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Rooster Roundabout: Best albums of 2013

Well ... according to me

Now that Christmas is over and the New Year is upon us, many music outlets are looking back at one more year in music and the many bands that inhabited that particular point in time. 2013 was a big year. We had releases from Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and much more. But I’ve never been one to look at year-end lists because I mostly don’t agree with the writers, or I get bored with them. So if you get bored reading this one, I completely understand and won’t fault you. Now, the idea of a year-end list is to boast the work created that year. I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to list the top five albums I listened to this year.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean these albums were made this year. Hell, a couple of them were made decades ago. But, in my humble perspective, I always urge people to delve into music of the past. My argument is that you can’t completely focus on the music of today without understanding how past music shaped that sound. IE: I recently heard an interview with Lorde (who is on this list) where she said that if the Beatles hadn’t done what they did, she wouldn’t have done what she did. You get the idea. So ... here’s my list! Enjoy or don’t enjoy. And remember ... there’s always next year.

Lorde - Pure Heroine

This album completely came out of nowhere. I remember hearing “Royals” on the radio and wondering who this pop princess was. Turns out she wasn’t a “princess” per se, but more of a weird little goth chick who made sparse electronic ditties. What won me over was the fact that she wrote her own songs, helped produce the album and she was only 16 when the album was finished. If that’s not an accomplishment, I don’t know what is. Oh, and the album is actually good. Songs like “400 Lux,” “Buzzcut Season,” and “White Teeth Teens” show her range and vivacity.

Lorde - “400 Lux”

Hank Williams - Wait For the Light to Shine

While I do believe in God, I’m not especially religious. So church hymns, gospel and good ol’ fashioned odes to Jesus via country music rhythms and rhymes always strike a music fancy to my eardrums. And Williams’ homage to the Lord is no exception. Tracks like “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine” and the title track show Williams crooning over typical country ditties, but his voice presents a magic wash over the scratchy record I got at Charley’s for $1.99. My hands-down favorite track on the record is “Devil’s Train.” It’s the most scratchy, and maybe that’s why I like it.

Hank Williams - “Devil’s Train”

King Tuff - Was Dead

Apparently the original pressing of this record is impossible to find, but due to an overwhelming number of people attempting to get a copy in their sweaty hands, Burger Records reissued the album, making it available for people like me (who find out about bands very late in the game). This LP never left my record player for a good month. Whether I was cleaning, eating or pooping, it was always on in the background. Album opener “Dancing On You” immediately grabs you, and Tuff’s trippy (sometimes whiny) vocals just take over. My personal favorite is “Sun Medallion,” but “Freak When I’m Dead” and “Just Strut” are great songs as well. Actually, just listen to the whole thing. It’s a keeper.

King Tuff - “Sun Medallion”

Patti Smith - Horses

This record dominated 2013 for me. While I’m an artist, I had gone through a slump, so I started becoming more diligent by painting again. So one day while painting, I played Smith’s most famous album. I’d already been a fan of it, but for some reason, while blending colors and etching out pieces of cardboard with a needle, it just hit me. It’s brilliant. From her opening rendition of “Gloria” to “Land,” the album is genius. If you haven’t listened to it, there’s still time. So from then on, any time I sat down to paint, draw, sketch or take photographs of weird ornaments, it was always on in the background ... and still is. It’s the perfect “art” record.

Patti Smith - “Land”

Savages - Silence Yourself

I can’t remember the last time I got this excited about a band. While every music blog was riding the wave of salivating over this “post-punk” prodigy, I just couldn’t get over their stark single “I Am Here.” It was my obsession with that song that prompted me to buy the album (at Urban Outfitters no less). While it has a dark, menacing tone, the musicality at work is of the upmost cohesive. Each song blends into the next, but each track is a stand-alone gem. “Husbands” is quick and painful. “City’s Full” is fantastically dreadful. And album closer “Marshal Dear” ties it all together with some horns and piano. It’s a masterpiece, and it makes me brim with anticipation for what they’ll put out next.

Savages - “Husbands”

Those were my top five albums of the year. What were yours? Feel free to comment.

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Music

Rooster Roundabout: This week’s music highlights

Now that TLC has a biopic coming out, starring Lil Mama (of “Lip Gloss” fame), they've also decided to come out with a greatest hits LP, which drops on Oct. 15. You can head over to Pitchfork for the tracklist, which includes “Waterfalls,” “Red Light Special” and “Creep.”

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TLC - “Creep”

Your stamp collection just got a little cooler.

The dream of the '90s seems to be alive and kickin' as Veruca Salt have announced via Twitter that they're reuniting and recording with Brad Wood, who they worked with on their first record, American Thighs. Who knows what could become of this, but this is the most exciting news I've heard all week.

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Veruca Salt - “Seether”

Just in case you were wondering what M.I.A.'s upcoming album, Matangi, looks like. You can view the tracklist and see the cover art over at Pitchfork. The album hits shelves on Nov. 5.

If you haven't listened to Mudhoney, you should definitely entertain the notion of listening to Mudhoney. They've been steadily releasing material in their 20+ years as a band, and their newest record, Vanishing Point, is currently available in stores or via online markets. They've just released a video of the track “The Only Son Of The Widow From Nain,” which you can check out now. Probably NSFW.

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Mudhoney - “The Only Son Of The Widow From Nain”

Dr. Dog's newest album, B-Room, comes out next week, but thanks to the folks over at Rolling Stone, you can stream the whole thing. Oh, and you can read about the band's efforts in making the album.

Jennifer Hudson's voice mixed with Pharrell's production and a cameo by T.I.? Yes, please!

What is it with the Coen brothers and churning out movies that provide killer soundtracks? O Brother, Where Art Thou?, anyone? Their upcoming flick, Inside Llewyn Davis is another Coen film that is getting the star-powered soundtrack treatment, and you can hear Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac singing “Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)” from the film via Billboard.

Ever the chameleon, Madonna channels inspiration from the world around her. But then again, doesn't every other artist? Now, she's channeling inspiration in the fight for freedom of expression, and her latest mode of exacting said message is by covering Elliott Smith's “Between the Bars.” You can see the performance below and check out her Art for Freedom short film here.

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Madonna covering Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars”

Don't act like you're not excited that the tracklist for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has been released. I'm actually surprised at some of the big and interesting names they were able to get for it, but then again, it's got Jennifer Lawrence, so... Some people on this venture include Christina Aguilera (have you heard this woman sing?), Sia, Antony & The Johnsons, Patti Smith and much more.

A couple weeks back, it was announced that Albert Hammond Jr. (most notable from his work with The Strokes) was going to release a solo EP, titled AHJ, on Oct. 8. Well now Mr. Hammond (Jr.) has shared the first single from said release. It's sort of like old-school Strokes with a more crisp, poppy tone to it. Appoved.

Savages, my latest obsession, have shared a video for the track “Husbands,” off their fantastic debut LP Silence Yourself. The black-and-white vid has footage of the band playing interspersed with footage of cells, maggots, rising smoke and white triangles. Sounds about right.

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Savages - “Husbands”

Just in case you wanted to see Justin Bieber getting spanked by Zach Galifianakis.

Peter Gabriel released an album of covers, titled Scratch My Back, in 2010. Now Gabriel has flipped the switch by having artists take a whack at his songs on a second album of covers, titled And I'll Scratch Yours. The album features the likes of St. Vincent, Bon Iver, Lou Reed, Regina Spektor and more. The album is available this week, but you can hear Feist's cover of Gabriel's “Don't Give Up,” featuring Timber Timbre.

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Feist ft. Timber Timbre - “Don’t Give Up”

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    YOU (ALBUM RELEASE)4.24.2014