Best albums of 2014: No. 11-20 (with playlist!)

The Music or Space Shuttle? braintrust rolls out its top albums of 2014 this week! Today we start with our individual picks for #11-20, with playlists sampling each group of 10. We’ll reveal our top 10 throughout the week, culminating with our top pick on Friday, Dec. 19th.

Todd’s #11-20

20. Alt-J, This Is All Yours

19. Craft Spells, Nausea

18. Bully, Bully EP

17. Future Islands, Singles

16. Pixies, Indie Cindy

15. Dum Dum Girls, Too True

14. St. Vincent, St. Vincent

13. I Break Horses, Chiaroscuro

12. Warpaint, Warpaint

11. Hozier, Hozier

Chris’ #11-20

20. Jessie Ware, Tough Love

19. Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness

18. The Raveonettes, Pe’ahi

17. Beck, Morning Phase

16. Phantogram, Voices

15. Mastodon, Once More ‘Round the Sun

14. Warpaint, Warpaint

13. Sylvan Esso, Sylvan Esso

12. Tune Yards, Nikki Nack

11. Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal

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MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: October 2013

105

Side A : Chris’ Picks

Side B : Todd’s‘ Picks

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: July 2013

108

Side A : Todd’s Picks

Side B : Chris’ Picks

MoSS? Presents… Albums to Watch for in 2013

Albums 2013

Seems like every website is putting together a guide for upcoming album releases in 2013. Why should MoSS? be any different? We aren’t going to bore you with an endless list of shitty albums coming out this year. Instead, we are just going to share a few of our most anticipated albums.

Todd’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

January is a big month for me because four albums I’ve been not so patiently waiting for are being released.

Free Energy, Lovesign [Free People]. This one’s a real guilty pleasure for me. The songs can be sort of cheesy but they are catchy as hell and these guys don’t try to be anything but straight up rock and roll.

Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right [Kanine]. The band formerly known as Reading Rainbow.  I guess if you name your band after a beloved PBS children’s show, you can expect lawyers to come knocking at some point. Anyway, they are back with their 2nd LP. It was supposed to be released in October 2012 but was pushed back. I am hoping the delay wasn’t because the record sucks.

Local Natives, Hummingbird [Frenchkiss/Infectious]. Another group hoping to avoid a sophomore slump. I’ve heard two songs from it and both are pretty good. If the rest of the album is as good, then they should have a record of the year contender on their hands.

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob [Warner]. I really loved the last two Tegan and Sara albums. The ladies released a single “Closer” from Heartthrob last fall and they revealed a much more dance/pop oriented sound. At first I hated it. Eventually, as my family (and its placement in my Top 10 Songs of 2012) can tell you , I wore that MP3 out.

There are a few albums I’m excited about being released this spring. The album I am most anxious for is…

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse [Fat Possum]. I missed the boat way back in 2011. Youth Lagoon’s first LP, The Year of Hibernation, came across my desk at MoSS? HQ but I ignored it. Since then, I have listened to that record more often than several of my Top 10 of 2011 selections. Maybe this one will make the 2013 Top 10.

Other releases I’m hoping for…

Phoenix, TBA [Glassnote] 

Neon Indian, TBA [Mexican Summer]

I Break Horses, TBA [Bella Union]

Small Black, TBA [Jagjaguwar]

Release I am always hoping for but will probably never happen…

Pixies, TBA [4AD]

Chris’ Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

I don’t know why I am buying into Kevin Shields’ promises anymore, but supposedly we are getting a new My Bloody Valentine album sometime soon. Of course, Shields said it would be out before calendar year 2012 concluded. And he’s said numerous times before that something would soon follow up the 1991 masterpiece Loveless. Yep, the 1991 album. But there seems to be some concrete talk this time. Bassist Debbie Googe spoke about the album, even though she made it sound as though Kevin is channeling his inner Billy Corgan and handling a lot of the instrumentation himself. And one of these times it has to be the real thing, right? So I’ve got this to look forward to…possibly all year long (and beyond).

Also:

Toro y Moi, Anything in Return (January 22). I really liked Causers of This but was slightly disappointed by the 2011 release Underneath the Pine. I’m hoping for a return to greatness with Anything in Return.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II (February 5). I loved UMO’s first album in 2011; here’s hoping album No. 2 is even better. Led Zeppelin and Crystal Castles set the bar pretty high for albums titled II, though (as did Chicago, for that matter).

Iceage, You’re Nothing (February 19). Another band that released a wonderful, economic debut in 2011. Frankly, if Iceage simply releases another 12-song, 24-minute blast of dark punk, I’ll be satisfied.

Junip, TBA (April 23). Jose Gonzalez never fails to deliver.

The Weeknd, TBA (?????). If you believe his Twitter feed, Abel is dropping a new album in 2013. I’m still a huge fan of House of Balloons and found the other two parts of Trilogy to be interesting at worst and quite excellent at times, so I’m in on more Weeknd.

Also, without comment:

The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law (January 22)

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (January 29)

Sally Shapiro, Somewhere Else (February 26)

Rhye, Woman (March 5)

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia (March 19)

From the MoSS? Pit: M83/I Break Horses

m83

M83 performing at the Pageant on May 2, 2012. Photo from Chris’ iPhone.

Where to start…

How about with this: I wish I lived at the Pageant in St. Louis, as long as cool bands keep coming through there. I’ve seen three shows there, and they all probably rank among my favorite 10 shows of all time (Explosions in the Sky, Interpol/School of Seven Bells, M83). The sound is amazing. Sight lines are good pretty much everywhere. If you want to dance and jump around, the floor beckons. If you’re old like me, you can grab a seat in the balcony. The middle of the semi-circle balcony provides a great head-on view; the sides put you very close to the stage, but because of the perfect sound, you aren’t obliterated by the nearby speakers. At the Interpol show, they even had a wait staff coming around the balcony, taking drink orders. (The only order involving Pageant staff this time: I was ordered to stop recording video during the show. Boo.)

In other words, it’s the anti-Gabe’s.

I Break Horses

Maria Linden

Maria Linden

I knew nothing about this band when we left Iowa; Todd brought along the debut LP on his mp3 player, so I at least got a taste of what we were in for. The songs were pretty cool, but I had no idea we’d be watching Rachel Bilson’s doppelganger on lead vocals. That was a pleasant surprise. (And when I say Rachel Bilson-esque, think Summer after she started dating Seth Cohen on The O.C., not quite as glossy as when we first met her and Marissa Cooper, but still smokin’ hot.)

The music was pretty good, too. The drummer was playing an interesting set; I don’t recall seeing a electronic kick drum in action before. Rachel Bilson (real name: Maria Linden) had tons of charisma, which compensated for the occasional dropoff in her mic (OK, so the sound isn’t always perfect for the openers). They were a good warmup for M83, and earned another listen during our return trip to Iowa.

Here’s their rendition of the first song from their album:

Now’s the time on MoSS Pit where we acknowledge college kids who review the arts

Before I say anything about M83’s set, you can get another take at the following link.

http://blogs.riverfronttimes.com/rftmusic/2012/05/m83_pageant_review_setlist_photos.php

If you click that link, you’ll read a review by Blair Stiles, who may or may not be a distant relative of Teen Wolf’s good friend. She noticed Todd and me in the balcony (“middle aged men…sprinkled in the balcony”), but Todd and I are used to getting noticed when we go out (no senior pictures changed hands this time, though). She also gave us some important details (“The woman in front of me was so close that I had to keep brushing her well-conditioned locks off my notebook”; “Despite tight security, I smelled a spliff or two being lit up through the night”). It’s a fascinating read. The description doesn’t resemble the scene I remember, but all the same, a must-read.

To be fair, Blair got some things right

OK, her review rang true on two occasions:

  • The response to the sax player, who killed it at the end of “Midnight City” in particular
  • The guy who won the contest to tour with M83 was a lot of fun to watch

The use of a sax player can be a dangerous proposition. Sometimes it works:

But if you don’t have superstars like Simon Le Bon to keep the brass man in check, you end up dealing with this:

Or this (shudder):

Thankfully, M83’s sax guy was epic in a true sense. He did his thing, delighted the crowd, and left. Well done, sax man.

And yeah, the guy who played some guitar and bass and electronic cowbell was fun to watch. Energetic, multitalented, and able to pull off wearing a shirt that looked something like a Blackburn Rovers top (my Premier League-loving friends are nodding and smiling right now). But come on, he’s not the mastermind here…

That’s Anthony, without a doubt

He was confident in his singing. And despite what Blair Stiles might tell you, he wasn’t afraid to roam away from his keyboard setup and rock out. He would approach singer/keyboardist Morgan Kibby (a hot little number herself), and shred the hell out of his guitar while channeling his inner Prince, dropping to his knees before Morgan in an attempt to sex things up, perhaps.

And you can’t beat the Frenchman’s accent. “She worships Zatan like ay fazzer” (read: she worships Satan like a father); “Death izzer boyfriends” (read: Death is her boyfriend); “Zaint Loo-eez!” (read: St. Louis!).

The show was sequenced well: a natural starter (“Intro” from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming), a soaring song from mid-catalog (“Teen Angst” from Before the Dawn Heals Us), and one of the big songs from the 2008 breakthrough album (“Graveyard Girl” from Saturdays=Youth). Then the new single (“Reunion”) from the latest album. We got a song off the eponymous debut, we got a Daft Punk cover, and we got more epic songs from Hurry Up (“Steve McQueen” and 2011 Song of the Year candidate “Midnight City”).

And the decision to have live drums was a good one, and employing this particular drummer (Loic Maurin) is an even better choice. Damn he was tight! Live drums allow these songs to pack an even greater emotional punch.

Here’s a good portion of “Teen Angst.” I made sure to record this song (as much as I could get away with, anyway) because it was my introduction to M83. Shortly after my son was born in 2006, my friend Jeff had sent me some CD-Rs full of random tunes, and this song was one of the standouts. I decided to become an M83 fan. I was justly rewarded with Saturdays=Youth and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming in the years to follow.

You know what was so cool about this show? The fans—young and old, hipster and bro, cool and nerdy—all were appreciative of the show they’d seen. And the band that was showered with this affection seemed genuinely moved by the standing O they received after a blistering encore consisting of Saturdays=Youth gems “Skin of the Night” and “Couleurs”. Even the hyperactive guitar man and the ultra-suave sax guy seemed moved by the crowd’s roars of approval.

They earned them.