FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR // 2013
This year, I found myself making extra effort to experience more albums from front to back. Sitting down to take in an album as a whole, as opposed to just hearing tracks here and there - whenever time permitted. Many of those albums were experienced in transit. Many while sitting in hospitals and airports. And many still in the privacy of my home, late into the night when sleep couldn’t be found. Point being, I spent a lot of time alone, with music, this year. It was a year filled with more downs than ups, but through out the darker days, I had the music when I didn’t have the friends or family. All that being said, I’m an optimistic person and I fully buy into the healing power of music - if only for an escape - and so these twenty-five albums all deserve my praise and love for being there. It’s difficult to rank things that you love, but I gave it a shot based on plays and general obsessions. Things get a little fuzzy after the first handful so really, depending on the day, and of these could shift in rank. Let’s just call everything after ten, a tie.
So without further ado. Here are my favorite albums of 2013. Click title for band and/or purchase information.
THE TOP TEN FAVORITES
10.) "Julia with Blue Jeans On" by Moonface - Spencer Krug brought only a piano and still managed to turn out some of his most urgent and heart wrenching work while still maintaining a beautiful sound throughout.
9.) "Tomorrow’s Harvest" by Boards of Canada - This album was a wonderful surprise on two levels. One, it came out of nowhere after seven years of inactivity, and two, it is the bands most richly textured, atmospheric creation to date. Spooky and haunting at time, somber and beautiful at others. Always special.
8.) “Nepenthe” by Julianna Barwick – An album of gorgeous, ethereal spaces that feel magical and transcendent. Recorded in Iceland at Sigur Ros’s studio, the album is Barwick’s most lush and dreamy album to date.
7.) “Whirlpool” by A Grave With No Name – A huge leap forward for Alex Shields’ lo-fi rock project (now officially a band). “Whirlpool” is a hazy, reverb drenched beauty that sways from grunge-y shoegaze to wistfully nostalgic indie rock ballads that call to mind Jesus and Mary Chain, The Lemonheads, and Mazzy Star all at once.
6.) “Evergreen” by Plastic Flowers – A damn near perfect dream pop album. If i’d had more time to spend with this album before compiling the list, it might have been higher. At any rate, it’s a stunning collection of autumnal pop songs that you want to live in for months. Just incredible.
5.) “Limits of Desire” by Small Black – A great companion album to “Evergreen”. Here Small Black crafts an album of breathless beauty. Airy, dreamy synth pop that is tailor made for spring’s shift to summer. Warm nights and dark blue skies lit by headlights is the best way to experience this phenomenal album.
4.) “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire – A big, heart on sleeve, disco rock album that caught me completely off guard, because I had started to think that I was over my Arcade Fire obsession. James Murphy proved me wrong. Some truly beautiful music swirled with deliriously good high energy pop jams. Hard to beat.
3.) “Huntress” by Camp Counselors – The sleeper hit of the summer. A dark, haunting, and often times, beautiful collection of electronic and ambient soundscapes. One minute you might get the feeling that you’re hearing some brilliant long last horror film score, and the next your hearing some majestic, otherworldly stunner. I’ve often praised the work of Kyle J. Riegle (also of Cemeteries) here at PMW, and one listen to “Huntress” is all you need to understand why I’m so consistently impressed the artist’s work.
2.) “Trouble Will Find Me” by The National – It’s a big, billowing collection of orchestral rock songs from one of the best band’s in the world. It’s an album that might be their best, but more than anything just feels like a visit from an old friend. You don’t know how many more times you’ll see them, so each time feels more special. It doesn’t hurt that said friend brings some of the best songs of his career. If the band never records again, that will be fine, because “Hard to Find” is one of the best things that they’ve ever done.
1.) “M B V” by My Bloody Valentine – Twenty-two years later, the band still manages to create something that feels new and vital while hammering home their ownership of a sound that is often imitated and never reproduced. At first, I didn’t know what to think of the album as it felt too familiar, but over time I slept in it, and lived in it and kept finding new things to be excited about inside the walls of sound. I know it’s probably the easy pick, but let’s be honest – after all that time did anyone really think that they’d pull out something this excellent? Not me, but I’m damn sure glad that they did because I love every second.
AND THE REST OF THE BEST
I’ll forgo the blurbs. If you liked what’s above, hopefully, you’ll like what’s below. Check them out. As I said, any one of them could be tied for tenth.
There you have it. My favorite albums of 2013. The songs list has been particularly hard, but it will be coming up next. Hope that you found something that you liked in the collection. There’s plenty of goodness to go around. Thanks for reading/listening/commenting.