After sifting through over 100 CD's (I still buy those.. why are you looking at me funny?), I've landed on my favorite albums of the year. 2013 saw established artists - and a couple of brave newbies - experiment, go rogue and annihilate some of pop royalty's most overblown yet dull offerings (Gaga and JT - I'm looking at you, snooze).
1. BEST ALBUM OF 2013: "Drifters/Love is The Devil" - Dirty Beaches
The most original album of the year. A surreal, David Lynchean blend of love poems and seedy, dangerous energy. One track sinks you with longing, the next flicks you into a NYC nightclub circa 1983: smoke... shadows... possibility. I want to turn this album into a movie. Alex Zhang Hungtai, get in touch with my people.
Tracks: "Au Revoir Mon Visage", "I Don't Know How to Find my way Back To You"
2. "Random Access Memories" - Daft Punk
Alors, you think you can blend Moroder, Panda Bear and Nile Rogers into one seamless electro odyssey? And succeed? Ah, the French...pfft.
Well, Daft Punk have made some of the best music this side of 2000. Hell, Kanye West owes his entire, tacky career to their 2001 "Harder, Faster, Stronger". Their Tron soundtrack cemented their versatility and musicianship. And here - their crowning achievement to date - they showcase their inspirations, past and present, and own them (who's your master? whip!). How to top this next year? Answer: by possibly being in charge of Madonna's new album.... (and making my brain explode into all sorts of skittle colored mania)
Tracks: "Doin' it Right", "Contact"
3. "Trouble Will Find Me" - The National
This album doesn't break new ground. And why should it? Beautiful, poetic, full of insights into the way we live and love. A non nonsense kind of album. These guys can do no wrong in my book.
Tracks: "Hard To Find", "Don't Swallow the Cap"
4. "The Heist" Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Rebels. They took on big labels by recording and distributing this themselves. They turned hip hop - a genre steadily rotting in its own homophobia, sexism and materialism - into an effective vehicle for a gay rights anthem - 'Same Love' - and anti-bling humor with "Thrift Shop". And yeah, fuck labels.
Tracks: "Thin Line", "Jimmy Iovine"
5. "Shaking The Habitual" - The Knife
Low on the hooks, high on the unsettling. Together with Crystal Castles - they bring much needed experimentation and mystery to electronic music.
Tracks: "Without You My Life Would be boring", "Full of Fire"
Next up... my favorite 20 singles of 2013... stay tuned... JAPG