Here is WLFY's list of our favorite music related things from 2013 (not including albums, tracks, videos, reissues, or live shows...those lists are coming this week). In previous years we also did a "best music writers/music blogs of the year"...but decided to combine that list with our "Best of The Year" list.
Here are the ten things that made our 2013 special:
Gold Robot Records
Gold Robot Records
For the last few years, Gold Robot Records has been one of the few music labels I'll order anything from before hearing a single second of music. With fantastic releases from Monster Rally, Young Hunting, Conveyor, Dim Peaks, and more...GRR is quickly becoming the best launching pad for talented bands currently flying under the radar. You can tell that GRR loves each of their releases and such a passion results in some of the most treasured vinyl each year.
Leave it to an online magazine run by a seventeen year prodigy (Tavi Gevinson) to be one of the most refreshing sources for new music and strong writing. Rookie was smart to hire one of the best music editors out there today, Jessica Hopper, and has brilliantly become a go to source for unique long form pieces, "theme songs", and quality curated tracks for stream/download. Rookie doesn't get bogged down in recycling hit grabbing news stories or posting for traffic, no, there is a love for the art form that shines through in every music post Rookie provides.
Blogs Take A Giant Leap Forward
If you have a music blog, I'm probably reading it. I'm obsessed with music blogs/music writing and try to keep up with all of them regardless of readership size. I've been following three music websites for years that took giant leaps forward in 2013 and went from being blogs to watch out for...to essential pieces of daily reading in the world of music journalism.
All Around Sound, The Creative Intersection, and Heart & Soul are all destinations filled with unique music writing and highly personalized selections of music. They pour everything they have into these websites and it results in music blogs where the reader is constantly rewarded with passionate takes on musical discovery.
All Around Sound
The Creative Intersection
Heart & Soul
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
This Big Star documentary will go down as the ultimate document (outside the albums themselves) for a very important band. There is not much to say outside: GO SEE THIS FILM. It's currently streaming on Netflix and is necessary viewing for anybody who loves music.
I love Sly Vinyl.
I hate Sly Vinyl.
These are my daily thoughts on Sly Vinyl, a website specializing on giving hot tips for upcoming limited releases on wax. It's also a place that will drain your bank account if you don't have any restraint (like myself), as almost every selection on the website will leave vinyl collectors drooling. With Sly Vinyl, gone are the days of missing out on a limited vinyl because you found out about it down the road. Let them be your wax guide, they won't let you down.
As someone who sits behind a computer writing most of his life, I listen to a lot of streaming radio. Being the Louisville homer that I am, I gave the upstart ARTxFM a chance and it quickly became my go to radio station. ARTxFM is a collection of unique radio shows ranging from experimental to African Safari to topical discussions.
The shows I recommend checking out to start (before becoming a 24/7 ARTxFM listener) are: Radio Spectre (The Decibel Tolls) TUE @ 10PM ET / Mind Crimes (member of Old Baby) FRI @ 7PM ET / and The Colorcast (member of Murals) TUE 11AM ET. Almost all the shows are worth your time, check out the schedule here: http://www.artxfm.com/schedule/.
If ARTxFM wasn't already great, Will Oldham himself hosted a show on the channel for a while and continues to pop in on some of the shows which is always a treat. ARTxFM should be bookmarked on every computer and get ready to have a whole new world of music enter your ears.
Aquarium Drunkard / The Needle Drop
This is the easiest write up of them all. Aquarium Drunkard and The Needle Drop are my two favorite music websites year in and year out. I couldn't live without either of these websites and the amount of knowledge/music I receive from both of them puts me in debt to these two for the rest of my life. These are the two websites WLFY looks to as motivation to be better and I can't go a day without clicking on these wonderful gifts of music journalism.
The Needle Drop
For years I've been wanting to see a website that allows musicians to review albums and The Talkhouse finally filled in that gap. With spectacular writing from Matthew Friedberger, Lou Reed, Annie Clark, Marnie Stern, and many more impressive artists; The Talkhouse gives a unique perspective to the art of critical thought. I've learned a lot from reading The Talkhouse and it's become one of the more satisfying music related daily reads out there.
Squirrel Thing Recordings
The most exciting record label going today. Squirrel Thing Recordings seems to be part record label and part sound archeologist. The label dug up what I consider to be the most important release in 2013 with recordings of Molly Drake (Nick Drake's mother) in a sweeping collection of heartbreaking parlour ballads. The label also brought to light Connie Converse, an artist who disappeared in 1974, leaving behind gorgeous folk songs given back to the world by Squirrel Thing Recordings. I'm not sure how the label will follow up its monumental importance in 2014, but everybody should be watching and listening for what they do next.
Hopscotch Music Festival
I'm creating a new rule for WLFY's "Best of ____" lists. For now on they will be from 10-2 because Hopscotch Music Festival will just continue to be the greatest thing related to music every year. Like most who know of its perfection, I'm almost afraid to gush too much at the risk of jinxing or ruining the best three days of music experiences one can be given. It's SXSW without the stress, corporate overwhelming smack across the face, and dare I say Raleigh, NC becomes the most special town in the world for this one weekend.
Perfectly curated with a blind ear to any buzz, specific genre, or anything else...Hopscotch Festival can turn the biggest music snob cynic into a carefree music lover once again. The word perfect is thrown around lightly all over the place (I misuse it all the time), but that's the only word to describe this dream of a music festival...PERFECT.