January 7, 2014 in Album reviews, Alternative, Art Rock, Blues, Chamber Pop, Chamber Rock, Electro, Electrofunk, Electrogoth, Electronic, Electronica, Electropop, Experimental, Folk, Funk, Garage Rock, Hip Hop, House, Pop, Psych Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Punk, R&B, Rap, Rock, Soul, Top 2013, Witch House, World Music
Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir
RIYL: The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Brooklyners have officially wowed us with this third release of theirs, which starts off with the trancey, tribal opener “Spirit In Front Of Me” before it churns through some of the best tracks we’ve heard all year like “Memory Room” and “Sticks And Stones.” If you have some extra time on your hands give this album a listen from start to finish, because hearing is believing.
!!! – Thr!!!er
RIYL: Cut Copy, Happy Mondays
Maybe it’s because it’s been a great year for electrofunkers (yes, even Daft Punk), or maybe we were swooned by the sexy-as-hell Rolling Stones-inspired short-shorts…oh who are we kidding? What made us really fall in love with this record was this music video, and this music video alone. And once you hit the “play” button you’ll see what we mean…
To read our “Californiyeah” music video review click here.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, David Bowie
Just the fact that David Bowie sings on the album’s leading single and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy produced the album speaks volumes for itself. See what happens when eccentric musicians collaborate together? OK James Murphy, I’ll forgive you for disbanding LCD Soundsystem now; but only because we know where you truly belong is in the co-producer’s chair.
Janelle Monáe - The Electric Lady
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Outkast, Erykah Badu
You can always count on Janelle Monáe to bring the crazy-as-fuck visuals with her music videos, but this year she brought the crazy-as-fuckness to a whole new level. With The Electric Lady dominating the R&B releases of 2013, it’s no wonder why Erykah Badu turned her back on her glittery collaboration with The Flaming Lips to work with Miss Monáe.
To read our “Q.U.E.E.N.” music video review click here.
Dr. Dog – B-Room
RIYL: The Band, The Beatles
It was love at first listen as soon as we heard “The Truth”, and although we have a nasty habit of skipping through sappy slow songs, this one helped hook us in within the first 30 seconds of the album…but our listening love didn’t stop there. There’s one great track after another, each with its own unique vibe and hook; not that it’s too much of a surprise though considering Dr. Dog’s massive discography is littered with solid album after solid album.
HAIM – Days Are Gone
RIYL: Feist, Paramore, Fleetwood Mac
We’ve been getting drips and drabs of HAIM since as far back as November of last year, and it seemed like everywhere we turned HAIM’s long luscious hippie locks were waving at us. This record was the perfect buffer for us while we wait for Stealing Sheep’s next record, and like ‘em or love ‘em Days Are Gone certainly deserves its place on any end-of-year list.
To read our song review of HAIM’s “Edge” click here.
David Bowie – The Next Day
RIYL: The Kinks, LCD Soundsystem
If the music of 2013 was a popularity high school contest, David Bowie, James Murphy and Arcade Fire would have been the “cool kids” this year. We may not have been the hugest fans of the album, but The Next Day pushed a wave and ripple effect in the music community, and lived up to Bowie’s knack for tailoring to the weird, eccentric and oddball target audience.
To read our “Love is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich mix by James Murphy) song review click here.
To read our”Valentine’s Day” song review click here.
To read our The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” music video review click here.
Austra – Olympia
RIYL: Grimes, The Knife, Bjork
Set up like a broadway musical and starting with the “what-the-fuck-was-that” opener that immediately draws the listener in, this album is all over the map musically. The listener is taken on an electropop (“Forgive Me” and “Home”) before finishing with the mysterious “I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)” and “Hurt Me Now.”
Belle and Sebastian – The Third Eye Centre
RIYL: Iron and Wine, of Montreal
Belle and Sebastian have always had a specific kind of sound that isn’t well received by everyone, but with a palette of different instruments scattered all throughout this record, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the rarities release. From psychedelic rock to alternative folk and world music, this album is so musically diverse we don’t even know where to start, but to dumb it down in laymen’s terms The Third Eye Centre is basically a poppier version of Arcade Fire’s Funeral or Neon Bible.
To read our review of the “Your Cover’s Blown” music video click here.
Action Bronson – Saab Stories
RIYL: Ghostface Killah, Das Racist
Once we took our feminist hats off and got over the atrocious album cover, we came to appreciate what all the Saab Stories fuss was about, just for shock value’s sake alone (these are Miley times we’re living in, after all). It proves that sometimes EPs can provide just as much punch as a full-length, and it’s easy to see why all my fellow music bloggers were ranting and raving about it.
To read our review of “Morey Boogie Boards” click here.
Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
RIYL: New Order, Holy Ghost!, Chromatics, Happy Mondays
Out of all the electropop releases of the year, Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind stood out from the rest for us in 2013 (yes, even after seeing !!!’s sexy short-shorts). But this album is filled with so much more than just electropop sounds and proves that Cut Copy are more than just an electropop band; but motivational speakers for electronic-loving hippies (in a nutshell).
To read our Free Your Mind album review click here.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
RIYL: Buffalo Springfield, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane
All the haters must be smoking crack (or not smoking enough, in the eyes of Toronto mayor Rob Ford that is) because this album is some of the best Americana we’ve heard all year. With a specific, narrow and cohesive focus, yet bordering on everything from classic rock, psychedelic rock and soul, Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros have brought fresh eyes to an older sound yet again.
No Age – An Object
RIYL: Joy Division, Eric’s Trip, Black Flag
With the Sub Pop stamp of approval, No Age have torpedoed their way onto the top of the 2013 punk charts with this record, but don’t let the “punk” label fool you. The album features everything from nitty, gritty garage rock to surprisingly melodic and catchy rock, and even a little tribal and electronic action on “An Impression.” Oh and you can stream the album in full for free below. (Thanks, Sub Pop!)
The Weeknd – Kiss Land
RIYL: Michael Jackson, Frank Ocean
His voice and vibe may be drenched in R&B, but it was the electronic backbone of this record that made us fall in love with it. From the electronic/experimental track “Adaptation” to Drake’s cameo on “Live For,” it’s clear why so many peeps consider Kiss Land to be 2013′s response to last year’s channel ORANGE. Plus he’s from Toronto, so we may or may not have some kind of Canadian bias about the album.
Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
RIYL: Prince, Frank Ocean
Blood Orange’s outstanding new record Cupid Deluxe was perhaps overshadowed by its interesting cover…but Cupid works in mysterious ways like. With its November release the album just barely cut this year’s end-of-year-lists, but there’s no denying Blood Orange’s place in 2013 considering he was busy remixing everyone from Friends to Drake (love that shit).