2013: The Top 10 Albums

This is the second in a series of posts I refer to as “2013”. The first was the Top 20 Songs. Here are the top 10 albums- the only rule is that they must all have been released in 2013.

10. Various Artists – “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack”

It’s crazy that I’m choosing to put a soundtrack on here, but I am a huge Hunger Games fan and this soundtrack is absolutely perfect. Such a good selection of artists and songs that really bring me back to the Hunger Games story. I never buy soundtracks, so the fact that I bought this says a lot.

9. The Mowgli’s – “Waiting For The Dawn”

“Waiting For The Dawn” wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be based on my love of The Mowglis’ single “San Francisco”, but it was still pretty dang good. The lyrics may not be the deepest but the indie pop-rock happiness is infectious. All I can say is more please?

8. HAIM – “Days Are Gone”

From the group that released “The Wire”, one of my favorite song, I was expecting a little more, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy “Days Are Gone”. The best songs are the previously released singles, but the entire album suggests a musical style completely unique to the Haim sisters. A musical style that is just the thing our generation needs.

7. The Strokes – “Comedown Machine”

Supposedly just a contractual obligation to the label with no supporting tour, “Comedown Machine” might just be my favorite Strokes album (although its hard to beat Is This It). Something about it just works. It was so much better than I expected it to be.

6. The National – “Trouble Will Find Me”

An album that takes a few deep, serious listens to truly understand, “Trouble Will Find Me” never fails at being subtlety dramatic. Just a solid album unlike anything the radio stations are churning out these days.

5. Jake Bugg – “Shangri La”

More Jake Bugg doing what he does best- writing/singing wonderful guitar driven simple rock songs. In many ways it is similar to his debut, but the lyrics are clearly influenced by slightly more life experience. I wouldn’t complain if Jake keeps putting out albums as solid as this one once a year.

4. Franz Ferdinand – “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action”

In their fourth effort, Franz Ferdinand gave us a slice of exactly what they knew we wanted. They did what they did best- write some killer tunes that aren’t afraid to be great. There isn’t a single song on this album that isn’t just downright enjoyable. It only took one listen for me to dance around to every single tune. This is the sound of a band who knows what they do best so they’re doing that. Although they aren’t creating some new genre-bending sound like a few of the bands I list below, they’re sure good at what they’re doing.

3. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”

The last three albums on this list reflect (no pun intended) what I value the most in music- a band not afraid to do something different and do it well. “Reflektor” reveals one of my favorite indie rock grounps exchanging rock for dance and trading the normal album format for a double album with a whole bunch of long songs that you don’t even realize are longer than the normal length because they’re so good you want them to go on forever. I find my ears continually challenged while listening to “Reflektor” and I could not be saying that in a more positive way. Here’s to Arcade Fire always finding a way to do something new and fascinating, not to mention always being ambitious.

2. Vampire Weekend – “Modern Vampires of the City”

This album is the story of America and of our generation. This album gave us “Step”, “Ya Hey”, and the simple yet beautiful “Hannah Hunt”. The best albums are the genre bending ones- creating sounds that we never knew could even exist. Every song is different but unified in purpose “Modern Vampires” guaranteed Vampire Weekend as a spot in our generation’s greats for anyone who still had doubts. Interestingly, I’ve noticed a number of music publications list “Modern Vampires” as their album of the year. I give it second place.

1. Arctic Monkeys – “AM”

Aptly titled after themselves, “AM” is the band of the decade’s career defining album. Nothing they do after it will ever be the same. Effortlessly mixing hip hop, indie rock, sexy lyrics, catchy tunes and darkly hidden truths to come up with the best effort 2013 has seen. Out of all the albums I listened to this year, it was the only one I felt compelled to write a review for. My only regret is that I wish it would’ve been a little more recognized. Anyone into indie rock knows this album but at least in the US most people still haven’t heard of the Arctic Monkeys. I wish for all the experience the greatness that is “AM”. “AM” is the album of the year, “Do I Wanna Know” is the song of the year… I crown 2013 “Year of the Monkeys”.