The Best Music of January 2013

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Parquet Courts

We've long accepted the money is back in DIY/indie. With a decade of independence behind us, we've ordered the Ouroboros tail and thought, “hmm tastes like 2004”. Hell, we hear the faint whispers of you calling us a bunch'a sellout bitches with our Samsung Galaxy II Note ads (Best phone on the market, hands down. Buy three.). Our ears are burning so something ain't right.

When the cycle comes back around, fears creep in as you recall how it all went wrong before and anticipate the same mistakes reborn. What we don't recall from the previous era of bankrolls, was mid-level indies behaving like sharks with a trail of healthy suckfish living along the feeding chain. Is having Captured Tracks and What's Your Rupture? eyeballing a tape label's roster good for business? Will all parties eat from the re-release or is the big fish assuring the suckfish it will be fine with its 200 tape pressing going out of print? Street cred for being first does not put bread on the table, of this we are painfully familiar.

Parquet Courts' Light Up Gold is being lauded as the early bird in best debuts of the year, a mistake we've printed as well, despite its initial release on Dull Tools in August 2012 and the band's actual debut being American Specialties via Night Moves. There's a danger in calling Light Up Gold the debut. Are we giving all the credit to What's Your Rupture? for having the team that pulled Parquet Courts out of bedroom label obscurity? Will it deter record buyers from the original source, which is still pressing the album? Little is known of Dull Tools. It could very well be run by Parquet Courts and their collective Denton friends in bands like Teenage Cool Kids and Wiccans. Perhaps the original pressing of Light Up Gold was chum to begin with and there were no contract issues to be squared, just more bread for everybody. You hope its fair, but then you think about Q-tip's Industry Rule #4080 and concern lingers.

The January 2013 release of Light Up Gold is the third pressing. We feel it only appropriate to direct you to both the Dull Tools purchase page and the What's Your Rupture? purchase page. The choice is now yours.

The Best Album of January 2013:

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

Texas transplants and Fergus & Geronimo members Austin Brown and Andrew Savage have brought the Big Apple something better than the straw stuck to the bottom of their boots. As Parquet Courts, Brown and Savage’s quick-shot punk rock, shaken with something smoother, combines one-liner, perfectly timed humor with thoughtfully poetic wordplay and an unromantic but sincere straightforwardness. The band’s first full-length album, Light Up Gold, is rough, inspiring, and fucking hilarious – packed with tunes that are exuberant and strangely, provocatively insightful.While Savage navigates heavy ideas and ridiculous bits with natural ease, part of Parquet Courts’ charm is their ability to make their points quick, never over-indulging in a particularly golden nugget. Most songs hover around a minute, and Savage’s words can never fall too deep into introspection, even in bottom-dwelling tunes like “Borrowed Time,” since they’re kept at a party-hard pace by Brown, Max, and bassist Sean Yeaton.

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

Widowspeak, Almanac (Captured Tracks)

Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas take their dream journal songs to a century old barn off of New York's Hudson river with recording assistance from Kevin McMahon. Some things happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and some come only with the most careful attention and concentrated, purposeful dedication. Widowspeak’s sophomore album, Almanac, is definitely the latter.

Jeremiah Jae, Black Jungle Radio series (self-released)

Jeremiah Jae handles all the honors on “The Fonz”, flipping a fuzz-toned sample that pains me to not recognize. “The Fonz” has a sinister sound that beckons the nastiest of bars and Jae responds with “my face smirking like the Grinch” and plenty of cocktales about turning out chicks to make Too Short tip his hat.

Milo, Things That Happen At Day // Things That Happen At Night double EP (Hellfyre Club)

Anticon might have told Milo to C&D after Milo Takes Baths, but his rapper friendships with Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle earned him a contract with Nocando's LA imprint Hellfyre Club. He brought a doozy to his first official record by piecing together a double EP produced entirely by Analog(ue) Tape Dispenser and Riley Lake that assesses the scale's tilt between the things that happen at night versus the things that happen at day[sic].

Rebel Kind, Some Things Were Just Meant To Change (self-released)

Rebel Kind is the solo project of Autumn Wetli, singer and drummer of Ann Arbor’s Bad Indians. On her new cassette release, Some Things Were Just Meant to Change, recorded by band mate Jules Nehring, Wetli drifts away from Bad Indians’ rough-edged rock in favor of a soft, breezy sound that hides a devil-got-this-woman darkness.

Super-Helpful, self-titled EP (self-released)

While you spent Thanksgiving weekend unbuckling your belt, collapsing into a sofa and falling deep into a tryptophan-induced coma, a new rap group was forming and recording its debut record on a whim. Chuck Strangers, Kwame, and Lee Bannon were kicking it in a home studio deep in work-mode, piecing together their group Super-Helpful.

Young Fathers, Tape One (Anticon)

From remnants of memory and shared cultural heritages, the causes for family, identity, self-esteem, love, and parenting new musical fusions without borders serve as the Young Fathers’ conscious mission.

Le1f, Fly Zone mixtape (Greedhead)

Heavy 808's, lofty synthesizers, and thundering basses are at the the core of the Fly Zone. Le1f's frothy voice spits out swift lyrics, many of which relate to the aeronautical theme of the mixtape. But why runways and airplanes? Perhaps it has something to do with the notion of taking off and rising above the worn out conventions of mainstream rap. As we prepare for departure, please fasten your seat belts, return your tray tables and seat backs to their full upright positions, and let Le1f take you high.

Hilly Eye, Reasons To Live (Don Giovanni)

With only drums, guitar, and two able-bodied women, Hilly Eye fight big battles in their debut album, shooting stars with silver swords and waging wars between heaven and earth, darkness and light.

Thee Open Sex, self-titled (Magnetic South)

Apache Dropout mentioning a “sister band” on one of its social media outlets is all the introduction we needed to give Thee Open Sex a listen, but we won't front like the name didn't lend encouragement. Bloomington strikes us as a rad Midwest college town that most likely breeds killer garage bands that dissolve in under four years, while one might stick comprised of post-grads and dropouts who became townies. Eventually, interests beyond garage begin to stick and a band willing to call itself “Amon D