We’re closing up shop on last year with one more post. This one lists our individual writers’ top albums of 2013. Their instructions were to send me a list with some brief writing. You’ll see different counts of albums, and some different formats, but find your favorite writer’s list, and you’ll have a good place to finish catching up on the best of 2013.
You should definitely read our Official Top 10 of 2013, as well. Let’s start this giant multi-page post with our Managing Editor, Dakin Hardwick.
From Dakin Hardwick:
1.) Ride Your Heart / Bleached
The perfect pop punk record. It’s song is a concise piece of power pop, with performed with the robotic precision of The Misfits and the beautiful, swimming harmonies of The Go-Go’s. It’s a timeless album.
2.) Girl Talk / Kate Nash
Remember Kate Nash? Well, erase all of those memories. This record is one of the most ferocious guitar rock albums of the year. Merging together punk, garage, and a hint or rockabilly and beat, this is one of the most aggressive pieces of work to ever come from a former pop icon.
3.) Bitter Rivals / Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells have finally figured it out. This record blends together metal, dance, and top 40 pop in a way that nobody has done before. Also, if you listen carefully, you’ll discover that this is the only great concept album to come out this year.
4.) Floating Coffin / Thee Oh Sees
Thee Oh Sees are one the of best live bands you will ever see. However, it’s taken then over a decade to finally produce the perfect souvenir from their delirious live show.
5.) The Bones Of What You Believe / CHVRCHES
CHVRCHES weren’t what I expected. The initial marketing made them out to be some sort of dark synth music, when, quite to my surprise, they are one of the brightest sounding acts to come out this year. The hype is fully warranted, and each track is a delicious pop confection.
6.) Isles / Wild Belle
This brother/sister duo put out when of the most fully realized debut records in history. They bring together elements of jazz, reggae, afro-beat, and yacht rock, and make the perfect sunny day mix tape.
7.) Sub Verses / Akron/Family
No two moments with Akron/Family are the same. This is a trio that sound like 1,000 people. They are experimental musicians with an ear for melody, but avoid prog rock trappings or psych meanderings. This is a heavy record that will both melt your brain and your face at the same time.
8.) Born Sinner / J. Cole
When everyone was fighting over Yeezus, J. Cole quietly stepped in and dropped the best mainstream hip hop record of the last decade. He’s got hooks. He’s got guests. He also has a gift for melody, and is bright enough to avoid the lyrical cliches that make urban radio sound so stale.
9.) FIDLAR / FIDLAR
FIDLAR put out the best NOFX record since NOFX were making good records. It’s juvenile. Every song is about skating, drinking, or smoking. It’s profane. The video for “Cocaine” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2srovkhf0w) is so NSFW that I need to shut my blinds to watch it. I also can’t get enough of it.
10.) Days Are Gone / Haim
“Yacht Rock” is a bit of a buzz word from the last few years. It’s the word used to describe much of the soft rock of the 70’s and 80s: bands like Hall & Oates and Fleetwood Mac. It’s the music that everybody loves, but nobody would admit to it. Then Haim came along with the most perfect Yacht Rock tribute record, one that could have been released in any era. These three sisters have succeeded in releasing one of the best debut records in rock history.
11.) Paramore / Paramore
The time period between brandneweyes and 2013’s self-titled album was a time of great transition for Paramore. They essentially are an entirely new band, and they came back with their most optimistic release of their career. Yes, there is still a hint of the classic bitterness. There are also some gorgeous ukulele-based numbers and “I’m Still Into You” might be the best love song of the year.
12.) This is… / Icona Pop
The perfect bubble gum pop record is an elusive thing. It needs to be filled with hooks, but also requires just a hint of subversiveness. The monotone, unison harmonies are so weird that it’s impossible to believe that this sound was the sound of pop radio on 2013.
13.) Run Fast / The Julie Ruin
Take two parts of Bikini Kill and one part of Kiki & Herb and you end with the debut record from The Julie Ruin. (Not to be mixed up with Julie Ruin, a Kathleen Hanna solo record) The finished product is a perfect blend on pop punk, political poetry, disco and theater that is unlike anything coming out today.
14.) Magic Hour / Luscious Jackson
Call it a comeback! It’s been fourteen years since the last Luscious Jackson release, but this record sounds like they haven’t missed a day. They still sound great, and this record is one of the best albums of any era.
15.) Secondhand Rapture / MS MR
Lizzy Plapinger has the most stunning voice I’ve heard in years. Her soulful croon is the centerpiece of this record, carefully layered on top of some of the most emotionally direct songwriting I’ve heard in years.
16.) Pure Heroine / Lorde
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Lorde. So much hype that I pretty much avoided her for several months, as I didn’t think she could possibly live up to it. I was wrong. Very wrong. This is probably the most inventive record of 2013, and it comes from the kind of honest place that only teenager is capable of writing from.
17.) We The Common / Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
Thao is a treasure. She’s the closest thing we have to a modern day Dylan. This record is beautiful body of work inspired by Thao’s time spent volunteering at a women’s prison. There is some stunning and powerful stuff on this album.
18.) Old / Danny Brown
Danny Brown’s third record in three years is his finest record yet. There are plenty of amazing club tracks, as well as several tender moments, making a truly eclectic record.
19.) PAX AM Days – Save Rock and Roll / Fall Out Boy
Fall Out Boy released two records this year. One of them was a gigantic, bloated beast of an album filled with unnecessary guest cameos and over the top production. The second is a quick and dirty piece of of Bad Brains-influenced hardcore that sounds like it was recorded in one take during one Red Bull fueled afternoon. One record is considerably better than the other, however, I can’t stop listening to either of them.
20.) The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas / Courtney Barnett
You’ve never heard Courtney Barnett. I’m aware of that. You should. She is a master of wit, with a droll sing/speak style that conjures up memories of early Cake. This is a great debut, and as she continues to hone her craft, her songwriting will only improve.