Best of 2013 (A Personal List)

December 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm (Uncategorized)

I cannot BELIEVE 2013 is almost over. It’s absolutely crazy. With that in mind, though, it is time for my favorite (and only recurring) segment: My favorite albums of 2013.

If you missed 2012, you can find that list here.

The rules are thus: 2013 needed to be the first time I heard the album–I couldn’t have heard more than a single off of any of the albums released prior to this year and they had to be albums by a single artist/group (mix tapes wouldn’t really make sense, though I got some great ones).

Oh man, I’m so excited. Also, this is going to be incredibly difficult. There has been so much fantastic music this year, and I am leaving off albums I know are deserving. But this is MY top 10 list, dammit, and these are my rules.

Here we go!

10. Bad Blood; Bastille (2013)

This album should PROBABLY be up 2-4 notches on my list, but alas, it arrived too recently in my listening queue. A bouncy, at times introspective-in-spite-of-itself album, Bad Blood is the the rhythmic pop I didn’t know I was waiting all year for. My favorite track is “Laura Palmer,” which somehow simultaneously makes me want to dance, fall in love, and run away from everything all at once. Pompeii is the song getting all the radio play, but by my estimation it’s probably the 4th or 5th best track on the album (not a bad thing). I also dig the harmonics on this album, and applaud their ability to strip down sections of tracks to give them a little extra weight. Really solid.

9. Move In Spectrums; Au Revoir Simone (2013)

Normally I am not a lover of electronica, but this Brooklyn trio has changed my tune to a degree. Three women, singing in fantastic harmony, to tracks that make you want to bounce around…what’s not to love? The only (sadly) group I got to see live on this list this year, Move In Spectrums is a fun album, and they sound even better live than they do recorded, which undoubtedly biases me to a large degree. They also responded to me on twitter, which probably gets you an automatic entry onto this list. Fortunately they are good enough to listen to regardless of online interactions. An indie group I highly recommend you check out!

8. Yeezus; Kanye West (2013)

With Kanye West releasing an album this year, it will come as a shock to absolutely no one that knows me that he’s on my top albums of the year list. In fact, the only shocking thing about this ranking is how low it is. I’ll be honest, this album is…different. I think it’s brilliant in a lot of ways, but it’s not one that I find myself listening to for pleasure on a regular basis. Bound 2 is easily the most “listenable” track on the album, and gives off that classic Kanye vibe we love, but Blood on the Leaves is probably my favorite track. It has shades of 808s & Heartbreak, but the richness of some Kanye’s last couple albums. Artistically I love it but the fact that I can’t just hang out with it in the background drops it a few slots.

7. In Our Nature; Jose Gonzalez (2007)

Another album I came to later in this year, it’s merely my favorite Jose Gonzalez album. I discovered him a few months ago and have been just listening through his discography on repeat. It’s the mellow guitar I just can’t get enough of, and his voice is so interesting. This is the kind of music where I can lay on my bed, stare at the ceiling fan, and just think. This is a great example of less being much, much more. Light harmonies in the background and light instrumentation equal a heavy dose of aural joy. Cycling Trivialities is my favorite track on the album, with Teardrops a close second.

6. On A Clear Night; Missy Higgins (2007)

I love Missy Higgins. I have been listening to her for years. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered basically all I had been listening to was “Sound of White,” (which in itself is a great album), but not On A Clear Night. I promptly went out and bought it on Itunes, and there was about a month where I didn’t listen to much else. It’s a pretty “typical” pop album, heavy on guitar. The Australian accent gives an interesting tinge to her voice. On the whole this album just makes me feel good. Favorite track is Going North, which I wish was about three times longer than it is.

5. Random Access Memories; Daft Punk (2013)

This album is so much fun. At times mellow, at times pulling you out of your seat, it’s great music for either the background or foreground. Electronic beats and autotune pervades, but the thing you notice when you really listen is the musicality of the album. There’s a ton of stuff going on. I don’t consider myself musically enlightened enough to really give you a rundown of it all, but I enjoy the heck out of listening to it. Get Lucky is one of my top 10 songs of the year. I just can’t get enough of that tune.

4. Oh My God Charlie Darwin; Low Anthem (2009)

I discovered this album last January, more specifically the title track “Charlie Darwin,” and I was smitten. Mellow guitar, piercing vocals, some sick background harmonies…I have a musical type and it gets me every single time. The cool thing about this album, though, is it has some range. There’s more mellow stuff, but there’s also a bit of an edge to some of the pieces that I don’t enjoy quite as much but definitely keeps you on your toes. A varied, interesting, and often slightly weird album, it nabs the #4 spot on this list.

3. The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles (2013)

Remember when I said that Au Revoir Simone was the only group I had seen off of this list? I lied. I don’t know how I forgot that I witnessed this amazingly talented woman live in concert, but for a brief moment I did. Fortunately, I had the good sense to list her album on my “best of” list, which sparked my memory. This album is mostly really sad, except for “I Choose You,” which is one of the happiest, most I’m-gonna-be-in-love-forevaeva tracks I’ve ever heard. Which is somewhat strange, but it’s all really really excellent, so I’m not complaining. At times booming and at others very subdued, there’s a lot of variety on The Blessed Unrest, even though it’s mostly about heartbreak. I’m a sucker for an amazing voice, and Sara Bareilles has one. A great pop album, and one I will undoubtedly return to time and again.

Actually, you could make a case that I’m telling you this is the best album of 2013. The next two on our list are not from this year.

2. For Emma, Forever Ago; Bon Iver (2007)

What can be said about this album that hasn’t been already? It won a ton of awards, and yours truly was just really late to the party. I like to think fashionably late. Harmonically interesting, at times haunting, this album makes you nostalgic for things that haven’t happened yet. I love it. Re: Stacks is perhaps one of my favorite songs of all time, and (in case you were wondering) is a fantastic break up song.

For Emma, Forever Ago was a strong contender for my album of the year, but couldn’t quite beat out the top one on our list…

1. Say I Am You, The Weepies (2005)

I got into The Weepies in a BIG way this year, and so in a sense this pick is representative of ALL their music (it’s not cheating, this is my list). In very real terms, though, this album is amazing. I don’t know if there’s a bad track on it. It’s got the laid back vibe I really enjoy, great harmonics, and the switching off of lead vocals between male and female voices gives the album more variety than you might expect from just two people.

In a year that has included a lot of heartache for me, this album couldn’t have been any more perfect. This album is like, “yes, life sucks. But maybe it’ll, you know, get better eventually.” That was the message I needed, even when I wasn’t super sure that it was all going to be fine. That’s the beautiful thing about music. Sometimes, when you need a particular song (or album) it shows up and helps you deal with all the bullshit.

Say I Am You also includes my song of the year. Fuck you 2013, you were awful in a myriad of ways that I could describe in a long and whiny blog post, but will instead just leave the song here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EutQvRlqACU

 

Happy New Year everyone! It is my sincere hope that 2014 is everyone’s year.

 

Honorable Mention: The Oh Hello’s, The Oh Hello’s (2011)

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1 Comment

  1. Best of 2015 (A Personal List) | Jordan's Blog said,

    […] you’re curious, here are my top 10 lists from 2012 and 2013. A lot of really wonderful music showed up for me in 2015, and top to bottom this might be my […]

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