Yes, once again, my attempt to claim to still have relevance in the world of musical critique. Enjoy!
Honorable Mentions: Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt; Trophy Wife: Trophy Wife; Pixies: EP1 + Bagboy
15. The Knife: Shaking the Habitual I had a few albums this year where I really (I mean really) listened the hell out of it for a week or two and then haven’t found the mood to return. Shaking the Habitual is the first of those and also the only one to feature a song about fracking.
14. Sigur Ros: Kveikur I was honestly surprised how much I liked this album, but then I realized that they actually added some pop structure to their sound and, yup, that was it.
13. Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions A band who is consistently consistent. Can’t tell if that is a good or bad thing. Fun listen, but man, how do you ever live up to a debut like theirs?
12. Charli XCX: True Romance A few songs on this (“Stay Away”, “How Can I”, “You’re the One”) are off the wall. Some of the songs are filler. However, those good songs are great (especially this live version of “Stay Away”).
11. Kanye West: Yeezus Every freaking time with Kanye, I think the album is monumental when I listen to it pretty much nonstop for a few weeks. Then I don’t touch. Then I return and wonder what I heard the first 100 times. Not to say it isn’t a good (and jarring) album, but didn’t even age well over 6 months.
10. The National: Trouble Will Find Me I think in Pitchfork’s year end list, they mention the idea that some folks really want the National to be boring. Maybe I’m one of them because I know I’ve liked almost every National album, but I never feel like I really like that band. I’ve now come to terms with the idea that the National are really good … maybe I just didn’t want to admit they have out Eitzeled Mark Eitzel.
9. The Blow: The Blow No Paper Television, but still an indie pop gem.
8. Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe I think a theme for me in 2013 (musically) was female-fronted synth pop. Chvrches are really just this year’s version of the Purity Ring, but that didn’t stop me from liking the album.
7. Run the Jewels: Run the Jewels Killer Mike and EL-P. They even released the album for free. What more could you ask?
6. Queens of the Stone Age: … Like Clockwork Maybe two years ago, I wouldn’t have given a new Queens of the Stone Age album a moment’s attention. Yet somehow, I let myself into their back catalog for reasons I can’t fully remember and I found myself enthralled. So, here I am, really digging on the new album, even if at times, it just sounds like late 90’s Urge Overkill.
5. Deltron 3030: Event II Again, another album that must exist in the shadow of its predecessor (and over a decade of hype about a sequel). Not as cohesion and captivating as the original Deltron album, but a very worthy piece in the saga.
4. Tullycraft: Lost in Light Rotation I love them dearly. What else can I say?
3. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City Kind of like the National, Vampire Weekend somehow become a really great band. I mean, you listen to their debut and think “huh, fun … but talk about influences on their sleeves”. Listen to Modern Vampires of the City and you think “huh, this is fabulous.” If I had to pick my favorite single song from 2013, it was probably “Step”.
2. Mikal Cronin: MC II Pure, wonderful, glorious power pop (in the classical Elvis Costello/Matthew Sweet sense). Rivers Cuomo is eating his heart out, likely with a spoon.
1. Arcade Fire: Reflektor The third band on this list that I’ve liked but never like liked. Of course, put them in a room recording with James Murphy and suddenly you take that band I like and turn them into some sort of post-wings Tran Zor Z. Murphy just reinvents the band in front of your ears (?) and you wonder where they’ve been hiding all these years.
There we have it! Here’s to 2014.