Best Albums of 75% of 2013 So Far


The Best

Kanye West – Yeezus
Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Drake – Nothing Was The Same
Volcano Choir – Repave
Disclosure – Settle
Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
Jason Isbell – Southeastern
The Weeknd – Kiss Land
Icona Pop – This is… Icona Pop
Flume – Flume
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

The Rest

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
John Mayer – Paradise Valley
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
HAIM – Days are Gone
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park
The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
AlunaGeorge – Body Music
Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

Other things worth listening to:

Akron/Family – Sub Verses
Woodkid – The Golden Age
Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
Lightning Dust – Fantasy
Deptford Goth – Life After Defo
Little Boots – Nocturnes
Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
Daughter – If You Leave
Flume – Flume

Best Albums of 2013 So Far

Disclosure, Settle

I have FOMO when it comes to music, so I have been focusing all week on listening to as much 2013 music as possible. I scoured other people’s mid-year lists, downloaded some stuff from eMusic / bought some stuff on iTunes, watched all kinds of clips on YouTube.

At this point in the year, electronic music is king. There are also big releases that have yet to drop and will definitely shake up the year-end list (Drake and The Weeknd, to name a few). The records at the top are unsurprising.

The Best

Disclosure – Settle
Kanye West – Yeezus
Phosphorescent – Muchacho
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Other things worth listening to:

Akron/Family – Sub Verses
Woodkid – The Golden Age
Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
Lightning Dust – Fantasy
Deptford Goth – Life After Defo
Flume – Flume
Little Boots – Nocturnes
Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
Daughter – If You Leave

House of Balloons, chock full of samples


The story of The Weeknd is folklore by now, but you may not realize how much of the first mixtape, House of Balloons, is cribbed from other artists. I don’t think it diminishes the record, but you probably have no idea how much Beach House you are listening to in the background. House of Balloons is the first of 3 mixtapes that dropped in 2010 under the moniker of The Weeknd, all 3 later released as the remastered / repackaged Trilogy.

“House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls”

Samples “Happy House” by Siouxsie and the Banshees. “This is… a Happy House…” etc, listen for it:

Stuffed in the background is this track from 1980:

“The Party & The After Party”

The first half of the track happens over a sped-up version of Beach House’s “Master of None” from their 2006 self-titled debut. Here’s The Weeknd sampling it, I was floored how much of this track is based on it:

And here’s the original Beach House version:

“Loft Music”

“Loft Music” features another sped-up, flanged-out Beach House track, from 2008’s Devotion, “Gila.”

Here’s the original, which inspires the vibe of the whole tune at double speed:

“The Knowing”

This track features sped-up, warped bits of the Cocteau Twins track “Cherry Coloured Funk” from their record Heaven or Las Vegas, also the name of a track on The Weeknd’s mixtape, Thursday. It’s the first thing you hear:

Cocteau Twins:

“What You Need”

The version which ultimately ended up on Trilogy is devoid of “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah, but the original mixtape version has excerpts:


There was some beef from Jeremy Rose (the producer of “What You Need,” “The Party & The After Party,” and “Loft Music”) about not getting proper credit for his role on the record. Ironically, 2 of those tunes are the ones which sample Beach House the most.

Concerts I attended in 2012

Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater

I do this post every year (2011, 2010) as a wrap-up to remind me of all of the awesome stuff I saw over the year. Here’s the full list, followed after by a breakdown:

01.21.2012 Akron / Family – 285 Kent

02.17.2012 Sleigh Bells – Terminal 5
02.24.2012 Heartless Bastards – Webster Hall
02.25.2012 Sharon Van Etten – Bowery Ballroom
02.29.2012 Craig Finn – Mercury Lounge

03.08.2012 Craig Finn – Music Hall of Williamsburg
03.17.2012 Megafaun – Highline Ballroom
03.30.2012 Andrew Bird – Greene Space
03.30.2012 Of Montreal – Webster Hall

04.04.2012 Bruce Springsteen – Izod Center
04.06.2012 The War on Drugs – Music Hall of Williamsburg
04.10.2012 The Horrors – Music Hall of Williamsburg
04.12.2012 White Rabbits – Webster Hall
04.24.2012 Allo Darlin’ – Mercury Lounge
04.28.2012 Death Cab for Cutie / Youth Lagoon – Beacon Theater

05.04.2012 Andrew Bird – Beacon Theater
05.09.2012 The Avett Brothers – Terminal 5
05.11.2012 M. Ward – Webster Hall
05.11.2012 Rob Delaney – Bowery Ballroom
05.31.2012 Radiohead – Prudential Center

06.01.2012 Porcelain Raft – Mercury Lounge
06.22.2012 fun. – Music Hall of Williamsburg
06.29.2012 Akron / Family – Brooklyn Bowl

07.10.2012 Dirty Projectors – Prospect Park Bandshell
07.25.2012 Wilco – Terminal 5

08.02.2012 Donna The Buffalo – Rockin’ the River Cruise
08.06.2012 Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Webster Hall
08.08.2012 Bloc Party – Terminal 5
08.20.2012 Matthew E. White – Mercury Lounge
08.27.2012 Louis C.K. – The Bell House

09.21.2012 The Book of Mormon – Eugene O’Neill Theatre
09.22.2012 Bon Iver – Radio City Music Hall
09.23.2012 Metric – Radio City Music Hall
09.29.2012 Global Citizen Global Festival (Black Keys, Band of Horses, Foo Fighters, Neil Young)

11.14.12 Yellow Ostrich / Strand of Oaks – Bowery Ballroom
11.17.12 Occupy Sandy Benefit (Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend, et al) – St. Ann & The Holy Trinity
11.17.12 Matthew Dear – Webster Hall

12.11.12 Band of Horses (Acoustic) – Grand Ballroom
12.11.12 Band of Horses (Electric) – Hammerstein Ballroom
12.21.12 Dave Matthews Band / The Lumineers – Barclay’s Center
12.31.12 Blonde Redhead / Beach Fossils – Irving Plaza

Best Shows I Saw in 2012

#1 Bruce Springsteen – Izod Center 04.04.2012


It is hard to explain the sheer electricity Bruce brings to a stadium in New Jersey. In Jersey, The Boss and Jovi are Gods. The Boss, deservedly so. Almost every time I think back to any key moment from this show, I get goosebumps like it’s happening right now. Aside from the spotless production and pro band, it’s hard to compete with moments like:

  • Bruce and Little Steven sharing the mic on “She’s The One”
  • Being only a few miles from Ground Zero and listening to a gospel-tinged “My City of Ruins”
  • Watching a 62-year old frontman who’s in better shape than Justin Bieber lead 18,000 people in sing the joyful yet heartbreaking “Waiting on a Sunny Day”
  • In the first tour after Clarence Clemons’ death, playing “10th Avenue Freeze Out” and after the line “the big man joined the band…” – coming to a dead stop, while all of the video screens in the arena flash images of Bruce and Clarence through the years as the band remains silent
  • “Thunder Road” and “Born to Run”

#2 Band of Horses (Acoustic) – Grand Ballroom 12.11.12
Band of Horses (Electric) – Hammerstein Ballroom

Band of Horses

No big deal, just saw one of my favorite bands play live every song they’ve recorded at 2 shows in the same night. First show started at 7:30pm. 2nd show ended at 1am. I was floating on air for days after this show.

### Special Acoustic Performance ###

On My Way Back Home
Marry Song
Long Vows
Shut-In Tourist
St. Augustine
Evening Kitchen
No One’s Gonna Love You
Detlef Schrempf
How to Live
Lamb on the Lam (In the City)
Slow Cruel Hands of Time
Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd cover) (By request)
Wicked Gil
The Funeral
The General Specific

### Electric Music ###

Set #1

For Annabelle
The First Song
Electric Music
Part One
A Little Biblical
Weed Party
The Great Salt Lake
Blue Beard
Dumpster World
Cigarettes, Wedding Bands
Knock Knock
Window Blues
Ode to LRC
The Funeral

Set #2

Our Swords
Everything’s Gonna Be Undone
No One’s Gonna Love You
NW Apt.
Is There a Ghost
Heartbreak on the 101
Infinite Arms
I Go to the Barn Because I Like The

#3 Megafaun – Highline Ballroom 03.17.2012

From my Facebook “Last night was a blurry mess / I have half-eaten Mamoun’s in the fridge / I bought Megafaun 2 rounds of shots.” Great night though. The bass player came out and hugged me after. This show was on St. Patrick’s Day and was sadly under-attended. Didn’t matter, Chris and I loved it.

#4 Craig Finn – Mercury Lounge 02.29.2012

Craig Finn

Craig Finn is the lead singer of arguably my favorite (NYC) band, The Hold Steady. Seth had an extra, so I got into this sold-out show where we stood front row the whole time. Loved hearing the tunes from his underrated solo record live.

#5 Bon Iver – Radio City Music Hall 09.22.2012

Bon Iver at Radio City

They made their way through almost every song from both records. “Beth / Rest” and “re: stacks” moved my universe. AMAZE.

#6 fun. – Music Hall of Williamsburg 06.22.2012


Randomly replied to an email from their website and got 2 VIP tix to this invite-only tiny show for some vague T-Mobile / Walmart Soundcheck event. It was awesome. They had my favorite album on 2012.

Best Albums of 2012


I agonize over this list every year, for 100% personal reasons. I feel like I have failed as a human if I miss anything hot that happened musically in a year. Because I live in the city that never sleeps, when I like a record, I can typically see the artist play it live soon after it comes out. Here’s the year in review.

Top 10

Some Nights, fun.

fun., Some Nights

channel Orange

Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE

Wrecking Ball

Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball

Strange Weekend

Porcelain Raft, Strange Weekend


Beach House, Bloom

Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan


Sharon Van Etten, Tramp


Matthew Dear, Beams


Escort, Escort

Fear Fun

Father John Misty, Fear Fun

Special Award: The Weeknd, Trilogy
Technically, this encompasses 3 records that dropped last year. Chris had a visceral reaction of disgust when I even hinted at throwing this at #1

Also Really Good

The Walkmen, Heaven
Craig Finn, Clear Heart Full Eyes
Strand of Oaks, Dark Shores
Purity Ring, Shrines
Lord Huron, Lonesome Dreams


Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Beak>, >>
Django Django, Django Django
Cat Power, Sun
Daughn Gibson, All Hell
White Rabbits, Milk Famous
Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods
Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d city

Listen to This: “Trilogy” by The Weeknd

So, it turns out there’s a genre named “PBR&B.” I had never heard of it til last night, but I think it is my new favorite type of music. I was telling some friends last week about how much I love the Frank Ocean record, and they responded with “you’d love The Weeknd.” Luckily, last week, Trilogy was released – remastered versions of The Weeknd’s 3 brilliant mixtapes from 2011. This being 2012, do we all include it in our best of lists, or is it honorable mention with a footnote?

It’s a lot of music to listen to, but it captures a vibe I can’t get enough of. It’s like Portishead,  Porcelain Raft, and Frank Ocean having a conversation about sex while on drugs, quietly, in Canada (? that’s where Abel Tesfaye is from). And he was also a co-writer of Drake’s Take Care.

The review on eMusic by Barry Walters

“The Morning”

“High for This”

“Wicked Games”

Listen To This: “Channel Orange,” by Frank Ocean

There is no SoundCloud embed for this one, so I’m gonna post some vids. This is one of the more acclaimed debuts of the year, I just finally got around to listening to it.

“Thinkin Bout You”

Official Video for “Pyramids” – featuring John Mayer at the end playing a guitar solo that is not on the record:

Go download the whole record, which is awesome.

Best Albums of (75% of) 2012 (So Far)

Updated version of:

Top 10

fun., Some Nights
Porcelain Raft, Strange Weekend
Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan
Beach House, Bloom
Metric, Synthetica
The Walkmen, Heaven
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
Matthew Dear, Beams
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
Father John Misty, Fear Fun
Escort, Escort

The Rest (Bottom 10)

Grizzly Bear, Shields
Strand of Oaks, Dark Shores
Metric, Synthetica
Daughn Gibson, All Hell
White Rabbits, Milk Famous
Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods
of Montreal, Paralytic Stalks
Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Craig Finn, Clear Heart Full Eyes
Heartless Bastards, Arrow
Bear in Heaven, I Love You, It’s Cool
Escort, Escort
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
Beach House, Bloom

Listen To This: “Dark Shores” by Strand of Oaks

Today I did what I occasionally do: downloaded 4 new records, listened to them all in a row, waited to feel something. It happened on the 4th record in: Dark Shores by Strand of Oaks. It sounds unique, while hinting at many other things: Feist’s orchestration, Jim James’ acoustic oeuvre with My Morning Jacket, maybe a light jam session with Sam Beam and Dan Auerbach. It’s just plain good.

It doesn’t take much more than one listen to “Maureen’s” to get the point – but here’s the whole record:

eMusic was way ahead of me / you: eMusic Selects ’10 Alum: Strand of Oaks
Way back in 2009: Who is… Strand of Oaks?

I’m proud that, by creating those custom post types, I had a tiny part in thrusting these stories onto the internets.