MEDLEYVILLE — 2013 IN REVIEW (ARTISTS EDITION)
Lorde, Daft Punk, Haim and Vampire Weekend made big news in music over the course of the past year.
All four also made a big splash with the artists who contributed to Medleyville’s 2013 in review.
* Aaron Comess (The Spin Doctors)
Favorite album of 2013: Wayne Shorter, Without a Net. Shorter is playing as inspired as ever at 80 years old and showing everyone how it’s done. His current longstanding group may be the best band of any style of music playing this year.
Favorite song of 2013: Lorde, “Royals.” Every now and then a really amazing song hits the Top 40 that defies all the other copycats out there trying to get a hit song. This is just a great song that became a hit because it’s really good — hopefully this will inspire more young artists to be real again.
Biggest hype of 2013: Kanye West. Although I like his music and think he is extremely talented, I think he could stand a bit of a reality check.
Prediction for 2014: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian will split up.
Favorite album of 2013: Haim, Days Are Gone. I just discovered this band, and it’s my favorite thing to come along in a while. To me it’s such an interesting mix — catchy pop songwriting with hints of everyone from Michael Jackson to Wilson Phillips. Their melodies are also so rhythmically inventive and satisfying.
Favorite song of 2013: Haim, “The Wire.”
Biggest hype of 2013: Miley Cyrus. Her MTV Video Music Awards stunt proved to be marketing genius, but being on every gossip show and magazine cover makes the music an afterthought.
Prediction for 2014: As the music industry continues to reorganize and settle into whatever it is going to become, I think the result will be a more level playing field where anything can be heard but finding the space to really make a fan connection becomes more and more challenging through all the noise.
Favorite album of 2013: Lots of great ones! But I gotta give it to Elton John’s The Diving Board. I’ve always been a fan of his songwriting.
Favorite song of 2013: Muse, “Panic Station.” OK, you got me — that's technically 2012. But I gotta give a shout-out to one of my favorite bands doing some really creative things. Love the guitars on this track!
Biggest hype of 2013: Well, I have to hand it Miley Cyrus for knowing how to get people’s attention. All musical discussions aside, this is the entertainment business, and one needs to constantly be in the spotlight. She certainly found a way to make headlines.
Prediction for 2014: “Well, I hope to see more creative rock and singer/songwriters dominating the music business and less dance pop acts, but we shall see.
* Justin Jahnke (Midnite on Pearl Beach)
Favorite album of 2013: The Sadies, Internal Sounds. The Sadies are a criminally underrated group that continues to create and release astonishingly consistent music, moods, themes and suites with primarily two guitars and a rhythm section. Critics and reviewers don’t often appreciate the level of skill and command it requires to make a sound and especially to make a sound appear effortless. Other records that came out this year may be more inventive or daring, but like a finely aged whiskey, this one goes down just right.
Favorite song of 2013: I don’t know. There were so many songs this year, so many last year. It's like mining for gold now.
Biggest hype of 2013: Haim’s Days Are Gone. To me this sounds like a complete retread of music that wasn’t that great in the first place. … This is music to be played in shoe stores and environments where you feel cold and uncomfortable while you look through shirts that cost $180. I hate it.
Prediction for 2014: More substance over style. More talent, less production techniques. More songwriting, less fashion mining. I sound like an old bastard.
* Matt Jatkola (The Bynars)
Favorite album of 2013: Haim, Days Are Gone. I’ve heard of many Haim haters out there. I started out that way myself, honestly. … But once I heard their album, it didn’t matter. It is undeniably awesome! I’ve listened to it more than any other album this year. … I love the tight, rhythmic melodies in all of the songs. The production is probably my favorite aspect of the album.
Favorite song of 2013: Lucius, “How Loud Your Heart Gets.” What an amazing song. I first saw Lucius open for Tegan & Sara this past spring, and then The Bynars were lucky enough to play with them in Maine over the summer. … This song specifically stuck with me. The chorus mines this feeling in my soul that I never knew I had, and yet always knew I had. You know that episode of Seinfeld where the guy just freezes up when “Desperado” comes on the radio? That’s what happens to me when I hear this song.
Biggest hype of 2013: That’s gotta be The Haim Train, right? I’m on board! Also, I haven’t heard [Kanye West’s] Yeezus yet. Is it good?
Prediction for 2014: New Taylor Swift album will be sold exclusively at McDonald’s locations. Fourth quarter sales will rival those of the Big Mac in North America.
Favorite album of 2013: John Mayer, Paradise Valley — well-crafted lyrics, great playing and production.
Favorite song of 2013: Lorde, “Royals” — clever lyrics and sweet, tight harmonies. I’m a sucker for finger snaps, too.
Biggest hype of 2013: “Roar” by Katy Perry — a brazen rip-off of “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.
Prediction for 2014: [My latest album] Modern Love goes triple-zinc.
Favorite album of 2013: Gregory Alan Isakov, The Weatherman. The song “Saint Valentine” sucked me in, and then the songwriting took over from there — fantastic album all the way through.
Favorite song of 2013: Greg Holden, “I Don’t Believe You.” It’s catchy as hell with great words, and I wish I wrote it.
Biggest hype of 2013: Drones.
Prediction for 2014: CDs will continue to fall off the shelves, and EPs are on the rise, delivered by drones.
* Devon Reed (producer/songwriter)
Favorite album of 2013: Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City . Twisty lyrics, super-catchy melodies — loads of fun all around. Modern Vampires isn’t as consistent as the band’s previous album, Contra, but the highlights are just incredible.
Favorite song of 2013: Phosphorescent, “Song for Zula.” Whereas Vampire Weekend delivered moments of emotion wrapped in cleverness and fun, “Song for Zula” is a scratched and exposed wound with no Band-Aid of which to speak. The vocal performance here by Matt Houck is fantastic and heartbreaking, and the whole tenor and atmosphere of the track just feels like the sort of thing you want to run away and bathe in its sorrows with for an eternity.
Biggest hype of 2013: Daft Punk.
Prediction for 2014: Someone releases a music video designed for viewing on Google Glass.
Favorite album of 2013: The Head and the Heart, Let’s Be Still. We’ve been following this group since it broke out with its self-titled album, and we simply can’t get enough. The three-part harmonies are chilling.
Favorite song of 2013: Rilo Kiley, “Let Me Back In.” Rilo Kiley has been inactive for quite some time now, so its recent archives/B-sides release was a big event for us. This band is one of the most underrated bands of the alternative/folk rock world.
Biggest hype of 2013: Postal Service reunion.
Prediction for 2014: The return of Modest Mouse! It’s gotta happen soon!
Favorite album of 2013: Passenger, All the Little Lights. I saw him perform in the U.K. at the Cornbury Festival, and I haven’t stopped playing it since. His songwriting is much more direct than most of what I listen to, but the record has an organic, retro quality reminiscent of Cat Stevens, one of my all-time faves.
Favorite song of 2013: The Glen Hansard cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Drive All Night,” featuring Eddie Vedder. I adore virtually everything Hansard has ever recorded, and the combination of two such intense and unique voices singing such a classic, along with Jake Clemons' soulful saxophone, is almost too much for this romantic to bear!
Biggest hype of 2013: Lucius’ debut album, WildeWoman, which takes this Brooklyn band from SXSW buzz-band to international alt-pop sellout status. Stellar musicianship, catchy pop hooks and best friends singing in unison who dress like identical twins doesn’t hurt!
Prediction for 2014: As a follow-up to holiday special with The Muppets, Lady Gaga will reveal her limited-edition Artpop cereal featuring Pop Rocks and tiny Keith Haring baby-shaped flakes.
On a more realistic note: There’ll be a resurgence of musicians banding together to help raise funds for charitable causes, akin to “We Are the World” and Live Aid in the ’80s. New Arrivals Vol. 5: Artists for Hurricane Relief [on my MPress Records label] is part of what helps establish this trend!
* The Valery Trails
Favorite album of 2013: Yo La Tengo, Fade. This came out early in the year, and for me nothing that came after touched it. It encapsulates everything that has been great about YLT for all these years but sounds as relevant as ever.
Favorite song of 2013: Courtney Barnett, “Avant Gardener.” The title alone gets me halfway there, and the song brings it home — all gorgeous lazy guitars and chock-full of lyrical gems.
Biggest hype of 2013: Arcade Fire.
Predictions for 2014: The Valery Trails release new album. Houston sporting teams continue to suck (although the Rockets are providing glimmers of hope). World peace remains elusive.
— As told to Chris M. Junior