Best Albums of 2013: #20-16

TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC presents the Best Albums of 2013

Numbers 20 thru 16

19. I Once Was An Eagle

20. Once I Was An Eagle – Laura Marling

Both as a songwriter and as a performer, Laura Marling has never soared so majestically.

-American Songwriter

At 23 years old, Laura Marling has released four studio albums and three of which were nominated for the Mercury Prize, including this one. Lets just say that she’s earned herself quite the reputation over a very short period of time. Her latest record is no exception to her longstanding excellence. The music is stripped down, containing acoustic riffs and upright bass playing along with some violin and cello work. I can’t really find myself listening to just one song on Once I Was An Eagle because of how well each track goes into the next. Honestly, it feels as though she recorded the entire album in one take without stopping, and that doesn’t even seem to far fetched. Her vocal range is one of the more impressive things that I took from this album, she’s as convincing when she’s using that husky, gritty voice that she tends to rely on from time to time as much as she does when she lets her gentle voice go on a track. This is an album that may not strike you as all that interesting on the first few listens mainly because the first few tracks are tough to get used to, but once you let it get going, it’s near-hypnotic.

18. New

19. New – Paul McCartney

New is one of the best of McCartney’s latter-day records: it is aware of his legacy but not beholden to it even as it builds upon it.

-All Music Guide

Sir Paul should need no introduction, nor should he have any issues, but yet he does. We find Paul, now 71 years of age, longing for things, particularly love. He even looks back on the days where he was much younger on the fifth track “Early Days” and boy, is that a complicated subject. Now, instrumentally there’s not much new here but that’s not a problem because Paul finds ways, even with his immense catalog, to keep things fresh and enjoyable. This effort just exemplifies why a 71 year old Paul is better than a large amount of today’s music industry.

17. Melaphobia

18. Melophobia – Cage the Elephant

Propulsive choruses, a musical cacophony that whirls and a melodic sense that secedes nothing to the rhythms, the scrappy quintet’s third album is a focused, frenzied affair.
-Paste Magazine

Cage the Elephant is a band that I never really found interesting before this album and I have to say that after listening to Melophobia that these guys finally won me over. The instrumentation works for the majority of this album. They seem to be trying to channel the greats of garage, surf and even punk rock in a nice way. The riff on the second to last track “Teeth” sounds-McCartney esque but then it breaks out this saxophone solo that works pretty well with this spoken word outro that hits everything home. It’s just a great track. The guitar riffs on this album have this uncanny ability to remain in my head and never leave. Many members of the band had cited how much they let go of all the pressures they had been facing to please people and it really seems that way when I listen to it. I see a band that’s just trying trust their gut and play the music that comes to them.

16. Overgrown

17. Overgrown – James Blake

All in, Overgrown is a triumph. It is evidence of James Blake forging his own singular musical path, free from hype and expectation, and blossoming into both a producer of real compositional skill and a songwriter of great depth.

-musicOMH.com

This guy is a full fledged crooner. James Blake has got some pent up emotions that spill out elegantly onto these urban-soul,  electronic crooner jams that make up his second full length album, Overgrown. Blake’s affinity for environment makes all the difference. Every song on this album has it’s own world.  His vocal performance on this album reminds me of how Kanye West used Justin Vernon on features from Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy(apparently, Vernon and Kanye were in the studio supervising Blake when he wrote and recorded “Retrograde”). Blake likes to play minimal one moment, as we can see in the first half of tracks like “Overgrown” and “Retrograde” and the next he likes to play maximal, unleashing a wide array of sounds in the second half of those same tracks. The music on this album is very much alive and constantly transforming but still never escapes its constant woozy-ness. It’s a beautiful mixed bag, musically and lyrically.

15. Dynamics

16. Dynamics – Holy Ghost!

Dynamics is, first and foremost, a dance album, and as such, it passes its most critical test with flying colors; at no point during its duration is one unburdened of the desire to dance.

-The Line of Best Fit

Cocaine induced love affairs/failures and sounds that serve best when compared to that of a John Hughes movie. Holy Ghost!’s latest is a dance record that works the majority of the time. Besides sounding like The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles at times, it can also resemble the work of Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem. Particularly, in the 8 minute disco odyssey that is “Dumb Disco Ideas”. If you can’t find the urge to dance while listening to this album, then I really don’t know what else is left for you in the world because happiness might not be in the cards. The grooves are infectious, it’s catchy and it’s incredibly fun. If you want to groove, you definitely want to give Dynamics a listen.

BEST ALBUMS OF 2013

Introduction       30-26      25-21        20-16      15-11     10    9     8      7     6      5     4      3     2      1

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