Let’s start with the bad so we can get it out of the way? Gogol Bordello and Franz Ferdinand are two of my favorite artists… ever. Check the charts – they’re up there. But both of their 2013 releases were pretty lackluster. There are a couple songs on Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions that I enjoyed – but like the title, it ends up being mostly filler.
Now to the golden 13! That’s right – I’m getting older, more picky, no more top 25. Try harder guys…
1.Arctic Monkeys – AM
There’s no denying this record belongs in my #1 spot – despite how little I have cared for these guys in the past. It’s great lyrics, catchy beats, great production, and it’s dynamic from start to finish. Mr. Turner & Mr. Helders have really grown up; there’s no way a record of this magnitude could have come any sooner in their career.
2.Warm Soda – Someone for You
Sugary indie-pop that is even better live. Matthew Melton was born to lead. Also, this is another record that made it to the prime spots because I’ve listened to it from start to finish, countless times throughout the year.
3.Mikal Cronin – MC II
I think MCII is 10x better than his s/t debut. What you might deem “hipster” music - I wouldn’t blame you. He sings about fleeting youth and nostalgia and I’m a sucker. It sounds good too. And comforting. Like your grandmother’s den, filled with sunshine and fresh madeleines and tea.
4.Valleys – Are You Going to Stand There and Talk Weird All Night
This is one of those albums I kind of ignored upon release, then decided to check out randomly, then fell in love with after first listen, and now hate everyone who doesn’t appreciate how good this is – especially for a debut! Montreal always has the best music. I can’t even put my finger on what makes this so good – each track is so different and just hits the right spots. I also love the snarky title / I would totally say that.
5.Deafheaven – Sunbather
2013 has been a year where I’ve let metal into my life. In part due to a certain acquaintance, in part due to this album. I’ve always loved post-rock. It has this sweeping beauty to it but unlike a Jeff Buckley song – it comes in crashes instead of whispers. Majestic as fuck, per se? Now add metal to it. Genius. Honestly Deafheaven’s earlier stuff – not that impressed, but they really hit it out of the ballpark with this release. And who doesn’t love the beachy coral-pink sunset cover – it’s like a big fuck you/gotcha to what you’ve come to expect.
6.Chvrches – The Bones of What We Believe
I’ve had mixed feelings about these guys. I loved “Recover” from the first listen, months before the actual album came out – but I didn’t really get the hype surrounding previous singles. After a few forced listens in the office from coworkers who apparently suffer from binge-listening – I came around. There are way too many tracks on here that I enjoy for me to not acknowledge them. Will I pay $50 to see them at Terminal 5 – fuck no but I will be revisiting this release well into 2014.
7.Pissed Jeans – Honeys
Apparently this is the album I have listened to most this past year – color me a little surprised because I mostly like Pissed Jeans for their live shows. In any case, this album is a lot of fun. Beer-spilling, yelling, angry at everything, fun. I read that the guys in the band all have full-time jobs, so no one in the band depends on the music for their livelihood – which could be misconstrued to mean they have no reason to give it their all – but in actuality gives them a lot more freedom.
8.Primitive Hearts – High and Tight
I like these guys for the same reason I like Warm Soda. It’s upbeat, lo-fi, indie-pop. Garage pop? Fuzzy line between those two, but it’s always fun to hear and the album literally flies by. These guys are on FDH Records which is the first label I can really say I trust with any release.
9.Cyanide Pills – Still Bored
Re: Warm Soda & Primitive Hearts, fun, tongue-in-cheek, power pop. Not as sugary sweet as Warm Soda, in fact it’s a little bit reminiscent of Ramones stuff. They also have a song titled, “Can’t Get it Up” – which I find amusing, and obviously starred on Spotify.
10.Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Not including this on my top 10 would be lying by omission. I would hardly consider myself a fan of Arcade Fire but they do make solid albums. And they do put on a good show. And I fully understand why they can easily fill stadiums. That being sad, “Porno,” “Normal Person,” and “Reflektor” are the standout tracks.
11.Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
This is a band I wrote off because of how stupid the name is. My bad, but come on. I ended up seeing them live before having heard the record, and I enjoyed their set more than the band I originally went to see. So reluctantly, I have come around. I’m already planning on seeing them a second time, and have looped several of their tracks. “Lite Dream” and “Field of Dreams” are my favorites, but I wouldn’t mind hearing the whole thing at any given time.
12.Savages – Silence Yourself
These guys have intrigued me since last year but I never went to see them at CMJ and Husbands quickly lost its novelty. I’m still on the fence between really loving their conviction and almost theatricality (absolutely admirable) but I also can’t shake the feeling of kitsch that comes along with it. They were great when I caught the end of their set in Iceland but it all seemed very, rehearsed. Which is disappointing since the thing I like most about them is that everything out of Jehnny Beth’s mouth sounds like it’s meant solely for you, and delivered with begging eyes and urgency – once you lose that, it loses the appeal.
13.The Lovely Bad Things – The Late Great Whatever
This is the band I went to see when I decided I liked Diarrhea Planet more. They’re fun, and it’s a good record, same vein as the other power-pop bands I listed, the only difference is this one has female vocals.
Turf War – Years of Living Dangerously and FIDLAR – FIDLAR are two more albums I thoroughly enjoyed (and would have placed in the top 10) but I associate them more with 2012, despite official release dates for physical copies.
And for a list of songs that almost made me include the albums on my top list but then I realized I was just playing this one track from each release:
Son Lux – “Lost it to Trying”
Chelsea Wolfe – “The Warden”, “Lone”
Beyonce – “XO”, “Jealous”
Twin Shadow – “Old Love/New Love”
Skaters – “I Wanna Dance (But I don’t know how)”
The National – “Don’t Swallow the Cap”
Minks – ‘Painted Indian”, “Hold Me Now”
Rhye – “The Fall”, “3 Days”
Tough Age – “We’re Both to Blame”
Twin Peaks – “Fast Eddie”
Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
Haim – “The Wire”
Weekend – “Mirror”, “Adelaide”
Kvelertak – “Kvelertak”