The Best Music of July 2013

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Best Music of July 2013

If these records could be aware they are competing for our admiration, July would be considered a hard fought month deserving of the athlete's axiom “they left it on the field.” Though it was the words of Week In Pop's Sjimon Gompers that ultimately helped us decide on the Best Album of July 2013. Gompers wrote, “cause hell, if you're gonna disband you go out with something that will keep 'em talking.”

He's right. The Mallard's Finding Meaning In Deference brought great sorrow. With its release a band hung the jersey into the rafters when it should have been the record that lifted them well beyond the hilly East Bay terrain and into international tours and festivals. Now we've got a pocket full of what ifs to dump out. And while, it stings now to hear such promise deferred, the legacy is in place for Greer McGettrick. If we don't praise it now, we're screwing ourselves out of a future in reunions and re-issues with b-sides, demos, live tapes, and bootlegs. McGettrick is denying the possibility of a reunion, but our hope is that it's much like a rapper's retirement or Jordan's decision to play baseball. Eventually she'll miss The Mallard enough, as time heals, to embrace the legend. Lofty predictions typically aren't our steez, but when the Castle Face Records store reads “out of print” beneath Finding Meaning In Deference, that's when the waiting game begins. It's up to us and you from there.

The Best Album of July 2013:

The Mallard are at their best on the tracks on which the darkness of the album collides with the contagious energy that marked the band’s live show. Namely, the fasterpaced “Decade” and the album’s noisy, hypnotic closer, “Iceberg.” With the sonic decay at the end of the album, The Mallard throws down the microphone and storms offstage. McGettrick says she doesn’t see a reunion in the future, but as this album gets around, maybe it becomes a case of Tom Sawyer attending his own funeral.

Read the full review here.

The Best Music of July 2013 (in no particular order):

Weekend, Jinx (Slumberland)

The record's genesis, "Mirrors" drifts along an angelic trade wind before settling into the post-punk chug of early Peter Hook-esque bass and the march of drums. Note those bells and whistles, folks. Weekend recorded Jinx with Monte Vallier, the same chap who handled the boards for Sports and the Red EP, but it's decidedly hi-fi, taming the caterwaul. That's not to say the deeper into Jinx we travel the noise won't greet us with a screeching wail we've come to expect, keeping those plugs at arm's length, but Weekend is not hiding in the feedback.

Read our weekend hang out with Weekend at Coney Island here.

Andrew Cedermark, Home Life (Underwater Peoples)

Cedermark's material betrays the trappings of home recording—done in upstate New York and New Jersey—and the sophistication of delicate production. This duality allows his sometime shabby, sometime Byzantine arrangements and structure to glow with a filtered and earnest warmth. Opener "On Me" hints at a bad joke about Bill Withers only to find Cedermark's shrouded, languid locals chasing a wilting guitar line around a lyrical portrait of the most depressing dollar beer night ever attended. Both singers prove correct: We all need someone to lean on, though Cedermark's universe is one of "solo trees and house, a snake in every garden, where nothing depends on anything anymore".

Read the full review here.

Live At Death By Audio 2012, Flexibook (Famous Class)

Famous Class, who are always doing it right, and Death By Audio, who never do it wrong, have paired up in one of the most excitingly packaged releases you're sure to find in the year 2013. Chronicling last year's phenomenal run at the Brooklyn venue known colloquially as DBA, Famous Class will issue a flexibook called Live At Death By Audio 2012 (simply titled but believe us, it covers a lot of ground). If the recording of Future Islands (one of our favorites) playing "Tin Man" is a testament to anything, it shows that this project of getting some live audio from the venue on tape was a great investment. It feels like we were really there. Though we probably were there.

Listen to Future Islands' "Tin Man" here and Thee Oh Sees' "Lupine Dominus" here.

Kirin J Callinan, Embracism (Terrible Records/XL Recordings)

The glue that binds Embracism, in its spacious industrial birthing tracks and its bellicose mewing and movement and flailing sadomasochism, is Callinan’s vocal tone, which never, ever falters. When it’s giving, he is the most generous singer of the past fifty years (as earnest as you always dreamed Frank Sinatra to be), and when he’s harsh and thankless, he acts accordingly by taking away all that is good and great.

Read the full review here.

Jonwayne, Cassette 3: The Marion Morrisson Mixtape, (Stones Throw)

Jonwayne and Jeff Jank did it again. The third edition to Jonwayne's Cassette series on Stones Throw has Jank designing the world's first analog iPod – sorta. Cassette 3: The Marion Morrison Mixtape is truer to the traditional mixtape formula, mixing exclusive material mostly produced by Jonwayne and freestyles over Pusha T's "Numbers on the Board" (appearing as "Numbers on the Hoard") and Madvillain's "Rhinestone Cowboy" (appearing as "Marion Morrison").

Listen to the full cassette here.

Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana (Carpark)

With singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis’s quirky, androgynous lilt – both tough and untouchable and more wry than the bread – Speedy Ortiz have been unavoidably compared to 90s superstars like Pavement and Liz Phair. But where some bands stitch together a hollow 90s-hero sound on little more than scraps of plaid and hints of hidden hurt, the Boston-by-way-of-Brooklyn foursome take the style of recent yesteryear and add the thing we most miss: some funny, fucked up shit.

Read the full review here.

The Memories, Love Is The Law (Burger Records)

Is there another band as impossibly charming as The Memories? Among the big reverb sea of lo-fi stoner-pop-surf-y-bedroom-punk-dreamgaze-swooncore-whatever bands, the Gnar Tapes bros are tossing their fitted caps into the ring for fuzzy buzzy band with their newest LP, Love Is The Law, on Burger Records.

Overall, Love Is The Law is a record for the moment: a hazy, fuzzy, funny, stoned moment but a charming lo-fi temporal vibe nonetheless. Boys just wanna have fun and even when it staggers, Law is a fun and easy record for dreams of endless summer.

Read the full review here.

Jeremiah Jae, Bad Jokes (Warp)

In true Jae fashion, the announcement of signing to Warp is complemented with more free jams. The Bad Jokes mixtape is 9-tracks of Jae's signature woozy-pastiche production, with minor assistance from Jonwayne, Flying Lotus, and Oliver the 2nd. While the tape is best heard – like most Jae things – in full, an early favorite is "Pervert" for Jae's extensive knowledge of Nickelodeon's Doug cartoon.

Stream Bad Jokes here.

Part Time, PDA (Mexican Summer)

Part Time’s latest, PDA contains tension between the album being a work of sounds, like earlier releases, and one of songs. It’s easy to review PDA’s sounds. But, such treatment of PDA would gloss over its character as a transitional record – one where Part Time’s urge to explore other sounds of the 1980s, beyond keys and gated drum sounds, coincides with an effort to write better songs.

Overall, PDA grooves and unravels like a smooth prom night. Even the least developed songs function as evocative atmospherics, but attentive listening reveals a band on the cusp of greater work.

Read the full review here.

Hunx & His Punx, Street Punk (Hardly Art)

Hunx & His Punx's new record, Street Punk, sees Hunx embarking on an early 70s journey into the bathroom of CBGBs, maybe never to be found again. With their first single, "Bad Skin", we saw what the new reincarnation of Hunx could do in under 1 minute, and now, by sharing "You Think You're Tough" with the world, we're getting a glimpse of what Shannon Shaw is adding to the melee. The new single makes a hybrid sound of The Clams doowoppy grooves and Hunx's foray into the scuzzy dens of iniquity that punk was birthed out of, and we're not messing around when we say it has a little bit of greaser to it.

Stream "Bad Skin" here and "You Think You're Tough" here.

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