Tk’s Top Ten Albums of 2013
Thanks to the friendly beast known to many as “Spotify” (and known to me as “that friendly beast known to many as Spotify”), I listened to a lot of music in 2013. Hundreds of albums later, I am proud to present my 10 favorites below.
My goal this year is simply to share some great music with great people (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here, Mr. Stumbled Into This Blog by Searching on Google for “Buttered Toast”). So, please, please, if there’s only 2 things you do tonight (one of which will be eating buttered toast), click on these videos below and listen to some great tunes.
10. Volcano Choir – Repave: Things that Justin Vernon touches do not turn into gold. They already are gold due to the mere anticipation of the possibility that Justin Vernon may touch them at some point in time. Volcano Choir is Bon Iver x 1.5. If you study math (or Bon Iver) then you know what that means.
9. Julianna Barwick: Nepenthe: I get tired of music somewhat quickly. For this reason, no artist has made my Top 10 more than once since I started these lists in 2006 (unless you lump together Bon Iver and Volcano Choir as “Justin Vernon”). Julianna Barwick has exploded this trend and taken a beautiful musical step forward with her latest angelic choral work. Some darker moments, some Sigur Ros moments (recorded by Jonsi’s boyfriend, Alex Somers), and plenty of gorgeous, soul-filling moments.
8. La Vida Boheme – Sera: La Vida Boheme are from Venezuela and may just be the most exciting rock and roll band from South of the Border (which basically means that they give Cafe Tacvba a run for their money). Fresh and unpredictable with some punk, disco, 70s, and 80s touches.
7. Bryan Ferry Orchestra – The Jazz Age: What’s so striking about Bryan Ferry’s latest album, in which he rerecords his songs in a 1920s jazz style, is just how natural it feels. What could have felt gimmicky or forced is fun, easy, and memorable.
6. Josephine Foster – I’m a Dreamer: If someone described to me what Josephine Foster sounds like, I’d probably be less likely to listen to her than without any description. So, I will simply say that she makes a unique brand of old-fashioned music that gets better with every listen.
5. Haim – Days are Gone: This pick holds a special place in my heart. My friend, Matt Salmons, and I followed Haim’s local Los Angeles career religiously back in early 2010. In January of that year, we happened upon them at The Echo, opening for Olin & The Moon. They blew us away, and we couldn’t stop singing their songs, even though we’d only heard them once. We saw them again in February at the tiny Silverlake Lounge. I am ecstatic that they have grown their fan base and even more ecstatic that they have released an undeniable catchy power pop album full of syncopated bliss.
4. Young Fathers – Tape Two: Nigerian / Scottish alternative hip-hop with an inspiring mix of both spoken and sung verse. An overlooked 2013 release that deserves some healthy attention.
3. Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon: From the powerful opening note, followed by a triumphant layering of vocals, it is apparent that Mvula is a force to be reckoned with. In her confident debut, she delivers genre-defying tracks that you and your little sister and your Dad and your Grandma and your Great Grandpa can all agree upon. Her versatile, jazz-trained voice remains front and center throughout the album, but the varied instrumentation helps keep things interesting.
2. Pet Shop Boys – Electric: This English duo are known for their pop contributions to the 1980s. In what is perhaps the best album of their 32 year career, they do exactly what you’d want from a band in this position: they capture all the elements that made them popular ‘back then’ with the artful, quirky synthpop sound, but update it appropriately for a modern audience. The goofy name doesn’t help their cause but I would argue that these 60 year old dudes have rendered themselves relevant once again.
1. Nils Frahm – Spaces: This release from German composer Nils Frahm has been out for less than a month, but it’s probably the album I’ve listened to the most from the entire year. The stand-out track, “Says,” is my Song of the Year and it is surrounded by ambient, piano and synth-driven works. At times, he sounds like the next great classical pianist. At other times, he sounds like an artsy avant-garde enigma. He is, of course, both. Filled with live recordings, Spaces is marked by both intimacy and immediacy. You can hear the heartbeat of each and every song as they whisk you away to worlds of meaning, beauty, and hope.
Filed under: lists, reviews, tk | 1 Comment
Tags: bon iver, bryan ferry orchestra, buttered toast, cafe tacvba, haim, josephine foster, julianna barwick, la vida boheme, laura mvula, matt salmons, nils frahm, pet shop boys, spotify, volcano choir, young fathers