Brian Beverly’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

I Love You

10.) The Neighbourhood- I Love You.

This dark pop rock album has the best of both worlds as the rock band sound is enhanced by the electronic sounds but not unbalanced at all. Their single “Sweater Weather” was played all over this past spring/summer, but every song on this album keeps those illuminati themed lyrics while having the dark garage like sound.

Favorite Song: “Afraid

bankrupt!

9.) Phoenix- Bankrupt!

Another album that was simply stellar from front to back. They stayed true to their sound and the deep bass and synth mixes perfectly with Mars’ vocals to create a sweet, energetic pop album.

Favorite Song: “Entertainment

Acid Rap

8.) Chance the Rapper- Acid Rap

If you can get past the whole ‘Sounding like Lil’ Wayne’ thing, you have a great rapper. Lyrically he’s amazing, and fun, and his beats are great. This is a new sound I can deal with.

Favorite Song: “Good Ass Intro

Beta Love

7.) Ra Ra Riot- Beta Love

This album throws you back into an 80’s/90’s synth pop dance party. Combining electric guitars and synths they created an all time favorite album of mine. Brownie points for being from Syracuse and opening for the Postal Service.

Favorite Song: “Angel, Please

Tidal Wave of Mystery

6.) Capital Cities- In a Tidal Wave of Mystery

The duo from California absolutely know how to make a hook. From “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast” to “Safe and Sound” to “Farrah Fawcett Hair” the songs get stuck on replay in your mind for days. Throw in some flashy electronic beats and synths with a jazzy trumpet and you have yourself Capital Cities. I cannot recommend this album enough.

Favorite Song: “Farrah Fawcett Hair (feat. Andre 3000)

More_Than_Just_A_Dream

5.) Fitz and the Tantrums- More than Just A Dream

Another album that had a great dance feel to it. I saw them live at the Upstate Concert Hall along with Capital Cities and I had a blast. They combined soul with pop and dance, and it’s a combination that makes me impatient for their next album.

Favorite Song: “Out of My League

Random Access Memories

4.) Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

I love the disco dance type vibe that Daft Punk brought to the table in this release. Almost every song made me want to move and the collaborations throughout the whole album added a modern vibe to their disco sound. “Get Lucky” topped the charts in the early summer but its not a surprise that nearly every song on this album charted.

Favorite Song: “Doin’ It Right

Talon of the Hawk

3.) The Front Bottoms- Talon of the Hawk

This indie punk band from Bergen County, New Jersey made a gem in this album by combining catchy hooks and awesome riffs. After one listen through all the tracks I couldn’t get them out of my head and didn’t want to.

Favorite Song: “Twin-Size Mattress

Heartthrob

2.) Tegan and Sara- Heartthrob

This album was absolutely stellar. Although “Closer” became a giant hit, every single song here had the potential to be a hit. With influences from childhood idol Cindy Lauper, the Canadian indie folk duo completely changed their sound to make an extremely enjoyable dancey-pop album.

Favorite Song: “I Couldn’t Be Your Friend

The Bones of What You Believe

1.) Chvrches- The Bones of What You Believe

I really enjoyed the Recover EP when it came out and I was super excited for the full length album to come out. I was not disappointed as from start to finish this album was completely enjoyable and well thought out.

Favorite Song: “The Mother We Share

Honorable Mentions: Haim- Days Are Gone, Charli XCX- True Romance, The 1975- The 1975

Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013

1.  Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

Tawk Tomahawk

This Australian outfit’s short, neo-soul/R&B LP easily got the most plays in my music library this year.  With a 30-minute runtime, this album behaves like a mixtape, and is delicious from start to finish. Its dynamic soundscapes oscillate between spaced-out hip-hop and future soul grooves, showcasing the band’s compositional prowess and musicianship on each song.

2.  Jai Paul – Jai Paul

Jai Paul

UK producer Jai Paul’s album was released amid controversy, heightening the anticipation for his long – awaited debut. A ploy? No matter, this is a surefire banger that is bound to make you move! Whether he intended to or not, Jai Paul serves up this year’s finest offering of electro pop, chopped with weird glitches, silky interludes and eccentric vocal harmonies.


3.  Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

II

UMO’s sophomore release reveals a new direction for the group without abandoning its psychedelic roots. Singer/songwriter Ruban Nielson refines his song structures, even dabbling in some R&B along the way, as the band delivers a somewhat patient and more polished offering from their debut effort. Fans of their first will have their thirsts quenched by phased out guitar riffs, distorted horn lines, and psyche-funk breakdowns, as II intrigues listeners while luring them further down the rabbit hole.


4.  Thundercat – Apocalypse

Apocalypse

Stephen Bruner’s bass grooves have been in high demand for the past few years, notably lending them to Flying Lotus’ recordings while touring in Erykah Badu’s backing band. Apocalypse could be considered a concept album, exploring themes of friendship, love and loss, as Bruner responds to the death of long-time friend and keyboardist, Austin Peralta.  A fusion of pop, soul and R&B layered with tasty vocal harmonies, scorching bass lines and a few wacky time signatures, Apocalypse delivers catchy hooks amidst its complexity that ensure repeat listens.

5.  Matthew E. White – Outer Face

Outer face

Matthew E. White’s follow-up to last year’s Big Inner, Outer Face serves as an extension of his solo debut – rooted in Americana, and confident. White’s attention to detail is what makes this album shine; with prudent panning, dynamic swells, subtle touches and bass grooves to boot, Outer Face is simultaneously patient and bold.

6.  Bilal – A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal ventures toward the avant-garde side of neo-soul and R&B to accompany the Coltrane nod in its title. With unconventional melodies and harmony structures overtop smooth chord changes and back beats, Bilal explores his creativity on this release. The result is an album that engages listeners with multifaceted arrangements, dynamic swells and sexy spells, all without sacrificing accessibility.

7.  Danny Brown – Old

Old

The Detroit rapper’s follow up to his widely praised debut, XXX, features a slightdeparture from his established signature sounds, solidifying Old as this year’s gold standard for hip-hop. Functioning as a dual album, its A-side features more old school production, while the B-side nods to more contemporary, party-rap configurations. Now in his 30’s, Danny Brown explores stories of aging betwixt his inescapable past of poverty and drugs, carefully constructing this concept album as each song masterfully flows to the next.

8.  Ducktails – Wish Hotel EP

ducktails4Matt Mondanile was a busy man this year, releasing two albums for his solo recording project, Ducktails. On Wish Hotel, Mondanile records by his lonesome, diving deeper into the hazy soundscapes explored on his full-length release, The Flower Lane, from earlier this year.  While the LP meanders, Wish Hotel maintains focus, clouding its listeners with phased out pop melodies and distorted keyboard tones, capturing the mood of its fall-time release.

9.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor

ReflektorNo surprise here as Arcade Fire’s latest has made quite a bit of noise since its October release, finding itself atop myriad year-end lists. Clever marketing tricks aside, Reflektor is equipped with production from James Murphy, and showcases the pure craftsmanship of Arcade Fire. Perhaps in an attempt to capture their live sound, the album is lively and paranoid, switching seamlessly between carefully constructed choruses and limber electro-grooves, effectively keeping listeners on their toes.

10.  Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Foxygen

Foxygen’s first full-length release feels as though its paying homage to their Sixties’ heroes while simultaneously poking fun at them right to their faces. Its playfulness is endearing and supports its lyrical prowess, alternating between folk tales and colorful anecdotes. We are the Ambassadors delves into psychedelic breakdowns amidst shifty time signatures and clever hooks; this album is more fun with each repeat listen.
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