My Favorite 50 albums of 2013

An excess of good music means that this year I got ambitious and expanded my usual Top Ten Albums list to a cool 50, with random subsection titles where appropriate themes emerged. The top ten are pretty much solid in my mind as the ones I listened to the most and liked the most; the rest of the list are admirable releases that you ought to check out especially if the ‘theme’ applies to you or is something that sounds like you might like it.

–2013 Top Ten Favorites–

1. David Francey, So Say We All

Canadian folk singer David Francey has one of those intimately familiar voices that’s inviting and yet aching with pain experienced in a life that’s lived, for better and worse. I listened to this album more than anything else this year, by a long shot.

2. A Fragile Tomorrow, Be Nice Be Careful

Power pop isn’t restricted to the Shoes/Beat/Tommy Keene heyday of the 80’s, as these twenty-somethings proved on this Don Dixon produced joyride through a thoroughly modern take on the genre.

3. The South Carolina Broadcasters, Short Time To Stay Here

Making old-time music new again through their undeniable energy and enthusiasm, this trio is a joy to see perform, single-microphone style; the songs are nearly as much fun in recorded form.

4. Rhye, Woman

Was there a more gorgeous album of wispy pop music made this year? The male duo Rhye sounds like this generation’s Everything But The Girl, all understated charm and unencumbered hooks.

5. Olafur Arnalds, For Now I Am Winter

I’m not sure that this qualifies as ‘pop music’, but it’s beautiful stuff whatever the genre. Arnalds’ style is closer to a classical one than anything resembling radio fodder; it’s telling that his other album this year was a film score.

6. Rudimental, Home

Released this year in the United States after taking over European clubs, this set includes hip-hop, dance, EDM, funk, and more in a mashed-up mix of beats, rhythms, and inspiring if simplistic songs.

7. Jason Isbell, Southeastern

Mellower than his southern rock leanings might suggest, Isbell’s latest found him on an introspective trip through some arresting character sketches that rank among his best songs.

8. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

European dance-rockers resurrecting Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rodgers for this century’s party crowd? Why not; Moroder and Rogers had it right—hook ’em with the groove, pour on the sugary synth, and you’re cooking.

9. The Avett Brothers, Magpie and the Dandelion

The slowly evolving Avetts are gradually expanding their sound here, without losing the emotional core of their songwriting. Comfort food for the acoustic folk/rock set, with a great live “Souls Like the Wheels” thrown in for dessert.

10. Gogol Bordello, Pura Vida Conspiracy

Weird, wonderful wackiness masquerading as rock ‘n’ roll mayhem and pulling it off admirably.

 

–Ten Artists Still Making Great Music After All These Years–

Willie Nile, American Ride

Del-Lords, Elvis Club

Mazzy Star, Seasons of Your Day

Meat Puppets, Rat Farm

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, Songs from the Psychedelic Time Clock EP

Yo La Tengo, Fade

My Bloody Valentine, m b v

Juliana Hatfield, Wild Animals

Lisa Germano, No Elephants

The Ocean Blue, Ultramarine

 

–Five Guys Making Great Music Now–

Joseph Arthur, Redemption City

Jake Bugg, Shangri-La

Ed Harcourt, Back into the Woods

Devandra Banhart, Mala

Mayer Hawthorne, Where Does This Door Go

 

–Five Female Singers I’d Like to Introduce My Daughters To–

Ellie Goulding, Halcyon Days

Whiskey Gentry, Holly Grove

Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight…

The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars

Sam Phillips, Push Any Button

 

–Five Loud Favorites–

Coheed and Cambria, The Afterman: Descension

Clutch, Earth Rocker

Volbeat, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

Kylesa, Ultraviolet

Dillinger Escape Plan, One of Us is the Killer

 

–Five I Can Dance To

Toro Y Moi, Anything In Return

Major Lazer, Free the Universe

Moorcheeba, Head Up High

Ra Ra Riot, Beta Love

The 1975, The 1975

 

–Five So Weird I Like Them Just Because–

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual

Kid Cudi, Indicud

Sigur Ros, Kveikur

Bombadil, Metrics of Affection

 

–Five I Think We’ve Both Heard Of–

Bastille, Bad Blood

The National, Trouble Will Find Me

Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends

Frank Turner, Tape Deck Heart

Iron & Wine, Ghost on Ghost

 

 

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