Top Album 2013
- Queens Of The Stone Age: …Like Clockwork
QOTSA have made their defining album, an album many never thought they had in them, and a rock album in this day and age that topped the U.S. charts in its first week of release. The backstory includes a 13-day hospital stay for Josh Homme who was recovering from severe complications of routine knee surgery that saw him almost die. The event sent Homme into a four month tailspin of depression and recuperation…and out of it came the group’s defining masterpiece.
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II
Out of the murky haze of gauze- encased melodies and tranquilized, processed vocals arrives the second album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, cleverly titled II. UMO is the brain child of Ruban Nielson, formally of the band Mint Chicks, who counts artists as diverse as Captain Beefheart and Sly Stone as major influences. Their muffled sound is an amalgam of neo-psychedelic acts like Animal Collective, MGMT, Ween, Apples In Stereo and Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, coming off like an updated Sid Barrett-era Pink Floyd. However, their totally unique angular melodies set this group apart from all the rest.
- Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
So Daft Punk has released a ‘70s Disco album and everybody is going nuts. Daft Punk fans are going nuts because there are real instruments and, gasp, real voices on this record. Critics are going nuts because the group has made a ‘70s disco album, and a ‘70s disco album stands out because it’s the antithesis of the loud-soft dynamic of today’s EDM. Yet, under all of the vocodered voices and electronic rhythms, the songs really have heart and emotion. It’s the clash of heart and transistors that is the key to this record, and you really can’t beat the rhythm section of Nathan East on bass and Omar Hakim on drums laying the groundwork for the guitar dynamics of Nile Rodgers funky-Chic style combined with the lighter, jazzier leanings of Paul Jackson Jr.
- Kurt Vile: Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
Kurt Vile’s lo-fi bedroom records from the past have given way to a more produced sound on his latest record. While some of the edges have been smoothed out production-wise, the songwriting is as sharp as ever on his most assured collection yet, as he comes to terms with balancing life on the road and raising a family at home.
- Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience, Part 1
Justin Timberlake is the total package…actor, comedian, singer, musician, fashion plate, record label honcho, business man…he’s got it all! The 20/20 Experience his first new release in seven years and it’s a stunner of a record. The album features ten long song-suites that have as much in common with Paul McCartney’s “Band On The Run” as they do with the retro soul music of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, yet it is firmly in synch with the dance music that is currently all over the charts today. With sturdy production by Timbaland, his trusted companion in music, The 20/20 Experience Part 1 is both totally up to date and retro at the same time.
- Arctic Monkeys: AM
Arctic Monkeys burst onto the scene in 2005 with the fastest selling debut album in British Rock history. Five albums in with AM, and they still make a powerful noise with vocalist-songwriter Alex Turner at the helm and Jamie Cook on guitar. While they’ll never be the “next best thing” as originally predicted; they’ll just have to settle for “the best thing” with their sturdy new album of superb rockers and even better slow-burn ballads.
- Janelle Monae: The Electric Lady
In an era where concept albums are not only a thing of the past, but albums in general are existing on life support, Janelle Monae delivered one that continued all the conceits and concepts of her last stellar collection, and expanded upon them with a group of great songs that proved that she has as much creativity and heart as she does soul.
- Of Montreal: Lousy With Sylvianbriar
I’ve got to admit that I thought it was an act of desperation when I heard that Kevin Barnes and his collective known as Of Montreal were abandoning their far-out amalgam of Princely funk and psychedelia in favor of a straight ahead classic rock approach. Instead, they delivered their most assured collection of songs yet that burn into your psyche and stand up to repeated spins while jettisoning some of their greatest pretensions.
- Kanye West: Yeezus
Kanye West is a mutha-effen’ “G” – that’s not “G” as in Gangsta, by the way, that’s “G” as in GENIUS. Think what you may about Kanye’s antics, but he’s always full of surprises, and you can’t touch him when it comes to creating some of the most relevant Hip Hop records…ever! Yeezy’s new album Yeezus is a full-on assault from beginning to end, and an exhausting spin that is high in noise levels, with equal measures of misogyny and epiphany thrown in for good measure. It is, indeed, Kanye West’s industrial album./
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s last album It’s Blitz was the group’s most mainstream effort, garnering them a much wider audience than they previously had. In contrast, their latest album, Mosquito is much less dancefloor friendly and hearkens back to their earlier electro trash sound. Although, the dense, layered atmospheric production makes the record initially far less satisfying than its predecessor, with repeated spins the songs begin to insinuate themselves and you begin to realize just how great this record is.
- Parquet Quarts: Light Up Gold
- Steve Earle & The Dukes (And Duchesses): The Long Highway
- 13. Pokey LaFarge: Pokey LaFarge
- David Bowie: The Next Day
- Nick Lowe: Quality Street – A Seasonal Selection For The Whole Family
- Mavis Staples: One True Vine
- John Legend: Love In The Future
- Eels: Wonderful, Glorious
- Foxygen: We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic
- Elvis Costello & The Roots: Wise Up Ghost
- The Devil Makes Three: I’m A Stranger Here
- Garland Jeffries: Truth Serum
- Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks
- Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg
- Boz Scaggs: Memphis
- Various Artists: Songs For Slim
- Gary Numan: Songs For A Broken Mind
- Dave Douglas Quintet: Time Travel
- Chris Thile: Bach Sonatas & Partitas, Vol. 1
- Eric Burdon: Til Your River Runs Dry
- David Bromberg Band: Only Slightly Mad
- Flaming Lips: The Terror
- Rudresh Mahanthappa: Gamak
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Push The Sky Away
- Jason Isbell: Southeastern
- Billie Jo Armstrong & Nora Jones: Foreverly
- Jim James: Region Of Light and Sound Of God
- Ghost B.C.: Infestissumam
- Paul McCartney: NEW
- Van Dyke Parks: Songs Cycled
Top Reissues/Box Sets 2013
- Chet Baker & Gerry Mulligan: The Complete Recordings 1952-1957
- Bob Dylan: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)/Bootleg Series Vol. 10
- Nilsson: The RCA Albums Collection
- Lee Hazelwood: There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving 1966-1971
- Donny Hathaway: Never My Love/The Anthology
- Miles Davis: Live In Europe 1969/Bootleg Series Vol. 2
- Grateful Dead: Sunshine Daydream (Veneta, Oregon 8/27/72)
- Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck: The White House Sessions
- The Band: Academy Of Music
- John Coltrane: Afro Blue Impressions
- Grateful Dead: May 1977
- The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 12A: 1972
- The Monkees: Present
- The Beatles: On The Air/The BBC Sessions Vol. 2
- Elvis Presley: Elvis At Stax