ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Wall is the man whose name you’d love to touch. But you mustn’t touch. People pay him to write things.
KNEE MEETS JERK
In Which a Beleaguered Music Journalist Attempts — and Fails — to Identify Ten Records Released Between December 2012 and December 2013 That Were Better Than All Other Releases in the Same Time Period. Listed in alphabetical order. Results subject to change. In seven acts.
Robert Howell is a professor of philosophy at SMU. His latest book is called Consciousness and the Limits of Objectivity and is available at Amazon. Now that you are good and intimidated, below are his thoughts on a few records from the past year.
I seem to be the only person who doesn’t like the new Vampire Weekend, and I’m one of only a handful that finds the new Arcade Fire boring. Combine that with the fact that Kanye’s continuous ass-hattery prevents me from listening to Yeezus and I’m disqualified for pronouncing the top ten albums of the year. Instead, here are twelve albums (and one reissue) that I think are excellent and generally underrated. In no meaningful order.
Daughn Gibson, Me Moan (Sub Pop)
Recommended if you like: Playing bagpipes on Music Row while huffing ether.
Cayucas, Cayucas (Secretly Canadian)
Recommended if you like: Ferris Bueller but not Say Anything
El-P and Killer Mike, Run the Jewels (Fools Gold)
Recommended if you like: Small cars with big engines.
Adam Green and Binki Shapiro, s/t (Rounder)
Recommended if you like: Those bikes with baskets in the front, probably filled with brie and a baguette.
Mikal Cronin, MC II (Merge)
Recommended if you like: The idea of California but have no interest in moving there.
Looking at this list, I clearly had a dark, introspective year. So, there’s that. –@kerryrm
Still Corners – Strange Pleasures
Continuing what they started on Creatures Of An Hour, Still Corners deliver more of the same ethereal dream pop that I can’t resist. Strange Pleasures is like the soundtrack to a long drive across a desolate plain reflecting on a cracked and abandoned life. RIYL: Beach House, Chromatics
Forest Swords – Engravings
On one of my favorite labels, Tri Angle, Forest Swords’ Engravings has a tinge of “witch house” and at times reminds me of a more mellow, less methodical oOoOO. These tracks are a hazy, introspective and meandering collection of samples, atmospherics, field recordings and minimal beats.
Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
I knew nothing of Julianna Barwick until I heard Nepenthe and for weeks after I could listen to nothing but this album. It was like a drug. The songs build on her lushly layered vocals, creating a kind of vocal analog to Music for Airports. RIYL: Sheila Chandra’s The Zen Kiss, Sigur Rós, Cocteau Twins