Most years I seem to struggle with a top 10 albums for the year. 2013 was much easier. A couple of albums just became obvious that they were going to be at the top. I also managed to only select albums that were actually released this year too; another first for me!
My top albums this year mostly come from bands/people I’ve liked in the past. Only 2 new artists made their way in. Having said that, it’s great when someone you like brings out another album you also like.
So here we go….
10. Arctic Monkeys – AM
“Only tenth?” I hear some of you cry. Well yeah, to be honest it’s lucky to have made the top ten. A week or two ago it wouldn’t have. But I’ve been bombarded by Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? on Radio Hauraki for a while now, loving it, and I’m beginning to realise that the rest of the album is pretty damned fine too. Think I’ll be listening to this one for a while yet.
9. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
I’m a big Neko Case fan, and although this has been out for a while it’s just starting to grow on me. She’s definitely going away from her country roots and branching out into lusher territory. Reckon I’ll love this album this time next year. Looking forward to seeing her live at the Wellington festival later this year too.
8. Kacey Musgraves – Same trailer, different park
If Neko Case is less country than before, then Kacey Musgraves certainly makes up for it. I was torn between loving this album and hating it, but it obviously ended up on the good side. It’s almost twee country, but she seems to sing from the heart. More than that, the songs are simply incredibly catchy. And for what it’s worth, she’s very cute too!
7. Telekinesis – Dormarion
I’ve been a fan of Telekinesis (just one guy – Michael Benjamin Lerner, from Seattle) for a few years now. Until recently I thought they only had one album – Telekinesis! from 2009. A few months ago I found that there were two albums released since then – 12 Desperate Straight Lines from 2011 and Dormarion from 2013. They both continue the trend laid down by the debut – power pop with great tunes. Definitely worth a listen or two.
6. Camera Obscure – Desire Lines
Their last album, My Maudlin Career, was good but it didn’t really drag me in, the same way that Let’s Get Out of this Country did. But it only took a couple of listens to Desire Lines to get me hooked. If you don’t know, it’s Scottish twee pop. Bit like Belle and Sebastian but will a female singer and a wee bit ballsier (not hard, I know). Sweet voice though and again, great songs.
5. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time
I thought that this album would be high up on the critics’ Best Of 2013 lists but I haven’t seen it at all. 20 songs by ex Beta Band mainman Steve Mason that all segue together as one. Not often you get Brazillian commentary from a Prost / Senna duel, together with formula one sounds thrown in to a track either. Love the whole album.
4. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind the Film
I was a bit nervous when I first listened to this one. When it’s your favourite band, you hope that they haven’t screwed it up. I’d heard that the album was a bit different from the usual Manics fare – it wasn’t their shiny rock pop big anthems, and it wasn’t their semi-punky alternative.
This was a third way – acoustic. But (thankfully) it isn’t singer songwriter style acoustic, nor is it a stripped back acoustic set (a la Nirvana) type sound. It’s a band playing their songs, but just without loud guitars. Growing old gracefully. And for the most part it sounds wonderful. A couple of songs I could do without, but in general I love it. Mind you, my favourite song is the closing 30 Year War – a song closest to the ‘old’ Manics sound.
3. Biffy Clyro – Opposites
A high entry for a band I hadn’t heard until about a month ago. It’s just great pop rock with catchy tunes. I said it all here really.
2. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
Been a fan for a while now since Songs for the Deaf. Since then I’ve sort of delved in a bit to their stuff and kinda liked it. But this one is all cracker. Clever rock n roll with attitude.
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
I have thrashed this album since it came out. My iTunes stats say that all its songs are now in my ‘top 250 played songs’ playlist – that has been going for the last 8 years or so. 35+ times that is. Liked them before but this is the best album I reckon. Smart (without being too smart), infectious pop. Time to stick it on again….
Top Albums’ nationality breakdown – 5 American, 1 English, 1 Welsh and 3 Scottish!
Bubbling under…. Phosphorescent, Kurt Vile, Franz Ferdinand (like the single so the album will get more of a hit now), Avett Brothers, Arcade Fire (still not sure about this one at all – maybe it’ll grow on me), Okkervil River & Dexys.
Listen yersel – And to make it easy to listen to some songs from these albums, here’s my Keith’s top albums of 2013 Spotify Playlist.