Favorite albums and singles of 2013

It’s been a wonderful week of disconnection. After a ton of traveling, I’m back home in Pasadena staying at my parents’ house. My internal clock is totally whack due to overlapping jet lags so I’ve been sleeping at odd hours, floating about and re-balancing myself with cooking, reading, and going on long runs. My head has been shoved up the proverbial ass of TPP for so long I needed a bit of distance to put some perspective on the work I’ve been doing.

Anyway. I’m getting antsy and so I plan to spend my week getting back into the swing of things. Part of that involves posting on this blog~ First I’m gonna list of my favorite albums and singles of the year. Some of these songs/albums might not have been released from this year but I’d like to be able to look back at this and remember that these made up the soundtrack for my 2013. These aren’t in any particular order…and I was so damn busy that I probably missed a ton of amazing music but I’ll try to catch up. Maybe they’ll be in my list for next year.

Here we go!

Best Albums

Bonobo :: The North Borders

If there was such a thing as gourmet music, I’d say this album would be it. Bonobo never fails to put out strong work without relying on a predictable formula. There’s something about their music that’s energizing and soothing at the same time. So good for lone traveling or late night commutes from work.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/89319044″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Jon Hopkins :: Immunity

I’ve been listening to this while working. The best song, which I almost just wanted to put in the singles list, is “Open Eye Signal.” The music video is pretty awesome too.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/88124909″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Ponytail :: Do Whatever You Want All the Time

I’ve liked this album for a while, but I got really obsessed with it when I re-discovered it on my ipod that I only use for running. I don’t even know what you’d call it but it’s like avant-garde punk with female vocals screaming jibberish. It’s probably not for everyone. I think it’s amazing for running and so I still listen to it constantly. Sadly, they broke up over four years ago.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11476043″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Charles Bradley :: Victim of Love

Beautiful, heartbreaking R&B/blues love songs by a man who started off as a James Brown impersonator. When I’m bummed out about my love life this makes me feel somewhat better.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/69984028″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

King Krule :: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

Genius 19-year old kid. I swear this guy is going to be the next Bob Dylan.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/107340372″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Arcade Fire :: Reflektor

It’s all over the place, and some songs I’m not so crazy about but on the whole it’s a wonderful clusterfuck of gorgeous tunes.

~

Mount Kimbie :: Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

Great music to chill out, do housework, or drive to. Also features King Krule!

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/84409412″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
~

Best Singles

DARKSIDE – “Paper Trails”

I must’ve listened to this live session over 100 times.

~

James Blake – “Retrograde”

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/78709502″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Major Lazer – “Get Free Feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors”

Not from this year but I was so damn obsessed with this song this year. Kinda still am.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/44172532″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Slow Magic – “On Yr Side”

Hands-fucking-down the best show I’ve seen all year when he opened for Gold Panda. I’m keepin an eye on this guy.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/51024565″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

Julieta Venegas – “Te Vi”

I just love this song. It also makes me think of my amazing trips to South America this year and the great friends I’ve made on them. Yea yea…it’s probably just because this song is in Spanish. So what? 😛

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/74923880″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share

ALL my guy friends were obsessed with this song and with the lead singer Lauren Mayberry, who’s admittedly pretty damn cute. Probably heard this 348309832409823 times this year.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/60173536″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

~

YACHT – “Party at the NSA”

Cuz…come on. 🙂

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/105512967″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Three-Step, Thom, Inspired and the Sleep.

Here goes another stream of consciousness.

It’s 12:45 AM.

This week seemed to zip, slide, and blow past as they seem to do these days. I must be having fun.

On Thursday I spoke to a law school class for the first time. It was on international intellectual property law. I admit I was bit nervous but I somewhat successfully channeled the stray energy into speaking very animatedly about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and its effects on the Internet and access to knowledge issues (which I can always do), as well as very briefly cover the history of fair use in international law. There’s this really obscure concept called the “three-step test” which essentially is used in international IP agreements to restrict the kinds of exceptions to copyright protections countries can make to their laws. Not gonna go further than that here, for everyone’s sake.

Mmm change of subject.

I just found out about the new music video by Atoms for Peace, a side/parallel project of Radiohead. The entire thing is just awesome— the song, choreography, color palette, costumes…and god damn will Thom Yorke ever stop getting cooler? Here just watch it (full screen is better):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpVfF4U75B8&hl=en_US&version=3]

 

ALSO, I had to do work on something extremely tedious tonight and decided to listen to music while doing it. I’m following several accounts on Soundcloud but one of my favorites (besides the Reverberation mixes) is this self-described DIY record label called Bad Panda Records that releases songs every Monday under CC-licenses. I was going through listening to their song feed when I stumbled upon this band Inspired and the Sleep.

Holy man it’s so good! It’s like a mix between Tune-Yards, Kishi Bashi, and the Unicorns (Afternote: I’m aware this sounds music-snobby. Oh well.). I haven’t been this excited about a band for a long ass time. I bought their album through Bandcamp and have already listened to it 4 times. My favorite songs must be “Snow Den” and “Running”:

>> The Snow Den by Inspired and the Sleep

>> Running by Inspired and the Sleep

Alright its 1:15 AM. Going in and adding links to this and passing out. I gotta publish something at 7am tomorrow.

Jya-ne.

Happy birthday, Woody

Today’s Woody Guthrie’s would be 100th birthday.

Growing up, we always sang his songs at campfire during our weeks-long school camping trips. 25 or so hippy kids belt out “This Land Is Your Land” around the crackling warmth in the cold night after a long day of hiking and exploring in the desert. It was always my favorite one.

Little did I know that he was a revolutionary song writer, the kind I wish we now had to inspire us through the madness. He was a true political artist, who cared about getting his song heard and loved rather than purely find a profit off of them. I love this quote, as it shows that even back then the real creators and the makers had already seen through ridiculousness of copyright:

On the typescript submitted for copyright of “This Land Is Your Land”, Guthrie wrote:

“This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.”

[source]

Then this one:

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. …

I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood.

I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.

And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.”

[source]

R.I.P.

Woody Guthrie “All You Fascists Bound To Lose”

pickle juice.

Someone just sent me this video of Nicki Minaj from a documentary that aired almost 2 years ago, something which is now on the top of my “shit to watch when I’m eating frozen food alone in my robe after a long day at work” list.

Yea, I wrote before about how much I’m still a big fan despite her new album being waaay off base. But I’m convinced more than evar that somewhere buried in there is this awesome, strong, bonkers woman. <3

Dear Old Nicki

(via Dallas Observer Blog)

Dear Nicki,

I’m a big fan of yours. I can honestly say that I get sick of most albums after about a month of thorough play, but your debut album Pink Friday is really something else. The songs are fun, sweet, and light, but with just enough heart to make me come back to them. But what I like about you and your music is your character: strong, goofy, sexy, mature, experimental, and confident. When I saw interviews with you, I felt like I wanted you to be my buddy. There aren’t any other female artists, let alone a pop star, I can think of who seemed as real with herself as you.

Having said that, I gotta say that I’m pretty damn disappointed with your new work. Believe me, I’ve tried to listen to it at least 10 times, and haven’t been able to warm up to it one bit. All your new songs, from Starships, Stupid Hoe, to Beez in the Trap. There’s something about it that’s completely missing the mark.

You know what I think is the problem? You felt your heart out of it. The whole album feels like an empty shell of overproduced noise with you rapping about fashion, hoes, and finding success. It’s both uninspired and uninspiring. There nothing about the album that sounds like it’s coming from you. I know you have an amazing voice and you do care about fashion, but if you want to take it to the next level, you need to show more of yourself (and no I’m not talking about your ass). Rapping is an art form that’s made to tell stories. So tell your god damn story. Let yourself express yourself and stop listening to whoever the hell at Young Money telling you what you need to do to top your last album because whatever it is that needs to be done, the only place you’re gonna find the answer is inside your beautiful head.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m sick of artists doing shitty work because they think it’ll be popular, especially when they’ve got the skills and are completely capable of doing something better. I think you sold as many copies of Pink Friday as you did because you seemed like real person that people could relate to. Even if we only got to see small glimpses and traces of the real Nicki, it was still enough for people to want more.

So I know it’s too late this time around… you’ve gotta do what you gotta do to promote the crap out of Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded and there’s nothing that can be done about that. But please, next time you go back to the recording booth, whether or not it’s your own song or another song you end up getting featured in, remember that people like you because it’s you. Because you just seemed like a cool fucking person. So go pick up a book, or watch a good movie, or do whatever it takes until you get inspired to tell it like it is. Write about the world, about your life, about something that’ll remind them why they should give a crap about you.

Please remind me what it looks like when I see a strong, goofy, sexy, mature, confident, cool ass woman. Be you, Nicki.

A loving fan,

Maira

P.S. I know this song wasn’t one of your biggest hits and the music video doesn’t make any sense, but this is still one of my favorite life anthems:

Nicki Minaj – Fly ft. Rihanna

Beach House : "Bloom"

New LP from Beach House dropped today.

I was completely obsessed with their last album so I jumped the gun and bought it.

No regrets.

~

If you like:

Interpol, XX,  Florence and the Machine, early David Bowie, the Cure

Sound:

Dreamy 80’s rock with female vocals

Mood:

Feeling emo but not pathetic

Listen here:       https://www.npr.org/2012/05/06/151227631/first-listen-beach-house-bloom