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Listens to music

My favorite albums of 2013

December 08, 2013

I’m not a music critic. But I do know what I like listening to, and want to share that with more people. These aren’t ranked in any particular way, mostly a combination of how many times I listened to it and how well I thought it was put together.

10. Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins’s style of quiet, pulsating rhythms has been on my mind since his 2009 single Light Through The Veins. After a long break, it’s easy to see how his sound has matured. This album doesn’t have many standout tracks, but is filled with the signature Jon Hopkins craft that makes it so enjoyable to listen to.

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9. Kavinsky – OutRun

Kavinsky

Appropriately enough, I first heard Nightcall while driving in California. The album is just like that song, 80s beats with modern production. I had my doubts at first, but it’s since become a staple of my workday playlists. Solid all around.

Rdio Spotify

8. Kanye West – Yeezus

Kanye West

I knew I’d like this album from the moment I first saw Kanye’s giant face projected on the side of a building playing “New Slaves” for the first time. Hard to listen to at times, but always interesting, this album may represent a turning point in my tastes.

Rdio Spotify

7. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Daft Punk

Daft Punk is one of my all-time favorites–Discover and Alive 2007 are two of the best electronic albums of all time. Each of their albums has a unique sound, the latest moving back towards the “human” sound they shunned in Human After All. It’s more relaxed, but still danceable. There are a few misses, but still a classic album.

Rdio Spotify

6. St. Lucia – When The Night

St. Lucia

I couldn’t escape St. Lucia this summer. I first heard his music when he started releasing a series of singles building up to this album release. This album is just filled with catchy tracks, including singles “September”, “Elevate”, and “We Got It Wrong”. This was always in the background while I traveled this year.

Rdio Spotify

5. James Blake – Overgrown

James Blake

My brother uses James Blake’s “Limit To Your Love” as his benchmark for headphone quality. If the bass is good, he’s in. Overgrown stays in the same vein as his previous album, with minimal arrangements and reverberating vocals–and bass, of course. Standout tracks include “Overgrown”, “Digital Lion”, and “Retrograde”.

Rdio Spotify

4. Flume – Flume

Flume

This album blends an R&B influence with Flume’s great production skills. Nowhere is that more obvious than the recently-released Deluxe Edition of this album, featuring an additional 18 tracks. It includes a new hiphop mixtape version of the original album, with rhymes from more than a dozen artists, and plenty of remixes (including an incredible version of Disclosure’s “You & Me”).

Rdio Spotify

3. Disclosure – Settle

Disclosure

Disclosure is ridiculously catchy. I think that’s the best description. It’s not complicated, just great beats and vocals (like motivational speaker ET the Hip Hop preacher).

Rdio Spotify

2. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

Chvrches

I’m not sure how Chvrches does it. They tour all the time, but still manage to release new material regularly. And at the same time, they’ve also exploded in popularity with “Recover”. I got the chance to see them three times this year– they were here that often–starting in a tiny venue in Brooklyn and moving to a sold-out show at Terminal 5.

Their songs aren’t complicated, but Lauren’s voice and attitude carry them even in the most violent crescendos. They wear their influences proudly, frequently covering Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” live, and more recently Whitney Houston and Haim. It all comes together into a high-enery pop masterpiece that carried me through this summer.

Rdio Spotify

1. Lorde – Pure Heroine

Lorde

Yes, she has the most overplayed song of the year. But I can’t think of any artist that deserves it more–because there are no artists quite like Lorde. And to be fair, I played this album for myself way more often than I’ve overheard it elsewhere.

This was cemented as my favorite album of the year at Lorde’s first show in NYC, when she played all the material from her album prior to its release. I went in already loving her songs, but went out loving her as an artist. She’s set herself apart in her songwriting, her control of her image, and simultaneous rejection and embrace of pop culture. It’s all shown in this album, which feels perfectly suited for a party or an introspective moment. All of it means I couldn’t be more excited about Lorde, and can’t wait to see what she does next.

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