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Favorite Albums of 2013

It’s that time of year again! I love collecting my favorite albums of the year into a blog post every December. I always get a great response about what albums I missed or why I’m stupid for having a certain album on the list. Anyways, another great year for music. So here they are:

10. The Ash & Clay – The Milk Carton Kids

This duo has some of the most haunting and most beautiful folk music around. With an incredibly unique writing style, harmonies that are very reminiscent of traditional folk, and impressive guitar playing, everything these guys do is magic. Here’s one of their few upbeat songs, “Honey, Honey” featuring Amanda Seyfried driving a car:

9. The Great Gatsby (Music from Baz Luhrmann’s Film) – Various Artist

Whether you love or hate this adaptation of Fitzgerald’s novel, there’s no denying that this is a killer soundtrack. Produced by Jay-Z, the recordings perfectly blend 1920s jazz and todays pop and hip-hop. Some might be turned away by the modern music but I think the reasoning is to make comparisons between the excess and extravagance of the ’20s and of today using music to show the parallels. And it’s great. Here’s Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.” Give it a shot:

8. Foreverly – Billie Joe + Norah

Now I just recently reviewed this record so there’s no need to go into too much detail. Quick overview: Jazz pianist Norah Jones and punk singer Billie Joe Armstrong team up to recreate an Everly Brothers album of traditional folk and country songs. Here’s “Long Time Gone:”

7. Bankrupt! – Phoenix

Every Phoenix record is full of great pop/rock music. Of course, this record is no different. From the Asian-sounding melody at the beginning all the way through, they never let up. Seeing them live at ACL this year was a great experience that gave me a new side to all the songs. Live, they put way more emphasis on the drums and guitars and it seemed way more of a rock show than their records ever do. I guess we’ll listen to “Entertainment,” the first track and single off the album:

6. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

This band is what happens if a folk band listens to too much U2 and lives in New York. And it’s great. I reviewed their record when it first came out and still love it now as much as I did then. Also, being front row at their ACL performance was an incredible experience. They were such humble performers and even had to play on borrowed instruments because an airline lost their luggage earlier that day. Anyways, here’s “Bleeding Out:”

5. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

One of the few bands deserving of their name. First, their music and lyrics have always been about conflict and dissonance. Then the two singers (Joy and John) are now so mad at each other that they aren’t on speaking terms. So we now have a real civil war inside the band. And this record exemplifies all of this perfectly. Dark, haunting, dissonant, and beautiful. “The One That Got Away:”

4. Reflektor – Arcade Fire

After winning Album of the Year at the Grammy’s a few years ago, everybody knows and loves Arcade Fire. And for good reason. They make great rock music. Thought-provoking, heavy, and complex. And danceable..

3. Yeezus – Kanye West

Well, let’s get kind of controversial now. Rap music with incredibly minimalistic production. Lyrics touching on fashion, racism, religion, and some of the most misogynistic lines ever. And of course, Kanye himself is a love him or hate him character. All that said, this record is beyond killer. It’s polarizing sounds draws me in over and over. I can barely go a week without having to spin this another time. There’s no video for my favorite song, “New Slaves,” but you can listen to it here:

2. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend

Really, this was the surprise album of the year. I’ve always enjoyed Vampire Weekend’s stuff. Fun and simple rock music. Then they came out with this record and it’s pretty unbelievable. Boundary-pushing vocals, layered and deep lyrics, and some incredibly beautiful songwriting. The whole album is a great journey through their perception of New York and really, any city. I want to share two songs with you. First is their only “fun” song from the record, “Diane Young.” After that will be the track titled “Step” that has some great vocal melodies.

1. The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake

Originally released in two parts, this has to be the perfect pop record. Containing everything about classic, modern, and future pop, there’s a little bit of everything. These songs are way more fleshed out than you would expect from a pop star. The track lengths range from 4:32 to 11:31 with most falling in around 7 to 8 minutes. And not all of these songs are dance tracks. JT proved that pop music can be art (as Lady Gaga weeps). The first single features Jay-Z and is a great track, “Suit & Tie:”

A few months later he announced part two with this disco-influenced single, “Take Back the Night:”

Then in October, he released his most recent video for the single “TKO.” This one sounds a little more modern then the last two videos:

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How about some honorable mentions? Here’s 10 artist in no particular order that almost made my list: Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monae, Portugal. The Man, Jack Johnson, Jay-Z, The Avett Brothers, Gavin DeGraw, Jamie Cullum, Paul McCartney, and Lorde.

Well, that wraps it up for this year. I guess we’ll meet back again next December.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Lists, Music, Music Review

 

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New Music – October

Next month has a good bunch of records that I’m very excited about. So. I wanted to tell you about them. So. Let’s go.

October 1:

B-Room – Dr. Dog

Dr. Dog is one of those bands that have a relentless schedule of new music released. I love every record and always look forward to anything they put out. This is no exception. Here’s “Broken Heart:”

The 20/20 Experience 2 – Justin Timberlake

If this record is as half as good as the first one, it will be worth the price of admission. Timberlake knows how to make great, thought-provoking pop music. The first single is more upbeat and a little less fleshed out as anything off the first 20/20 but it’s still a killer tune:

Pure Heroine – Lorde

Lorde, 16-year-old Ella Yelich-O’Conner from New Zealand, is making incredible pop music. You might have heard her first single and might not know who she is. I’m not sure if this song is going to be on her debut album but I can’t get it out of my head. Here’s “Royals:”

October 8:

Melophobia – Cage the Elephant

This is just one of those fun rock bands that are just great to listen to. I saw them open for Manchester Orchestra and they put on a really good show. This is the first single from the new album, “Come a Little Closer:”

October 15:

Magpie and the Dandelion – The Avett Brothers

I’m so excited that there was such a quick turnaround since their last album. You can’t have too much Avett Brothers. Saw them last year at ACL. Chad Smith from Red Hot Chili Peppers came out and played a song with them. Anyways, I’m looking forward to this new album. The first single:

Make a Move – Gavin DeGraw

For 10 years, Gavin DeGraw has been putting out great piano pop music. He has a very distinctive voice and songwriting style that is his own while still fitting onto pop radio. I still think his debut record is one of the best debut pop albums. Since then, I still look forward and jam out to every subsequent release by him. His first single is just as catchy as anything he’s written:

New – Paul McCartney

There’s not much I can say about Paul McCartney that you don’t already know. As one of the greatest and most prolific songwriters in the world, I look forward to any new stuff from him. And from the first single, this album sounds like it’ll be a great one.

October 29:

Reflektor – Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire’s last album was considered the best album of 2010 by numerous publications (and rightfully so). Because of that, everybody has high hopes for this new record. And guessing from the first single, the album will live up to any hype and expectations that people have. The music video is great, the song is killer. I can’t wait for this album.

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Anyways, support your favorite artist. Buy your music. Or not. Whatever. Just listen to great music.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in Lists, Music

 

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