Favorite Albums of 2013: There Are Many Lists, But This One Is Mine

I am still working through other people’s end of year lists, and so this can only be considered provisional. (Check some out –David CongdonNPR, Pitchfork, Metacritic, MPR)  Nevertheless, here is the next in what is probably my longest running blog series. Links are to exemplary tunes. (* Marks an album especially worth checking out)

Best Albums in the tradition of 90s Awesomeness:
My Bloody Valentine, M.B.V.*
No JoyWait To Pleasure*
Fury Things, Fury Things*
Owel, Owel 
Appleseed Cast, Illumination Ritual

Best Atmospheric: 
Hammock, Oblivion Hymns*
Juliana Barwick, Nepenthe
Olafur Arnalds, For Now I Am Winter

Albums I Wanted To Like:
Deerhunter, Monomaniac
Savages, Silence Yourself

Albums I Did Not Expect to Like But Did:
Kanye West, Yeezus*
Phoenix, Bankrupt!

Best Album By a Former Member of N’Sync:
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience, 1 of 2

Best Electronica – Dance, Pop, Instrumental, w/ Singing, Dark, Mixed, and Otherwise:
Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe*
Polica, Shulamith
Tegan And Sarah, Heartthrob
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories*
Disclosure, Settle*
Gold Panda, Half of Where You Live
Jon Hopkins, Immunity*
Classixx, Hanging Gardens
Daniel Avery, Drone Logic
Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven
The Knife, Shaking the Habitual

Best Mix of Surfy Dream Pop and Black Metal That Reminds Me of Zao’s Where Blood and Fire Bring Rest:
Deafheaven, Sunbather*

Best Old-Timey New Music:
The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, The Jazz Age*
– Also winner of sexiest song
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, That’s It!
Mavis Staples, One True Vine
Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer, Child Ballads
Glen Jones, My Garden State

Best, uuuhhhh, Indie Stuff(?):
Local Natives, Hummingbird
Low, The Invisible Way
Iron & Wine, Ghost on Ghost
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito
The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Keaton Henson, Birthdays
Little Green Cars, Absolute Zero
Beach Fossils, Clash the Truth
Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The                                  More I Love You
Volcano Choir, Repave*
Owen, L’Ami du Peuple
Arcade Fire, Reflektor*
Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold + All The Things That You Broke
Dawn of Midi, Dysnomia
Washed Out, Paracosm
Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City*
Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia

Best Sacred:
Caleb Burhans, Evensong
Bifrost Arts, He Will Not Cry Out

Best Album By a Trio of Sisters Rockin Guitars and Harmonies:
Haim, Days Are Gone*

Best Guilty Pleasure:
Lissie, Back To Forever

Best Folk & Country:
Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
Jason Isbell, Southeastern*
The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars
Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle
Mutual BenefitLove’s Crushing Diamond*

Best Hip-Hop, R&B:
Caroline Smith, Half About Being a Woman
Rhye, Woman*
Mayer Hawthorne, Where Does This Door Go
London Grammar, If You Wait
James Blake, Overgrown
Aby Wolf, Wolf Lords
Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe

Most Heartbreaking And Cathartic Album:
Daughter, If You Leave

Most Trailblazing Album For an Established Band:
Sigur Ros, Kveikur*

No Explanation Needed:
Chris Thile, Bach Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. I*

Favorite Record of the Year:

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse

I’m not under the illusion that this can somehow lay claim, in an objective sense, to the best album of 2013 – it’s far down on most lists if present at all – but there is something about the weirdness of the record, the uncomfortable beauty, the exploration of in-between spaces, that grips me. It’s explicitly a metaphysical record, a making-the-familiar-odd record, and in that sense an analogical record.


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