Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Georgy's top 25 for 2013

I had a baby in April, and during those first few months home with a hungry pooping machine, I did two things: one, faithfully add new releases to my "2013" playlist on Spotify to listen to whenever I had the opportunity (and to guzzle once I was back at work and in my office) and two, listen to the Alternative station on Music Choice (yes, cable TV's hit-and-miss answer to Pandora and Sirius - we were camped on the couch for several weeks, so...), which actually exposed me to a decent amount of new music. (You can also check out, in no particular order, my favorite songs from 2013 on Spotify.)

So, all things considered, I'm pretty pleased I was able to come up with a reasonable top 25 list for 2013, and that my daughter was born during one of the best years for new music in recent history. Maybe all of these bands were saving it up just for her.

  1. Jay Z - Magna Carta… Holy Grail

On January 1, I never would have predicted this as my top album of the year -- and maybe you're surprised, too. I like Jay Z well enough, but I’ve never been a super fan. But with this album -- which I caught up with a bit late, due to the baby and all -- there was always a new track to obsess over, from the Justin Timberlake-helmed torcher “Holy Grail” to the jazzy “Somewhereinamerica” to the infectious “BBC.” I’ve always known Jay Z was a talent, but in consuming this album, I came to appreciate the fact that he’s really one of the best musicians out there today. "Magna Carta... Holy Grail" simply gave me the greatest listening pleasure out of all the albums I discovered this year, hence its place atop this list.

  1. Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight

What more can we say about Neko Case? She’s more than a mere singer-songwriter; she’s a force of nature. Yet at the same time, she is inescapably real and accessible. This album, an admittedly more personal effort than previous releases, once again puts everything on the table, from the defiant “Man” to the haunting (particularly to this new mom) “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” to the touching “City Swans.”

  1. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob

Over the years, Tegan and Sara have evolved from a sort of folky duo to a dance-hall favorite. But throughout the course of that transformation, the formula has remained the same - lovelorn pop songs rich in melody and tight harmonies. “Heartthrob” is no different. Oh, Canada, indeed.

  1. CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe

A lot of good things come from Glasgow, and we can add this electro pop group to the list. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s sweet vocals are carried along a smooth current of beats and blips, and each track on this release is a neat little package tied up with a crunchy, synthy bow.

  1. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

The National have a thing: lush, brooding pop. And when your thing works, why change it up? The latest album by these Ohio-bred rockers continues to refine the formula, showing themselves as likely to offer up a guitar-driven rocker as a sweeping, orchestral dirge. Thanks to The National, self-loathing never sounded so good.

  1. Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady

From her attire to her songcraft, Janelle Monae defies labeling. And thank God for that, or else we wouldn’t have this eclectic collection of jams, rich in soul and rhythm, trembling with energy and a throwback vibe, and at times just downright weird. That’s what I like most about Monae and her music. She’s not afraid to be odd, and to make odd feel pretty damned sexy.

  1. Minor Alps - Get There

What happens when Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws and Juliana Hatfield get together and put out an album? You get a heartfelt collection of pop songs rich with sweet harmonies, classic melodies, incredible songwriting, and an electronic shimmer that makes the whole thing glow. This collaboration is really a delight.

  1. Lorde - Pure Heroine

I didn’t realize that Lorde was one of those bands that I’m not supposed to like for some reason (too mainstream? too popular?) until not only “Royals” but the rest of this damn album had seeped into my brain. The languid rhythms drape themselves across a low-key soundscape of beats and blips, making this

  1. Capital Cities - In a Tidal Wave of Mystery

Now this is what I call fun. This electronic pop duo has released an album -- anchored by the rightfully ubiquitous single “Safe and Sound” but also fleshed out by blippy jam “Kangaroo Court” and the dance floor gem “I Sold My Bed, but Not My Stereo” -- that works as well for day drinking as it does for night moves.

  1. Prince of Spain - His Majesty

Some albums just feel comfortable, like that worn penny you keep in your pocket and always turn over with your thumb and forefinger when you need to keep a grasp on something familiar. For me, that’s this album - warm, gentle, forthright pop with a timeless appeal.

  1. Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle
  2. Cults - Static
  3. Phosphorescent - Muchacho
  4. The Head and the Heart - Let’s Be Still
  5. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
  6. Telekinesis - Dormarion
  7. Dawes - Stories Don’t End
  8. Hem - Departure and Farewell
  9. Mark Mulcahy - Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You
  10. Yuck - Glow and Behold
  11. Laura Veirs - Warp and Weft
  12. Mike Doughty - Circles
  13. Toad the New Sprocket - New Constellation
  14. Sebadoh - Defend Yourself
  15. Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister

If you've made it this far, please enjoy my playlist of my favorite songs from 2013, in no particular order:


1 comment:

  1. A nice, eclectic mix. Surprised to see Jay-Z claim your top spot, but you defend your selection well. A+ :)