I’m not a music writer. I don’t get albums sent to me for review. I am a fan who likes to share about my favorite music.
There is no way to adequately quantify the subjective experience of listening to and falling in love with new music. I haven’t listened to all the great music or even been aware of it. But as of this, the first day of 2014, I hereby publish my 20 favorite albums of 2013, with tweet-length descriptions of each.
- Frontier Ruckus “Eternity of Dimming” – Growing up in the 90’s in suburban Detroit sounds grounded, real, yet magical. A careening, complete artistic statement.
- Arcade Fire “Reflektor” – A Revelator–depth uncovered with each listen. Rhythmic, philosophical, and sonically delicious. Turn it up loud.
- Typhoon “White Lighter” – Ruminations on suffering accompanied by joyous brass arrangements. A musical exploration of the full human experience.
- Son Lux “Lanterns” – Perfectly produced, pulsing beats and woodwinds, haunting vocals spinning cosmic tales. Lush and sparse in equal measure.
- Over the Rhine “Meet Me at the Edge of the World” – Consummate songwriters create another masterpiece. They make Ohio sound like heaven, even to Michigan ears.
- Night Beds “Country Sleep” – Soaring vocals, beautiful melodies, consistent songs. Sleepy music doesn’t get much better. A remarkable debut record.
- Vampire Weekend “Modern Vampires of the City” – Newfound lyrical thoughtfulness added to their spunky, energetic wall of sound. Continuing to expand their unique sound.
- Janelle Monae “The Electric Lady” – She’s in the lineage of truly innovative artists. A unique voice with an astounding ear for great songs. Sci-Fi dance-along.
- The National “Trouble Will Find Me” – Another well executed effort from the band defined by a baritone vocalist, deadpan humor, and intricate rock guitars.
- Yo La Tengo “Fade” – Top three YLT records ever, and after almost 30 years, that’s saying something. First time without a 10+ minute barnburner.
- The Lone Bellow “The Lone Bellow” – Three part harmonies for days. A fusion of folk and arena rock that’s gimmick-free. They aim for the rafters, and usually hit.
- Gungor “I Am Mountain” – They continue to expand their sonic palate with electronic beats and old western guitars. A bit unfocused, but great songs.
- Sigur Ros “Kveikur” – “Brennisteinn” opens the record like a metal mission statement. What follows is less intense, but solid nonetheless.
- The Avett Brothers “Magpie and the Dandelion” – They’re flat out great songwriters. As they continue to indulge their rock sensibilities, they remain masterful balladeers.
- Atoms for Peace “Amok” – There’s an undeniable groove to this record that’s just off kilter enough to keep it interesting. I long for a few more hooks.
- The Civil Wars “The Civil Wars” – More instrumentation added since their sparse debut. Their voices sound like they were created to harmonize together.
- Josh Ritter “The Beast in its Tracks” – A generous breakup record. That can’t be easy to do. Ritter makes it sound easy, as he always does. One of the greats.
- Five Iron Frenzy “Engine of a Million Plots” – A 10 year hiatus ends and their trademark sound stays intact. Humanity, theology, absurdity, rock with horns. Long live FIF.
- Foxygen “We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic” – 21st Century adaptation of the sounds of 1967. Yes, their influences are clear, but the songs are there, too.
- Billie Joe & Norah “Foreverly” – I love the recipe: Billie Joe Armstrong + Norah Jones + an entire Everly Brothers record from 1958. Endlessly listenable.
Let me know if you want to talk any more about these. Or let me know your favorite records. Or call me names for loving/not loving albums that you love/don’t love. It’s all good fun, right?
Happy listening, everyone.