Best Albums of 2013: #25-21
TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC presents the Best Albums of 2013
Numbers 25 thru 21
25. Pain Is Beauty – Chelsea Wolfe
Pain Is Beauty not only shows Wolfe’s penchant for atmosphere but for stylistic diversity.
An album that is certainly an acquired taste. I would most definitely recommend it with headphones. Chelsea Wolfe creates this very gothic world that only so many can endure for very long, not because of the quality of the music, but the environment that it’s creator has crafted. The production is minimal at times throughout the album, but for the most part there happens to be layers of instrumentation going on. A lot of Pain Is Beauty contains elements of industrial rock, black metal and ambient music. Wolfe’s vocals are absolutely coated in reverb. I sometimes think that her music is the equivalent of Beach House going to hell after listening to Nine Inch Nails entire catalog. At the same time, I find myself in absolute admiration of this album. It’s hypnotic. Her vocals glide across many experimental, gothic tones that are sort of isolating but on the other hand it’s song’s like “Destruction Makes the World Burn Brighter” that makes me feel like I’m listening to a sugar-free, more pained Best Coast. Honestly, it seems as though she’s teasing me here. As soon as she starts to head into the realm of darkness she throws in something fucking beautiful, like some violins or some folk-ish guitar playing. It’s very artful. Long story short, Pain Is Beauty was more than appropriate title for Chelsea Wolfe’s latest work.
24. Matangi – M.I.A
At once highly inventive and unabashedly fun, the album showcases the trailblazing pop star at her most expansive thus far. M.I.A. adroitly capitalizes on her established style, embellishing it with moments of genuine intimacy.
Vivid, pulsating and infectious. MIA’s fourth studio album is all of those things rolled up into one gnarly piece of work. MIA throws a crap ton of sonics our way and sometimes it’s too fast for us the grasp. It’s the type of music you want to hear in the club. And I don’t mean that Mike Will bullshit, Matangi is in Timbaland’s jurisdiction. She grabs you by the balls and throws you around like a rag doll. There are even a few tracks produced by up and comer Hit-Boy (“Boom Skit”, “Warriors”, “Sexodus”) Overall, there is a lot going on in the production on these tracks. I’m talking samples, synthesizers, sped up drum patterns, key changes, etc. It’s like she takes all the stereotypes or cliches you would find in radio dance music and hip hop and transforms them to make this much more charismatic and interesting stepchild. In the title track she says “Preach like a priest, I sing like a whore” and that right there describes MIA’s entire catalog up until now. She’s devoted herself to a career of “sleazy on the outside, wise on the inside” club rap. Sure, it can make your body do the strange, but the lyrics seem to have greater meaning and individuality than you come to find in modern pop.
23. Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam
The album still feels fresher and more relevant than the world at large might expect at this point–this classic-rock band still has at least a few classics left in it.
-The AV Club
First things first, Pearl Jam is not the band they were 25 years ago. I don’t even think they’re the same band they were 20 or 15 years ago, but that’s something you have to appreciate about the once young, angry rockers now rock ‘n’ roll elders. Now, this constant evolution does not mean that Pearl Jam has lost their punch. We see it in the punk rocker that is “Mind Your Manners”(aka the song Nick got attacked for) very well, but Pearl Jam, like most bands when they grow older, mature. Often times on Lightning Bolt, Eddie Vedder addresses his personal relationships, like the ones with his children, his ex and current wife along with his father, who he’d never met. There are also themes of religion or belief in particular. The flippy floppy of faithful and not faithful is a recurring theme And I’m gonna go out and say that the solo in the track “Sirens” is flippin gnarly. Even on the first listen, it had me wailing on my air guitar like a maniac. That Mike McCready is something else. Anyway, very much like David Bowie, Pearl Jam has absolutely nothing to prove at this point in their career, but still you’d think twice about saying that in front of them after hearing this record. They’re just one of those bands that keeps coming, and the day they start to decline artistically is the day they stop making records. I will assure you that these “elders” have a lot left in the tank.
22. Evil Friends – Portugal. The Man
Danger Mouse’s fingerprints are all over all of these songs, and it’s easy to see parallels with some of his other projects, but in many ways Evil Friends is the most quintessentially Portugal. The Man album the band has released. It’s also undoubtedly their best.
Produced by Danger Mouse(aka easily the most underrated producer in music today) is Portugal. The Man’s seventh full length album, and it’s an interesting one to say the least. The production could be best described under the genre of psychedelic pop. As poppy as the band comes off in this album, they can still put together a good rocker when they want to. Take for example the track “Evil Friends”, that has this wailing guitar riff that grooves over top of the drum and bass. I also thoroughly enjoy the fuzzy electric guitar being played sporadically over the constant acoustic guitar on “Atomic Man”. While they do this on a few songs, they throw in the organ and keyboard to balance everything out. Lyrically, lead singer John Baldwin Gourley seems to be on his worst behavior, claiming to have found “a friend in the devil” as well as displaying themes of isolation. He seems pretty defiant while doing it. As bad of a guy as the narrator seems in many of these tracks, you can’t help but indulge in the tracks because of Gourley’s catchy vocals and hooks. Mix that with the infectious melodies, piano, and guitar riffs and you’ve got yourself quite the album.
21. Regions of Light and Sound of God – Jim James
Regions Of Light is about surrendering yourself to the wonder of the unknown: Often on this adventurous and deeply heartfelt album, it’s unclear whether James is singing to a lover or to God, and that seems to be the point.
Quite honestly, I think this might be a shoe-in for feel good album of the year. It’s got a boatload of soul. My Morning Jacket’s leading man seems to be at a spiritual high and a musical high as well. Regions of Light and Sound of God is a record that leaves you intoxicated. It’s very short(just over 38 min) but effective and enjoyable. “Dear One” is a track that best reflects the tone of the album. It has this riff that loops over and over again but James keeps it fresh by flipping it back and forth between the piano and bass. The song also features a semi-fuzzy, red hot guitar riff that keeps coming up in spurts but it’s amusing nonetheless. Right after that comes the romantic, shoulder moving, happy go lucky , “throw your boring life away and just chase your dream with me” head bopper that is “A New Life.” My god, that song is fantastic. It’s one of those songs that, for the 4 minutes and 29 seconds of which it spans, makes you want to chase every dream imaginable, even the ones that are ridiculous. I remember reading an interview James had done with Rolling Stone after the albums release. He said in so many words that he thought that God had existed through music. Quite frankly, I couldn’t find a single claim to dispute that notion after listening to this album.
BEST ALBUMS OF 2013