You with You, lately: 2013 in dreams

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This has been a surreal year that involved lots of hard work, risk, and intellectual reward as a talent buyer in South Texas. This is the year I booked more artists than i’ve ever booked in a 12 month span. There was GALAX Z FAIR II – that beautiful, misunderstood, amazing dream. There was a wave of experience with artists I never dreamed of even meeting that I was able to not only book, but actually get to know. King Khan and dmt. The Merchandise guys. The Thermals. Cooking for the Lust-Cats and housing Destruction Unit after singer Ryan Rousseau gnarled broken glass with his teeth. Talking cartels with Alan Palomo, having the Collective Unconscious try to each me how to ‘dj’ – emphasis on try.  This was the year of artists and formulating relationships beyond booking, and it’s been beautiful. There was also some excellent new music released by touring and regional South Texas artists. All in all, it’s been a golden year, and while I’m not one to digitally package memories and ‘my favorite things’ of a particular time frame in blog lists, it’s a matter of tradition that I keep up with what flavored my sonic intake this year.

Thus, we have the ‘yearly list’ of musical things – with one major exception. I’ve added a handful of tracks that DID NOT come out in 2013. There are some albums and songs on here  that are 25 years old. Or two years old. Or came out in October of 2012. The way I justify this – I’ll always discover new ‘old music’, and to leave these resonant jams off my list would be to leave them in some sort of shadow. Even with the contemporary releases, it feels right to let a handful of year old tracks slip on. I mean, most albums and songs are never created within the year they are released. Many of these contemporary compositions, for example, are more than likely the end product of something created months, maybe years prior, perhaps left on a hard-drive or the literal mind of the artist, sinking in, being digested, revised, edited, polished – right before a standard ‘album cycle’. So it seems alright to sneak in a handful of tracks that weren’t necessarily ‘released’ in 2013. I know I know – slippery slope! Might as well place EVERYthing I discovered. Hell, guess I should make a list like that. NO. Just follow me on twitter for that. Either way, here we are, the favorites:

Favorite singles of 2013*
*listen below list

Squarehead – “What’s Wrong”
10cc – “I’m Not in Love”
Ceo – “Welcome to the Whorehouse”
My Bloody Valentine – “New You”
Priests – “Leave Me Alone”
Tei Shi – “M&Ms”
Pinky Swear – “When I Fall Asleep”
Angel Olsen – “Forgiven / Forgotten”
Jungle Bodies – “Alpha 4”
Big Black Delta – “Side of the Road”
Speedy Ortiz – “Tiger Tank”
Protomartyr – “Ypsilanti”
Merchandise – “I locked the Door” (BBC Session)
David Bowie – “Where Are We Now”
Prince Innocence – “Golden Hour”
Milk Music – “Cruising With God”
Pleasure Industry – “Gurucide”
A$AP Ferg – “Hood Pope”
Midnight Juggernauts – “Ballad of the War Machine”
Les Sins – “Grind”
Ciara – “Body Party”
The Courtneys  – “90210”
Twin Shadow – “Old Love / New Love”
Destruction Unit – “Sonic Pearl”
Charli XCX – “Cloud Aura”
Mannequin Pussy – “Someone Like You”
Frankie Cosmos – “NYC is Cold”
Kanye West w/Justin Beiber & Raekwon – “Runaway Love”
Chelsea Wolfe – “The Warden”
Darkside – “Freak Go Home”
Empress of – “Realize You”

Squarehead – “What’s Wrong?”


Welcome to what was probably the most powerful rock band I had never heard of until this year. Shout out to fvckthemedia for debuting their incredible record, RESPECT, earlier this year.

10cc – “I’m Not in Love”

Right, so this beauty was released in May of 1975. But for whatever reason, this song HIT me this year. See, one thing I gave up in 2013 was living without wireless internet. Not a big deal, whatever. But I also acted on another strange vision –  a year without a significant relationship. Maybe that’s why this is making sense. I’m not trying to paint a stark picture of romance lost or bad love this year. I loved a lot this year. Ideas. Projects. Work. Even people, sometimes. But the idea of sharing my goals and reciprocating feelings with someone was not in my visions. I just needed to be me. So when I really listened to this song, like, really listened to this song, the soft production, the lyrics, the structure- the way the song softly breaks apart into an ocean of synths, piece by piece, before wafting into a cloud again – I fell in love.

Ceo – “Welcome to the Whorehouse”

My Bloody Valentine – “New You”

Priests – “Leave Me Alone”

Tei Shi – “M&Ms”


Pinky Swear – “When I Fall Asleep”

Angel Olson – “Forgiven / Forgotten”

Big Black Delta – “Side of the Road”

Protomartyr – No Passion, All Technique (technically released in late 2012, but didn’t receive fair publicity)

Merchandise – BBC Sessions + Totale Nite

My favorite song of 2012 was recorded by a band that did not have an actual drummer at the time. In late 2012, Merchandise was known for their dynamic live show of pounding on guitars over a thin, reverb soaked drum machine clanking through whatever sized PA they had the liberty of playing out of, whether it be in a living room or bar venue. The 2012 year saw them become a fuller band, though, with the addition of drummer Elsnor Nino. I had the fortune of booking them in McAllen twice this year, and both performances were different – this was a live situation that was captured and released as their BBC Sessions, and aptly portrays not only a band that has grown comfortable and organic with one another, but has evolved together. The track listed here is “Totale Nite”, but if one has the opportunity, please please please listen to “I Locked the Door” – specifically, the BBC recording. It couldn’t reflect a finer picture of what I’m trying my best to discuss.

Jungle Bodies – “Alpha 4”

Speedy Ortiz – “Tiger Tank”

David Bowie – The Next Day /  “Where Are We Now”

Prince Innocence – “Golden Hour”

Milk Music – “Cruising with God”

Pleasure Industry – June 2013 Demos – “Gurucide”

A$AP Ferg – “Hood Pope”

I have a distinct memory of being 9 years old, and riding in the back of an old 86 Chrysler with my older cousin at the time, cruising through the Southmost neighborhoods of Brownsville, TX. He liked to cruise, take me with him, and it only happened at night. He played Bone Thugs tapes relentlessly. Their sound stayed with me, and it’s an aesthetic I get out of A$AP Ferg. I know it’s potentially insulting to an artist to implicate a major influence, or even artistic derivation. But I’m not talking about what he, or this track, was going for. It just evokes it for me, and I think it’s smooth and on point.

Midnight Juggernauts – “Ballad of the War Machine”

Les Sins – “Grind”

Ciara – “Body Party”

The Courtneys – “90210”

Although the Memories and White Fang cancelled their show in McAllen this past November, I was still able to get something rad out of the artists: an introduction to the Gnar Tapes catalog. I discovered the Courtneys through Gnar, and have been hooked on their sharp blend of surf and pop since. Here’s to hoping 2014 finds the Courtneys making a trek through South Texas.

Twin Shadow – “Old Love / New Love”

Destruction Unit – “Sonic Pearl”

I can’t post this song without noting the formidable insanity that quells during a Destruction Unit show. I had the luck of locking them and Milk Music for a show in McAllen this past June, and I’m pretty sure the 100+ people in attendance left changed, bothered, disturbed, inspired that night. D-Unit put on 35 minutes of utter chaos- swinging guitars, kicked over tube amplifiers, and a closing that culminated with singer Ryan Rosseau grabbing at least three of the loosely hung light bulbs dangling over the concrete floor stage – with his teeth, and proceeding to, one by one, clamp each bulb in his mouth and chew, spitting blood and shards of glass before moving on to the next. The band didn’t even play “Sonic Pearl”, but the song in general captures the essence of what Destruction Unit has become as a recording band and a live show: saturated and disordered splendor.

Charli XCX – “Cloud Aura”

Mannequin Pussy – Gypsy Pervert – “Someone Like You”

I think Marisa DaBeast is one of the coolest people I’ve met this year, and she also happens to front one of the best punk bands on the planet that’s making music. The NYC trio is the epitome of a perfect, undiscovered power trip of potential. Their songs off Gypsy Pervert are abrasive, disheveled, raw, beautiful, and display a pure honesty. Pounce on this record.

Frankie Cosmos – “NYC is Cold”

I love this piece. I mean, I love every track on here. But the dynamic of this piece, the structure, the recording quality, the performance – it’s tender gold displayed in less than two minutes of sound. Cosmos begins the song with  9 seconds of ominouity (I made this word up) when she pairs a jagged, plastic guitar riff with the words “I did something bad; I don’t want to talk about it” – and then does exactly that – She immediately whimsies into a beautiful chorus with smokey, pinch high back up melodies, singing about New York City weather, falling in love, having a ‘crush in the brain’ – it’s a total, immediate lyrical and melodic contrast from the ominous opening and closing of the song – a lovely distraction that is structurally, and lyrically, fulfilled.

Kanye West, Raekwon, Justin Bieber – “Runaway Love (G.O.O.D. Friday remix)”

One of the aesthetic production elements of Kanye West’s sound I’ve always really appreciated is his usage of  high pitched vocal melodies that lead many of his tracks. For example, Michael Jackson’s stretched vocals of “Pretty Young Thing” in West’s “Good Life”, Chaka Khan’s pitched up vocals in “Through the Wire”, or  the even more recent controversial vocal sample in “Bound 2”. Many of the vocal artists that appear in these West tracks have one thing in common: they’re respected performers in the R&B and African American community. So it kind of blew my mind to find that West and Raekwon managed to capture this aesthetic with Justin fucking Bieber’s “Runaway Love” vocal track – looped over Wu-Tang’s “Ain’t Nothing to Fuck with” sample – WOW. Here is this heavy, old school hip hop Wu track, sprinkled with the pop glitter of Little Justin Bieber’s then baby angel voice- genius.  Thank you to Manny Montejano for showing me this track on our way up to Austin this December. If this song hadn’t come out OVER THREE YEARS AGO, it’d most likely be my favorite thing that came out this year. But it didn’t, so it gets listed here.

Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty  “The Warden”

This is my record of the year.

Darkside – “Freak Go Home”

Empress of – “Realize You”*

Lorely Rodriguez released a great EP earlier this year, but in my opinion, it was this song, sporadically released around Halloween, that represents her best, smartest, and most poetic gesture yet. The lyrics alone, when placed in stanzas, are in themselves powerful, but when pared with the syncopated rhythms and crystalline melodies, this song transcends most. Song of the year.

*pictured: Lorely Rodriguez / Empress of.

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