Hey guys, I’m back! Did ya miss me? I’ll admit that last week’s intermission was unplanned, but it afforded me a much-needed break. I thought it only appropriate to ring in the new year with a look back at some of my favorite tracks of 2013, so I gathered up the “five star” tunes into a playlist and hit “shuffle.” Happy New Year, my faithful friends, here is to shuffling through another year! —MP
“Number City” by Coheed and Cambria (from The Afterman: Descension, 2013)
I’m well aware that Coheed and Cambria isn’t everyone’s bag, but I love the snot out of them. Their last record cycle brought me soundly back into the fold—or fence, if we’re speaking in the Coheed parlance—and reignited my interest in the overarching storyline behind the band’s discography. I could have easily shuffled any one of the tunes off The Afterman: Descension, as there isn’t a stinker among the bunch. “Number City” is probably the least “Coheed” track on Descension, yet it is most indicative of the exact reason why I dig them so much. Wearing their affinity for The Police on their sleeve, the track delivers a pop rock wallop with a fun sing along climax.
“Bound 2” by Kanye West (from Yeezus, 2013)
You can say what you want, but Yeezus is a significant developmental step in ‘Ye’s career. Bringing Rick Rubin in to deconstruct his finished compositions—largely (presumably) stripping them of their typical ‘Ye idioms—is a step that I don’t think is given enough shine. Then there is “Bound 2” which is likely the most “‘Ye” tune that West has put out in nearly five years. It’s too bad he had to go and ruin the damn thing with that video.
“New Constellation” by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from New Constellation, 2013)
I’ll admit that I was a little bit skeptical when I contributed to Toad’s Kickstarter. I mean, I had zero concerns about the band’s ability in performing the songs that they had written 15 years prior, but Glen—and Randy and Dean, separately—has taken on his own distinct voice in the last ten years. Every bit of skepticism was positively blown away when I first heard “New Constellation.” It was as if the band had never stopped; retaining the sound and feel that was immediately familiar, without sounding the least bit dated. The record itself took a few spins to really sink it, but in a way that the songs revealed themselves slowly and with purpose. If you haven’t picked this record up yet, I highly recommend it. If I were playing favorites, this would be the one for me.
“Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend (from Modern Vampires of the City, 2013)
I have a strange relationship with Vampire Weekend’s music; I don’t know that they would come to mind when discussions of favorite bands came up, yet I continually love their records without fail. Modern Vampires of the City is no exception, either. They seemed to have shed some of the overt Paul Simon influence and transformed it into a sound that can only be defined as uniquely Vampire Weekend.
“Break It to You Gently” by Camera Obscura (from Desire Lines, 2013)
Twee! With all the pastoral bliss of a rolling Scottish hillside, the latest Camera Obscura record might well have been titled Camera Obscura Sing More Sweetly Sad Songs About Love, but that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? Tracyanne Campbell delivers her lovelorn tales with such a syrupy sweet demeanor that you almost forget just how heartbreaking the lyrics tend to be. Desire Lines isn’t my favorite Camera Obscura record, but it has the potential to be.
What’s on your shuffle today?