Best albums I heard in 2013, and my #1's not Yeezus

It’s only a tinge of iconoclasm, and mostly that I just don’t really want to listen to it a lot. Anyway, I’d sooner put MBDTF on my 2013 top 10 list, because that album is good enough to time travel; Yeezus is great but not my favorite.

Overall, I was a little disappointed by 2013 music. A lot of my favorites seemed like evolutions, perfections of an existing thing, rather than a new thing. Still, some favorites:

CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe - like this, this is a really good attempt at making a perfect pop album. I was debating whether this was one of The Greats. I don’t quite think so, but it’s close.

James Blake - Overgrown - I played Retrograde on the radio and was entranced. Think I looped it pretty continuously for about a week. Someone on the internet wrote “Put Thom Yorke in 2099 and you have James Blake.” Not a terrible description.

Mrs. Paintbrush - Duke 2 - This is Jackson from Grand Buffet. You haven’t heard it yet? You must be wearing glasses made of bullshit! (also, buy it.)

Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City - a million websites will tell you why this is good better than I. It’s not light and airy like their debut, but it’s pretty deep in that I still want to hear it. A lot of feelings. Standouts include Step and Everlasting Arms.

Grimes - Visions - okay this is 2012 but deserves to be on another Best Of list. Might be one of The Greats.

What was very good but not quite my favorite:

Haim - Days Are Gone - feels like it’s from the 80’s. Starting off the record with Falling is pretty electric; I was convinced I was going to hear another one of The Greats. The rest of the record didn’t quite live up to it, though Forever and the title track came close. And then can we talk about “My Song 5”? More of that please.

Lorde - Pure Heroine - Put this a half step below CHVRCHES as my favorite atmospheric female-fronted pop album with standout singles. It feels like a pop album produced by The xx.

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave - Thanks to these guys for doing something a little different in a pop album! Maybe it’s just that the main guy’s voice is a little weird.

The Knife - Shaking the Habitual - Look, Kanye followed up his epic genre-defining masterpiece with something abrasive and weird, and everyone loved it! Why has everyone snubbed this one? Whatever, it’s got its high points (most of the actual songs) and the rest of it is, well, too weird, but I’d rather have too weird than not weird enough.

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories - Okay you love this too, and Get Lucky is the best all around mainstream pop song since Crazy (or maybe Hey Ya!), let’s move on, but play Contact one more time first. Yes!

Julia Holter - Loud City Song - Atmospheric concept album that I ought to listen to again.

Janelle Monae - the Electric Lady - not quite up to her first record, but a pretty fun concept album with some great dancy bits. Especially QUEEN and Dance Apocalyptic. I even liked the interludes, and that’s rare. I did not like, well, the slow songs.
Jai Paul - self titled bootlegged/unofficially released album - I take back what I said about 2013 being boring; this is great. It might even go in the “favorites” above, but I haven’t had enough time. “Listening to a Jai Paul song sounds like a tuning into a pirate radio station being broadcast directly from someone’s brain.” Avalanches meets Yeasayer?

What was apparently way older than 2013 but I liked a lot:

Elsiane - Hybrid - RIYL Bjork

Tune-Yards - WhoKill - exuberant weird vocals. Bizness is so joyful. And the line “So sorry but you only stood half a chance/ now it’s over and they’re walking all over you” from My Country (at 1:23) is so perfect.

David Bowie - Station to Station - and give Low another listen, while you’re at it.

Talking Heads - Naked - maligned last album, actually pretty solid, especially Blind.

Kitsune Maison compilation 14 - dance pop, low on depth but quite sugary. Maybe I should get some of the others. Friends’s I’m His Girl (Jake Bullitt Remix) stands out.

Uakti and Philip Glass - Aguas de Amazonia - this year I started tackling my to-listen queue from both directions. A long time ago, my uncle Jim recommended this to me, and I just tracked it down. Nice atmospheric.

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