What I thought the best albums of 2013 were and why:
Best Album of the Year: Rhye Woman
This new act is most intriguing, comprised of 2 men who only perform in silhouette. Lead singer Michael Milosh's falsetto voice is androgynous and Sade-like, making their music sexy (and like a smooth operator). Some tracks are danceable, some are just chill, combining organic instruments as well as synthetic ones. It's smooth R&B, playing tribute to the 90's, but not in a tacky way. There are no filler tracks on Woman and while the whole album is cohesive, no two songs are quite the same. Woman is a triumph start to finish - seductive, passionate, gorgeous and lush.
"Oh, I'm famished.
So I'll eat your minerals
Like a rabid beast at a foolish feast
I'll steal your breath,
Like a twisted thief with a mangled glove,
It's just my nature, I ruin love"
- 3 Days
Check out: "Open" a beautiful, orchestral opening track, "The Fall" has great tempo and heartbreaking lyrics, and "Verse" is chilly and hypnotic.
2nd: She & Him Volume 3
You would think these two would run out of sun-soaked melodies and lyrics, but they haven't. Retro pop at it's best, a 3rd (or 4th) time around. I've always loved Zooey's deep yet girlish voice, she really seems to have grown on this one. Volume 3's lyrics are the best they've ever been, more personal, while still maintaining an aesthetic that is fit for any 60's movie soundtrack. There are bits of country twang thrown in there, per usual, as well as their signature surfer melodies and M. Ward's Spanish guitar thrills. She & Him make a dreamy pair and am looking forward to Volume 4.
"Sometimes, oh, sometimes,
I think I can fade away
In the light, oh, the light
Of an ever sunny day
But I'm stronger than the picture that you took before you left
In the light, it faded to white.
In the light, the colors turn to white"
- Fade to White
Check out: "London" is a rainy ode to the city, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" is a throwback that is insanely catchy, and "Shadow of Love" is easy listening with a Spanish flair.
3rd: Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City
Vampy Week delivered their 3rd album and it's all new tricks. They had outside producing help for the first time making their sound a little innovative and less predictable. The ominous black and white album art depicts what the album's themes are going to be - aging, death, and religion. Their sound has matured and evolved, either taking their fans along for the ride or losing them completely. Vampy Week still has their trademark harpsichord and African drums riddled throughout the album. Some songs follow a formula, while others are discombobulated, but seemingly with a purpose. I, for one, love the growth and the new direction they've taken. Modern Vampires of the City is energetic with a big sound - and lyrical commentaries to boot.
"We know the fire awaits unbelievers
All of the sinners the same
Girl, you and I will die unbelievers
Bound to the tracks of the train"
Check out: "Obvious Bicycle" is a great, sunny morning song, "Step" has that harpsichord beat they're known for, "Hannah Hunt" crescendos beautifully at the end, and "Worship You" reminds me a lot of this song.
4th: CHVRCHES The Bones Of What You Believe
I have been anticipating this record for some time, getting all the EP's and singles as I could in the meantime - and it was all worth it. Heavy synth pop, similar to M83, but with a little angelic voice singing the songs instead. The tough, electronic music in contrast with lead singer Lauren Mayberry's intense yet dainty voice makes for a unique, authentic sound. This album has many epic moments on it with a few nod's to the 80's. Listen to The Bones of What You Believe at the loudest volume possible for maximum enjoyment.
"I'll be a thorn in your side
Till you die
I'll be a thorn in your side
We lift our love"
- We Sink
Check out: "Gun" is a glittering, hold'em up song, "The Mother We Share" has a sleek melody with thoughtful lyrics, and "Tether" builds and builds to a M83/cinematic sound.
5th: Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
It's been a long 4 years since her last album, but the time she took to make this one was all worth the wait. Neko's deep, earthy voice has an inviting and comforting quality to it, even when she's singing about bouts of depression and other painful subjects, like she does on The Worse Things Get... Her lyrics on this album are raw - more emotional and personal than ever. Neko's Americana-folk sound with a punk edge is unwavering, but still makes room for quieter numbers. The deluxe version of this album is so worth it, purely for her updated song "Magpie to the Morning" (previously on Middle Cyclone).
"Cease to know or to tell or to see
Or to be your own...
Have someone else's will as your own...
You are beautiful and you are alone"
Check out: "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu" my absolute favorite on this album -heartbreaking, haunting and a story that Neko witnessed herself, "Calling Cards" is low-key yet stunning, and "Bracing for Sunday" is a fast-paced, Christianity-laced humorous song.
6th: Lorde Pure Heroine
I want to be this 17 year-old when I grow up. And have her New Zealand accent. Lorde's hype is well-deserved. She's got this coolness about her and seems so self-aware and confident, just like her music and aesthetic. You won't hear her singing a love song or twerking on stage - and that's why she is so refreshing for 2013.
"But every song's like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin' in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin' the hotel room,
We don't care, we're driving Cadillacs in our dreams
But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair"
Check out: "Ribs" is a pulsing, bass heavy tune, "White Teeth Teens" has a great melody and cool voice layering, and "Tennis Court" talks it up like yeah - yeah!
7th: HAIM Days are Gone
Another highly anticipated debut for me, HAIM delivered exactly what I wanted. You can tell this trio of sisters are inspired by legendary acts like Fleetwood Mac, but also modern ones like Jenny Lewis and The Strokes. It's a solid pop-rock album, heavy on the rock. HAIM's lyrics and melodies are catchy, adrenalized, and downright groovy.
"He's in her heart on the floor
Thinking that I'll never know
I'll be up, going through crazy shit I did for you
In my mind, in my head seeing all the words unsaid
Honey, honey, I am never coming home again"
- My Song 5
Check out: "Don't Save Me" is a fun song to sing along and move to, "Forever" has an 80's pop/summery vibe, and "Falling" is so suave.
What were your favorite albums of 2013?