Published on January 23rd, 2014 | by Mike Conlon0
Five Albums from 2013 You Might Have Missed
By now, you’ve probably listened to most of 2013’s great albums, or at least the ones that appeared most frequently on the best of lists. So rather than another rehash of 2013’s essential albums, here are a couple releases from last year that you may have overlooked. These albums weren’t on many year end lists, but they’re all well worth a listen.
King Khan and the Shrines – Idle No More
Arish Khan has had a tough go over the past couple years. He’s had three close friends die, he’s acrimoniously parted ways with collaborator Mark Sultan, and he’s spent time in the psych ward. But ‘Idle No More’ proves yet again that out of personal turmoil comes great art. Well, in this instance, almost great art. ‘Idle No More’ is more uneven than any of King Khan’s earlier efforts. It’s also more introspective than any other Khan album, sometimes to its own detriment. ‘Darkness’ could have been Khan’s ‘It’s a Man’s World.’ Instead, Khan’s moping and navel gazing have rendered the song a dud. Despite these occasional misfires, the album is filled with gems like ‘Pray for Lil,’ a Sam Cooke by way of The Troggs track that’s on par with any of Khan’s previous output. These scattered treasures make digging through the album’s trash worth it.
Fuzz – Live in San Francisco
‘Live in San Francisco’ is one of the year’s most visceral live albums. In fact, I consider it 2013’s answer to ‘Kick Out the Jams,’ with a shot of early Sabbath thrown in for good measure. Fuzz is comprised of Charles Moothart on guitar, Roland Cosio on bass, and the omnipresent Ty Segall on drums. Independently, each of these guys is a force to be reckoned with, as a unit they are downright unstoppable. Need proof? Listen to ‘This Time I Got A Reason’ and bask in its four minutes of face melting glory. Then listen to the rest of the album because it kicks just as much ass.
Guided by Voices – English Little League
Guided by Voices are famously prolific — in the 90s alone, they released nine albums. Since reuniting in 2010, they’ve kept up the pace, releasing four albums, with another planned for 2014. These later albums aren’t as consistently awesome as ‘Alien Lanes’ or ‘Bee Thousand’. But seriously, was anyone even expecting anything of that caliber? For me, it’s enough that these late LPs are highly listenable (which is more than I can say for The Pixies reunion efforts, ‘EP1’ and ‘EP2’). ‘English Little League’ comes the closest to recapturing GBV’s early magic. Listen to ‘Islands (She Talks in Rainbows),’ ‘Noble Insect,’ and ‘W/ Glass in Foot’ and you could be forgiven for thinking these are long lost tracks from the band’s golden era.
Thee Oh Sees – Singles Collections, Vol. 3
Thee Oh Sees release albums at a rapid enough pace to make even GBV jealous. In 2013 they released ‘Floating Coffin’ which readers of this site will already be familiar with. They also released ‘Singles Collection, Vol. 3’, to less fanfare. A collection of one-offs, live performances, and rare tracks from 2011-2013, this album boasts a broader sound palette than ‘Floating Coffin’. Where ‘Floating Coffin’ was an exceptionally focused album, this compilation is a sprawling collection of the musical meanderings of a band at the top of it’s game. And like most everything these guys have put out, this album is worth hearing.
CFCF – Outside
Darkside’s Dave Harrington has declared ‘Outside’ one of the 2013’s best albums, but outside that you won’t find many people raving about this album. Don’t let the lack of widespread hype fool you, this one creeps up on you. The product of Montreal producer Michael Silver, ‘Outside’ dexterously evokes sounds of 80s artists and groups like Peter Gabriel and Talk Talk. The album’ kicks off with ‘Beyond Light,’ a great track that shows it’s possible to evoke the sounds of Phil Collins without sounding cheesy. It only gets better from there.