2013 saw a lot happen in music and that is putting it as lightly as possible. I’m not going to bother rehashing all of the various things that happened this year, because we all know what went down: from the various re-emergences of older artists (Bowie, multiple versions of Black Flag, etc.) to the many feuds that went down, to the saddest news story in a while, (actually, though) 2013 was one hell of a year for music news alone, let alone the actual new music that saw light in 2013. It’s always hard trying to recollect and rank an entire years worth of listening, but here are the best listens of 2013 in my mind.
Remember, this is only one humble Canadian’s opinion!
Top 50 Albums:
50. Tim Hecker – Virgins
49. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
48. Thudercat – Apocalypse (Full Review Here)
47. Pharmakon – Abandon
46. Dead In The Dirt – The Blind Hole
45. YC the Cynic – GNK
44. Baths – Obsidian
43. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
42. Savages – Silence Yourself
41. Serengeti – Kenny Dennis LP
40. Annuals – Time Stamp
39. KEN Mode – Entrench (Concert Review / Interview)
38. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
37. Quelle Chris – Ghost At The Finish Line
36. Suuns – Images Du Futur (Full Review Here)
35. Volcano Choir – Repave
34. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty (Full Review Here)
33. Julia Holter – Loud City Song
32. Blue Hawaii – Untogether
31. Danny Brown – Old
30. Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond
29. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
28. NAILS – Abandon All Life
27. Ty Segall – Sleeper
26. Destruction Unit – Deep Trip
25. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin (Full Review Here)
24. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
23. White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade (Full Review Here )
22. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat
21. Hookworms – Pearl Mystic
20. Nosaj Thing – Home
19. Baptists – Bushcraft ( Interview with drummer Nick Yacyshyn)
18. Postiljonen – Skyer
17. DJ Koze – Amygdala
16. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (Full Review Here)
15. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
14. Forest Swords – Engravings
13. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
12. Ka – The Nights Gambit
11. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
10. My Bloody Valentine – mbv
When My Bloody Valentine dropped their first album in almost 22 years album on a Saturday night early this year, I was one of many that were anxious as all hell, but nervous at the same time. However, all of my worries were alleviated as soon as mbv began. Somehow, My Bloody Valentine have managed to craft a shining successor to Loveless, an album that further blurs the lines between shoegaze, post-rock and pop, and one that held a firm grip on me this year. Take all the time you need for the next one, Kevin.
9. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation
If it were possible to capture the sheer terror of a monolithic evil and transfer it to sound, the result would be Bobby Krlic’s latest project, Excavation. Thunderous percussion, dark bass lines and piercing electronics all combine to create an experience that is less an album and more of a journey through the seedy underworld of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Not only is it a powerful record, but one that even after so many listens still feels as though I’ve only scratched the surface.
8. Iceage – You’re Nothing
Denmark’s finest group of young punks are back with another assault to the ears with You’re Nothing. From the distortion soaked opener “Ecstacy” that kicks things off to the piano driven “Morals”, every inch of this record is punk at its core. Whatever that means nowadays. Read my full review HERE
7. Mikal Cronin – MCII
I can’t think of a better record to soundtrack the summer months than Mikal Cronin’s latest offering MCII. It’s a excellent display of rock-driven tracks that don’t want to be limited by genre classifications. It’s a garage rock record for people on the beach, and a beach rock record for people hanging out in their garage. I have loved Mikal Cronin’s fairly small discography thus far and can’t wait to hear his next move.
6. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
Devon Welsh isn’t a man that seeks much attention. When I saw him play in Toronto earlier this year he asked that the lights be dimmed so low that we could barely make out his figure, and I could immediately see why: Welsh has an astonishing voice, and one that demands attention. Impersonator, the debut album from Majical Cloudz couldn’t better encapsulate the sheer prescence of Welsh’s voice. From the starry “This Is Magic” to the deeper grumblings of “Bug Don’t Buzz”, this is likely the most emotionally powerful listen this year.
5. Deerhunter – Monomania
Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt have done it again. They’ve crafted an album that shows just how interchangeable the words beautiful and weird are nowadays. Monomania is a collection of tracks that dip more into garage rock than ever before for Deerhunter, while still maintaining the intricacies that are displayed in the groups earlier work. It’s another fantastic LP from a group that gets more interesting with each listen.
4. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
Julianna Barwick has always appreciated acoustics. In fact, the name of her last album The Magic Place was taken from a specific spot that she often went to sing: the inside of a hollowed tree trunk. 2013 shows that she has only gotten better at her craft, with Nepenthe being one of the most beautifully textured releases that I’ve ever heard. It’s an album that engulfs you with its warm glow as soon as the needle drops, and one that I won’t put down for a long time.
3. Darkside – Psychic
Nicolas Jaar has already established himself as one of the more unique producers of this generation, and his collaboration with jazz guitarist Dave Harrington is no exception. By fusing the ideals of IDM with the instrumental intricacies of jazz and Jaar’s voice, Darkside have made an album that is captivating from start to finish. “Golden Arrows” ambient gloss and the jittery “Freak, Go Home” may sound leagues apart, but are both parts of the finely tuned machine that is Psychic.
2. Deafheaven – Sunbather
Any worries I had about the sophomore release from San Fancisco’s Deafheaven were immediately dispelled when they threw up this studio update from their forthcoming album. Sure enough, Sunbather arrived and it surpassed my expectations. By blurring the lines between post-metal, shoegaze and black metal, Deafheaven have crafted an album that is both beautiful and terrifying. It’s a record that even in its darkest moments houses a hidden light. Its an incredibly ambitious album from a group that only seems to be getting stronger (they’re making new friends too!).
1. Bill Callahan – Dream River
Bill Callahan already has an extensive discography under his belt that splits material between the smoky sounds of his Smog project and the various albums that he has produced under his own name. Each and every time a new record has surfaced, Callahan has emerged with new ideas and intriquicies in his music, and Dream River stands out as one of his lushest movements yet. With delicate folk instrumentation driving his deep, bellowing voice, there are many moments on this record that will stick to you and not wash off. It’s another great milestone for an artist that seems to only be getting better at his art.
1. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
2. Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
3. Willis Earl Beal – Nobody Knows
4. Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me
5. Touche Amore – Is Survived By
6. Solar Bears – Supermigration
7. Coliseum – Sister Faith
8. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon (Full Review Here)
9. Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
10. Shannon and the Clams – Rats In The Dream House
Top 10 EP’s:
10. Greys – Drift
9. FKA Twigs – EP2
8. Odonis Odonis – Better
7. Shlohmo – Laid Out
6. Ryan Hemsworth – Still Awake
5. Burial – Rival Dealer
4. Braids – In Kind/Amends
3. The Preatures – Is This How You Feel?
2. Moon King – Obsession II
1. milo – Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night
Top 10 Mixtapes/Freeleases:
A simple google search will get you all of these albums for free. Why not?
10. Flatbush Zombies – Better Off Dead
9. Vic Mensa – Innanetape
8. TREE – Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out
7. Action Bronson & Party Supplies – Blue Chips 2
6. Giraffage – Needs
5. Hellfyre Club – Dorner vs. Tookie
4. The Underachievers – Indigoism
3. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
2. Antwon – In Dark Denim
1. Run The Jewels – s/t