by P.J. Wascher
It’s never been easier to discover great music. Spotify has been my weapon of choice, but the Internet has created several portals for bands to reach new fans. Keeping with a personal tradition, I spent most of the year putting together this music list on post-it notes. While listening through all this music I kept saying to myself “2013 can’t beat the music year we just had (2012).” While I still kind of believe that, 2013 was a great year for music. Yes 2012 was special, I’m still digging up great music from that year, but 2013 was able to fill my hunger for new music and so much more. This list is part of my annual tradition. I love ranking music. It brings order to my crazy listening habits. My goal is to find something new everyday, as you can see with this SOTD list. Ranking music gives me something to go back to and reflect on what I really loved. At work I’ve blocked off a section of my desk to organize this list. Every album I love gets ranked in this Post-It Note list. After some last minute adjustments, Here are my official Top 10 Albums of 2013 and Song Of The Year:
Song Of The Year:
Wings by Haerts
The Moment I heard this song I knew I’d found my song of the year. The vocals are the first thing to notice. Long sustained notes make it hard to not get sucked right in. A flashback 80s synth sound followed by an electric guitar that makes me think of summer sets the theme. The easy to ignore detail is the drums, with great background fills and a shift to double time at the end. It hits all the right notes and even hides great details in the layers to enjoy over and over.
The Top 5
- Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend – I’ll admit right off the top, this feels strange. It doesn’t feel right putting a band, I quite frankly struggle with at the top of this list. I’ve never been a fan of their earlier work and their inability to match the richness of their studio-produced albums has always frustrated me. That has still not changed, but I think Vampire Weekend went with a different approach to that weakness. Instead of worrying about what it would sound like live, they went all in on the studio approach. The result is pretty incredible. The detail and emotion in these songs is great. It’s the only album this year that I was able to constantly press play and listen all the way through. I love albums like this. Every track is worth listening too. No throw aways. Having seen some live performances by them, it hasn’t gotten any better on that front, in my opinion, but their album production quality has taken a giant leap forward.
- Obvious Bicycles
- Ya Hey
2. Wildewoman by Lucius
I went to their concert in late October. By the end I heard three different conversations say, “They’re going to be something special.” While I agree with the sentiment, I’d argue they already are something special. This album is fantastic. Every year I look for a new sound, this was it: a female singing combo with a folk/pop fusion. The vocals obviously lead the way with this group, but the drums/percussion supply the energy. Whenever I try to describe this to people, I always get a surprised look when I start playing their tracks. So either people are really skeptical about my music taste or I’m really terrible at describing music, so I think I’ll let the track below do the work.
- Turn It Around
- Hey, Doreen
- Two of Us on the Run
3. AM by Arctic Monkeys
I’m an Olympics nut. Watching the 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony, I saw this band along side the likes of Paul McCartney representing the UK’s great music scene. I’d heard some of their stuff, but none of it had really jumped off the page for me. This album has completely changed that. I think we can thank The Black Keys for this great rock evolution. That sound has worked its way into several of the best rock albums of the year.
- R U Mine?
- Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
4. Bankrupt! by Phoenix
If you were allowed to judge your own music list, I’d call this my biggest surprise album on the list. When I originally listened through this album, I found it a bit too much of shift from their original sound. Adding a significant amount of synth to their sound, I was not ready for the move. After a several month hiatus, I randomly felt interested in giving this album another try. Cutting out the surprise, it finally started making sense to me. Different isn’t always bad, but certain expectations can make it tough to adjust. This album is fantastic and shows the group is still growing and evolving. I’m still not sure where they can go from here, but I like that this group is experimenting. It’s too easy to stand still with what works.
- Trying to Be Cool
- The Real Thing
5. All The Times We Had by Ivan & Alyosha
I’ve always liked the sound from this band. It hits all the right notes for me. After four years, they finally released a follow-up album and it’s become much more polished. Watching them live in November, I can give thumbs up approval for carrying their sound over to their concert performances. This album reminds me of The Temper Trap’s self-titled album, lots of great melodies and vocals. This group features a bit more of a folksy side and group vocals allow for build up in that area. The guitar melodies are fantastic.
- Be Your Man
- Fathers Be Kind
- Running For Cover
The Next 5
New this year, thanks to a great 2013 for music, I’ve ranked beyond the Top 5. Here are 5 more albums worth your time:
6. The World From The Side Of The Moon by Phillip Phillips – Dave Mathews + Jason Mraz. I really didn’t expect to love this, but his live versions of these songs are fantastic.
- Gone, Gone, Gone
- Man On The Moon
- Can’t Go Wrong
7. Be by Beady Eye – This was my “pallet cleanser” album for the year. When songs begin to blend together, this album always cleared my head. Great throwback rock sound.
- Flick Of The Finger
- Shine A Light
- Soul Love
8. Lanterns by Son Lux – I love what this artist can do in a studio. Almost took my song of the year.
- Lost It To Trying
- Alternate World
9. Repave by Volcano Choir – My longing for a new Bon Iver album has been slightly quelled by this release.
10. Life is Elsewhere by Little Comets – Afropop continues to go more and more mainstream thanks to Vampire Weekend, but they’ve moved a bit off of it. This group has picked the torch right back up.
- A Little Opus
Native by One Republic – Big fan of this group, was guilty of overplaying this album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8punZbeuGg
Comedown Machine by The Strokes – Angles still my favorite album by this group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxsPF4bsDmc
Spreading Rumors by Grouplove https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgF9knPeReo
Home by Rudimental https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oABEGc8Dus0
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts by Cold War Kids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F6gAN6MOII
Holy Fire by Foals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAsGFnLl2u0
Give In by On An On https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkiXu4wavnM
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk – Wanted to love this album badly. It’s good but not great. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJhpOXnRILw
What Wonder Is This Universe! by The Soil And The Sun – Officially a 2012 album, or else it’d be in my Top 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvsIY07-444
In Guards We Trust by Guards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBLelbyitG0
Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves – My Country Album of Year. This song linked is also my favorite song from that genre for the year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc
Fever Forms by The Octopus Project – I found this music a perfect way to dust off the Monday blues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKIQ0I1UXJE
Hearthrob by Teagan and Sara https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrvIzuMl8Ug
Rift into the Secrect of Things by Bonzie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76WR58zIcnU
Country Sleep by Night Beds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUANoVYf8tw
Reflektor by Arcade Fire – Still making up my mind on this album. Like it, not sure if I love it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E0fVfectDo
Dormarian by Telekinesis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcJ7gZYHMUI
Pythons by Surfer Blood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hibl9YBdM7w
Cave Rave by Crystal Fighters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tZSY6RRGlw
Evil Friends by Portugal. The Man – Been a fan of this group for a while. Was excited to see them pairing with my favorite producer (Danger Mouse) for this album. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daB9QRwVQH4
….Like Clockwork by Queens of Stone Age https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFca32_7YUU
More Than Just A Dream by Fitz and The Tantrums https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CyAruneYJI
A Color Map of the Sun by Pretty Lights https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a1_GVRtme0
When The Night by St. Lucia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-sKMiNqTjs
The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktoaj1IpTbw
Paradise Valley by John Mayer – Still waiting on the next Continuum, not sure it’s coming, but this is a step in the right direction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0zaNpics48
Yeezus by Kanye West – I’m a huge Kanye fan, but I feel very torn about this album. The lyrics make this a very uncomfortable listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0QcxWPB59o
Interiors by Glasser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOVY0KDEzqw
Matangi by M.I.A. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ2lsG3I8IU
We Are Twin by We Are Twin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRAF9DxT1Os
Hemiplegia by Haerts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jG97ziDTpQ
Overgrown by James Blake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p6PcFFUm5I