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Best of 2013: 29 Albums We Enjoyed Very Much

Posted by January 5th, 2014 No Comments »

OK here it is: a list of our favorite albums of 2013.

If you follow the mainstream music blogs you’ll see some familiar faces here, but you’ll also see some glaring omissions and a few albums you might have missed during the year. That’s because we gave up this notion of a combined editorial stance years ago, opting instead to allow art to be subjective and our list, therefore, to be a glorious mess of our FAVORITE records. Check out Pitchfork’s list if you’re looking for the “best.”

29. Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

Mudhoney’s ninth album in twenty-five years, Vanishing Point is just what you’d expect from this seminal Seattle band: loud, fun and unapologetic with catchy songs like “I Like It Small” and “I Don’t Remember You.” Cee Cee Hill

28. Disclosure – Settle

27. Bill Callahan – Dream River 

In your dreams there is a voice. It is deep, dark, droll. This voice tells you rough-hewn fables in a storyteller’s long form melody. This voice belongs to Bill Callahan, who used to record under the name “Smog.” His 2013 album Dream River honors a song’s structural bones, letting them crack and dry as you listen rather than burying them in the mix. – Tyson Lynn

26. Patty Griffin – American Kid

25. James Blake – Overgrown 

Blake’s sophomore effort manages to be both more inventive and approachable than his debut. This is a sophisticated layer cake warranting second and third helpings. – Sam Hardy 

24. Deltron 3030 – Event 2

23. The Flaming Lips – The Terror

Flaming Lips’ latest release The Terror came out this year without the fanfare you’d expect alongside a Flaming Lips release; mostly due to the fact that the album is light on radio-friendly singles. What The Terror lacks in college-radio accessibility, it more than makes up for in atmospherics, channeling Saucerful of Secrets-era Pink Floyd (i.e. it’s amazeballs.) – Colin Johnson

22. Glasvegas – Later When the TV Turns to Static   

21. Rhye – Woman

You’ve probably heard “Rhye” and “Sade” spoken in the same breath adnauseum by now, so I won’t take time to explain the similarities again here. Though the comparison is warranted, Woman stands on its own two feet, never feeling derivative, and inhabiting a completely unique space in the current pop landscape.  There was no sexier album released in 2013. – Colin Johnson

20. Russian Circles – Memorial 

It’s hard to make me pay attention to instrumental rock, but Chicago’s Russian Circles have done it for a second straight time with their 8-song album Memorial. – Matt Ashworth

19. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident 

Great art walks the line between magic and madness, between brilliance and abrasiveness. Truly great records exemplify this struggle within the context of each song, like Andy Falkous has done  previously with McLusky and later Future of the Left. 2012’s The Plot Against Common Sense boasted a handful of new classics but suffered from too many tracks that were downright annoying, so it’s nice to see the Welsh band return less than a year later with the consistently-excellent How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident. – Matt Ashworth 

18. Krin j. Callinan – Embracism

17. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon 

Archy Marshall, the 19 year old cockney waif behind the King Krule moniker, doles out uninhibited, bullish songs about longing and imperfection. Marshall’s jagged baritone and thick accent makes it impossible to forget the King Krule character, a downtrodden and roguish voice of misplaced affection, ultimately adding a ubiquitous charm to his lyrics. 6 Feet Beneath The Moon exhibits a fuller range for King Krule, exhibiting elements of future garage, jazz, and even lounge music, though always through the cracked lens of despair.  – Cameron Deuel 

16. My Bloody Valentine – m b v

15. Pusha-T – My Name is My Name

My Name is My Name is the well-crafted solo debut from Pusha-T, one half of Virginia Beach rap duo Clipse. His minimalist beats and interesting verses combine for a very cohesive album – one that doesn’t have any songs that demand skipping, a rare feat these days. – Jeff Wilson 

14. Lumerians – The High Frontier

13. Deafhaven – Sunbather 

There’s a moment on “Please Remember” that sounds like industrial whirring, like a mechanism is set into motion, and it instills a primitive fear more effective than the rest of the angular, riff accompanied death howls on Deafheaven’s Sunbather. While the album is set on the premise of impending death and unhinged calamity surrounding wants and desires, Deafheaven’s success comes from a balance between a doomy void and the solicitous composition of Explosions In The Sky, making it easy to wander through countless times. – Cameron Deuel

12. Jason Isbell – Southeastern 

11. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Muchacho is an album that sounds exactly like the scene depicted in its cover art: A late night bender best shared in the company of friendly strangers, a cowboy hat and a bottle of strong tequila. Standout tracks include space jam “Song for Zula,” and the emotional “Terror in the Canyon,” with frontman Matthew Houck yelping triumphantly after each winning lyric.  Dan Lurie 

10. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt 

Katie Crutchfield’s second album under the name Waxahatchee feels like the musical equivalent of a Raymond Carver short story, assured, un-flashy storytelling that finds the beauty in the struggle of every day life. Also, this line from “Brother Bryan” is perfect: “I said to you on the night that we met I am not well.” – Matt Ashworth

9. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

8. Chvrches – The Mother We Share

Synthy Glasgow pop record The Mother We Share is probably the strongest collection of singles in the game this year, but taken as a whole, it sounds like exactly that: a collection of singles. – Sam Hardy

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

6. Arcade Fire – Reflektor 

I keep half-hoping these pretentious art-school douchebags will lose that intangible bit of brilliance that’s made them impossible to ignore over the last decade and reach the level of insufferability usually reserved for U2 and late-era R.E.M., but it’s hard when they keeping putting out amazing music. Reflektor is their best album since Funeral. Dammit.  – Matt Ashworth


Sometimes rock and roll doesn’t need to be reinvented, it just needs to be executed perfectly. Such is the case with L.A. party punks FIDLAR, whose 14 song eponymous debut is full of great songs that embody the original spirit of rebellion that fueled rock and roll in its heyday. – Matt Ashworth

4. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

3. Run The Jewels – “Run the Jewels”

2. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Unbelievably, long-time favorite Neko Case released the best album of her career in 2013 with The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. She’s always had a voice that could stop you in your tracks, a diverse palette of musical interests that transcend the “alt-country” tag she was originally given, and a magnetic personality that comes through in everything she records, but this time around she delivers a full set of 15 lyrically-compelling songs to boot. There’s not a stinker in the bunch. – Matt Ashworth 

1. Kanye West – Yeezus  

Of the ten tracks on Yeezus, our pool of contributors voted for seven of them in our “favorite songs of the year poll” and I don’t question any of them. I can’t explain how Kanye West, the man, can seem like the biggest jackass on the planet whereas Kanye West, the artist, continues to put out the most compelling and innovative music around. But he does. No one else is even close.  Matt Ashworth  

More 2013 Year-End Coverage:

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