10. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
There’s no other album as technically sound and spectacular as Immunity. It captures the full emotion of space better than any album this year. From droning house beats to crushing piano chords, Jon Hopkins has his best release yet and the number 10 spot.
9. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
Huge expectations were set on the young rapper. His first album back in 2010 set the bar so high that anything close would be an accomplishment. Well, Earl Sweatshirt responds with an inside look on his true struggles of fame and life. To be 19 and create such a vivid image of life in 45 minutes is true talent. I feel he hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.
8. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors
Nothing stood out to me for the first 4 months of listening to this album. It was simple glam rock. 30 years too late, but gladly I stuck it out and had the most rewarding, fun listens. From the lulls of “San Fransisco” to the air pumps of “On Blue Mountain”, Foxygen know how to reach their audience.
I missed the craze in 2011 with Dirty Beaches. I passed up on a perfect opportunity to foreshadow the future. Luckily, they came back with the most dark, disorienting album of the year. This double album really does reflect the loneliness and ambiance of a bustling city while perfectly capturing the feelings. The 10 minute “Mirage Hall” is a throwback to
the ultimate influence of Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop“. I’d claim Alex Hungtai does it better too.
6. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
I have a confession. It’s not a problem, but a realization. I mentioned in the review this album would be a grower, and I was correct. The fourth album by indie legends is their most ambitious and fun to be released. “Normal People” has the best ending to a track I’ve heard from the band, and “Afterlife” is fucking fun. That song can get anyone grooving. Reflektor an odd change, but a change that suits the band. I feel it’s one of many swan songs the band will have.
5. Touche Amore – Is Survived By…
The shortest, and grittiest album on the list. Post-hardcore group, touche amore really put their best foot forward in their longest LP to date. They play with such tightness and energy together, feeding off each others chemistry. Every member has a story to tell, and as a listener who should have spent more time on other albums, I can tell you that this album goes much farther than the lyrics in the insert. It’s a dedication of five musicians struggles packed into 29 minutes of amazing noise.
4. Deafheaven – Sunbather
The almighty Sunbather. If there’s one album that will stand the test of time, it will be this. Not for it’s music, but also solely on the music. A black-metal, post-metal, post-rock, post-everything album that has a pink cover. It’s exactly that. A wonderfully destructive album with incredible picking, sharp vocals, and oh the drumming! It never feels old, and all the noise falls into place so well. The Phil Spector wall of sound is put to the extreme here, and the droning guitars, drums,
and bass create one of the best musical experiences in history.
3. Darkside – Psychic
I love Nicolas Jaar. I also love music with a purpose. Combining the essence of dance music, blues, and Jaar’s signature ambient sounds, Psychic is a rewarding listen. The hook off “Heart” would put it on this list alone, but it’s an album with new sounds every listen. “Freak, Go Home” reminds me of what drunk hipsters listen to before their barhopping, while the amazing opener, “Golden Arrow” is a chance to show just how talented Jaar is. Screw the potential talk, this is his apex of music.
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
One of my most listened to albums this year. Trouble Will Find Me solidifies The National as the ultimate self-pity band. When you want to grow that feeling of despair and hopelessness, listen to That National. They feel you. They jump from slow-burners like “Fireproof” to the gritty “Graceless” contributing to any man’s sadness. I can’t tell you how many times this album played in my car, in my room, on my computer, and in my head. It’s catchy, sad, understanding, and just plain awesome.
1. Typhoon – White Lighter
Surprise, surprise. The Portland monster band already kicked ass in 2010 with Hunger & Thirst, but White Lighter is THAT album on steroids. It’s everything I wanted in an album for my teen years, but never got. If Typhoon had the exposure, they would define a generation of teenage indie rockers, much like Pavement,Modest Mouse, or Arcade Fire did. They have the message, they have the sound, and they definitely have the fight. White Lighter exposes the troubles of society and struggles we face everyday, but for some reason,we push on. It tells us not to give up, and they agree that they can’t explain why we should, but they know.It’s albums like this that changes lives and inspires people. Now only if they could receive some radio airplay.
And now for Jeffrey’s picks of 2013
10. Daughn Gibson-Me Moan
After the release of his 2012 album All Hell, I was overly eager to hear Subpop Records version of Leonard Cohen throw down his followup and in 2013 we got it. Me Moan, as I expected, delivered on all counts. This album was filled with all the Johnny Cash vocals and midi syncopated beats, we’d come to love off his first album, but with a little more, how can I say this, pop? Tracks like “Kissing on the Blacktop” and “The Sound of Law” were welcomed surprises and proved, to this devoted fan, that Daughn Gibson is more than capable of writing danceable tracks as he is at writing good listening music.
9.GHOST B.C.- Infestissumam
Call me a sucker, but in the days of mediocrity, a few great songs is really all it takes for me to say “yes…I like you”. Case in point, Ghost B.C. latest album “infestissumam”, these Swedish manipulators of symbols and sounds, brought an even darker sound on their sophomore album than with their freshman 2010 release Opus Epynomous. Always keeping it cheeky, they mockingly cling to Catholic symbols, but remain vigilante in their quest to unite the world under one dark cloth. Songs like “The Monstrous Clock” and “Secular Haze”, lovingly follows in the footsteps of such great eighties Death Metal bands like King Diamond or Alice Cooper, but also is as ballady as Chicago or Journey and rocks as much as it teaches. I see only good things in the future for Ghost B.C.
8.Pearl Jam-Lightening Bolt
I’ll admit not giving Pearl Jam their fair shake in the past. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I immediately logged them in that corner of my wind where all my high school bullshit goes. How wrong I was. Lightening Bolt is the first Pearl Jam album I’ve owned since Ten and Verses and seeing as how I am a believer in serendipity, I see purpose in this reunion. This is such an amazing album! So well rounded and absolutely filled with something for everybody on it. I will say the highlights on this album, for me, were the punk track “Mind Your Manners” and the amazing ballad “Sirens”, but take my word for it, Lightening Bolt is solid through and through.
7.Fuck Buttons-Slow Focus
Really good electronica bands are fucking hard to come by. The one’s I follow tend to be so good they only release albums every other year, at least’s that the way it seems. So I’m always looking for something to fill that gaping hole in my life left behind by bands like Boards of Canada, The Chemical Brother’s or Bjork and I think this is it. Again, here’s a group I only recently stumbled onto, but have had them on my Pandora shuffle for a minute. This two piece powerhouse from Bristol is killing it on their latest “Slow Focus”. The album is a journey of both dark and light themes. Fuck Buttons takes everything good about dance and has meticulously woven it together on this mind blowing album. Highlights on the album “Sentients” and “The Red Wing”. You have to put this on rotation.
6. How To Destroy Angels- Welcome Oblivion
All I can say is that “too bad Nine Inch Nail’s latest album Hesitation Marks didn’t sound more like this album”. HTDA is lead singer of Nine Inch Nail’s side project. Trent Reznor and his wife Mariqueen Maandig (lead vocalist) have worked on two albums together since the bands inception and it seems to be working. This album has a lot of the usual bells and whistles associated with NIN’s, but with the softness of Mariqueen’s vocals and a sublime thread coupled with a real relationship with the music and each other, that makes this a truly unique effort and not just Trent doing his thing. Highlight’s on the album “Keep It Together” and “Ice Age”.
5. Oblivion Soundtrack-Anthony Gonzalez and Joseph Trapanese
You know how sometimes you see an artist or artists take the next step in their creative evolution and say to yourself “of course”. That was the way I felt when Anthony Gonzalez of M83 and film/television composer Joseph Trapanese teamed up for the soundtrack of the Joseph Kosinski film OBLIVION. Trapanese, having worked with Kosinski before on the Tron:Legacy soundtrack with Daft Punk and Gonzalez having a flair for epic soundscapes and science fiction videos, created vibes for this huge film that often times the picture couldn’t hold. Absolutely breathtaking! This soundtrack kills on every level, blending the cinematic with sprinkles of electronica and was truly the sole reason I finished that somewhat mediocre film.
4. Boards of Canada-Tomorrow’s Harvest
Boards of Canada, oh Boards of Canada…you and your every decade releases, are going to be the death of me. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but for real guys? Tomorrow’s Harvest is BoC’s 6th album and, as always, it was well worth the wait. The album is filled with dissonance mixed in with some extemporaneousness, going from your usual to amazingly abstract, but always interesting. Fans of BoC will love this album for it’s bravery, but newcomer’s will also dig it for it’s freshness and no hold’s barred approach to a genre they’ve become masters at. Highlights on the album include “Jacquard Causeway” and “Reach for the Dead”.
Sure they aren’t the first band to try and cash in on that familiar Brian Wilson sound. Groups like Lord Huron, Animal Collective, Tanlines Hooray For Earth and Panda Bear, have all taken a stab at that surf rocky sound of the 60’s. Here’s the rub though, all those bands I mentioned are fucking good. So what have we leaned? You listen to good artist and it’ll reflect in everything you do, one way or another. The Santa Monica band Cayucas is no different. This really is one of my favorite albums of the year. From beginning to end, it’s chock full of summer vibes. Songs like “High School Lover” and “Summer Thing” are absolutely brilliant in execution. They even use a sample from Oliver’s 1969 hit “Good Morning Sunshine” for their song “Deep Sea”, so what’s not to like about these throwbacks? The album leans hard on a analog vibe and revels in it’s gritty and washed out vocals. All these things give the album color and will have you breaking out your copy of Endless Summer from the word go. The only downside of this album is it’s eight songs. I’m hoping for more from their next album, but this is a great showing for a debut.
This is all M.I.A! Like Missy Elliot, M.I.A always delivers, well her and Dj Switch…oh and a few other Mad Decent alumni like Partysquad and Surkin. This is the fourth album for the English powerhouse and she shows no signs of slowing down. Always inventive and controversial, Matagi seems like she’s taken a back seat to revolution for songs about love and youthful vernacular. Songs like Y.A.L.A is her poke at the Y.O.L.O saying. In it she takes a page from her Hindi upbringing to turn the tables on this mindless meandering. Lyrics: YOLO? I don’t even know anymore, what that even mean though If you only live once why we keep doing the same shit. Back home where I come from we keep being born again and again and again
That’s why they invented karma. She also shows us a aside of her we don’t see very often in songs like Sexodus. Sexy…I guess, but it was like listening to a friend you’ve known all your life talking to you about sex, but hey…maybe she’s picking up some stuff from Madonna. Highlights on the album “Bring Da Noize”, ” Attention” and “Bad Girlz”. It’s a great party album and worth grabbing!
1. Yamantaka//Sonic Titan-UZU
I really could fill up several pages with laurels for this fucking album! For those of us from the grunge era, this band and what they are bringing, is long overdue. Hailing from Montreal, Canada, this experimental art project/ rock opera, is displaying talent unseen by rock bands of late. UZU is the second album for Ruby Kato Attwood (vocals) and Alaska B (drums), John Ancheta (Bass), Ange Loft (Vocals) and Brendan Swanson (Keyboards) and it’s nothing short of enigmatic. Their 2011 self-titled released, was the precursor to what has turned into the groups Dark Side of the Moon. With sounds deeply rooted in Native American energy, they use piano,crunchy electric guitars and hard hitting drums to paint images of roaring oceans and enormous mountains. Then enters this anamolus serenity felt within the lyrics and tonality of it’s singer Ruby. With faces painted in homage to both Japanese Noh theater and Native American aesthetic, YT//ST is the very embodiment of transcendental rock! Make no mistake, they are a jam band, but they do so as to really take the listener to places and not to shred for the sake of shredding. Highlights on the album are tracks like “Whalesong”,”Saturn’s Return” and “One”. Hear me when I say, this will be the band to watch for in the coming years! Nothing like it exists! YT//ST’s UZU is the wish fulfilling jewel for those yearning for more magic and rock in their listening experience!
- Arcade Fire; Reflector (hesaiditreview.wordpress.com)
- Top 50 Songs of 2013 (25-1) (joshmatejka.wordpress.com)
- Darkside // The Art School (theglasgowmusicscene.com)
- The Showbams Top Tracks of 2013 (showbams.com)
- 2013 Reflection – Aurora Mitchell’s albums of the year (thewaveuca.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 Albums of 2013 (th3burb.wordpress.com)
- My Top 10 Albums of the Year (collinlieberg.wordpress.com)
- Top 5 Albums of 2013 (warringtontribune.wordpress.com)