My Favorite 30 Albums of 2013


Thankfully the “album” is still a relevant way to package and release music in 2013, and once you look past mainstream pop and (ugh) new country, the quality of music being released from established and new acts is enough to inspire any true music fan.

Here is a list of my favorite 30 “albums” of the past 12 months.

  1. Once I Was an Eagle – Laura Marling
  2. Push the Sky Away – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  3. Silence Yourself – Savages
  4. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
  5. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
  6. Yeezus – Kanye West
  7. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
  8. AM – Arctic Monkeys
  9. The Next Day – David Bowie
  10. Dream River – Bill Callahan
  11. Muchacho – Phosphorescent
  12. …Like Clockwork – Queens of the Stone Age
  13. mbv – My Bloody Valentine
  14. Pushin’ Against a Stone – Valerie June
  15. Sunbather – Deafheaven
  16. The Marshall Mathers LP2 – Eminem
  17. The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight… – Neko Case
  18. Victim of Love – Charles Bradley
  19. Pale Green Ghosts – John Grant
  20. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
  21. More Light – Primal Scream
  22. 13 – Black Sabbath
  23. Overgrown – James Blake
  24. 180 – Palma Violets
  25. Wakin on a Pretty Daze – Kurt Vile
  26. Doris – Earl Sweatshirt
  27. Settle – Disclosure
  28. Old – Danny Brown
  29. Cupid Deluxe – Blood Orange
  30. The Bones of What You Believe – Chvrches

Honorble mentions go out to…

  • If You Leave – Daughter
  • Pearl Mystic – Hookworms
  • Sistrionix – Deap Vally
  • Howlin’ – Jagwar Ma
  • Holy Fires – Foals

Ballantine’s ‘Loud Blue‘ Platform Adds a Soundtrack to Your Instagram Pics

Ballatines Loud BlueScottish whisky brand Ballantine’s has launched ‘Loud Blue‘, the latest installment in the brand’s ongoing Leave An Impression campaign. Loud Blue is an online music platform that creates an original piece of music inspired by your Instagram pictures.

Simply add the hashtag #loudblue to an Instagram photo and share it to Twitter. In just seconds users receive a Twitter response from @loud_blue containing a link to your personalized soundtrack.

How does it work? Aspects of the photo such as colour, brightness, and people’s faces are used by the application’s algorithm to create a short piece of music. Red in the image will make the tempo slower, while yellow will make it faster. The brightness in areas of the photo will affect how complex the music is. If the application detects a face in the image it will add a vocalization. If there are several faces the vocalizations create a choral effect.

The unique pieces of music were created by Brazilian Electro-House duo Felguk, who will use some of the Instagram-inspired music at an exclusive upcoming live event.

The project was created by London digital and social agency, Work Club.


My Favorite 30 Albums of 2011

Favorite Albums of 2011

A few weeks ago when I started thinking about which albums were my favorites of 2011 I only had a short list of 20. After scrolling through my iPod that list grew to over 60 albums that I liked so much that I bought (yes, actually bought). As usual the list runs the gamut of musical genres, with the only obvious omission being heavy metal. (sorry Mastodon).

Thank you Kate Bush for making my year.

  1. 01 / 50 Words for Snow – Kate Bush
  2. 02 / Wilco – The Whole Love
  3. 03 / Bon Iver – Bon Iver
  4. 04 / Burst Apart – Antlers
  5. 05 / Adele – 21
  6. 06 / Kiss Each Other Clean – Iron & Wine
  7. 07 / The Decemberists – The King is Dead
  8. 08 / TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
  9. 09 / The Kills – Blood Pressures
  10. 10 / Drake – Take Care
  11. 11 / Cut Copy – Zonoscope
  12. 12 / M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
  13. 13 / Feist – Metals
  14. 14 / The Black Keys – El Camino
  15. 15 / James Blake – James Blake
  16. 16 / Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  17. 17 / PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
  18. 18 / Jay Z & Kanye West – The Throne
  19. 19 / Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire
  20. 20 / Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials
  21. 21 /The Weeknd – House of Balloons
  22. 22 / Cults – Cults
  23. 23 / The Horrors – Skying
  24. 24 / St. Vincent – Strange Mercy
  25. 25 / Gillian Welch – The Harrow & the Harvest
  26. 26 / Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
  27. 27 / The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?
  28. 28 / Wye Oak – Civilian
  29. 29 / Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
  30. 30 / Friendly Fires – Pala

Honourable Mentions:

  • Radiohead – King of Limbs
  • Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi – Rome
  • The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar
  • Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Disappointments (for me anyways):

  • Death Cab for Cutie – Codes & Keys
  • Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See
  • The Strokes – Angles

Stop-Action Music Video Shot Uses 288,000 Jelly Beans… and a Lot of Patience

SKina Grannis - In Your Arms - 288,000 jelly beans used to create stop-action music videoinger-songwriter Kina Grannis has spent a good part of the last 22 months suspended over a series of ever-changing backgrounds made entirely of jellybeans… 288,000 thousand jellybeans to be exact. Grannis even had her entire body covered in jellybeans for a few key scenes (which is safer than being covered bees and way more delicious).

It’s all part of her latest video project for the track ‘In Your Arms’ (watch it here). Gannis worked with director Greg Jardin and a team of 30 people created the video in 1,357 hours over a 22 month period. No matter how involved you imagine the production process was to create the 2,460 stop-action frames, you’ll still be awestruck when you watch the ‘Making Of…’ video that I’ve embedded above, and maybe a little hungry for something sweet. And yes, the 288,000 jelly beans were all donated by Jelly Belly.

Kina Grannis is no stranger to using YouTube to promote her music, the first video she posted back in 2007; ‘Message From Your Heart’ won her a spot in the Dorito’s Crash the Superbowl contest. Since then she’s posted over 200 videos to her YouTube channel, which have seen almost 80,000,000 million views.

You can keep up to date on Kina Grannis on Twitter or on her Facebook page.

via Laughing Squid

Spotify Finally Set to Launch in the US (but not Canada)

Spotify in the USUS music fans are finally set to get their crack at using Spotify tomorrow. The launch has been rumoured as far back as two years ago when I was first granted a handful of press invites for myself and my music fan friends. Over that time we’ve run the desktop version through its paces, accessing the expansive library, creating shared playlists and providing the block rockin’ beats for two raucous Delvinia holiday parties.

According to an article published todays on GigaOm, Spotify will be offered in the U.S. in three subscription models: A free ad-supported service, a basic $5 per month subscription, and a premium subscription service for $10 a month which allows access via a mobile app, higher audio quality and access to exclusive content. You can head over to the landing page now and signup for an invite for Spotify as soon as it becomes available.

In the two and a half years since Spotify first launched in October 2008, several other competitors have emerged in the US such as Rdio and MOG, and services such as, Grooveshark and Pandora have established themselves. Is there room left for another music service amongst music fans, or is Spotify simply a tech curiousity?

Below are a few screenshots of the Spotify application.

What’s New: this is the home screen showing which new albums or tracks have been recently added to the service, as well as a feed of news. This view also hosts popular playlists and a Feed of music that has been played by a user’s friends recently.

Radio View: Similar to Pandora, the radio functions allow a user to create a stream based on genres and decades.

Album View / Playlist View: Shuffle and repeat are available at the bottom of the screen as well as the audio controls. Tracks can be selected for a new playlist or dragged to an existing ones. Right clicking allows a user to grab the HTTP link, Spotify URI or simply share the track with another Spotify user.

Local Files: A user can mix and match your own locally stored music files with tracks from Spotify to create playlists.

Spotify Screenshots

Now, what’s this thing about not coming to Canada?