have shown potential to write interesting songs, but they haven’t quite gotten to their peak yet in my opinion and I’m hopeful that they do soon.
Track Pick: “Cop”
22. The National- Trouble Will Find Me
Release Date: May 17, 2013
The product was still good on Trouble Will Find Me, but it’s a difficult one to get inspired by because it sounds uninspired in comparison to the previous three releases. I do enjoy Berninger’s delivery and cadence in their music a lot though, and it appears that even a sub-par record by The National is a quality album when you compare it to it’s peers.
Track Pick: “Don’t Swallow the Cap”
Release Date: March 25, 2013
This was the debut album for the group and it was a great success by a lot of standards. Their sound has evolved already from their first EP, and In Love is a more consistent album than most bands will achieve in their entire discography, let alone on their debut. This group has a ton of potential but I still have some questions about which genre they ultimately gravitate towards, because they’re stuck in between pop and rock right now and that’s not a good place for them to be because they’re completely different approaches.
Track Pick: “California Daze”
Continue reading Kyle’s Best of 2013
Release Date: 10/28/2013
Staying fair with this album is difficult. On one side, the Arcade Fire and Reflektors buildup was gigantic and the live show I attended(and covered in another post) was the best live event that I’ve ever seen. This seemed to set the table for this to be an almost unfathomable ‘next-step’ for a band which was already one of the premiere names within the alternative music scene, and a band who was already following up on an album which won album of the year in 2011. In my opinion, that next step didn’t happen on Reflektor, but you can’t hold the fact that an album didn’t turn out to be a classic against it when grading. Reflektor is a very good album which contributes to the dream of reviving disco in 2013, and it’s awesome to hear that when Arcade Fire collaborates with James Murphy the product can legitimately be played and danced to at random venues. There’s also a few new Arcade Fire gems like “Normal Person”, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus) “and my personal favorite “Here Comes The Night Time”(which I personally believe will become as hypnotic and repetitively played as “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” was for Tame Impala in 2012). Reflektor is much better than the average record that you’d hear, which is why it deserves an A-, but it’s hard to mark it higher when it’s likely the third or fourth best Arcade Fire album out of their four releases(Neon Bible being it’s competition). The final viewpoint for me is that it’s really cool to hear Arcade Fire do disco, but I don’t think that this product is as good as what they’ve done before, so I hope it’s not a permanent sound shift.
Release Date: 10/14/2013
Cults had an outstanding self-titled debut album back in 2011 which showed a lot of promise for the indie pop duo, but there was a bit of an odd development in between that release and their sophomore effort Static. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion decided to split and end their relationship, but maintain the band and continue releasing music together, a snippet which makes tracks like “Always Forever” a bit of an awkward listen. Static is a step back for the band in terms of the energy and catchy pop choruses which were present on their debut, but this album is still a fun listen even if it is an unspectacular release.
Release Date: 10/08/2013
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Cults actually have a lot in common, both indie pop duos released terrific debuts in 2011 (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s being It’s A Corporate World) and released their second albums within a week of each other. It’s a tough band to judge because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is exceptionally good at making music with pop gimmicks in it, which begs the question of if an album should be judged based upon how enjoyable it is or how likely it is to last the test of time. The Speed of Things is not an album which is going to inspire people to make new music or make people marvel at their sources of inspiration, but the album is a tremendously fun listen with moments that are surprisingly beautiful. Hopefully increased exposure for the band inspires them to take more risks in future projects about song topics because they have a great pop sensibility, and it would be fun to hear what a more ambitious project by them would sound like.
Arcade Fire is set to release their fourth studio album Reflektor on October 28, and they’ve taken an interesting approach to advertising themselves. What they’ve essentially done is abandon the Arcade Fire name temporarily so they could be re-labeled as The Reflektors, a band whose rise to fame was assured once fans realized it was the same band. One really nice part about this strategy is that The Reflektors didn’t start by playing in gigantic venues, their first gigs were intimate and often unannounced events where they would usually play nearly entirely new material. It was a rare chance to see such a widely successful band in a small club and it gained them a lot of notoriety from music publications. When Arcade Fire announced last week that they would be playing two gigs in Brooklyn on Friday and Saturday, I decided to pre-order their album so that I could get myself into the pre-sale. The shows were at a seldom used venue and only had one requirement: formal attire or costume required. I was extremely excited about the possibility of the show as their previous gigs seemed like the coolest concerts I had ever heard of, but some of my expectations were misled while others were exceeded.
For starters, the ticket situation was handled in a completely fair and understandable way, but it could have been done better. Nearly 80% of the tickets that were sold were sold in the pre-sale so that scalpers couldn’t dictate the price to much, a good idea which was probably suggested by James Murphy after the fiasco of trying to sell tickets to his final show in Madison Square Garden, but it had the fallback of making the affair almost entirely white middle aged couples who wanted to attend in their formal wear. It wasn’t a dancing crowd for sure, and this could have been easily fixed by opening up an allotment of tickets to CMJ badges, or the college radio kids that helped them rise to fame. They would have gotten students to camp out at the venue in their costumes and bring energy to the front of the crowd,but instead they filled the room with statues holding iPhones.
One thing that was noticed once the line began to move was that this wasn’t an intimate venue, but rather one gigantic room (similar to an Armory show for Albany perspective). New York was the Reflektors first big gig and where they wanted to take the city by storm with thousands of people present for the show. The ratio of formal attire wearers to costume was about 3.5:1 with many choosing to wear masks and some being clever and showing up in group costumes (unfortunately I can’t recall any of the more clever ones). The show had no opener but had what I suspect was a James Murphy DJ set occurring before hand as it was awesomely curated and Murphy himself came out from behind the main curtain to introduce the crowd to tonight’s band, The Reflektors. Three members came out wearing the large heads that we’ve seen in the SNL video and music video for “Reflektor”, and these three played some jarbled noise for two minutes before setting their instruments down and running off the stage.
At this point I should state that within this gigantic room, I was pushed nearly entirely to the side wall with a not-so-great view of the stage but the intention of working my way to the middle once the music started. The large headed musicians ran off the stage in our general direction and went behind the curtain wall on the side of the venue, leaving audience members confused about what was currently happening as everybody began to turn their attention away from the stage. It’s at this point that all of a sudden, the side wall’s curtain was lifted to reveal a second stage, where Arcade Fire was standing and immediately began playing the album opener “Reflektor”. This was an event that nearly blew my mind as I went from being stuck in a pretty poor position to being about eight rows back and only slightly off center in a single moment. They apologized to the fans who were close to the other stage, who chose to watch the performance from the fake stage and seemed to have a great time there. Frontman Win Butler insinuated that the band would find a way to make it worth their while and I believe the band went over there afterwards in order to sign autographs to make up for it.
In terms of the actual music, all of the Reflektor tracks sound amazing with the highlight being “Here Comes the Night Time”. They played two older songs which were referred to as ‘Arcade Fire covers’ in “Sprawl II” and “Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)” and on the last song of the night Win jumped into the crowd and seemingly disappeared as he never returned to the stage until the set had ended to inform the crowd that there would be no encore, but a disco set where he wanted everybody to stay and dance. All in all it was an awesome show to be a part of and probably the coolest event I’ve ever gone to, I was only disappointed by how gigantic of an event it was and how un-energetic the crowd seemed to be. I’d still highly suggest trying to see them on their upcoming world tour though for sure, bring a costume if you go and dance!