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Dec 13

Music To Code By, 2013

It’s that time of the year again. For more great music, check out the previous ‘Music To Code By’ posts from 2011 and 2012.

It seems this year, soundcloud really became a thing. In previous years I’ve had to link to Amazon mostly for 30 second clips at best. This year, links below are actually worth a click – as almost all of them link to music you can stream for free from soundcloud or bandcamp – no subscription cost necessary. That being said, I strongly recommend that you join a music service like Rhapsody or Spotify – so you can hear some of these amazing albums in full.

Standard Disclaimer

I prefer full-album front-to-back listening experiences. Favorite genres currently include post-rock, noise-rock, EDM, alt rock, shoegaze, and dream pop. Also, new this year, this blog post isn’t just music I’ve found on my own – there’s a fair variety of tastes this year, thanks to some excellent suggestions from friends and colleagues.

Executive Summary

I’ve put together a couple of soundcloud playlists – in an attempt to capture a good slice of worthwhile music to checkout.

First, there’s the 2.5 hour 2013 Code Mix – this is the mix I can listen to while coding with my brain on. It’s primarily post-rock (caspian, this will destroy you) with bits of dance and noise-rock (tv on the radio, 65daysofstatic, BT, blonde redhead) in between.

Because I’m paranoid, and sure soundcloud tracks will change, here’s the original track ordering:

  1. Blonde Redhead – 23
  2. Caspian – Gone In Bloom and Bough
  3. Matthew Good – Non Populus
  4. 65daysofstatic – PX3
  5. TV on the radio – DLZ
  6. Tv on the radio – Wolf Like Me
  7. 65daysofstatic – PRISMS
  8. This Will Destroy You – A Three-Legged Workhorse
  9. Caspian – Hymn For The Greatest Generation
  10. Metric – Breathing Underwater (Acoustic)
  11. BT – Skylarking
  12. Caspian – Hickory ’54
  13. This Will Destroy You – Communal Blood
  14. Carbon Based Life Forms – MOS 6581 (ALBUM VERSION)
  15. This Will Destroy You – The Mighty Rio Grande
  16. Matthew Good – Champions Of Nothing
  17. Orbital – One Perfect Sunrise
  18. Caspian – Fire Made Flesh
  19. 65daysofstatic – Tiger Girl

Next, there’s the “god, I hate bug fixing and need something to distract me” mostly pop-rock 2013 Best Of playlist. Here you’ll find a good old-fashioned all-over-the-place mix 2 hours in length. It’s a healthy dose of the latest fashionable pop rock junk (such as 80s revival nonsense like the national), with enough alt-rock and just enough of a sprinkling of punk-rock to help you not feel like a tool for listening to it all. There’s some bleed over from the code mix – because some tracks are too awesome not to hear multiple times.

The ‘Best Of’ playlist is too long (timewise) to embed in this entry, so click above, or here to go listen to it.

‘2013 Best of’ track list:

  1. Mark Duplass – Big Machine (Acoustic Version)
  2. Avicii – Wake Me Up (Extended Mix)
  3. TV on the radio – DLZ
  4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Let The Day Begin
  5. The Neighbourhood – “Female Robbery”
  6. Caspian – Hymn For The Greatest Generation
  7. Blonde Redhead – 23
  8. Matthew Good – Via Dolorosa
  9. J. Roddy Walston – Heavy Bells
  10. Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet
  11. Shakey Graves – Late July
  12. Kitten – Cut It Out
  13. Twin Shadow – Five Seconds
  14. The National – Afraid Of Everyone
  15. The Neighbourhood – Sweater Weather
  16. Mirror Travel – I Want You To Know
  17. Alkaline Trio – I Wanna Be A Warhol
  18. Bomb The Music Industry! – Felt Just Like Vacation
  19. Alkaline Trio – This Could Be Love (from Damnesia)
  20. Matthew Good – Non Populus
  21. Caspian – Gone In Bloom and Bough
  22. Caspian – Hickory ’54
  23. Metric – Breathing Underwater (Acoustic)
  24. Crystal Castles – Not In Love (Featuring Robert Smith)
  25. Champion – No Heaven

Top Five Albums

If you listen to nothing else at all, do yourself a favor and at least listen to this track, at max volume, ideally on speakers that will make you feel the kick drum in your soul:

This is “Gone in Bloom and Bough”, by Caspian. The entire album is an amazing post-rock trip of beauty that rival’s Sigur Ros’ ‘Takk’ album (one of my personal favorites). You can stream the entire album for free. If you’ve dismissed older Caspian records as generic post-rock (along with godspeed / explosions in the sky), don’t dismiss this one – it’s different. Where other bands are blending electronic elements and synth into post-rock, Caspian’s already made the record everyone’s aiming for, ‘Waking Season’ is it. Also, their latest EP ‘Hymn for the Greatest Generation’ is amazing as well, you can listen to the title track from that EP here.

Caspian – Waking Season (full album stream):

Matthew Good – Lights of Endangered Species (sample track):

Matthew Good’s album from last year, ‘Lights of Endandgered Species’, is, I feel, his best album to date – and that’s saying something. This track, Non-Populous is the latest in a long line of 7 minute + epics that take you on an unforgettable, almost intangible emotional journey. He also released a more typical alt-rock record this year, entitled ‘Arrows of Desire’, it’s good, but if you’re new around here, check out the ‘Hospital Music’, ‘Endandgered Species’, ‘Avalanche’, and ‘Beautiful Midnight’ albums first.

65daysofstatic – Wild Light (Sample Track):

‘Wild Light’, is, in a word: fantastic. 65days started as mostly high-energy high-bpm math-rock/post-rock – very aphex twin fairly often. In recent year’s they’ve morphed. Where the previous record, ‘We Were Exploding Anyway’ was essentially a dance/rock record – ‘Wild Light’ pulls back a bit, the music has morphed into a synth-heavy droning guitars noise-pop/post-rock/glitch masterpiece that absolutely refuses to loosen it’s grip on you. If you dug the Polinski side-project record I mentioned last year – this, to me, is that with guitars.

Sigur Ros – Kveikur (Full Album Stream):

Other post-rock outfits are trying to find the lighter ‘pretty’ side of music that Sigur Ros’ pulls off so effortlessly, but with their latest, Sigur Ros is going in the opposite direction. Their latest, Kveikur, is at once driven and beautiful. It seems for the first time, drums and bass are in the driver’s seat. There’s a darkness to the album, a sense that something went wrong and somebody’s pissed – I like it. Great album.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast (Sample Track):

I’m not familiar with BRMC, but I ran across them after checking out the Sound City film, and their latest album, ‘Specter at the Feast’ is awesome. Shoegazer meandering mope rock fuzz-pop at its finest. An enjoyable listen all the way through.

Other Bits

I spent a fair number of days this year listening to Alkaline Trio’s ‘Damnesia’ album (acoustic versions of their punk/alt-rock/mope-rock hits) on constant repeat:

The same repeat-forever multi-day full-album treatment was given to..

Bomb The Music Industry’s ‘Vacations’ (amazing punk rock, the end):

Full album stream on their website.

Kitten’s ‘Cut It Out’ EP (80’s resurgence pop), full album stream:

The Neighbourhood’s ‘I Love You’ (pedestrian alt rock, album is really *really* catchy and good):

The National’s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ (80s resurgence, basically the smiths + joy division), full album stream:

and Limp Bizkit’s ‘The Unquestionable Truth’ (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – it’s actually decent, whereas I consider the rest of their albums aside from the first a waste of time), this is a full album stream:

I don’t usually listen to single tracks on repeat, but there are occasionally albums I can’t stand most of, but one track is god like, this year those tracks were:

Blonde Redhead – 23:

Battles – Atlas:

Tom Waits – Goin’ Out West:

Crystal Castles – Not In Love (Featuring Robert Smith):

Champion – No Heaven:

And then there are awesome albums that get re-released with devastatingly beautiful poignant acoustic versions of great songs, such as Metric’s ‘Breathing Underwater (Acoustic)':

Go ahead, enjoy your next few days of time spent spinning one of those tracks on repeat forever. I’ll catch you on the flipside when you’ve had enough euphoria.

Vinyl

Finally, my wife and I got into vinyl a bit this year. I’d highly recommend it – it sounds a little different, yeah – but the thing that caught me off guard was the manual/personal-involvement of it. Not for nearly twenty years had I been physically limited to playing one disc at a time, and with a record you’re flipping it every 15-20 minutes, so its even more involved than a cd would be. It sounds like work, and it is – but it’s a labor of love. Vinyl has been a catalyst to a change in my life toward relaxing and appreciating music the way I used to when I was young. It’s part nostalgia, part backlash against always being on the internet and wasting my life. We’re enjoying ourselves.

If/when you check out vinyl, I highly recommend the following albums:

  • The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed
  • The Cure – Seventeen Seconds
  • Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust
  • Dylan Leblanc – Cast The Same Old Shadow
  • Mirror Travel – Mexico
  • First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
  • Pearl Jam – VS
  • Silversun Pickups – Swoon (this one sounds suprisingly fantastic, warm fuzz.. mmm)
  • Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I can only seriously claim credit for almost all of the “code mix” – most everything else recommended this year was recommended to me by friends and family.

Thanks to Alex for recommending Tom Waits and Death From Above 1979, among a dozen others I still need to check out!

Thanks, Brooke, for Kitten, The Neighborhood, Twin Shadow.

Thanks, Jonathan, for Crystal Castles, Battles, Sleigh Bells, and a ton of music back in the day, including introducing me to Stellastarr, and Death Cab for Cutie – we wouldn’t have known of ‘Transatlanticism’ or used it for our wedding day first dance had you not introduced me to it.

Thanks, Daniel, for recommending carbon based life forms – truly awesome music to work to for hours on end.

Thanks, Brian, for your awesome indie/punk finds, including Bomb The Music Industry, and Direct Hit. I have a feeling Direct Hit is going to be on repeat for a while in 2014.

Thanks, Dad, for the recommendation of Dire Straits – I had no idea the ‘Romeo and Juliet’ song in one of my favorite movies (Empire Records) was by them – good stuff.

Thanks, Adam, for suggesting we play through borderlands when we were sick of code – truly one of the highlights of my year, and the ‘No Heaven’ credits track by Champion was an awesome end to a great time.

Thank you Amanda for recommending Shakey Graves, and Avicii; and thanks for sticking around late that one week night after 65daysofstatic’s set to discover caspian with me. Also, thanks for going to the Sigur Ros’ show with me, that was truly the greatest show I’ve ever seen.

To the rest of you who recommended great stuff, thanks, keep it up.