June 28, 2013


With the first week of Summer under our belts, we also say goodbye to the first half of 2013. I typically save my lists for the end of the year, but I think 2013 has been off to a fantastic start already, so I'm giving you twenty albums I've enjoyed in the first half of the year (Spotify links when possible).

The Besnard Lakes | Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO
James Blake | Overgrown
Boards of Canada | Tomorrow's Harvest
Daft Punk | Random Access Memories
Mikal Cronin | MCII
Deafheaven | Sunbather
Deerhunter | Monomania
The Haxan Cloak | Excavation
Iceage | You're Nothing
Inc | No World
The Knife | Shaking the Habitual
My Bloody Valentine | mbv
Pharmakon | Abandon
Phoenix | Bankrupt!
Savages | Silence Yourself
Sigur Rós | Kveikur
Unknown Mortal Orchestra | II
Vampire Weekend | Modern Vampire of the City
Kanye West | Yeezus
Widowspeak | Almanac

Tell me what I missed in the comments!

June 21, 2013

Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992

"These psych/funk/folk/jazz/lounge/boogie tracks from American private press records are idiosyncratic, funky, psychedelic, weird, funny, cool, and crazy.

This stuff is unfiltered by producers and record companies: American artistic ingenuity at its wildest and most fun."

Recently, Sinecure Books published the coffee table book Enjoy the Experience: Homemade Records 1958-1992 edited by Johan Kugelberg, Paul Major, and Michael P. Daley as well as the accompanying double-album. The 24 songs were carefully selected from the thousands of records featured in the book. The first disc is available for streaming on Spotify, but you can order the whole album here. An excellent compilation of wonderfully strange songs spanning almost forty years of American "homemade recordings".

June 14, 2013

Iceage, A Place to Bury Strangers, Lower played Music Hall of Williamsburg

A mid-June evening in New York City doesn't sound like the ideal setting for a show featuring the dark brooding work of Iceage, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Lower, so it seemed rather fitting that unseasonably low temperatures, torrential rain, and driving winds descended upon Brooklyn for the first night of the 2013 Northside Festival.

I missed the opening local bands, but Lower got things off to a raucous start. Shrieking guitars echoed through Music Hall with serious force while the band's militaristic demeanor gave quite an intimidating impression. With matching shaved heads, the Danish punks blasted through their brief catalog at an alarming sound. Drummer Anton Rothstein playing as if he had channeled Thor to crash upon his kit with excessive vigor. The bleak lighting and minimal emotion from the band made it feel as if they were completing a civic duty, acting as ambassadors of their Copenhagen scene and proving their worth on their first American tour.

Between Danish hardcore acts, local Brooklyn mainstays A Place to Bury Strangers brought out their robust shoegaze drone for a visceral performance. With technicolor projects acting as the only source of light, the ear splitting tones and maximum energy have not been neglected by the band, despite their plateauing popularity. If anything, these guys proved that the only ones sleeping are the critics. Smoldering guitar and bass created a deafening haze and the drumming acted more as a metronome as opposed to the relentless rolls provided by Lower. With the hall shrouded in fog, it didn't take long for flying guitars (and amps) to become a part of the stage show and when the flashing strobes kicked in, the evening was taken to another level.

A little after midnight, the lights dimmed until only two sharp lights were illuminating the stage. Iceage ripped through forty minutes of pure adrenaline fueled chaos. Slashing guitars, hammering drums, and stentorian vocals from frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt displayed the band's aggressive attitude with maximum intensity. Highlighting material from this year's wonderful You're Nothing, the band's loose sound has been sharpened into focus without sacrificing any of the raw appeal of New Brigade. Ditching guitar about two songs into the set, Elias marched across the stage tossing the microphone stand and lurching over the crowd with serious passion matching the militia vibes of Lower. This wasn't a show with lots of onstage banter, and when the frontmen did speak it was barely understandable (I think the only words I understood were "Iceage" and "Morals" which wasn't even paired with "this song is called..."). While Iceage appear to be on a mission to spread their ferociousness, their ability to blend hardcore with some kind of accessibility allows the music to really speak for itself.

June 11, 2013

Governor's Ball 2013 (Part 2)

The third and final day of the 2013 Governor's Ball was certainly the highlight of the weekend. After two days of intense mud, Sunday saw the grounds at their best and temperatures soar to make it actually feel like a summer music festival. I give a lot of credit to the crew who were able to save the festival from disaster and make it an enjoyable experience.

June 9, 2013

Governor's Ball 2013 (Part 1)

For it's third installment, NYC's Governor's Ball kicked things up a notch by turning the once single day festival (actually on Governor's Island) into a monster three day festival with all-star headliners. It finally seemed as if New York City would have a proper festival after the disastrous Field Day fiasco of 2003 and All Points West. And then there was a tropical storm.