Guest Best Of: Starring Will Simpson (Dangerosa)

Y'all know that my Best Of 2013 is a little ways away (I promise, it'll be earlier than last year's roundup), but to get you in the end of year mood, I thought I'd ask a few musician friends for their picks for the best records of this year. I'm also nosy/curious, and just wanted to see what they'd choose. After all, as I said last year, a person's record selections say a lot about them.

It's no secret that I like it loud, and DC noisemakers Dangerosa certainly know how to lay it down all sorts of loud. Theirs is fabulous noisy psych-influenced clamor, with hauntingly witchy cooing to boot. The wonderful (and wonderfully tall) Will Simpson of said Dangerosa happily had plenty to say when asked about his 2013 favorites. Read on, friends, read on. You're about to see a really varied list (as well as a tie for #5!), and I like it. As an added bonus, Will created a Spotify playlist for all you Spotifying types. Enjoy! 

1. King Krule: 6 Feet Beneath the Moon
King Krule (aka Zoo Kid, aka Archy Miller) had me at hello. His self-titled EP has been in my heavy rotation since 2011, and I eagerly awaited 6 Feet Beneath the Moon once initial tracks began to leak out. King Krule dances that fine line of Sixties Staxx era soul, indie rock, and downtempo house with a voice and viewpoint that belie his moniker.

2. Deafheaven: Sunbather
If you are a long time indie rocker who has dabbled on the edge of metal during your share of road trips, this album will tug at you from many angles. Guitars are beautifully reverbed and layered with some of the most accessible screamed vocals ever. Laid over pulsing, bass heavy beats, think Gorgoroth meets My Bloody Valentine.

3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II
The first few bars UMO released grabbed me with their late 60’s guitar sound and repetitive but catchy songs. Their second album does not disappoint. Frontman Ruban Nielson weaves his unique vocals of over well placed finger picking -- a break from some of the distorted guitar found on the first record.

4. Ducktails: The Flower Lane
This solo project from Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile is a fun, trippy,psych-pop album, that is unafraid to flirt with the strange. A favorite track, "Planet Phrom," does just that, fantasizing about life on a new planet "with my alien wife."  I mean what else do you need (aside from some of the best sounding keyboard lines of 2013)?

5. Toro Y Moi: Anything in Return
Probably my favorite musical offering from South Carolina since Eric Bachmann wrote "South Carolina."  This album is a feel good dance party on a double vinyl that gets it full of energy, with samples that range from disco to house to sultry vocals. Definitely great for a Friday evening, whether heading out or chilling out.

5. Kurt Vile: Waking on a Pretty Daze
Some of the best written songs of the year. You can hear echoes of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed (R.I.P.). This album really takes the Kurt Vile sound -- at least in this particular project -- to the next level. Paired with purposeful solos over jangly guitars, the songs highlight Vile’s breathy vocal styling perfectly, while keeping just a touch of rock and roll attitude.

6. The Besnard Lakes: Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO
A couple years ago, my wife Avé (also Dangerosa’s lead singer and bassist), introduced me to this band from Canada with a sound that is both present and distant. With cascades of reverb and delay from husband and wife combo Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas have garnered two Polaris Prize nominations. In this album, The Besnard Lakes play up their atmospheric sound, plumbing their depths with an eight track album that washes from one track to the next.

7. Darwin Deez: Songs for Imaginative People
Slacker rock with a pop sensibility and guitar riffs that are just fuzzy enough to let you know this man has listened to some J. Mascis in his day. Gotta thank Chang, our guitarist, for this one.

8. The Appleseed Cast: Illumination Ritual
This mostly instrumental band from Lawrence, Kansas via Southern California brings a cornucopia of pedals and effects to their well crafted guitar riffs and intricate drum sounds. Yes, this list makes it clear that I dork out on pedals.

9. Chance The Rapper: Acid Rap; The Mixtape
There is just something about Chance’s flow. The way he can bring an energetic, fun point of view to tracks that reference everything from mainstream rap’s conspicuous consumerism to the growing rash of youth violence currently gripping his hometown of Chicago, to hashtag rap about more drug use than even Keith Richards could shake a stick at. With a mix of jazzy loops, rock rhythms, ragtime piano lines, shout outs to Tribe, and filter sweeps over 808 beats, the production buttresses the mixtape without getting in the way of the many lyricists who guest appear. Points for "Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)."

10. Still Corners: Strange Pleasures
This is one of the go to “electric relaxation” albums of the year. Like a warm bath in a moog with bubbles made of reverb with a touch of Cocteau Twins.

Honorable Mention: Small Black: Limits of Desire, Local Natives: Hummingbird, Doldrums: Lesser Evil, Foals: Holy Fire, Jagwar Ma: Howlin’, Suuns: Images Du Future, Javelin: Hi Beams, Dent May: Warm Blanket.


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