Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2013
10. Arctic Monkeys - AM
Arctic Monkeys and I go way back. I’ve been listening to them since “Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not” and they have changed significantly. The last 2 albums were big transitions for Arctic Monkeys and even though I think they were good albums, I think Arctice Monkeys were still trying to discover their identity. Suck it and See was a step in the right direction but AM is the hit they needed. The whole album is nearly perfect. It encapsulates the best of old Arctic Monkeys and new Arctic Monkeys. The songwriting is pretty solid here and it’s always great to hear Alex Turner sing about broken love. There is also some influence from Turner’s side project, The Last Shadow Puppets are incredible in their own right. That influence can definitely be heard in “Fireside” The whole album is a joy ride and I hadn’t had this much fun with Arctic Monkeys in a long time. This album is definitely in their top 3.
9. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Before The National released Trouble Will Find Me, I didn’t listen to their music that much. Hearing Trouble Will Find Me changed a lot for me. I was immediately hooked on a first listen. I couldn’t stop listening to it, the songs had a beautiful charm to it but it was also very fast paced and energetic. And when the slow songs played, they weren’t boring, they were melodic & sweet. I went through The National’s back catalog and it made me appreciate them even more as musicians. This album came off stronger with repeat listens. Every song on this album is perfect. It’s a great mix of fast and slow music. The best way to describe Trouble Will Find Me is that it has everything that makes The National great.
8. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Arcade Fire is band that consistently makes great music. The band manages to have another home run with Reflektor. Reflekor isn’t perfect which tends to happen with double albums. Same issue with 3 hour movies, there will be low points. But the high points of the album really overshadow the lows. Reflektor is also a new direction in sound for Arcade Fire and that’s what partially makes it sound great. The band doesn’t repeat itself but still manages to create hits. Their style mixes very well with the Jamaican and Haitian influences. There is a lot of creativity going on in this album and that’s what makes it great. Arcade Fire continue their streak with Reflektor and it’ll be a future classic for them.
7. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
The second Nine Inch Nails comeback. Back in 2009 it seemed like Trent Reznor was truly done with Nine Inch Nails but he has continued to make music. May it be in side projects or soundtracks. Trent Reznor had also been on quite a journey in hiatus, he got married, had kids, and still stayed production with side projects. And it seems it was the right time to bring back his beloved project, Nine Inch Nails. Hesitation Marks is a very different album, it serves a proper companion piece to The Downward Spiral. Trent managed to overcome his addiction a long time ago but its the first time he’s talking about how he happy he is. He’s having a great time, the songs are bit more optimistic, and it tries to capitalize on the whole electronic movement going on at the time. Most importantly, it still has the insane dynamics that makes Nine Inch Nails great. The vocals are top notch, the instrumentals are top notch and it is loud. And Reznor excels at making concept albums, Hesitation Marks is another journey through the phase of Reznor’s life. The album polarized many but a lot of people have warmed up to it. It is similar to how David Bowie’s career went, he consistently reinvented himself every album and sometimes, reception wasn’t too kind. It is only fair that Trent Reznor follow the steps of his mentor.
6. Holy Ghost! - Dynamics
Holy Ghost! were one of the biggest and brightest duos to debut a few years ago. They were bringing back the 80s dance scene and Dynamics takes their sound a bit further. The album isn’t a drastic change for the band but nor is it a repeat either. The fun of Holy Ghost! remains but the band is a bit more ambitious with the songs. Songs would break out to jams and they are still danceable. You can still sing along to them but the band seems to be really pushing their sound and that’s what makes Dynamics great. It is a band taking their sound and pushing it forward but not forgetting who they are.
5. Sigur Ros - Kveikur
Sigur Ros always makes beautiful melodic music. You can throw on their music and just relax to it. Or Sigur Ros can serve as great music to soundtracks. Their music might not be hard hitting or impactful, but it’s always pleasant to listen to them. Kveikur is a huge departure in sound for them. It’s loud, it’s energetic, raw and fast paced. The band’s energy is off the hook in this album and I believe this is their best album. Instead of being similar to an instrumental album, Jonsi takes forefront in vocals. The background vocals are utizlied well and the songs would break out into orchestrated moments. With Kveikur, this band goes from being a small time band to a big room band that can take over stadiums. Every song is a memorable hit and it’s pretty much perfect from beginning to end. I don’t think I’ve listened to other Sigur Ros albums as I did with this one.
4. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork
Another big comeback album of 2013. Queens of the Stone Age were a big part of my childhood. I constantly listened to them in my rock n roll phase. Their last few albums still hold up but I was beginning to question if they were a band of the past. It had been a while since Queens of the Stone Age released anything. Josh Homme creatively reinvented himself with… Like Clockwork. It is a very ardent album. It still has the rock and roll sound of Queens of the Stone Age but with a sense of maturity. The songs can be theatrical in scope or break out into ballads. The guests stars are utilized very well and bring another dimension to the songs. Josh Homme’s songwriting is at its strongest. You can tell that it took a long time to make this album but a lot of meticulous care was put into the compositions. It might not be the best Queens of the Stone Age album but its one of their best. Like Clockwork is how you reinvent yourself and not become a token of the past.
3. Small Black - Limits of Desire
I love discovering new music and new bands. I’ll admit I never heard of Small Black but I’m really glad to have discovered it. This was only Small Black’s second album but these guys sound like professionals. The songs are all incredible, from start to finish. Limits of Desire sounds like an album that would come out of the height of the indie movement in the 00’s era and it is great to hear a band making music like this today. The songs can be danced and sung along to but overall, each song is a hit. Small Black surprised me a lot for a band, especially with no expectations and I was hooked. It is a fresh album that remains on constant rotation for me.
2. Atoms for Peace - Amok
Last time Thom Yorke did a solo album, it didn’t live up to Radiohead name. The Eraser wasn’t a bad album but it didn’t hit that many strides either. Yorke went a different route with his next solo project, forming a semi supergroup with Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich and bassist Flea. The end result is something extraordinary. The album is funky but weird at the same time. Its got Thom Yorke’s love for glitch pop but Flea’s bass is not to be missed here. Nigel & Yorke manage to create ome unique sounding songs. The songs can be a bit avant garde, but they don’t forget to be fun at the same time. This album sounds like an album Radiohead would make and even though it isn’t a Radiohead album it lives up to the quality and precedent the band has set. . The band came out very early in 2013, but the vibes of the album still remained to stay strong.
1. Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Phoenix is a band that never ceases to amaze. Most bands decline as they release more albums or never live up to their best album. In this instance, Phoenix breaks that notion. Bankrupt! is almost as good as their best album, Wolfgang Amadeus. It’s another hit making machine but make no mistake, the album is different enough to be its own thing. The sound of Wolfgang Amadeus is there but there’s a bit more experimenting with the sounds. The songs are ambitious but they’re still the indie pop friendly songs that made Phoenix a hit band. Bankrupt! is one of those rare albums yo listen too and you it’ll be a future classic. 5 years later, and I have yet to get bored.
Cut Copy — Free Your Mind
Childish Gambino — Because the Internet
Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Mosquito
Chance the Rapper — Acid Rap
She & Him — Volume 3