#1 Tropic Of Cancer - Restless Idylls (Blackest Ever Black)
A coworker of mine basically just told me that I would love this album before I even knew what it was. I didn't know at the time just how much time I would be spending with this album. It reminds me of the dark wave gothy vocals of Zola Jesus. It also reminds me of the darker moments of an album by This Mortal Coil or even Slowdive. I might also just love this album because it reminds me of the album With Sympathy by Ministry. This is an album you need to experience on your own. There are a couple songs on this record that I honestly can't listen to enough. This is an album that will stay with me forever.
Listen to "More Alone" by Tropic Of Cancer...
#2 Weekend - Jinx (Slumberland)
Jinx is the third album from Weekend. Sports & Red came out in 2010 and 2011 but this is the album that made me their #1 fan. It is a beautiful post punk shoe gaze sort of album. Reminiscent of the great For Against. I am still very much enjoying the albums that Slumberland is giving us every year. And this is their best of the year. This is one of the albums that I can easily lose myself in and listen to on repeat. Like the best albums it just keeps getting better the more I listen to it.
Listen to "Mirror" by Weekend...
#3 Chvrches -
The Bones Of What You Believe (Glassnote)
Every year I hope that a band like this will put out an album like this. It gives me hope that there will always be new bands that will still get me excited about music. This album is pure fun pop music. This was one of the albums along with HAIM that I was most anticipating this year. Synth pop from Glasgow. Sounds like Bloc Party mixed with Grimes. Need I say more. I was obviously going to fall in love with this record. I really would have been obsessed with this album 10 years ago or 20 years ago. But my taste in music really has not changed that much over 20 years. So I still love it.
Listen to "The Mother We Share" by Chvrches...
#4 Boards Of Canada -
Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
Yet another band from Scotland that I am obsessed with. These guys have been around a long time. Twoism came out in 1995. But I don't think I really started listening to them until Music Has The Right To Children came out in 1998. Luckily for us Warp has just reissued all their albums on vinyl. And this new album has really made me a fan all over again. This album is just minimal background music at times. But the album can really grow on you. I think maybe I didn't really get into it until maybe months after it came out when I really spent some time with it. It reminded me why I first fell in love with electronic music. It really takes you to places that no other music can.
Listen to "New Seeds" by Boards Of Canada...
#5 HAIM - Days Are Gone (Columbia)
I would never expect anyone to love all the same albums that I do every year. But I really don't see how you can't fall in love with HAIM. They are like a modern version of Fleetwood Mac. This is one of the great pop albums of the year. It just makes me happy these girls exist. I felt really happy for them when I was watching them on SNL. I had been anticipating this album since last year and it just made me happy that everything was working out for them. The album is catchy and highly addictive. You have been warned.
Listen to "Falling" by HAIM..
#6 Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (Columbia)
The world was introduced to Daft Punk in 1997 with the album Homework. I had just moved to San Francisco the year before and was already a big fan of dance music. But Daft Punk introduced me the fun side of dance music. They were the Disco version of modern dance music. Discovery came out in 2001. I really got obsessed with that album and probably listened to it multiple times a day almost every day. Somehow I just completely missed their third album in 2005. But really I was so ready for this new album this year. How could I not love an album with Giorgio Moroder, Paul Williams, Nile Rodgers & Pharrell. The album is near perfect and was an easy pick for one of my favorites of the year.
Listen to "Lose Yourself to Dance" by Daft Punk...
#7 Minks - Tides End (Captured Tracks)
Captured Tracks rarely lets me down. This is my favorite album put out by them this year. The album captures that perfect mix of twee, dream pop, synthy new wave and shoegaze that I love. They sit somewhere between the catchier side of The Cure and New Order. This album is full of addictive and dreamy pop songs. This might just be another dude from Brooklyn who sounds like he came out of the early twee 90s. But it is exactly the kind of album that I can never get enough of.
Listen to "Everything's Fine" by Minks...
#8 Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety (Software)
Autre Ne Veut is like an R&B version of Antony & The Johnsons. R. Kelly mixed with Marc Almond. This album came out in the beginning of this year. I sort of forgot how much loved it until I revisited it this past month. There is a song on the album called "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." It is unfortunately not a cover of the song by Whitney Houston. But it is one of the best songs on the album. He has a unique take on pop music. I wish that R&B sounded a bit more like this these days.
Listen to "Counting" by Autre Ne Veut...
#9 Daughn Gibson - Me Moan (Sub Pop)
This is the second album by Daughn Gibson. I sometimes can't decide if I think this album is ridiculous or amazing. But I usually side with amazing. He has a voice like Nick Cave or Stan Ridgway. The album is sort of a mix of Country and New Wave. Very distinctive and not a voice that just anybody can love. The album might take a while to grow on you. But this album somehow got me to love it and I couldn't turn my back on it once I got to that point.
Listen to "You Don't Fade" by Daughn Gibson...
#10 The Weeknd - Kiss Land (Universal)
I was intrigued by The Weeknd when he released the Trilogy album last year. But I was really pleasantly surprised when I listened to his debut full length Kiss Land for the first time. I was a big fan of many R&B albums throughout the 80s and the 90s. But I really rarely like anything that comes out in that genre these days. So it is very exciting when I find an album like this every once in a while. The album is near perfect. The album lies somewhere between Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Maxwell. It has a dark feel to it in a sci-fi kind of way.
Listen to "Wanderlust" by The Weeknd...
#11 My Bloody Valentine - MBV
I don't think anybody thought that this band would ever get back together. And then when they did get back together and start playing again there became the possibility of a new My Bloody Valentine album. It was almost too good to be true. The album is exactly what I needed it to be. It is dreamy and catchy in only that way that they can do it. They basically invented one of my favorite genres and have created some of my favorite songs. I was just so happy to have them back in my life. They are one of my favorite bands along with The Cocteau Twins. So it gives me a glimmer of hope that we might get a new Cocteau Twin album at some point. Another essential album from an amazing band.
#12 Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle -
Perils From The Sea (Caldo Verde)
Mark Kozelek has been one of my favorites since I first discovered Red House Painters about 20 years ago. It seems like he has put out a couple of albums every year recently. And I usually end up liking most of what he does. But it has been a while since I have really loved anything that he has done. But that all changed with this album. Somehow it just works on these songs with Jimmy Lavalle who you may know as The Album Leaf. This album has those signature depressing songs that make me love Mr. Kozelek. For some reason I just can't get enough of him.
#13 Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Merge)
Arcade Fire is back. For some reason feel loyal to a band like this. I was a huge fan of their first album. And they are seriously one of the best bands to see live. And I like that they have consistently put out an album every 3 years. The album was co-produced by James Murphy. It is maybe a bit dancier than album of theirs in the past. But if you never liked Arcade Fire you probably still won't like Arcade Fire. But I still love them. And always will.
#14 Keep Shelly In Athens - At Home (Cascine)
So I have no idea what the name of this band means but I do sort of love it. This album sounds like it came straight out of the 90s. It is that 90s sound that was blurred between indie and dance. Sounds a bit like Kylie Minogue and Goldfrapp. With some Lamb and Massive Attack mixed in. This has been one of my favorite albums for late night drives in my car this year.
#15 Pure Bathing Culture - Moon Tides
Another one of my favorite band names this year. This album is made for fans of dream pop like me. The album sits nicely somewhere between Beach House and Cocteau Twins. It includes a brilliant sort of cover of "Into The Night" by Benny Mardones. Haven't you always wanted to hear what it would sound like if the Cocteau Twins covered you favorite soft rock anthems? That is exactly what this album sounds like.
#16 Trentemoller - Lost (In My Room)
Long time fans of Trentemoller might not love this album. But I sure do. The album is really all over the place. It starts of sounding like an album from Yo La Tengo or Low. And the first song does actually feature Low! And then turns into an album by Beach House or Glass Candy mixed with New Order & Giorgio Moroder. The album also features vocals from some of my favorites. Jana Hunter from Lower Dens, Jonny Pierce from The Drums, Sune Rose Wagner from The Raveonettes & Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead.
#17 Jesu - Everyday I Get Closer... (Shellshock)
I have been a long time fan of Jesu and all things Justin K. Broadrick. But I have always liked his shoegaze side with his Jesu albums. This might even be my favorite thing he has ever done. Sometimes all I need in my life is a Jesu album to make me feel better. There is just something about his voice combined with the beautiful sludgy doomy shoe gaze that makes me so happy. I can seriously listen to this album on repeat all night long.
#18 oOoOO - Without Your Love (Nihjgt Feelings)
You can call it witch house. You can call it spooky electronica. It sounds to me like Slowdive mixed with The Knife. Another one of my favorite late night records of the year. Put it on when you are driving home in the rain and you will not regret it. Some of the songs on this album might sound like the soundtrack to your nightmare. But sometimes we need that kind of music in our lives.
#19 Holy Ghost! - Dynamics (DFA)
I was so happy when I heard there would be a new Holy Ghost! album out this year. Their debut album from a couple of years ago is still one of my favorites. But I was a bit disappointed when I heard the first single that came out. However I quickly fell in love with this album just like I had with the first. The track "Dumb Disco Ideas" sounds like John Carpenter making a dance track. This album is super fun and addictive. The track "It Must Be The Weather" is one of my favorite songs of the year. Sounds like Pet Shop Boys made an album with Twin Shadow.
#20 Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze (Matador)
I had this dudes last album in my top ten a couple of years ago. And this album is probably just as good as that one. However that was my first introduction to the genius of Kurt Vile. I can listen to this guys voice forever. He is sort of of like Lou Reed mixed with Mark Kozelek. And I really loved this limited edition version of the LP that came with a blank cover with stickers to make your own cover. He just mellows me out whenever I listen to him. Nothing can bother me when I got my Kurt Vile.
#21 Frankie Rose - Herein Wild (Fat Possum)
Frankie Rose was in Dum Dum Girls and The Vivian Girls. This is her third album as Frankie Rose. She is one busy lady. And I can't get enough of this new album. I also loved Interstellar which came out last year. And I think most fans of her might like that album better. But I think I actually might like this new one just a bit more. It is just as catchy as that first album. You will want to sing along and dance around your room. The album is dreamy and synthy and beachy all at the same time. I It is like The Cure made an album with The Softies.
#22 Sigur Ros - Kveikur (XL)
I have been obsessed with Sigur Ros since 1999 when I heard them for the first time. I still love those first couple of albums they put out more than almost anything. But I was beginning to think that I might be losing interest in Jonsi and Sigur Ros after the last couple of albums. But Kveikur brought me back. This album has everything I first loved about these guys. Big dreamy ethereal anthems. I never know what he is saying. But when Sigur Ros is this good it really doesn't matter.
#23 Chelsea Wolfe - Pain Is Beauty (Sargent House)
I am so happy that Chelsea Wolfe made this album. I always get worried that there will never be music as good as the music from the year before. That maybe at some point I will just stop liking new music. This album is just plain amazing. She is similar to the other ethereal goth girls that have been putting out music the last couple of years. A more modern version of Siouxsie or Elizabeth Fraser. This album is absolutely beautiful and haunting.
#24 Beach Fossils - Clash The Truth (Captured Tracks)
I actually did not love the first Beach Fossils album from 2010. But this album won me over. Two of the original dudes in the band actually left to form Heavenly Beat and DIIV. So it all worked out great for me. I got two new favorite bands and I ended up liking this second Beach Fossils album much better. This album is jangly and dreamy. The Smiths mixed with a band like Ride.
#25 Vatican Shadow - Remember Your Black Day (Hospital Productions)
It is actually really hard to rank my favorite albums every year. It is easy for me to pick the 50 or 60 albums to put on this list. Just hard to figure out what becomes #1 and what follows. On a different day of the year this album could have easily been my favorite of the year. But I like having it at this mid point of my list. This album is dark and intense. Imagine if Richard D. James did the Drive soundtrack.
#26 Mikal Cronin - MCII (Merge)
This album was a very pleasant surprise this year. I had no idea just how much I would end up liking this record. And I always forget how much I do like it until I put it on and remember why I love it. I don't usually like very much power pop type albums. But I do seem to need a couple of albums like this in my life every year. These songs are just so darn catchy. Listen to "Shout It Out" and try not to like what you hear. It is impossible.
#27 Veronica Falls - Waiting For Something To Happen (Slumberland)
Their self titled album from 2010 was in my top ten that year. I was in love with Veronica Falls. I also had Kurt Vile, Holy Ghost!, & Soft Metals all in my top ten that year. So 2013 was a great year since I got brand new albums from all these guys. This is another band that just makes me so happy. They remind me of that first Lush album. Somewhere between Bananarama and Lush. Veronica Falls just can do no wrong. Another perfect catchy indie pop album.
#28 Soft Metals - Lenses (Captured Tracks)
Soft Metals capture that dark 80s dancey sound from bands like Human League and Propaganda. I can never get enough of these dark and synthy dance records. I just never want them to stop getting made. "Tell Me" is the second track on this album and another one of my favorite songs of the year. Imagine Julee Cruise singing with 808 State.
#29 Umberto - Confrontations (Not Not Fun)
I think my early love of John Carpenter and his movie soundtracks in the 70s and 80s really influenced my love of a certain kind of sound throughout the rest of my life. I fell in love with the keyboard I think the first time I heard the soundtrack to Halloween, The Fog & Escape From New York. Years later I fell in love with Goblin and the Argento movies soundtracks. Umberto clearly had the the same musical journey and are giving me exactly what I need. This album is another dark and synth filled journey and sometimes it is all I need to make me happy.
#30 Miracle - Mercury (Planet Mu)
This albums is sort of what I wish Depeche Mode still sounded like. The band is made up of Steve Moore from Zombi & Daniel O'Sullivan. I was bound to love this record. There was just no way I was not going to love a synth pop album from my the dude from Zombi. The album has those catchy synth pop songs I like to play on repeat. Give me more of this please.
#31 Ducktails - The Flower Lane (Domino)
This is the dude from Real Estate. I really fell hard for this record. This album sits nicely next to Kurt Vile and Mikal Cronin. They are sort of my go to records when I need some sensitive dude music. But this album is really just a great little package. There are some great mellow jams on this album.
#32 The Mary Onettes - Hit The Waves (Labrador)
This is the third album by my favorite Swedish dudes. Two of my favorite genres are New Wave and Soft Rock. And these guys somehow combine these two sounds into one. These songs sound like a combination of Spandau Ballet and Michael McDonald. Yes it is that good. I have always been a fan of these groups. And they have put out another fantastic album.
#33 Jacco Gardner - Cabinet Of Curiosities (Trouble In Mind)
I usually don't really like albums that sound like they were released before 1980. And I very rarely like albums that sound like they were released before 1970. Jacco Gardner sounds like he could play on a stage next to Peter Paul & Mary of Jefferson Airplane. I really ended up liking this album quite a bit. I hope more people find out about this brilliant little album and add it to their collection. It is seriously a great gem of an album from this year.
#34 Big Deal - June Gloom (Mute)
I do love June gloom. And I also love Big Deal. I was a big fan of their first album from a couple of years ago. So it is always nice to have one of your favorite bands back in your life. They are a bit shoegazey and dreamy. But also a bit of 90s alternative, indie & emo. They have this sort of darkness that underlies all of their songs. Sort of like Carissa's Weird or Versus. But it is a sadness that makes me happy. A sort of sadness that I crave sometimes in my life. I am just happy that Big Deal can bring it to me.
#35 Golden Grrrls - Golden Grrrls (Slumberland)
I of course had to check out this album because of the name of the band. They are named after the best show on television after all. This is another album of twee in the style of Heavenly and The Softies. I never would have thought that albums like this would continue to be released in 2013. But I am not complaining. These albums continue to make me happy. And I am glad that Slumberland is still bringing them to us.
#36 Espectrostatic - Espectrostatic (Trouble In Mind)
This is yet another instrumental soundtracky album in the spirit of John Carpenter and Dario Argento. Spooky and atmospheric jams. They sometimes sound like the Banshees without the Siouxsie. I will forever love these albums and it is fun searching for them every year. It is nice to know that someone out there is thinking about me when they make albums like this.
#37 Jonas Reinhardt - Mask Of The Maker (Not Not Fun)
I have been a big fan of everything these dudes put out since their first album back in 2008. They put out albums along the lines of Giorgio Moroder and Klause Schulze. It is sort of like the soundtrack to some long long lost futuristic sci-fi movie from the late 70s. Another great instrumental spacey jam sort of album.
#38 Gliss - Langsom Dans (Modern Outsider)
This is another band that could have come out of the 90s. Similar to Silversun Pickups of The Raveonettes. Dreamy and Shoegazey just like I want my albums to sound. The singer has a deep sort of breathy voice. This album reminds me a bit of The Pale Saints. I fell under the spell of these guys as soon as I put this album on for the first time. Sometimes you just know you will love an album as soon as you put it on for the first time.
#39 Sean Nicholas Savage - Other Life (Arbutus)
This is another one of those albums that lies somewhere between brilliant and ridiculous. It really could go other way. This dude is similar to Antony & the Johnsons. He makes me think of some dude in a 70s gay bar doing Karaoke to Roberta Flack or Janis Ian. He has got a soulful kind of thing going on. But the songs are like slow jam versions of songs by Soft Cell. I ended up really loving this album. But it is not for everyone.
#40 INC. - no world (4AD)
This is yet another album that surprised me this year. Imagine the XX doing covers of Prince or Boyz II Men. The album is strangely addictive. And it really is one of those albums that is better than you might expect it to be. It gets better too. I really couldn't stop listening to it once I decided to give in to it. It will grow on you and get under your skin. Check out "Black Wings" or "5 Days." Beautiful stuff.
#41 Classix - Hanging Gardens (Innovative Leisure)
This is probably one of the funnest albums on my list this year. You can file it next to Holy Ghost! Super fun dance jams. This is another album that I could not resist listening to over and over again this year. Sounds like something that would be at home on DFA records. The title track is the best on the album. But don't ignore the rest of the album.
#42 Junip - Junip (Mute)
Jose Gonzalez is one of those dudes that I will forever be loyal to like Mark Kozelek. I was so into those solo albums that he did. I will follow him wherever he takes me. This is now his second album with Junip. He is another one of my favorite Swedes. I really think the Coen Brothers should have cast them in their latest movie. He is a bit more folky than I usually like my music. But I really can't resist that voice.
#43 Selebrities - Lovely Things (Cascine)
Cascine was one of my new favorite labels this year. I will now be closely watching what they put out the next couple of years. I would have really loved this Selebrities album if it came out in the 90s. And I of course still love it even though it just came out this year. I sometimes think I possibly listen to too much dream pop. Too much shoe gaze. But these albums keep on coming out and I keep on listening to them. i do know what I like and these albums somehow always know how to find me.
#44 Dream Boys - Dream Boys (Art Fag)
Maybe I am finally getting into power pop this year. I have resisted it for so long. But this album is another one that got a hold of me this year. It is just too catchy to ignore. I always get excited when I actually like a band from Los Angeles. Most of my favorites tend to always be from the UK, Sweden or Brooklyn. Everybody needs some Dream Boys in their lives.
#45 Diana - Perpetual Surrender (Jagjaguwar)
I kept forgetting about this album this year. I thought I didn't really like it at first. Or I just forgot how much I liked it. But it is another album that sort of sounds like it came out of the soft rock 70s or 80s. Reminds me at times of Kate Bush or Bryan Ferry. I can never take off this album once I start listening to it.
#46 Var - No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers (Sacred Bones)
I wasn't really feeling that Iceage album. So I wasn't really thinking I was going to like this much either. But this was the kind of album that I could really get into. Sounds like Robert Smith singing in a danish electronic band. This is sort of what I imagine most music sounded like in Germany in the 90s. It is dark and atmospheric and clearly influenced by the goth and industrial of the 80s and 90s.
#47 Xander Harris - The New Dark Age Of Love (Not Not Fun)
This album is like a more catchy version of Var. Less Joy Division and more Kraftwerk. Some of the songs are full on instrumental jam sessions. This dude has named this project after the character from Buffy. Which makes me love him even more. You can never go wrong with dark and synthy atmospheric music like this. It always puts me in a good mood.
#48 Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister (Slumberland)
Another one of my favorite band names of the year. For fans of Veronica Falls. And yet another band that reminds me of Lush. I still mourn the fact that Lush is no longer a band. So anytime some new band sounds like them I will take it! This album is sort of all over the place and lands somewhere in between twee and hardcore. It is a super fun ride though.
#49 Shout Out Louds - Optica (Merge)
I am always happy when this band has a new album out. Yet another on my long list of favorite bands from Sweden. They always manage to write some super catchy songs and put together a great album of pure indie pop. They clearly are not afraid of their 80s new wave influences. And either am I. Please go check out their other albums if you have not yet done so. You will not be disappointed.
#50 King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon (True Panther Sounds)
So this kid is like 19 and he looks like he is around 15. He is the cooler and rougher around the edges British version of Justin Bieber. You might be surprised if you listen to the album before you realize what this little dude looks like. His voice sounds like a British Tom Waits. A voice that his been around for decades and more life experiences than any of us will ever have. This ends of being a great record that has come out in another great year of music. It sounds like nothing I have heard before and yet it is strangely familiar.