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Favourite musical moments of 2013

This time of year everyone posts lists, and not being a music critic, I apologize for adding to the heap. Now that the dust has settled, I’ve decided to add my spin on the year end list: my favourite moments from my favourite albums of 2013. Since much of the list is post-rock, or metal, experimental, and often instrumental, these moments are building blocks of songs, elements that hook into your brain. Strangely enough, the further up the list, the more it can be classified as pop. Even among these pop records, there is a certain “epicness” and “build” which is more than the sum of the lyrics and melodies. (I suppose that’s what you get when you put 11 people on one stage). As always, “Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued” – Neil Young

Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes by USA Out Of Vietnam

10. USA Out of Vietnam – Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes

Glad to have waited right until the very end of 2013 to compile this list. I first saw this band open for Mogwai, as a last minute substitute. The length of their songs didn’t allow for much of an opening set. This album is much more post-rock than I remember, they master space and contrast. Guitars have shimmering metallic top end, and a tight barking low end. Engineered by Jace Lasek from the Besnard Lakes.

Song: You Are A Comet, You Are On Fire

Time / Moment: Off kilter whistle and drums from 0:00 -> 1:07

Immunity by Jon Hopkins

8. Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Song: Immunity

Time / Moment: 0:00 -> END – Piano, and all of the open and close, creaking, and back masking on the title track “Immunity”

Soft Will by Smith Westerns

6. Smith Westerns – Soft Will

This album took a while, but eventually grew on me. This spot almost went to Foxygen, but as slick and retro as both of these albums sounds are, I find this to be a more refined album. It has a certain restrained quality that gets better with each listen.

Song: Varsity

Time: 0:00 -> 0:10

Sunbather by Deafheaven

4. Deafheaven – Sunbather

I’ve been listening to this non-stop since the day it came out, and I’m still discovering interesting subtleties. Very difficult to pick a favourite moment.

Song: Vertigo

Time: 3:30 -> 5:00 – mbv, if they were metal.

Reflektor by Arcade Fire

2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Love the unpolished feel and multitude of influences.

Song: Afterlife

Time: 0:05 -> 1:10 – Staccato keyboards take on another dimension. Can’t get them out of my head.

Memorial by Russian Circles11. Russian Circles – MemorialThis album as a whole took a while to sink in, but it certainly has some intense and gorgeous moments, just wish it was a bit longer. Some ideas need a bit more breathing room.


Time: 3:05 -> END

Subsume by Cloudkicker

9. Cloudkicker – Subsume

Solo project of Ben Sharp, who plays and records everything himself. Also, wins the award for longest song name, with a whopping 251 characters!

Song: He would be riding on the subway or writing formulas on the blackboard or having a meal or (as now) sitting and talking to someone across a table, and it would envelop him like a soundless tsunami.

Time: 4:15 -> 5:15

New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light by Colin Stetson

7. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light

I was very lucky to see Colin live twice this year, and he hinted that he was too injured to play newer material from his next album. Which begs the question: How epic/demonic/loud/complicated will the NEXT album be? This is not music, this is a sport, which is played in either heaven or hell, or maybe both at the same time.

Song: To See More Light

Time: 8:36 -> 14:11 – Deep grunt / death rattle from hell kicks in ending with singing through the saxophone.

Until in Excess Imperceptible UFO by The Besnard Lakes

5. The Besnard Lakes – Until in Excess Imperceptible UFO

Song: Colour Yr Lights In

Time: 3:46 -> 4:15
(C’mon, this list needed one guitar solo!)

X'ed Out by Tera Melos

3. Tera Melos – X’ed Out

I’ve been trying to get into this band for the longest time, and this release makes it all worthwhile. Excellently paced, it’s exciting start to finish.

Song: Until Lufthansa

Time: 3:00 -> END

White Lighter by Typhoon

1. Typhoon – White Lighter

Flawless. This is an absolute masterpiece. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an album this good.

Song: Hunger and Thirst

Time: 1:05 -> 1:56

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