Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 In Review - The Longlist Part 1

Well we're at that point in the calendar when the parents are running around buying items of their kids wishlist and the folks like me are creating lists of a different sort. My compatriot at UMFM, Station Manager Jared McKetiak and I will be doing our NINTH annual Year End Wrap-Up show on New Years' Eve counting down our Top 20 Songs and Albums. Normally I cut it really close to the wire in whittling my longlist down but I have to record the program early this year as I'll be away for NYE and so my Top 20 has been finalized and my "missed it by that much" list is burning a hole in my soul. These are the albums I considered by didn't select - I think they're great though and there's a bunch of them so this list is divided into three parts. The first 20 selections alphabetically are below. ____________________________________________________ A Tribe Called Red - Nation II Nation [Pirates Blend] This is the record I had hoped would take home the Polaris Prize amongst the shortlisted albums. Jay Arner - Jay Arner [Mint] I got hip to Arner when I was visiting family in B.C. and discovered the Bleating Hearts. While that band is no longer, Arner soldiers on and released a great record under his own name. He also swung by UMFM and did a great live session for us. Baths - Obsidian [Anticon] Cerulean was my #8 record of 2010. Obisidian is no slouch of a record either so it's saying something that a great record from a past Top 10 act didn't make the 20 this year. Beliefs - Beliefs [Hand Drawn Dracula] This Toronto duo was one of my discoveries of the year - the folks at Hand Drawn Dracula always bring the goods, but with this Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine inspired record, they brought the great. Big Deal - June Gloom [Mute] More shoegazing tunes, this time from a London UK duo on Mute. James Blake - Overgrown [Atlas/Polydor] Another past top performer that didn't make the final list this year (seriously, I could have made a different Top 20 with just albums from past Top 10 album creators). Blue Hawaii - Untogether [Arbutus] Great year for Arbutus Records and for Blue Hawaii member Raphaelle Standell-Preston who you'll hear more from on New Years' Eve. Boats - A Fairway Full Of Miners [Kill Rock Stars] This isn't just on here because I'm on it (seriously though, I sang some vocals on a record on KRS!!!). Klachefsky and co. continue on with the off-kilter but on-point pop they've always crafted. Bosq of Whiskey Barons - Bosq y Orquestra De Madera [Ubiquity] Ubiquity is one of those labels I always make time for when it comes to reviewing their new releases (and their re-issues on Luv 'N Haight) and the fine folks there hooked me up with an early 7-in. from Bosq that served to stoke my fires for the full-length. This is some dancehall madness here. Botany - Lava Diviner [Western Vinyl] I already shared this cut from the album back in August, but if you missed it give it a listen now and then check out the rest of the record. Danny Brown - Old [Fool's Gold Records] While he's made a name for his mixtapes, Brown dropped a pretty outstanding album here. Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap [Independent] Speaking of mixtapes, this is the best of the year. Go cop it at Chance's homepage. Louise Burns - The Midnight Mass [Light Organ Records] Burns was #6 in 2011 for Mellow Drama, a garage gem a la Dum Dum Girls, but she went darker here. Curious to see where she goes next. Bill Callahan - Dream River [Drag City] I can't remember which site put this at #1 for the year, but this understated, beautiful album from Callahan is getting love on a lot of lists. Deservedly. Classixx - Hanging Gardens [Innovative Leisure] Borderline is a stand-out track I've been spinning all year, but the rest of the album is of a note. Chris Forsyth - Solar Motel [Paradise of Bachelors] Forsyth is like James Harden when he was on OKC. Best sixth-man in the biz and always solid off the bench - with Kenzo Deluxe on Northern Spy last year and the four-part Solar Motel on Paradise of Bachelors this year, dude just continues to do things with the guitar that I love, but just haven't put him in as a starter. The selection below is just a tease of the 12-minute-plus full take of Part III. Grand Analog - Modern Thunder [The Shadow Cabinet] Former Winnipeggers went big city and bigger sound on Modern Thunder. Admittedly it's been years since they moved to T.O. and they've been moving toward the new sound over an even longer period. The good get better and this is their best. Grey Reverend - A Hero's Lie [Ninja Tune] I still scratch my head over this coming out on Ninja Tune - I guess there's the Bonobo connection, but as part of the NT roster this is even more left-field than Fog. That said, it's also gut-wrenchingly beautiful and I'm just glad it got released. headshotboyz - highlelujah [Independent] I have Andrew Jervis to thank for introducing me to this production team from Budapest. His Bandcamp Weekly podcast has become a must-listen and it's where I first heard selections from highlelujah. Don't sleep on either. Tim Hecker - Virgins [Paper Bag Records] I kinda think this record is going to make the Polaris shortlist for 2013/2014 - or at the very least the longlist. It's been greeted with universal acclaim and that's saying something for a work this dark and unique.

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