With more misses than hits, 2013 wasn’t the best of years for music but it also wasn’t the worst. As per usual there were albums which were supposed to be massive hits (Britney, Miley and Gaga) and some which fell just a tad short (Bowie, Daft Punk and JT) but no matter if you agree or disagree with the following choices, there is one thing that can be agreed upon and that is we are living in a musical world dominated by pop.
The following albums represent what I feel were my favourite albums of the year. To say that one album was the best of the year, or one album is better than another is really something I can’t get behind. As I’ve constantly stated over the past couple of years, music is so subjective, I really (nor do I think anyone else can) don’t think “best” is a word which can properly be used.
With all of that in mind, in no particular order, the following 8 albums (that’s right I’m pulling a Bowie here and going against the grain…who says we need to have a list of 10) represent how I feel about 2013.
1 – Flourish/Perish – Braids
Floating in and out of a dream like state has never been as easy or enjoyable as it is now thanks to Braids second venture, Flourish//Perish. Channeling their inner Radiohead, this Canadian trio have crafted the perfect electronic album which allows for an anxiety induced calmness. I’ll admit that this album may not be for everyone, but once you loose yourself in its complexity, it’s hard to get out.
2 – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions – Franz Ferdinand
Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is the return to the Franz Ferdinand sound that we’ve all come to know and love. After two albums which saw the band go down a darker path, their newest album picks up right where their self-titled debut ended. ”Right Action”, “Bullet”, “Love Illumination” and “Stand On The Horizon” all have the qualities to become instant hits in both your headphones and on the dance floor.
3 – Heartbreaker – Tegan And Sara
After spending the past ten years as the indie-folk sweethearts of Canada, Tegan and Sara have traded in their raw truthfulness for a synth dance sound that could find itself smack dab in the middle of the 80’s. Littered with pitch-perfect harmonies, big hooks and catchy verses, Heartthrob is the quintessential example that real instruments and not computers are all you still need to create a great pop album.
4 – Paradise Valley – John Mayer
On his sixth studio album John Mayer has taken the sound which was found on his prior outing, Born and Raised, and has amped up the groove and relaxation factor. Like a fine wine, Mayer’s writing both musically and lyrically have only improved as he’s grown. By borrowing from great guitar players that have come before him (most notably Eric Clapton) and blending in his own unique feel and tone, Mayer has created an album that proves that he should be considered as one of the greatest guitarists of our time.
5 – Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Continuing down the path of musical greatness, Arcade Fire have crafted an epic album that will satisfy both the hardcore and casual fan alike. Reflektor breaks away from the daily grind of suburban life and elevates its sound into the world of bright lights and dance. With the help of DJ extraordinaire, James Murphy, Arcade Fire have transitioned into the Auchtung Baby/OK Computer stage of their career with the greatest of ease. Reflektor is the work of a band who finds themselves at the highest point of the musical mountain but still remain unsatisfied with the elevation.
6 – Shangri La – Jake Bugg
At the young age of 17 Jake Bugg was selected to perform at the Glastonbury festival, one of the UK’s most popular outdoor festivals. Since that time he’s released two critically acclaimed albums, including 2013’s venture Shangri La. With a great feel for song writing, the 12 tracks that make up Shangri La are a wonderful mix of punk, rock and folk. The biggest surprise will be knowing that although he has much respect for Bob Dylan, Bugg has openly stated that there is really no influence from the poet.
7 – Modern Vampires of The City – Vampire Weekend
A little more experimental and a little less Paul Simon is the best way to describe Vampire Weekends third album,Modern Vampires of the City. With college life clearly in the distance, the lads from NYC have begun their trek into adulthood on the right note. Songs “Unbelievers”, “Finger Back” and “Diane Young” show that a band can maintain it’s identity and feel while still sounding new and fresh at the same time.
8 – All The Stars & Elements/What’s Left To Burn – This Ship
With a couple of tours and two EP’s released in 2013 Halifax indie art rockers, This Ship, had a very successful year. The first EP, heavily layered with airy harmonies and experimental jams solidified the band as one of the more creative groups on the East Coast. Following up with a short, precise, rock driven EP would show that This Ship was capable of flowing in and out of different genres but make no mistake, at the root of both EP’s is a dance/pop sensibility that has produced two of the catchiest EP’s this city has heard in a long time.