When not discussing Miley Cyrus, the hype machine suggested Kanye West and Arcade Fire were the primary gravitational forces of 2013. And while Yeezus and Reflektor were great records, the time and energy journalists devoted to Kanye rants and Arcade Fire dress codes could have been spent covering a wealth of genius material that flew under the radar. With that in mind, and with the acknowledgment that ranking art is a pointless (though oddly fun) endeavor, Artlux presents its top 10 albums of 2013.
10. Serengeti - Saal
King of character study and frequent Sufjan collaborator Serengeti put out a lot of music in 2013. His record under the guise of Chicago bratwurst enthusiast Kenny Dennis received the most attention, including praise from Thom Yorke, but it was the underhyped Saal alongside German producer Sicker Man that showed Geti at his most raw and revealing, singing of a recurring night terror involving his deceased girlfriend and showing up at an ex’s wedding wearing a fake nose.
9. Young Fathers - Tape Two
Artists who make music described as uncategorizable are often doing something right. Scottish trio Young Fathersare hip hop at their core, but their experimental lo-fi odyssey routinely features elements of African music, soul, reggae and more. Their second EP on Anticon is equal parts beautiful and grimy, highlighted by the melodic might of “I Heard” and adventurous tumult of “Queen Is Dead”, which sounds like a synthy post-apocalyptic dance party set in the Grand Bazaar.
8. The Flaming Lips - The Terror
I had largely written off the Flaming Lips as a gimmick, the type of band you only go to see in altered states while craving confetti explosions and hamster ball crowd surfing. Wayne Coyne’s pretentious antics and occasional sexism only solidified my resolve. Then, on a whim, I listened to The Terror on NPR back in the spring and was blown away. A heavily processed album full of paranoia and despair, The Terror stays true to its title and hits like the soundtrack to free falling through space and bursting into flames.
7. Rickolus - Troubadour
For the second straight year Rickolus turned out one of the finest alt-folk/singer-songwriter records that went tragically unnoticed outside of his cult following. Troubadour is an abstract double album exploring love as the highest spiritual experience, full of Rick’s colorful imagery, sublime vocals and compelling instrumentation split into electric and acoustic halves.
6. Ghostpoet - Some Say I So I Say Light
UK rapper Ghostpoet’s second LP balances out his bleary existential murmurs with minimalist electro beats, refined pop structures and a host of airy guest vocals. With co-production by Richard Formby, Ghostpoet glides through vast dreamlike landscapes and searches for a hint of light amongst the blackness that seemingly surrounds him.
What makes Diane Coffee’s video for “Green” so enjoyable is that captures the youthful mischief of the 60s and sticks it into a modern context. Kids are seen shoplifting, flipping through Playboys, and bird-dogging while wearing gang jackets, unlike the youthful mischief of today which probably includes doing Molly and Snapchatting pictures of your junk. The song is kind of the same. It captures the doo-wop sounds of the 60s with a modern pop spin.
Diane Coffee is the project from current Foxygen drummer and former Disney Channel child actor, Shaun Fleming. You may have heard his voice on things like Kim Possible, The Lion King, and other shows you were pretending not to watch while babysitting your little cousins but TOTALLY WERE.
Diane Coffee’s album, My Friend Fish, is out today and you can buy it digitally here or stay true to the 60s theme and buy it on vinyl here.
The title song from Foxygen's Jagjaguwar debut, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, receives its psychedelic video treatment by director William Doyle of Neighborhood Watch Films. Singer Sam France’s frenetic energy is perfectly captured in Calvary Cemetery in Queens.
That same energy has sidelined the band for a bit - Sam’s accident at First Avenue in Minneapolis this past July was a doozy. After completely fracturing his tibia and fibula and undergoing surgery, his doctors are confident he will be able to perform in time for Austin City Limits and Foxygen’s October dates in New York City. All fall tour dates preceding ACL have been cancelled, and an updated list is below.
10/06/13 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
10/13/13 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits
10/21/13 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
10/22/13 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
Last month, Jonathan Rado of Foxygen announced he’d be releasing a solo EP called Law And Order at the end of the summer. “Hand In Mine” is the second offering from the collection and it’s a bit more like what we hear from his work with Sam France than the scruffier first single “Faces.” Check it out below.
Fans of Foxygen are well aware that this band is ready for the camera and has a flair for the dramatic. “No Destruction” was directed by Jonathan Rado and Sam France’s childhood friend Bryan Felber (University of the Streets). It features footage from movies the young men made beginning in high school, including The Legend of Colonel Bedlum and the Salty Biscuits (2005), Metronome (2007), Here’s Another One, Jon! (2008), The Buffalo Son (2009), and other various home videos and school projects (2006-2008).
Hot on the heels of 2013 Q1′s best album and a much publicized SXSW meltdown, Foxygen has announced new summer tour dates and a 7″ for “No Destruction,” one of the standouts from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. The 7″ also features b-side “Where’s the Money?,” produced by Richard Swift during the Peace & Magic sessions.
Foxygen recently played A Take Away Show for La Blogotheque in which the band harmonizes under the Sacré Coeur and frontman Sam France scares Parisian children and steals an apple from a street vendor. Watch Foxygen perform “In the Darkness,” “No Destruction” and “On Blue Mountain” below, and catch tour dates after the jump.
05/07/13 Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
05/08/13 Montreal , QC – Il Motore
05/09/13 Toronto, ON – Wrong Bar
05/11/13 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
05/14/13 Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory – SOLD OUT
05/15/13 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge – SOLD OUT
05/18/13 Mexico City, MX – Festival Marvin
06/21/13 Dover, DE – Firefly Music Festival
06/22/13 North Adams, MA – Massachusetts Museum Of Contemporary Art
Premiering today at VEVO is the official video for Foxygen’s “San Francisco.” Directed by Cameron Dutra, “San Francisco” features refined camerawork, simple compositions, and a loose interpretation of the song’s narrative. Our hero, Foxygen’s Sam France, leaves his love in San Francisco and dwells on the situation in a hotel room. Dutra expounded, “I tried to tell the story while keeping the video visually interesting and inferring some of the same emotions I get when listening to the song… Sam and Rado are truly doing something fresh, important, and new despite being very influenced on the past.”
We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic will be in stores January 22.
Directed by Ulysses///Onasis, “Shuggie” is a trip into a black and white world of mysterious and important gifts. The video reflects how “Shuggie” was perfectly described by BUST Magazine - “an all-hands-on-deck chorus [that shifts] abruptly into a brief funk breakdown, illuminating Foxygen’s forte - triumphantly filtering the hallucinogenic sensibilities of yesteryear through the ADD tendencies of today.”
Earlier this year, Los Angeles rock scientists Foxygen released their Jagjaguwar debut release, the Take the Kids Off Broadway EP. On January 22, 2013, that label will put out a new album from Foxygen, the wordily titled We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. “Shuggie” is the record’s first single; the album was recorded with Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, the Mynabirds) in the producer’s National Freedom studio.
Foxygen is the bi-coastal songwriting duo of Sam France (vocals, Olympia, Wash., 22 years old) and Jonathan Rado (guitar/keyboards, NYC, 22). They are the raw, de-Wes Andersonization of The Rolling Stones, Kinks, Velvets, Bowie, etc. that a whole mess of young people desperately need. They create a sometimes-impressionistic, sometimes-hyper-real portrait of sounds from specific places and times. Yet, it never comes across as anything but absolutely modern music.
They bring the manic, freewheeling qualities of an artist like Ariel Pink to those aforementioned influences to make for one of the most refreshing listens of the year. They are the real deal and total savants. Their albums are love letters to vinyl collections. Jagjaguwar is set to release Foxygen’s bedroom masterpiece, Take the Kids Off Broadway, on July 24.