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Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

BOY HAVE I BEEN ACTIVE RECENTLY

Sorry. I guess I’m making the same apology I do every time. I’ve been really busy on the count of getting a job in late June and being knee-deep in game development since. It’s astonishing how little free time you have when you’re one of five people trying to make a game!

Early next year I hope to post my Game of the Year… well, I won’t call it a list, because it isn’t one. I mean it is, but it isn’t. You’ll see. It’s awesome, but I need some time to work on it. Not like posting it NOW!!! is all that critical anyway.

In the mean time, I present to you a list of my favorite albums released this year. In January, I gave myself the goal of listening to 100 albums released within the year and I’ve managed to listen to 103. It’s… a lot of music. And that’s not even counting, like, stuff I listened to that wasn’t from this year. It’s a lot but it’s made me discover a ton of really awesome stuff that I’d like to share a part of. Hopefully you can discover something awesome from this, too!

Talking with a friend earlier in the year who was versed enough in Chinese pop music led me to being somewhat interested but never enough to actively seek out anything on my own. Not long after, Hebe Tien’s new album, Insignificance, showed up in the Recommendations area of the tracker I get my music from, so I decided to check out. Couldn’t hurt, and I wanted something new to listen to at the time. I was rather surprised, then, that my first jump into C-pop would end up being one of my favorite releases of the year.

My limited exposure to C-pop really shortens the amount of what I can say regarding Insignificance but despite it’s slow pace, it’s an album that has a great amount of variety in sound and in emotion. Hebe Tien’s echoing vocals in the title song gorgeously contrast against the eerie, mystical instrumentals backing her, flipping on a dime in the rock-heavy, harmonised vocals of “终身大事” without ever dropping the album’s actual pace.

Though I wish the album’s end was as strong as its start, Insignificance is still a beautiful album that establishes a mood worth getting engrossed in. I found it to be the perfect companion when drawing at work, letting Hebe Tien’s vocals blank out the world around me.

You can purchase Insignificance on iTunes here.

I am typically one to shy away from ballad albums because… well, they’re typically pretty boring. I haven’t really come across an artist that was able to carry an entire release in a genre that relies so heavily on its vocals over the production of the tracks themselves. Fortunately, @onimonkii pressured the shit out of me to listen to Younha’s Subsonic and while I don’t think my opinion on ballads has drastically changed, I found myself completely floored by how strong the album is.

Right out of the gate, Younha’s voice powers through the opening track and controls it perfectly to match the intensity and mood of the instrumentals backing her. Regardless of the song’s pace, like the upbeat “Subsonic” or the more relaxed “Home”, you can instantly connect with the song’s emotion and let yourself be carried by her voice.

The mini-album’s structure is worth admiring, too. The insanely fast turnaround of Korean music releases has kind of neutralised my appreciation of a properly composed and structured album but it’s present in Subsonic and that makes it so much more enjoyable. The powerfully crescendoing start of “시간을 믿었어” to the calm, composed end of “Home” is a wonderful journey, especially when it lets you upbeatedly catch your breath in the middle with “없어” and its amazing cameo from Eluphant.

Subsonic is a terrific album well worth listening to, even if you might not have a penchant for the slower stuff. Words do little justice to how strong Younha’s voice is and how terrific the instrumentals are.

You can purchase Subsonic on iTunes here.

I really, really wanted to set myself a rule of “no K-pop albums” in my top 10 list because while I really, really enjoy K-pop, I also know that the reasons why I enjoy it make it so that it doesn’t necessarily fit into a proper ‘Best of’ list. But whatever, it’s a personal list and you know what, f(x)’s Pink Tape is legitimately terrific. Instead of being a bunch of previously released singles repackaged into a full album, Pink Tape is a non-stop assault of new, terrific material from a group that desperately needed a strong release.

I’ve never been super into f(x)’s past releases because they’ve always been… well, pretty lacking. There was just that “spark” in them that I never felt and it made most of their singles fall flat to me. Like they didn’t have a distinct sound I could get into. Pink Tape has completely changed that, though. Its a barrage of groovy and punchy beats that rarely slows down and they last all the way to its end. The album instantly fires in every direction with the addictive “Rum Pum Pum Pum” as its start and only lets off the throttle a bit mid-way with “Goodbye Summer” for a ballad break, which even despite being a ballad, I completely love.

Personal highlights from the album are “Kick” and “Signal”, with my favorite being “Step” for how relentless it is in its pace and for how addictive its chorus is. It’s terrifying how often I’ll unknowingly say out loud “HEY, GET OUT THE WAY, PLEASE” in tandem when when listening to it. If anything, I feel like “Step” is the perfect example of why Pink Tape is such a great album. The vocals are terrific, the beat is unflinchingly catchy, and the instrumental track is unique and fun. The repeating horn is so bizarre when you hear it the first time but it’s impossible not to love it by the time the song’s over.

More importantly though, Step (like the rest of the album) has a sound. There’s a signature sound that I think f(x) has found in Pink Tape that it was completely lacking in any of their previous songs. The heavily electronic hip hop-paced beats, the groovy swings and pacing, and Amber-powered breakdowns define this album and make it the best K-pop release I’ve heard since T-ARA’s astonishing 2009 Absolute First Album.

Even if you’re averse to K-pop, or anything that isn’t in your own language, I encourage you to check it out if you like fun, catchy, and well produced music. I included Pink Tape not because I wanted a K-pop release on here, but because I legitimately believe it stands as one of the best musical releases of the year. In the company that it has on this list, I hope that stands to mean something.

You can purchase Pink Tape on iTunes here.

If there’s one name I feel like you should pay attention to, it’s Mat Zo. Apart from having my favorite Twitter account, he’s also the underrated genius behind last year’s “Easy” and his fucking brilliant Mat Zo Mix show that airs on Sirius XM. (Which you can listen to on his Soundcloud, where he uploads them for free.)

He’s released numerous singles and EPs through Anjunabeats that have always been very trance-heavy, so I admittedly got a little skeptical when I saw signs of Damage Control, his debut album, exploring different and more upbeat territory. Thankfully, my worries were immediately washed away when hearing the full album. Damage Control is terrific from start to finish and has some of the most high-quality production I’ve heard in electronic music.

Singles “The Sky” and “Easy”, older tracks of his, make their way onto the album but are buried amidst a panoply of new material that is as varied as it is great. The slow, head-nodding pace of “Only For You” is matched by the complex, bass-thumping, IDM-like composition of “Caller ID”. The clubby rhythm of “Pyramid Scheme” is also great fun, as its the throwback sound of “Lucid Dream”. Even interludes like “Little Damage” and “Moderate Stimulation” have a ton of impact despite their passive role in the album’s structure.

Mat Zo’s unique, open sound combined with his terrific synth work makes Damage Control a wonderful and enjoyable album. Behind his jokester, silly personality lies a musical genius. Damage Control is clearly just the beginning for him and I am dying to see what’s next.

You can purchase Damage Control on iTunes here.

I have a very love-hate relationship with Yasutaka Nakata, the production mind behind Capsule and pretty much every other electronic-pop act ever in Japan. I really felt like having his hands in so many different places (Perfume, MEG, and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, to name a few) has diluted his sound beyond rescue. As someone who greatly likes Capsule, his personal project, I was worried about the impending release of CAPS LOCK because what came before it has been a really uneven series of releases. STEREO WORXXX was alright, albeit very repetitive, and PLAYER and WORLD of FANTASY were both completely dreadful.

There’s nothing but sighs of relief on my end, thankfully. Not only is CAPS LOCK a great album, but it’s easily Yasutaka Nakata’s best work since Capsule’s 2007 album Sugarless GiRL. I’d be thrilled if the reason was because it was a good Capsule album but it’s even more than that. It’s an album that strays from the typical Capsule formula and replaces it instead with a personal approach to composition and structure, ditching predictable and punchy electro beats for avant-garde and experimental sounds.

CAPS LOCK might actually be a pretty divisive album for Capsule fans as it contains very little vocals from Toshiko Koshijima, a trait completely opposite to all other Capsule albums to date. Furthermore, Toshiko’s minor presence in the album is heavily edited and synthesized (more so than previous Capsule releases) providing a distinctly different sound than long-time fans might welcome. She’s been such an essential part of Capsule’s best songs and releases that I could easily see why a fan would oppose and dislike an album that features so little of her.

Personally though, I welcome it. Instead of saturating Toshiko’s vocals throughout the album like past releases, Yasutaka instead opted to carefully pace her voice across the album’s length, emphasizing them when necessary and removing them completely when useless. The end result is an album that is much more coherent, like it has a story to tell, instead of sounding like a disjointed collection of singles.

The cohesiveness of CAPS LOCK is also why I enjoy it so much. The majority, if not all, of Capsule’s previous releases have always felt like an assault on the senses. It worked more often than not, but there’s only so far that pounding synths accompanied by edited and randomized vocals can take you. CAPS LOCK feels so much more like a journey of sounds, occasionally hinting at what you’ve always appreciated in Capsule’s music, but diverging out into different areas that Yasutaka’s production skills can take him. Despite “CONTROL” and “SHIFT” providing far more Capsule-like experiences, they fit well into the more interesting and structured progression of “HOME”’s introduction, diving into the jarringly experimental “12345678” halfway through the album.

All of it leads to one of the most satisfying ends I’ve heard to an album this year, being the combined closure of “SPACE” and “RETURN”. “ESC” provides a terrific interlude into the ambient, atmospheric sound of “SPACE” that sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. The minimalist use of Toshiko’s vocals as a secondary synth to the song’s chorus is engaging, as is the choice to let the calm structure of the song take center stage instead of Capsule’s traditional “let’s shibuya-kei this motherfucker up” formula.

Really, CAPS LOCK is just barely a Capsule album, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. Though my appreciation for their older work remains, I don’t know if I could have withstood another traditional Capsule album. Seeing Yasutaka Nakata explore different territory and pull it off so well is encouraging, and the product that came out of it is easily one of the best albums this year. It’s certainly my favorite album he’s produced to date.

You can purchase CAPS LOCK on iTunes here.

Pop-rock/shoegaze is definitely not my strong suit. Often being more bored than anything else with the genre has taught me that, so I am pretty surprised to enjoy Akai Ko-en’s Ko-en Debut as much as I do. It has such charming melodies and wonderful performances from the individual members that it’s impossible not to love.

The all-over-the-place intro of “今更” introduces the band perfectly, from Chiaki pouring her heart into the vocals to Maisa’s ability to go from slow-rock strumming to full-on crazy guitar. Nao’s drums and Hikari’s bass are also terrific, with the entire band’s roles being critical to how enjoyable every song on the album is. You could single them all out and have super interesting parts to listen to no matter the track. The true star for me is Chiaki’s vocals, though.

Although the entire band’s performance in “交信” is stellar, Chiaki’s voice accompanies the keyboard so perfectly and she powerfully carries the emotion of the song through to its climactic and satisfying end. Having the song be immediately followed by “体温計” is a pretty much a double-treat, with her vocals and piano skills being the only force at work here. I’ve rarely heard a vocalist exert her voice to such an extent that you can hear it fall apart in front of you… and still have it be as powerful of an experience, if not more so, than something more composed and controlled.

Of course, the rest of the album is an absolute blast. The chaotic “急げ” is as exciting to hear as the uplifting end of “くい”, and the chants of children to accompany Chiaki in “カウンター” are good fun. It’s a unique, upbeat, and engaging rock album that is far more reliant on melody than anything else. There’s a ton of depth in each track to be found but that didn’t stop it from being the perfect album for me to put on when I had nothing particular to listen to in mind. Ko-en Debut is easy to jump into and you’ll be rewarded with some really interesting music when you do.

You can purchase Ko-en Debut on iTunes here.

I wish I didn’t have to put this here. This album started at the top spot and continuously fell down the list because the more I listen to it, the more its shortcomings jumped out at me. I wish it ended better, and I wish its middle were more interesting, but fortunately that’s just about the only faults I have with The M Machine’s Metropolis Pt. 2, which is an otherwise stellar album.

Like last year’s Metropolis Pt. 1, Pt. 2 true strength lies in its atmosphere. The M Machine is, if anything, exceedingly talented at creating a true sense of atmosphere to their music. Right out the gate, “The Palace”’s blasting synths drop you deep into its underwater-like world of carefully constructed music. The vocal work in both “The Palace” and “Ghosts in the Machine” is so brilliant, as is the production and editing applied to them.

The middle half of the album is where I have a bit of an issue, though. “Ghosts in the Machine” sets such a great atmosphere and pace, yet I feel like every time, “Tiny Anthem” throws me off course. It’s a decent song but it fits awkwardly between “Ghosts in the Machine” and “Moon Song”. It’s pacing is so different and its sound is not as coherent as the rest of the album is. “Moon Song” isn’t the strongest of tracks either, but it picks up the pace from “Tiny Anthem” well enough to lead into the mini-album’s highlight, “Schadenfreude”.

I imagine this is a very subjective opinion, given how aggressive “Schadenfreude” is, but it embodies what I value so highly in Metropolis Pt. 2: atmosphere. The echoing drums and reverberating sounds, the distant vocals, the oscillating synths… all of it is as captivating as it is chilling, building up to its mind-blowing and siren-blasting chorus that throws you neck deep into the world The M Machine has imagined.

Though “Luma” is a fitting end, I do find it to be a little anti-climatic after “Schadenfreude”’s powerful production. But despite my problems with the EP as a whole, I continue to value it highly. Metropolis Pt. 2 is the only album I’ve listened to this year where I can close my eyes for its duration and just see the music unfold in front of me. The production on all of the tracks is genius beyond reason, not for how catchy the rhythms are, but for the picture they paint. That’s something I feel is well worth appreciating, even if all the pieces don’t entirely align at times.

You can purchase Metropolis Pt. 2 on iTunes here.

I’m almost tempted to simply write “It’s a Feed Me album. It’s fucking brilliant. This isn’t news to anyone and that’s why it’s ranked here.” but I suppose I owe Calamari Tuesday more of an explanation than that.

From his debut Feed Me’s Big Adventure album to his most recent EPs like To The Stars and Escape from Electric Mountain, Feed Me’s music has always been incredibly relevant to whatever style is popular without ever cheapening its production to be as mass-appealing as possible. It’s always felt like it came from his heart and that’s why it always shone above the rest. Calamari Tuesday is no exception to this rule, arguably being his best work to date.

Though the start of the album doesn’t flow together as well as the latter half, Calamari Tuesday is 15 tracks of pure electronic bliss. Take “Lonely Mountain” for example: a track so varied, groovy, and well-composed that it might be deserving of a spot amongst electro-house’s greats. Or “Rat Trap”, a song so well produced that its bass and sampling is almost oppressive from how angry they sound.

Calamari Tuesday shines in its second half, though. From “Chinchilla” up to the very end of “Last Requests”, it’s like a veritable showcase of how talented and skilled a composer and producer Feed Me has become. “Short Skirt”, “No Grip”, and “Onstuh” is a true triple-threat of variety and bangers, from the swinging sampling and editing of “Short Skirt”, to the trip-hop-like beats of “No Grip”, finally into the relentless pace of “Onstuh” that throws such a jump-worthy beat into Feed Me’s classic funky synths. And, of course, the triple-threat being closed out by the impeccable vocals and climax of “Last Requests”, which is such a brilliant way of ending the album that I can’t help but withhold from saying how it does so. It’s too perfect to spoil—seek it out yourself.

If you’re a fan of electronic music of any kind, you owe it to yourself to check out Calamari Tuesday. It’s a spectacular album. Feed Me’s production is so excellent and precise, I really have nothing more to say. It’s a Feed Me album. It’s fucking brilliant. This isn’t news to anyone and that’s why I ranked it third.

You can purchase Calamari Tuesday on iTunes here.

Although they arguably have the hardest name to Google, Charisma.com might just be the most exciting act I’ve discovered. The duo consisting of vocalist/rapper MC Itsuka and producer DJ Gonchi and their debut album, Ai-Ai Syndrome, are arguably the most fun I’ve had listening to any musical release this year. And I’m not talking about like, “Oh, yes, this is well made so I enjoy it.” kind of fun. I’m talking about smile from ear-to-ear, head-bobbing, and feet movin’ kind of fun.

Ai-Ai Syndrome packs so much attitude, fun, and variety into its album that I found myself putting it on repeat for days at a time, unable to escape how addictive it is. DJ Gonchi, the production side of the duo, is astonishingly skilled at composing and producing beats that are not only catchy and fun, but also stand alone without any vocals whatsoever. Of course, it goes without saying that each track compliment Itsuka’s vocals with aplomb.

MC Itsuka’s vocals shine as brightly as the instrumentals, as she delivers them with such impeccable timing and a captivating, if not vicious, attitude. The absolute spite for everything in the album’s lyrics, from fashion-crazed and kawaii-obsessing girls in “HATE” to people staring at their phones every day in “LIFEFULL”, truly shows in how impeccably Itsuka delivers all of her lyrics. It’s such a breath of fresh air, even. For how obsessively joyful and excited all of Japanese pop music, or any Japanese genre really, sounds, it’s refreshing to hear something that’s so catchy and enjoyable while still packing such a strong attitude.

Ai-Ai Syndrome might not have the best production or the best vocals I’ve heard this year, but they’re both pretty terrific. It towers above the rest, however, for being simply fun. I can put it on any time and enjoy it like it was the first time I heard it. It’s an album that gives so little fucks and just does what it does, having a blast the entire way through while totally not giving a shit if you dislike it or not. I love it.

You can purchase Ai-Ai Syndrome ... um... from their website? I guess? If you know someone in Japan that can ship shit to you? Or hit me up on Twitter.

Edit: It seems you can also purchase it off Amazon.co.jp, which I believe has international shipping. At least, Jeff just ordered it and I ordered a she album off it a while a go, so there!

Earlier this year, I discovered Oliver Schories and his Herzensangelegenheit album. It’s a 2012 release that, had I discovered then, would probably have taken the top spot. … Well, 2nd spot. I guess you'll find out what was my 2012 album of 2013.

Point being: Oliver Schories is a terrific producer and composer. His most recent album Exit, blows every other album this year out of the water so hard I can barely justify it through words. Instead, here is a link to a continuous mix of the entire album. It’s mixed by Oliver himself and is featured on the album as an alternate way of listening to it. Listen to it.

I like Exit for similar reasons to why I like Metropolis Pt. 2, which is that it sets a mood and atmosphere. While not as graphic and vivid as Metropolis Pt. 2, Exit’s mood is still rich and captivating. Oliver’s masterful use of soft synths and subtle percussions create a zone to get completely lost in. The pounding, yet vacant, bass of “Intro (State of)”, the quiet and repetitive synths that perfectly fit around the vocals of “But Maybe”, the upbeat bass strums of “Another Day”... it’s engrossing in a way no other album this year was for me.

Even better is the Continuous DJ Mix, which runs for an hour and 21 minutes. Oliver mixed the entirety of Exit into a single mix, something I would have loved for Herzensangelegenheit, and is easily the best way to enjoy the album. His DJ skills are as impeccable as his production ones.

Exit is one of those rare albums. The type I can put on and then before I know it, it’s over and an hour has passed by. It’s transports me to a completely other world and I exit (HA HA HA) on the other end from a captivating and engrossing ride. It’s such a tight, intricate, well-composed album that I can truly listen to it when I want to enjoy it, in addition to being calm and passive enough that it can act as the perfect background music to reading or something similar.

More than anything, I adore an album that I can put on and forget everything exists around me. That the only thing between me and my headphones is nothing but pure escapism. That is what Exit is, and it’s why it’s my favorite album of the year.

You can purchase Exit on iTunes here.

Of course, I just had to listen to this album a few days after I posted my 2012 Best Of list. Of course.

Igorrr’s Hallelujah is fucking impossible to describe to anyone. The baroque, breakcore, IDM, abstract, grind/deathmetal sounds that populate his music is so chaotic and frightening at first glance that I can rarely let someone listen to it without them immediately twitching their ears away in fear.

Once you get past the initial shock of how insane his music is, the door to the a precisely constructed album opens to you. The opera chant of “Tout Petit Moineau” that progresses into screams into unfathomable yelling in tune to the breakneck speed of its instrumentals is haunting.

Yet like all other tracks on Hallelujah, it’s precise in its insanity. If you pay attention to it all, it’s not random insanity. It’s perfectly timed, in synch with each other, every sound interacting with the other to create a harmony of insanity that is as detailed as it is overwhelming. The daunting complexity of Hallelujah is hard not to admire and even when it’s at its most insane, it’s still so enjoyable and listenable that I find myself going back to it time after time. Had I waited to post my list after listening to it, it’d easily have taken the top spot.

—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—*—

And that's it! Woo! Hopefully you discover something new, and like last year I'd love to hear what are some of your favorites! I'm always open to anything new.

Addtionally, if you want to see a ranked list that I kept up to date throughout the year of the 103 releases I listened to, you can check it out on my Rateyourmusic list! There's some stuff in there that's also definitely worth checking out. Pretty much anything between 1 and 30~ is like... a must listen to me.

#1 Posted by JCTango (1361 posts) -

Hey aurahack not really related to your list - but will you ever showcase your artwork on your blog here? :) I like your stuff!

#2 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@jctango: Thanks :'D I'd like to write a blog at some point when development dies down about what working on a small indie game was like from my point of view, and that'll probably have a bunch of stuff from there. :v Otherwise nah, this isn't particularly the place for it. I do have a blog where I post strictly my artwork, though!

#3 Edited by Jeff (3486 posts) -

I had to stop watching the Charisma.com video because it was TOO GOOD.

Staff
#4 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@jeff said:

I had to stop watching the Charisma.com video because it was TOO GOOD.

Dude you'd probably like the fuck out of their music, haha. They filmed their other music video in a karaoke lounge because why not.

#5 Edited by GaspoweR (2960 posts) -

@aurahack: I dunno if you know this but "Easy" was also a collaboration with @babylonian's younger, more popular, and presumably more handsome brother, Porter Robinson. 0_o

P.S. I'm sure you probably already know this I just wanted to mention it anyway. :P

Also thanks for putting up this list by the way, got some new stuff to listen to now, too because of it! Yay!

#6 Posted by Jeff (3486 posts) -

@aurahack: Yup. That's pretty great. Ordered the album from Amazon Japan.

Staff
#7 Edited by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@gaspower said:

@aurahack

: I dunno if you know this but "Easy" was also a collaboration with

@babylonian

's younger, more popular, and presumably more handsome brother, Porter Robinson. 0_o

P.S. I'm sure you probably already know this I just wanted to mention it anyway. :P

Haha, yes. Though I feel that song is a bit more 'Mat Zo' than 'Porter' in style, it's a brilliant collaboration between them.

Porter Robinson is actually one of my favorite musicians, if not people. His approach to his music is exactly how I feel about my artwork. He's a constant inspiration to me. I wish I could remember when exactly but I know that a few weeks into obsessively listening to Spitfire, I connected the dots that Nick was his younger brother, haha. Blew my goddamn mind.

I think it actually wasn't too long after that a good friend of mine hit me up on Facebook and told me "Yeah so, Porter Robinson's younger brother is crashing at my house." Small world!

#8 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -
@jeff said:

@aurahack: Yup. That's pretty great. Ordered the album from Amazon Japan.

Awesome! I didn't know it was on there—I'll edit my post to link to it.

#9 Posted by GaspoweR (2960 posts) -

@aurahack: Hahaha! Yeah, seeing his name on a song the first time from awhile back led to Googling him and seeing his face on one of the results. I thought to myself, "man, this guy looks like a spitting image of one the former interns" and then discovering that they are brothers, was a big shock at the time, too.

#10 Posted by onimonkii (2434 posts) -
@aurahack said:
I wish I could remember when exactly but I know that a few weeks into obsessively listening to Spitfire, I connected the dots that Nick was his younger brother, haha. Blew my goddamn mind.

i think you were listening to it, and linked it on twitter like "seriously you guys this is fucking great" and i saw it & remembered nick's tweet like "proud as heck of my lil bro right now" and linked it to you. commence brain explosion.

also, i'm so glad you decided to listen to, and so thoroughly enjoyed, subsonic. younha's voice is so incredibly pleasant, and she's great at conveying emotion with it. her songs aren't typically the catchy poppy types, but you still find yourself drawn in again and again by her voice anyway.

#11 Posted by Milkman (16664 posts) -

I can't say I'm too into k-pop/j-pop/whatever-pop but I really appreciate the production values put into this post. That was fun to look at even if I didn't understand any of the words.

#12 Edited by GaspoweR (2960 posts) -

@aurahack said:

@jeff said:

I had to stop watching the Charisma.com video because it was TOO GOOD.

Dude you'd probably like the fuck out of their music, haha. They filmed their other music video in a karaoke lounge because why not.

OK...this video is pretty fucking great.

#13 Edited by Brodehouse (9875 posts) -

The only 2013 albums I've heard are AlunaGeorge's Body Music, No World by Inc., and As Much Again by Kauf. The last of which is the coolest thing I've heard in a year or more.

#14 Posted by TruthTellah (8790 posts) -

I thought I understood, but I understand nothing.

And that's okay.

Thanks for the great post! :)

#15 Edited by Aegon (5496 posts) -

Jeff reads user blogs? Lies.

(You a cool...

but fool)

#16 Edited by ILikePopCans (749 posts) -

This is the best. Thanks for making a awesome list.

#17 Posted by RetroVirus (1470 posts) -

My takeaway is that I should be listening to Charisma.com and Feed Me, which I will attempt to remedy as fast as possible.

#18 Edited by Lumley (951 posts) -

Great list!

Damage Control by Mat Zo is my personal top album of the year, everything he does is just fantastic and so fresh for the EDM scene. I went to an Anjunabeats concert earlier this year, Above & Beyond Group Therapy 050 in London, and Above & Beyond, Andrew Bayer and (my favourite artist or 2013) Arty all played Mat Zo tracks. Hearing them at 10,000 people strong concert shows just how well produced they are and the fact that those 3 highly rated artists are promoting the 23 year old show just how talented he is.

I haven't listened to enough of the Feed Me or The M Machine albums to pass judgement on them yet, definitely going to give them a full listen over the break.

When I saw 'Metropolis part. 2' I immediately thought of the Dream Theater album, of the same name. Is there any connection there or is that purely coincidence?

#19 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

Karnivool released the best Hard Prog rock album since Tool's Lateralus this year

It's amazing

#20 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx: I can't say progressive rock (or any rock, really) is my forté but I'll check that out—what I peeked of it in your link sounds pretty alright. I wish I was more into Tool than I am. Their stuff sounds great but I can never sit through most of it. :T

@lumley: He's astonishingly talented, for sure. I wish I could have put Andrew Bayer's If It Were You We'd Never Leave album in my list (it originally was, at least) but I found it to be less captivating then I wish it was. Something about it... I don't know. Kind of a bummer, because It's Artificial is easily one of the best progressive house albums I've heard.

@retrovirus: Yup! Both are quite great :'D

@ilikepopcans: Thank you so much!

@aegon: Man those lyrics are so dumbbbbb and so greatttttt

@truthtellah: Psf, understanding is overrated. All the cool kids are into being aloof. (Thank you!)

@brodehouse:The only exposure I've had to AlunaGeorge is their collaboration with Disclosure on the terrific Settle album. D: Ishould probably check out more of their music!

@milkman: Thank you!

@onimonkii said:

@aurahack said:
I wish I could remember when exactly but I know that a few weeks into obsessively listening to Spitfire, I connected the dots that Nick was his younger brother, haha. Blew my goddamn mind.

i think you were listening to it, and linked it on twitter like "seriously you guys this is fucking great" and i saw it & remembered nick's tweet like "proud as heck of my lil bro right now" and linked it to you. commence brain explosion.

also, i'm so glad you decided to listen to, and so thoroughly enjoyed, subsonic. younha's voice is so incredibly pleasant, and she's great at conveying emotion with it. her songs aren't typically the catchy poppy types, but you still find yourself drawn in again and again by her voice anyway.

That's right, you were the one to point that out, haha. Forgot about it.

#21 Edited by granderojo (1778 posts) -

This is a solid fucking list Aura. I knew listening to that Oliver Schories album this year that it'd be something you'd like.

#22 Edited by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@granderojo said:

This is a solid fucking list Aura. I knew listening to that Oliver Schories album this year that it'd be something you'd like.

Thanks! And yeah, any kind of house music is my total jam. I wish I was more versed in tech house but both Exit and Herzensangelegenheit are stellar listens.

#23 Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@aurahack: You should totally check out Maynards other band Puscifer then, they're phenomenal and the complete opposite of Tool.

Also they have Carina Round who is nothing short of one of the most beautiful and talented people on the planet.

https://store.puscifer.com/

#24 Posted by TehPickle (458 posts) -

Wow there's some awesome stuff in here. Gotta echo the praise for Charisma.com, they're pretty awesome. I shall probably look into importing a bit o' that, but not this month. It's been an expensive one...

Shame Yoshu Fukushuu by Maximum the Hormone didn't crop up here, though if you're not into metal that would be totally understandable. They are, afterall, very metal, but damn if that isn't the best thing I've heard all year by a country mile, across any genre.

Track below if you're unfamiliar with them. This is the last track on Yoshu Fukushuu and isn't really that good a representation of what they usually do, and it has a rather heavy breakdown in the middle, but it's catchiest song about sperm that you will likely ever hear:

Thanks for highlighting all this stuff @aurahack it's much appreciated :)

#25 Posted by Flacracker (1658 posts) -
#26 Posted by BulletproofMonk (2720 posts) -

Pretty interesting list. I'm embarrassed by how few new albums I've listened to this year. I'll have to check some of these out!

#27 Posted by Animasta (14673 posts) -

Lots of Japanese songs...they remind me that I haven't listened to Boris's Praparat and I really ought to

#28 Edited by Brodehouse (9875 posts) -

Fuck man now I'm listening to Charisma.com.

THEM GIRLS GOT FLOW

Also @aurahack if I may;

Slightly ballady, but I like the production on this maybe the best.

#29 Edited by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@animasta: The side-effect of having a ton of ratio to spend on jpopsuki. :T Praparat is also on my backlog along with a few other things I didn't get to clean up in time. Looking forward to it.

@bulletproofmonk: Set yourself a goal! Sticking to it is what made me discover a lot of really neat stuff, though I also ended up spending a considerable amount of money because of it. (╯︵╰,)

@flacracker: So I've been told by many of my friends, haha. I can't say I'm a fan of Dream Theatre, though.

@tehpickle: I actually didlisten to Yoshu Fukushu and it ended up somewhere in the bottom half of my complete list on RYM. I'm pretty picky with metal and while I liked their older stuff a lot, I had a hard time getting into their newest album.

There was a metal album I listened to this year that completely kicked ass though, which was Gostwind's Kkokdugaksi. It's folk metal and the recording quality is pretty iffy since I believe they recorded the tracks live, (or on really shitty equipment— either way it sounds different and that's pretty awesome to me) but it's a really great and unique listen.

@xalienxgreyx: I'll be sure to check those out, thanks!

#30 Posted by TrulyAlive (900 posts) -

Alright. I've now been turned onto at least three great bands/artists/acts who I mean to follow in the future. Only reason I'm stopping now is because I need to get into this GOTY shit before my asshole housemate starts being a dick about it. But based on what I've heard so far, I expect you to be my new musical guide through life, @aurahack.
To Be Continued.

#31 Edited by erhard (399 posts) -

At least someone else thinks Easy is a great song.

#32 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@erhard: Who the fuck thinks "Easy" is a bad song. I will fight them. Right now. For real.

@trulyalive: I AM THE ONE TRUE MUSIC GURU.

Nah whatever, I'm thrilled you enjoyed some of what I posted! Be sure to check out my full list on RYM that I linked to at the bottom of the post. There's more good stuff in there. c:

@brodehouse:

Alright now I definitely need to hunt down some of their full releases. That song is great. ._.

#33 Edited by TrulyAlive (900 posts) -

I hadn't caught that. I shall now.
So, do you think that you'll be keeping a new list for album you'll listen to in the coming year? Because, dude, I don't know how you even find that much music to listen to (especially when it comes to non-western music)
Point being, whilst I'm scouring that list, I would totally have a new list bookmarked and checked pretty frequently to see what you recommend.

#34 Edited by Rudeboy217 (1766 posts) -

@aurahack I actually remember listening to the two EPs/ mini albums Akai Ko-en released last year and really liking them. I didn't really care for their full length but I'll give it a second listen just in case.

Also the fact that you have Oomori Seiko and Tricot's new albums on your top list is pretty great. Those are both fantastic.

#35 Posted by rargy (437 posts) -

Add me to the list of new charisma.com fans. So good.

#36 Edited by Humanity (9054 posts) -

@aurahack: Listen I don't know about any of their asian cute girl music stuff, but your presentation was really clean and very well put together - great job.

EDIT: Now that I think about it Charisma.com is like some natural evolution polar opposite of HALCALI.

#37 Posted by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@humanity: That's actually a really apt way of summarizing them, haha. Thank you, though! Even if my tastes don't align with others, I wanted to make something that was at least presentable and fun to go through. Glad you found it to be so. :'D

@rargy: The more, the merrier!

@rudeboy217: Zettai Shoujo is such a fuckin' weird album, man. I hadn't listened to Oomori Seiko before and I was just like "Uhh... this is totally not my thing." and then two tracks in it takes a completely backwards turn and it's like... all acoustic and stuff? I love it and hearing her speed through lyrics like in "hayatochiri" is awesome but man... totally not what I was expecting, haha.

@trulyalive said:

I hadn't caught that. I shall now.

So, do you think that you'll be keeping a new list for album you'll listen to in the coming year? Because, dude, I don't know how you even find that much music to listen to (especially when it comes to non-western music)

Point being, whilst I'm scouring that list, I would totally have a new list bookmarked and checked pretty frequently to see what you recommend.

Yup, I plan on doing the same. It'll show up on the same account on RYM under a different list. Keeping track of the stuff I listen to has been a great way of cataloging it for end-of-year stuff like this and generally knowing what my listening patterns are so that I can diverge out of it.

Discovering stuff depends on how willing you are to go out of your zone a bit. I (very fortunately) have access to some pretty helpful sites that make discovering stuff easier by browsing tags. Jpopsuki even has a "recommendations" area that staff regularly keep updated and I've been using that a lot.

It's mostly just keeping my ears open, though. I listen to BBC Radio 1 on Friday nights and anything that catches my interest there, I check out. If friends are listening to something and throw a link my way I don't hesitate to try it out. (Which is what most recently happened with Younha's Subsonic, even when I believed the genre to not really be my thing.)

If you don't have access to trackers, I recommend signing up for Last.fm and browsing the site's tags and 'similar artists' sections to the music you listen to. The top results it'll give you in either will most likely be something new to you and worthwhile!

#38 Edited by Humanity (9054 posts) -

@aurahack: Much like @jeff, I found the Charisma.com song almost too good to the point of being frustrated that I don't know Japanese.

The last time I was this swept away by asian music was literally back in High School/early college when I started listening to Cibo Matto, Halcali and GO!GO!7188

EDIT: Oh a question: So I thought it's Christmas so what better time to spend more money than I should on something stupid so I decided I wanted to get this Charisma CD straight from nippon but how do you exactly go about doing that? I assume you need to make a separate account for Amazon.jp?

#39 Edited by aurahack (2270 posts) -

@humanity: All of those are way great, though I honestly wish I could get into new HALCALI stuff like I used to. Hasn't entirely clicked with me. :T

You can also sign in with your regular Amazon account through the Japanese store and ship it internationally. Otherwise, you can order it off the band's site directly and have it forwarded to you using a service like Tenso.

#40 Posted by TrulyAlive (900 posts) -

@aurahack you're doing the work of the music gods.

Charisma.com and Akai Ko-en have been all I've listened to today. I always seem to come across cool new music on my birthday, and that's kinda great.

#41 Edited by Humanity (9054 posts) -

@aurahack: for some reason I couldn't sign in but I figured all that stuff out. Sadly I flinched at the last moment when the price came out to be quite substantial for a single CD. I like some of the songs but I'm not like Jeff crazy!

Oh and I forgot to mention my deep love for Shiina Ringo from days past. She made some really great, progressive music at the time.

#42 Edited by Everyones_A_Critic (6296 posts) -

I've had to write Mat Zo's name a billion times in the last two months writing for an EDM blog but I've never dove deep into his music. I should probably stop slacking.

#43 Posted by GaspoweR (2960 posts) -

@humanity: Jeff CRAZY is the best crazy 0_o

#44 Posted by Humanity (9054 posts) -

@gaspower: I want to.. but I just can't cross that line..

#45 Posted by GaspoweR (2960 posts) -

@humanity: *Jeff whispering* come inside...it's safe here.... kekekekekekekeke

#46 Posted by stumpsock (24 posts) -

That Igorrr album is technically 2012 I think, but I fully support its inclusion. So. Good.

#47 Posted by Hampe (175 posts) -

Great list! Although I have to admit, very curious about your "no K-pop"-rule. Why did that thought come up?

I have a totally different opinion on CAPS LOCK however. I got really disappointed by the release and I think Perfume's LEVEL3 delivered the Yasutaka Nakata experience I wanted. But I have to admit that listening to his productions has started to getting harder and harder, since it's sounding more and more the same. Which is why CAPS LOCK was kind of a neat addition to his library, since it didn't.

I'm going to make a pretty "wild" suggestion, but you should look into the Mitchie M feat Hatsune Miku-album that came out this year. Yes, the syntethic voice is there, but since he's using the more natural sounding VOCALOID2 synthesizer it sounds aaaaaamazing! FREELY TOMORROW for example here.

#48 Edited by Oni (2098 posts) -

Some of the music on this list is blowing my goddamn mind, and I listen to a lot of music. Igorr pls.

#49 Edited by RazielCuts (2950 posts) -

Fuck man now I'm listening to Charisma.com.

THEM GIRLS GOT FLOW

Also @aurahack if I may;

Slightly ballady, but I like the production on this maybe the best.

Yeah you know you've got flow when even in another language the 'tude rings through. Man, that girl has got some swagger on. It's great to see. Totally wouldn't expect it coming out of her. The music is thumping too.

Weird to see recommendations of AlunaGeroge on GB. I know one half of them (George), haven't spoken to him in years though but was glad to see him getting some 'big' exposure as it were. Kingston/West Molesey represent!

#50 Posted by TheHT (11145 posts) -

I was scrolling down practically laying down in my chair when I saw "Metropolis Pt 2" and literally shot up straight. What's this? Curiousity piqued? There's a song entitled Ghost in the Machine? It's electronic? It's awesome? Well slap me twice and call me Horace.

Now I've worked my way down the top 4 + 2012's and holy shit thanks for puttin this together! I'm gonna grab em all later. Fuck man, I dunno how people find new music. But then again I didn't expect to see anything interesting here and then did and then found more interesting things as a result and am probably going to check out the stuff lower on the list now too. So actually giving things a listen, I guess that's how. Hell, it's not like it's a huge investment to just fuckin sit here and listen to something. Gosh.

That said, I suppose I should give the rest of the list a listen too. And to think I skipped this in the Recent Discussions list like 8 times. That's a surefire way to not find new music.

Also holy shit dude you're makin a game? That's awesome!

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