If you’re just tuning in…
Welcome to WMJ. Welcome to 2013 in music. A lot has happened since January, so this will be a brief rundown of what has already happened and what the future holds in terms of music for this year. So here goes nothing…
My Bloody Valentine released new material for the first time in over twenty years, m b v, the follow-up to the seminal Loveless, back in February, proving that the godfathers of shoegaze still set the mark on experimental post-rock. Speaking of godfathers, Neutral Milk Hotel has officially reunited and has a whole slate of tour dates scheduled for the fall though no knew material has been mentioned.
2013 has also been a year bountiful with releases from headlining indie acts that rose to prominence earlier in the 2000s. This year has seen the return of The Knife with the release Shaking the Habit, the first effort from the Swedish electronic duo in 7 years. Phoenix released their latest album since 2009’s massive Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Vampire Weekend scored their best effort to date with Modern Vampires of the City, ever-prolific Bradford Cox returned to his Deerhunter project to release the garage-rocking Monomania, and the whole world is waiting for The National to release their 6th full-length, Trouble Will Find Me, on May 20th.
Artists who debuted just a few years ago have been dodging the dreaded “sophomore slump” already this year, such as Idahoan bedroom pop project Youth Lagoon’s intriguing psychedelic sidestep Wondrous Bughouse and Alabama-native Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee project, whose 2nd full-length Cerulean Salt rises above her lo-fi debut with a more polished production. Unknown Moral Orchestra stuck to their lo-fi, analog sound on II, and it paid off big time with its warm production and throwback sixties-sounding melodies.
Thus far, it has also been a year of interesting collaborations. Moldy Peaches frontman, Adam Green teamed up with Binki Shapiro to make light, breezy AM gold, filled with sauntering bass lines, balmy guitars, and sparkling keyboards. Thom Yorke got together with other Radiohead studio personnel and touring members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to form Atoms for Peace, who released the electronic-Afrobeat influenced Amok. Actress/songstress Zooey Deschanel once again teamed up with folk singer/guitarist M. Ward to release Volume Three, the duo’s most captivating release so far, which continues to call upon sounds and melodies like those heard from sixties girl groups. Indie folk demigod Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) reunited with former bandmate Phil Cook, of Megafaun fame, and called upon Brian Moen of the duo Peter Wolf Crier to form The Shouting Matches. The group released Grownass Man earlier this year, a more laid back album than the somber material we have come to expect from Vernon.
There have been a myriad of worthwhile releases from great new artists this year, but sadly I have not tuned into a lot of these. These veteran artists that I am already familiar with have consumed most of my listening time; however, there are a few new bands that have sneaked their material into my headphones. One of such artists is the alt-country group Night Beds, whose debut Country Sleep is filled with gorgeous, sparse tracks accentuated by frontman Winston Yellen’s fragile vocals. Also, dream-folk ensemble Day Joy released their first full-length Go to Sleep, Mess after several months of teasing listeners with singles containing dynamic yet haunting orchestrations.
2013 still has a lot to hold with forthcoming planned releases from Arcade Fire, Typhoon, Daft Punk, Animal Collective, Laura Marling, Smith Westerns, Black Sabbath (right?), Sigur Rós, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Boards of Canada, Superchunk, and even another release from the one and only Justin Timberlake. As you can see, there is a lot to look forward to in coming months.
I hope you’ll continue to check in on the new WEGL Music Journal, as I will try to keep up with the amount of releases coming in to the best of my ability. I’m planning on posting short reviews/commentaries on albums and just the music scene in general every week. These will all be my opinions. You may agree, but I’m betting you won’t. Let’s just try to stay friends. Below is a playlist of some of the year’s greatest hits to date. Let WEGL know what you think!