I’d like to call bullshit on half of 2013 already being over, but the calendar says July 8th and since I have a complete inability to keep track of days, months, years, and whatnot, I’m going to have to believe what all of my electronics are preaching. The iPhone does not tell a lie, although Siri is a conniving little bitch…
If you’re looking for new music, I’m going to dispense some suggestions for 2013 Records of the Year (to date). If you haven’t heard these artists, first seek them out, give them a listen and then come back and berate me on any number of contestable faults such as (but not limited to) hipsterism, zeitgeisterism or prosaic assimilation to the alt-music institution. Without any more blabber, the 30Hz Top 10 Records of 2013 (to date).
Last year I plugged POOLSIDE, a band with aspirations no greater than inspiring you to chill out and drink adult beverages next to a sterile body of water. The ocean, most likely. I definitely don’t see them advocating a stagnant pool or freshwater lake. This year, I’ve got another fantastic candidate for chill-the-fuck-out record of the year. I submit to you: VONDELPARK. Critics seem to call them dream pop, but that doesn’t really translate here. Vocals are whispy, synthy and minimal. Listen to this:
Call it what you will. Lo-fi 80’s R&B. Bedroom glitch soul. Perhaps. Whatever it is, this entire record is electric and should get moved to the front of any of your “to-listen playlists.” The video’s pretty damn cool too. This record has that Poolside feel to it, the kind of fun, soulful record that just won’t give up its hold of the turntable.
Every year has a first. The first great song. The first great album. The first disappointing album. The first interview with a band pretending to discuss their disappointing album without calling it disappointing and instead opting to call it a “departure.”
I heard “Borrowed Time” from the Parquet Courts on XM last week. It earned an on-the-go Shazam tag. All this means is that I may or may not remember to look it up sometime in the near future. Well, I remembered. And I’m currently loving this record.
Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold
The Sound: The the NY-via-Texas Parquet Courts cites Pavement and Guided By Voices as immediate influences. I’d add The Feelies or Sonic Youth into that equation. It’s stripped-down guitar-driven indie rock/post-punk with the aim of sincerity. There’s no sense of self-awareness or indulgent posturing. In many ways it is the intersection of the now scarce rock and roll earnestness of the 70’s and early 90’s and Light Up Gold sounds like a classic record. Parquet Courts is dabbling in familiar frequencies, but owning them, making those Sonic Youth riffs entirely their own.
With excessively arbitrary panache we decide that, ever year, December 31st is the end cut off for our scourge of “Best Of” lists. I’m guilty for creating. You’re guilty for reading (and maybe creating, as well). We’re all in this together. And we’ll wallow in these lists for the next few months like pigs in shit. Nevermind the industry hurtles round and round. The industry, the artists, they don’t care about December 31st. Maybe they do. But music isn’t like the movie industry. The Academy Awards have the power to fuel box office and drive profits. Your blog, my bl-g, we have nothing but our own narcissism to offer these bands that probably won’t be up for a Grammy or an AMA or (god forbid) a CMA because of our recommendations. Maybe I sell one more record for a few of these bands. If I do, I’m ecstatic for promoting, what I consider, excellence in the vapidly expansive music biz.
With any of my year end music lists, remember I am just one guy. I cannot possibly listen and consider every record evenly. Every year a few records slip in under the wire and forge an immediate connection. But, by and large, these records are the ones that stuck with me, demanded repeat listens and engaged me on some superficial fun time vibe (Poolside, Fanfarlo), ethereal (John Talabot, How to Dress Well), primordial (METZ, Quakers) level. I’m not going to pretend that these picks are going to change the world; we all know that Wyld Stallyns are destined for that job. Some of these records received harsh, hate-mongering from various review sites. I particular enjoy loving a record that Pitchfork lambastes without remorse or scruples (Yeasayer, Alt-J). So here they are, the 30Hz Recommended: Top 40 Records for 2012. And, yes, I am allowed to change these picks should I find another record that grips me by the balls and won’t let go. Even with 40 those last few decisions are heartbreaking (sincere apologies to Lau, Bat for Lashes, Crybaby, El-P, The Lumineers and Freelance Whales). I throw you some videos for 1-15 and hopefully fill in some more later.