CK’s “Not Top Tens” of 2013


You know the drill by now.

drill baby drill

But if you don’t, here it is.

HONORABLE MENTION: Number 11 through 15 on my top ten list, in alphabetical order. These albums are given the same full review as the top ten (coming soon!). Album links will open in Spotify. If you don’t have it yet, go get it!
WORTH NOTICING: A list of albums worth checking out. Not top-15-worthy, but definitely worth your time.
DISAPPOINTMENTS: There was a lot of great music this year. There was also a lot that should have been greater.
SONG OF THE YEAR: There isn’t always one, but I’ll name one if I feel like there’s a song that deserves the honor.
THE JURY IS STILL OUT: For whatever reason, I didn’t listen to these albums enough to rate them. I think they’re probably worth listening to, but I’m not sure how they’d it into the rest of my list.

AFI – Burials
To me, the success of any AFI album relies on two things: Their sense of urgency, and how Davey Havoc’s voice is being used. Both of those elements have improved greatly since their previous album, 2009’s “Crash Love”. While many “old-school” AFI fans lament the lack of screaming in the band’s more recent output, I love their push toward a more melodic sound.
MUST HEAR: “I Hope You Suffer,” “17 Crimes,” “A Deep Slow Panic”

Alkaline Trio – My Shame is True
Alkaline Trio has had a recent swoon similar to the one AFI went through as of late. While 2008’s “Agony & Irony” at least captured some of the urgency from their stellar 2005 record, “Crimson,” 2010’s “This Addiction” seemed rushed. It was a step backward for the band; there were no especially memorable tracks, and they simply weren’t at their best. On “My Shame is True,” however, they seem to have awakened. While this album doesn’t break any new ground, it is a solid addition to their discography. This is the sharp, dark, music that Alkaline Trio fans are used to. Welcome back, guys.
MUST HEAR: “The Temptation of St. Anthony,” “I Wanna Be a Warhol,” “She Lied to the FBI”

Avicii – True
A good year for the letter A (although not great, as nobody beginning with A reached the top 10). This dance record starts with the ubiquitous single “Wake Me Up” and doesn’t let up. The use of several guest vocalists almost makes the album seem like a compilation, but that isn’t necessarily a drawback. The eclectic album goes through ups and downs, but is never boring.
MUST HEAR: “Wake Me Up,” “Dear Boy,” “Lay Me Down”

Kanye West – Yeezus
What is there to be written about this record that hasn’t been written already? It’s a step back from “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but what wouldn’t be at this point? How do you follow up a rap masterpiece? Apparently for Kanye, the answer is, “burn it all down and start over.” While the production is solid, there are no full, ornate, gorgeous arrangements here, and that’s kind of the point. Clocking in at a scant 40 minutes, ‘ye is more abrasive and aggressive than ever. I discarded this album not long after listening to it initially, but when coming back to it for the purpose of this list, I was struck by how many songs I loved off of this record. If nothing else, “Bound 2” serves as a fun throwback to Kanye’s classic soul-sampling debut, “The College Dropout.”
MUST HEAR: “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” “Bound 2”

Rhye – Woman
It’s rare to describe an album as “sultry” without some diva or a deep-voiced crooner at the mic, but with this LA-based Canadian/Danish duo, it’s the best word to describe the record. At times reminiscent of Kings of Convenience, “Woman” will put you to sleep – in a very good way. This is the one of the best pure chill-out albums of the year. Just don’t try to listen to it while driving.
MUST HEAR: “Open,” “The Fall,” “3 Days”

Annuals – Time Stamp
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Bonobo – The North Borders
Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension
Disclosure – Settle
Dropkick Murphys – SIGNED and SEALED in BLOOD
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP2
The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
Icona Pop – This Is…
Jimmy Eat World – Damage
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (vol 1)
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
Lady Gaga – ARTPOP
Local Natives – Hummingbird
Relient K – Collapsable Lung
She & Him – Volume 3
The Strokes – Comedown Machine
Wale – The Gifted

Atoms for Peace – Amok
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (vol 2)
Phoenix – Bankrupt!

I didn’t find one song that was worth the “Song of the Year” title this year. Nothing resonated with me the way the last couple of SOTYs did. Here are a few top candidates, though:

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Grouplove – Ways to Go

Vampire Weekend – Step

Childish Gambino – Because The Internet
Cults – Static
David Bowie – The Next Day
Haim – Days Are Gone (this is one of my biggest regrets of the year in music; I really enjoyed the album, but didn’t take the time to listen to it until this weekend. In future re-evaluations of this list, it may be higher)
Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost
Jamie Lidell – s/t
Marijuana Deathsquads – Oh My Sexy Lord
of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
On An On – Give In
POLICA – Shulamith
Saves the Day – s/t
Shout Out Louds – Optica
Skylar Grey – Don’t Look Down
The Thermals – Desperate Ground
Twin Forks – EP


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