Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review

It is that time of year again...time for me to reflect on the outgoing year whether it was good or bad. Music-wise, 2013 was a great year. That is if you get past a certain ditzy pop star and her public shenanigans (whom I refuse to mention her name on my blog) in an attempt to shed her child star image and make that transition into adulthood.

I don't know if I can say 2013 was the best year ever for music. That would really be stretching things a bit for me. To be blunt, there were quite a few disappointments this year, more so than in previous years. I was really unimpressed with the new albums by The Civil Wars (whose two members are experiencing their own civil war with each other), Covenant, VNV Nation, Lady Gaga, and Skinny Puppy to just name a few. But for every disappointing album, there is more albums that I heard this year that I do love. Tales of Us by Goldfrapp, Autumn Ruins by Blume,  The Bones of What We Believe by Chvrches, and Kamikakushi by MergingMoon is evidence just how good 2013 was good for music.

Discovered quite a few new bands this year especially from Japan. The thrash metal band MergingMoon was the first of a handful of Japanese underground bands that I discovered. Of all places, I had heard about them via the idiot box (i.e television). Then there is the cyberpunk band Baal who has a debut album coming out on Metropolis Records thanks to Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy. They even came to the US (Los Angeles I believe) to play a show. Other bands I should mention is 2 Bullet, Psydoll, and Valkilly.

Asides from those bands, this year for me was the year of Noblesse Oblige. I believe it was the Absolute Grrrls Manifesto Chapter One compilation that was my first introduction to the band. When I first heard their track "The Great Electrifier", I could have sworn I was listening to Kirlian Camera set to dance beats. When the video for "Runaway" came out soon after I had gotten the Alfa Matrix compilation, I knew this German/Parisian duo was going to be my favorite find of 2013 (like Future Perfect was for me in 2012). While a lot of people in the scene are listening to the more recognizable bands, I am trying to break out of that rut and really push bands who aren't as recognizable like Noblesse Oblige. Other faves includes: Junksista (their lyrics cracks me up and I adore the way Diana delivers the lyrics, she has such a distinct manner in which she sings that makes her stands out from a lot of singers today), and Mr.Kitty (a young but really talented guy from Texas).

Concert-wise: 2013 definitely was a great year for concerts. I went to a lot of local shows as well as national shows. There are three local bands that I am keeping my eye out on...Absynthe of Faith (who was formed in 2007 but just started seeing them live this year) and Promidal. Promidal is easily my current favorite local band. They have such a visual presence and sound that sticks with the audience members. I find their live shows highly entertaining. Absynthe of Faith has really grown a lot on me since I first saw them live at Club Underground earlier this year. They keep getting better with every live show I have seen. Finally there is F.T.C. At the moment, Jesse has had to deal with stuff going on in his personal life so F.T.C is temporarily on hold but from what I have heard, F.T.C's music is quite good. I definitely can hear a bit of FLA in F.T.C's music. Can't wait to see F.T.C live again.

As far as big named concerts I have attended this year, I have to say my favorites are (in this particular order): Ego Likeness, Garbage, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah Brightman, The Foreign Resort with The Bellwether Syndicate (I even had the privilege to interview The Foreign Resort for my blog before the concert), and Project Pitchfork with Ayria. I dug The Azoic's set when they came to town as opening act for Combichrist but I didn't enjoy Combichrist's set so much no thanks to the rowdiness of the younger fans. That bump on my head I got from a fan's elbow was so NOT my favorite highlight of 2013, nor was being nearly knocked down to the floor (reminded me of the time when I got slammed into some poor woman by some drunk ass morons at the Faith and the Muse show in 2009).

2013 is the year I started get back into heavy metal music. Well some of it anyways. I already went through MergingMoon on a few occasions here so I won't bore ya with them again ;). Really digging the live concert CD/DVD of Showtime,Storytime by Nightwish. Floor Jansen is just what the band really needed in the post-Tarja era. Anette just didn't do anything for me but I love what Floor Jansen brings to the table as the band's new singer. I am also loving the new Tristania album Darkest Whites. Never thought I would like that band but I do now. I started listening to them after hearing "Year of the Rat" on the Absolute Grrrls Manifesto compilation. I know this band is pretty cheesy in their heyday but I love Vixen. Started listening to them again after hearing the awful news that the band's founder Jan Kuehnemund passed away, for the first time in about 20 years. Loved their first two albums as a teenager, and now as an adult, I find that I still love them to this very day.

While 2013 was not totally perfect, it certainly proved to be an interesting and compelling year for music for this music junkie. I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring both albums-wise and concerts-wise. I have posted links to some of the bands I have mentioned here on my blog. Please do check them out.


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