Andrew Stewart PoOP 2013

BEST: 2013

“Time for the comedown.”

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1. Kurt Vile / Wakin On a Pretty Daze: A mobius strip of psychedelia blooms up, up and away from this newly-minted guitar icon, who unfurls eighty minutes of magic here, and makes it seem effortless. Wonderful.

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2. Mikal Cronin / MCII: Former sidekick kicks down the mike stand, making your eyes widen and your heart pump love. Brendan Benson, take notice: this guy is eating your lunch.

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3. Islands / Ski Mask: Another fancy hopscotch move from Nick Thorburn, this droll, underrated album of loopy, enthralling stagecraft is like a fun-house mirror of fear and heartbreak.

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4. Bombino / Nomad: If Otis Taylor has trance-blues, then this guy has the Rosetta Stone in his satchel. Mesmerizing, insane Arabic blues-rock, on the run from Niger to Nashville, seething with soul.

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5. Junip / Junip: After all these years, Jose Gonzalez finally solves the alchemy of guy-with-guitar meets trippy murmur-rock with this golden nugget. Transmissions from the future, now.

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6. Neko Case / The Worse Things Get…: Still sad and lonely but once again pleasingly weird, her songwriting has never been better – and she sounds full of life again. An iconoclast’s welcome return from the blahs.

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7. Vampire Weekend / Modern Vampires of the City: They don’t care what you think, but that’s only ‘cause they know better. Undeniably enjoyable, this complex, witty, awesome album is what pop music should be.

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8. Deerhunter / Monomania: Despite a bit more fuzz-and-menace than before, they’re more accessible than ever on this album full of phenomenal songs that would make Bowie blush.

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9. Volcano Choir / Repave: Justin Vernon’s Big Papi moment: in the face of unrealistically high expectations, he delivers a juiced-up, operatic, synth-pop moon-shot. (Unlike with Papi, no actual juice required.)

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10. Eleanor Freidberger / Personal Record: Spare, sophisticated ballads soaked in sadness, the kind of album Lou Reed might take with him to the big CBGB in the sky – on vinyl, of course.

11. Unknown Mortal Orchestra / II: Flinty, haunting lo-fi songs are full of troubling weirdness, radio signals from the bottom of vertiginous psychic canyons.
Parquet Courts / Light Up Gold: Marked by bouncy, skiffly hooks, this loose-jointed, easy slacker rock album sounds like Pavement’s Femme-y, lazy little brothers – with a little more sneer.
13. Night Beds / Country Sleep: Vocalist Winston Yellen is a Heartbreaker reborn, with more than a little Grace; soaring, stunning, operatic country-folk that also satisfies your pop jones.
14. Cass McCombs / Big Wheel and Others: On this album of voluptuous, romantic, occasionally maudlin songs this ambitious, reserved retrophile opens up in a way he hasn’t before.
15. The Dodos / Carrier: This band can’t miss: another amazing album of polyrhythmic pop songs from this SF-based band. Wickedly underappreciated, their catalog is now bursting with goodness.
16. Fuzz / Fuzz: A hefty slab of taut, terse grunge-punk, welterweight-tough, with Ty Segall on drums.
17. Death Songs / Sung Inside a House: Whip-smart folk-pop with an edge, a leaner iteration of Shaky Hands.
18. The Sadies / Internal Sounds: The Goods deliver: more classic Americana, bloodshot sagacity in sepia tones.
19. Veronica Falls / Waiting For Something To Happen: Waxahatchee has got nothing on these wave-gazers.
20. Phosphorescent / Muchacho: Arguably overrated, but these weird desert chorales will raise you up.

Arctic Monkeys / AM (better than advertised, there are some great moments here)
Atoms For Peace / AMOK (dragged down by monotony, this could have been amazing)
Bass Drum of Death / Bass Drum of Death (fans of Japandroids, take note)
Blitzen Trapper / VII (they’re still stuck in a rut, but things could be worse; more electric-boogie rock)
Brazos / Saltwater (a bit overcooked, this album of swoony, moony tunes is almost great)
Richard Buckner / Surrounded (fuckin’ Buckner, an old pal, shines some electronica on his folk sound)
Zachary Cale / Blue Rider (the second album from a burgeoning talent, this one’s back-to-basics folk)
The Cave Singers / Naomi (a letdown from their great 2011 album, this one’s good but a bit too polished)
Chance The Rapper / Acid Rap (soulful, adventurous, corny, funky, weird, angry, funny – and awesome)
Elvis Costello & The Roots / Wise Up Ghost (way better than you want to admit, this one rocks)
Country Mice / Hour of the Wolf (little-known Midwest-via-Brooklyn band writes great rock songs)
Diane Coffee / My Friend Fish (Foxygen drummer channels 60’s soul on his debut)
Mike Doughty / Circles Super Bon Bon… (Soul Coughing frontman covers himself, and it works)
Ducktails / The Flower Lane (Real Estate side project sounds like Yo La Tengo covering “Gaucho.”)
Tim Easton / Not Cool (skiffle-boogie rockity-roll that shimshams its way into your heart)
Hanni el Khatib / Head In The Dirt (commercial blues-rock with that Auerbach touch, solid stuff)
Foxygen / We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (goddamn annoying, but damn, it’s good)
Davíd Garza / Human Tattoo (this guy should be bigger – “Overdub,” anyone? – and this album proves it)
Generationals / Heza (it’s not clear why this band isn’t more lauded after another tight-knit set)
Haim / Days Are Gone (on intrigue alone they’re worth hearing; but surprise, this is interesting stuff)
Jim James / Regions of Light and Sound of God (ghost-prog meditations from MMJ’s frontman)
King Krule / 6 Feet Beneath The Moon (looks like Ron Weasley, sounds like an edgier Billy Bragg)
Mac Miller / Watching Movies With The Sound Off (underachieving rapper steps it up with a great album)
Janelle Monae / The Electric Lady (ambition and talent in equal measure, with superb R&B songwriting)
Nerves Junior / Craters EP (Radiohead-inspired Kentucky band wets your whistle with this three song EP)
Nathaniel Rateliff / Falling Faster Than You Can Run (burly folkster moves with a powerful voice)
Rhye / Woman (overrated but uber-cool androgynous soul album has a lot to say)
Dawn Richard / Goldenheart (transcendent, glacier-cool R&B album should have been bigger)
Ty Segall / Sleeper + Gemini (yin-yang acoustic-electric double-shot from indie music’s most prolific artist)
Smith Westerns / Soft Will (more diaphenous Brit-style glam-rock from these Chicagoans)
William Tyler / Impossible Truth (journeyman of the American Primitive soul, mesmerizing)
John Vanderslice / Dagger Beach (another album that repeatedly impresses, even after multiple listens)
Waxahatchee / Cerulean Salt (powerful, modern – but monotonous; they’re still one record away)
Weed / Deserve (gnarly, greasy grunge–mongers barely hold on to their sanity over the length of this album)
Yuck / Glow & Behold (a personnel change changes everything, and while it’s less overt, it’s pretty solid)

Arcade Fire / Reflektor
The National / Trouble Will Find Me
Savages / Silence Yourself
Youth Lagoon / Wondrous Bughouse

Andrew Stewart
Rhinebeck, NY

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