We’re well into July now and after talking it over, we thought it would be a great time to share what we felt were some of the best albums (well, Top 4) in the first half of 2013.
Personally I’ll be grading this against a scale geared towards the endurance an album has and how it holds up to multiple listens vs. the Hype machine which seems to accompany many of the A-List titles.
My list has no particular order so here goes nothing!:
Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll – Universal Music
Personally this is one of the biggest surprises of 2013 thus far, it’s an album that I expected nothing from as I just chalked this up to a band in the throes of their death knell who wanted one last pay day. I just happened to be in the same room as Much Music when the lead single “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up)” came on and it grabbed my attention, as it managed to get away from the pop-punk sound enough to incorporate Patrick Stump’s recent foray into the realm of pop-R&B/Soul. It was that marriage of sounds that allows the juicy hooks to lodge themselves deep within your head and will keep you coming back time and again. The opening quartet of tracks are certainly worthy of being considered in Jeff’s list of best openings of any album (“Phoenix”, “My Songs Know…”, “Alone Together” (Current Single) and “Where Did the Party Go?”). Fortunately Save Rock and Roll is far more than the lead trio of singles, “Death Valley” will find itself bouncing around your heads days after you’ve heard it, but the final two tracks feature two figures in pop-music who are instantly recognizable and equally polarizing Courtney Love and Elton John respectively, but it’s the final (and title) track which is the true gem of the album as it allows Stump to showcase his vocal range and everything from the backing track, the hook and Elton’s appearance all fit beautifully, it may be my favorite track on the album. This album shows that Fall Out Boy may have what it takes to evolve and continue to make great music for years to come (just as long as they keep Pete in the background). This is a disc I would highly recommend checking out as it’s one that I’ve played through at least 10 times now (for anything to get more then 2-3 spins from me has something special going on – as my attention span is somewhat short) and it has still not lost its magic.
Hayden – Us Alone – Emi Music
Us Alone is the latest release from the reclusive Hayden Desser and it might also be his most accessible album to date. Don’t misunderstand what I mean, this is not an album that is going to be a Radio and Television darling, or an album that you’ll toss on to kick-start a party, but if you’re still around the burning embers of a fire at the cottage and you need a somewhat sleepy soundtrack, then this is the album for you. This album is one of my favorites, as it’s a fantastically subdued piece of folk-rock which takes me to a really happy chill place. If you haven’t already you should check out “Blurry Nights” (feat. Lou Canon), “Almost Everything” or “Rainy Saturday”, those are the true gems, but the album as an entire piece is magnificent.
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories – Sony MusicThe only other albums of 2013 which have had this level of buzz were from Kayne West’s Yeezus and Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, both of which eclipsed that interest. If you’re pressing play for the first time based only on the lead single “Get Lucky w/ Pharrell” you may be in for a shock. This album for me took at two complete spins to even begin to see the brilliance of what this French-dup created on Random Access Memories, I liken it to those old sailboat pictures which appeared to be hidden until you could relax your eyes and tilt your head at the correct angle to possibly see the image emerge. This an album that Daft Punk has crafted plays an homage to the disco/synth era of the late 70’s and early 80’s while managing to remain tethered to the modern era.
The Neighbourhood – I Love You – Sony Music Riding high on the success of the pair of lead singles “Sweater Weather” and “Female Robbery”, the California five-piece unit unleashed their debut LP back in April. This album is the antithesis of what the traditional California sound is considered to be, it feels very British in the sense that the music is something of a gothic take on trip-hop. It’s an album which seethes and snarls through its 11 tracks, never once pausing to flash a grin to the crowd, it’s a straight ahead no nonsense approach which lends itself to the European feel of the album. As for play count, I’ve been through the album 8 times and while it’s a great listen, it is beginning to wane a bit.