I had to put some serious thought into my end-of-year music list this time, sorting through all the superb musical offerings of 2013. This is harder than it seems, because there is some amount of pressure to include the work of all the cool artists I have met and am friendly with and probably photographed, too. There's pressure to add in albums that a lot of other people like a lot, so you think you should join in. There's pressure to look at the measure of a "successful" album as one that sold a lot, or made a lot of noise in the press. And some of the records I would have loved to have loved (BRMC's "Specter At The Feast," Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"), I only just liked.

So in order to make this list of any real value to anyone else, I had to stick to just two simple criteria: 1. The album must be made up of all-new material, on a full-length 2013 release, and; 2. It had to make me feel something big, and draw me back into it over and over. That most of it ended up being music made by people I like is a delightful coincidence. My hope is that if you are unfamiliar with any of the artists or albums I mention here that you might take a minute to listen and enjoy, and maybe even put a few on your list to Santa or Satan or a Sultan or whomever is gonna bring you stuff! Music is the best thing, you know.


La Luz, "It's Alive" (Hardly Art)

Beach Day, "Trip Trap Attack" (Kanine)

These two bands could hardly be farther apart in the continental United States (Seattle and Hollywood, Florida, respectively) but they both share a deep love for the ageless and dreamy-cool reverb-'n-twang of the classic surf rock sound, nicely paired with a lil' "good-girl-gone-bad' vibe. Think Tura Satana fronting a supergroup made up of the Ventures and the Sonics and you got it. So go get it!

La Luz, "Brainwash"

Beach Day, "Boys"


Fuzz, S/T (In The Red)

Pony Time, "Go Find Your Own" (Per Se)

Thee Oh Sees, "Floating Coffin" (Castleface)

Sometimes you just need to JAM THE EFF OUT on something that fills your head with fuzz-filled oomph and rattles your chest so hard that you're lookin' for the earthquake exit sign, ya know? While you enjoy your headbanging, you can also dig some great songwriting in these three releases from our West Coast friends, with emotions ranging from high hilarity to the most somber and sad. Get your earplugs and a defibrillator ready and turn it UP.

Fuzz, "Fuzz's Fourth Dream"

Pony Time, "Go Find Your Own"

Thee Oh Sees, "Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster"


wimps, "Repeat," (End Of Time)

Dead Ghosts, "Can't Get No" (Burger) 

Bass Drum of Death, S/T (Innovative Leisure)

Imagine this: your folks are out of town for a long weekend, you've got a couple of cold kegs of Old Milwaukee, ten extra-large pepperoni pizzas with double cheese, all your buddies are on the way over, along with that totes hottie that everyone says is into you. The coolest, craziest bands are setting up on your oil-stained garage floor getting ready to play. This is the perfect evening, the perfectest that ever was. Until the cops come and the hottie breaks your toilet. But until then, you are a Golden Garage God.

That's the kind of pogo-party joy you get from these recordings. Bless them all. (PS. That's our Miss Eleven dancing her little heart out in the Bass Drum of Death video. The More You Know!)

wimps, "Nap"

Dead Ghosts, "On Your Own"

Bass Drum of Death, "I Wanna Be Forgotten"


Parquet Courts, "Light Up Gold" (What's Your Rupture)

Jacuzzi Boys, S/T (Hardly Art)

Mikal Cronin, "MCII" (Merge)

Now imagine this: after your garage party gets busted, your brainy second cousin, who has installed egg-carton soundproofing in her folks' rec room and a security cam at the end of the driveway, quietly gets everyone who isn't in jail to come over and keep the groove going. These are her picks for musical entertainment -- bands that are clever, funny, sincere, sweet, a little not-so-sweet at all, and with full proven abilities to blow the windows out when the coast is clear. Those attendees who wish to crowd surf and land on the pool table are able to do so, and the more reflective types can hang back and dig those nifty lyrics and singalong-worthy melodies.

Parquet Courts, "Borrowed Time"

Jacuzzi Boys, "Double Vision"

Mikal Cronin, "Change"


Kurt Vile, "Wakin' On A Pretty Daze" (Matador)

Washed Out, "Paracosm" (Sub Pop)

Jagwar Ma, "Howlin'" (Mom & Pop Music)

After all this non-stop rawkinroll fun, one needs to take a little break, and that's just as important: enjoying just sitting and listening to music can be as soul-refreshing as dancing yourself into a sweaty mess. I find these three recordings to be most conducive to mental productivity, thoughtful reflection, and genuine relaxation; a rare commodity, dontcha know.

Kurt Vile, "Never Run Away"

Washed Out, "All I Know"

Jagwar Ma, "Man I Need"


King Khan and the Shrines, "Idle No More" (Merge)

Ah, in a better world, this album would be the toppermost of the poppermost. What's not to like? A big dude dressed in royal jungle finery wearing an omnipresent necklace of donkey teeth, along with a manic bunch of super-sidemen bearing horns, organs, drums, and feisty guitars, playing top notch tunes is all you need to be happy. "Idle No More" is a mature, immaculately-produced album that you and everyone else you know should like a lot. I would not steer you wrong.

King Khan and the Shrines, "Born To Die" (live)


White Fence, "Cyclops Reap" (Castleface)

Deerhunter, "Monomania" (4AD)

Ty Segall, "Sleeper" (1-2-3-4 GO!)

I can't help but smile here, for once again three of my very favorite musical artists that I admire so greatly have produced some of my very favorite songs this year. Why these three albums out of so many excellent recordings? I will tell you.

Tim Presley's White Fence project continues to impress me mightily. Nobody working today combines elements of fantastical psychedelia, mid-'60s British pop whimsy, post-punk noise, and current-day West Coast garage buzz n' fuzz in such delicious layer-cake bites. Every time I listen to "Cyclops Reap" I hear something new that I missed the time before. I never get tired of it. Like, ever.

White Fence, "Pink Gorilla"

I like everything that Bradford Cox and Deerhunter have ever done, and can tell you that by looking at plays on my iTunes account, "Back To The Middle" from "Monomania" was my favorite song this year. Cox is just downright gifted in the way he seems to just know how to put a song together. You can take apart the elements and they seem simple enough...but you didn't think of it, did you? Nope. His love of a huge variety of music comes through loud and clear in his work. Lyrics are often stark and complex, and songs can range from spacey jams to Beatles-quality pop, and this all makes for music that connects your brain with your heart.

Since I have just said such nice things about Deerhunter, I am going to post the video I made rather than the official one because, frankly, I like it better.

Deerhunter, "Back To The Middle"

"Back To The Middle" - Deerhunter (2013) from Marianne Sp on Vimeo.

Ty Segall, the 26-year-old Californian known best for his mega-prolific, multi-band, multi-instrumentalist garage ways, has already made an appearance on this list, if you weren't aware of that fact -- he's a member of the thunderous Fuzz. But in addition to that, he recorded and toured acoustically behind "Sleeper" this year, an album written in the wake of his father's death from cancer and subsequent estrangement from his mother. Bringing traditional folk elements infused into a "White Album" haze of echo and flange, we hear him processing the unbearable -- anger, depression, defiance, grief, remembrance, and by the end, the beginnings of acceptance and strength in moving on. In the hands of a less-mature songwriter, the results could have been maudlin, yet the theme is controlled, utterly refusing self-pity while making us understand the depth of the loss. The album breaks your heart, but it doesn't leave you there -- it rises past pain and allows the music to act as a healing force.

It's a masterpiece, and is my pick of the year.

Ty Segall, "Sleeper"(live)