Kyle’s Best of 2013

2013 wasn’t an amazing year for music, but a lot of cool things did happen. There were artists who re-emerged on the scene in Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, and The Pixies, and then there was a movement headed by Daft Punk and Arcade Fire to try and revive disco in a modernized way. The reason for my semi-disappointment is that a lot of the artist’s efforts this year to set a new standard for their peers failed in my eyes to create something overly significant and lasting (with one exception). Motives aside, and favoritism thrown out the window, here are my top 25 albums to get released in 2013

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

220px-Lousycover

25. Of Montreal- Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Release Date: October 08, 2013

Grade: B

I’m really interested to know if this album’s stripped down and more accessible approach was a choice made by Barnes or his management. A part of me hates it because I view him as one of the most fascinating artists out there and really enjoy hearing what he creates when he tries to make electronic masterpieces, but Lousy With Sylvianbriar serves as a reminder to earlier Of Montreal days when he made his living off making pretty pop songs and displayed his thoughts in a less bizarre way.

Track Pick: “Triumph of Disintegration

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

220px-Floating_Coffin

24. Thee Oh Sees- Floating Coffin

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Grade: B

One of the better noisy rock albums that came out this year, Thee Oh Sees is a band that must be an absolute blast to see live and tries to capture that energy on the album. When that does happen it’s an awesome thing to hear, but it happens inconsistently as interest tends to fade during the second half of the album, but there are some gems on it like the one suggested below in “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”.

Track Pick: “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Afraid of Heights

23. Wavves- Afraid of Heights

Release Date: March 16, 2013

Grade: B

I like listening to Wavves because their music is fun, and that’s why Afraid of Heights gets mentioned here despite it’s struggle to be substantial. They can do much better than this and have shown potential to write interesting songs, but they haven’t quite gotten to their peak yet in my opinion and I’m hopeful that they do soon.

Track Pick: “Cop

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

22. The National- Trouble Will Find Me

Release Date: May 17, 2013
Grade: B

The product was still good on Trouble Will Find Me, but it’s a difficult one to get inspired by because it sounds uninspired in comparison to the previous three releases. I do enjoy Berninger’s delivery and cadence in their music a lot though, and it appears that even a sub-par record by The National is a quality album when you compare it to it’s peers.

Track Pick: “Don’t Swallow the Cap

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

peace-in-love-album-leak21. Peace- In Love

Release Date: March 25, 2013

Grade: B+

This was the debut album for the group and it was a great success by a lot of standards. Their sound has evolved already from their first EP, and In Love is a more consistent album than most bands will achieve in their entire discography, let alone on their debut. This group has a ton of potential but I still have some questions about which genre they ultimately gravitate towards, because they’re stuck in between pop and rock right now and that’s not a good place for them to be because they’re completely different approaches.

Track Pick: “California Daze

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

M B V

20. My Bloody Valentine- m b v

Release Date: February 02, 2013

Grade: B+

I’m not the biggest My Bloody Valentine fan yet, but even I can recognize that it’s really cool that this album actually surfaced this year. For a band to go back as far as they did here in order to give their fans the closure that they desperately seeked is awesome, and they did a good job of making the release be a worthy one for possibly ending their career. Apparently there will might end up being a new release sometime around 2017 though as Kevin Shields has stated “the main plan for next year is to make a new record.”

Track Pick: “If I Am

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Bleached

19. Bleached- Ride Your Heart

Release Date: April 02, 2013

Grade: B+

There aren’t that many rock/pop albums out there with female vocals which I like (I don’t even think it’s bias, I just think that a lot of female fronted bands have misguided approaches), but the sound on Ride Your Heart is on point for the entirety of the album. The issue with the album lies in it’s song topics, or lack thereof as every song seems to be about a boy, and after a while that becomes irritating. The sound is great though and pleasantly diverse.

Track Pick: “Searching Through the Past

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

The Speed of Things

18. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- The Speed of Things

Release Date: October 08, 2013
Grade: B+

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. plays an extremely modern and electronic form of pop, and they have great pop sensibility. Everything is catchy and pretty with an earnest approach in the lyrics which I respect a lot. The drawbacks are that the sound probably won’t last for very long, and the totally fair criticism that I hate their twitter account for re-tweeting every person who said that they liked the sound, but in the moment this is a good listen for sure.

Track Pick: “If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor]

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

220px-Miracle_Mile_album_cover

17. STRFKR- Miracle Mile

Release Date:
Grade: B+

One of the best groups out there when it comes to just making catchy pop music, STRFKR delivered again with Miracle Mile in 2013. It’s a very fun album to listen to, but the drawback is that it misses the awesome peaks which exist on their other releases.

Top Track: “YAYAYA

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

I Hate Music

16. Superchunk- I Hate Music

Release Date: August 20, 2013
Grade: B+

It sounds weird to hear that the 10th studio album by a band would be called I Hate Music, but I kind of get where they’re coming from. The release was inspired by the loss of a friend, and that served as another reminder for the band that even though music sounds like an answer, or perhaps a cure at points, it’s really not. Music doesn’t change much other than our perception, and that can piss you off when things go wrong. It’s declarations like this which make the album an interesting and oddly fun listen despite it’s sad inspiration.

Top Track: “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

No Blues

15. Los Campesinos!- NO BLUES

Release Date: October 29, 2013

Grade: B+
Earlier this year I would have guessed that me placing a Los Campesinos! album on this list would mean that it was a really fun release, but that’s not really what happened at all. NO BLUES is fun, it’s hard for the band not to be, but it’s actually an almost entirely serious album (damn you “Avocado, Baby”) which makes you realize that the band that’s stuck in where they stand in today’s music scene might not be stuck after all. This is where they’ve been working their way to for a while now, and I like it, now I’m just waiting to hear an album where Garth’s ex-girlfriend isn’t mentioned.

Track Pick: “Let It Spill

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Dormarion

14. Telekinesis!- Dormarion

Release Date: April 02, 2013
Grade: B+

Dormarion does a really good job of saying something specific enough to relate to but vague enough to morph for your own liking. It’s a fun listen because of this, and because Telekinesis! shows off some variation in sounds as they play around with their energy and approach from track to track. An easily enjoyable listen.

Track Pick: “Power Lines

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Melophobia

13. Cage the Elephant- Melophobia

Release: October 08, 2013

Grade: B+

There’s nothing spectacular present, I don’t want to give some hyperbolic lie to justify this album’s placement on the list, it’s just really fun and has some nice peaks. “Spiderhead” is a great opener to get you smiling and everything in between this and the album closer “Cigarette Daydreams” shows off an aspect of the band which is enjoyable for a different reason, just skip on the single “It’s Just Forever”.

Top Track: “Cigarette Daydreams

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

MGMT

12. MGMT- MGMT

Release Date: September 17, 2013
Grade: B+

It’s awesome that MGMT is basically going through their exposure to pop culture backwards. Congratulations was a difficult listen for sure, but it sent the message out there that there was a new style of music which the band wanted to focus it’s attention on as they moved forward. MGMT holds true to this approach but also tries to make it more accessible in the process, and I think that they did a really good job of finding that balance on this release.

Top Track: “Alien Days

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Fade

11. Yo La Tengo- Fade

Release Date: January 14, 2013

Grade: B+

They really had me like a sucker the second that they opened the album with the lyrics “Sometimes the bad guys, come out on top/ Sometimes the good guys lose/ We try not to lose our hearts, not to lose our minds”. Fade is a definitive Yo La Tengo album in a lot of ways because it’s very good but also gets carried by obvious highlights to save you from losing interest.
Top Track: “Ohm

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Fly By Wire

10. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin- Fly By Wire

Release Date: September 17, 2013
Grade: B+
Fly By Wire excels in it’s simplicity. It’s very minimalistic and has a lot of pretty melodies with lyrics that I enjoy and are certainly good enough to succeed in the genre. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin can go back and forth between being fun and sentimental, but the constant is that it’s always enjoyable, soft, safe pop music.

Top Tracks: “Young Presidents“, “Harrison Ford

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Suburban Campfire

9. If Madrid- Suburban Campfire

Release Date: March 03, 2013
Grade: B+

If Madrid is a semi-local band who has a ton of talent. These guys are more thoughtful than a lot of artists who get regional/national attention. There’s a lot of emotion in the lyrics, a ton of sentimentality, and some awesome guitar parts which remind me of softer Modest Mouse tracks.

Top Tracks: “Sivan’s Song”, “Seeing All My Friends Die” [You can listen to these at their bandcamp]

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

An Object

8. No Age- An Object

Release Date: August 19, 2013

Grade: A-

The opening lines of the album are “Who do you think you are? Trying so hard, to make that stage, but it’s not made that way”. It’s true about the punk scene, where many artists are trying to get their claim to fame through punk without realizing that this isn’t the path where you get to do that. Punk isn’t about recognition, it’s about sending some message to the people who are willing to listen, and An Object is refreshing for understanding that. “I Won’t Be Your Generator” is an absolutely fantastic track.

Top Tracks: “I Won’t Be Your Generator“, “A Ceiling Dreams of a Floor

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Wakin On A Pretty Daze

7. Kurt Vile- Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Release Date: April 09, 2013
Grade: A-

Making an album about how everything worked out right sounds like a dangerous premise, but Kurt Vile didn’t fall in to the temptation to write lazily. Rather, this album proves to be a man at his peak writing about just what it feels like to be there, and looking back at the events which got him to this point. It’s an extremely relaxing and pretty listen with songs which were constructed with the full product in mind, shying away from singles and creating some really good long songs in the process.

Top Tracks: “Too Hard“, “Was All Talk

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Generationals

6. Generationals- Heza

Release Date: April 02, 2013
Grade: A-

One of the best parts about working at a college radio station is that you find albums that you never would’ve given a listen to otherwise. Generationals caught my attention with their single “Put a Light On”, and that forced me to keep on re-visiting the album until I realized just how good it was. I love an artist who is genuine in their work and Generationals hits me as genuine pop music, which is semi-surprising considering that there’s not much of a pop scene in New Orleans to my knowledge. Heza is electronic pop which is consistently fun and surprisingly substantial, I’m curious to hear what these guys release in the future.

Top Tracks: “Awake“, “Put a Light On

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Bigfoot

5. Cayucas- Bigfoot

Release Date: April 29, 2013

Grade: A-

Care-free sunshine music. I’m going to throw out a tentative Beach Boys comparison because it’s definitive California pop music with vocal rhythms interjected into the music while singing about light topics, but don’t misinterpret that I’m placing a Beach Boys cover band at #5 on my list. Cayucas surprises you a lot on this album in their song variation and artistic freedom, as when he curses on “High School Lover” it’s a bit shocking considering how light the sound was. That’s the thing which I really like about this album, it gives off the impression that nothing is being hidden in the music, it’s just a pretty sound in a relaxed environment.

Top Tracks: “High School Lover“, “A Summer Thing“, “Will the Thrill

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Reflektor

4. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Release Date: October 28, 2013

Grade: A-

It wasn’t the next step for the band and that’s a really disappointing fact, but it’s still one of the better releases of the year. Take expectations out of the equation and you realize that there are some really good Arcade Fire songs on this album which are for the most part being hidden and not getting talked about. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll skip the first three tracks on the album (“Reflektor”, “We Exist”, and “Flashbulb Eyes”) and start on “Here Comes the Night Time” so that I can miss on some of the more pretentious and less-meaningful tracks in my eyes, and that leaves you with a product which is what this album was supposed to be: Arcade Fire experimenting with disco. I like the second disk so much so that it actually carries the album in my mind as the product becomes more cohesive and thought-provoking once you reach this point. It’s cool to think about making people dance to Arcade Fire at a club, but that probably shouldn’t happen because that isn’t who this band is. When that happens on this album we hear the poor song concepts, and it makes you realize that sometimes a band just is what they are. Arcade Fire plus James Murphy might equal a product which is less than Arcade Fire alone, even if both of those performers are fantastic. A better way of viewing it would be to say that Arcade Fire is a better band if they do take in new influences but still play something which is definitively their style, which is something that is true of the last 3/4 of this album.

Top Tracks: “Here Comes the Night Time“, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)“, “Afterlife

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

FIDLAR

3. FIDLAR- FIDLAR

Release Date: January 22, 2013
Grade: A
“I. DRINK. CHEAP. BEER. SO. WHAT. F***. YOU”. That’s the chorus to the first song on the album and gives you a pretty good idea of what this is going to be. A skater punk album isn’t the sort of thing I usually drool over, but this album has proven to be fantastic as I gave it more listens. FIDLAR have the same anger and anthems a lot of other punk bands do; youth, drugs, hatred of jobs, but they’ve got a special quality in them about being self-aware through the process. The focus is pretty much just set on having a good time, but they’re still able to find their audience with lyrics like “I don’t care if you think it’s cool…” and the closing track’s realization that “It kind of sucks being twenty-two”. That line in itself adds so much legitimacy to the album as it shows that this is an album by people who know that this lifestyle sucks for the same reason that it’s awesome, because time’s running out for how long you can actually live it. In the present though, it’s a fantastic picture.

Top Tracks: “Gimmie Something“, “Cocaine” [Part Two of “Cocaine”], “5 to 9

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Foxygen

2. Foxygen- We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Release Date: January 22, 2013

Grade: A

There’s a contingent of people out there who dislike Foxygen because it’s a ‘ripoff’ of classic artists, but my ears hear it more like an homage. Everyone was jumping around trying to find out who exactly it was that they sounded like when this album came out because the sound was familiar, but it’s a combination of a lot of great sounds which artists should be emulating. Don’t get mad that there’s elements of The Rolling Stones and The Velvet Underground present, be glad that Foxygen knows this stuff and can present it in their own modernized California-style to create a product which brings back fond memories of it’s inspirations.

Top Tracks: “No Destruction“, “San Francisco“, “In the Darkness

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Modern Vampires of the City

1. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

Release Date: May 14, 2013
My Grade: A

Their self-titled may be the more fun release which carries sentimental value, but this is the best album that Vampire Weekend have released so far. The production on Modern Vampires of the City is successful across multiple genres and consistently gorgeous, and the track to track transitions are done with seemingly surgical precision. They worked on trying to perfect the small things and ended up shutting up a lot of the people who accused them of selling out upon the release of Contra in the process, delivering their most cohesive and self-revealing album yet. I don’t feel like I’m overstating the product when I say that this could be played in twenty years and people would still be able to notice the obvious talent of the group and the pop sensibility within the songs, and that’s a quality which is incredibly difficult to achieve and deserves to be recognized.

Top Tracks: “Hannah Hunt“, “Unbelievers“, “Step

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

And here’s some bonus material for you all

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-

Fifteen Great Songs Which Weren’t Mentioned On My Favorite Albums List (Alphabetically Listed)

Destroyer- “El Rito

Dr. Dog- “Broken Heart

Ducktails- “Academy Avenue
The Flaming Lips- “Sun Blows Up

Flashbulb Fires- “The Whale

Hemmingbirds- “My Love Our Time Is Now

Little Green Cars- “Harper Lee

Oberhofer- “You + Me (Still Together in the Future)

Peter Peter- “Une Version Améliorée de la Tristesse

Portugal. The Man- “Sea of Air

Robert Pollard- “Drawing a Picture

The Smith Westerns- “3 AM Spiritual

Unknown Mortal Orchestra- “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)

Washed Out- “It All Feels Right

Yuck- “Middle Sea

+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
Top Five Live Acts I Saw

1. Arcade Fire in Brooklyn

An awesome experience which gets detailed in this article I wrote earlier this year.

2. Jeff Mangum at Mass MoCa

I’m seeing the full band in January, but I’m going to be in what might literally be the last row for the show. For all I care Mangum could’ve been lip synching the entire time and I probably wouldn’t have realized it because I was to busy screaming along.

3. The XX at Governor’s Ball

Governor’s Ball was disappointing for the most part because of the weather and mud, but the one performance which was incredible came from a band I don’t even like that much. The XX had a great lights show and were one of the few performers who seemed to have a show planned for the festival stage, and they aced it.

4. Yuck at CMJ

There were free rum and cokes, and I got to talk to the band afterwards (They noticed me during the show because I reacted to “Operation”…favorably). Very cool people who can play a really good live show.

5. Brand New at Upstate Concert Hall

Brand New Vs Taking Back Sunday. I was a TBS fan as a kid and had a lot of fun at their show this year, but Brand New was a whole different type of energy which was really fun to be a part of. Bad news is that this is the show where my glasses got knocked off and destroyed, but that stuff’s going to happen if you’re not careful in a mosh pit.

HM: Barons in the Attic at Rest Fest, Pains of Being Pure at Heart at WCDB’s 35th Anniversary

Here’s my top albums of 2012 and If you missed out on my top 100 favorite songs list make sure to check that out!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s