Friday, December 27, 2013

Top 30 Albums of 2013

sidenote: I have kept Burial's Rival Dealer EP (released in mid-December) from inclusion on this list due to obvious reasons of biased listening proximity (same goes for Beyonce').

30. Cults- Static
29. Washed Out- Paracosm
28. Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe
27. Pure Bathing Culture- Moon Tides
26. Four Tet- Beautiful Rewind
25. Blouse- Imperium
24. The Field- Cupid's Head 
23. Lorde- Pure Heroine
22. Julia Holter- Julia Holter
21. Zomby- With Love
20. CHVRCHES- The Bones of What You Believe
19. Arctic Monkeys- AM
18. Chelsea Wolfe- Pain Is Beauty 
17. Forest Swords- Engravings
16. Deerhunter- Monomania
15. Haim- Days Are Gone
14. Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven
13. The National- Trouble Will Find Me
12. Boards of Canada- Tomorrow's Harvest
11. The Haxan Cloak- Excavation 

10. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
I'm still a little surprised at the polarizing reactions to Arcade Fire's fourth album. From my end of the spectrum, Reflektor is a revitalizing pulse for a band that had pretty thoroughly painted themselves into a corner.  Here, their ambition finally matches their grasp- which hasn't always been the case (see: The Suburbs).

9. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
Speaking of "revitalizing pulse", Daft Punk were at the forefront of 2013's movement of Dormant Bands Suddenly Reappearing with Ease. Recorded live and harkening back to yacht rock, disco, and all points in between, Random Access Memories was unlike anything we've ever heard from Daft Punk. Don't be fooled by chart-topper "Get Lucky"- this is one hell of a sad, beautiful album.

8. Sigur Ros- Kveikur
The Icelandic post-rockers follow up last-years achingly languid Valtari with this semi-industrial powerhouse. Sigur Ros haven't sounded this vibrantly defined since Takk as Kveikur successfully cements the band's darker atmospherics.

7. Fuck Buttons- Slow Focus
Slow Focus is an auditory theme park ride and makes no illusions otherwise. It's also a crystallizing moment for Fuck Buttons- a group who, the 2012 Olympics aside, have remained criminally underexposed. This is one of the most unabashedly exciting records of the year.

6. Kanye West- Yeezus
Enough ink has been spilled about this album in the last six months- just indulge yourself further.
Listening to Yeezus is like rubbernecking a disturbed psyche. Unexplainably addictive. How the hell can this ever be followed up?

5. Atoms for Peace- Amok
Thom Yorke joining forces with Flea to form an electrofunk supergroup proved to be just as deliciously bizarre as one would hope.  Amok finds the happy medium between Radiohead's currently insulated ambiance and the beat-heavy sonic textures of Nigel Godrich. Flea sounds like he hasn't had this much in years.  

4. The Knife- Shaking the Habitual
The Knife returned this year from a seven-year hiatus with this ninety-eight minute concept epic- the fact that they pulled it off so elegantly is not only surprising, but also a little intimidating. Gender roles, social norms, etc all get their feet held to the flame- and that's just on the first two songs. Shaking the Habitual is, by all calculations, an absolute monster.

3. Deafheaven- Sunbather
Sunbather cannot be quantified. It also is inherently incapable of being experienced casually. It's one of the most grandiose and glorious metal albums I've ever heard and probably the release that I'm most likely to look back on in years to come and wonder how it only made it to number three.

2. My Bloody Valentine- m b v 
The volume of odds defied by My Bloody Valentine with m b v should be a required study in college statistics classes. It's not so much that their first record in twenty-two years doesn't suck- and it's not so much that, in many ways, m b v is superior to 1991's Loveless. What renders the  m b v experience so classic is how seamlessly it fits into the band's canon and how confidently it both expands and adapts what My Bloody Valentine are capable of to a new generation of listeners. This record is a dream we've all had before made reality.

1. Darkside- Psychic
Nicolas Jaar's partnership with guitarist Dave Harrington takes the listener on a journey that is as sonically tasteful as it is unapologetically psychedelic. Quite simply, Psychic is the best Pink Floyd album never made and my most memorable listening experience of the year.

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