Friday, November 15, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Hanging gardens run the jewels when you free your mind. Looking for true romance along the way like cupid, deluxe days are gone. We're modern vampires of the city, bankrupt without anything in return.

10. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind
First listen through this album I thought, "this is sex." Sure enough, when I interviewed Ben before Free Your Mind released he confirmed: "It is totally about losing your inhibitions." So whether it's physically letting yourself go to jump and dance around to this psychedelic acid house, or softly kissing a spot you've never touched before, that's what this music is about.
listen: We Are Explorers

9. Charli XCX - True Romance

She played at Schubas this year, a venue she will never play again. This girl does Lady Gaga so much better than Lady Gaga ever did, she paved the way for Lorde to be dark, young, and poppy, and is kinda insanely hot. Her hit of 2013 was disguised as an Icona Pop song, but everything on True Romance is just as compelling, with even more emotion and dynamic songwriting.
listen: What I Like

8. Classixx - Hanging Gardens

Chill out and dance. Does that make sense? It will when you listen to Hanging Gardens. Instead of relying on those ridiculous time cutting build-ups that every ridiculous DJ does, these two guys structured their electronic music like a well-paced Fleetwood Mac single. It's easily my 'summer album' of the year. But, it still sounds pretty chill late into the year too.
listen: Supernature

7. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe
Weird fashion. Dev was hanging out at Rodan when I DJed with Chairlift for my P4K after-party. "Hey, I like your shirt, where'd you get it?" he asked me. Embarrassed, I muttered, "Urban Outfitters." But then I heard his album and Caroline was singing on the first track and, man, everything felt fine. This is like Prince doing Kaputt. And yeah, it's as awesome as that sounds.
listen: Chamakay

6. Mark Mcguire - Along the Way
I feel some sort of pain when this is on. Mark McGuire loops guitars and synthesizers until it's a mountain of sound, with clouds dancing around the peak, and a sun setting slowly behind them. It's ambient, but so engaging. Some of these chord changes make me want to die of sadness. Give me this hyperbole, music this gorgeous can handle it.
listen: In Search of the Miraculous

5. Toro y Moi - Anything in Return
Toro y Moi sounds better live every time I see them. Last time I saw Chaz, he was playing a secret loft party on Halloween. During soundcheck, he asked my wife for a pop song. After some noodling on his keyboard, the band figured out "Baby One More Time," and killed it for her. They were dressed liked the Power Rangers (Chaz was the black ranger...), and, really, proved again how rad Toro y Moi truly is. If you've seen the videos released this year, you already know this. If you listened to Anything in Return, you already know this. Toro y Moi is rad. This is duh.
listen: So Many Details

4. Run the Jewels - self-titled
Rap album of the year. El-P and Killer Mike gave me one of my favorite interviews ever this summer, and for me, that goes a long way. I can't stomach joyless music fans or critics (or musicians for that matter). The Run the Jewels guys are completely in love with what they're doing with their lives, and it's goddamn beautiful. So whether they're mocking hip-hop culture, beating up old ladies in music videos, or going hard as motherfuckers on their verses, this is exactly what rap should be. I want a D-Rose 2013 highlight reel on YouTube set to "Get It" ASAP.
listen: Get It

3. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
By far Vampire Weekend's best album, Modern Vampires of the City was surprising in all the right ways. The weird pitch bends in "Ya Hey," the religious themes, and the startlingly catchy choruses--this was all you needed this year really. The critic in me said that this was technically the best album released in 2013, and history might also say so for decades to come. The only thing keeping it at number three for me is a couple other albums that hit me on a deeper and more emotional level. Seriously though, this one is practically flawless.
listen: Step

2. Phoenix - Bankrupt!
2013 was a crazy year for me. Crazy in ways I can't explain. In ways I can't talk about. But this album says everything for me so I don't have to. It's not even Phoenix's best album, but it's the one that hit me precisely when I needed it. I connected with every lyric. And, they put on the best live show I saw this year. Sorry if you don't think that should matter, but it does. I'm not just ranking collections of songs here, but bands as products. In 2013, the Phoenix product was highly valuable for me. I felt confusion when I was with them, eagerness, excitement, wonder, and sadness. If you didn't connect with Bankrupt!, that's okay. But for me, I needed this album. It's not something that I hear when one of these 10 songs comes on, but a pair of eyes that I see. Or it's a taste. Or something in the pit of my stomach. These new memories that I'll have forever, this was the album that was with me when I was making them.
listen: Chloroform

1. Haim - Days Are Gone

Surprised? Yeah, me too. But after turning on Days Are Gone for the hundredth time in less than a month I started to think, "oh, I guess I really like this album." I listened to my heart, and my heart told me that this is the one. It really shouldn't be a surprise either. This is the best pop album I've heard in years. And honestly, I don't care that they're all girls, a family, or whatever. That's fine and all, but what I really care about is the guitar solo during the bridge of "Falling," the quiet vulnerability of "Honey & I," and the Shania Twain meets Amy Grant audacity of "The Wire." Haim found the sweet spot in 2013. For the past few years we've seen artists like Grimes, Destroyer, and Bon Iver take ironic swipes at pop music with a tongue-in-cheek fondness for their subject matter. Haim did grow out of that same soil, but without the irony. This is pure, sincerely emotive pop-rock. The electric guitars are not winking. This is music to love. And, I do.
"Always keep your heart locked tight."
listen: The Wire

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