Category: Music

My Favorite Albums of 2013

Special Honorable Mention: Maniac – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, by ROB

Rob maniac ost

So freaking good I almost included it into my Top 20 proper, but since I’ve never thrown film scores into the list in previous years, I decided against it. Still, let it be known that I may have listened to ROB’s haunting score for the Maniac remake more than any other album this year. Absolutely fantastic, and anyone making a horror movie right now and not at least thinking about hiring this guy to score it is crazy.

20. Mindless Self Indulgence – How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence


MSI aren’t really breaking any new ground on this fan-funded effort (though I was happy that it felt less “dance clubby” to me than 2008’s If), but oh well – I’m clearly not ashamed to admit I’m still into their schtick.


19. Deafheaven – Sunbather



Shoe-gaze black metal sounds like a really bad idea on paper. Deafheaven prove it’s not.

18. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time



This one would probably a lot higher on the list if I had listened to it earlier in the year. As is, I just finally gave it a chance a couple days ago, and was very pleasantly surprised with it.

17. David Bowie – The Next Day



The surprise Bowie album none of us expected, coming ten full years after his last effort (after which many commonly assumed Bowie had simply retired). It would have been a real shame if it had sucked. It didn’t. In fact, it was awesome, and a nice reminder of why we loved Bowie in the first place.

16. Waxatatchee – Cerulean Salt



I swear I didn’t pick this one just because of how much fun it is to say “Waxahatchee.”

15. M.I.A. – Matangi



A definite improvement over Maya (which I liked, but often felt alone in defending). I’m not sure it was completely worth the really long wait M.I.A. put us through, but it’s quite good all the same.

14. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty



Beautiful music to be sad to.

13. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus



Come for the funny band name, stay for the excellent electronic post-rock. One of my go-to bands for background music while reading and writing.

12. Eels – Wonderful, Glorious



Eels have long been one of my favorite bands, and I’ve always been frustrated that they’re not a bigger deal than they are. That said, I’ve also often said they haven’t quite yet made the one masterpiece album that I know E has in him. This one, though (their tenth album), gets a lot closer than their last few efforts.

11. Arcade Fire – Reflektor



I’m still not convinced Arcade Fire will ever make another album as good as Funeral, but nor do I yet believe they are even capable of making a bad album.

10. Phoenix – Bankrupt!



Phoenix can always be counted on for great, catchy pop albums. I feel like they could crank these things out in their sleep, which isn’t as much of an insult as I suddenly realize it might sound.

9. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation



Wanna be creeped out? Lay in bed late at night, and put this electronic concept album about the afterlife on in your headphones. It’s fun!

8. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual



I’m still holding out hope for another Fever Ray album, as well, but I’ll never turn down a new Knife offering, either.

7. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks



In 2009, Trent Reznor said it was “time to make NIN disappear for a while.” I don’t think anyone was really that surprised to see the hiatus turn out to be short…in fact, with an album this good, I’d guess most of us were quite relieved. I love that Reznor is doing film scores now, but NIN is where he really belongs.

6. Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals



With each album, Alexis’ teen-pop past/sensibilities creep a little bit more into Sleigh Bells’ sound. Rather than be a bad thing, though, this is actually leading to real growth from the group – a happier middle-ground between the bands pop and noise elements. Sure, I might somewhat miss the more aggressive feel of their debut, but I won’t complain if they stay this good.

5. Haim – Days Are Gone



This one was worth the really long wait…

4. The National – Trouble Will Find Me



Though I didn’t dig it nearly as much as High Violet, it’s placement on this list just goes to show that even a slightly disappointing National record is still better than most other music out there. And, to be fair, my initial disappointment wore off as I ended up giving this album a lot of listens, and loved it more and more each time.

3. Kanye West – Yeezus



Yep, I still like Kanye West. All his douchebag tendencies take a big backseat to albums this damn good.

2. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady



If you can’t get into a cute, sci-fi loving R&B/Soul artist who is in the middle of a seven-part series of conceptual albums about androids, can dance like nobody’s business, and interrupts her music videos with mid-video zombie attack breaks, then you and I are just not on the same wavelength.

1. Savages – Silence Yourself



The most excited I’ve been about a debut album in a pretty long time.



My Favorite Albums of 2012

HONORABLE MENTIONS (Otherwise known as 21-26):

  • Bear in Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
  • Tame Impala – Lonerism
  • Bat for Lashes – The Haunted Man
  • Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
  • Twin Shadow – Confess
  • Titus Andronicus – Local Business

Not really sure why those all ended up being “T” and “B” artists, but there you have it. For the record, I’ve only listened to Local Business once, and I really liked it. So it’s possible if I had waited a few weeks to write this list, it might have crept its way further up the list.

20) Scott Walker – Bish Bosch


I hope I’m as gloriously weird as Scott Walker when I’m 69 years old. The fact that a guy his age is making stuff this daringly odd is reason enough to give it a listen.

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19) Die Antwoord – Ten$Ion


Yes, I know they’re a gimmick group that is more interesting on a conceptual level than a musical one. And part of me knows I shouldn’t like this album as much as I do. But I also can’t deny how catchy I actually find most of the songs.

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18) Pop. 1280 – The Horror


According to Wikipedia, Pop. 1280 call themselves a “cyberpunk” band, which already earns them some points in my eyes. A must listen for horror fans.

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17) Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – The Lion the Beast the Beat


Though the overall album is coming in at 17, the song “The Lion, the Beast, the Beat” might just be my favorite song of the year.

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16) Menace Ruine – Alight in Ashes

Alight in Ashes

I don’t often gravitate towards “black metal,” but I enjoy Menace Ruine’s creepy droning sound.

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15) Japandroids – Celebration Rock


Not really a huge leap forward from their debut album or anything, but in this case “more of the same” is a good thing.

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14) 3-WAY TIE: Ty Segall – Twins; Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair; The Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse




Alright, maybe I’m cheating here, but geez, I figure it’s the least I can do to reward the incredibly prolific in 2012 Segall, who gave me three great albums this year. If I had to choose one as the standout, I’d go with The Ty Segall Band’s Slaughterhouse.

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13) Garbage – Not Your Kind of People


Welcome back. I missed you.

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12) Muse – The 2nd Law


A nice bounce back from 2009’s disappointing The Resistance. I know some fans balked at the album’s dubstep elements, but I thought that was such a small (and for the most part, actually effective) part of what is otherwise a collection of songs exactly as over-the-top and bombastic as you hope for from Muse.

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11) TIE: Grimes  – Visions; Purity Ring – Shrines



Alright, another cheat here, as I’m lumping these two together simply because they seem so aesthetically similar (AKA, artists that should have been on the Drive soundtrack), and I couldn’t pick one over the other. Hey, I never said I was a real music critic. And if there were ever two artists that should be touring together, it’s these two. Let’s make it happen.

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10 ) Divine Fits – A Thing Called Divine Fits


Divine Fits are a  “supergroup” made up of members from Spoon, Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and New Bomb Turks. Obviously, only a certain type of music fan would call people from those groups coming together a “supergroup,” and I’m not even sure I consider myself one of them. But I did love this album.

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9) Jack White – Blunderbuss


I’m not sure that I’ll ever stop mourning The White Stripes, but as long as Jack White is still making excellent albums like this, it will be a little easier.

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8) David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant


Sure, the collaboration seems a little dominated by Byrne (not surprisingly), and I wish it featured more of St. Vincent’s guitar gymastics rather than being so horn driven. But these are minor quibbles. I still dug it quite a bit. And hey, we got another music video with wacky Byrne-dancing! That’s always a good thing.

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7) Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti –Mature Themes


Yeah, Pink is crazy, and I’m not entirely sure I would risk my money to go see him live. But if he keeps putting out albums this good, I can overlook all that. The hair, though? I don’t know, man…

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6) Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror


I wasn’t sure about this sophomore effort at first, as I sort of missed the more straight-ahead beats of the last album. But it really grew on me over multiple listens, and I finally recognized as a nice, subtle (and welcome) artistic jump forward for the duo.

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5) Metz – Metz


Just a great debut punk album. That is all.

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4) The Walkmen – Heaven 


The seventh album from The Walkmen made me very sad that I only just started paying attention to them this year. I instantly made up for my oversight by getting the previous six, as well. But I actually do think this is their best yet.

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3) Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel…


It’s no fun waiting seven years for a new Fiona Apple album, but man, at least she makes it worth the wait. That being said, could we maybe move the next one along a little quicker, Fiona?

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2) Regina Spektor – What We Saw from the Cheap Seats


My favorite Spektor album since Soviet Kitsch. I was very happy to hear some of her old trademark vocal weirdness return in a much larger fashion this time around.

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1) Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil


Amanda Fucking Palmer.

My Favorite Albums of 2011

With no new albums that I have been looking forward to (or will even probably hear) coming in the next couple weeks, it seems like a pretty safe time to put up my list of my twenty favorite albums of the year. Note: I said “my favorite,” not “the best.” I don’t feel as strongly about music as I do movies, nor do I feel as knowledgeable about the subject. This list is just based entirely on which albums I loved and listened to on multiple occasions this year.

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