Ladies and gentlemen, I present my top 10 albums of 2013, starting with number 10:
10. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Hey, I could sure live without hearing "Get Lucky" ever again but this is one amazing album and one amazing experience. A band that made their fortune on sampling the works of others pulls together an original album with mostly originally performed compositions. It's a love song to dance music and it is frequently beautiful.
It's hard to pick a song, but I lose myself to dance the most in Lose Yourself To Dance:
9. Savages – Silence Yourself
When I needed to feel tough walking down the street this year I listened to City's Full, which is a woman singing about how she prefers her older female lover to all the "skinny pretty girls". Also it shreds. So does the whole album.
8. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
Why did I never listen to My Morning Jacket before… oh yeah, the stupid band name. This album made me realize how majestic Jim James is and what a loving songwriter he is.
You could hardly do better than Of The Mother Again:
7. Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon
A powerful new voice on the music scene making timeless, music like a young, creative Nina Simone. I wrote more about the album in a recent post.
Green Garden is the stunner:
6. Matthew E. White – Outer Face EP
Another soft voiced guy with super lush arrangements. 5 songs of pure perfection. I loved his album Big Inner last year, and I'm so glad he decided to cut us off another little slice of his gorgeousness this year.
Listen to his facility with strings and amazing background vocals while he teaches you his Signature Move:
5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II [Deluxe Edition]
Who knew these guys had such a beautiful album in them. The acoustic versions in the deluxe edition are at least as good as the originals.
Listen to the watery guitars and super-Beatlesy composition in the album opener From The Sun:
4. Rhye – Woman
The album is called Woman but it's sung by Mike Milosh. This is the dead sexiest album that came out all year. Imagine if Sade put out another classic album but a man fronted it.
It's hard to make a pick for this album but I think I'll settle on Three Days which is all the time they have with each other:
3. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Electronic music at its most vital, dynamic, and listenable. Yes, it sounds like Johns Hopkins, the Baltimore university. You are the first person to notice.
Open Eye Signal shows his approach to crunchy, delicious sound that makes me want to stand up out of my computer chair:
2. Jonathan Wilson – Fanfare
Gorgeous album straight out of nowhere. I'm proud to put this album on my top 10 in a year when it seems like everyone else slept on it. Crosby and Stills actually play on the album and that gives you some sense of where it's coming from. Some kind of beautiful Steely Dan shit with great songwriting.
The mellow, horse-clop percussion masterpiece Cecil Taylor. I love the way he sings, "I'm just another heart and set of eyes, looking for a miracle" and all the crazy little details and effects:
1. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
This high schooler made the lushest, cleverest, most touching rap album imaginable. Look, if you just can't handle Chancellor's voice I assure you it can grow on you. I thought Joey Bada$$ was coming up with amazing lyrics for a 17 year old but he's got nothing on the twisty, loving wordplay of Chance.
Also, the mixtape is TOTALLY FREE so there's no reason not to add this album to your collection. I think his style, his weird sqwawk of an ad-lib, his sweetness, and his clever rhymes are best illustrated by Cocoa Butter Kisses. My little sister hates it because of the cough noises but I think it's adorable:
STUFF I HEARD THAT DIDN'T MAKE THIS LIST ON PURPOSE:
Kanye West – Yeezus: Made so many end of year lists but there's just too many dumb ass lyrics and ok I'll say it: the music isn't as innovative as people are saying.
My Bloody Valentine – mbv: Never quite got Loveless, and don't quite get mbv.
Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze: Dude is starting to put me to sleep.
Janelle Monae – Electric Lady: She's amazing but something is off about this album.
COMFORT FOOD LIST: (stuff I really enjoyed and listened to a lot but can't unseat the top ten)
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine: I would never have thought I would have loved these well-crafted pop songs as much as I ended up. They are perfection and all the music videos contrast by being odd and ugly.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City: In which Vampire Weekend prove to the world that they weren't just a knockoff of the Graceland album and actually make their own singular and beautiful music.
The Belle Game – Ritual. Tradition. Habit.: They call themselves "dark-pop". For me it's just like musical comfort food. Passionate singing and jangly rock guitar.
Deerhunter – Monomania: I think I'm finally a Deerhunter fan.
Vondelpark – Seabed: Muaic to make out to as you drift off to sleep with your lover.
Phosphorescent – Muchacho: A wonderful, wonderful album from a great new voice in music.
STUFF I THOUGHT WAS AWESOME BUT JUST DIDN'T GET TO LISTEN TO ENOUGH TO EVALUATE:
Bill Callahan – Dream River
Mikal Cronin – MCII
Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
Disclosure – Settle
Ty Segall – Sleeper
Ka – The Night's Gambit
Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
Danny Brown – OLD
Late Addendum: Extra thanks to Sean Glenn for doing the awesome picture frame graphics for all the albums!