Mark’s Top Five of 2013

Time to once again tap into my inner Cusack and reveal my Top Five Albums of 2013.

5. Antiphon by Midlake

After the departure of lead vocalist and founding member Tim Smith, Midlake has been born again with a much more powerful sound reminiscent of Mercury Rev and The Flaming Lips. I saw them when they came through town and they were amazing. Here is the title track.

4. State-by Todd Rundgren

The wizard returns to original material with a true gem that works nicely as a companion piece to his 2004 release, Liars. Vintage Todd!

3. The Next Day by David Bowie

Seriously, WTF happened to David Bowie? He vanishes for 10 years and then makes one of the best albums of his career. With the January release, I truly got to enjoy it all year. There isn’t a bad track on the whole LP. Here is one of my favorite tracks

2. AM by Arctic Monkeys

The lads from Sheffield can’t seem to make a bad record. NME made it their album of the year and graced it with a rare 10 out of 10. AM is more laid back than their previous records but still packs a wallop lyrically. Alex and his stories…

Here is a live version of the first single, “Do I Wanna Know?”

1. San Cisco by San Cisco

The best album of 2013 belongs to Fremantle, Western Australia’s San Cisco. Much of their music was released late last year but they didn’t secure a record deal here until early this year. I have played this disc so much that it is nearly worn out. My 14 year old daughter loves it and can’t get enough of all the catchy pop hooks and down under bliss. Parts of it remind me of the 80s but yet it still sounds very fresh. I’d urge you to check out all their EPs as they have many tracks not on the album.

Here is the track that helped them get a US record deal.

Happy 2013 everyone!

Creating Nostalgia: Midlake at the Cedar Cultural Center

That’s one amazing thing about music, the way it enters people’s worlds to become part of the soundtrack of their lives–Tom Petty, 2009

I agree completely. In fact, I think it goes even further. What if you hear a band that reminds you of a time in your life long before the band was releasing music? That’s just how I felt the first time I heard Midlake.

I had read about the Denton, Texas band in (of course) NME back in 2006. They were raving about the album Trials Of Van Occupanther, specifically the track “Roscoe.” I listened to it, downloaded the track immediately, and ordered the album from Amazon. The memories it brought back made me that impulsive.

My mind was instantly transported to the late 70’s and my old Realistic radio next to my bed. I had a tiny record player before that when I was four years old but really hadn’t had my own stereo. I listened to my dad’s or my stepdad’s stereo which, with their extensive record collections, was amazing.

Still, I always enjoyed those alone moments with my crappy AM radio…listening to WLS in Chicago…going through puberty…becoming a young man….having whatever the DJ played be the soundtrack to my life. One band I heard quite a bit over the airwaves back then was Fleetwood Mac. The sounds, feelings and texture of Midlake connected me right away to Fleetwood Mac and that exact moment in time…just as Tom Petty describes above.

I missed them when they came through on the Van Occupanther tour so when my friend Brian told me they were coming back, I grabbed the extra ticket that he had. They were playing at the Cedar Cultural Center – a mellow 70’s hippie band for a mellow 70’s hippie venue…combined with that junior varsity gymnasium feel which also contributes to that 70’s aura. I had seen White Rabbits there so I knew that the whole vibe would be insanely mellow. And perfect.

The band played a fantastic set, drawing from their new record, The Courage Of Others, as well as Van Occupanther. Every song was instantly transformative and transporting. I felt like I wasn’t really there at all. It was 1977…I was 10 years old…I had just seen Star Wars for the 7th time…and a whole world of great music was opening up to me and became the soundtrack to my life. Yet, the music was from thirty years later. Why is that?

Think about the answer for a moment. And that would be why I love music.

Check out the band on the remainder of their tour.