» first listen
Sigur Rós — Kveikur
Very rarely in this life are lofty expectations met, let alone exceeded. But damn, several of my favorite artists came through and then some in the month of May.
The National have continued their insane, Radiohead-esque streak of perfect albums with this month’s Trouble Will Find Me. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s five straight albums of impeccable quality, starting with their sophomore effort Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, moving through the deeply lauded Alligator and Boxer, and then balking at critical pressure with the amazing High Violet. Trouble builds effortlessly on their signature sound, fitting perfectly around Matt Berninger’s modern lamentations.
While The National stayed atop their decade-long peak, Vampire Weekend ascended to new heights on Modern Vampires of the City. So rarely does such a combination of fearless innovation and pop ingenuity work so brilliantly.
And lastly, the alien robots of the distant future known as Daft Punk returned to earth, not to bless us with the sounds of decades to come, but to remind us of the wonders of the past. Random Access Memories shatters any lingering “Disco Sucks!” attitude that may have persevered through the ’80s and ’90s.
And thus, my favorite albums of 2013 through May:
1. The National - Trouble Will Find Me | ★★★★★
2. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City | ★★★★½
3. Local Natives - Hummingbird | ★★★★½
4. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse | ★★★★½
5. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories | ★★★★
6. The Shouting Matches - Grownass Man | ★★★★
7. Kurt Vile - Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze | ★★★★
8. Foals - Holy Fire | ★★★★
9. Dawes - Stories Don’t End | ★★★★
10. Phoenix - Bankrupt! | ★★★½
11. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety | ★★★½
12. Atoms for Peace - Amok | ★★★★½
13. Josh Ritter - The Beast in Its Tracks | ★★★½
14. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito | ★★★½
15. James Blake - Overgrown | ★★★½
16. Night Beds - Country Sleep | ★★★½
17. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse | ★★★
18. Sigur Rós - Brennisteinn [EP] | ★★★★
19. Yo La Tengo - Fade | ★★★
20. Rhye - Woman | ★★★
» first listen
The National — Trouble Will Find Me
My most anticipated record of the year, from arguably my favorite band.
May is coming. May is coming. MAY IS COMING.
That means new records from several giants. The National. Daft Punk. Vampire Weekend.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. 2013 has been great through it’s first third, with very few artists disappointing. Local Natives remains atop my list, and for good reason. Over the months Hummingbird has been out, it’s continued to build on its stellar initial impact, and will almost certainly end up in my Top 5 come December.
The biggest surprise of April was the seemingly out of nowhere re-emergence of Justin Vernon. I had heard that Bon Iver was on hiatus (similar to the limbo period after For Emma, Forever Ago when Vernon worked with artists from Kanye to Collections of Colonies of Bees), and did not expect Justin to show up leading a lick-splitting blues trio. The Shouting Matches’ debut is catchy, dense, enthralling, and above all, pleasantly surprising.
My favorite albums through the first third of 2013:
1. Local Natives - Hummingbird | ★★★★½
2. The Shouting Matches - Grownass Man | ★★★★½
3. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse | ★★★★½
4. Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze | ★★★★
5. Foals - Holy Fire | ★★★★
6. Dawes - Stories Don’t End | ★★★★
7. Phoenix - Bankrupt! | ★★★★
8. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety| ★★★½
9. Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks | ★★★½
10. Atoms for Peace - Amok| ★★★½
11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito| ★★★½
12. James Blake - Overgrown| ★★★½
13. Night Beds - Country Sleep | ★★★
14. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse | ★★★
15. Sigur Rós - Brennisteinn [EP] | ★★★★
16. Yo La Tengo - Fade| ★★★
17. Ryhe - Woman| ★★★
18. Deerhunter - Monomania| ★★★
19. Akron/Family - Sub Verses | ★★★
20. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual | ★★½
Favorite Tracks of 2013 - Through April
1. “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend
2. “Breakers” by Local Natives
3. “My Number” by Foals
4. “I Need A Change” by The Shouting Matches
5. “Get Lucky (ft. Pharrell Williams)” by Daft Punk
6. “Holy” by Frightened Rabbit
7. “Heavy Feet” by Local Natives
8. “Step” by Vampire Weekend
9. “Wakin On A Pretty Day” by Kurt Vile
10. “I Need My Girl” by The National
11. “Hopeful” by Josh Ritter
12. “Sacrilege” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
13. “Late Night” by Foals
14. “Milkman” by The Shouting Matches
15. “Retrograde” by James Blake
16. “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend
17. “The Real Thing” by Phoenix
18. “Slave” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
19. “Stuck Together Pieces” by Atoms For Peace
20. “Clash The Truth” by Beach Fossils
❥ the MASTERS - Round 2
Day 2 of the greatest event in sports. The scoring conditions are again ripe due to overnight rains in Augusta, but with so many in red figures after Round 1, a few relatively obscure names are sure to feel the pressure.
I’m hopeful Freddie and Sergio can keep rolling, though I don’t trust Couples at his age or Garcia given his historic meltdowns. As for newcomers to the spotlight, guys like Leishman and Fernandez-Castano may be able to get by on adrenaline alone around Friday’s soft greens. But, as is often the case, the weekend at Augusta will be a different story as the course dries out, the winds kick up, and the weight of what’s at stake seeps into these players’ games.
Phil said after his round Thursday what Tiger and Rory were simply thinking behind their forced smiles: he needs to come out firing on Friday given the soft conditions. Sure it’s hard to brush aside years of ingrained expertise, but aggression will be the key for the experienced on Friday.