Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Top Non-Rap/R&B projects of 2013

Don't forget, we listen to everything. These are our favorite, must-have alternative projects from 2013

MARTIN'S LIST (@marley_mcfly)

Shlohmo - Laid Out EP

A friend recommended Henry Laufer, stage name Shlohmo to me when this dropped last year and I’ll forever be in his debt. Laid Out was some of my favorite listening of any genre in 2013, and all five songs are indicative of the synth-heavy, echoic, experimental, hi-hat-stricken combinations that keep me going back.

Notable Tracks: All 5

Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe

Looking around for new music at the bottom of last year I bumped into Dev Hynes, known as Blood Orange, and his retro-ethnic vibes on his second album under the moniker. I love the smooth funk, hip-hop and jazz elements, and since I’ve had Cupid Deluxe it’s been a full and intriguing run through every time I re-visit it.

Notable Tracks: Chamakay, Chosen, Clipped On, Time Will Tell

Holy Other - Held

The Manchester-born producer made his impression on me last year with his debut album. These nine instrumental pieces are submersions of such dense, cosmic sounds, but they also represent his expression, which was awesome as consistent writing music.

Notable Tracks: Love Some1, In Difference, Past Tension, Held

Deptford Goth - Life After Defo

Probably my favorite discovery of 2013 was Deptford Goth. Ever since I saw him conduct “Feel Reel” with an experimental choir in an empty church (see here) I had to have more. Life After Defo turned out to be what I expected and then some.

Notable Tracks: Feel Real, Guts No Glory, Union, Deepest

Washed Out - Paracosm
It was really cool catching wind of the chillwave movement with Washed Out’s second album. I never quite absorbed anything like this bird-chirping utopia before, but as the lead single goes, “It All Feels Right” -- more of my writing music.

Notable Tracks: It All Feels Right, Great Escape, Paracosm

Thundercat - Apocalypse

Stephen Bruner’s sophomore album introduced me to his superb bass skills with ornate concepts and multi-genre effects. On instrumentation alone this was one of my favorite albums of any genre in 2013, but the songs themselves are also fantastic.

Notable Tracks: Tenfold, Heartbreaks + Setbacks, Special Stage, Tron Song, Oh Sheit it’s X, Lotus and the Jondy

Various Artists - The Great Gatsby Soundtrack

I love my movie scores, but this is one of the great soundtracks of all time with Jay Z, Beyonce, Andre 3000, Q-Tip, Fergie, The xx, Lana Del Ray, will.i.am, Florence + the Machine, Gotye, Jack White, and other sensations that came together for a beautiful collection of depictions for one of the biggest flicks of 2013.

Notable Tracks: 100$ Bill, Back to Black, Young and Beautiful, Over the Love, Together

LAWRENCE'S LIST (@L_reels919)

Disclosure - Settle

UK-bred brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence had been active in the house scene for sometime with their remixes. This year, though, they made a run for the crown with some of the best dance/electronic music I’ve encountered in sometime. With hits like “Latch” and “White Noise” the album is sure to turn any boring get together to a full on rage.

James Blake - Overgrown

I got word on James Blake about two years ago with his self-titled debut. With his sophomore album, Overgrown, I have become a fiend. I am almost convinced that anything he puts down will be brilliant and he has yet to prove me wrong. With one of the smoothest voices out and one of the best progressive production minds, Sir Blake seems like he’s here to stay.

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories 

One review I read when this album originally dropped said, “it sounds like the score to a really cheesy 70’s porn”. Though I saw what he meant, I never really completely agreed. The album certainly doesn’t compete with the classic that “Discovery” or really any other Daft Punk album but there is still a lot of good music here including possibly the biggest song of the year featuring Pharrell, “Get Lucky”.

Darkside - Psychic

When I initially got this album I wasn’t entirely sure what to think of it. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure but what I do know is that it contains some of the coolest collections of sounds I’ve heard all year. Darkside itself is duo consisting of Nicholas Jaar, a producer, and Dave Harrington, a multiple instrumentalist. From the down-tempo pseudo-funk track “Metatron” to the bluesy riffing on “Paper Trails” it is a fantastic listen.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Arcade Fire has been one of the more popular “indie” bands of the last ten years an with their latest “Reflektor” they pushed the envelop almost entirely breaking away from the catchy melodies they were once known for to a more atmospheric, transient sound. Fortunately for them, they did so with great execution. Overall great listen from a great band.

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