It’s that time of year — Earbuddy takes a look back at the best albums of 2013: 55 – 41!
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
70. Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil
69. Polvo – Siberia
68. Coma Cinema – Posthumous Release
67. Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise
66. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
65. Fuzz – Fuzz
64. Willis Earl Beal – Nobody Knows.
63. Ryan Hemsworth – Guilt Trips
62. Doldrums – Lesser Evil
61. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
60. Cassie – RockaByeBaby
59. Chastity Belt – No Regerts
58. Volcano Choir – Repave
57. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
56. Rhye – Woman
Now let’s see what’s in store for today!
55. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
Listeners that enjoy film scores, particularly horror (in the sense of The Shining), will likely adore Excavation and its eerie atmosphere. Krlic pays special attention to detail – experimenting with space and silence so well that it recalls the dream sequence from The Exorcist. Excavation’s percussion is often placed in the forefront with simple ticks to creepy dubstep (Twilight Zonestep) to echoing booms. They’re soft in their impact but chilling to the core. Various background noises can be heard, and they’re innocent enough; however, listening to Excavation is essentially the same as being locked in a room without light. The faintest of noises can be the most terrifying.
Read full The Haxan Cloak – Excavation Review.
54. David Bowie – The Next Day
When Bowie slowly withdrew from the spotlight in the early 2000’s, everyone took it as an implied retirement. So when Bowie announced that he had quietly written and recorded an album with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, it was a cause for excitement. Folks were just happy that the guy still had it in him, but no one expected that The Next Day would be this good. Simultaneously acknowledging his multi-decade discography and defying it in the name of progress, The Next Day, it the best Bowie album since 1980’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).
Read full David Bowie – The Next Day Review.
53. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
The Civil Wars turned to Rick Rubin to produce their second full length self-titled LP. Rubin’s production was able to amplify the characteristics of the two worlds The Civil Wars simultaneously live in. This is not a country-rock album. It is a country album and a rock album. Many bands who straddle genres end up failing victim to the old adage that trying to do two things at once will result in neither being done well. But, somehow, The Civil Wars manage to make music that is both without seeming anything but authentic.
Read full The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars Review.
52. Torres – Torres
Torres self-titled debut falls into that weird nether region of genrelessness. It’s not folksy, it’s not rockin’, it’s not gloomy, it’s not experimental; Torres does, however, combine a lot of these elements. Importantly though, the lyrics are wonderfully done, and nearly as important as the music or the melodies. The lyrics strike the perfect balance of earnesty and innovation, with many of the songs featuring autobiographical elements come across as neither pretentious nor boring.
Read full Torres – Torres Review.
51. Yo La Tengo – Fade
Fade begins, much like I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, with the album’s strongest ‘flagship’ track. Though unlike “Pass Me The Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind,” “Ohm” is a much more settled, less epic affair. That is a fair description for Fade, in general. This album is like some unholy union of Yo La Tengo and Lambchop, making it actually a closer cousin to 2003′s Summer Sun. “Ohm” is the kind of song that makes you fall in love with a record in the first two minutes. You get the signature Yo La Tengo minimalist feedback groove, but with Meat Puppet harmonies and hand-clapping.
Read full Yo La Tengo – Fade Review.
50. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
With Evil Friends, Portugal. The Man have grown thematically. Gone yet acknowledged are their lighter and more playful themes. Instead, they have successfully embraced the notions of loss, war, adulthood, despair and acceptance — all beautifully wrapped up in Gourley’s pretty falsetto, some truly lovely music and driven by Danger Mouse’s deliberate pace. There is humor and gloom, they keep their catchy sing-along choruses, and their energy is consistent and contagious.
Read full Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends Review.
49. Kirin J Callinan – Embracism
While its tone isn’t always clear, Kirin J Callinan’s Embracism is a fairly well done album, especially for a debut. The vocal intensity sometimes breaks the threshold of the songs, but Kirin’s “balls out” aggression really makes it shine. Also despite the vast changes in mood and pace, Kirin tackles each song with the same amount of intensity. It may not be a refreshing summer listen, but next time the smog descends on your city and you feel like revolting against the indifference of the modern world, Embracism will be your red and black flag.
Read full Kirin J Callinan – Embracism Review.
48. Junip – Junip
José González, in Junip’s band context, sprawled away from the stark folk aesthetic of González’s solo efforts, Fields teemed with driving rhythms, psychedelic atmosphere, and dense synth textures. Junip doesn’t entirely sound in opposition to Fields, so much as it does an organic growth in their performance as a band. There are far fewer moments on this record that sound like a train wreck of José’s smooth vocal with the crashing arrangements. It’s pleasant to hear the two find more grooves together, like on the excellent “Your Call”. They even work in a Andrew Byrd-esque whistle on “Baton”. This isn’t to say that the group doesn’t still push recording levels into the red. As a matter of fact, some of the album’s strongest moments are also the loudest (particularly “Line of Fire” and “Suddenly”).
Read full Junip – Junip Review.
47. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Daft Punk used to sound edgy, but this album’s production is too pristine for its ’70s sound to come across as authentically vintage, leaving it stranded — an anachronism in the 21st century. This, at least, is what may strike you on the first listen. However, after delving deeper, this incongruity starts to make sense and emerges as the key to the album’s originality. Daft Punk are making music for now, not in an attempt to recapture a bygone era. In that sense, the French duo have succeeded in carrying disco through the years to 2013 and Random Access Memories will be remembered as a portrait of disco in this decade.
Read full Daft Punk – Random Access Memories Review.
46. Foals – Holy Fire
If Holy Fire is anything to go by, Foals desperately want to be your new favorite band. They want devoted fans, commercial success, and sold-out stadium shows. They’re done being arty, mathematical and ever-so-slightly inaccessible, as they were on their previous two full-length albums – 2008′s Antidotes, and 2010′s Total Life Forever. Instead, they’re ready to embrace pop. That doesn’t mean Holy Fire marks a decrease in the quality of the British band’s output. They haven’t gone for awful gimmicks like auto-tune, hip-hop guest verses or dubstep breakdowns, like any of the current crop of mainstream pop artists. This couldn’t be further from the truth — Holy Fire is perhaps the best record the band have ever made. And at its core, the same textures and patterns that made their first two albums so enjoyable are still there, underneath all the grand gestures and atmospherics.
Read full Foals – Holy Fire Review.
45. Billy Woods – Dour Candy
Yeezus excluded, it is difficult to imagine a harder sell than Dour Candy, Billy Woods’s latest album. We here at Earbuddy adored his previous album, last year’s History Will Absolve Me, an album that encouraged multiple interpretations of typical hip-hop narratives set over some of the most attention-grabbing beats in recent memory. Dour Candy, however, could be considered History’s polar opposite. Woods sounds bitter and tired, a stark contrast to the Woods who made questioning existence sound enticing last year. The characters aren’t open to much interpretation—whatever their motivations or morals, the temptation of a quick buck will inevitably win out. The thick drums and taunting keyboards have been replaced with Blockhead’s brand of understated trip-hop. Delivering a work that goes in the opposite direction of your most celebrated material is always a risky endeavor, but many listeners will think that Woods’ risk has paid off.
Read full Billy Woods – Dour Candy Review.
44. Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge – Twelve Ways To Die
If you ignore the story (and there’s no reason you shouldn’t), Twelve Reasons to Die plays out like any other good Ghostface Killah album: he says a lot of weird shit in an eloquent and entertaining fashion, the beats bring to mind accidently-campy martial arts films, someone brings some soul to the proceedings, and Cappadonna shits the bed. This could have been so much more than another comfortably-good Wu-Tang album, but as this is the same bunch that are tangentially responsible for Czarface, listeners can’t complain too much.
43. Ka – The Night’s Gambit
Ka can spin a hook (“You Know It’s About”, “Barring The Likeness”), work a beat (“You Know It’s About”, “Peace Akhi”, “Off The Record”), and spin plenty of clever, thoughtful lines (“Peace Akhi”, “I’m Ready”). Its only downfall is that it becomes too careful at times, and some of these tracks at the heart of the album bleed into each other. Even so, Ka is able to wedge himself in with a clear, unique perspective, and his sure-handed approach makes for clever lyrics, careful delivery, thoughtful production, and one of the best hip hop albums of the year.
Read full Ka – The Night’s Gambit Review.
42. Friendzone – DX
On DX, Friendzone embraces the LP format quite expertly and there is no filler or interludes that were frequent on Collection I. On DX, Friendzone creates this impenetrable wall of sound much like My Bloody Valentine. Instead of using copious amounts of guitar distortion, they use hard-hitting 808′s, Japanese piano melodies, and high-pitched vocal samples that have been modulated beyond comprehension.
Read full Friendzone – DX Review.
41. James Holden – The Inheritors
The best way to describe The Inheritors is to imagine a forgotten ancient musical relic left by an alien race who had a penchant for classical, experimental house and acid jazz. So, in a way, the listeners are “the inheritors” of this otherworldly music that seems like it should be played at a museum chock full of dinosaurs, antique weaponry and interstellar mobiles. There is even alien-like gibberish that is moaned throughout “||:A Circle Inside A Circle Inside:||” and “Circle of Fifths” that would make any Boards of Canada fan feel right at home.
Read full James Holden – The Inheritors Review.
And that’s it for today! We’re winding down to the end. Be sure to join us tomorrow as we take a look at our best albums of 2013: 40 – 26.