Catching Up on 2013: Foxygen, Ducktails, Dutch Uncles, and Grouper / by Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson

As I'm sure a small number of you have noticed, This City of Islands has been pretty useless for a month or so. In an effort to be less useless (which is proving a most Sisyphean task), I'm going to play a bit of catch up here before the releases of two albums I am rather excited for: Foals' third full length, Holy Fire (streaming on Brooklyn Vegan), out this Tuesday (or Monday if you're in Europe), and the new Beach Fossil's record, Clash the Truth, out 19 February.

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A number of fantastic albums have been released this year with very little clamor being raised by this site, Foxygen's We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic foremost among them. The record, especially the fantastic track "San Francisco," stirred in me the desire to create a Wes Anderson soundtrack-like mix for my girlfriend, with Foxygen more than adequately stepping into the empty spaces I was couldn't fill with Kinks songs (as Wes has already used most of my favorites). Beyond the Kinks comparison, I hear a lot of early Rolling Stones, too, and yet—like with Tame Impala—these period references are truly only reference points, with both bands easily stepping out of the shadows of their influences.

I've also been impressed with the new Ducktails effort, The Flower Lane, which, at its best, does a fantastic job mixing the dreampop elements of Real Estate (Matthew Mondanile's other job) and '90s indie rock (think No Knife, Polyvinyl Records, and so on). The title track sounds like a near-perfect fusion of Wild Nothing and Dear You-era Jawbreaker (and here I'm mostly thinking of the fantastic "Accident Prone").

Dutch Uncle's released a solid album, Out of Touch in the Wild, in January (yet Amazon is telling me the US release isn't until 2 April), which may go down as one of the year's most successfully adventurous albums. The record occasionally traverses territory shared with countrymen Foals and Wild Beasts, though Dutch Uncles claim even these avenues and alleyways as very much their own, and the detours never truly detract from their own talents and unique voice.

And just this last week Grouper released The Man Who Died in His Boat, the companion album to Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill, with some of the tracks that ended up on The Man Who Died... being conceived and recorded around the same time. The Man Who Died... is an eerie, spectral, and surprisingly warm album, even though it sounds like its being played through an old, dusty tape player in the middle of an abandoned opera house, eliciting all the emotions such a scenario could evoke. 

Prognosis so far: not bad, 2013. Not bad at all.