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Hello, friends!

As is our yearly tradition here, I hope all of you were “Down with the Christmas” this week, no matter what festive holiday you celebrate:

Stream: The Paybacks – “Down with the Christmas” (3:55)

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"I have no grievances to air, but I'd like to participate in the Feats of Strength!"

I decided to break this entry down into 3 components: the Jom Expansion Pack (25 albums that missed my Top 25 for whatever reason, mostly because a) they’re good albums that had a lot of playback value for me this year, but paled in comparison to my Top 25, and/or b) I totally missed these albums by a nautical mile and heard them way too late in the year to give them ample consideration for the staff year-end feature), my 5 favorite EPs this year, and then my Top 25 Albums of 2013.

In the Expansion Pack, the albums are in alphabetical order by artist name — if I tried to organize this into a Top 50, it’d be 2016 by the time I’ve figured it out (given my typical output, anyway). When cultivating the Jom Expansion Pack, I tried to not pick albums that already appeared on…


Sometimes I think the best and worst decision I’ve ever made was to become an obsessive music nerd, but what do I really have to show for it? A few hundred records dating from the sixties all the way up to today, three massive CD booklets, two terabyte hard-drives full of everything from top 40 pop to all but forgotten black metal cassette rips, and thousands of dollars in lost savings in the form of ticket stubs. I don’t regret a single second of it. But I must admit, being constantly inundated with new and unknown media almost every waking hour be it in the form of Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, emails, or friends texting me about what new records have leaked has done considerable damage to the way that I take in new music. It used to be you bought a record and over the course of hours, days, and weeks it would blossom and grow. That first impression was important but even the most off putting records usually revealed some sort of secret, even if I didn’t necessarily enjoy them right away. Hell, Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was a 4 year endeavor for me to finally see its genius. Now, though, I just don’t have the time to wait. It’s unfortunate and I hate it. Now those slow burners get tossed by the wayside. If it doesn’t hit immediately I move on to something else that does. Rarely does an album ever…


26. Shugo Takumaru: “Katachi”

25. Gaytheist: “Stomach Pains”

24. Kvelertak: “Bruane Brenn”

23. Beastwars: “Realms”

22. Ghost B.C.: “Year Zero”

21. Darwin Deez: “You Can’t Be My Girl”

20. Dope Body: “Leather Head”

19. Coliseum: “Doing Time”

18. Meshuggah: “I Am Colossus”

17. M.I.A.: “Bring The Noize”

16. MGMT: “Your Life Is A Lie”

15. Oliver Wilde: “Perrett’s Brook”

14. Lord Dying: “Dreams Of Mercy”

13. Fiona Apple: “Hot Knife”

12. Deville: “Lava”

11. Janelle Monae: “Q.U.E.E.N.”

10. Gassaffelstein: “Pursuit”

9. Queens of the Stone Age: “The Vampyre of Time and Memory”

8. Kirin J. Callinan: “Victoria M.”

7. Portal: “Curtain”

6. Alice In Chains: “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”

5. Arcade Fire: “Reflektor”

4. The Body: “The Ebb and Flow of Tides in a Sea of Ash”

3. The Dillinger Escape Plan: “When I Lost My Bet”

2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Sacrilege”

1. The Knife: “Full Of Fire”


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10. Jenny Hval – Innocence is Kinky

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Language is the issue at the heart of Innocence is Kinky: how it changes by dialect, accent, personality, interpretation. “The voice,” Jenny Hval posits on “The Seer”, the album’s closing track, “is a wordless tissue, the fog from Heart of Glass. Listen to the lips that feed you.” Who feeds you? For what are we listening? Why the fog from Werner Herzog’s Heart of Glass (an infamous little movie where the actors underwent hypnosis)? Hval will answer these questions, but only in the abstract; her aims are for provocation, surely, which is nothing especially new in this digital landscape. But more importantly, Hval means to steer the conversation onto itself, taking many folks to task for their role in the presentation of gender and sexuality in the public view, and does so by cultivating a new sound and appropriations of well-worn (now shimmering, damning) genre tropes.

Which is to say: man, this album rocks. Hval’s aim is unwieldy, rounding out delicate folk reminiscent of 2011’s more spacious Viscera with feedback scorched rock tunes treated with the same scope and fervor that marked that auspicious solo debut. Some songs find the head-turning meeting point between them, as one does in the standout “Is…


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30. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Whether unabashed optimist or sterling cynic, everybody can hear a bit of themselves in Pedestrian Verse. It’s a collection of solemn songs, and anybody who’s even vaguely familiar with Frightened Rabbit should have expected that from the minute they learnt of its existence. But this time around, it isn’t such a bad thing to be a downer– the beautiful thing about this record is that despite its dispirited undertones, it certainly has its own way of coping with things– constructive melancholia. Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison is no stranger to woe, but his lyrics have never embraced that as much as they do here. There’s no need for Hutchinson to pretend anymore– he’s too old for that. He can get away with singing “Let’s promise every girl we marry / We’ll always love them when we probably won’t” in opening track “Acts of Man,” because he’s including himself in the very demographic at which he’s scowling. Frightened Rabbit’s music has always been about breaking promises, if not forgetting about them entirely; it just seems that with Pedestrian Verse, the trick is accepting it’ll always be that way. –Jacob Royal

29. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
Best of 2013

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50. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Summoning have proven time and again that they are absolute masters of their craft, however small their niche may be. Not only are they arguably the best symphonic black metal band ever to play the genre, they take a concept that permeates black metal as a whole and do what nearly all others cannot: turn it into something that is alive and sentient. Old Mornings Dawn brings back the imagery of Middle-earth like only Summoning could, with massive tracks featuring their signature keyboard-laden soundscapes, lumbering guitar melodies, and echoing screams. It has been 7 years since we last heard from Summoning, but they continue to conjure dreams of Tolkien’s universe within our mind’s eye. –Kyle Ward

49. Vali – Skogslandskap

[Official Site] // [Spotify] // [Facebook]

Vali’s Skogslandskap is one of the most heartfelt and dainty records of 2013. Released at the end of August, just before autumn could start to raise its tenebrific head once more, it is a record that supremely fills the role of a loyal comrade…


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I still remember the first time I heard City of Ifa. I was in the car with my bandmate, and he was blasting Blue Shoes– and when the album transitioned into “The Human Atlas,” I was sold immediately. The track is post-hardcore that begins with the catchiness of pop-punk; complicated music that calms itself for its first minute before descending into instrumental chaos incarnate. It’s as if An Isle Ate Her decided, just momentarily, to stop writing the most complicated songs they could afford before harking back to their ways of havoc. This group is more melodic than that technical-metal outfit, though, recalling Thomas Erak’s work in The Fall Of Troy– how he’d write those tapped riffs that were impressive as hell, sure, but that also found a way into your head after a few spins.

Today marks the day that City of Ifa is finally streaming its self-titled album only four hours before its December 1 release date, and to call that a cause for celebration for the group’s fans would be an understatement. While the post-hardcore act (or at least more post-hardcore than any other genre label) has released some incredible music in its time, nothing has ever floored me at the end of the day. On a precursory glance, though, this record seems to possess all the necessary ingredients for success. Just by looking at the tracklisting (nope, I haven’t listened to this yet either,) this album looks more comprehensive than anything else…


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Sam Levin (synth bass), Timo Ellis (guitar, vocals), Dave Burnett (drums)

Describing the music of Brooklyn-based Netherlands is hardly an easy task. Erik Wunder (of Cobalt and Man’s Gin), who gets the credit for introducing me to these guys, defines their style as “hyper-noise-punk-electro-psychedelic-metal.” This seemingly convoluted tag oddly fits the outfit that doesn’t shy away from embracing divergent styles in a high-octane manner. The trio’s second full-length Silicon Vapor is one of the most invigorating rock records of the year, juxtaposing eccentric musical ideas with enticing melodies deeply ingrained in the rock tradition. These qualities are combined with extremely fuzzed-out tunings of instruments that certainly distinguish Netherlands from the pack. Here’s my interview with Timo Ellis, the trio’s frontman whose impressive resume includes collaborations with Yoko Ono, Melvins and John Zorn over his extensive 20-year career as a session musician.

What motivated you to form Netherlands?

I’d had a band called Bird Of Doom in the early 2000s. After its natural dissolution, I really wanted to maintain an outlet for my weirder rock inclinations!

Your music is rather difficult to pin down as you combine many different subgenres of rock, punk and even metal. How would you define your style?

I’ve made loads of dramatically different types of records besides the rock stuff. I think I’m up to 33 albums at this point: 17 LPs and 16 EPs. So, I think other styles of music end up naturally coming out a…


Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 5, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Alice Rose – each is a DREAM (Manual Music)
Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne (Epic)
Bryce Dessner & Kronos Quartet – Aheym (Anti Records)
Celine Dion – Loved Me Back to Life (Columbia)
Connan Mockasin – Caramel (Phantasy/Because Music)
Cut Copy – Free Your Mind (Loma Vista/Republic) – Rudy K.
DJ Rashad – Double Cup (Hyperdub)
Eden’s Curse – Symphony Of Sin (AFM Records)
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (Aftermath)
Guido – Moods Of Future Joy (Tectonic Recordings)
Hellogoodbye – Everything Is Debatable (Old Friends Records)
Howe Gelb – The Coincidentalist (New West)
James Blunt – Moon Landing (Atlantic)
Luscious Jackson – Magic Hour (City Song)
M.I.A. – Matangi (Interscope Records)
Melodic – Effra Parade (Epitaph)
Melvins – Tres Cabrones (10 Spot)
Midlake – Antiphon (ATO Records)
Scott Stapp – Proof Of Life (Wind-Up)
Sore Eros & Kurt Vile – Jamaica Plain (Care In The Community Records)
Steven Wilson – Drive Home (Kscope)
Stryper – No More Hell To Pay (Frontiers Records/Universal)
Submotion Orchestra – 1968 (Circus Records)
Weekend Nachos – Still (Relapse)
A Wilhelm Scream – Partycrasher (No Idea Records)

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Album Streams:

Avril Lavigne – Avril Lavigne

Bryce Dessner & Kronos Quartet – Aheym

Celine Dion – Loved Me Back To Life

Connan Mockasin – Caramel

Cut Copy – Free Your Mind

Eminem


Kim Pack (violin, vox), Christian Creek (bass), Rebecca Vernon (guitar, vox), Andy Patterson (drums), Sarah Pendleton (violin, vox)

There are enough qualities that distinguish Salt Lake City’s SubRosa from their doom metal brethren. Aside from ingeniously incorporating violins into their ultra-heavy sound, the quintet excels in songwriting that’s singular in its brutally honest depiction of tenebrous themes. Their new staggering full-length More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore) centers around the topic of Death and its numerous implications. Instead of alienating the listener with such a serious subject matter, the album manages to sound visceral throughout, delivering a series of expansive tunes that ebb and flow with admirable precision. Here’s my interview with the band’s charismatic mastermind, Rebecca Vernon.

What inspired you to be a musician? Were there any particular moments in your life when you thought that you couldn’t live without creating music or was the whole process of becoming a guitarist, singer and songwriter more fluid?

Music is my number one passion and has always been in my blood. There are times when I’ve been distracted by other things, but those periods never last long.

I started taking music lessons on violin at the age of 9, then learned piano and drums around age 12. I played these instruments in school orchestras and marching bands, and later, in college, real bands.

Becoming a guitarist, singer and songwriter, though, was very abrupt. I had wanted to start a band for about…


Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of October 22, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

AFI – Burials (Universal Republic) – Adam Thomas
Best Coast – Fade Away (Jewel City)
Brandy Clark – 12 Stories (Slate Creek Records)
Cage – Kill The Architect (Eastern Conference)
Dead Gaze – Brain Holiday (Fat Cat Records)
Def Leppard -Viva! Hysteria (Frontiers Records)
Drop Electric – Waking Up To The Fire  (Lefse Records)
Emphatic – Another Life (Caroline (Universal)
Hell – The Age Of Nefarious (Nuclear Blast)
Katy Perry – Prism (Capitol Records)
Linda Thompson – Won’t Be Long Now (Pettifer Sounds)
Lita Ford – Bitch Is Back (Steamhammer/SPV)
Meek Is Murder – Everything Is Awesome Nothing Matters (Meek Is Murder/MetalSucks)
MEN – Labor (Men Make Music)
Metal Church – Generation Nothing (Rat Pak Records0
Motorhead – Aftershock (UDR)
NOIR – Darkly Near (Metropolis Records)
Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu (Ribbon Records)
Poliça- Shulamith (Mom & Pop Music)
Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips (Last Gang Records)
The Strumbellas – We Still Move On Dance Floors (Six Shooter Records)
The Twilight Garden – Reconcile (Metropolis Records)

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Album Streams:

Beast Coast – Fade Away

Brandy Clark – 12 Stories

Dead Gaze – Brain Holiday

Katy Perry – Prism

MEN – Labor

Motorhead – Aftershock

Omar Souleyman – Wen Wenu

Poliça- Shulamith

Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips

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SputnikMusic’s Most Played Artists of the Week (according to Last.FM):

Staff :


Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of October 15, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Anberlin – Devotion (Big3 Records)
Anneke Van Giersbergen – Drive (Inside Out US)
The Avett Brothers – Magpie And The Dandelion (American Recordings)
Beats Antique – A Thousand Faces: Act 1 (10 Spot)
Black Milk – No Poison, No Paradise (Fat Beats Records)
Bloc Party – Tapes (Retrofit/!k7)
Boardwalk – Boardwalk (Stones Throw)
Cass McCombs – Big Wheels And Others (Domino)
Courtesy Drop – Songs To Drive To; Cray And Make Love To (Animal Style Records)
Crystal Antlers – Nothing Is Real (Innovative Leisure)
Cults – Static (Columbia)Rudy K.
Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood (Nuclear Blast US)
Diane Birch – Speak A Little Louder (S-Curve Records)
The Dismemberment Plan – Uncanney Valley (Partisan Records)Adam Downer
Doomriders – Grand Blood (Deathwish Inc.)
Ereb Altor – Fire Meets Ice (Cyclone Empire)
Fall Out Boy – Pax AM Days (Island Records)
Field Study – Feverland (Nine Mile Records)
Friendzone – DX (Self released/Bandcamp)
Gary Numan – Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) (10 Spot)
Gavin DeGraw – Make A Move (RCA)
The Head And The Heart – Let’s Be Still (Sub Pop)
Heavenly Beat – Prominence (Captured Tracks)
I Am King – Onehundred (Rise Records)
Icon For Hire – Icon For Hire (Tooth & Nail Records)
James Ferraro –…


Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of September 24, 2013. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Andrew St James – Doldrums (Fortune Records)
Au Revoir Simone – Move In Spectrums (Instant Records)
Audio – Bag Of Bones (Blackout Records)
Bleach Blonde – Starving Artist  (Rise Records)
Buried Beds – In Spirit (Devinyl Records)
Cher – Closer To The Truth (Warner Bros.)
Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe (Glassnote)Eli Kleman
Deals Death – Point Zero Solution (Spinefarm)
Deer Tick – Negativity (Partisan Records)
Drake – Nothing Was The Same (Cash Money) – Adam Thomas
Elton John – The Diving Board (Capitol Records/Universal)
Frankie Rose – Herein Wild (Fat Possum Records)
Ghostpoet – Some Say I So I Say Light (Play It Again Sam)
Gov’t Mule – Shout! (Blue Note/Universal)
Ha Ha Tonka – Lessons (Bloodshot Records)
Huerco S. – Collonial Patterns (Software)
Icona Pop – This Is… Icona Pop (Big Beat/WEA)
The Internet – Feel Good (Odd Future)
INVSN – INVSN (Razor & Tie)
Jesu – Every Day I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came (Shellshock)
Kelley Stoltz – Double Exposure (Third Man Records)
Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull (RCA)
Lovers – A Friend In The World (Badman Records)
Matthew Good – Arrows Of Desire (Frostbyte) – Irving Tan
Mazzy Star – Seasons Of Your Day (Rhymes Of


As the clock ticks down to the release of her sophomore record (Nocturnal; due Oct 29th on Verve), the next milestone in what has been an absolutely phenomenal year for Ms Yunalis Mat Zara’ai, the pint-sized Subang Jaya native must be feeling that life simply can’t get much better than this. And who can blame her? Just a few years ago the Universiti Teknologi MARA graduate was still playing to tiny audiences for free at humble acoustic venues in the margins of her home city. Yet, earlier this month she did no less than perform for four sold-out nights at Kuala Lumpur’s Istana Budaya, the Malaysian equivalent of London’s Royal Albert Hall. Were you to plot this on a time-based graph, the resulting curve would probably appear asymptotic.

Yuna’s decision to uproot herself to the United States, effectively the introductory chapter to her spellbinding rags-to-riches tale, has been a journey of wonders thus far. Having released her excellent debut album stateside under the Fader label (whose representatives flew all the way to Malaysia to convince her to sign for them), the Malaysian lass appeared on the radar of world-renown producer David Foster and was subsequently signed to his Verve Music Group – the same label that plays host to the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, and Carla Bruni. Her star shone brighter still when she was contracted to perform both a cover of The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” for Oliver…


Wo Fat are one of the most acclaimed stoner rock acts today. The Texas-based trio have rapidly risen to the forefront of the genre, blending fat, fuzzed-out riffs with hints of psychedelia and Southern rock flavors. The success of their latest effort, The Black Code, allowed the band to reach a wider audience, touring Europe for the first time. Amid a busy schedule, guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump found time to answer a couple of questions for SputnikMusic.

For those unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe it in a few words?

Basically speaking, our music is heavy, riff based, and blues influenced, but one thing that is a very important part of our music is the balance that we have between structured riffing and song writing on the one hand and improvisation and jamming on the other. Both things are important to us and we try to strike a balance between them. We also really believe in the importance of the groove, and, above all, we try to make music that grooves and feels organic and earthy.  I think that some heavy music has lost that important primal element of funkiness and groove that  originally came from the blues, and, which was really also a key part of the early days of heavy rock and metal. Listen to early Sabbath and it’s inescapable. That’s the roots of it all, and we try to keep that tradition going in our music.

I’m always curious to hear how others describe our…


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