Top 10 Albums of 2013

The time of year has come again for me to make a list of the tunes that have dominated my speakers over the past year. Often my favorite albums correlate with the live shows I’ve seen, since I always try to intimately get to know a new album before I see a band perform it. Inevitably, there are two or three albums that dominate my waking hours and keep me from getting out there and listening to new stuff. This year, Rhye’s Woman, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor and Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories became the subjects of my obsession.

I’m getting ready to take a big, long vacation and it couldn’t come at a better time. For one, it’s freezing out and I’m escaping winter. Secondly, as my favorite sources of music news and reviews start to release their top 10 / 25 / 50 / 100 albums of the year, the list of albums I’ve somehow overlooked over the past year is growing and I get to refresh my iPod with tons of new music. So far on my list: Tennis, Grizzly Bear, Childish Gambino, M.I.A., Burial, Crystal Antlers, Volcano Choir and Juana Molina; these are the artists that will keep me company on planes, trains and beaches.

I was looking back on my favorite albums of 2012 and I realize that I’m still listening to those albums. My favorite albums of 2013 will no doubt remain on rotation, because a favorite album is one that you never tire of. Albums where after each play, you change your mind on which is your favorite track and each new listen has you noticing a different riff, new lyrics and new layers – these are worthy of being favorites.

Once again, in no particular order (because that is just a migraine waiting to happen), my top 10 albums of 2013:

2013 top 10

  1. Rhye – Woman
  2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
  3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
  4. Tegan & Sara – Hearthrob
  5. Arctic Monkeys – AM
  6. Haim – Days Are Gone
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
  8. Austra – Olympia
  9. Local Natives – Hummingbird
  10. Kid Cudi – Indicud

Fall Concerts

Summer is over and it’s nippy out. TIFF is done. Your summer holidays are now a distant memory. Wah Wah.

I know it’s tempting to divide up your week by TV shows. It’s tempting to run home after work and throw on your sweats and commence hibernation a bit early because the grey days make for grey moods. Please don’t! Take a dose of that vitamin D and take advantage of the exciting things going on.  This is prime touring season for your favorite bands, many of which have released new albums. We’ve also got a couple of new venues in the city with state-of-the-art sound systems that are begging for your attention (particularly: Adelaide Music Hall, Black Box Theatre, Montauk Bar).

The list of shows coming to town can be overwhelming for anyone. Below, my top recommendations and I promise there’s something for everyone from broody to danceable:

Austra. Sept. 27, Phoenix, $25. Their latest album has been on repeat in my home. Be prepared to dance and be mesmerized.

DIANA. Sept. 26, Great Hall, $10. This is what I would call their great launch. Fresh of the heels of opening for Tegan & Sara, you’ll never see them for $10 again, I promise you.

Local Natives / Wild Nothing. Sept. 21, Kool Haus, $29. My most anticipated show of the fall – two awesome bands on one bill. Wild Nothing haven’t been in town in ages (except maybe to film the video below featuring indie darling Michelle Williams riding the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls!), and Local Natives never disappoint live.

The Weeknd. Oct. 17, 19 & 20, Massey Hall, $45 – $75. As if he wasn’t able to seduce us with his lyrics and voice alone, Abel Tesfaye has got a 3-night engagement at the great Massey Hall. It should be just perfect. Hey, maybe hometown hero Drake will surprise us with an appearance to support his protege?

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AGO’s 1st Thursdays

I have longingly read about cool parties being thrown at famous art galleries like the MOMA (in NYC), the Art Institute of Chicago, and the LACMA (in LA) and truly pined for something similar to take place in Toronto. These events serve to engage a generation of young(ish) adults in art in new ways. Bringing together music, education, and art with themed events, these after hours parties allow the art-minded community to visit the galleries under new and unique parameters.

The ROM began a Friday Night Live event this past spring, but something about just wasn’t quite my cup of tea.  And then in October, the AGO launched its inaugural 1st Thursdays event. I attended the second event in November and you know what? It was THE most amazing night.  I had that incredible feeling of civic pride, mixed with warm fuzzies, splashed with a real sense of community and belonging.  Best yet, I felt this all under the roof of my favorite building in the city.

1st Thursdays is an art party extraordinaire with two installments under its belt, both to sold out crowds. Tickets are a mere $10 ($8 for members) and are available in advance on the AGO website.  Each month’s event has focused on one of the many exhibits on display at the gallery, along with a myriad of other activities and performances to suit any taste.

November’s 1st Thursday showcased contemporary photography and the 2012 Grange Prize winner was publicly announced.  All of the nominees were in attendance and their work was on display to be viewed. I had a great chat with this year’s winner, Jo Longhurst,  about being nominated and her upcoming 2-month stint as artist-in-residence in Toronto. She is quite excited to work in Toronto, a change from her native London, UK.

2012 Grange Prize winner, Jo Longhurst.

Musical guests DIANA, a newly-formed band from Toronto, played in the main atrium below the baroque stairs. Their sound was beautifully amplified in the big space and artwork specially curated for their set adorned the space around the stage. They can absolutely consider me a new fan & supporter.  After DIANA’s set, Katie Stelmanis, lead singer from one of my favorite bands of the moment Austra, took to the decks and DJ’d for the rest of the evening under mellow lighting.

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