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Jake The Audiophile

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My favorite songs of 2013

Hello hello hello!

Long time, no update. Anyway, I’m dusting off this ol’ blog for some late end-of-the-year nonsense. Good to see you all again.

Here’s my personal favorite 25 songs of 2013. Not necessarily singles, but most are. The criteria for this list is as follows:

   1. Only one song per artist.

   2. Each summary must be no longer than 10 words in length

Hope you enjoy it! I’ve included a link to the song in its’ title wherever possible. 3 of them actually weren’t on YouTube, believe it or not. Have a listen and lemme know your thoughts.

25. Scale The Summit: “Atlas Novus

—-Most unfair guitar intro ever. Makes me want to travel.

24. Pentimento: “Just Friends

—-Hooks for days. Emo-punk at its finest.

23. Alcoa: “Keep Track/Lose Track

—-So, the Defeater guy can sing? Quite well, actually.

22. August Burns Red: “Count It All as Lost

—-Hey, every other metalcore band: Stop trying. ABR win.

21. Mountains for Clouds: “I’m Tough, My Whole Body’s a Callus” (sorry, couldn’t find a video for this one).

—-Perfect midwestern emo. That tapping guitar outro…whoa.

20. Koji: “Chasing a Ghost

—-Beautiful voice, extraordinary vision. An added backing band helps too.

19. TTNG: “Havoc in the Forum

—-Tim Collis is god. All hail Tim Collis.

18. Beartooth: “I Have a Problem

—-Dark enough to scare you sober. Brutally honest.

17. And So I Watch You From Afar: “Big Thinks Do Remarkable

—-Pure kinetic happiness. So bright it’s gotta wear shades.

16. Frank Turner: “Plain Sailing Weather

—-Add this to the endless list of brilliant FTHC songs.

15. Into It. Over It. “Upstate Blues

—-Brilliant wordplay, catchy chorus, booming bridges…Evan Weiss nutshelled.

14. Protest The Hero: “Mist" (sorry, could only find a live version)

—-Probably the most triumphant song ever about Newfoundland.

13. Polar Bear Club: “Wlwycd

—-Yes, I miss Jimmy’s voice, but songs are still good.

12. Bars of Gold: “Hey Kids" (sorry, live version only again)

—-Marc Paffi can keep it in his jeans. I can’t.

11. Russian Circles: “Lebaron

—-Pure ass-kicking groove without lyrics. Amazing production, too. 

10. Touche Amore: “Non Fiction

—-Brilliant crescendo by the experts of short but sweet songs.

9. Man Man: “Head On

—-More calm than usual, but still creepy and sing-a-long-able.

8. Sleeping At Last: “Sun

—-Ryan O’Neal puts all songwriters to shame. Instant constant goosebumps.

7. The Wonder Years: “Dismantling Summer

—-Easily the hardest album to pick just one song from.

6. Enter Shikari: “Rat Race

—-Killer “whoas” and ending breakdown. Otherworldly thinking-man’s chameleon-core brilliance.

5. Mixtapes: “Bad Parts

—-Superb co-ed vocals and stellar pop-punk. Epitome of catchy.

4. Citizen: “The Summer

—-Modern grudge? Perfect slow jam? Doesn’t matter, sing along.

3. Owel: “Snowglobe

—-Absolutely gorgeous from start to finish. Oh, that falsetto…

2. Defeater: “Bastards

—-Pure adrenaline. A purposefully torn snapshot of anger and energy.

1. A Great Big Pile of Leaves: “Snack Attack

—-When in doubt, go with the catchiest song.

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Just found out these fine musicians called it quits. I can’t say they were my favorite band in the world, but they released a great EP, a solid full-length, and one of the best b-side Christmas songs ever. I’m sad I never got to see them live. They will be missed.

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My band is going back to the studio on Saturday, and I’ll be recording all my guitar parts while we’re there. So I’ve been practicing like a fiend and listening to my favorite guitarists like its my job. Meaning I’ve been listening to 1:25-2:24 on repeat and weeping.

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doogiehowsermd:

BEACH MONSTER.

I have awesome co-workers.
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doogiehowsermd:

BEACH MONSTER.

I have awesome co-workers.

(Source: matthewdolkart)

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Best Songs of 2012

Hello again! So, it’s already February, and I admit I’m way and a half behind, but here’s my personal top 25 songs of the past calendar year. As I’ve done in years past, I’ve included a link to each song in the title text, using a music video whenever possible. Additionally, these aren’t singles per se, but my favorite songs of the past year, period. I also will be setting my own weird personal standard of only using 10 words to describe each track, since it feels weird writing a paragraph about something that’s usually less than four minutes long. Enjoy, and feel free to share thoughts!

#25.

Every Time I Die

Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space

   Fun rager with another killer breakdown. This band is consistent.

#24.

Benjamin Gibbard

Something’s Rattling (Cowpoke)

   Whenever you can use mariachi musicians, you should. Also, Conan.

#23.

A Great Big Pile of Leaves

Writing Utensils

    Uber catchy, clever guitar work. Can’t wait for upcoming album.

#22.

T.R.A.M.

Seven Ways Till Sunday

 We’re not worthy, Tosin Abasi. Glorious groove for second half.

#21.

River City Extension

Welcome To Pittsburgh

Velvety falsetto, fun instrumentation; standout happy song on moody album.

#20.

Why?

Sod in the Seed

Titular EP was decent; full length album, blah. Song? Great.

#19.

Set Your Goals

Only Right Now

No band can effortlessly write uplifting jams like these guys.

#18.

The Chariot

Speak

Josh Friggin’ Scogin and a piano. Instant goosebumps and dread.

#17.

Craig Finn

Rented Room

Another brilliant Craig Finn character song, but about himself, maybe?

#16.

Between The Buried and Me

Astral Body

Make way for the new kings of prog. Tommy Rogers slays.

#15.

Lymbyc Systym

Prairie School

The theme to the best Saturday morning cartoon never made.

#14.

Murder By Death

I Came Around

Second chances and lessons set to a twisted line dance.

#13.

Maps & Atlases

Winter

Subtle, brilliant musicianship lost beneath hooks. Basically, it’s their M.O.

#12.

El Ten Eleven

Transitions

10 plus minutes of stacks and stacks of gorgeous loops.

#11.

Tim Fite

We Are All Teenagers

When he’s not creeping me out, Fite’s subtle beauty surprises.

#10.

Minus The Bear

Heaven is a Ghost Town

Slow building jam with loads of electronics and cool effects.

#9.

Enter Shikari

Pack of Thieves

Easily the hardest album to pick only one song from.

#8.

The Acacia Strain

Victims of the Cave

Just plain mean. Jaw dropping (and shattering) breakdown and vocals.

#7.

Fang Island

Seek It Out

How to go from boredom to endless energy in seconds.

#6.

Motion City Soundtrack

Bottom Feeder

How on earth was this a bonus track? 

#5.

Such Gold

Two Year Plan

Can’t slow down, can’t let up, can cause instant moshing.

#4.

Balmorhea

Dived

"Untitled" from previous live album gets studio treatment. Brilliantly arranged.

#3.

mewithoutYou

All Circles

Only Aaron Weiss can make 20 words sound so cool.

#2.

MONO

Legend

Twelve minutes of stunning, epic soundscapes. I still have goosebumps.

#1.

fun.

Some Nights

Overplayed? Yes, a tad. Brilliant? Catchy? Memorable? Successful?Of course.

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Best Albums of 2012

Oh, hello there. It’s been a while.

My apologies for the crazy long time between posts. I’ve started a new habit of working two jobs and writing and recording an album with my band, and things are finally calming down a little bit. I normally would still grab a random song or clip and throw it up here occasionally, but that hasn’t happened in a while, so my bad on that. I hope this isn’t a permanent habit, but for now, let’s jump back into the “normal” swing of things with the end-of-the-year celebration posts!

Now, I know I hadn’t written on or reviewed a number of these, but that obviously doesn’t mean that I still was not listening to and analyzing them on my own. Hope you enjoy the list, and feel free to leave any comments or opinions.

 

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HONORABLE MENTION:

 

POLAR BEAR CLUB

"Live at the Montage"

Released on July 31, 2012 by Bridge Nine Records

 

   Yeah, obviously this isn’t a release of new material, but it was a simple, memorable and fan-pleasing release by the boys from Rochester. Highlights included Jimmy Stadt’s giggling during the ending of “Bug Parade” and the recognition noises and instant singalong by the crowd during the cover of Saves The Day’s “At Your Funeral”. I’m massively biased towards this band, but it’s for good reason, and this album shone a new light on a catalogue of solid material.

 

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#10.

TIM FITE

"Ain’t Ain’t Ain’t"

Released on March 6 by ANTI-

 


Rather that craft tunes out of handpicked samples and noise created by thrift-store records and computers, Tim Fite decided to invite several friends into his studio to record random snippets of sounds on their instruments for his latest weird opus. It’s still just as oddball as any of his releases, but with a more organic, warm feel, which adds a new, somehow friendly dimension to his catalogue. Nothing Fite makes is normal, but this one ain’t too far away from that.

 

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#9.

MINUS THE BEAR

"Infinity Overhead"

Released on August 28 by Dangerbird Records

 

   Ah, forgiveness. I absolutely hated Minus The Bear’s previous release, “OMNI”, so I was significantly doubtful that I would enjoy “Infinity Overhead”. That said, Minus The Bear has been one of my favorite bands for over a decade, so I was willing to give them the benefit of said doubt. This album feels like a microcosm of the best parts of their entire career, from the subtle math-rockings of their beginnings (“Listing”) to the slower, building jams they mastered on “Menos El Oso” (“Heaven is a Ghost Town”) to the proggy noise of “Planet of Ice” (“Cold Company”). Plus, the killer breakdown in album opener “Steel and Blood” is worth the price of admission alone.

 

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#8.

CRAIG FINN

"Clear Heart Full Eyes"

Released on January 24 by Full Time Hobby

 

   2012 saw two solo albums by two of indie rock’s finest songwriters: Benjamin Gibbard’s “Former Lives” and Craig Finn’s “Clear Heart Full Eyes”. Both are great albums, but this is no surprise, as anyone who is even remotely familiar with Death Cab for Cutie and The Hold Steady knows just how great of songwriters Gibbard and Finn are.  I give the slight edge to Finn because his album is a good deal more solid and unique, while Gibbard’s sounds just like every other DCfC release (again, not a bad thing). However, what really moves me about Finn’s work is how the songs feel personal: Often Finn will write songs about recurring characters or events with The Hold Steady, but those characters seem absent from “Clear Heart Full Eyes”, which makes the songs seem to be directly about Finn as opposed to allegories and stories. This makes heartfelt ballads such as “Rented Room” hit a different emotional resonance, even though they aren’t necessarily stronger or better written than anything Finn or The Hold Steady has put out.

 

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#7.

MAPS & ATLASES

"Beware and Be Grateful"

Released on April 17 by Barsuk Records

 

   Significantly dancier and electronic-feeling than their previous releases, “Beware and Be Grateful” is another dazzling collection of pop songs by Chicago’s most talented foursome. I thought that it would take a bit of time to get used to, but the songs are instantly memorable. While the technical elements may be spread across electronic elements in the band’s sound rather than highlighting eight-finger guitar tapping (although there is still plenty of that), everything still works remarkably well. There’s really not much else to say; nothing this band writes will ever, ever be bad, ever. 

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#6. 

MOTION CITY SOUNDTRACK

"Go"

Released on June 12 by Epitaph Records and The Boombox Generation

 

   Similar to Maps & Atlases, Motion City Soundtrack seem incapable of writing a bad song throughout a career with several albums. This album may not be quite as gritty as their previous record, “My Dinosaur Life”, but nothing is lost in the more polished sound that doesn’t sacrifice anything that has made them famous over the years. However, when the best song (“Bottom Feeder”) is b-side, some discounting has to happen. Still, that just proves that everything these 5 Minnesotans touches turns to gold, albeit gold that gets stuck in your head for weeks at a time.

 

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#5. 

fun.

“Some Nights”

Released on February 21 by Fueled By Ramen

   When this album came out, I was sure it would be the album of the year. While it met longtime fans of the band with mixed results, it garnered in millions of new fans largely because two of the songs are now played in every commercial for every product or TV Show EVER. So does it fall a bit simply because it was overplayed? Maybe. Is it as good of an album as “Aim & Ignite”? Definitely not. That said, hearing the intro to “Some Nights” nowadays can be a bit more of an annoyance than the fit of ecstasy that it used to cause me. However, there’s a reason why some things are popular: Because they’re good. This album is just that. Not perfect, but certainly great.

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#4.

FANG ISLAND

“Major”

Released on July 24 by Sargent House

   Fang Island’s 2010 eponymous album was my favorite album of that year, and is still one of my favorite albums of all time. The band has become a must-see-no-matter-how-early-you-have-to-wake-up-the-next-morning live act, and I’m convinced that tapping into their sunny attitudes could solve a majority of the world’s anger issues. That all said, I had very high expectations for this album, and it delivered. The hymn-like chanty vocals are now much more pronounced and clear in the band’s sound, but it just adds to the neatly wrapped package of happiness. Put this record on and try your hardest not to high-five everyone ever.

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#3.

ENTER SHIKARI

“A Flash Flood of Colour”

Released on January 16 by Ambush Reality and Hopeless Records

   When making this list, (spoiler alert!) my number one choice was pretty easy. However, the battle between 2 and 3 was a bit more of an internal debate. Both this album and the album I chose as second are brilliant albums. One by a band I’ve admired and put on a pedestal for the majority of my life, and another who I’ve always been fascinated with but have never really fully embraced. That second band released this stunning album this year, and the embrace is now engaged full time. The four hyperactive Brits in Enter Shikari have been creating some of the most interesting and engaging heavier music, and they have created their magnum opus this time around. The electronics are a bit more dubstep-y than techno-y, but the songs surrounding them are complex and simple at the same time, if that makes any sense. Every single note seems to have a purpose, and even if you may not fully understand or support the band’s strong political statements, you still want to jump out of your seat and start a revolution with every repeat play.

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#2. 

mewithoutYou

“Ten Stories”

Released on  May 15 by Pine Street

   It’s sort of amazing how mewithoutYou exists in our day and age. In a time where every band has a Twitter account for each member as well as social media staff dedicated to keeping fans posted on every move, these Philly gentlemen have a knack for following off the radar for years before emerging with a new album. Three years ago they did it with It’s All Crazy… and it happened again this year. Granted, I also don’t go out of my way to research what they actually do in their downtime, as I like to keep the mystery unsolved as much as possible. mwY’s fifth album is a perfect microcosm of their unique sound and distinctive talents; it’s a perfect mix of the aggressive sound and stream-of-consciousness delivery from vocalist Aaron Weiss that filled their early work as well as the folk structure and instrumentation that debuted with It’s All Crazy…. Throw in a running storyline about freed circus animals and end it all with the catchiest and cleverest round-based song in “All Circles”, and you have what has been come to expected with mewithoutYou: A stunning collection of songs that seems to set the bar higher and higher for the indie rock genre.

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#1.

BALMORHEA

“Stranger”

Released on October 12 by Western Vinyl

            Balmorhea write gorgeous music effortlessly, so I assumed this album would cause instant goosebumps for me.  The band has been prolific recently in the studio and on the road, so when they disappeared for months to record this album, it was obvious big things were coming. Rather than focus on piano or acoustic guitar as the centerpiece for each song, this album seems to have been written entirely around the electric guitar. Of course, the band employs gorgeous string arrangements in the songs, but there also is a new emphasis on new sounds like calypso drums (“Days”). Yes, there are a few weird moments, such as the punk-like buildup and fuzzy distortion in “Artifact”, and “Islet” is little more than a throwaway filler song. However, the absolutely gorgeousness of “Jubi” and “Pilgrim” (which is the most similar to any of their previous work, meaning based primarily on piano and minimalism) and the high-energy jaw-dropper that is “Dived” make this clearly the best album of this year, written by who I consider to be the consistently best songwriters in the world.

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asktangledhair:

Promo video Milk Time made for us

Just a bit unfair how talented these folks are.

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balmorhea:

Writing Masollan” premiered today via IFC.

Filmed over the course of a week in the remote Texas Hillcountry, the film takes an inside look into writing, rehearsing and performing “Masollan” from the forthcoming STRANGER

Film by Joe Tomcho 

Can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait for October 2.

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Seeing this fine band tonight. Preparing to be overwhelmed with beauty and tremelo picking.

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I’m grateful for fall, and this song will always be perfect for it.

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