Best Albums Of 2013

By Will Oliver, December 20th 2013 — with 10 comments 2013 Best Of List

Best Albums Of 2013

Thanks to Camilo for the artwork as usual

Hey guys, it’s that time of the year for my best albums of the year list. I feel like I’m one of the select few who wait until December’s almost over to publish my list. Even waiting this long, I feel like I didn’t get to listen to nearly as much music as in previous years. There’ just too much stuff out there. (Tell me what you liked this year by voting in our 2013 Readers Poll)

There is no goal to accomplish on this list, other than a honest look at what music I enjoyed. I listened to a lot of records, both big and small, from those who benefited from the hype cycle to some that got nearly no attention at all. If it sounded good to me, it’s here. No pretension, no bullshit. This is just a list of my favorite albums of the year, no grand statement, just a love for these collections of music that kept me in good company this year.

So without further ado, I present my favorite albums of 2013. You can even stream the whole thing if you so desire at the spotify link right here.

50. Diarrhea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams
49. Torres – Torres
48. Villagers – {Awayland}
47. Savages – Silence Yourself
46. Los Campesinos – No Blues
45. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
44. Caveman – Caveman
43. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
42. Glasser – Interiors
41. Sigur Ros – Kveikur
40. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
39. James Blake – Overgrown
38. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
37. Ski Lodge – Big Heart
36. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Fly By Wire
35. Palma Violets – 180
34. CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
33. Wavves – Afraid Of Heights
32. Houndmouth – From The Hills Below The City
31. Body Parts – Fire Dream

White Denim

30. White Denim – Corsica Lemonade

My BLoody Valentine

29. My Bloody Valentine – M B V

Ty Segall Sleeper

28. Ty Segall – Sleeper

Youth Lagoon

27. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

Mutual Benefit

26. Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

Kurt Vile

25. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

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24. Jagwar Ma – Jagwar Ma

parque-lightu

23. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold

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22. Phoenix – Bankrupt!

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21. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

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20. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind

Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind has more psychedelic and almost 90s Manchester psych-rock elements at play, but the effects are still as joyful and full of life as ever before. “We Are Explorers” is as classic Cut Copy song as any. These guys make ME want to get up and dance, with is saying something.

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19. Mikal Cronin – MCII

What a damn feel good record Mikal Cronin’s MCII is. It’s made to get you roll those car windows down and blast it, letting the hot summer air leak into your conscious. Even though now it’s blistering cold and snowy out, the sentiment isn’t lost.

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18. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

My, how this guy has come. I’ve watched Archy grow as an artist since his days as Zoo Kid, so it’s amazing to see him release such a great record. His voice isn’t the only thing of note here, his maturation and use of space and other elements that surround his voice that are the real key to the puzzle.

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17. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

Hearing UMO play II live at Music Hall of Williamsburg this year was one of the grooviest shows I saw all year. Ruban Nielson really takes things to another level with this record, plenty of godly guitar jams over sulky sweet r&b feelings that are impossible to shake.

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16. MGMT – MGMT

I don’t respect many bands more than I do MGMT. They could have sold out so hard, but instead, they continue to push their listeners bounderies and make crazy music that they want to make. How awesome is that? This is another crazy little psych-rock nugget that has plenty to love about it. MGMT are the band more bands should try to be. Be true to yourself, and the results will be fantastic.

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15. Washed Out – Paracosm

Ernest Greene has developed fully as artist, and it shows on his most developed album yet, Paracosm. It’s just one strong collective whole of emotional journeys combined create a binding memory and impression that every listener can mend to their own personal life. There weren’t many songs that hit me as hard as the wondrous “All I Know” did.

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14. Deerhunter –Monomania

Monomania didn’t jump out at me at first, it took a while. But once it did I realized what an earworm that this record was, more so than any other Deerhunter album for me. These songs require a bit of time and love to really make their point, but once that point is made, god damn. Any album with a run like “Sleepwalking”, “Back To The Middle” and “Monomania” is not to be missed.

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13. Foals – Holy Fire

It’s hard to look back at Foals first album Antidotes and then see at their insane growth to get to Holy Fire. There are still plenty of elements of their old sound to be found on Holy Fire, just more developed and mature. I love how one minute you can get a serious ballad and then they rip it home with the serious thunderous “Inhaler” and the enthusiastic beyond belief, “My Number.” They’ve quietly become one of the best bands to have survived the NME hype cycle.

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12. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Like you, I’m tired of hearing about all the band drama. Who needs it? But the fact remains that this album is on the money, from start to finish. With the early release date and band drama, a lot of people forgot about this album, which is technically their first full length. Will it be their last? I don’t know, and I don’t care, cause at least I have this little gem to keep me company no matter what happens.

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11. Local Natives – Hummingbird

Where is the love for Hummingbird? I think it’s another case of an early release getting forgotten in the chaotic release cycle, because this was as strong of a sophomore release as you can find. No slump here, just maturation and the further development of the ideas that made Local Natives one of my favorite new bands a few years ago. There is no shortage of beautiful songs that rock here. I can’t wait to see what comes next for these guys.

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10. Pure Bathing Culture – Moon Tides

Moon Tides is a consistently perfect album from one of the most underrated bands going right now. Pure Bathing Culture create beautiful melodies over some haunting vocals that are just too good to pass up. The album is pure bliss from beginning to end, almost a true beach version of beach house. If you haven’t heard of these guys, start with “Ivory Coast” off their debut EP and work your way to this album. Thank me after.

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9. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Daft Punk damn delivered on Random Access Memories, and they did it the way they wanted. You may have wanted them to just deliver an album full of the stuff that got them famous in the first place, but they took a more soulful, meaningful, approach and it’s pretty amazing. I still love the hell out of “Get Lucky”, and would still gladly hear it getting abused on the radio in favor of Eminem, Drake, or Miley. With that said, let’s just be happy we got a new Daft Punk record, and that it’s as good as RAM turned out to be.

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8. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

The news of their hiatus has me bummed, but they released such a good record this year that I can’t get too mad. Floating Coffin starts as well as any album could, with two thunderous beasts in “I Come From The Mountain” and “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster.” Like most of the album, these are songs that are meant to be experienced live, in a furious crowd pushing each other over dirty beer-soaked floors. A true rock band.

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7. Kanye West – Yeezus

Yeezus proves that Kanye can really do it all. In reality, the album is a combination of all the styles that he’s used over the past few years, all put to use insanely at the same time. Everyone who listens to Yeezus will have their own favorite track, and that’s a telling sign of a special album. As a producer and as a rapper, no one even comes close. He’s just in a different league, pushing the boundaries continuously. I’d be a pompous asshole too if I was as good as Kanye is. One of the best shows I saw was this year, where he performed most of the tracks off Yeezus is a larger than life fashion that was not just for show, it was necessary.

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6. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

First off, I need to get this off my chest: I’m so sick and tired of people hating on this band. Yes, they got popular. Yes, they’re marketing technique was very in your face, but if you won a Grammy, I’m sure your label would try and do the same. For some reason it’s now cool to hate Arcade Fire, and I don’t know why.

Reflektor may not be their best album (Funeral, of course), but it’s another great addition to their discography which is scarily consistent. I mean, really, how many bands could have done what they did with their sound and pulled it off? Keep in mind, they got James Murphy to help out, which says a lot. They didn’t take any safe routes on Reflektor, completely turning into “The Reflektors” to deliver something very different, but still very Arcade Fire. It’s an album that you can listen to and find new favorite songs or new moments that allow it to shine differently. They’ve done it yet again with Reflektor. I’ll keep dancing while you keep hating.

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5. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends

Ok, seriously, Portugal. The Man’s fantastic new record Evil Friends is easily the most overlooked album of the year. Every track on this is single quality material, that is undeniably catchy and infectious. It’s one of the most playable albums you could find out there this year, and a great deal of credit is due to Danger Mouse, who produced the hell out of this bad boy.

This really should have been Portugal. The Man’s big break into the mainstream, these songs are all easily radio friendly (in the best way possible). I can come to this album at any time and play it straight through for multiple listens, making it one of my favorite albums of the year for sure.

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4. Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

It’s good to have Queens Of The Stone Age back. Josh Homme proves with …Like Clockwork, and everything about him and his band, that rock and roll isn’t dead. …Like Clockwork is one of the best rock albums to be released this year, and one of the bands very best. It’s full of tight rock jams that put the work of the competition to bed.

From the thunderous “My God Is The Sun” to “I Sat By The Ocean”, it’s a deliciously cool record that doesn’t try too hard, it’s just rock and roll baby. From top to bottom, it’s just damn good tuneage. With all the overwhelming electronic music out there, the world needed this album.

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3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

While High Violet was their big breakthrough, Trouble Will Find Me feels like the record that The National had wanted to make for a long time. They finally made it with High Violet, and on this album they just do whatever felt right. And the results are fantastic.

This is full out glorified The National, with up-tempo rockers such as “Sea Of Love, grand builders like “I Should Live In Salt”, and lovely ballads such as “Pink Rabbits” that reveal their true brilliance after a couple dozen listens and a good buzz. It’s the continuous stripping of layers that make The National one of my favorite bands going. They never let me down.

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2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

I’ve always loved Vampire Weekend, but they finally proved just how far my love could go with the relese of Modern Vampire Of The City, their best album to date. It’s a stunning turn of maturation and vision, a record that is personally theirs. Heavy-handed themes such as getting older and religion don’t bring the album down, but make you contemplate with them, as the songs are built with so much thought and passion that it’s impossible not to.

“Step” may be their best song yet, but that’s one up for debate with many tracks off the album, such as “Ya Hey”, “Hannah Hunt” and “Unbelievers.” “Diane Young” is surefire homerun, and “Hudson” grew from a creepy track to one of the most beautiful off the record. It’s a little of both actually, and that’s why it’s so brilliant.

I’ve been a part of Vampire Weekend’s journey for a while, and it’s amazing to see how far and damn good they’ve become.

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1. Arctic Monkeys – AM

I guess this isn’t a surprise to a lot of you, but don’t just think of this as me being a predictable lover of Arctic Monkeys. AM is actually the first #1 album that I’ve given them on any of my Best Albums lists. They’ve really earned it, as this is their best record since Favourite Worst Nightmare (my favorite).

They’ve come so far as a band, and continue to change up their sound successfully to something fresh and new, but still staying true to themselves. “Do I Wanna Know?” was the introduction to this new chapter, and what a bold and fresh look it was. Triumphant and mighty, it was a call to arms for the new seductive sound that the Sheffield boys found a way to work their magic with.

There’s a little bit of everything on this album, such as a r&b/hip-hop element that has an influence throughout many tracks. Such as the stunning “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” which threw me off at first, but has become one of my favorite thing that they’ve ever done. Or how about “One For The Road” a track that I didn’t love at first but grew to be one of my favorite songs off the whole album. For those of you who love the softer side of Alex Turner and his brilliant songwriting, they’ve got you covered with the glorious “Mad Sounds” and “No. 1 Party Anthem.” Then they throw down the rock with the blistering “Arabella” and the brilliant “Knee Socks”, arguably one of the best song they’ve ever done. Or how about the dramatic finish of “I Wanna Be Yours?”.

Arctic Monkeys have proven to me that they have no limit, nothing that they can’t do. There’s a reason I adore them as much as I do. They will always change things up, but always in a way that works. AM works, and it works magically. It’s the best album I heard this year. If you don’t agree, “Snap Out Of It.”

  • Will

    Confucius says: a music critic whom picks one band to be their favorite should never rate such band #1 without risking the integrity of their whole best albums list. Yeezus, VW, The National, and Local Natives all had better albums than AM this year!

  • Hazrel

    I think you already missed the new album of Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull. You should listen to them. They are back.

  • Will Oliver

    @ Will – It’s the first time I’ve ever listed them #1 on my list, so it’s not like I’m just playing favorites. It was my favorite album of the year plan and simple. I think it would be just as bad to NOT put them just because I know people are aware that they’re my favorite band.

    It’s just an honest list, and it’s my opinion. That’s all.

    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.rockitorrollit.com Mike Guarino

    Fantastic list, Will! Many of these albums will also end up on my year-end list.

    Also, props for waiting a little while longer to publish this. Some of the lists came out so early that it makes me wonder if the publishers are aware that there’s 12 months in a year and not 11. I know being amongst the first to release the big list is important from a traffic standpoint, but still!

    Anyways, great list, and here’s to more greatness in 2014!

  • Will

    Hi Will. Just keeping ya honest. I appreciate your list and your opinion. I also agree that it’s Arctic Monkeys’ best album since WPSIATWIN (my favorite).

    I definitely value your passion to defend your list and your opinion. Keep at it and have a fantastic 2014!

  • Will Oliver

    Hey Mike,

    Cheers for checking it out! Yeah, it bugs me how early people post stuff. Early December is whatever (Still early, but tolerable), but posting lists in November seems rather premature to me. But to each his own, right? Here’s to 2014, let’s keep good music love going strong!

  • Will Oliver

    Will,

    I definitely understand, and glad we can agree it’s a great record. I definitely knew that listing AM as my #1 would spark some controversy. Very understandable.

    Thanks for reading, and here’s to a wonderful 2014!

  • Ian O

    Great list Will!

    Have been reading We All Want Someone for years, glad to see you’re keeping at it. Hope for many more lists to come!

  • Rick Berning

    Great list (as always). The only glaring omission I can think of would be St. Lucia’s debut album ‘When the Night’. Then again, I’m a sucker for 80s throwback sounds 🙂

  • Pingback: Mutual Benefit @ Mercury Lounge (February 7, 2014) at We All Want Someone To Shout For





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