2013…What a year for music! These end of the year lists are never easy to make. It is always fun for me to look back on the year in music and think about the highs and the lows of it. There is so much music that is produced in a calendar year, it’s almost impossible to go through it all. Thanks to services like Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and good old iTunes, alot of this great music is at our disposal with a couple of clicks. So here are my Top 30 albums of 2013. This list is based on my opinion, and obviously isn’t the end all be all when it comes to what’s good and what’s not. However I think I picked a pretty good list of awesome albums for you to check out. So please enjoy Jonesy’s Top 30 albums of 2013. See you next year!
30. Kacey Musgraves-Same Trailer Different Park
Country has a new free spirited songstress ready for stardom. Kacey Musgraves is that chick. She’s not bubllegum pop like Taylor Swift. She is more of a say how she feels type of chick, raw and honest. It doesn’t hurt that she’s also incredibly atttractive, but Musgraves has the vocal chops to back up her appearance on this list. She dropped a strong debut album with Same Trailer Different Park, and is putting a little flavor in country music. I’m not a huge country fan but I really enjoyed this album.
Rhye is sooooo dope. Think Sade, mixed with Portishead, and add a hint of Prince, and you get the debut album from Rhye. Woman is the perfect album to drive to, make love to, clean your house to, or practically do anything to. It is just so smooth from top to bottom.
28. Justin Timberlake-The 20/20 Experience Part 1
This is definitely one of the most over hyped projects of the year, but Part 1 of The 20/20 Experience was a very nice welcome back to music for Mr. Justin Timberlake. Part 1 is a good album. “Pusher Love Girl,” “That Girl,” “Mirrors,” and “Strawberry Bubblegum” are all very good songs. I’m not sure if Justin needs to continue the whole 8 minute song thing. That is a little played out, but there is no denying this dude’s R&B chops. They are all over this album.
27. The Civil Wars-The Civil Wars
I can see how it would be hard for these two to tour together. There is so much emotion going on within their music that it makes you think that something had to be going on between them, even though they are both married to other people. They are two for two in releasing quality albums. There self-titled sophomore album is a little edgier than their debut but their melodies and harmonies are still as beautiful as ever.
26. Mikal Cronin-MCII
Mikal Cronin broke through in 2013. Cronin is a member of Okie Dokie, Epilsons, Party Fowl, and Moonhearts, four bands that you may have never heard off. But the indie world got to know who Cronin was this year with the release of his debut solo album, MCII. Cronin is a very talented songwriter and MCII is filled with songs that you won’t get tired listeing too.
25. Savages-Silence Yourself
Scorching punk rock from a bunch of British females. Yes, please. Savages rocked our minds and our stereos in 2013. Silence Yourself was one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year and a pretty impressive debut record from four chicks who clearly know how to rock. Savages has a Siouxsie & the Banshees vibe to them, but a little more aggressive. Quality debut for sure.
Detroit’s finest is back and he’s brought us back to his roots on MMLP2, which is the sequel to his groundbreaking sophomore album, The Marshall Mathers LP. Whether its Marshall going back to the Beasite Boys and old school break beats on “Bezerk,” or taking us down 70’s classic rock lane with “So Far…” or dropping a 6 minute sermon on our heads with “Rap God,” he did let us know with MMLP2 that he is still one of the illest pure rappers in the game. Em rhymes his ass off on this album. Love him or hate him, you have to respect the man’s craft.
23. Foxygen-We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Foxygen are the new MGMT, a band that has made weirdness cool. We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic is a stoners dream. They remind me of what music would sound like on Height Ashbury in modern times if 1970’s San Francisco was like it was back then today. This album has a lot of psychedlic swag and is filled with many memorable tracks. Foxygen prove that all you need is 9 tracks to make a strong album. No fillers needed on this one.
I was lucky to catch this band down in Austin during South by Southwest this past year. They exceeded my expectations. Phosphorescent is the brainchild of singer songwriter Matthew Houck. He put his all into Muchacho, as the songwriting on this LP is pretty incredible. Listen to “Song for Zula” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Houck is a pretty talented dude and he mixes different genres and sounds on this album. It’s quite beautiful to hear everything that goes on in his music mind over 10 tracks.
21. Laura Marling-Once I Was an Eagle
Laura Marling is another seasoned vet who made ground in the US this year with her album Once I Was an Eagle. Marling keeps the folk rock flame lit on her latest effort. She is ready to join the PJ Harvey’s and the Joni Mitchell’s at the big girl folk table. She’s very comfortable strumming or plucking her guitar and singing her heart out.
20. Janelle Monae-The Electric Lady
Call Janelle Monae the female Prince. She’s eclectic, fearless, and a complete bad ass. She came back in 2013 with the follow up to her successful debut album The Arch Android, with a stronger sophomore effort, The Electric Lady. Moane’s live show continues to shine and she is coming into her own as one of the strongest female performers in the game today. Have you heard “Q.U.E.E.N.” yet? Beast mode.
19. Pusha T-My Name is My Name
Pusha T had a big 2013. Besides being one of the heaviest hitters in Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music camp, Pusha dropped one of the best rap albums of the year with My Name is My Name. This album is filled with bangers such as “Numbers on the Board,” “Pain,” with future, and the vicious “Nostalgia” with Kendrick Lamar. Real rap fans will love this album.
18. J Cole-Born Sinner
Welcome to the big boys club Jermaine. J Cole has stepped his game up to A level status with his 2013 release Born Sinner. J Cole finally steps out of the shadows from his mentor Jay Z and proves that he has some of the hottest verbal chops in the game right now. J Cole is one of Roc Nations hottest acts, and with tracks like “Forbidden Fruit,” feat Kendrick Lamar, “Power Trip,” feat Miguel, “She Knows” feat. Amber Coffman, and “Crooked Smile” featuring the reunited TLC, J Cole made sure Born Sinner was playing in our stereos all year long.
17. Arctic Monkeys-AM
Britian’s bad boys returned with their best albums in years. The album almost sounds like a hip hop album with it’s crisp production and raw break beats. Alex Turner proved that he’s one of the best frontman in the game with his work on AM. The band is going to make that leap in stardom in the US thanks to the tracks on AM. Just watch.
16. Chance the Rapper-Acid Rap
Hands down Acid Rap was the best mix tape of the year. Chance the Rapper is a guy that you will be hearing a lot about in 2014. He has already appeared on a Justin Beiber track this year and is getting a ton of love from people within the hip hop community. His psychadelic rhymes are all on display throughout Acid Rap. Check out the kid’s rhyme skills on “Everybody’s Something” or on “Pusha Man.” The album is straight butters.
15. The National-Trouble Will Find Me
America’s favorite most depressing rock band made another collection of beautiful music in 2013. Trouble Will Find Me keeps the National in the conversation as one of the better rock bands out in indie rock. Matt Berninger, with his deep baritone voice and Aaron Dessner continue to be some of the best songwriters in music today. The album is complex in meaning and in performance, but it’s still very much The National at their best.
14. Blood Orange-Cupid Deluxe
Dev Haynes is making his mark. Hynes, known as Blood Orange has been making his name known in the music world for sometime now. Before he was comfortbale with being the behind the scenes guy. He has written songs for Solange and Florence and the Machine. Now he is stepping out into the forefront with Blood Orange and getting his just due. Cupid Deluxe is Hynes second major collection of originial music and this album is off the chain. If you are a fan of Prince or Morris Day, then you will love Cupid Deluxe.
Disclosure have made one of the most enjoyable albums of the year with Settle. 2013 was another big year for EDM and electronic music and Disclosure was right in the middle of the craziness. Settle just makes you want to dance. The beats on this album are just off the hook. Guy and Howard Lawrence are changing the game on their terms. I can’t wait to hear what this duo comes up with next. I mean who doesn’t love “Latch?”
12. Arcade Fire-Reflektor
One of the most talked about albums of the year is also one of the better albums of the year. It’s got to be hard to make an album that follows one that won an Album of the Year Grammy. That’s the challenge Arcade Fire was faced with Reflektor, their most ambitious album to date. The Suburbs made Arcade Fire one of the best bands around. With Reflektor they set out to make us dance. The band teamed up with LCD Soundsystem creator James Murphy, who produced alot of the album, and the result is artistic, creative, and daring. The songs are full of life, and despite alot of the backlash the band has got recently, this is a quality album from a band who is still finding their way.
11. Daft Punk-Random Access Memories
The Robots are back! They are alive! They are no longer in hiding! Coachella 2013 was the beginning of the Daft Punk press for Random Access Memories. Then came the commercial during SNL that had people going crazy. The band finally released their long awaited album was released in May. “Get Lucky,” the album’s first single, became one of the biggest songs of the summer and my song of the year, and now the band is nominated for multiple Grammys including Album of the Year. I would say it was a pretty good year for the robots.
10. Danny Brown-Old
Danny Brown is the dopest rapper out that you might not know about. He is a unique cat who can straight up spit. He is one of the leaders of the indie hip hop scene and has appeared on tracks with Chidlish Gambino, ASAP Rocky, and Schoolboy Q. His 2013 album, Old is one of the best albums of the year. Track for track over 19 songs, Brown goes in lyrically with some of the best rhyming you’ll hear all year. “The Return” feat. Freddie Gibbs, is one of my favorite rap joints of the year. This album is a must have.
9. Volcano Choir-Repave
Thank the lord for Justin Vernon. This man continues to bless our ears with great music. Volcano Choir is another masterful creation from the musical leader himself, Justin Vernon. Not only did Vernon help make Bon Iver one of the most intriguing bands to come out in some time, he has done the same with Volcano Choir. Repave is a beautiful album. The rhythms and grooves on this album are perfect. Vernon has never sounded better than he does on Repave. The songs settle inside you and create a sense of comfort. It truly is a beautiful piece of work.
8. Drake-Nothing Was the Same
2013 was a big year for Drizzy. Drake and his OVO label are all over the place. Nothing Was the Same keeps Drake in the conversation as one of the hottest rappers in the game right now. The album was critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Drake is currently on a US tour selling out arenas left and right. You couldn’t go anywhere this year without hearing “Started From the Bottom,” or “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” two of the strongest singles of the year. The album is vintage Drake, soft spoken melancholy rap, with lucious the xx like beats. He has created his style and sound and it’s pretty incredible.
7. Local Natives-Hummingbird
Local Natives dropped one of my favorite albums of the year back in January of this year and then band has been touring to support it ever since it’s released. I got to see them in New York City back in January, a week after the album came out and I have seen them four other times this year. They are hands down one of my favorite bands in music and Hummingbird is an awesome record. “You and I,” “Heavy Feet,” and “Colombia” are three of the best tracks the band has ever recorded. This is an album that you can play straight through with no skips and enjoy forever.
6. Lorde-Pure Heroine
One of the best albums of the year came from a 16 year old. Yup…16 years old. It’s crazy to think someone can already have that sophisticated maturity at 16 years old. Lorde seems to have it and she took the world by storm this year with her debut record Pure Heroine. “Royals” was everywhere you turned this year. I knew she had made it when I started hearing that track played on NYC’s Hot 97. It’s an undeniable song. The lyrics are just so on point. What’s better than that is the album is just as good if not better. This girl is in for quite a nice career if she keeps making music like she did on Pure Heroine.
5. Tegan and Sara-Heartthrob
I guess it’s not a bad idea to skew a little more pop than indie. Tegan and Sara are seasoned vets in the music game but have never endured the type of success that they had with this year’s Heartthrob. Thanks to a top 5 hit with “Closer” and appearing at shows with Taylor Swift, Tegan and Sara have expanded their fan base and made one of the best albums of their career. “I Was a Fool” is insane. “Now I’m All Messed up” is pop royalty. “Drove Me Wild” is pure fun. This album is just great. Get it.
4. Chvches-The Bones of What You Believe
I can go on for days about how much I love this album. This band from Scottland is redefining the synth pop game. Their debut record The Bones of What You Believe is like magic. it’s a flawless album. “The Mother We Share,” “Gun,” “Lies, ” “Tether,” “Night Sky,” “By The Throat,” “Recover,” and “Under the Tide” are all incredible. I almost just named the entire album. I am dying to hear what their sophomore release is going to sound like. This is a must have for your collection.
3. Haim-Days Are Gone
Anybody that reads this blog knows about my obsession for Haim. They are my feel good story of the year. Three sisters who completely rock and have made one of the best albums of the year with their debut Days Are Gone. You see them live, and you realize what the buzz is all about. The band is signed to Roc Nation. Even Mr. Carter knows whats up. They have played every major festival this year, appeared on SNL, been a critical darling, and are now selling out their own headlining tour. Haim is the shit. Buy in and join the party. They are a great time.
2. Kanye West-Yeezus
The most polarizied artist on the planet continues to be one of the best musicians this generation has ever seen. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny Kanye West’s artistry. He takes risks and crushes them. Listen to the rawness of “Black Skinhead.” The power of “New Slaves.” The pain in “Blood on the Leaves.” The honesty in “Hold My Liquor.” The pleasure in “Bound 2.” Kanye says what you want to say but can’t. He shocks us in a way that no other artist does. He holds no punches and has no boundaries. Casting your personal opinions about him aside, Yeezus was one of the rawest and hardest musical statements made in 2013. The album continues to put Mr. West in a place all by himself creatively.
1. Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires of the City
The Columbia gang have made in my opinion, the best album of 2013. Modern Vampires of the City is this young band’s crowning achievement thus far. They have made consistent music since their debut Vampire Weekend came out in 2007, but the band stepped their game up for this effort. Vampire Weekend have matured into one of the best bands in music today. These songs are layered and developed and display the growth that’s happened with this band. This album is the first time the band has worked with an outside producer, and that happened to be with hitmaker Ariel Rechtshaid, (Usher, Haim, Sky Ferrera, Major Lazer) who helped push the boys into new places. “Step” is awesome. “Hannah Hunt” is beautiful. “Everlasting Arms” may be one of the bends best songs ever. “Diane Young” has punch. “Don’t Lie’ is ridic. “Ya Hey” is another great sing along song in their catalog. I could say something about every track on the album but then this piece would go on forever. Modern Vampires of the City is one of the top critically acclaimed albums of the year for a reason. It is that good. Do yourself a favor, go buy it now. It will be a great album to listen to over the holidays.