Best Albums of 2013: #15-11
TOTALLY UNAPOLOGETIC presents the Best Albums of 2013
Numbers 15 thru 11
15. AMOK – Atoms for Peace
AMOK is heady dance music, in love with its jittery rhythms but never content to give over to them completely.
Thom Yorke seems to be waiting for his inevitable failures on AMOK but in contrast, he sings about how life is moving forward right before your eyes. It seems like Yorke is trying to convince himself that life is passing him by as well as his listeners. That miserable self-awareness that Yorke shows on this album is the same one that has always made Yorke’s songwriting so interesting. Yorke and his supergroup/side project Atoms for Peace(which includes RHCP bassist Flea, ex-R.E.M. drummer Joey Waronker and frequent collaborator Nigel Godrich) don’t seem to stray too far away from what we’ve come to know and love about Yorke’s catalog. It resembles Radiohead’s last album “King of Limbs” as well as Yorke’s solo album “The Eraser” but with a more prominent bass and seemingly groovier, upbeat tunes. I feel like the presence of Flea has introduced Yorke to being a more enlightened person than we’ve come to known from Yorke. He’s got Yorke surfing and he’s even dancing like a wildman these days. There’s something about tracks like “Default” and “Stuck Together Pieces” that make me want to move my shoulders and tap my feet. Yorke’s side project has seemed to bring out a side of him that we thought we’d never see, but still don’t expect his work to suddenly turn into sunshine and rainbows, we’re still talking about Thom Yorke here.
14. Sunbather – Deafhaven
The result is a perfectly flowing album that is, at times, as calming as it is chaotic.
An album that is instrumentally excellent. It ranges from the sounds of black metal to indie rock. This album takes off with the near 10 minute opener “Dream House”, then slips into the next track “Irresistible”, a song that reminds me of something Explosions in the Sky would have arranged. This could be the most instrumentally diverse album I’ve heard this year. It goes across many different sounds that all meet back in the realm of rock. Whether the sounds be ambient, alternative, metal, acoustic, etc. it all works so damn well.
13. AM – Arctic Monkeys
There is a depth–a willingness to experiment, a refusal to be pigeonholed–that rewards repeated listens and makes this their most coherent, most satisfying album since their debut. Where they go next is anybody’s guess.
It seems as though ever since Arctic Monkeys began working with Josh Homme in 2009, they’ve been working more and more towards this desert/stoner rock sound that Homme’s bands Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss, have perfected over the years, he even contributed vocals on this album. They most definitely find themselves doing their best Black Sabbath impression on a few tracks, particularly “Arabella”, but it’s not like they’re doing it without acknowledging it or executing it the wrong way. Lead singer and guitarist Alex Turner cited Sabbath as a huge influence as well as hip hop and the previously mentioned desert rock. Obviously, Arctic Monkeys are not the band Black Sabbath was, but they give a valiant effort trying and they seem to be more interesting because of it. The vocal harmonies on this album just glide over top of these heavy guitar riffs and I can’t help but try to sing along in my own pathetic falsetto. It’s really hard to make a rock record like this one in 2013. It’s difficult because people don’t give a record like AM, one that wears the color of its influences so brightly and openly, a chance. Not only has Arctic Monkeys taken on the challenge of doing impressions of all their influences but they’ve also flourished because of it.
12. Days are Gone – Haim
Days Are Gone confirms what everybody already knew in fabulous style; that Haim are the band to shout about.
-This is Fake DIY
In their debut, the three San Fernando Valley born sisters embark on an album that ranges across many different universes. This album is easily one of the catchiest and most refreshing that I’ve heard this year. Many have compared Haim’s work to that of Fleetwood Mac and Shania Twain but I beg to differ. Much of “Days are Gone” reminds me of something Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones would’ve arranged during the Thriller/Off The Wall era. I’m talking the quick strumming on “Forever” and the MJ-esque hiccuping in between Danielle Haim’s vocals on tracks like “Don’t Save Me”, as well as the mix of rock, pop and r&b influences that Jackson had incorporated into his work. Obviously, there’s nothing on here that sounds like Thriller or Off the Wall(sorry if you’re looking for that) on the surface but it’s the small little details that I previously mentioned that remind me of MJ. There’s even some Timbaland inspired production on the gritty “My Song 5” and that suddenly breaks into something you would hear on a Destiny’s Child or TLC record. They have the ability to make catchy pop rock tunes like “Don’t Save Me”, “Forever” and “The Wire” while also being able to throw in some tracks with some snarl like “Let Me Go” and the previously mentioned “My Song 5”. Days are Gone is an album that you’ll find yourself wanting more and more of, it’s just that addicting.
11. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
This is a truly magnificent record, and I think it’s going to end up being the album for which we remember Vampire Weekend.
“Wisdom’s a gift but you’d trade it for youth” says Ezra Koenig in one of the lead singles “Step”. The band is growing older and sometimes getting older brings great truth and sadness. That really identifies a lot of what Vampire Weekend is dealing with on this record. It’s a great big bag of truth, sadness and the uncontrollable. They are also dealing with a serious amount of faith issues. Tracks like “Unbelievers”, “Worship You” and “Everlasting Arms” are prime examples of these difficulties that Koenig and co. face. Often times on this record Vampire Weekend has trouble staying in one place. Each song differs in sound, whether they add some guitar or drum effects or some unorthodox recording setup, every song seems to have its own distinction. Vampire Weekend had claimed to cut back on the number of instruments that they were using before on this album but the sound of the album remains all over the place due to the fact that they are always throwing some new tricks into the way the instruments sound. Modern Vampires of the City is most certainly an album that keeps you on your toes.
BEST ALBUMS OF 2013