Posts Tagged ‘Born To Die’

Half way through the year, and it’s time to take inventory of what’s stood out musically. I asked Myles to join me in a Top Five SO FAR Records of 2013 list. I’ll be interested to see what, if any, of these records make my end of year list. Also, these records are listed in chronological order of acquisition, and they may not have even been released in 2013. If you have a problem with that, make your own list. Here’s what I’ve jammed the hardest this year.

Also, my friend Angela Craig will barf on her own shoes when she sees this.

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1. Ke$ha – Warrior

It’s no secret that I shamelessly love pop music. And it’s also no secret that I do not believe in guilty pleasures. And I have zero intentions of apologizing or shirking my love of Ke$ha – and her entire canon – to make you feel cool. And just for the record: This. Record. Kicks. Ass. The wife surprised me with Ke$ha’s new release, Warrior, for Christmas, and it stayed in our car stereo until February. Super fun jams, party lyrics, a little bit o’ White-girl rap mixed with a whole lot of bar-romping sing-a-long, crotch-rocking attitude. Yeah, I realize there’s nothing I can say to talk you into giving Ke$ha a fair chance, and I’m sorry for you. As for me and my family, we rock the casbah out of any Ke$ha record.

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2. Best Coast – The Only Place

Absolutely one of my new favorite bands! After falling in love with this record, I immediately bought everything Best Coast had released to the public. For such a short lived band, they’ve had an amazing sound evolution. I’m not even sure which of their records I recommend more highly – the new cleanly produced The Only Place or their previous raw-garage rock Crazy For You debut. Best Coast also has a couple of EPs on iTunes that are super fuzzy and killer. I especially love their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms”, which showcases angles to Bethany’s vocals not found in their other work. Good stuff. Just good stuff. I actually wrote a review of Best Coast’s The Only Place on my teacher-y blog. I’m rather proud of this review. My buddy Pepe thought it was a Rolling Stone or Paste review, which inflated the mess out of my head. You can go here to relish that glory :

http://www.blackhightops.blogspot.com/2012/11/best-coasts-only-place.html

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3. Duke Ellington and John Coltrane

The air wafting through my office door reeks of two things: stale coffee and big band music. I have both going nonstop all day long when I’m at work. Big band is my go to music when I want to write, when I need to work, when I do not need lyrics getting in the way of my own literary craft and intake. But this past year I decided to expand my territories and reach beyond big band into actual jazz. I did not know exactly where to start, except that I remember my friend Jesse owned Duke Ellington’s Four record when we lived together, and that record found regular rotation – right along with Tammy Wynette’s Run Woman Run – during our late night whiskey and backgammon sessions. So this past spring, when I wanted to study jazz, I started with Ellington. I’m still not sure how this duo between Ellington and Coltrane landed on my iTunes, but it’s divine. Absolutely magical. I’ve since found more from each artist that has stood the test of time and won new listeners – particularly Coltrane’s Blue Train and A Love Supreme records – but nothing so far has topped this duet recording as a flawlessly beautiful incantation of sheer artistry.

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4. In This Moment – Blood

I discovered In This Moment while searching metal bands with female leads.  Their previous record, Star Crossed Wasteland, rocked a cowboy vibe with strong metalcore influences. On their newest record, Blood, to which I’m completely addicted, In This Moment dropped their sound several octaves, slowed down the metalcore strumming and drumming, and – in the process – conjured a darker, somewhat sinister industrial grit. I’m not sure I always love In This Moment’s music. It’s a bit crunchy for me, probably leaning more towards some hip new crunchcore metal than good old fashion metal. But for all their musical failings, Maria Brink’s vocals redeem each track ten fold and ten fold. Brink is one of the greatest metal vocalists I’ve ever heard, nailing every level of her metal vocals – shrill screams, gross throaty growls, and pristinely emotive cleans – telling her story as much through her vocals as her lyrics. I’d sell a pinky toe to see Maria Brink perform on a tiny stage in a tiny room. She’s a beast. Like a boss.

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5. Lana Del Rey – Paradise

Alright. Here it is. The pinnacle of my 2013 auditory experience. Of everything else I’ve musically discovered or rediscovered or explored this year, nothing – absolutely nothing – has shaken me like Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die double-CD. Yes, yes, yes: I remember LDR’s botch SNL performance. It was so devastating I nearly fell into a life of narcotics and addiction-supportive prostitution just watching her bomb. And I don’t know what happened that night. Surely, such nights happen to more performers – LDR just happened to land her fall on national television. But I don’t hold it against her, especially after I listened to this double-album set twice through on a solo drive across the bottom of Arkansas into the top of Texas earlier this summer. I’ve had her spinning on loop ever since. I love her husky, bottom droned voice. I love her Kennedy-esque lyrical persona. I love her videos, all grainy and dizzily grappling at the last raw strands of youth and beauty. And I love her sense of humor, labeling her own musical style “Hollywood sadcore”. I’ve joked that if I ever finish this book, I’ll have to mention Lana Del Rey in the acknowledgements. Her voice has painted several scenes and drawn the interior of a major character. Here’s to redemption from a public fall.

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