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Top 10 Albums of 2013
Dec 18, 2013

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Dec 27, 2012

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Top 10 Albums of 2013

It’s the end of the year, which means two things:  I need to renew my membership in the Meatloaf of the Month Club, and I actually found my password to Facebook; after an exhaustive year of never trying to look for it after I forgot it. 

And also here’s my annual Top 10 favorite albums of the year list:

10.  She & Him – Volume 3

More old-timey goodness from Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward.  Some of these songs could’ve seriously been big hits in the girl group era of the 60’s, but I guess they’ll have to settle with the coveted “iTunes #168th most downloaded album from a non-rap and/or emo group for the week ending July 21st” award.  I think that’s high praise these days.

Together:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_L0HrTTgSc

9.  Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record

One of the coolest names in music I’ve ever heard, Friedberger is one-half of the indie rock outfit the Fiery Furnaces; a group I’ve never gotten into.  But here by herself she delivers a simple set of 70’s-inspired rock ditties so I’m all for that.  If I was a musician, I’d change my name to Poindexter McDorfenhaffer and go on tour with Eleanor Friedberger.  It’d be a great show and the tickets would look hilarious.

I Don't Want To Bother You:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXgkBX_tQWQ

8.  The Fratellis – We Need Medicine

My favorite band from Scotland other than the Doodletown Pipers, the Fratellis return from a five-year absence with their 3rd album.  Lead singer Jon Fratelli needed the hiatus to record a solo album and an awesome rock/cabaret hybrid with a burlesque club singer (the Codeine Velvet Club).  So I guess he was ready to return to some straight up rock & roll music with his old band-mates and this is true to form, with some of the most catchy, fun music this year.  This is the type of band I would love to hear with a bunch of friends in some Scottish pub.  Or more likely, by myself in my bedroom staring at a wall.

Whisky Saga:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K-hbWl-glw

7.  Minor Alps – Get There

Minor Alps is a collaboration between Juliana Hatfield, easily one of my top-five favorite musicians ever, and the guy from Nada Surf, which I believe was either a one-hit wonder band from the late 90’s or a shitty game for the Sega Genesis.  Hatfield and the guy from Nada Surf make a great duo and they harmonize like they’re Gram Parsons and Emmylou freaking Harris.  If that’s too obscure of a reference, go with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  Or R. Kelly and his parole officer.

 

Waiting For You:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7V2oAQYKCw

 

6.  Kasey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park

Here’s a sign of the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse:  I selected a country album this year.  After reading about how great this album was for a couple of months I decided to pick up a copy and I’m glad I did.  Musgraves seems like she’s one of those free-spirit, “I’m gonna write and sing about anything I damn well want to” type musicians; and her pro-homosexuality, pro-marijuana, & pro-sex before marriage stances will probably end up getting her shot in Nashville one day.  Even better, her appearance at the 2013 CMA awards as far as I know will go down as the only time someone got censored at the friggin’ CMA awards.

Follow Your Arrow (CMA Awards):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmjAZhtc_Oc

My House:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxQTsp9if1M

5.  Cults – Static

So you’re Cults – a boy/girl combo that specializes in 60’s girl-group inspired pop.  But the boy and girl also were dating and are now broken up; what do you do?  Can you continue to work together and make catchy old-school pop tunes in the wake of your devastation?  Cults sound sadder and more reflective with their 2nd album and the drums are amped the frick up so this is one genuine emotional roller-coaster of an album. And unlike actual roller coasters, this album doesn’t make me feel nauseous and embarrassed when my friends laugh at me because I won’t go any of them besides the Junior Gemini.

 

I Can Hardly Make You Mine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-K-sa2o5WI

 

4.  Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

Here’s another sign of the guaranteed-to-happen upcoming Zombie Apocalypse:  I selected an R&B dance record this year.  If you’re not paying much attention, this is just an outstanding set of retro-sounding dance songs as well as some sweet Stevie Wonder-inspired old school R&B.  But if you pay attention, it’s all that plus a bizarre concept album where Monae plays a character named Cindy Mayweather, who is the Arch-Android in a futuristic world populated by humans and droids.  Sounds awesome and not-at-all bat shit crazy, right?  Add a few fake radio station breaks and instrumental interludes and you have the most creative album I’ve heard in years.

 

Dance Apocalyptic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaMBagakSdM

 

3.  Diane Birch – Speak a Little Louder

This is the sophomore album from Birch, another great singer/songwriter/piano player in the Carole King mold.  Her voice is so expressive; she doesn’t have to over-sing the hell out of everything like Christina Aguilera or that girl from Florence & the Machine (is her name Florence?  I guess so, why wouldn’t it be?) Birch’s debut album was my #1 favorite album of the year a few years ago, but this year she falls a little short; which no doubt will leave her more disappointed than I was when I found out they stopped making Great Bluedini Kool-Aid.

 

All the Love You Got:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZXd_7IH0cw

 

2.  Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork

I wonder if the album title is referring to the fact that every time these guys release an album, like clockwork it’s a consistently awesome slab of sleazy hard rock that’s damn hard to top?  Or the fact that like clockwork, every time I listen to these guys I try to sing along in my truck but I can’t decipher half of singer/songwriter/guitarist Josh Homme’s lyrics so I end up mumbling in a whiny, falsetto voice while the people driving next to me think I’m having a stroke?

Smooth Sailing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUk4SI9utxw

1.  Kate Nash – Girl Talk

And that brings us to the intriguing story of Kate Nash, who after her debut album in 2007 became one of the UK’s newest pop discoveries.  Nash along with fellow UK mate Lily Allen mastered the art of the peppy, happy pop song with bitter, angry lyrics.  Nash’s second album (another former #1 favorite of mine a few years ago) started leaning more towards punk rock with added guitars and a little screaming.  But here she goes all out Riot Grrrl on our asses; it seems like Nash has been listening to a lot of Hole and Babes in Toyland lately, making this sound like a lost grunge album from 1992.  Rarely has an artist ever branched out in so many different musical directions over a short career like hers; it almost sounds like she decides on a genre of music based on what mood she’s in while she’s recording it.  That’d be sweet if it was true, actually.

 

Fri-end:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eqm7lPEv5E

 

Cherry Pickin':

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRj3PnqJEd8

 

OMYGOD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZVkNcaOV9w

 

There was actually so much good music from this year that I have to mention a bunch more here under the ol’ “honorable mention” category, a title I always seem to win unfortunately; whether it’s a chili cook-off or a speed dating convention.

The Strokes – Comedown Machine

Lenka – Shadows

Beach Day – Trip Trap Attack

Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest

Court Yard Hounds - Amelita         

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Brendan Benson – You Were Right

The Flaming Lips – The Terror (you’ll have to listen to it 5-6 times but once it clicks this becomes one of the creepiest albums Pink Floyd never made)


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