It’s that time of year — Earbuddy takes a look back at the best albums of 2013: 70 – 56!
So a few surprises in our list already, right? Well, we’re not done at shocking our readers just yet. Today we have 15 more of our favorite albums of 2013, but before we begin, let’s take a look at the list so far.
100. Marnie Stern – Chronicles of Marnia
99. The Fire Tapes – Phantom
98. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain in an Accident
97. Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad
96. Yuck – Glow & Behold
95. Jel – Late Pass
94. The Milk Carton Kids – Ash & Clay
93. BATHS – Obsidian
92. The Blow – The Blow
91. Spectrals – Sob Story
90. The Olms – The Olms
89. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
88. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
87. Dessa – Parts of Speech
86. Gauntlet Hair – Stills
85. Young Fathers – Tape Two
84. Cakes Da Killa – The Eulogy
83. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
82. FIDLAR – FIDLAR
81. Matthew E. White – Big Inner
80. The Men – New Moon
79. The Uncluded – Hokey Fright
78. Typhoon – White Lighter
77. Forest Swords – Engravings
76. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
75. Wavves – Afraid of Heights
74. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
73. Colleen Green – Sock It To Me
72. Serengeti – Kenny Dennis LP
71. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Now let’s see what’s in store for today!
70. Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil
Dirty Beaches’ Drifters/Love is the Devil is an exercise in duality. The music here is instantly recognizable, but startlingly unfamiliar; Hungtai’s voice is sad and mournful, but primal and desperate; these compositions feel both claustrophobic and menacingly minimal. If Drifters and Love is the Devil were released separately, they wouldn’t have nearly the impact that they do released together. Sure, each of them stand on their own, but they complement each other in a way that is hard to put into words. This double-album isn’t just a collection of songs – it’s a place that you can find yourself in.
69. Polvo – Siberia
Siberia could very well be Polvo’s finest album yet. The album isn’t as idiosyncratic as some of their past work, but there’s not a single lackluster track on this album. The jagged edges have been smoothed, the jarring transitions have been mostly removed, and the melody has been brought to the forefront. Songs like “Water Wheel” or “Anchoress” have some hooks that are impossible to ignore, but the rhythm achieved by the bass and drums is equally undeniable.
Read full Polvo – Siberia Review.
68. Coma Cinema – Posthumous Release
Hidden underneath Posthumous Release‘s protective layer of creepy cover art is a beautifully reflective album that touches on themes of life and death. The feelings that happen before, during, and after both of these subjects portray themselves with equal smug hilarity and stern seriousness through Mat Cothran’s multi-personal songwriting techniques. One of the secrets to making a great album is consistently surprising the audience. This album will keep them guessing for multiple listens, attempting to find all of the layers of jest.
Read full Coma Cinema – Posthumous Release Review.
67. Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise
Black Milk has always varied up his sound between albums, and while his drums snap in the usual pleasing ways and his keyboard work remains beyond reproach, he goes for a much more organic approach on No Poison No Paradise, complete with breakdowns that wouldn’t sound out of place on a jazz album and instrumental tracks that soar above the proceedings. This is easily the man’s most mature outing, as well as one of the more mature hip-hop albums of the year.
Read full Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise Review.
66. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
That Pusha T’s first proper solo album, My Name is My Name, works at all should count as a small miracle. While so many other notable figures in hip-hop are deconstructing the role of drugs and enablers, Pusha T spends most of his time boasting about his dealing days. This might have come across as anachronistic if he wasn’t so elegant about it (“I might sell a brick on my birthday / Thirty-six years of doing dirt like it’s Earth Day”) or if he weren’t backed up by some of the grimiest and most wrong beats of the year.
Read full Pusha T – My Name Is My Name Review.
65. Fuzz – Fuzz
At just eight songs in 36 minutes, FUZZ is a rush, a splash of cold water while sleeping. While Ty Segall’s solo efforts show more variety in terms of their genre influences, FUZZ is decidedly a strict rock affair. Listeners that were begging for more crunch from Segall should be more than satisfied; perhaps too satisfied as the album’s short length is deceptively daunting. As the band leads one barrage after another, some listeners may curl up in fetal positions for safety. FUZZ don’t play it safe, and this album is best for those that don’t either.
Read full Fuzz – Fuzz Review.
“What’s In Your Head?”
64. Willis Earl Beal – Nobody Knows.
Beal conjures up an image of a lonely man going through his paces and sets it to music that realizes the main strengths of minimalism. Whether he backs himself with a band that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a folk album or composes his strings and drums into an R&B jam, a constant sense of claustrophobia is maintained due to Beal’s tendencies to stay away from emotional release and by building a sense of tension through his big voice, which sounds aggravated more often than not.
Read full Willis Earl Beal – Nobody Knows. Review.
63. Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips
Guilt Trips feels more focused and deliberate than Ryan Hemsworth’s previous work. It doesn’t settle on just hip-hop or cloud rap instrumentals; Hemsworth mixes in elements of EDM and ambient to make the album work on several different dimensions. The integration of the guest vocals is pretty much seamlessly woven into the instrumentals, almost as if they were sampled from separate songs. Much like Cut Copy’s last two releases, Hemsworth makes the songs flow effortlessly into the next, arguably making Guilt Trips one epic “hip-hopera.”
Read full Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips Review.
62. Doldrums – Lesser Evil
After already captivating early adopters with his EP Empire Sound, Airick Woodhead’s debut long-player as Doldrums earned immediate hype. Woodhead’s modus operandi is crafting weird sonic structures using a variety of samples and electronic sounds while maintaining a pop sheen. However, only those with an advanced musical palette will get it while others will be dumbfounded by its complexity.
Read full Doldrums – Lesser Evil Review.
61. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
Parquet Courts‘ Light Up Gold is the type of album that gets even the most jaded music critic excited. This is rock music at its most enjoyable and smartly done. The arrangements are a perfectly understated accompaniment to Andrews Savage’s vocal swagger and hilarious lyrics.
Read full Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold Review.
60. Cassie – RockaByeBaby
RockaByeBaby, Cassie’s first extended release in seven years, isn’t a reinvention of the wheel nor represents a head-turning vocal performance from Cassie—she basically acts as a gilding effect for the beats in a matter similar to Rihanna, among countless others. What’s here, though, is a healthy dose of kickass sexy feminist declarations (which, in a healthy change of pace from most mainstream R&B, actually come across as sexy and of feminist leanings) set against some of the snappiest and indelible beats of the year.
Read full Cassie – RockaByeBaby Review.
59. Chastity Belt – No Regerts
Chastity Belt’s debut, No Regerts (sic) can seem like a novelty or a gimmick; after all, do you know any good self-described “vagina rock” bands? On a closer listen though, Chastity Belt is more than just pussy humor; No Regerts‘ bare-bones, post-post-punk rock is fun and engaging without being too crass. It seems that the only thing that the band does take seriously is writing catchy tunes and having a good time.
Read full Chastity Belt – No Regerts Review.
Read our Chastity Belt Interview.
58. Volcano Choir – Repave
Instead of the glitchy mess that Volcano Choir’s debut album, Unmap, remains to be (and some would say otherwise), the arrangements on Repave sound more thought out and less improvised. Justin Vernon lends his voice to every song instead of merely a few. The lyrics…well, the lyrics are still strange and following the narratives may require some scholarly assistance or an abundance of cannabis. However, the biggest change for Volcano Choir is that Repave’s songs drive toward something rather than sounding too self-absorbed to go anywhere.
Read full Volcano Choir – Repave Review.
57. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
Majical Cloudz naming their album Impersonator is especially fitting since the album is impersonating life in general — our thoughts, actions, emotions, and self-discoveries. The prospect of being alone for an extended period of time might seem like a dream come true to a married man, but once faced with the impending reality of dying alone, it’s not as appetizing. Impersonator explores such an idea more than once with Welsh sounding whole-heartedly for finding someone to spend an eternity with in “slimy, wet darkness”.
Read full Majical Cloudz – Impersonator Review.
56. Rhye – Woman
Woman feels like an incredibly personal narrative, and a narrative that is also so open-ended that listeners can insert themselves in the story. The eponymous woman in question feels like a real, genuine human being; where most songwriters are only able to conjure up an idea or an abstract representation of love, Rhye is able to give it a presence you can visualize.
Read full Rhye – Woman Review.
And that’s it for today! Be sure to join us tomorrow as we take a look at our best albums of 2013: 55 – 41.