Monday, December 16, 2013

My 10 Favorite Albums Of 2013

There are some good things about social media.  I mean, sure, there are probably too many selfies and too many photos of brunch happening. But, I think there are several things that rock.  I like being able to tell everyone good or bad news all at once.  I like knowing how my friends in New York decorated their trees.  I like making people look at pictures of my dog at least four times a week.  This past week or so, I've love love loved seeing people list their Top 10 Albums of the year.  This is awesome.  This is what social media is for.  I want to know what my friends dig.  I want to know if I'd dig it too.  Of course I have to participate and OF COURSE I have to turn it into a blog post.  I never said I wasn't the most obnoxious person ever, you guys.

While it was happening, I didn't realize it was a great year in music.  But when I started making this list, I had 23 albums.  I narrowed it down to 18 and then I sat there like an idiot for almost an hour watching Home Alone and trying to commit to just 10.  I didn't want to take any of them off the list.  But, the deal is your 10 favorite albums of the year, not your 18 favorites, so here are mine, pretty much in order.  I think.  Let me just say upfront that I don't like Vampire Weekend and I've only given Yeezus a very quick listen once or twice.  So, I don't want to hear about how I "left them off."  Yes, I did leave them off but it was intentionally, okay? Okay.  Here we go:

1)The National - Trouble Will Find Me

If you know me, you know that I'm head over for The National.  They've been my favorite band for ages and I was itching for a new album but I didn't really think they could live up to High Violet (one of my top 10 albums ever).  But, they did it.  On the first listen, I got obsessed with "Demons" and "Pink Rabbits" (above) but now I'm just obsessed with the whole thing.  If you don't already have it, get it!  Get obsessed like me!  Let's sit around and eat Milk Duds and talk about how dreamy Matt Berninger is and debate how you make a pink rabbit!

2) Haim - Days Are Gone

Haim is one of those you either love them or you hate them bands and I've found that a lot of people with the same taste in music as me fall into the hate them category.  I, however, think they're the shit.  To me, they sound like everything 80s but in the best, freshest way possible.  My theory is that if you're old enough to remember the 80s fondly, you'll dig them because they're like if Phil Collins met, um, someone cooler than Phil Collins.  If you're too young to remember the 80s at all, you'll like Haim because it all sounds so new and not at all like Phil Collins.  That made sense, right?  If you're in that in between spot where you're like eww this in annoying, oh well, too bad for you, you're missing out on awesome tracks  like "The Wire" (above) and "Falling."  I've played this album non-stop since it came out.  It's my 'getting ready' album and my 'cleaning the house' album and my 'people are pissing me off in traffic' album.

3) The Head and the Heart - Let's Be Still

The Head and The Heart's first album got me through one of the worst months of my life a couple of years back.  I love everything about them.  I love them live, I love their sound.  I love that they make me wanna be bundled up sipping fair trade roast in a coffee shop in Seattle as I watch the snow fall outside.  At first listen I wasn't sure I liked this album as much as the first one.  But then it grew on me.  There's some jams like "Shake" and then there's those songs that make you feel something where your heart's supposed to be like "Let's Be Still."  The video above is for "My Friends," which has been on my mind for a solid three weeks.  I'm obsessed with it.

4) Camera Obscura - Desire Lines

This is one of my favorite bands so it's not a super shock that they're fourth on this list.  I don't think this album is as good as My Maudlin Career (one of the best albums ever ever ever), but I'd say it's up there with Let's Get Out Of This Country, which iTunes says I've listened to exactly 10 gazillion times.  I just think Tracyanne Campbell is the cutest thing with the prettiest voice.  I also love the lyrics.  The title track "Desire Lines" makes me feel feelings and "Do It Again" (above) is a super jam, man.

5) Best Coast - Fade Away 

Okay, I know this isn't technically an album because there's only 7 tracks but if every single track is kick ass amazing, it counts as a full album, right? I think so.  Mini-album, schmini-album, I love Fade Away.  True, I'm a big ole Best Coast fan and I'll listen to anything they put out but I think they're really hitting it right now.  Listen to the song above ("I Don't Know How") and tell me I'm wrong.  I dare you not to get addicted to this album.
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6) Cut Copy - Free Your Mind

One time a few years back I was hanging with my pal and I put on Cut Copy and she grabbed me by the shoulders and yelled, "WHO IS THIS THEY'RE AMAZING" in my face and I was overcome with joy because I knew I'd have someone to gush about Cut Copy with from then on.  They're just so fun and dance-y and good lyric-y.  They make me happy when skies are gray, dude.  Real talk, I don't like this one as much as Zonoscope or In Ghost Colours, but it's still good times.  "Take Me Higher" will make you nostalgic for the 90s and "We Are Explorers" (above) makes me dance around my kitchen on the reg.

7) Cults - Static

Cults!  I listened to their first album about 4,000 times for free online before I bought it and I think I got it for like seven bucks or something so when this album came out, I bought it the first day.  I owed them for sure.  And, while I'm not fully obsessed with any song on this album like I was with "Go Outside" or "Never Heal Myself," it's still in heavy rotation these days.  "I Can Hardly Make You Mine" is great and "High Road" will stick in your brain all day in the best possible way.

8) Arctic Monkeys - AM

I told someone recently that Arctic Monkeys were my guilty pleasure and they laughed at me but I'm not sure what I'm so ashamed of.  They're a good solid band.  And this album is full of great songs like "Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High" and, of course, my fave, "Do I Wanna Know?" (above).  Who cares if frat boys and that creepy dude at Coffee Bean blast this album from their PT Cruisers?  I dig it.  Yeah, man. Sayin' it!

9) Foxygen - We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
I'm a complete sucker for retro sounding indie artists and the first time I heard Foxygen, I almost caused an accident trying to take a photo of my Sirius radio screen so I'd remember to look them up later.  They're silly and lighthearted and fun and I love putting this album on when I'm feeling like that, which, believe it or not, happens sometimes.  (You can't listen to The Smiths all day every day because then you forget to eat and breathe and stuff.)  "Shuggie" (above) is crazy adorable and I also love "No Destruction" and "San Francisco."  Plus, their name is FOXYGEN, which is maybe the cutest band name ever.  Yes, it is.

10) Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

I'm late to the Neko Case party.  I mean, I listened to New Pornographers and I remember loving "This Tornado Loves You" (I think someone put it on a mix for me maybe?) but I'd never sat down and listened to a whole Neko Case album until this one.  Now I'm sold.  She's just so so good.  The voice and the quirky lyrics.  I want to have so many cocktails with Neko Case, you guys. I even love that this album title is so long that I'll never ever remember it without writing it on my hand.  I can't stop listening to "Man" and "I'm From Nowhere" (above).  Don't try to make me.  I won't do it.  Seriously, you better watch out.  I'm small but I'm scrappy.

Well, that's my list!  I, of course, have a runner-up list because I'm a copper-outer.  Some of these were super close to making the main list and might have on a different day so it's my duty to list them just in case you maybe wanna check them out, right?  Here you go:

The Runners-Up:
The Men – New Moon
Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium
Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals
Au Revoir Simone - Move In Spectrums
Blitzen Trapper - VII

What do you think?  What's on yours?  Let me know!

*Photo by the amused merchandise person at The Wiltern.  Thanks for humoring the drunk nerds, dood! Also, not sure my pals want to be featured on my blog (Sorry pals!) but look how cute they are!