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A Review Of Every 2013 Album I Bought

I’ve been bad. According to my iTunes, I have 39.62GB of music from 2013 (17.1 days). Granted - a good amount of that is free rap mixtapes and some truly random internet type ephemera. But I figure the amount of music I’ve actually paid for totals 3.71GB (1.9 days). That’s pretty good, probably a lot more than you bought this year. But it’s still only a 1:10 ratio of bought-to-stolen music.

I don’t know — I guess I assume stealing music is the default. I buy a lot of t shirts and concert tickets. Like, I don’t even go to half the shows I buy tickets for, but I figure it’s helping the artists a little? I’m an idiot.

As the saying goes, I vote with my money. In some cases, I’ll try to support already established stars like Kanye West. (Hey, Kanye inspired a lot of bathos in my when he admitted on Sway’s show that he lost $13 million on fashion endeavors!) Other times, I see a band live and they blow me away and I have to give them extra money somehow, which means buying instead of stealing their music. Can I atone for the 35+ GB of music I’ve straight-up stolen? No way.

Rather than do the redemptive thing and try to atone for the music I stole by extolling it, I figured I’d at least talk about all the things I bought this year. Maybe see what sort of value I got out of it. It almost goes without saying that you should buy all the albums I mention below, because I liked them or their artist enough to plunk down $9.99 on iTunes or $10 on Bandcamp for their work. There’s only one exception, and it’s clearly noted.

A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord

I bought this the day it came out. There was some rap blogger joke about “Trap Lord in stores now” or something? I don’t know. I just bought it because, I believe, I thought it would be good or something. It was truly the triumph of #tumblr #rap.

As a listening experience: I recall listening to it in one go while I walked the dogs. “Shabba”, the best song on the album, didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time, but I did go on to listen to the song a bit on Spotify. I found myself really digging it – it’s a very high qualtiy, rappity-rap type album. The only problem is, being a rappity-rap album, there was a lot of misogyny. Not in the finger-wagging way that there’s misogyny in rap music and music generally, but in a really over the top, making-simulated-sex-sounds-with-my-mouth way. Like, it was just covered in this veneer of old school stupid sex skits. Listening to it all in one go probably amplified the effect for me, but I definitely liked this album a lot and then lost my interest really quickly. That decline led me to not give the album any more re-listens, so I probably could have saved some money on this one and streamed it on Spotify.

Arcade Fire’s Reflektor

To be honest, I bought this album by mistake. I recalled buying the album, so on my work computer’s iTunes I clicked “Purchase” just to download it onto my work computer, but I ended up buying it. I don’t regret it, but I don’t particularly like this album.

I gave the album a fair but fairly negative review on Passion of the Weiss.

What I’d like to spend my time talking about, here, is two songs and the first half of the album. Or, what you could call the “ideal Reflektor”. Double albums, too long, yada yada. But still – if you cut “Here Comes The Night Time II”, “Joan Of Arc”, “Porno”, and the last four minutes of “Supersymmetry”, here’s what you’ve got – a 59 minute album (still a bit too long) that’s still got all the polish and diversity of Reflektor without much of the high-minded cultural opprobrium and sonic drag. That said –

“It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” and “Afterlife” will probably be two of my favorite songs until I die. I couldn’t tell you why, other than that they just make my soul feel uplifted. That they’re both about death and resurrection has a lot to do with that. It has something to do with what Richard Wise said in this post about being a servant:

Because buying organic food helps us deal with our number one problem: our existential anxiety, our denial of death. This problem is so big and unsolvable, it is shelved by the conscious mind but the unconscious mind is tormented by it our entire lifetime.

I’m pretty sure listening to music about resurrection and redemption is my personal brand of religion. A much smaller, more historically insignificant brand. I should probably just listen to Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor or something, but you can’t really dance to that.

Sort of like how two rich Frenchman managed to make everyone talk about 6 minute dance songs again, Arcade Fire’s brand of rock-dance music is pretty repugnant on some intellectual level. But I can’t help it. I could listen to these two songs forever – and I sorta literally hope I can?

Austra’s Olympia

I recall somewhat liking Austra’s album from a few years ago. I bought this album on iTunes or something and then never listened to it. It sounds, as I listen to it right this second, like an improvement over her last. Austra’s got an amazing voice.

The Blow’s The Blow

An meticulous-sounding record on a good soundsystem! I was supposed to review this for Passion of the Weiss, but I never made it past the initial note-taking stage.

The Blow’s Paper Television is one of my all-time favorite albums of all-time, ever. The era when I most listened to it, 2005 to 2009, was a really weird time in my life. I had just gotten into listening to dance-y pop music, and The Blow’s high-minded, highly metaphorical style appealed to me and set it as the gold standard of the genre. Not only that, but I was constantly falling in and out of love, and The Blow’s music is almost exclusively about love. I listened to that album so much! So even though The Blow is really good, I just can’t really listen to it. I still highly recommend it.

Chastity Belt’s No Regerts

This band gained prominence due to an extremely popular community post on BuzzFeed. I’m not sure how I went from step A to step B, but I ended up streaming, then buying, then pitching, then reviewing this album in the course of a couple days.

No Regerts (sic) [hey, can we as writers {ie, anyone ever who writes anything or even edits writing} all stop doing the insulting “(sic)” – it doesn’t make you look smart or clever. It just makes you look like a petty horses’s ass who has no better burn or argument than “Hey, lookee this guy made a spelling error] is the debut album by this group of post-college women from Washington state. Its tone varies from surf-garage-y to PJ Harvey to punk. The lyrics are razor sharp and funny. It is my favorite debut album of the year behind HAIM’s, but it’s very very close. I love this album so much and you should definitely buy it if you’re interested in funny, good guitar rock.

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