Category Archives: Best of 2013

2013 Complete Countdown List

25. The Lone Bellow
24. Savages
23. Tegan and Sara
22. Danny Brown
21. Brett Dennen
20. Polica
19. The Weeknd
18. Foals
17. Milk Carton Kids
16. Coheed and Cambria
15. Kanye West
14. City and Colour
13. Arcade Fire
12. San Fermin
11. Baths
10. Disclosure
9. Volcano Choir
8. Blood Orange
7. The Civil Wars
6. Arctic Monkeys
5. Chvrches
4. Vampire Weekend
3. Haim
2. James Blake
1. Autre Ne Veut

#1: Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

And here it is. The #1 album of 2013 (IMO, of course).

I am pleased to say that my favorite album this year is from a new “all-in-one” creative musician that goes by the name of Autre Ne Veut. He resides from New York (Go U.S.A.) and literally came out of nowhere this year.

I’ve shared his album with a few friends this year and never received the same feedback on it that I have generously been giving it over the year. In my defense, however, I always say “keep listening.” And in all cases, the recipient comes back to me with altered emotions toward the album. It’s inevitable – this music will grow on you.

For those looking for a description – I’d call this guy this year’s version of Twin Shadow. It’s dancey, electronic, and his falsetto is doused throughout the entire collection of songs. It’s sexy, yet sometimes silly. It’s just…. perfect.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Play by Play”

You can find the album here.

#2: James Blake – Overgrown

I’m not going to lie. James Blake probably deserves the #1 spot on this countdown. His sophomore album, Overgrown, is perfect. It’s filled with more of the same wonderment that brought him a Mercury Prize and critical acclaim a few years back. This time around, however, each song is a little more identifiable and casts a wider net toward the demographic of “people who love smart music.”

Admittedly, James Blake’s disadvantage on this countdown is that this is a sophomore release and the charm of discovery is missing this time around. That doesn’t take away from his genius, but you’ll realize tomorrow, that #1 had to go to someone else – and the discovery element is the culprit at play here.

There is no doubt in my mind that James Blake will continue to single-handedly inspire music creators around the globe. It’s just a matter of how often he wants to produce solid gold and tour the world to support it.

Please continue to tour James for I have yet to see you live.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Overgrown”

You can find the album here.

#3: Haim – Days are Gone

Haim speeds through to the coveted #3 spot this year. If you haven’t heard of this indie group of female sisters, I don’t know where you’ve been. They even made it enough to perform on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back. Needless to say, they’re on the fast path to success.

The debut album, Days are Gone, is about as good as a debut album can get. The music itself offers a lot of passion and raw talent. All the while, it’s easy to identify the band’s own unique original sound. It’s pop electro rock with catchy hooks. They sometimes remind me of a less manufactured version of Tegan and Sara, but I’m sure many fans would disagree with that assessment.

In 2013, they’ve had success with a numerous number of single releases. One of those songs are referenced below, but all are worth the listen. In fact, of course, the entire album is not one to be neglected.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Don’t Save Me.”

You can find the album here.

#4: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend used to kind of annoy me. I don’t know what it was at first. Perhaps they became too “bandwagon” for me early on.

But, over time, they grew on me more and more. Maybe it was when I heard that the frontman used to jam with Dirty Projectors a lot, but I started hearing more from the band with each listen. There is a lot more than just what you hear at the surface with them.

The new album, Modern Vampires of the City, has received critical acclaim this year – and rightfully so. It’s filled with short catchy tunes and artistry.

Vampire Weekend is one of those bands that benefit from both sides of the music industry. What that means is that they are still indie favorites while also occasionally having a crossover hit come through mainstream pop radio. “Diane Young” is an example of that happening for them this year.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Diane Young.”

You can find the album here.

#5: Chvrches – Bones of What You Believe

I fell in love with the female-fronted band, Chvrches, this year. If anyone is wondering about it, their name is pronounced as you might expect it to be – “churches.” This trend of misspelling is a very smart one deeply rooted in the strategy of search optimization. In other words, if they spelled their name the normal way (churches), when people searched for them using just that word, they would get results of actual churches. Searching for the misspelled version, of course, would yield the results for the band. Genius!

Their debut album Bones of What You Believe is so charming and addicting. Each song possesses the same indie electro pop quality that you might expect from a future underground supergroup. The fact that they aren’t on pop radio is astounding but very appealing to the hipster crowd that wants to claim their discovery of artists such as these. They’re in a perfect position to take over the indie scene.

I literally have a new favorite song on this album with each listen so I strongly suggest listening to the whole thing in its entirety.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Mother We Share.”

You can find the album here.

#6: Arctic Monkeys – AM

I’ll admit that I was never a huge Arctic Monkeys fan when they first came out. I don’t know if it was because I wrote them off as being “Too British” or there was a bit of arrogance that threw me off.

Fast forward to this year and I couldn’t have done more of a 360. I am now a huge Arctic Monkeys fan. So much so that I made sure to purchase concert tickets right when they went on sale in anticipation of a sellout. I guess I didn’t want to feel left out after hearing the incredible new album, AM.

There’s no denying the band’s talent, and their youth is promising a long and prosperous musical career for them. If they keep up what they’re currently doing, we will be seeing them atop the entertainment world globally in a few years – even more so than they already are.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Do I Wanna Know?.”

You can find the album here.

#7: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

There has never been more of a dramatic musical breakup than that of The Civil Wars back in August of this year. The news broke with a lot going on for the duo.

The group had one their first Grammy earlier that year, Joy had her first child, and the pair were in the studio recording their second full-length album.

The reason was cited as “internal discord and a misalignment of ambition.” Fans were quick to doubt the truth in such a statement. For an acoustic folk duo that sing beautiful and meaningful love songs to each other every night, the “discord” could mean so much more.

Both members are married – to other people. Perhaps they walked the thin line of acting and feeling for a bit too long before it took its toll…?

Regardless, the result of such drama and intensity is the new self-titled album that was released in October, after the breakup announcement. The songs are laced with irony and shear emotion – making the complete listen one of the most intense love albums of all time.

It might not be as solid of an offering as the critically acclaimed debut, but it’s about as close as a sophomore album can get.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “The One That Got Away.”

You can find the album here.

#8: Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe

Formerly performing under the moniker, Lightspeed Champion, Devonte Hynes is back with the second album under the name Blood Orange. Blood Orange isn’t the usual acoustic folky music we heard through Lightspeed Champion. Instead, it’s an electronic soulful collection of songs that show Devonte’s incredible musical versatility.

Many critics are arguing that Cupid Deluxe is one of the best albums of 2013. Obviously I am agreeing to a certain extent by placing the album at a very hard-to-come-by number 8. While it could have easily been pushed ahead a few more slots, the competition this year was just a little too heavy for this album to do much more.

If someone asked me how to classify Blood Orange by genre, I don’t think I’d be able to. That’s how interesting, unique, and artistic it truly is.

Below is an embed of the video for the song, “Chamakay.”

You can find the album here.

#9: Volcano Choir – Repave

Can Justin Vernon do no wrong? First, he conquered the indie rock world with Bon Iver, and now he’s back at it with the group he co-founded in 2005 called Volcano Choir.

The new album, Repave, is more of the Justin Vernon that Bon Iver fans have grown to love. With Justin on vocals throughout, it does almost seem like it’s a new Bon Iver album – except it’s not. Volcano Choir does bring its own original style to the table, but it’s ultimately Justin’s touch that allows any listener to quickly relate the two. 

I strongly recommend this album – especially for Bon Iver fans that may not know how versatile and busy Justin Vernon is as a songwriter and performer. What will he accomplish next?

Below is an embed of the video for one of the best songs of the year (IMO), “Comrade.”

You can find the album here.