JP Galeotalanza is regular contributor to Boston Hassle’s music section, and a pretty nice guy as well.
Here are 10 tracks I liked a lot from the year 2013.
That’s not even true. I already lied. Here are 5 tracks I liked a lot from the year 2013, as well as another 5 from the year 2012 that I did not know about until this year. Music nerding is a constant process of catching up with the past and queuing up the present.
I’ll delve into my 2013 choices and be much more concise about the 2012 late comers. Everything is in chronological order of release.
MY BLOODY VALENTINE – WHO SEES YOU
There are plenty of albums with colossal legacies that encourage heartfelt hyperbole, and in the case of Loveless, I will gladly toss myself among the rabid mouthed supporters. Streaming mbv on youtube as the band gradually uploaded each track, since fuck that website traffic jam, was a somewhat daunting experience considering the expectations. “Only Tomorrow” tapered that apprehension, and “who sees you” took it a step further. “Holy shit” I thought, “what if mbv is somehow even better than Loveless?”
Ultimately, mbv may not even be in the same league as Loveless. Very few albums are. That said, “who sees you” is a gift from the guitar gods. That chord progression along with the overwhelming guitar blare is otherworldly. It will never be loud enough, engulfing enough, to quench my ears to death. A track like this makes everything that is happening concurrently seem downright profound. This is the sort of shit that helps the rabid mouthed hyperbole flow so naturally.
ICEAGE – YOU’RE NOTHING
It took me one stoned T ride too many to actually look at my iPod and realize that “You’re Nothing”, the final track of the second Iceage LP, is probably an intentional reference to “You’re Blessed“, the final track of the first Iceage LP. While “You’re Blessed” featured perhaps the bands most upbeat material, “You’re Nothing” is appropriately emo. Rites of Spring emo. The message may be somewhat tongue in cheek, but the delivery is genuine. Sharp drum snaps and dreary noise riffs welcome you to the albums final dejected rallying call. By the end of the 105 seconds-long track, Elias’ cries of “you’re nothing!!” have detonated into raw disgust, hate, and loathing.
GIRLS NAMES – DRAWING LINES
Girls Names caught my interest a few years ago with their jangle mope jam “I Lose“. However, when it came to vocally downtrodden, melodically pepped up revival rock, like-minded Crystal Stilts often proved to be the stronger sad sacks. 2012 showed signs of Girls Names moving in a more intriguing direction, with a pair of singles, “A Troubled See” and “The New Life“, previewing their trudge toward more atmospheric, reverb kissed post-punk.
The New Life may not have landed very gracefully among the critics, but I personally feel that it is a step in the proper direction. “Drawing Lines”, along with a good chunk of The New Life, could very well have been a Cure release circa Seventeen Seconds, and I mean that as a strong compliment. The gently thudding bass, warped synths, and softened guitars that lull you into the darkness. The dour vocals and the patience to rock out only once all of the pieces have found the proper chemistry. The 100% spot on production on this thing, which frontman Cathal Cully took care of himself. “Drawing Lines” is a sterling slice of gloom.
FAUX FUR – DISCOLOURATION
I had very high hopes for Faux Fur coming into 2013.
In my top shrimp write up for Faux Fur, I touched upon the void that was left behind following the dissolution of Women and the premature death of guitarist Christoper Reimer. Women channeled a certain outlook and sonic environment through their music that has no proper companion. You can pinpoint the influences (post-punk, no wave, noise rock, psych pop, math rock…), but it is difficult to properly compare their work to a single predecessor or peer.
In the wake of Women, there has been a slate of similar acts who have drawn appropriate comparisons. Friendo, Long Long Long, Each Other, Trust Punks, and Faux Fur to name a few. Of the post-Women wave roster, Faux Fur have separated from the pack as my gem prospect. Their initial demos showed signs of striking that crucial melodic balance between ungainly and delightful, their 2012 single “Tied” was a confirmation of their abilities in a more polished state, and as 2013 closes out, Faux Fur stands as my favorite album.
This is because of songs like “Discolouration”, which steadily shift from one off-sounding pop melody to the next, never tiring out a clever idea and ultimately generating a sum even greater than the alluring individual parts. Faux Fur have an exceptional ear for genuinely weird guitar pop, and they have tackled songwriting in a manner that recalls some of the strengths of Women without directly aping their sound. It may finally be time to move on.
FUME HOOD – ACQUAINTANCES
This is how the incentive of helping out with the Hassle/Compass becomes self-rewarding. Little did I know that doing a brief Go-To write up for a Video Underground show back in November would help uncover one of my favorite music finds of 2013. Nestled away in the local line up was Fume Hood, a group based out of lower Allston. A couple plays on their soundcloud page to help familiarize myself with the music quickly became 10, 20, 30. Hell, I decided to download the soundcloud app primarily so I could always have the option to let the zoned out bliss of “furry dice” and the tone deaf chorus of “Sunscreen Kiosk” enchant my mind wherever I went.
“Acquaintances”, however, that is some top shelf shit: contemporary psych pop in all of its stripped-down glory. The thick bassline waddles along, providing a sense of weight to the tune while picked strings trickle on down like a warm summer shower. Curiously charming vocal harmonies delicately traverse the lackadaisical soundscape, approaching inflection and tonality like a couple immigrants of the Candy Kingdom. A pleasant keyboard hook ties the piece together, placing the final necessary touch on this fantastic work of odd pop.
I would mention that it would be a mystifying experience to travel to the strange universe where this gift has been beamed in from, but as it turns out, I guess I just need to hop on the green line. Haha, fuck that!
THE MALLARD – MANSION
Garage rock and roll with just the right amount of fuzz.
CRYSTAL SWELLS – PACIFIC CENTER SLUDGE
Weepy surf ballad oh wait just kidding key bumped noise pop.
EACH OTHER – ASH MOUND
Post-women wave 2012 finalists.
EX-CULT – FUTURE VICTIMS
Oh wow this guy is really steamed about something. That girl is upset too.
FOXYGEN – SHUGGIE
I guess this song was actually released as a single last year and it isn’t MGMT go figure.