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Off Key With Eric D. presents the Top 13 Albums of 2013!!!

In Recent reviews on December 31, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Greetings music lover,

After 10 years of compiling a list of the best albums of the year, I’ve elected to move on to other things as, admittedly, said compilation has become very, very time consuming in years with too much or too little good music. This year is, surprisingly enough, one of the latter. Just finding 13 decent albums to make up the Top 13 of 2013 took a staggering weekend, whereas it used to take no more than a few hours. Oh to be young again…. Anyway, take a look below at the (somewhat) finest albums of the year. The second half is pretty darn solid:

13. Manic Street Preachers – “Rewind The Film” [Columbia/Sony]

This is the Manics’ worst album to date, courtesy of its overly-acoustic nature—coming from a band that was, at one point, trying to be Guns N’ Roses, that’s pretty wan—and its overabundance of guest vocalists. Then again, the Manics at their worst is better than most bands at their best.
Key tracks: “4 Lonely Roads (feat. Cate Le Bon),” “Anthem For A Lost Cause,” “30-Year War”

12. CHVRCHES – “The Bones Of What You Believe” [Goodbye/Glassnote]

Easily the debut album of the year, Scottish synthpop trio CHVRCHES (yes, spelled all caps) slammed into modern music like that one piece of the asteroid from Armageddon took out downtown Paris. However, like that same asteroid, the band fails to reach their full potential as the album’s non-single material just isn’t as exciting as its preceding singles.
Key tracks: “The Mother We Share,” “Lies,” “Recover”

11. Suede – “Bloodsports” (iTunes version) [Sony]

In the history of Britpop, few names stand out as the best and brightest—among the titans: Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Suede. As Oasis imploded and Blur and Pulp are content recycling their back catalogues for occasional reunion shows, Suede is the sole member of the Class of ’94 flying the musical Union Jack full mast. Their latest album is the finest material they’ve put out since 1996’s legendary “Coming Up.” Far from “trash,” indeed.
Key tracks: “Barriers,” “Snowblind,” “Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away”

10. Frightened Rabbit – “Pedestrian Verse” (Deluxe Edition) [Atlantic]

It’s a common story: brilliant indie rock band makes good, joins a major label, then loses much of their charm. The same has unfortunately occurred to Frightened Rabbit in the years since 2010’s monumental “The Winter Of Mixed Drinks.” Many of the songs on this year’s “Pedestrian Verse” are just that—pedestrian. There is good material, really, just not a whole album’s worth like three times before.
Key tracks: “Acts of Man,” “Backyard Skulls,” “Holy,” “Nitrous Gas”

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Off Key With Eric D. presents the Top 12 Albums of 2012!!!

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Greetings and good tidings, friends in music,

Following on last year’s ridiculously short “best of the year” album reviews for your iPhone 4S viewing convenience, I’ve decided to up the ante this year by pulling together even shorter reviews for your now-outdated smartphones. That having been said, enjoy the no-more-than-one-sentence album discussions that make up the Top 12 of 2012:

12. Spiritualized – “Sweet Heart, Sweet Light” [Japanese version] (Double Six)

J. Spaceman’s latest is better than the album before it, which was better than the album before that, which was worse than the album before that, which was worse than the album before that, which remains a truly legendary recordKey tracks: “Hey Jane,” “I Am What I Am,” “Life Is A Problem”

11. The Big Pink – “Future This” [iTunes pre-order version] (4AD)

“Future This” may not be the monolithic example of excellence that was The Big Pink’s 2009 debut, “A Brief History of Love,” but its cutting-edge beats and massive hooks keep the band’s popularity from falling like dominos, dominos, dominosKey tracks: “Stay Gold,” “Hit The Ground (Superman),” “77”

10. Cat Power – “Sun” [Japanese version] (Matador)

While Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) may freak out over everything, you’ll freak out over how good her new album is.  Key tracks: “Cherokee,” “3,6,9,” “Nothin But Time”

9. Bloc Party – “Four” [Limited Edition] (Frenchkiss)

Bloc Party’s “Four” represents a lot of things: the number of members in the band, the years since their last album, and the amount of times you’ll have to listen to the new album before it starts sounding like old Bloc Party.  Key tracks: “Octopus,” “Day Four,” “We Are Not Good People,” “Mean”

8. Lavender Diamond – “Incorruptible Heart” [iTunes version] (Paracadute)

It took five years for indie folk-pop outfit Lavender Diamond to release a follow up to their much beloved debut, but the results are nothing short of epic and, as is their hallmark, lovey-dovey.  Key tracks: “Everybody’s Heart’s Breaking Now,” “Forgive,” “Oh My Beautiful World”

7. David Byrne & St. Vincent – “Love This Giant” (4AD/Todo Mundo)

A balancing act between songs that are brilliant, blasé, and overly bombastic, all backed by a brass band, one wonders why these two titans of indie rock didn’t just call their album “Like This Giant.”  Key tracks: “Who,” “Dinner For Two,” “Outside Of Space And Time”

Off Key With Eric D. presents the Top 11 Albums of 2011!!!

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2011 at 4:51 pm

Greetings music lover,

Normally I would count down the top 20 records of the year, supplementing each with a nifty diatribe as to why they were so awesome and prevalent in the given year. However, in an effort to balance out my busy nature and, more so, not conform to myself, I’ve decided to focus upon the top 11 records of this year, a year which conveniently ends with the number 11. Get it? I thought you would. Anyway, without further ado, here are those best records of the year, discussed in bite-sized reviews so you can read them on that brand new iPhone 4S you got for Christmas:

11. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds” [iTunes version] (Sour Mash)

Finally, Noel breaks away from his [expletive deleted] brother to go out on his own, releasing an album that proves him to be the only good thing to come out of the late Oasis.  Key tracks: “(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine,” “Stop The Clocks,” “A Simple Game Of Genius”

10. Atlas Sound – “Parallax” [Japanese version] (4AD)

Atlas Sound’s latest album, their most accessible thus far, is the sixth album frontman Bradford Cox has released in the last 4 years. Calling him prolific is an understatement.  Key tracks: “Te Amo,” “Angel is Broken,” “Terra Incognita”

9. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “Belong” [Japanese version] (Slumberland)

Pains’ second album makes their first album sound like crap.  Key tracks: “Belong,” “Anne With An E,” “Strange”

8. St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy” (4AD)

Annie Clark’s latest album is more strange than merciful, taking a slightly divergent direction that concedes a less enthralling listening experience than her first two records. It’s still good though.  Key tracks: “Cruel,” “Cheerleader,” “Surgeon”

7. My Morning Jacket – “Circuital” (ATO)

After the interestingly eclectic, indie/neo-psychedelia headache that was 2008’s “Evil Urges,” My Morning Jacket returned this year with an album that (thankfully) sounded like their much-revered older work, in turn making for much-revered newer work.  Key tracks: “The Day Is Coming,” “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” “Outta My System”

6. Friendly Fires – “Pala” [Japanese tour edition] (XL)

“Pala” is the perfect second act to Friendly Fires’ dance pop story, gyrating its way into our hearts with songs about love, loss, and films with talking dogs.  Key tracks: “Live Those Days Tonight,” “Hawaiian Air,” “Hurting”