An exercise in longevity, an effort to reconnect with our humanity, hoping to coerce our minds into remembering that which stuck with us the most during a year of countless new releases and artists- here’s Kaiotic Music’s first end of the year compilation.
Playlist: The 10 Best Underplayed Albums of 2013
10. Still Corners – Strange Pleasures
This record is dream pop gold. An ethereal electronic escape, the twelve tracks play out like a post-coital moonlight cuddle, full of confusion, touching, and love.
9. Millionyoung – Variable
Millionyoung’s third record is sophisticated electro-pop with dreamy R&B elements and fantastic production. There’s a certain finesse with which the big moments of the album are interspersed that is emotive as fuck. Think driving with the windows down contemplating and then suddenly fist-pumping.
8. Helado Negro – Invisible Life
The brilliant style of this album, which incorporates Tropicalia, Dream Pop, Electronic and Glitch, isn’t even the best part. The songs have arcs, and their character grows. Lentamente meanders along playful high pitched synths and sonic landscapes that seem to bounce like a beach ball in slow motion before bellowing into a chasm of disjointed beat seduction. This unexpected plot twist is repeated, somehow crafting a narrative through experimental sounds yet universal melodies. The notes call to us, even if they’re dressed differently. It’s a thrilling and relaxing experience.
7. Clubfeet – Everything You Wanted
Clubfeet delivers a solid pop album with ‘Heirs & Graces’. Relish the simplicity, but don’t underestimate it. While the tracks follow a traditional Pop schema, it’s just so damn well done; at times the choruses are clamoring to be sung along to, at others the track explores the electronic sides of the record. What remains true throughout this dance pop dream is the ease with which we can connect to this music, and the perfect moments to which it’s suited.
6. Silva – Claridão
This is what Pop that takes itself seriously sounds like. And yet, it’s the complete opposite. Silva’s music seamlessly incorporates traditional Brazilian sounds, classic Rock and Pop, and modern trends in production (the album was produced by Matt Colton, who has worked with James Blake in the past). It’s so unique in its blend, down to including a sample of Maria Callas on the title track, that the astounding classic pop it has created only becomes better.
5. Alpine – A Is For Alpine
Incredibly lush layers of harmonies and blending instruments break apart to reveal delicate sensory stretches of time. It’s smart, in the lyricism and stylistic choices, but more than anything in its ability to remain unique. It’s tactful too- the songs change characters, they evolve from breathy female harmonies to macho guitar strumming. As listeners we’re taken along a journey between moments of silence, light and sirenical voices, and pop rock enthusiasm. Say Imogen Heap and Metric had a child who was much more nuanced; Stars would be the godparents (sometimes they let Best Coast come hang).
4. Postiljonen – Skyer
Mysterious ballads meet unicorns playing synths and sax; it’s a romantic’s fantasy if you also love 80s production and dream pop. There’s something about this album that feels like flying through clouds, at times with a lover, at times with a friend. It could be the shimmery synth ladders or the soaring saxophone pathways, the sliding electronic wave-lengths or the rolling beat- somehow your feet are leaving the ground. Take your heart with you, but don’t be afraid of feeling otherworldly.
3. Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back
Sultry vocals and unstoppable beats come together for one of the best Nouveau Electro R&B records I’ve heard. While the sounds may imply alienation, they are instead completely absorbing. The opener is slow and sensual in the most modern way possible- an omen of the future of music, the sounds here will certainly make waves in the years to come. It’s sophisticated and intelligent, a ‘fuck you’ to purveyors of the idea that modern electronic music is synonymous with cookie cutter and unoriginal. Her vocals retreat into the background; affected to the point of incomprehensibility, the lyrics cease to be the focal point. Instead a narrative of rumbling synth arpeggios and grinding bass sifts through your body. It incites a spectacular physical reaction.
2. Skin Town – The Room
Another fantastic iteration of what modern R&B is evolving into, Skin Town takes a different approach. Traditionally 90s R&B verses and choruses mesh with modern electro-R&B production to be Mariah Carey sing-able (the times I’ve belted Abyss in an emotional abandon are too many to count), Aaliyah epic, and Destiny’s Child sassy. Throwin’ Shade‘s fast verses and catchy chorus are crossover ready, if only the radio were ready for shit this good. Jump to the sultry sexual songs, the best of which is Ride, for the best sex party soundtrack of the year.
1. La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin
Psychedelic Pop and Surf Rock get a French makeover with perfectly placed electronic elements and a playfully gothic -not goth- attitude. It’s a gender-bending mind fuck of modern youth and love, all with a remarkable outlook. I think the video for Hypsoline frames the album well, placing it at a haunted, ghoulish party where the afterlife isn’t death, but a twisted sense of humor with hypersexual drive- a liberation, if you will, from the constraints of a socially created morality. That such an incredible statement can be made through music so fun is no easy feat, and beyond that the sonic elements of the album have forged a niche in modern music that blurs the lines between rock and electronic; a retrospective of explorations begun in the 70s and 80s. It’s the Parisian malaise of today meets the fervor of the 60s; revolution and lovemaking are the centerpieces, while the soaring truths sear our ears beyond frivolity and into criticism. Check out the video for Hypsoline below, along with a stream of the full album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwsOWF1G0Tk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y_nP8GGGdY