You know about Spotify. Of course you do. Within a couple years of launching in the USA, the streaming music service has fully ingratiated itself into our culture, and it’s easy to see why. Spotify offers such an impressive and exhaustive range of artists and albums at a range of costs that goes from affordable to completely free.
We’ve sung the praises of Spotify elsewhere on this blog, but we’re such big fans of the service that we figured it was a worthy time for a reminder. Also, we’re just about at the halfway point of 2013, and obsessives that we are, we never miss an opportunity to make a good ol’ fashioned best-of list.
So read on if you want to know how to access Spotify from anywhere (including your television) and are curious about what albums have been blasting through the FlashRouters offices all year.
Use VPNs to Listen to Spotify from Anywhere!
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Unfortunately for some of our European, Asian, African, North, South, and Central American friends, Spotify still has a long way to go before it’s available all over the globe. So what do you do if you’re out of the country on vacation or business and you want to stream some of your favorite albums?
Well, the answer is simple: just subscribe to a VPN service. A VPN service, or Virtual Private Network service, is a subscription-based company devoted to keeping your online identity secure. By logging into a VPN, you’re taking your online information and tunneling it through a secure server in any country of your choosing. This keeps your e-mails, file transfers, credit card info, etc. from being accessible to malevolent forces such as hackers and identity thieves.
As far as Spotify is concerned, if you’re in a country like Canada or Egypt that does not have access to the streaming service, just log into your VPN and choose a server in the US or the UK (or any country that does have Spotify access). By logging into one of those servers, you can change your IP address, effectively trick your computer into thinking that it’s in an entirely different county and allowing you access to regionally restricted material from anywhere!
Popular VPNs for US or UK IP addresses (and many others) include those shown above and others. FlashRouters also offers a new VPN provider comparison list to help you find the VPN that best suits your needs.
Listen to Spotify Through Your TV With a Roku
For those of you who are content to just enjoy Spotify from the comforts of your house, FlashRouters has ways of making that experience even more enjoyable.
In case you weren’t aware, Roku has added a Spotify channel. This means that Roku owners can stream any album they want from Spotify through their TV, provided that they are premium Spotify members. Experience some of the best albums of this year (and any other, really) through your television’s sound system, and keep an enormous catalog of music at hand as you entertain guests!
The Best Albums of 2013 (So Far) Available on Spotify
Before we get started, I have plenty of caveats: I still haven’t heard Yeezus, nor The National’s Trouble Will Find Me, nor Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, nor Savages’ Silence Yourself, nor Deafhaven’s Sunbather.
I’ve only recently heard Boards of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest, and only once at that. Same story with Four Tet’s Pink and The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual. Mikal Cronin’s infectious MCII is still too new for me to put it on this list. I need more time with Disclosure’s superhuman and slick Settle, Youth Lagoon’s polychromatic Wondrous Bughouse, and Dungeonesse’s funky self-titled debut.
I can feel my opinion on Queens of the Stone Age’s surprisingly (and relatively) gentle …Like Clockwork slowly change from mild disappointment to genuine appreciation, but I still need more time before it lands here. And, of course, there’s a latter half of this year to anticipate, with new albums from longtime favorites like Califone, Neko Case, and El-P & Killer Mike (collectively known as “Run the Jewels”) ready to steal a few slots on best-of lists.
Anyway, now that I’ve apologized this list into oblivion, please enjoy and let us know what albums have been doing it for you this year in the comments below.
10. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Colin Stetson, that freakishly talented, monster-of-saxophone, brings his ominous, ambient-doom New History Warfare trilogy to a gorgeous, unsettling close with the help of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and shadow-conducting producer Ben Frost.
9. Deerhunter – Monomania
The unhinged nastiness of Monomania is almost too perfectly aligned with Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox’s newfound obsession with being as “punk” as possible. At it’s worst, Monomania betrays the image-obsessed nature of its creator.
But it’s a tribute to the tremendous talent of Cox and Deerhunter that Monomania succeeds despite the somewhat childish vanity that inspires much of it. It may seem silly to crow about your punk credentials in this day and age, but there’s no denying the righteous squalling scuzz of “Leather Jacket II”, and when you have gorgeous pop songs like “The Missing” and “Dream Captain” around, the grime goes down easy.
8. Snowden – No One In Control
Snowden sure took their sweet time releasing album number two. Issues of all stripes kept Jordan Jeffares from following up the intense Anti Anti for six years, a time long enough to cool whatever heat had been building up around his band.
Waiting and waiting to get No One In Control out must have provided a serious lesson in patience, and it shows all over the record. The songs on No One In Control don’t so much begin and end as they drift in and drift out, and the rollicking drums of Anti Anti are all but eschewed entirely, leaving behind sheets of ethereal distortion and distant vocals. It’s a shimmering gem of a record, and one that deserves considerably more attention than it has received.
7. Low – The Invisible Way
What has always worked for Low continues to work for them on The Invisible Way, an album imbued with the band’s trademark hushed beauty. Jeff Tweedy’s careful, almost reverential approach to production duties perfectly complement’s the band’s sweet, depressive folk, giving an otherworldly glow to an album that could have just as easily been a giant bummer.
6. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Phosphorescent may have seemed under-appreciated to those who knew about them prior to the release of their recent breakthrough record, but really, Muchacho is the right album to take Phosphorescent to the next level of popularity. It’s a widescreen album, warm and intimate one minute, feral and epic the next. Phosphorescent are now ready for headlining festival slots, and they figured out how to get there without compromising their wooly charm.
5. Wire – Change Becomes Us
Wherein one of the most revered and beloved bands of the late-’70s returns with an album chock-full of brilliantly reworked versions of older material – from compelling, slippery post-punk songs (“Doubles and Trebles”, “Keep Exhaling”, “Magic Bullet”) to gorgeously moody soundscapes (“Re-Invent Your Second Wheel”, “B/W Silence”) to out-and-out surprises (the goofy epic “Adore Your Island”, the loopy “Love Bends”) – and no one seemed to notice. What gives?
4. Burial – Truant/Rough Sleeper
An album that just about defined my winter, Burial carried on the short-form spirit of the unsettlingly gorgeous Kindred EP, defining the subterranean netherworlds of Truant/Rough Sleeper in vivid, hypnotic detail. Here’s 25 minutes that can make even the most upstanding citizen feel like a shadowy, sewer-creature (but, you know, in a good way).
3. My Bloody Valentine – MBV
Okay, technically, you can’t get this one on Spotify, but I don’t care; it must be on this list. My Bloody Valentine released the holy Loveless in 1991 and just vanished. In the intervening years between Loveless and this year’s MBV, expectations for any follow-up dwindled and rose and cooled off and resurged until there was no way My Bloody Valentine’s return could meet everyone’s expectations.
And wouldn’t you know it? They pulled it off. Magnificently. For fans looking for a beautifully-realized repeat of past successes, MBV offered that (the first third of the album). Fans looking to leader Kevin Shields to point towards another heretofore unseen musical avenue, MBV provided that just as well (the final third). It’s not so often that we get to demand the unreasonable and get exactly what we want, so rejoice!
2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
“Get Lucky” amplified the already considerable hype around this record, and made Random Access Memories all the more disappointing for people expecting 60-70 minutes of wall-to-wall, instant classic dance jams. What they got instead was song titles that harangued them (“Give Life Back to Music”), and 9-minute songs that sought to teach them about the history of dance music (“Giorgio by Moroder”).
But when you consider the rest of the album, all those songs indicate is how much Daft Punk care about their craft. While EDM is being blown out into a mess of grating synthesizers and gaudy digital drums, Daft Punk slowed things down, pared their arrangements down to an immaculate, impeccably curated minimum of sounds, focused on the most pristine ways to bring their songs to life. Obviously, Discovery is the more fun record, but Random Access Memories is a work of art at a time when the genre desperately needs one.
Kurt Vile’s previous album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, seemed to perfectly distill the songwriter’s M.O. Consequently, another round of delicately-picked guitars and deceptively poignant couch-bound musings should be redundant. So why is Wakin on a Pretty Daze, an album that hews so closely to past successes, such a vital entry into Vile’s discography?
Perhaps it’s because Vile realized that all he had to do was stretch a bit, take what would once be a 4-5 minute song and make it 8 minutes. 9 minutes. Luxuriate in them. Make each song feel like it could go on forever, and make the listener want that to be the case. Wakin on a Pretty Daze is warm and inviting, sweetly apologetic, and casually virtuosic. It’s a balm for the overly nervous, a reminder that we’re all overwhelmed most of the time, and that nothing can take the edge off quite like a lovely song that ambles into eternity.
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