My Top 20 Albums of 2013

I hope I’ve set a precedent with the title of this list.  By stating My, I am calling to attention that I totally understand how subjective top anything lists can be.  All I’m looking to do here is share an interest of mine, music hoarding, with all of you – whoever you are – in the hopes that maybe you might find something you like too.

The following 20 albums spoke to me.  Some of them are conceptual, so listening to the album in its entirety is essential to understanding the art form.  And yes, I can call this music art.  A lot of the music that gets played to us, mostly against our will, on radios and stereos in every car and establishment across the nation, is awful music.  Music is still sacred, still in tact, and still being protected, affirmed, and reinvented by musicians and artists from a variety of backgrounds and genres.

I have compiled this list with a lowly-comprehensive description for each, which consists of my choice for best track, a favorite quote from a published review of the album, and three suggestions I would make if you told me you liked the said album(s).   Enjoy.

20. SQÜRL- EP #1

SQURL

ATP Records; 2013

Best Track – “Pink Dust”

Sounds like… “It’s part drone-rock, part metal, part blissful stoner fatigue.” (Neyland, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Jozef Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch – Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity (2012)

2. Bardo Pond – Rise Above It All (2013)

3. Swans – The Seer (2012)

19. Black Host – Life in the Sugar Candle Mines

BLACKHOST

Northern Spy Records; 2013

Best Track – “Hover”

Sounds like… “a wide array of compositional tactics, from crunchy, choppy jazz rock to hazy psychedelic ambiance.” (Shteamer, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Dave Douglas – “Strange Liberation” (2004)

2. Pharoah Sanders – “Karma” (1969)

3. Gil Scott-Heron & Jaime xx – “We’re New Here” (2011)

18. Dean Wareham – Empancipated Hearts

EMANCIPATEDHEARTS

Sonic Cathedral Records; 2013

Best Track – “Love Is Colder Than Death”

Sounds like… “a return trip while all the old familiar signposts blur along in the periphery.” (Larson, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Galaxie 500 – “Today” (1988)

2. Luna – “Rendevous” (2007)

3. Dean & Britta – “Back Numbers” (2007)

17. Oneohitrix Point Never – R Plus Seven

RPLUSEVEN

Warp Records; 2013

Best Track – “Zebra”

Sounds like… “an excerpt from an algorithm designed to harness the mass of data around human life.” (Geffen, Consequence of Sound)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)

2. Jon Hopkins – Immunity (2013)

3. Emeralds – Just to Feel Anything (2012)

16. Wampire – Curiosity 

CURIOSITY

Polyvinyl Records; 2013

Best track – “Spirit Forest”

Sounds like… “a rumbling surf-punk riff, waves of wah-wah-ed guitars, haunted-house organs, a bop-along Beach Boys-via-Panda Bear melody, a melancholic mid-song breakdown” (Berman, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Idiot Glee – Life Without Glee (2013)

2. Mozes and the Firstborn – Mozes and the Firstborn (2013)

3. Great Minds – Great Minds (2013)

15. Jeremiah Jae & Oliver the 2nd – RawHyde

RAWHYDE

Hit+Run Records, 2013

Best track – “Hyde Park”

Sounds like… “an intergalactic hip-hop Western”

If you like this album, you might like:

1. MF Doom – OPERATION: DOOMSDAY (1999)

2. Strong Arm Steady – In Search of Stoney Jackson (2010)

3. Oh No – Dr. No’s Kali Tornado Funk (2012)

14. Nobody – Vivid Green

VIVIDGREEN

Alpha Pup Records; 2013

Best track – “Third Charm”

Sounds like… “where antiquity was presented with the first sophisticated settings of musical creation by human beings.” (Sound Colour Vibration)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Caural – Stars On My Ceiling (2002)

2. Kutmah – Echo Expansion (2009)

3. Hideous Men – Hideous Men EP (2010)

13. The Flaming Lips – The Terror

THETERROR

Bella Union/ Time Warner Records; 2013

Best track – “Look… The Sun is Rising”

Sounds like… “a comic-book narrative presented from the villain’s perspective, so we can better understand the motivation of Dr. Doom or Sylar or whomever, and why they represent such a formidable threat.” (Tedder, Spin)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. The Flaming Lips – Embryonic (2009)

2. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

3. The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin (1999)

12. Ras G – Raw Fruit

RAWFRUIT

Stones Throw Records; 2013

Best track – “Agaveman”

Sounds like… “The inheritor of an Afrofuturistic musical tradition passed down from Sun Ra and George Clinton” (Raymer, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Ras G & the Alkebulan Space Program – Space Base is the Place

2. Samiyam – Wish You Were Here (2013)

3. Edan – Beauty & the Beat (2005)

11. Lilacs & Champagne – Danish & Blue

DANISH

Mexican Summer Records; 2013

Best track – “Sour/Sweet”

Sounds like… “flickering silver screens and aging belles being vaporised in slomo by tentacled extraterrestrials.” (Day, The Four Oh Five)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Lilacs & Champagne – Lilacs & Champagne

2. Aardvarck – Anti-Concept: The Album (2011)

3. DJ Koze – Amygdala (2013)

10. Yo La Tengo – Fade

FADE

Matador Records; 2013

Best track – “Ohm”

Sounds like… “Each thoughtful sonic soundscape washes elegantly into the next, toward the long, lush finale” (Brown, Telegraph)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. The Feelies – The Good Earth (1986)

2. The American Analog Set – Promise of Love (2003)

3. Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (1999)

9. Knx. – Anthology 

ANTHOLOGY

Stones Throw Records; 2013

Best track – “Eechdai”

Sounds like… “an instrumental beatmaker drowning in samples and a neo-hippy vibe” (Bromwich, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Madlib – Mablib the Beat Konductac Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes (2006)

2. 9th Wonder – Tutankhamen (Valley of the Kings) (2012)

3. Flying Lotus – Pattern+Grid World (2010)

8. Nightlands – Oak Island

OAKISLAND

Secretly Canadian Records; 2013

Best track – “So Far So Long”

Sounds like… “an album seeped in nostalgia… you might return to the places you’ve been, but they’ll never be the same.” (Messana, Pop Matters)

If you like this album, you might like: 

1. Panda Bear – Tomboy (2011)

2. Doldrums – Desk Trickery (1999)

3. Matthew Dear – Beams (2012)

7. Quasi – Mole City

MOLECITY

Kill Rock Stars Records; 2013

Best track – “See You On Mars”

Sounds like… “a wad of bubblegum laced with speed… jumps around giddily from one crave-able, sugary sweet moment to the next, melodies sticking to the bottom of your shoe and following you around for days.” (Kivel, Consequence of Sound)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Mirror Traffic (2011)

2. Pavement – Brighten the Corners (1997)

3. Sleater-Kinney – All Hands on the Bad One (2000)

6. Kavinsky, OutRun 

OUTRUN

Mercury Records; 2013

Best track – “Nightcall (feat. Lovefoxxx)”

Sounds like… “it has its finger right on the exact time where video games and movies taught me to lose myself in screens for days at a time.” (Raymer, Pitchfork)

If you liked this album, you might like:

1. Metronomy – Nights Out (2008)

2. Symmetry – Themes for an Imaginary Film (2011)

3. College – Secret Diary (2008)

5. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons to Die

homepage_large.75e87d1d

Wax Poetics Records; 2013

Best track – “Enemies All Around Me (feat. William Hart)”

Sounds like… “Tony Starks, Ghost’s long-running alias, who’s been reimagined here as a streetwise black dude who joins up with, then runs violently afoul of, a white organized crime syndicate, a storyline that was a staple of the ’70s grindhouse.” (Raymer, Esquire)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Ghostface Killah – Apollo Kids (2010)

2. Adrian Younge – Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics (2013)

3. Blackroc – Blackroc (2009)

4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

RANDOMACCESS

Columbia Records; 2013

Best track – “Doin’ It Right”

Sounds like… “the processed vocals un-spool a story that suggests cyborgs striving to be human – pretty much the story of all of us these days.” (Hermes, Rolling Stone)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Genesis – Cross (2007)

2. Gorillaz – The Fall (2011)

3. Basement Jaxx – Zephr (2009)

3. Quasimoto – Yessir, Whatever

QUASIMOTO

Stones Throw Records; 2013

Best track – “Broad Factor”

Sounds like… “mood-whiplash sequencing, tape-deck-quality fidelity with Jeep-quality beats, and rhymes that sound like a down-for-whatever stoner verbally sparring with the cartoon devil on his shoulder.” (Patrin, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Quasimoto – The Unseen (2000)

2. Quasimoto – The Further Adventures of Lord Quas (2005)

3. MF Doom – MM…Food (2004)

2. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

II

Jagjaguwar; 2013

Best track – “One at a Time”

Sounds like… “the way that late summer afternoon-lull warms the skin on your back as you watch birds, or dreamers, flying into uncharted azure skies. It’s nice.” (Mejia, Consequence of Sound)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Tame Impala – InnerSpeaker (2010)

2. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Mature Themes (2012)

3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra (2011)

1. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

LIGHTUPGOLD

What’s Your Rupture? / Dull Tools Records; 2013

Best track – “N Dakota”

Sounds like… “slackers in an almost classical sense, conjuring up just about every post-collegiate, pre-responsibility, sativa-hoovering tendency you can think of.” (Thompson, Pitchfork)

If you like this album, you might like:

1. Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted (1992)

2. Silver Jews – American Water (1998)

3. Flipper – Album – Generic Flipper (1982)

Follow Michael on Twitter @mfgioia

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2 thoughts on “My Top 20 Albums of 2013

  1. Pingback: The Ones That Got Away: 20 More Top Albums of 2013 | The Albanyst

  2. Pingback: Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics “Stop and Look (And You Have Found Love)” [Music Video] | Jessie Spencer's Blogspot

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