Our lovely Assistant Editor-in-Chief, Shannen Gaffney, also writes for Liquid Courage Media. This is their list of the top albums of 2013, co-written with Isabel Imperatore (in alphabetical order).
Allison Weiss – Say What You Mean Allison Weiss’ No Sleep Records release, Say What You Mean, was an uplifting take on the more depressing moments of being a teenager-to-twenty-something. The first track, “Making It Up,” outlined the uncertainties of defining a relationship. Our favorite is the breakup pop tune “How to Be Alone”.
Beyoncé – BEYONCÉ BEYONCE released a self-titled “exclusive visual album” on iTunes in the middle of the night without any previous announcement or promotion. Do I need to say anything else? Videos/tracks to check out: ”XO” and “Blue” (and the entire album).
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe If we can use the word ‘groovy,’ Blood Orange released one of the grooviest records this year. “You’re Not Good Enough” encompasses everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your ex, and has been stuck in our heads ever since its recent release.
Brick + Mortar – Bangs It’s hard to categorize and describe Brick + Mortar, which is a duo comprised of Brandon Asraf and John Tacon. They combine elements of alternative, electronic, indie, drum and bass, noise-pop, hip-hop, and punk. It’s aggressive, anthemic and catchy. The intense drum and bass parts are overlapped with Brandon’s distinct vocals and instrumentation like synths and guitar. Listen to “Bangs” and “Locked In A Cage” and you’ll understand.
Charli XCX – True Romance Charli XCX was definitely a breakout artist of 2013, and True Romance was one of the best dance pop albums of the year. Her obvious best track was “You – Ha Ha Ha,” but “Take My Hand” and “What I Like” were also equally addictive pop gems.
I caught up with Cullen Omori, the singer from Smith Westerns before their 7/26 show at Union Transfer to talk about their latest release, 90’s music, and what’s coming next for the band.
Kirsten Becker: What was the recording process for this record? What comes first, music or lyrics?
Cullen Omori: It kind of happens together. The way that we write our songs varies, [guitarist] Max [Kakacek] will write some parts and I’ll write a full song, or Max write a full song and I’ll write some parts. So, when I go about writing music I try to go about with the chords with the lyrics because I feel like when you have words down, you come up with the melody or the chords a lot quicker. For me, lyrics come with the music. That’s kind of how I write.
Charli XCX‘s accessible British electro-pop sound is what makes her fan base so varied. Her new release True Romance is well written, has some awesome production, and is extremely addicting. I got a chance to speak with her via phone:
Shannen Gaffney: So your latest album True Romance got an 8.3 on Pitchfork and has been doing well at college radio. Though your music is definitely very pop, your style is unique and you have been successful in a bunch of different markets. How would you describe your music?
Charli XCX: I definitely describe it as pop music. I went out to make a pop record, not like a hipster record or anything like that. I really wanted to make the record sound super lush and like, very angelic in terms of the production. So I think I’d probably describe it as angel pop music or the way that I see the record – I often see my music in colors – when I think of this album I see the color purple, so I guess I’d kind of describe it as purple pop music, too.