Now that it’s already February 2014, a list of my favourite albums of 2013 seems a tad unnecessary. But back in December, I did spend a good hour agonizing over my picks, so I might as well share them with you:
1) Queens of the Stone Age, Like Clockwork.
Key Track: “I Sat By the Ocean” – With his falsetto croon and swaggering riffs, QOTSA frontman Josh Homme lures us into his relationship woes and makes us enjoy the moping. Few hard rock dudes can make darkness sound this seductive.
2) Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe
Key Track: “You’re Not Good Enough” – British-born singer/songwriter Dev Hynes finds some inspiration in 80’s R&B.
3) Savages, Silence Yourself
Key Track: “She Will” – The band I would have wanted to be in during my Joy Division/Gang of Four/Echo and the Bunnymen phase. Singer Jenny Beth even looks a little like Ian Curtis, though that dude never rocked the Pitchfork Festival in a pair of high heels.
4) Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
Key Track: “Shock To Your System” – The twin sisters go for huge pop hooks on album #7. The grandeur, melodrama and catchiness of these tunes take me back to the days when Cyndi Lauper ruled the radio.
5) Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe
Key Track – “Lies” – A pretty fab debut from a Scottish synth-pop band. “Lies” is one of the standout tracks, with its unusual chord progression, electronic squalls and Lauren Mayberry’s clear-as-a-bell soprano connecting everything together.
6) Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.
Key Track – “Night Still Comes” – This far into her career, you wouldn’t expect Neko Case to keep reeling off amazing album after amazing album yet she does just that. I don’t see any Rolling Stones-esque cash grab records in her future.
7) Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels
Key Track: “Sea Legs” – Last year, I caught Killer Mike and El-P’s show at The Biltmore in Vancouver and was impressed with their lyrical dexterity, energy and sense of humour. If you’re tired of listening to Kanye’s angst, give these guys a try.
8) Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks
Key Track – “Copy of A” – See my full review back in September.
9) The National, Trouble Will Find Me
Key Track – “Sea of Love” – The National never stray too far from their formula, but why mess with a good thing?
10) Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park
Key Track – “Merry Go Round” – I don’t listen to a lot of country music, but Kacey is a refreshing antidote to the same-old beer and pickup truck anthems. In “Merry Go Round”, she talks about the oppressiveness of small-town life – the pressures to conform and the boredom that results from upholding the status quo. Musgraves has an outlaw spirit that I admire.