Plenty of great music has been released in 2013 already. It’s always staggering to look back at the halfway point and realize what has come out, what you need to give another listen to, and so on. This is a list of my personal faves that also have garnered substantial critical acclaim. I know there are lots of other great albums from this year, so why don’t you comment and tell me about them huh?! If you really want to know what else I thought was great for some reason, click through to my album picks for each week’s releases.
This has to top my list, as I’m sure it does for many others. Despite its numerous problems in the lyrics department, namely a badly used Nina Simone sample, its industrial grind and Kanye’s manic delivery trump all. There’s just no other music like this around — now or ever.
We can debate all day whether this was worth the wait. But that’s just the thing. I’ve had so many hourlong (well, maybe five-minute or so) debates about this album, that’s already proof enough to me that mbv is a work of art. Would you have wanted My Bloody Valentine to come back with a watered-down, poppier version of Loveless? That would have been the greatest disappointment. Instead, we have this difficult yet rewarding album that challenges your notions of songwriting and listenability — much like Isn’t Anything and Loveless did years back. What now sounds normal to us once sounded alien and still does to fresh ears on those album. This is just readjusting to Kevin Shields once again rewriting the rules of music.
My favorite albums always seem to be troubled ones, and this is no exception. It’s really long, and some of the songs don’t quite work. But that depends on who you talk to. Some don’t love hearing Giorgio Moroder talk over Daft Punk and Moroder recreating his classic sounds for three minutes, whereas I love that shit. And the songs we can all agree on, like “Give Life Back to Music,” “Doin’ it Right” and the future classic “Get Lucky”? Those three songs alone make Random Access Memories a revelation. The more you dig in, the more personal favorites you find, which is something rare to find in a record these days — that openness and willingness to experiment when an artist already has a winning formula, or several, and doesn’t need to do that. It’s an album that gives and gives.
Screeching vocals and walls of noise are broken up by haunting, Smashing Pumpkins-esque, beautifully spare guitars. It’s an unusual trip and one you have to be willing to embark on, but Sunbather is intricately plotted, with great arrangements buried in the din and innovation in its threading together of disparate but connected genres (black metal, post-rock, indie rock and shoegaze). Some will shrug, others will feel like Deafheaven is one of the only bands speaking a language they understand.
I’m such a sucker for this guy. Drifters / Love is the Devil is dense and dirty, expanding doubly on the great Badlands with more twisted rockabilly riffs, more gritted-teeth diatribes and more Lynchian atmosphere.
My most-listened to album of the year. Jangly indie-pop guitars, multiple vocals singing in alternating verse and harmony, and tunes that stick in your head like gum. Not the most original thing, but I for one can’t get it off my turntable for long.
Watch their performance at Amoeba in 2012 below!
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