Top 10 Albums – 2013

January 18, 2014

4 years in the same location. This is certainly a new record for my top 10 list, and though this blog has been neglected/abandoned this year, it’s nice to have everything in the same place.

I had a great year listening to music this year, and still believe in the album as the best way to listen to music. Perhaps the fact that I’m saying that though indicates that I don’t really believe it. Who knows? In 2012, 7 artists were new to my top 10 list, and this year that number is down to 4.

I had a wild ride through October and November where I was seeing about a concert a week, but despite that fact, I only saw 4 bands that made the top 10 list live this year.

It’s been a tradition that I’ve provided download zips for past top 10 lists… but I’m not going to this year. If you’d like to hear the album, you can click on the Spotify link, or find it on YouTube or whatever. If you can’t figure out a way to listen to the album, get in touch. Without further ado, here we go!

10. Tim Kasher – Adult Film

Tim Kasher had an incredible run 2000-2004 chugging away as Conor Oberst’s second fiddle on the Omaha scene. Tim Kasher released 5 albums and a couple EPs over this period of time, and some of them are among my favorite albums ever. Specifically, Cursive’s Domestica and The Good Life’s Album of the Year.

I’ve kept up with his work with varying degrees of interest since that time, but I hadn’t really gotten into an album since this one. Adult Film is more Good Life than Cursive, but it still rocks pretty hard. Standout tracks: A Raincloud is a Raincloud, Truly freaking out.
Listen on Spotify

9. of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar

of Montreal’s another band who I was into for a long time. Unlike Kasher’s music, which I thought got kind of boring, of Montreal’s music just got too weird for me, and I lost interest.

With Lousy with Slyvianbriar, of Montreal takes a sharp left turn from their hyper-sexualized-pschadelic-disco-pop and basically makes an accoustic country album. This isn’t too crazy, as they started out as a more acoustic pop band, but it’s pretty unexpected twist, and it works out pretty well. But it’s still pretty weird. Standout tracks include: Triumph of Disintegration, Belle Grade Missionaries
Listen on Spotify

8. Fur Trade – Don’t Get Heavy

So, here’s a new band, but a sound you might recognize. Fur Trade is a side project of Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat (Who’m you’ve probably heard of) and Parker Bossley of the Gay Nineties (Who’m you might not have heard of. I haven’t.) Now, I’ve never listened to a Hot Hot Heat album, so I wasn’t expecting much when I grabbed this one.

But hey, it’s good, maybe even really good. This album is one of two that falls into my annual category of “Who’s going to make a better Islands album than Islands?” (The next answer is #7)

This album is a rocking good time. The album starts out with a really strong 1-2 punch, so check those two out: Don’t Get Heavy and Kids These Days
Listen on Spotify

7. The Little Ones – The Dawn Sang Along

I literally don’t know anything about this band. They weren’t reviewed on Pitchfork, and the people who formed the band were a part of Sunday’s Best, another band I’ve never heard of. I probably stumbled across this CD when it was on a torrenting site’s top 10 and had the tags “indie, pop, rock”. Those are all things I like

And it turns out this album is really good. Those tags are pretty good indicators of what you’re in for. It’s a great pop rock album. It’s got good beats throughout. I think maybe on this list, it might be #2 or #3 on an “appealable to the largest amount of people” ranking.

Check out tracks: Argonauts and Little Souls
Listen on Spotify

6. Kanye West – Yeezus

Hating Kanye West appears to be back in style and stronger than ever in 2013, and I won’t deny that he makes it pretty easy. He says dumb things in interviews, he marries weird people, etc… I understand if you don’t like Kanye West.

But he is doing real work, musically. His previous full-length, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, was my favorite album of the year, and I just listened to it again this week. It’s incredible. This album is not that good, by a long shot, but it’s also wildly different.

I still haven’t got on board with this IDM or whatever the kids are calling it these days, but Kanye’s keeping up with the times. He’s built a huge platform for himself and he’s not sitting on his ass making Graduation over and over again, raking in more money. He’s doing interesting things. He’s setting himself up over and over again for criticism and failure, and (at least musically) he keeps succeeding.

This album took awhile to grow on me. Maybe 3 times through I was still unsure about it, but it’s strong all the way through from the schyzophrenic “On Site” to the topless Kim Kardashian “Bound 2”. There’s a reason that artists as diverse as Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Daft Punk and Rick Rubin want to work with this guy. No matter how misguided you might think he is, he cares passionately (often to a fault) about the work he’s doing, and will go to whatever ends he deems necessary to get it done.
Listen on Spotify

5. Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

Unlike Tim Kasher and of Montreal, where I kind of lost interest for awhile, I’ve given all of Okkervil River’s albums a good hard effort, and things have been in decline (on my estimation which is obviously of little consequence) since Black Sheep Boy, which capped a string of 3 phenomenal albums. Both Stage Names and Stand-Ins (which maybe doesn’t count as an album?) were both pretty good.

2011’s I Am Very Far was decidedly average though and after seeing a decidedly below average show in support of the album, I was worried my Okkervil River days were nearly over.

This album is very good though. Not BSB good, but at least Stage Names good, and the St. Louis tour date was decidedly great. This is a concept album about a boyhood in New Hampshire in the 1980’s, and if that sounds too quaint to you… it might be. But if you think “oh that might be interesting” then you’ll probably like this album.

Looking at the track list, it’s hard to recommend just a few tracks here, but let’s see how you like: On A Balcony, Down The Deep River & Pink Slips
Listen on Spotify

4. Tristen – Caves

You might remember Tristen from her #6 appearance on the 2011 list with Charlaten at the Garden Gates. This follow album seemed to take a long time to get out. Maybe I only think that because I backed it on Kickstarter.

But anyway, Charlaten was a very nashvill-y album, and this one is too. But there are more drum machines. I don’t have a lot to say about this, other than I love her voice and I think you will too. Check out the tracks “No One’s Gonna Know” and … I don’t know “Monster”. They are all good though.
Listen on Spotify

3. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

This one took a lonnnnggggg time to grow on me. There are discussions on record of me not liking this album. I still stand by the fact that CHVRCHES is a stupid band name, but I can no longer say that this is not one of my favorite CDs of the year.

This is an electronic pop album. Listen if you like “The Postal Service”, maybe? But it’s definitely less minimal than that. It’s big, it’s fun, and it might be just as good. This is solid stay awake, multiple listen road trip material.

Check out “The Mother We Share”, “Gun”, “Recover”, and then be confident that if you listen a few times, the rest of the album is as good as these three tracks.
Listen on Spotify

2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

I keep waiting for this band to disappoint me. Their debut seemed like such a flash in the pan, their second album seemed like an acceptable continuation of their first album, but what about that third album? They have to get worse, or get boring, right?

WRONG. Modern Vampires of the City is as good as Vampire Weekend’s debut, and it is completely different. Sure, it’s still kind of ivy-league pop-rock. But they strayed well out of their comfort zone here, most notably by writing some great slow songs. I can’t and won’t say what my favorite Vampire Weekend album is, but this is definitely in the conversation. Also, it gives me hope that this band has a lot more potential than I thought they did.

Every track is great, but I guess check out “Dianne Young”, and “Everlasting Arms”. My favorite track though, is “Hannah Hunt”, but it’s a bit of a grower
Listen on Spotify

1. Moonface – Julia With Blue Jeans On

If Spencer Krug is putting out an album, under any name there’s a good chance it’s going to show up on a Top 10 list for me. (Except for those Wolf Parade albums after the first one. Don’t know what went wrong there.) Moonface has been an amorphous project with the only fixed piece being Spencer Krug himself, and this one is the most concentrated form of this vision: Spencer Krug, his voice, and a piano.

It’s easily my favorite Moonface album and maybe up there with my favorite Spencer Krug album under any name. (Sunset Rubdown was his other main band. They only put out 3 albums but all of them were close to my #1 album of the year when they came out.)

If this album were by anyone else, it might not have made such an impact on me, but I just love this guy’s voice and his style of writing so much. I guess standout tracks include: “Love the House You’re In” and “Black is Back In Style”.

To be clear, these top 3 albums were kind of a tossup. In a tossup though, Spencer Krug always wins for me.
Listen on Spotify

Thanks for reading. See you again in 2015.


2 Responses to “Top 10 Albums – 2013”

  1. […] tough to find a theme in my list this year, and perhaps even tougher than in previous years.. There’s a lot of poppy stuff here, but my two favorite albums of the year […]

  2. […] like to take a walk down memory lane, go for it: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | […]

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