Sunday, 8 December 2013

Top 30 albums of 2013

2013 has been a vintage year for albums; from comebacks to debut albums, artists have been branching out and taking more risks than ever, with mostly successful results. 

Now I love a good list, so I decided to delve into my music collection and compose a list of my top albums which have been released over the past year. 

Before I get to the meaty bit, here are my special mentions (records which for one reason or another couldn't be on the main list):

Jessica Pratt - Jessica Pratt
The debut album by San Fran singer/songwriter Jessica Pratt was easily one of the best albums I heard this year, however it didn't make the list because it was released last year. However, the fuzz and 60's-tinged charm of this record make it soon like it was recorded a lot earlier.
Best Track: Hollywood

Marika Hackman - That Iron Taste
Marika Hackman's medieval folk debut was technically an EP and so didn't make the main list but would've definitely been in the top 5 if it had. There's already a space at the top of my 2014 list reserved for her full-length! 
Best Track: Bath Is Black

1. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt
The concept of 'the difficult second album' clearly bypassed Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), who's sophomore album Cerulean Salt (along with Disclosure's Settle) sound tracked my summer. It effortlessly blends sun-soaked riffs (Coast To Coast) and emotional wind-downs (Swan Dive) to create a future classic. Her debut album was my favourite of last year and with the possibility new album at some point in 2014, could she score a hat trick? Only time will tell... 
Best Track: Dixie Cups and Jars

2. Nadine Shah - Love Your Dum And Mad
One of this year's most underrated albums, Nadine Shah's intensely beautiful debut has made a massive impression on me. Her magnetic vocals, brooding instrumentation and dark lyrics (inspired by death and deceit) have changed the way I think about music and the way it makes me feel. She is what I call 'a singer/songwriter with bite'.
Best Track: Runaway 

3. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City
After two much-loved preppy-rock albums, Vampire Weekend progressed to a more mature sound for their third album. Despite this, the songs are as fun, crazy and catchy as they have ever been.
Best Track: Step

4. Drenge - Drenge
When I first heard Castleton duo Drenge, my initial reaction was 'How can two people make so much noise?' and the answer is: with ease. Crunchy riffs and raw vocals, this is a debut which certainly packs a punch.
Best Track: Dog Meat

5. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
The moment I first heard the Canadian duo's seventh studio album back in January, I knew it was gonna be one of the best of the year and boy, how right was I? This is what a pop album should be: no nip-slips, no twerking, no grinding. Just track after track of shimmering synthpop perfection. All bangers, no bangerz. 
Best Track: Goodbye, Goodbye

6. Savages - Silence Yourself
I love an all-female band, me. Art punk, not so much. London band Savages' debut album is in a league of it's own; It is pulse raising, intense and frankly terrifying but no less addictive than than your run-of-the-mill pop record. Approach with caution.
Best Track: Husbands

7. Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister
The excellently named Cardiff rockers Joanna Gruesome came from nowhere and absolutely knocked me for six. Fast paced, insane, chaotic and ridiculously catchy, this is an absolute treat of a record.
Best Track: Sugarcrush 

8.Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle 
Releasing your fourth studio album at age 23 is an achievement in itself, but releasing one this incredible is something else entirely. Laura manages to maintain the same level of magic over the album's colossal 16 tracks. From nostalgic folk ballad Once to the organ-heavy Where Can I Go?, this is an absolute gem which cements Laura as our generation's greatest British songbird.
Best Track: Devil's Resting Place

9. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe
Bringing credible synthpop back into the mainstream, CHVRCHES lived up to the hype with their debut album. Delivering lyrics as sinister "I will be a gun, and it's you I'll come for" in a way which still puts a smile on the listeners face demonstrates Lauren Mulberry's skill, whist the production maintains their fundamental 80's influences whilst remaining forward thinking and current. 
Although I am extremely annoyed at the fact that in an album full of potential hits, they chose to re-release a lackluster re-recording of their once epic single Lies, that doesn't make this record any less brilliant. 
Best Track: Night Sky

10. Torres - Torres
As far as debut albums go, they don't get any rawer than Mackenzie Scott's (Torres's) self released self-titled album. After going widely unnoticed when it was originally released back in January, I was afraid that this record wouldn't be cherished in the way it deserved to be. Fortunately, due to it's recent re-release, a lot more lucky people have discovered this album. 
Best Track: Mother Earth, Father God

11. Deap Vally - Sistrionix
The LA rock'n'roll duo's debut album is full of  witty, fun and empowering blues-rock anthems which exhume sass and energy. The epic closer Six Feet Under shows that the best is still yet to come with this band.
Best Track: Walk Of Shame

12. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
Sky Ferreira finally released her debut album this year after 5 years of build up and didn't disappoint in the slightest. From the hook-laden opener Boys to the haunting title track, this is more than a pop album, it is a statement.
Best Track: 24 Hours

13. Lorde - Pure Heroine
Kiwi teen Lorde pretty much took over the airwaves this year with her monumental hit Royals, but managed to justify her success with an extremely classy debut. Instead of 10 samey radio hits, she plumps for an eclectic mix of dark electropop anthems with substance. Looks like her reign at the top of the pop game will continue.
Best Track: Team

14. Foals - Holy Fire
I wasn't particularly fussed about Foals' first two albums or the band in general, that was until I heard the single Inhaler off their third album, which is still one of my favourite tracks of the year. Ranging from sparse to chaotic, every track on this album is a triumph. 
Best Track: Inhaler

15. Courtney Barnett - Sea Of Split Peas
Aussie singer/songwriter stylishly flies the flag for us hermits with her witty double EP. From wanking to gardening, the is no ground that isn't covered here, she also milks the hell out of that awesome accent on hers.
Best Track: History Eraser

16. VV Brown - Samson & Delilah
The Most unlikely success story of the year, VV Brown was once pop's 'next big thing' but after her debut album was below-parr and her second album was shelved I was startling to loose hope. But like a phoenix from the ashes. she rose up to create one of the year's most innovative albums.
Best Track: Ghosts

17. HAIM - Days Are Gone
After a shedload of hype, HAIM finally released their superb debut album in September. The title track shows HAIM at their poppiest whilst the touching closer shows them at their most vulnerable. This album would've been higher had I not have heard the majority of it's track list pre-release. 
Best Track: Days Are Gone

18. Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer, Different Park
Usually, I despise country music, but Kacey Musgraves' major-label debut changed everything. Instead of whining about farming and dull tales about romance, Kacey explores the darker aspects of American culture with game-changing results.
Best Track: Silver Lining

19. Disclosure - Settle
It wouldn't be a year-end list without Disclosure, would it? These boys partially owned 2013 and firmly placed them at the forefront of UK dance music.
Best Track: When A Fire Starts To Burn

20. London Grammar - If You Wait
Following their epic EP earlier this year, London Grammar came out with a debut album as moving as it is compelling, although more trip-hop breakdowns like the one at the end of standout tack Metal & Dust wouldn't have gone a miss. 
Best Track: Metal & Dust

21. Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum
Despite moving to LA, Cate Le Bon's third album is packed full of wacky Welsh charm. Are You With Me Now's anthem sing-along chorus is one of my favourite musical moments of the year .
Best Track: Are You With Me Now

22. Queens Of The Stone Age - Like Clockwork...
Rock'n'roll veterans Queens Of The Stone Age return to form after 6 long years. Full of grit and attitude, Josh Homme is still the coolest front man of them all, however, this album doesn't come close to the greatness of Songs For The Deaf.
Best Track: I Sat By The Ocean

23. Jagwar Ma - Howlin'
Psychedelia and pop has always been a tricky combination, but Aussie duo Jagwar Ma completely pulled it off with their debut album.
Best Track: The Throw

24. Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap
Not really being a rap fan, I'm not going down the whole 'Yeezus is the greatest album ever and if you disagree you're not a true music fan' road. Instead, I'm plumping for the epic mix tape from relative newcomer Chance The Rapper as my favourite rap album of the year. Full of charisma he manages to make light of his tough upbringing in gang-dominated Chicago. 
Best Track: Favorite Song

25. The Julie Ruin - Run Fast
Fast paced, bratty and extremely fun, Kathleen Hanna's latest project The Julie Ruins' debut is everything a good punk-rock album should be.
Best Track: Ha Ha Ha

26. Potty Mouth - Hell Bent
For me, the secret to a perfect punk record is nonchalance, Potty Mouth convey this perfectly on their debut album Hell Bent. Front woman Abby Weems' 'I don't give a flying fuck' attitude makes recalls Riot Grrrl era bands whilst the songs themselves are very much 'now'.
Best Track: The Spins

27. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
Being an outsider is never fun, but front woman Sadie Dupuis' wit and angst gives power back to the underdog extremely relatable record conceptually also manages to lift the spirits of the listener regardless of their experiences. 
Best Track: Hitch

28. Valerie June - Pushin' Up Against A Stone
One of my favourite finds this year, Valerie June's major label debut is full of Tennessee charm (The Hour , )Black Keys-inspired blues rock stompers (Can't Be Told) as well as female empowering anthems (Workin' Woman's Blues).
Best Track: Pushin' Up Against A Stone

29. Daughter - If You Leave
Who knew misery could sound so nice? Daughter's tales of heartbreak and anguish wouldn't traditionally make for an enjoyable listen, but it works here. 
Best Track: Human 

30. Arctic Monkeys - AM
One of this years' most overrated albums in my opinion, AM is far from the excellence of their debut, but does have some pretty good songs. This is by no means a bad album, it just doesn't warrant the title of 'album of the decade' *cough* NME *cough*.
Best Track: R U Mine

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