When compiling a Best Of list for a certain year, you sometimes encounter albums that you loved in a particular year only to discover they were released prior to that year. This is the case with the 5 albums now before you, they were all released in 2012, but that didn’t stop me from loving them, squeezing them and calling them George in 2013. But unfortunately they were all released in 2012, so they don’t qualify for the Best of 2013 list, but I felt they were certainly deserving of an honorable mention on their own list, so here goes!
1. The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Honestly, if you were able to avoid the groundswell surrounding the breakout singles “Thrift Shop”, “Same Love w/ Mary Lambert” and “Can’t Hold Us”, then you’re lying to everyone as those songs were everywhere (yes, even under that rock you were hiding under). This was an album that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying for the majority of 2013, and would have easily made my best of 2013, had it not been published in 2012. Personally, I’m hopeful that these Seattle-ites roll through town at some point in 2014 as the live show looks like it’s a blast. For a few of the deeper cuts, check out “Neon Cathedral”, “White Walls” and “Jimmy Iovine”.
2. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons
This was an album which was perched precariously close to becoming an overplayed album as rock radio gorged itself on tracks such as “Radioactive”, “Demons” and “It’s Time”. It was the fact that this pastiche which is Night Visions manages to avoid becoming an eject (or worse, audio wallpaper) and mixes in pop-rock elements to keep the listening experience interesting. It’s hard not to see why rock radio has embraced Imagine Dragons and their immediate accessibility, these songs are going to be staples on rock radio formats for years to come. Once I was able to slip past the key singles, the album really started to grow on me, and I fell back in love with “Demons” and “Radioactive”. This album is definitely worth a listen.
3. All The Little Lights – Passenger
James Blunt (or Brett Dennen) by way of Harry Chapin and Cat Stevens is what you get when you toss on the early 2012 release from British singer-songwriter Passenger. 2013 saw the 2nd single “Let Her Go” light up North American radio, and on that success saw that tune become one of the biggest selling singles in the UK (and around the world for that matter). The 4th studio release from Passenger is hardly a one trick pony, there are a collection of folky pop tunes which are just waiting to lure you in and set their hooks deep inside your ears. It was a contender for best of 2013, but unfortunately it was an early 2012 release. Do yourself a favor and discover All the Little Lights.
4. Harmony – Serena Ryder
“Stompa” blasted down the doors of pop-rock radio in 2013, after being released in late 2012, it wasn’t until US rock radio got their mitts on the track when things really began to take off for Ryder in 2013. The second single “What I Wouldn’t Do” was a bonafide hit also, but this is an album not predicated necessarily by singles, but is a complete record which you can press play and just enjoy as the tracks wash over you. Tracks such as “Fall” and “Mary Go Round” are worth a listen (and have also been getting some decent airplay by radio stations in the country). Ryder was once an artist who I would scoff at when I saw her frequent shows in these parts, however 2012’s release Harmony won me over in a big way.
5. An Awesome Wave – Alt-J
I’m not sure where I first came across the lead singles “Tesselate” or “Breezeblocks”, but the floaty atmospheric rock provided a great soundtrack for my road to 5k in 2013. Somewhere between folk and a sleepy trip hop is where you’ll find Alt-J. An Awesome Wave is an easy listen, it has solid moments of poppy goodness before slinking back into the atmospheric audio mist, and while it may not be starting any parties soon, this is a great album to run along to.