2013 spit out a lot of great albums. Albums that I have played way too many times. It actually amazes me how 1 year can produce such phenomenal music that you cannot tire of. What was even greater in my mind, was that some artists really fuckin’ surprised me. Artists that I probably wouldn’t care to listen to their older albums all the way through. All of a sudden, these artists came out with amazing records. So without further ado, here are my picks for 2013’s greatest albums.
#10. Haim – Days Are Gone
This is pop music that I can get behind. This is fun. Everything about it; the beats, the music, the throwback to the 80’s, the vocals, and just the demeanor of these three lovely sisters, is great. Not everything has to be so dark and mysterious all the time (although that is a good majority of the music I listen to). These girls swoop in and rock out with great talent. They’ll go a long way, if just for the fact that their music brings a lightness that is hard to find nowadays. That’s exactly what popular music should do. I don’t now how we’ve let talent slide for so long in this category of music. Let Haim be the standard now, please.
#9. Danny Brown – Old
My oh my, how our lovable Danny Brown has changed. This is superb work from Mr. Brown, showing a lot of maturity through out. Sometimes I miss his signature voice, saying some absolutely ridiculous things. As soon as I miss that, a song comes up on this album that is classic Danny Brown, and I smile. The awesome thing is, that his more serious songs really put him into a superior category. You respect him more, and you appreciate his work more. He accomplishes this tremendously on Old, without losing the wacky, Danny Brown altogether. He’s simply unique, and I love him for that.
#8. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Arcade Fire goes electronic! Well, sort of… not really… Maybe? There’s definitely some electronic elements on the almighty, Reflektor, but I wouldn’t say “full-on” electronic, by any means. Just a dash, I suppose. Doesn’t matter, the point is, it works. These indie rock darlings have added a new element to their mix and made it their own. It’s a concept album without being a “concept album”. I only say this because of the whole “The Reflektors” thing. It’s evidenced throughout the record, with snippets here and there that this is more than just Arcade Fire. It’s an idea. Rock music to become something you want to dance to, while being climatic, and rock-the-fuck-out at the same time. That’s a lot to add together, like… a lot. But they make it sound like Arcade Fire. It’s everything their live shows are trying to be. An absolute fun and classic/original experience. It’s a marathon of music that is absolutely worth spending your time with.
#7. Queens of the Stone Age – … Like Clockwork
It took 6 long years for Queens of the Stone Age to come out with an album. It was 6 years well worth the wait. …Like Clockwork is the best rock album of 2013. It’s everything a great rock album should be. It’s loud, sexy, sinister, cocky, energetic and melodic, all at the same time. Every song is so catchy, that it’s even difficult to pick a favorite. But while we’re on the topic, mine is definitely, “If I Had A Tail”. Josh Homme and crew prove once again that they’re not willing to let rock & roll die just yet. Oh no, they’ve got a long way before they reach the underworld. It’s all smooth sailing from here on out.
#6. Arctic Monkeys – AM
The Arctic Monkeys have gone to great lengths to surprise me in 2013. They took a new approach to their music and turned it into something completely new and wonderful sounding, yet still keeping their English-rock charm. Their kind of rock music has been slowed down from their usual frantic pace. And before you think I mean they’ve gotten soft, this is quite the opposite. Instead they’ve got a better collective feel for their songs. Sometimes even throwing back to the 50’s or 60’s. They look the part and now they certainly play the part.
#5. Lorde – Pure Heroine
The best part about Lorde’s breakthrough album, is it’s simplicity. There’s a simple drum track backing her and very few other instrumentals. It shows off her talent perfectly. You can catch her mature voice better this way. This is Lorde’s formula. When lyrics and the vocals are optimal, you don’t need to oversaturate it with garbage noises. It’s one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in a while. She may be 10 years younger than me, but it only seems noticeable sometimes in the lyrics. I can still relate, or maybe still remember my teen years, and it’s endearing. It’s easy to see how this young one has managed to capture the world’s attention.
#4. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
What an exceptional album. It took me three records from these New Yorkers to convert me to a believer. It took some of their finest work to convince me so. I accept nothing less. Looking back on it, I now appreciate all of their older music as well. However, there is quite a progression to Modern Vampires of the City. The intellectual lyrics are spot on, the music is more calm and collective, the production is on par, and the experimentation works wonders. When it all comes together, it makes for one amazing album. These guys got better with age. Simple as that.
#3. When Saints Go Machine – Infinity Pool
I’ve noticed that most of the albums that I’ve picked for this list, have all taken a lot of time and effort during the process of making these records. Clearly, time is key in making great music.. I guess. When Saints Go Machine’s Infinity Pool is no exception to this. They’ve slowed down the tempo a bit, executing perfect vocals and fascinating beats. The record is solemn and important. Infinity Pool takes me through a whirlwind of emotions, from happy, to said, to confusion, and by the end, I’m welcomed with sheer positivity. No other album this year has affected me quite like this one. This is my personal favorite record of the year and possibly one of my favorites of all time. I will forever be a fan of this beautiful and phenomenal piece of work.
#2. Kanye West – Yeezus
If you claim you are a god by the third track on your album, well, that said album better be damn good. There are very few people who can say such an outrageous thing and none of us are really that shocked. It’s Kanye’s world, we just live in it. As I explained before when talking about “Black Skinhead“, Mr. West would have us believe that he didn’t put his full effort into making Yeezus. The end result seems quite the opposite though. This is some of his best work. It still manages to be nonsensical at times, but this go around, it’s more serious. There’s an anger on this record. But the anger is about something bigger than just petty shit. That anger is coupled with amazing beats, synthes, and robots (Daft Punk) that formulate brilliant work. So no, Kanye, I don’t believe you that you put in less effort. You just want us to believe that, and be in awe of everything that spills out of that mind of yours. You win again.
#1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
As soon as I heard this album, I knew it would be my number one pick for ‘Album of the Year’. Several months after its release, my feelings haven’t changed in the slightest. It possesses everything you would want on an album; upbeat tracks, somber songs, music to make you shake your booty, throwbacks, and music to get lost in the moment to. On top of all that, the production is just impeccable. There was so much time, money, and effort spent on this record, that it shows in every way. My robots have won my heart all over again. Bringing decades of music together has never sounded so incredible. There are few who can accomplish this, but two French dudes, making crazy music and futuristic sounds, have managed to do so. Giorgio Moroder was right, this is the sound of the future…. ROBOT STYLE.