Top picks for 2013, Benji B's PrivateJam, St. Vincent and more in our weekly look at music


St. Vincent: Birth In Reverse

David Byrne’s beloved sidekick is back on her own after their whirlwind world tour, and St. Vincent has never sounded so fresh. Annie Clark’s self-titled St. Vincent album hits record stores 24 February, but fans got a sneak peek this week with “Birth In Reverse“—a fast-paced, slightly choppy song packing loads of guitar riffs alongside harmonious vocals delivering distinctly irreverent lyrics like, “Oh what an ordinary day / Take out the garbage, masturbate.” This musician can certainly shred and sing, and her deceptively delicate appearance only adds to her rockin’ appeal.


Glassmaps: You Never Called Me

Now a Berlin-based expat, Joel Stein left Australia behind in 2004 when he moved to London and joined his sister, Juanita Stein, and drummer Glenn Moule in forming the critically-acclaimed band Howling Bells. Highly influenced by UK pop and guitar music, there are hints of his current city mixed into his solo sound (recorded under the moniker Glassmaps), which incorporates Berlin’s rawness and German chamber music. His yet-to-be-titled, forthcoming album will release in 2014 but, for now, enjoy his new demo,
You Never Called Me.”


Joni Mitchell: Hejira

At the recent launch of RBMA’s new book “For the Record,” we caught up BBC Radio 1’s highly respected DJ and presenter Benji B. While Benji believes that if you like something, there should be no shame is people knowing it, he did let us in on his favorite #PrivateJam, an album which people might not expect him to enjoy so much. “The Hejira album is when she [Mitchell] hooks up with Jaco Pastorius and Wayne Shorter. Joni Mitchell is one of the greatest artists of the last 50 years—no one’s going to argue with that. For me, Joni is Prince-level. If you listen to an album like Blue, which is amazing folk songwriting, then add in the influence from people like Pastorius and Shorter and you get Hejira: For me and my kind of music taste, that’s the perfect marriage. It’s like soul music to me.”


NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2013

The words “national public radio” may make you think of the station you listen to in the car with your parents, but NPR is far from standard or predictable. Since launching its music programming in 2007, NPR has become a major voice for sophisticated listeners spanning all genres, with Bob Boilen’s “All Songs Considered” a weekly must. The non-profit has released an exciting list of their 50 Favorite Albums of 2013 this week, which can also be heard via the accompanying Spotify or Rdio playlists. Standouts include Rhye, DJ Koze, Haim, Blood Orange, Vampire Weekend and Pusha-T.


The Vinyl Factory: Top 100 Vinyl Releases of 2013

Every day this week the Vinyl Factory released a batch of 20 LPs, reissues, box-sets and first-pressings which have culminated in the discerning enterprises’s top vinyl releases for 2013. Be sure to check out the now-complete list (accented by a handsome illustration by François Lehérissier), which serves as much as a place for personal discovery as it does an intelligent musical compass. Highlights include William Onyeabor, Psychemagik, Digable Planets, The National, Thelonious Monk, Floating Points, Blludd Relations, Jeremy Deller and so many more. Get your record player out, this year of vinyl in review is a banger!

ListenUp is a Cool Hunting series published every Sunday that takes a deeper look at the music we tweeted about that week. Often we’ll include a musician or notable fan’s surprising personal interests—#PrivateJam exposes their musical guilty pleasure.