2013 Album review, best of the best
A joke written on an Applebees napkin. Who is really going to read this? We laughed. After hours of contemplation. After weeks of blood, sweat and tears, here is a list of the best albums of 2013, according to TrackMarks. I hope you read it.
1. The National, Trouble Will Find Me
– The National has been striving to find their timeless classic, and in Trouble Will Find Me, the Brooklyn-based band reaches the potential we all knew they had. This is adult rock. This is the gap from adolescence to adulthood, where there are no defined lines, just assumption and experience. They find familiarity and walk on topics of reflection, missed opportunity and wisdom. Over the course of this 13 track masterpiece, it picks up where High Violet, The National’s last album, left off. The vibe of this album creates the dichotomy of confidence and complete uncertainty that we build and rebuild through every life experience. Key Tracks: Pink Rabbits, I Should Live in Salt, Sea of Love, Slipped, I Need my Girl.
2. Local Natives, Humming Bird
– This album proves to be the most consistently successful creation of the year. Every song eloquently places itself into the vision of these harmonizers. Most albums have certain tracks that can be left behind, but Hummingbird produces no b-sides. It’s the soundtrack to waking up from a euphoric dream only to find that your dreams are now within reach. Key Tracks: Heavy Feet, Columbia, You & I, Ceilings, Three Months.
3. Arcade Fire, Reflektor
– Reflektor lays down new ground without forgetting why “Funeral” was regarded as one of the best albums of the previous decade. This James Murphy production takes everything we already love about Arcade Fire and adds pieces of LCD Sound System and Talking Heads. These trans-anthems were missed since Murphy went into retirement. The longevity of each individual track and the overall album is an ambitious win for Arcade Fire. The band’s soul-searching and pre-modernized festivals give this percussive album the beat it needs to land it into the top five. Key Tracks: Reflektor, Here Comes the Night, Normal Person, Awful Sound, Afterlife.
4. Darkside, Psychic
– Talk about ambitious debuts, before its release, Darkside teased its first 11 minutes of their twisted creation that left us craving something they could only feed. The previews left us an unfillable void that the album easily filled. This duo brings the psychedelic darkness of Pink Floyd with the emerging pulse of bass, discomfort and sound. It unleashes the carnal being repressed inside. The sound brings out your guilty desires of sexual and violent impulses. Psychic dares to enter the black hole of the unknown, taunting our subconscious on their 50 minute hallucination. Key Tracks: This album should be listened in its entirety.
5. Chvurches, The Bones of What You Believe
– A pop trio that knows how to steer clear of mainstream, oversimplified perfection. They pick up the gap where Postal Service left us ten years ago, with clever lines and even catchier hooks. In their dream-pop analog debut, the album allow us to reminisce on an arcade-era heartache, while still clenching your fists and shaking your hips. Key Tracks: Gun, Recover, Lungs,We Sync, Under the Tide.
6. James Blake, Overgrown
– We were a bit skeptical of the new album because of the James Blake’s debut (James Blake). The talent and ambition was there in the first album, but was constructed in a hit or miss fashion. His talent for piano, D.J. and vocal maturity broke through in his sophomore release. This album peaks on almost every song, instead of showcasing only bits of genius as in his debut. One of the best collaborations of the year was with the surprising guest appearances of RZA. Blake has already nabbed the 2013 Mercury Prize and is up for the Grammy Award of Best New Artist. The sky is the limit for this British success story. Key Tracks: Take the Fall for Me, I Am Sold, Life Around Here, Voyeur.
7. Yuck, Glow and Below
– When former Yuck front man Daniel Blumberg decided to embark on his own endeavors, we thought the casket door had shut on the band, but we were pleasantly mistaken that sometimes the back bone of the band isn’t always the front man. Capitalizing on their dreamy melodies, they learned how to break the sophomore slump persona and give us one of the best albums of the year. They showed us they can expand and contract with the birth of a new era in this Indie success. Key Tracks: Somewhere, Out of Time, Losing My Breath, Middle Sea.
8. Deafheaven, Sunbather
– No bands in recent history from a black or post-metal genre have gained such exposure and rightly so. This San Francisco sensation gracefully combines the experimental and instrumental perfections, comparable to Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed, with the intensity of thrash-metal and the unconformity of Indie. Who says hipsters and punk rockers can’t be friends? Key Tracks: This album should be listened to in its entirety.
9. Kanye West, Yeezus
– We don’t normally get on the Kanye musically can-do-no-wrong bandwagon, but this album reaches new heights for the industry and shows that this rapper is not afraid of change. Embracing the EDM surge, understanding the Indie etiquettes and spitting verses that make you want to dance and forgive Kanye all over again makes this album break the top ten. Key Tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Blood on the Leaves, I Am a God.
10. My Bloody Valentine, MBV
– Scoring the final spot in the top ten, this album revitalizes the sounds MBV pioneered with Loveless back in 1993. They started a movement that was only recognized after Indie mainstreamed its way into pop culture, and they have come back to reclaim their throne. This is the soundtrack for your comatose, rubber dream. Key Tracks: Only Tomorrow, She Found Now, Who Sees You, New You.
11. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
– This album produced the summer hits we expected, with surfer-indie charm, which has been consistently put out since they started as a band. His lullaby, pop ways bring out the child in all of us. Although Modern Vampires of the City brings nothing new to the table, it deserves to be in the scrapbook of their other instant classics. Key Tracks: Step, Unbelievers, Finger Back.
12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito
– Karen O never ceases to amaze us. She’s shown us that girls can front a band with the same confidence and arrogance as her male counterparts. She draws you into her eccentric, sexual trap, which most girls fall privy to. Mosquito showcases gospel chants, electronic buzz and distorted guitars in the New York City grime we all love. She’s learned how to intimidate and excite, while not leaving her innocence completely behind. The album is a collection of what we love from its predecessors without gaining new ground, but still keeping our finger on the play button. Key Tracks: Despair, Mosquito, Under the Earth.
13. Disclosure, Settle
– These young visionaries incorporate all vocal genres to create the sounds of a New York City basement after party, filled with hot and contained bursts of consistent bass drops and hooks to get listeners to sing along. Hopefully their follow-up album will see through to give us more depth and variety instead of just easing our curiosity. Key Tracks: Latch, White Noise, Grab Her.
14. Flaming Lips, The Terror
– The legends of musical composition form again to bring us an outstanding expression that strives to the edge of the cliff without going over. The eccentricity does not overpower the album, but enhances the anxiety we want from it. Such a vast catalog tends to either replicate or overcompensate, but the terror does neither and instead finds its way high up on the mountain that the Flaming Lips have been climbing since the early 80s. Key Tracks: Look…the Sun is Rising, The Terror, You Lust.
15. Atoms for Peace, AMOK
– The connection between Thom Yorke, Flea and the other members of Atoms for Peace makes for the best of the electronic-jam genre and dares to venture into the dark trance of these trailblazers. Although lacking the controlled chaos of Radiohead and pop-funk complexities of Red Hot Chili Peppers, these repetitive tunes are sure to unleash your inner neon tiger. Key Tracks: Before Your Very Eyes; Default; Judge, Jury and Executioner.
16. Jim James, Regions of Light and Sound
– Only a person with true musical appreciation can step off of his rock-star pedestal to dance amongst us in a balloon-filled banquet hall. Jim James left his comfort in his guitar case and honed in on his soulful, yet subtle melodies to achieve an eclectic revolution. This album goes where My Morning Jacket and Monsters of Folk does not, by expanding on his experimental endeavors in different genres that stand alone. Key Tracks: Know Til Now, A New Life, State of the Art.
17. Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks
– A mastermind, Trent Resner, can abruptly leave his franchise and pick up where the pieces were left. Over 20 years of manipulating the jigsaw pieces, this front man compiles a beautiful, unfinished puzzle. His unsatisfied angst revisits Chuck Palanuk’s cult themes in a dark, electronic/rock gem to dance or fight to. Key Tracks: Copy of A, Came back Haunted, Satellite.
18. Sigur Ros, Kveikur
– Hearing Kveikur live is a religious, self-awakening experience. The symphony of lights, sounds and builds surges the body with euphoria on every promising peak. Jonsi’s understanding of dynamics and subtleties is almost unmatched. Although this will never be Takk or ( ), it doesn’t aim to be. It still catapults you onto the mountain tops of Iceland with every foreign hum soaked in reverb. Key Tracks: Isjaki, Kveikur, Stormur.
19. Paul McCartney, New
– Only a former Beatle can adapt to the new ages of music while still incorporating everything we love about this 60’s icon. Moving away from singles, such as “Valentine”, and into what’s “new” earned this artist’s spot on the best of 2013. Key Tracks: New, On my Way to Work, Save us.
20. Deer Tick, Negativity
– Their previous album, Devine Providence, left Deer Tick treading in comfortable water. Negativity sails right into the storm. This album’s rock and soul draws the listener immediately in. Their unique sound appeals to those who admire folk, rock and the classic, contemporary icons, such as Frank Sinatra. They’ve learned how to party at a black-tie event. The name’s Tick. Deer Tick. Key Tracks: Trash, Thyme, The Rock
21. Eminem, Marshall Mathers LP2
– This album refreshingly feeds us humor and intelligence. We thought Eminem lost his storybook, but then he adds a whole new chapter. A little more mature, a little less adventurous. Just when we thought the string was cut, Slim Shady threads the twine and ropes us right back into his adolescence in an album of reflection. Key Tracks: Bad Guy, Rap God, Headlights.
22. Mutual Benefits, Love’s Crushing Diamond
– As one of the year’s latest releases, this epic fairytale of sound walks where others didn’t and right onto our list. The pretty melodies and hypnotic trance captures not only the ear, but the heart. They understand you can have soft, subtle beauty and still engage the listener. Patience is a virtue. Key Tracks: Advanced Falconry, Golden Wake, Strong Swimmer.
23. Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven
– Closer to art, than an album, this creative orchestra of melody, dissonance and dynamics draws you into the inner workings of your mind. With every haunting, uncomfortable movement there is a counterpart of equal beauty. On his latest work, Daniel Lopatin gives you the color and paintbrush to unleash your inner artist. Key Tracks: This album should be played in its entirety.
24. Jake Bugg, Shangri La
– This folk-artist rookie brings truth to his voice and details his story through careful words and well-though out hooks. His subtle, back woods character paves the way for this genre while tipping his hat to his predecessors. Key Tracks: Slum Ville Sunrise, All Your Reasons, Pine Trees.
25. Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork
– This household name knows how to balance pure rock n’ roll with mainstream success, while not tarnishing their creative edge. They push the envelope with their ballads and do what’s right for the song, not the name. I guess they still “go with the flow” without losing truth. Key Tracks: …Like Clockwork, I appear Missing, I sat by the Ocean.
Honorable Mentions: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; Sky Ferreira, Nighttime, my Time; Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest; Daft Punk, Random Access Memories; Phosphorescent, Muchacho; Dillinger Escape Plan, One of Us is the Killer; Washed Out, Paracosm; Kevin Devine, Bulldozer/Bubblegum; Best Coast, Fade Away EP; Foxygen, We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
– These were a few albums which were heavily considered on our best of 2013. These albums may have lacked consistency or high points at moments, but are still considered among the top of the year. We highly recommend downloading these, as well…
For more articles, coverage and reviews, follow Eric Nelson and Lindsay Rittenhouse at their twitter @trackmarks. Eric Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Lindsay Rittenhouse can be reached at email@example.com.