Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I figure it might be a good idea at this point to say that I'm not shutting down this blog. I'm hoping to become a little more active again come May, but we'll just have to see. Now, that being said, that statement seems like the kiss of death for a blog. Before I started blogging, when I was just reading blogs as I discovered them, I found that prolonged periods of inactivity--or severely decreased activity--followed by a post saying "I'm not dead, hope to post more soon, etc." was almost always the last post in the archive. That's not what I have in mind here. I would like to finish my best of 2012 list before 2013 is half over. . . 

Anyway, I haven't actually been keeping up with music as much in the first quarter of the year, but some stuff that's been exciting me in 2013:

Mogwai - Les Revenants: This might actually be, for the first time, the best thing they've released since Young Team. At times it feels like a return to the Come On Die Young era, but the relative lack of guitars throughout shifts things from slow burn to post burn. When this is bleak, it's awfully bleak, but the stretch of music from "Relative Hysteria" to "Modern" is as good as Mogwai has ever been, with the former (whisper it) besting "Stanley Kubrick." The cover of "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?" is a little more successful than "Hounds of Winter" from the Earth Divisions EP--I don't want Mogwai to go all Palace Brothers on me, but I'm kind of happy with this as a minor direction for the band (as opposed to something like "The Sun Smells Too Loud," which remains the nadir of their recorded output as far as I'm concerned). Also, parts of this soundtrack remind me of the soundtrack for Star Ocean 2 (mainly this and this), which I'm surprisingly okay with.

Cyclopean - Cyclopean EP: This comes on like a Martian Ege Bamyasi and might the closest thing to a prime period CAN release since Soon Over Babaluma. It's nervous and edgy in a way that the Malcolm Mooney period emphasised more than the Damo Suzuki period, but also shows off the kind of telepathic interplay that I wish people took away from krautrock, rather than playing another goddamn motorik drumbeat to put me to sleep. In a lot of ways, this EP feels like a more active version of Lokai's Transition (an underrated album if ever there was one). It sounds better in the room than it does through headphones, surprisingly, so I don't listen to it much on my commutes.

Karen Gwyer - Needs Continuum: Gorgeous, entrancing music. I put this on and disappear into another world. Enveloping in the best possible sense of the word. I get the Oneohtrix Point Never comparisons people keep throwing around, but whereas I find Lopatin's stuff leaves me cold for the most part, Gwyer's album is both warmly engaging and productively empty (that is, it works in the background to shape the space I'm in, but also invites me into its depths). It reminds me in a way of Fovea Hex's EPs from 2006; not so much in sound, but in attitude, the way it is aggressively its own thing without allowing that insularity to remove it entirely from the world. Thinking and living music, I'd say.

Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt: I only really like about half of this album, but that half sounds great. The best moments are the shorter fragments of songs--"Hollow Bedroom," "Coast to Coast," "Misery Over Dispute," and "Waiting" (the former two being the highlights of the album)--when it feels like the album is a half-remembered patchwork of songs I might've heard on the radio once or twice as a kid by bands like the Breeders and Veruca Salt. The lyrics are often startlingly good, but it's the confidence in negative space the elevates the best moments above the glut of similar sounding stuff released over the past half decade.

I've also been digging Darkstar's News From Nowhere (what I wish Animal Collective sounded like), Four Tet's 0181 (Four Tet by numbers in a lot of ways, but really pretty nonetheless), and, obviously, the new My Bloody Valentine.

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