We are one month into the new year. Most people tend to post their best of the previous year posts with in the first few days of January, but I'm a rebel. Or lazy.
Either way, here's my ten favorite albums from 2013. I say favorite and not best, because I do not consider myself such an authority to pronounce such declarations. Whether these albums truly were better than anything else that came out in the past year or not, these stand out as the ones I've enjoyed the most.
Feel free to agree or disagree with me. If you feel I missed something, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you consider your favorites.
Beautiful Eulogy, Album: Instruments Of Mercy - I fell in love with Beautiful Eulogy's blend of indie rock and hip-hop with their debut album Satellite Kite, and their sophomore follow up is just as wonderful. They deliver a deft mix of analogue and digital instrumentation and a level of musicianship that is rare in rap music. Their Portland quirkiness shines throughout. The lyricism is also worth repeated listenings. Best of all, it's a free album. You can download it from Humble Beast.
A Rotterdam November, Album: Past Present Future - I almost feel obliged to include these boys from Boise as I feel they're local heroes that went big. But if I get past the fact that they're a bunch of regular guys that made it beyond the Treasure Valley music scene, I have to point out that they are all fabulous musicians making beautiful music. Simple pop rock. It would be great to see them on tour with The Roadshow or at one of the Passion events.
The Paper Kites, Album: States - This delightful Australian band is one that I stumbled upon by accident. I was instantly mesmerized by their music. After a couple of EPs, it's nice to see a full length release from them. They're videos are also ambitious and creative, take their song Young as an example.
Icon for Hire, Album: Self Titled - Imagine sticking Paramore, No Doubt, Marilyn Manson, Linkin Park, and Flyleaf in a blender... whatever comes out will be something like Icon for Hire. That sounds like a disastrous combination, but it works. Icon for Hire pulls from some obvious influences and still create something that is wholly their own. The end result is brutal, boisterous, and beautiful.
Walk Off the Earth, Album: R.E.V.O. - Most people recognize WOTE as the band that played that Gotye song on a giant guitar. Many will remember them for their inescapable single (and potential one-hit-wonder) Red Hands. I only have one simple description for them: new-hippy music. The upbeat rhythms, harmonized vocals, sugary sweet melodies. Their music seems made for sunshine, warm summer breezes, and hacky sacks.
OneRepublic - Native - The inclusion of thes album shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that regularly reads this blog. One of the three singles from this album, Counting Stars, was mentioned in a Five For Friday list, then as the topic of a full blog post. The rest of the album is delightful, even if it is a guilty pleasure.
John Fogerty, Album: Wrote A Song For Everyone - After 50 in the music industry, Fogerty's new album stands as a testimony to his legacy. Many of the old CCR songs have endured and are still relevant in our world today. Wrote A Song For Everyone includes some new tunes blended with re-recorded classics; many of those songs featuring musicians he's influenced from rock, R&B, and Country (including his two sons on Lodi). Funny thing, John's voice stands up and shines - even when paired with others like Dave Grohl, Jennifer Hudson, Alan Jackson, or Brad Paisley.
Listener, Album: Time Is A Machine - Listener is a difficult band to describe. They're equal parts underground hip-hop, post-punk, hardcore, spoken word, shoegazer, and avant-garde noise. They call themselves talk music. They talk. A lot. Sometimes in a scream, sometimes in a mumble, and occasionally in a half-sung warble. The overflow of lyrics often sound like a random stream of consciousness in an Ozark accent, but underneath is a surprising level of intelligence. Again, it's hard to describe. It's one of those things that you must experience for yourself. A good place to start: There Are Wrecking Balls Inside Us.
The Civil Wars, Album: The Civil Wars - The discord between band members is evident through this self-titled album and that internal strife is the reason the duo is on hiatus. But what is left in their wake is one of the most beautiful albums country music has produced in a very long time. It includes From This Valley - which won them their second Grammy Award, and the daring yet delicate cover of Smashing Pumpkin's Disarm. I'm sad to see them go, but glad to have this album as their swan song.
The Almost, Album: Fear Inside Our Bones - These guys are on my bucket list of bands I want to see perform live. There first album was great and they seem to improve with each new album since then. On their newest, a sense of urgency permeates each song from start to finish (with a brief respite in the middle with the mellower song The Florida Sun), and it's one of those albums that will want to make you move.
As for honorable mentions ... Any of the three albums below could have landed on the list above. It was close.
Avicii, Album: True
King Kulture, Album: Stop The Traffic
Jimmy Needham, Album: The Hymns Sessions, Vol 1