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Wednesday October 22nd 2014

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Looking Back & Looking Forward

By Jason Leger

Somewhere around mid-November, things start to slow down a tad on the influx of new albums, at least for a couple of weeks. The floodgates on releases for early 2014 should open shortly, but until then, there is a little bit of lag time between the years.

I tried to cover the majority of the high points this year as far as music goes, and tried to shine a light on some artists you may have previously been unaware of. Obviously, I couldn’t cover everything I wanted to. Here are a couple of albums from 2013 that I didn’t cover, but you should still absolutely own.

Royal Bangs – Brass
In 2011, Royal Bangs seemed to spring from nowhere with their debut album “Flux Outside.” It was urgent, but composed with as much fervor as a three piece could well up. While that album was far from immature, their 2013 release, “Brass,” is considerably more of a grown up effort from a band who seems to have taken some time to get to know themselves. The single “Octagon” will have you entranced and singing along on your very first listen. I highly recommend spinning this one. “Brass” is out now via Modern Art Records.

Danny Brown-Old
I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t write a full piece about this one. Danny Brown is currently one of hip hop’s brightest stars and is only gaining steam day to day. If his output up to this point has been about achieving success, “Old” is a “what now” commentary. He has the notoriety and the respect, but while Brown may come off as a freewheeling partier, this recent work shows much more depth to his personality and his character. “They want that old Danny Brown,” Brown sums up on the title track, throwing a curveball at not only his critics, but also fans who struggle with his success, by comparing his old life of ramen and drugs with his current life of fame and, drugs. “Old” is out now via Fool’s Gold Records.

Moby-Innocents
This year has brought changes for me personally, as I purposely set out to change a lot at the beginning, and have been executing since. Nowhere in the plans did I include loving a Moby album. This one happened organically. In all honesty, it isn’t so much Moby himself who makes “Innocents,” his eleventh studio album, great. While he does have a very strong hand in it, it’s his collaborators who really caught my eye in the first place. Cold Specks, Skylar Grey, Mark Lanegan, and The Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne are some of the more notable guests. The absolute shining star song on the album though, is a collaboration with perhaps the most underrated performer of all time, Damien Jurado. The track is called “Almost Home.” It’s haunting, poignant, beautiful, and for all accounts and purposes, perfect. “Innocents” is out now via Mute Records.

2014
Last week, I added the newly released track, “Bullet Train” by Gardens & Villa to my iPod. Normally, this would be an ordinary occurrence, but this was my first track to have the year 2014 attached to it. This is always a good moment for me, because I equate it to a clean slate and a fresh start. I’m looking forward to several releases early in 2014. Here are a few of them.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags
Broken Bells – After the Disco
Damien Jurado-Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun
Dum Dum Girls – Too True
The Jezabels – The Brink
The Notwist – Close to the Glass
Gardens & Villa – Dune

I will do my best in the coming year to keep you up to date on these and other new albums as they’re released.