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dsheinem
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Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by dsheinem Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:01 pm

Another regular year end thread...please limit your picks to stuff released in 2013.

Usually these lists are really useful for discovering new stuff, so please share what you thought was excellent in 2013.

Here are my favorite albums of 2013, in no particular order:

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Deerhunter - Monomania
I think it would be safe to say that for the past 5 years or so, Deerhunter have been my favorite band. This album is a fun tromp through crunchy pedal effects and catchy riffs with excellent garage-style production befitting a band such as this at the peak of their career. It isn’t as heavy or serious as their past few efforts, but it is ultimately more fun and more infectious. Probably my album of the year.
Choice tracks: “Monomania” and “Pensacola”

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Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door
A haunting performance that is just Young and an acoustic guitar for about half and - importantly - Neil and a piano for the other half. There’s something about the enveloping silence and mood found here that really makes this record stand out (I can’t help but wonder about any connection between preparing it for release in the archives series and the production of his last great studio album, Le Noise).
Choice tracks: “I Am a Child” and “Cinnamon Girl” (on piano!)


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Jason Isbell - Southeastern
The more mellow mood of this newest album suits him well and allows his songwriting to really come to the forefront. It’s been weird watching him “blow up” a bit around this album as I don’t think it is his strongest solo effort, but it is perhaps his most personal. This one probably got more play than almost anything except Monomania from me this year.
Choice tracks: “Elephant” and “Different Days”

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Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
I’m pretty convinced that Monae is the most interesting thing to happen to R&B in at least a decade. While her last album raised that suspicion, this one confirmed it. Razor sharp production, infectious beats and grooves, an ongoing lyrical concept steeped in sci-fi overtones, and an amazing voice round out what should be a strong contender on anyone “best of” list for the end of the year. If you get a chance to pick it up, grab the deluxe edition for some nice additional cuts.
Choice tracks: “Dance Apocalyptic” and “We Were Rock and Roll”


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David Bowie - The Next Day
Bowie has had some obviously great albums and some albums that could only generously be considered mediocre. This one, my biggest surprise of 2013, is closer to the “great” category without quite hitting the upper echelon of his catalog (that is to say I’d probably place it in the top half [just], but not the top third). From a sonic sound point, the album almost works like a trip through much of Bowie’s past - it sounds kind of like a a “greatest hits” album full of songs you don’t know. If you’ve always been on the fence about Bowie this won’t change your mind. If you like a lot of his stuff, this one is worth checking out.
Choice track: “The Next Day”

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Kanye West - Yeezus
This one is certainly more interesting for what it sounds like and the musical/genre risks it takes than for the giant bizarre marketing machine behind it. I like when an artist breaks out of their comfort zone and does something new sonically and lyrically, and Kanye continues to do these things from album to album in a way that is fascinating to follow. Love or hate him as a celebrity, the fact is that the music he creates continues to push hip hop into new territory in ways that almost always work.
Choice Track: “New Slaves”

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Deafheaven - Sunbather
This one seems to take hold of you, force you into a chair, and make you listen. I’ll not pretend that I have much sense of what the various themes on the album address, but I do know that the black metal vocals crossed with the post-rock (is that word still in use?) sound create a really intense, mesmerizing experience. This is one that has something in it for pretty much anyone who likes their music heavy and/or layered.
Choice Track: “Vertigo”


Honorable Mentions:

The Flaming Lips : The Terror - A much more subdued record than their recent collaborations and one-offs would lead you to believe they were capable of, but another compelling evolution of their sound.

A$AP Rocky: Long. Live. A$AP - Half of this album is full of really compelling stuff (lyrics, production, hooks, etc.). The other half I tend to skip over. That it warrants a place here means the good stuff is really good. Excited to see what he does next.

Bob Dylan: Another Self Portrait - Like the best releases in his Bootle Series, this one provides a new perspective on a fascinating time in his long history. Some really captivating arrangements, outtakes, and demos here.

Savages: Silence Yourself - This is a very solid rock n’ roll album that offers melodic wall of noise, varied instrumentation, and kick-you-in-the teeth vocals. Debut of the year.

The Smashing Pumpkins: The Aeroplane Flies High Reissue - Because it is a giant box set of stuff from my favorite band during their best era :)

Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks - I don’t think this was as great of a “return to form” as many did, but it was another solid album from someone who, in my mind, hasn’t ever put out a stinker.

Biggest Disappointments:
Elton John's Diving Board, Arcade Fire's Reflektor, Atoms for Peace's AMOK, and Pearl Jam's Lightning Bolt
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by ZenErik Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:41 pm

I tend to listen to the same favorites over and over. That stuff makes this list. If I can't listen to and enjoy it hundreds of times it won't make a favorites list. Or at least won't stay for long.

Top albums of 2013 for me:
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Kalafina - Consolation
Another great album from Yuki Kajiura and her trio of awesome singers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njfu0nTLnpY Not easy to find YT songs from their newest album, but here is some live stuff for an idea. Yes, they sing that well together live.

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Yasuda Rei - Best of my Love (solo debut)
Solo debut from Genki Rockets singer Rachel Rhodes
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocr-MDMmvws Best I can get on YT. Only the first few minutes of the title track.

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The Ocean - Pelagial
Great new concept album from one of my favorite metal bands. Makes up for their disappointing double album from a few years back. Check it out!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfZMTDcqKnQ Full album

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Nightwish - Showtime, Storytime
Pretty nice display of the potential of their new singer. Live album.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezy6NKm3RTI Full concert

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Various Artists - AT1st ~Persona3&Persona4~ Club Arrange
Great remix album of some P3 and P4 favorites. Kors k always delivers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfaFDXPYZbA Some clips from the album.
Last edited by ZenErik on Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by Stark Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:53 pm

Yay! One of my fave year-end threads. I'll have to look through my recent stuff and see what was released in 2013, but I honestly haven't bought that much this year. :(
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by Frag Mortuus Mon Dec 23, 2013 5:57 pm

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks.

Like Dave said, this band has not had a bad release. I have to admit that I'm a bit of a fanboy with regards to NIN. So, my opinion is biased. However, I still had my reservations about this album. I'm skeptical of the direction Trent is taking the sound of NIN. I still wish he would revisit the early days that were filled with crunchy, distorted guitars, aggression, 20-something angst and enough blasphemy to choke a horse. But, I understand that he has grown as an artist and a person and that those days are probably long gone. Now, he is married, happy, and sonically experimental.

I do love the sound he has produced with this album. As much as most people hate it, once of my favorite tracks from the album is "Everything". Its sunny, lighthearted, and happy. One commenter on metalsucks.net said they can't wait to hear it on a JC Penney back to school commercial and honestly, I can see it fitting right it. But, I still love it.

Dave also mentioned Deer Hunter. I have to say my only experience with them was watching them live opening for Nine Inch Nails in 2008. I have to say that I hated them. However, I've expressed that opinion plenty of times before and everyone that has heard me say it defends them. So, with that in mind, coupled with Dave's review, I'm going to give them a go.
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by Stark Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:25 pm

Alright, combed through my stuff and here's what I got.

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Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
Genre: Pop rock

I adore this duo and all of their work and this is definitely their best yet. Pop rock firing on all cylinders. I love the way they harmonize and the 80's-ish synth tone to this outing.

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Jars of Clay - Inland
Genre: Pop rock

I love pretty much all these guys do and while this isn't the cream of the crop from their discography, it's really solid effort. I really like how much meaning is hidden in their lyrics and it just ends up being something I can listen to over and over.

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Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
Genre: Synthpop

I've not really listened to these guys/gals before, but they seemed like M83, so I gave them a go. Was not disappointed. I honestly know nothing about their past work, but this was excellent first listen for me.

Honorable Mention:
Vampire Weekend - Mondern Vampires of the City
I haven't listened to this enough to say whether it deserves a spot at the top, but I've liked what I've heard.

Arctic Monkeys - AM
Same as Vampire Weekend.

Ones I assume are awesome, but haven't gotten yet:
Sigur Ros - Kveikur
The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Arcade Fire - Reflektor
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by ExedExes Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:50 pm

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Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour

This 3-disc set is packed with all sorts of Rush goodness. The first disc features many classics from the 80s with a focus on the 1985 album Power Windows. The synth period which covered 4 albums from 1982-1987 still polarizes fans to this day, but Rush was simply progressing with the newer technology. We also get a great live version of the instrumental "Where's My Thing?" from 1991's Roll The Bones.

Moving to disc 2, we get to the Clockwork Angels material from 2012. For this tour, Rush put together a 10-piece string ensemble to play along all the tracks from Clockwork Angels as well as some bonus stuff near the end on disc 3 (2112, Red Sector A, Dreamline, Manhattan Project, The Pass), and of course the ever present Neil Peart drum solo appears not once, not twice, but three times!

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Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest

The first full album in 8 years from this UK electronic duo had a very interesting marketing campaign. 6 sets of 6 digit numbers were to be put together to access a code to a preview of the album on their website, distributed to places on the Internet, YouTube, a commercial on Cartoon Network, a Record Store Day promo release, and other media outlets. The album itself shows no rest on the part of these guys, as I feel it's their best material ever. They wanted to evoke the feeling of a movie soundtrack from the 1970's, and from the production company fanfare like introduction on the first track and throughout the rest of the album, the famous BOC pattern of long tracks followed by short 1-2 minute interludes continues throughout this album.
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by dsheinem Mon Dec 23, 2013 6:56 pm

Oh man I forgot about checking out Tomorrow's Harvest. I'll have to grab that one soon!

I thought both Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys put out "decent" but subpar records, Stark. And you saw my thoughts on Arcade Fire...
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by dsheinem Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:00 pm

Frag Mortuus wrote:Dave also mentioned Deer Hunter...I'm going to give them a go.


I'd say that Halcyon Digest or Monomania are their most accessible records, but Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. has some of their best stuff and shows their range nicely. It was the album that sold me, though I now like their first two quite a bit as well. Try out this track, as it is my favorite, a fan favorite, and one that I think might tell you if you'd like them.
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by ZenErik Mon Dec 23, 2013 7:07 pm

dsheinem wrote:
Frag Mortuus wrote:Dave also mentioned Deer Hunter...I'm going to give them a go.


I'd say that Halcyon Digest or Monomania are their most accessible records, but Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. has some of their best stuff and shows their range nicely. It was the album that sold me, though I now like their first two quite a bit as well. Try out this track, as it is my favorite, a fan favorite, and one that I think might tell you if you'd like them.

I've listened to The Dear Hunter. Never listened to Deerhunter. Not bad at all. I enjoyed that track.
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Re: Your Album(s) of the Year - 2013

by Stark Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:09 pm

dsheinem wrote:And you saw my thoughts on Arcade Fire...

Yeah, I'm sure you're right, just hard to believe until you hear it for yourself.

Any thoughts on The National or Sigur Ros?
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