The Year In Music: Superlatives

In lieu of a traditional Top Albums of the Year list, Superlatives celebrates 2013’s many musical accomplishments with equally meaningless awards. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out What Cannon’s 50 Tracks of 2013. Links below. Thanks for participating in this little experiment. 


Album of the Year (For The Haters)
Kanye West – Yeezus

You Read A Compelling Think Piece About…

Ambitious, Experimental Albums That Are Sometimes Indulgent and Sometimes Really Fun
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience

Ambitious, Experimental Albums From Bands I Really Loved in High School…
…or What’s A Boy To Do When There’s No More LCD Soundsystem
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Play “Catch That Reference”
Action Bronson & Party Suppies – Blue Chips 2
Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap


A Bromantic Excursion
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

P.O.P. (Pursuit of Perfection)
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

Most Well Deserved Overstatement
Drake – Nothing Was The Same

Three Jewish Sisters Who All Sound like Stevie Nicks Christine McVie…
…or Dreams Really Do Come True
Haim – Days Are Gone


All The Breath You Wasted on Miley Cyrus Could Have Been Spent Talking About…
Lorde – Pure Heroine

Really Excellent Folk Rock Albums With Really Long Titles
Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Best Deadpan Delivery
Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

The State of the Post-Punk Revival
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions

Where Were You In ’92?
Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

Best McLusky Reference
Anti Parent Cowboy Killers” – Joanna Gruesome (from Weird Sister)


Is That You, Jai Paul?
Jai Paul – Jai Paul

The Crutchfields
Swearin’ – Surfing Strange
Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

The #1 Best Redundant Album Title of the Year Award
Pusha T – My Name Is My Name

A Snot Rocket Straight to the Heart
The So So Glos – Blowout

If Metaphors Were Dollars You’d Be Rich But Still Sad
Los Campesinos! – No Blues

Worst Album Art/Best Use of Gospel Choir
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito


Sleepy, Sad or Just Stoned
Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Ty Segall – Sleeper

Successfully Completed Musical Grand Slam

Least Google-able Band Name
Perfect Pussy

Millennial’s Anthem
Stoned and Starving” – Parquet Courts (from Light Up Gold)


The Hopeless Romantic’s Breakup Record
Rhye – Woman

The One You Love
Eleanor Friedberger

The One Who Loves You

For My Memories of the South…
Hiss Golden Messenger – Haw

…And My Dreams of the West
Mikal Cronin – MCII

Brits Do It Better
Palma Violets – 180


Top 3 Sacred Bones Releases
Var – No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers
Milk Music – Cruise Your Illusion
The Men – New Moon

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cosmo’s Factory

Late to the Party
Angel Olsen – Half Way Home
Waxahatchee – American Weekend
Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
Mac Demarco – 2
Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself
Matthew E. White – Big Inner

Don’t forget: every time you buy a record an angel gets its wings. If you like something you hear, buy it. Support independent artists.

What Cannon’s 50 Tracks of 2013…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


The Year In Music: Tracks Pt. 1

Herein lies the first of five installments covering 50 standout tracks from 2013. Arranged in alphabetical order, this segment extends from hip-hop duo Action Bronson & Party Supplies to soul revivalist Charles Bradley. Click the track names for music videos. Enjoy.

Action Bronson & Party Supplies | “Amadu Diablo”

BLUE_CHIPS_2The boy’s come a long way since those Ghostface comparisons. Action Bronson’s second outing with producer Party Supplies, Blue Chips 2 some how manages to improve on its predecessor while sticking to its tried-and-true formula of popular samples and ridiculous rhymes. Case in point: “Amadu Diablo” finds Action spitting about sex (“I nutted in like three strokes/now that ain’t no way to rep the East coast,” drugs (“coke shits in the toilet”) and, of course, food (“turkey sandwich in aluminum foil”) over Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason.” What is perhaps most impressive about Bronson is that this album, which sounds initially quite off-the-cuff, reveals, under closer analysis, something more like linguistic Olympics, a phrase I can imagine him using to describe some nasty nighttime activity. Mmm….gross.

AlunaGeorge | “Your Drums, Your Love”

YOUR_DRUMS_YOUR_LOVEOn paper, AlunaGeorge doesn’t sound all that interesting. Their take on 90s club music and R&B is fairly repetitious and lacking in conventional dynamics. The production borrows heavily from hip-hop/pop crossover hits while singer Aluna Francis’ voice is admittedly kind of weak. The capstone of their frontloaded debut, Body Music, “You Drums, Your Love” initially stood apart for its use of simple verse-chorus structure. Yet after a dozen or so listens I began to wonder what is was that really kept bringing me back. My best guess it that the track’s verses are as great as its choruses, a trick that’s more difficult to pull off than you’d think when your choruses is as infectious as it is here. Otherwise, it’s an inexplicable, addictive mystery.

Arcade Fire | “Reflektor”

ReflektorsingleEarlier this year, I called the title track from Arcade Fire’s latest album the “speed walking around your old neighborhood anthem of the year.” Allow me to explain: Arcade Fire’s Funeral (2004) was my preferred “aimless driving around with friends” record in high school. An intimate album full of swells and bursts, Funeral’s sing-a-longs were private yet joyous affairs. Nearly ten years later, Arcade Fire have changed their sound but still retain the same ability to inspire emotional and physical movement. In “Reflektor” there’s an emphasis on the latter without sacrificing the former. A disco gem with James Murphy’s fingerprints all over it, this track, like much of the album that bears its name, brings the rhythm section forward to meet Win Butler’s esoteric pronouncements about “the reflective age,” whatever that means. Of course, when the chorus drops with its jangly guitars and big horn blasts, Butler could be reading out of the phonebook and it would still be intoxicating and electric. “Reflektor” has power and control, the signs of true song craft. Listening to it is like traveling forwards and backwards in time simultaneously, much like a quick jaunt through the place where you grew up.

Arctic Monkeys | “No. 1 Party Anthem”

AMAll I have to say is: where the ballads at? I hadn’t spent much time with Arctic Monkeys since 2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare but AM brought me right back to those post-punk revival glory days when Bloc Party was still burning through hits and the next Franz Ferdinand release was worth getting excited about. Sorry. That was harsh. I actually quite like Franz’s new album. Surprisingly, Arctic Monkeys, who exploded in 2006, have actually gotten better with age. While the riffs may be bigger, the band’s early brashness has been replaced by razor sharp observances, as if the party starters are now the guys hovering around the bar wondering when the last train home is. “No. 1 Party Anthem,” the best-named track of 2013, brings this mood home without ever becoming dour. “I just want you to do me no good/and you look like you could,” singer Alex Turner moans with reluctance. He knows exactly where this night is going but just can’t help himself. And that’s an anthem I think we all know the words to.

Autre Ne Veut | “Play by Play”

ANXIETYI’m still not sure what to make of Autre Ne Veut. Sharing the distinction of an unapologetic love of 80s pop and 90s R&B with Devonte Hynes’ Blood Orange, Autre Ne Veut’s Anxiety is spectacular for how weird and effusive it is, playing like a kind of experimental American Idol. “Play by Play” is a shape-shifting masterpiece, which begins with sparse drums and synthesizers while Arthur Ashin warms up his voice like an aging Olympic gymnast preparing for their last shot at glory. Building up from an epic breakdown, the track launches into its climatic glory. “I just called you up to get the play by play,” Ashin chants adding, “never leave me alone.” “Play by Play” is one of the unforgettable moments of the year, exhaustingly passionate and achingly beautiful. It captures something universal about the nature of longing and independence. It wants like a child and stands tall like an adult. While the music may borrow from the past, the emotion is all now.

Boy | “Little Numbers”

MUTUAL_FRIENDSBetween the piano bass line and the handclaps, the Swiss/German duo Boy easily filled the Feist-shaped void in indie pop this year. “Little Numbers” is full of stray observations made by a lovesick narrator waiting on a call from her special someone. “Red cars are quite rare, I realize,” she notes before following it with melancholy, “I wonder which color you’d like.” A delicious nugget of sing-a-long verses and sweet harmonies, Boy’s best asset is their sense of dynamics: the bare bridge explodes into a chant-worthy chorus, lending “Little Numbers” anticipatory momentum that’ll carry you through your own days of waiting.

Brainstorm | “She Moves”

SHE_MOVESBrainstorm got a lot of play over on NPR’s “All Songs Considered” earlier this year. Bob Boilen’s comparison of the band to British post-punk legends Gang of Four had me hooked before you could say “melodica.” While Brainstorm’s post-punk has a little more production meat on its bones than Gang of Four’s lean and dry punk blasts, they retain their predecessors propulsive spirit and predilection for call and response. “She Moves” has a wide, hip-shaking groove driven by a massive bass and syncopated guitar chops. While lines like “I got no money/only tea and honeycomb” lack any sort of concrete significance, there’s an undeniable fusion of melody and rhythm that will keep you shaking for days on end.

Caitlin Rose | “Waitin’”

THE_STAND-INCaitlin Rose makes country music for the skeptics. As a genre, country is about as maligned as they come. Talk to enough people and someone will invariably tell you that they don’t like “opera, techno, metal or country.” Each of those genres have impressive, dedicated followings and appear relatively closed to outsiders. If the accessibility and sentimentality of Kacey Musgraves left you cold, then this Nashville-by-way-of-Dallas singer may be more your speed. Rose’s “Waitin’” pairs the singer’s impressive pipes with a spunky slice of authentic Grand Ole Opry-style country. An undeniable stunner, Rose keeps things tight but never rigid as she muses on Cupid’s fickle spirit. “Cause there’s love that’s new and all the rest/ but the love that’s gone, baby, hurts the best,” Rose proclaims. “Waitin’” won’t melt your heart so much as set it on fire.

Chance The Rapper | “Good Ass Intro”

ACID_RAPThe new king of free association rap is barely out of high school. Chance The Rapper, a bubbly, energetic talent from The Windy City, is a welcome addition to the growing crowd of fresh-faced rappers from around the country who are ushering the old hands into retirement. “Good Ass Intro”, the opening cut to his latest mixtape, Acid Rap, is instant ear candy. Chance’s playful, rubbery flow (“I keep a tab on my ex’s/keep some X on my tongue”) is augmented by a slippery bass line, soulful background singers and chugging percussion. Chance is a rapper who occasionally gets so caught up in the internal rhythm of his rhymes that it can sound like he is losing the beat. Yet, his skills as an emcee far exceed his age. Brimming with insights over his lost youth and the condition of his home, Chicago’s infamous South Side, Chance brings a good deal of emotion to the table which serves as a breath of fresh air in a field that is chokingly crowded with empty braggadocio.

Charles Bradley | “You Put the Flame On It”

VICTIM_OF_LOVEWhile the millenials dig through their older siblings’ record collections the internet to discover Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Sonic Youth and all the other bands that inspired Yuck, Charles Bradley is doing the Lord’s work. Alongside the unstoppable Sharon Jones and the entire Daptone crew, 60s soul is getting a much deserved revival. Bradley has one of the most expressive voices in music and he puts it to great use on “You Put the Flame On It,” a highlight from his second album, Victim of Love. Bradley croons and croaks with tenderness and passion in a display of genuine attraction that’s becoming distressingly rare in popular music. Next time you need to heat things up, forget Drake and Beyonce. Just let Charles in.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5