It’s that time of year — Earbuddy takes a look back at the best albums of 2013: 100 – 86!
What a year 2013 was! And what’s even more impressive is that big name artists are still trying to squeeze out big releases before the close; however, Earbuddy’s already made its picks for the very best. Apologies in advance for big supporters of Beyoncé’s self-titled album or Death Grips’ Government Plates, as they didn’t make the list. What did make the list are the albums our writers considered to be the very BEST of 2013. Once the votes were tallied up, Earbuddy came away with possibly the MOST surprising list on the Internet (let the hating commence!). Today we kick off our annual Best 100 Albums with 100 – 86. Let’s get started!
100. Marnie Stern – Chronicles of Marnia
Marnie Stern shreds and shreds and shreds and only gets around to writing indie rock songs that can back up her noodling halfway through this thing, and if you’re not the kind of person who can get by with just hearing a gifted musician exhibit her technical capabilities, you might reject all of this. However, Chronicles of Marnia is one of the most exuberant releases of 2013.
Read full Marnie Stern – Chronicles of Marnia Review.
99. The Fire Tapes – Phantom
The Fire Tapes’ Phantoms operates with a sense of patience and restraint that makes its big sound feel earned and the compositions are constructed with the looseness of a jam session and executed with a tightness that most actual jam sessions lack. Also, this is one of the few atmospheric rock albums that knows when to call it quits—at a little over forty-five minutes, it establishes its identity without battering the audience over the head with it.
Read full The Fire Tapes – Phantoms Review.
98. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain in an Accident
How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident is different from its predecessor, The Plot Against Common Sense in a few crucial ways. First, this record isn’t nearly as smooth. If you’ve listened to The Plot… it varies from previous releases because of how fluid some of the songs are: there are definite choruses, easy(ish) transitions, and a pacing that’s approachable for more casual listeners. Second, primary lyricist Andy Falkous is really, really angry. His absurdist, sarcastic, cynical, and absolutely scathing lyrics have been a highlight for Future Of The Left, but he’s never been more sarcastic, cynical, or absolutely scathing as he is here.
97. Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad
There’s no denying that Nadine Shah’s songs are potent, and I understand and respect that Love Your Dum and Mad isn’t aiming to brighten up my day, but the eventual reaction most will have to this barrage of woeful tales of bad things happening to normal folk will likely consist of some form of apathy. Still, Shah’s voice has incredible range and the sparse backing music, made up mostly of choice piano melodies and guitar, is evocative enough.
Read full Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad Review.
96. Yuck – Glow & Behold
One of the things that made Yuck so appealing was the way the band seemed to take power-pop and drench it with over-distorted guitars. On Glow & Behold the power-pop influence is brought closer to the front, and these songs are more accessible because of it. Some of Yuck’s character might be missing with the absence of Daniel Blumberg, but this record removes the nostalgia-act status that may have pigeon-holed the band with their first record.
Read full Yuck – Glow & Behold Review.
95. Jel – Late Pass
Jel’s Late Pass is a mini-Endtroducing of sorts, heavy compositions fading into lighter ones that makes the half-hour runtime feel even shorter—heck, it is difficult to not listen to Late Pass twice in a row.
Read full Jel – Late Pass Review.
94. The Milk Carton Kids – Ash & Clay
For The Milk Carton Kids’ Ash & Clay, the song lengths have been shortened and keep the listener’s attention a little easier than their first release, Retrospect. The vocal harmonies don’t rely on using the standard notes you’d normally attribute to country or folk music. The notes themselves seem to create new chords that lead us deeper into the meaning of the words these guys are singing. Everything they sing sounds close to their hearts. There’s next to zero percussion outside of the rhythm and timbre of their guitars. This leaves a big open area for audiences to clap along to at live shows.
Read full The Milk Carton Kids – Ash & Clay Review.
93. BATHS – Obsidian
Obsidian was written after Will Wiesenfeld’s devastating E.Coli infection, where he was bedridden for months. This record drops some of the nuance of Baths’ previous releases in favor of immediacy and aggression; this album was written by a guy ready to get back to work.
Read full BATHS – Obsidian Review.
92. The Blow – The Blow
Not immediately impactful, The Blow’s self-titled album will likely take time to grow on its listeners musically; however, the album’s suggestively sexual lyrics are immediately enticing and really enrich the entire experience. Repeated listens only fasten both components tighter and will leave many raving about it as one of the best albums of the year.
Read full The Blow – The Blow Review.
91. Spectrals – Sob Story
Louis Jones removes any inkling of uncertainty that he may have once had. His voice quivers, quakes, and commands Sob Story’s lyrics, hammering home its emotion wrought messages while also creating catchy songs that will wrap around your brain like barbed wire.
Read full Spectrals – Sob Story Review.
90. The Olms – The Olms
The Olms is like ear-candy. It’s simple. It’s sweet. It’s easy. J.D. King and Pete Yorn have created half an hour of short, snappy pop songs that are packed with melodies and harmonies that call back to the 1960’s. It’s all pretty innocent and completely free of pretension.
Read full The Olms – The Olms Review.
89. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
In Jake Bugg’s debut album, the “30 year old in a teenager’s body” releases such comforting, nostalgic yet contemporary and powerful sounds that you are immediately convinced, “Oh, well, this is God just apologizing to the world for Justin Bieber.” Ok, maybe I just thought that, but seriously, it has potential as an argument. This Nottingham teen, who was apparently pressured to audition for Britian’s Got Talent after his peers watched him perform at school (before he dropped out at 16), has come onto the music scene with effortless and truly enjoyable nods to classic favorites and a vision of his own while lacking of Cristal, gold teeth, and the like.
Read full Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg Review.
88. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
It often becomes too easy, in a world of MP3 players and cloud music services to set up a playlist of likable tracks, and skip out on the work of listening to an album in total. In the case of II, this would be a mistake.
Read full Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II Review.
87. Dessa – Parts of Speech
Dessa’s formula of oscillating between a narrator of sad tales, a strong character who isn’t about to put up with your shit, and a bird who is licking its wounds still works. The writing leans more towards the personal here, but there is still the odd phrase that will catch you off guard and a few songs that will outright stun you.
Read full Dessa – Parts of Speech Review.
86. Gauntlet Hair – Stills
Gone from Stills is Gauntlet Hair’s love letter approach to Animal Collective, and instead it’s replaced with a darker, mascara-donning goth sound. It’s a sea change from the band’s bright, kaleidoscopic arrangements heard on their debut, but the shift is handled very carefully and executed without sounding phony or hampering the duo’s overall creative style. Sadly, it’s the last album we’ll get from them.
Read full Gauntlet Hair – Stills Review.
And that’s it for today! Be sure to join us tomorrow as we take a look at our best albums of 2013: 85 – 71.