Top 10 albums of 2013


1.)
Tales Of Us by Goldfrapp

(Quite the departure from 2010’s Head First. Alison Goldfrapp’s career has gone in many directions. 2013 sees the band focus on their softer sounds similar to that of their début Felt Mountain and their 2008 release Seventh Tree. Tales Of Us is an album where I don’t neccasarily listen to the words. The material is soothing, quiet music, good to put on, when you want to wind down and relax, and forget time and place.
Some listeners may find it boring, unmemorable and samey, but to me an atmospheric album that is incredibly geared towards my senses. Tough to pick out obvious highlights, since it’s all of the same standard, but especially the first half of the album impressed me. I’ve read it’s a cinematic-inspired album that will be accompanied by a 30 min short directed by Lisa Gunning)

Favorite tracks:
Drew
Annabel
Ulla
Alvar
Thea
Jo


2.)
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

(The best opening guitar riff of any album from 2013? I think so. A long disc at 74 minutes, with plenty of strong tracks. The sort of album that was getting put out on a regular basis in the 70s and 80s, and we see so rarely in the 2010s)

Favorite tracks:
Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Give Life Back to Music
Giorgio By Moroder
Doin’ It Right (feat. Panda Bear)
Lose Yourself To Dance (feat. Pharrell Williams)
Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas)


3.)
Reflektor by Arcade Fire

(An album that underwhelmed at first, but has grown on me with each listen. A killer opening single. As you’d expect for a double album, there are weaker moments, and in this case, to me, the middle part was not the best. I think it starts and finishes really strongly. Several of the tracks do go on a bit too long, though, if I’m being critical.)

Favorite tracks:
Reflektor
It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)
We Exist
Supersymmetry
Afterlife


4.)
Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

(Was my favorite album for the first months of the year. The lyrics per usual are well-written, and I even got my parents into this release. Gone is the rockier sound of earlier recordings, and it feels more accessible to a wider audience than his darker albums.)

Favorite tracks:
Jubilee Street
Push The Sky Away
We No Who U R


5.)
Trouble Will Find Me by The National

(As with 2010’s High Violet, it mostly continues the mellower approach, and to me is equally as good. The three opening tracks are powerful, on an album with few weaknesses. What struck me is the remarkable honesty of the writing, which is also somehow universal.)

Favorite tracks:
Don’t Swallow the Cap
Demons
I Should Live in Salt
This Is the Last Time
Pink Rabbits


6.)
Dominae by Ejecta

(Debut album I had no expectations for, and turned out to be my favorite unknown artist of 2013. Underrated album you should give a listen, if you like synthpop/dreampop. Good tracks from beginning to end.)

Favorite tracks:
Jeremiah (The Denier)
Afraid of the Dark
It’s Only Love
Eleanor Lye
Silver
Mistress


7.)
The Next Day by David Bowie

(David Bowie is an artist who sticks out, always transforming and experimenting. There’s a mystique surrounding him, you can’t separate Bowie the man, and Bowie the music. While I’m not one of his biggest fans, and it’s not as good as his 70s work, his comeback after a 10 year hiatus was a welcome return. He still has it at the age of 66.
I’ve heard the album sleeve contains a mirror inside, which is kind of cool, and plays out thematically in his songs: Where Are We Now?, If You Can See Me, & Heat.)

Favorite tracks:
The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
Where Are We Now?
Love is Lost
You Feel So Lonely You Could Die
Heat


8.)
Seasons Of Your Day by Mazzy Star

(It hardly featured on other year-end lists, which is a shame, because the recordings are beautiful. It’s been 17 years since their last album, and nothing has really changed about Hope Sandoval’s style, continuing that dream pop/folk mix. If you liked the band’s earlier work, this new collection will probably appeal to you. Some may find it boring, so it’s not for everyone)

Favorite tracks:
California
In The Kingdom
Common Burn
Lay Myself Down


9.)
Bankrupt by Phoenix

(Fifth full-length studio release for the French rock band. A pretty strong comeback, with what has been described as “a peachy, fun vibe”, even though the production occasionally is familiar to past records by the group.
As another reviewer notes, perhaps the lyrics “tell a tale of the lonesome feelings of making it to the top and the conflicting emotions of stardom.” )

Favorite tracks:
Trying To Be Cool
Bourgeois
Entertainment
Chloroform
Bankrupt!
Don’t


10.)
Upstream Color (Original Motion Picture Score) by Shane Carruth

(I’ve listened to a bunch of soundtracks this year, and my gut instinct tells me this is the disc I can listen to, and enjoy all the tracks. I often get bored with instrumental soundtracks, not so with this ambient album, which I can have on repeat. Film scores sometimes don’t work outside the movie experience, I feel the Upstream Color score does. Fun fact: Every song title is a quote from Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which is a book that also features in the movie.)

Are you a fan of any of the albums above? What did you think of them? Which are your favorite albums of 2013? As always, comments are welcome.

For albums 11-35 go to amazon listmania


Be sure to check out other year-end album lists by fellow bloggers:
The Cinematic Spectacle
Le Mot du Cinephiliaque
The Past and The Pending
To The Movies and Back
More to come, watch this space

18 thoughts on “Top 10 albums of 2013

  1. Wow, 8 of these albums are in my final list of 50. 2-3 of these are in my top 10. I have finished my list but I haven't posted anything yet as of right now. Hopefully I will do it before Xmas.

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  2. Thanks for the link, Chris! 🙂

    Great list. I hate that I couldn't fit The National, Goldfrapp and David Bowie's latest on my list, so it's great that they make yours. I barely remember the Upstream Color score from watching the film, so I need to listen to it.

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  3. @thevoid99: I know our tastes at times are a bit different, so I’m glad to hear we have a few overlaps! Curious to read your album list and compare.
    I think it’s been a pretty strong year for music, with so many big names putting out solid albums.

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  4. @Josh: You’re welcome, and thank you 🙂 Good that we can promote different albums then!
    I figured I should include Upstream Color, since it's the soundtrack I’ve listened to the most in 2013.

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  5. Great top 10. Most of the albums here are in my top 30. Goldfrapp are great and I was so excited to hear the album, loved the concept but I didn't love all the songs. I didn't like them all but there are some that are my favorite of the year like Annabel, Jo, Stranger, Alvar. Maybe it's just a matter of expectations. Anyway, it's a really nice concept, very cinematic. Can't wait for the small film.

    The Daft Punk album is brilliant. I hope they win the Album of the Year Grammy. They brought disco back. Very danceable, innovative album. Get Lucky is the song of the year.

    Reflektor wasn't as good as The Suburbs, but I still enjoyed it. Felt a little disappointing, but it's still pretty great and I like that they changed their sound a little.

    The Mazzy Star album is lovely. Hope Sandoval's voice is unique. Those are also my favorite songs on the album.

    The Phoenix album is pretty great too. I wasn't very familiar with their music before, just heard a couple of songs. I like the grand sound of Entertainment, and the electronics of Trying to be Cool and Chloroform. Have you seen the video for Chloroform? It's directed by the lead singer's wife, Sofia Coppola.

    Lastly I wasn't very much of a fan of the David Bowie or Nick Cave albums, although I like Jubilee Street. The National album was just ok for me. I haven't heard of Ejecta but I listened to one song which was nice. I am a fan of synthpop and dream pop.

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  6. @Cristi B: Thanks! The top 10 reflects my taste, I know a few of these albums are divisive.
    Glad you liked Goldfrapp album, not full of memorable hits, but maybe (also with the Upstream Color and Mazzy Star albums) it’s the intangible nature of the music that draws me in. Takes me to another place in my mind.

    Agree with what you say about Daft Punk, an ambitious, innovative album.
    I too liked Suburbs, and Reflektor improves with repeat listening.
    Phoenix have a cool sound, I think I missed the Chloroform music video, I’ll give it a look right now.
    Ejecta I discovered on Gorilla vs. Bear’s music blog, they specialize in dream pop and such.

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  7. Random Access Memories is one of my go-to albums of the year for when I just need something that I can listen to, easily, and it'll lift my mood. Something about how all the tracks work together, from one to the other, just lifts my mood. Wonderful album. Definitely in my top list of albums for the year.

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  8. @Jaina: That’s exactly right. Random Access Memories album can lift my mood too. I can't wait to see what Daft Punk does next, it will be tough to top their 2013 effort.

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  9. Interesting that you put a soundtrack as your number one. I never knew that Upstream have a great soundtrack (I didn't finished the movie). Love Bankrupt too.

    I think I'll put Goo Goo Dolls' Rebel Beat on my list. Maybe About Time OST. The rest is just one or two singles I like in an album.

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  10. @Andina: I didn’t even realize Goldfrapp album is a soundtrack, until I read about it later. I think the music is a bigger deal than the short film.

    I remember you are a fan of Goo Goo Dolls, happy you enjoyed their new album!

    Haven’t seen About Time, you’ve made me curious about the soundtrack 🙂

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  11. I was disappointed by three of the albums you include in your list. David Bowie's return was underwhelming for me, with only one track that truly stands out (Valentine's Day) and a whole lot of mediocre/average ones.
    I also found Phoenix' latest to be lacking, and a BIG step down from their previous work. No stand-out tracks there either for me.
    Also, I was not as taken by Upstream Color as some other people have. Maybe I'm missing something.
    In general, I can't say I was that impressed with Random Access Memories, but I did enjoy the general feel and tempo of the album as a whole.
    Trouble Will Find Me is the first time I really dedicate some time to The National and I can't say I was disappointed. Several stand-out tracks and, like you, I was also taken by the universality and honesty of the lyrics.
    I absolutely loved Reflecktor, but maybe I'm a bit biased given my almost fanatical liking for Arcade Fire. I don't really know as of yet if it will rival their previous work (which I still consider masterful), but it's certainly not a dip in quality, and I would even say it's an encouraging move into a different and refreshing direction.
    I will have to get to Goldfrapp, as I have yet to give it a go.
    Nice list!

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  12. @niels85: I’m glad you are honest about not enjoying a few of these albums. That’s just the way it goes, music is so subjective. Anyway, interesting to read your thoughts on why you didn’t love those records.
    At least we agree on The National album. Didn’t know you are fanatical about Arcade Fire 🙂
    Goldfrapp is not for everyone, I hope you give it a shot. Maybe it's for you, maybe it isn't.
    Finally, thank you!

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  13. @Alex Withrow: Great that you are a fan of Upstream Color soundtrack as well(I see it was your favorite film of 2013). To me, the score holds up really well to repeat listening, and sounds like you feel the same way.

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  14. Thanks for the link Chris! Lots of great albums and we agree on Daft Punk and Arcade Fire. However, I have many blindspots here! I've listened to the Bowie and I like it a lot. I may revise my top 10 after few other spins.
    The National didn't got me but I think I may have abandonned too soon for this release.
    Bankrupt is very good too.

    Great top 10!

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  15. @Michaël Parent: You’re welcome, enjoyed reading your top 10, and thanks for checking out mine!
    The National is an album that grew on me, so maybe it will for you too. Glad you liked Bankrupt.

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