Here’s my top 13 of ’13. This isn’t any sort of attempt to make an objective Best Of list, its just the records that came out this year that I listened to the most. I’m often sitting in a chair, focusing on some sort of project, listening to headphones, so the sound of these records is often one that aligns with introspection.
Charli XCX – True Romance
Plenty of catchy, sing-along lyrics, but the swirling bombastic production is what sold it for me. Same with the giddy confidence in Grin and You – Ha Ha Ha.
Volcano Choir – Repave
More or less a Bon Iver record, with the cryptic lyrics, wheezy falsetto, wintry imagery. Given that he has the accompaniment of a full band, some of the songs kick into a higher gear (Comrade, Almanac) than the old frozen Emma era.
Way Yes – Tog Pebbles
In a way, this is sort of a clone of Delorean – Subiza, pitch perfect chillwave afropop. But the tone is slightly warped, like the clouds rolled in over that sunny Mediterranean beach.
Caveman – Caveman
Folk tunes with the vocals echoing out of a grain silo ala Fleet Foxes and early My Morning Jacket.
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Sad drunken Scotsman, but with an uplifting hope of spiritual redemption (Holy). Uptempo from their earlier stuff.
Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
A throwback to The Fragile, turning inward to intricate melodies instead of loud anthemic post-apocalyptic soundscapes.
Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Rumbling, epic, instrumental, like a B-side of Holy Fuck – Latin.
Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy
The soundtrack to the best video game you’ve never played.
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Reappropriating disco for top 40, educating the masses on the history of dance music, all while wearing space helmets.
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
Even more experimental, from the garish album art to the strange time signatures and 9 minute epics (Full of Fire).
Kanye West – Yeezus
The meta commentary on race, wealth, America, etc is thick (Black skinhead, Blood on the Leaves), the misogyny almost comical (I’m In It), but the production that’s both gritty and DIY sells it.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
A throwback to a classic entertainer of yore. A high production record both radio friendly (Mirrors) and cutting edge (Tunnel Vision). JT has gone the opposite route of his Mickey Mouse club comrades, traded crass for class.
Chvrches – Bones of What You Believe
Exquisite electropop, with pristine clean-room synths, lots of oooohs, aaaahs, vocals spiked by fragility, melancholy lyrics drenched in sugar, like last year’s Purity Ring.
Other songs I liked:
Wild Nothing – On Guyot
Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Day
Phoenix – Bourgeois
James Blake – Digital Lion
Phosphorescent – The Quotidian Beasts
Youth Lagoon – Mute
alt-J – Dissolve Me
Empire of the Sun – Alive
Infinity Shred – Mapper
Washed Out – It all Feels Right
Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal
Naked and Famous – Rolling Waves
Drake – Furthest Thing
The Range – Seneca