Greetings Internet! 2013 was full of a lot of great music, and there were probably some good hip hop albums that are deserving of Top 10 status, but I can’t really speak to that Journey. I grew up on the mean streets of Clearwater, FL, I love 500 days of Summer, and I once mistook Rick Rubin for a homeless person, so I doubt you want to hear my opinion on hip hop. (Although I will say Things Fall Apart by The Roots is the best hip hop album of all time in my opinion). Anyway I love pretty much all types of music and I love talking about it even more, so I thought I’d bring you guys what I think are the 10 best (NON HIP HOP) albums I heard this year; because frankly I make one of these lists every year and put it in my diary/on Facebook, so my homies here at First Klass Breakfast thought it’d be a great idea to share with you guys.
Honorable Mention: John Mayer – Paradise Valley
What can I say guys? I can run as hard and as fast as I try, but I’ll never escape the fact that I’m white, so ipso facto, I love John Mayer. I know the tabloids about him get a bit bizarre and unfavorable, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a very talented musician. This album isn’t particularly ground breaking, as it continues his folky-americana sound, but he ditches the whole “look how grown up I am” vibe he had on Born and Raised, and just makes some very relaxing, catchy music for a nice long road trip. Also Frank Ocean guests on a track, SO IT’S NOT SOOO WHITE… right?
10) Haim – Days Are Gone
Oh sir could you just move to the left… ma’am if I could just squeeze…andddd… Yup! I’m now on the bandwagon too.
Listen I went into this album WANTING to not like it, (You’re probably wondering why any sane person would go into something WANTING to not like something, and I don’t have a good answer for you. My therapist and I are working on it) and I ended up liking this album almost INSTANTLY. I’m not gonna give you all the same garbage as everyone else about how they are the female Strokes and blah blah blah (although they did say once that Julian Casablancas was like a mentor to them).
All I’m going to say is these chicks are COOL, they look cool in just about every photo taken of them, they make very catchy, hip music that anyone would like, but the lyrics are interesting too, and did I mention they are super cool!? There is more then meets the eye though, these are some truly talented musicians underneath all that Urban Outfitters clothing.
9) Deerhunter – Monomania
Here is a band I pretty much never liked, but I heard the “Back To The Middle” single of this album, and it had that dirty indie rock sound of The Strokes that I’m always craving, so I checked it out. Although it has it’s moments that remind you of vintage Strokes (that if you’re like me, make you have to change your underwear), it’s mostly made of vibes like Destroyer and Dr. Dog.
Best Songs: “The Missing”, “Pensacola”, “Dream Captain”, “Back To The Middle”
I’m not even entirely sure WHAT this album is, other than fascinating. One moment it’s like listening to Prince, then the next it’s like listening to some sort of island calypso music, then the next moment I think I’m in a jungle. But the more I listen to it, the more I can’t get it out of my head. It’s funky and like nothing you’ve ever heard before, so you HAVE to listen to it.
I originally had only heard of Toro Y Moi because he was played on the J. Crew radio when I worked there. BUT WAIT HOLD ON, DON’T GO! BARE WITH ME! He had some incredibly catchy songs, but his albums kind of just fell apart into that “guy huddled up in his apartment with logic pro” feeling, they were just electronic messes. The reason his catchy songs worked, was because they were infused with funk, soul, or jazz. It seems he finally realized that, because Anything In Return is full of jazzy, funky soul mixed with electronics, and it creates such a fuzzy, groovy album. Also It’s great to listen to while you buy sweaters!
6) Arcade Fire – Reflektor
To be honest I feel a little bit like a jerk putting this here, because I haven’t listened to it THAT much, of all the albums I’ve listed so far, I’ve listened to this one the least. I certainly like it, but I haven’t connected with it like I have their previous albums. It seems a little more about aesthetic and groove than heart, but I’m kind of putting it here because it’s a very strange/intriguing album, and I’m guessing I’ll grow to like it this much. SO FAR it very much feels like LCD soundsystem produced an Arcade Fire album, but not at all in a bad way. It doesn’t feel like LCD is living vicariously through the Arcade Fire, it feels like a logical collaboration, and one that Aims to distance themselves from their previous work in the way that Zooropa and Kid A did for U2 and Radiohead. IDK if i’d buy sweaters to this music.
Best Songs: “Here Comes The Night Time”, “You Already Know”, “It’s Never Over”, “Porno”
5) Phoenix – Bankrupt!
Yeah I know, typically indie white guy stuff, but I feel like I prepped you for that in the beginning, and trust me… it’s far from over. After Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was over played in shopping malls across America, I wondered if I’d ever care to listen to Phoenix again. When the single for this album came out (“Entertainment”), I listened to it once and then promptly thought “eh” and thought I wouldn’t care to hear the album. I was wrong, okay? I admit it. This album is very different from Wolfgang, and It’s probably better. They use a lot of the same hooks and even lyrics in some points, but the album does what good albums do, it creates a very unique sound. It’s like indie rock with electric music undertones, but it has this like oriental feel to it. It’s catchy, it’s groovy, and it’s fun!
I know, I know how typical can I get? It’s at the top of everyone’s lists I’m sure, but you can’t deny it. This album is one of those albums where I DEFINITELY don’t dig every song, and when it first came out and got high reviews I was like WTF mate? (Does anyone remember that old youtube video?) But what makes great albums great isn’t necessarily that every song is catchy, but that the album as a whole has it’s own atmosphere. That it challenges you at some points, and overall makes you think about it. Check. Check, AND CHECK. This album is very unique, and although I find it pretentious in some parts, it has some of the best songs in recent times on it. Also Julian Casablancas is on it. BONER!
Quick get your sunglasses on! I’m probably blinding you with whiteness right now! (hopefully you have real sunglasses and not cheap ray ban knockoffs like me) Hey at least I didn’t make it number one right? This album has it all, great lyrics that grapple with the fear of death, beautiful music that once again doesn’t change their sound, but makes it different, and a cool album cover!
2) The Strokes – Comedown Machine
It’s hard for me to write about The Strokes and not turn into a fanboy, but I will try my best. When I listened to Comedown Machine, it reminded me of when I was in high school and my friends and I went as The Strokes for Halloween, it was the first time we ever smoked cigarettes, and we thought we’d get arrested for it. Ha! We were such dorks, and… Oh… I’m doing it aren’t I? Turning into a fan boy… sorry.
Ok short and sweet here we go. Listen, I’m tired of all the BS you read about the strokes. Enough is Enough. Yeah Is this it? is the best, and yes Angles is nowhere near as good, and I know they made Converse and MTV big again way back when, and everyone is oh so disappointed with them, and every douche in NYC will tell you that they “loved” the Strokes, but everything sucked after Is This It? BLAH BLAH BLAH. The Strokes have done the unthinkable, they stayed together through all the fame, and have continued to make great albums, and this year they went and made one of the best ones they’ve ever made.
They are a REAL band, who are talented musicians and songwriters. Sorry to disappoint all the native NYC people who are all like “every album after Is This It? sucked and NYC isn’t the same anymore wahhhh”. I was once the biggest strokes fan ever, and I’ll admit that EVEN I fell off after Angles, but then I heard this album, and I not only fell in love, I started listening to EVERYTHING again. I started going on the lame fan sites again, I bought converse again. The album contains some of the best songs they’ve ever written, they are tight and catchy and they sound revitalized, and they revitalized me! So stop being a crybaby that the sound is different and that every song isn’t “someday” and treat yourself! I LOVE YOU JULIAN!
1) Arctic Monkeys – AM
I had a lot of sleepless nights debating whether or not I’d make Comedown Machine or AM the top album, also I left the tea kettle on and my garden state poster kept falling off the wall! JUST KIDDING, just a little white guy humor for you. I think I personally like Comedown Machine more, or it at least means more to me, but I can recognize that AM is probably a superior album.
It has such a unique feel, dark and brooding, yet so masculine and sexy. It’s some of the best music the Arctic Monkeys have ever made, and it features some of the best lyrics they’ve ever written. Each song has the same feel, but a unique melody, and they all share the same themes. The album deals with love in today’s world, and how you never know if you have it or not, and most people aren’t interested in it to begin with. Although the Arctic Monkeys can see that, they are afraid to show they’re vulnerable it seems, So these are songs about unrequited love and loneliness, yet they are filled with screeching guitars and loud drums, as if to hide the pain.