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The year in music

I’ve discovered tons of great music this year. Possibly the most exciting year since discovering Aphex Twin and Autechre in 2005. If that was the year of bleak British electronica, this has been the year of retro Canadian electropop.

It all started in January when economist Paul Krugman posted a track from Austra in his column. It was intriguing enough that I checked them out and ended up buying their album, and the lead singer’s previous solo album. Austra, a Canadian electropop band, is led by a singer of operatic power and intonation, and has echoes of Arvo Part.

These days, I follow artist I like through Twitter, to get updates on concerts and albums. Austra kept tweeting about another Canadian group, Grimes. Grimes turned out to be a one-girl act. She sings with a wispy voice and has a terrific ear and a charming lisp. I don’t think I’ve heard a track of hers that I flat-out disliked. Austra and Grimes played in a festival in Amsterdam in May, and of course there I went and listened and enjoyed.

Later in the year I came across Crystal Castles, really liked them, and found out they were also Canadian! Like Grimes, they had a new album out in 2012. Their music can be aggressive, and can have an Aphex quality of music for Martians. They also have some songs that can be lullaby-like or sound like they should be played in a church.

And then I found they were playing in Luxembourg! I’ve seen some pretty good concerts this year, but the Crystal Castles show left me euphoric. My friends and I kept looking at each other in disbelief of the relentlessness of the lead singer, and I was pumped with energy for a few hours after the concert.

The bar is high for 2013!

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