Best of 2013: The Best Albums of 2013

1. Deafheaven: Sunbather
Though I grew up a huge fan, I rarely write about metal these days, but the San Francisco duo’s masterpiece is simply too good to ignore. Goregeous isn’t a word commonly used to describe black metal, but Sunbather is anything but common. Guitarist Kerry McCoy’s shoegaze-inspired melodic mastery is the perfect companion to George Clarke’s ravenous vocals and the group’s relentless blastbeats. In short, it’s an astonishing, engulfing 7-song set that firmly places the group at the top of the burgeoning American black metal scene.

Hottest Jams: “Dream House, ” “Irresistible”

2. Mark Kozelek & Desertshore: Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
The former Red House Painter is one of the most reliable artists around, consistently trickling out his signature moody slowcore, like only he can. 20 years on from the seminal self-titled Red House Painters, Kozelek hasn’t run out of stories to tell, intricate guitar-parts to pick, and people to piss off. Like much of his recent work, it focuses on finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, and he turns tales of nights spent watching boxing, strolls down the Great Highway, and conversations with his Dad about late night TV into incredibly insightful ruminations on what really matters. It’s an album that nobody really talked much about this year, but it sure has a hell of a lot to say.

Hottest Jams: “Mariette,” “Brothers”

3. Glasser: Interiors
More than any other city I’ve gone to (NOTE: I’ve not been to Tokyo), New York City is the city of interiors. Whether it’s a gorgeous (insert favorite landmark designed by fancy architect here) or a shit-crowded L-Train car, the city is all about what’s inside. Cameron Meisrow beautifully chronicles the shift from moving from an outside city, Los Angeles, to an inside one with incredible clarity and depth. It’s an experience that I shared this year, and Interiors followed me around on my wide-eyed travels like a little musical Fromer’s guide.

Hottest Jams: “Dissect,” “Landscape”

4. Oneohtrix Point Never: R Plus Seven
I’m one of those people who is just spatially inept. You see it when you look at my desk, in my room, and when I try to design anything. It’s not that I’m terribly messy; I’m just really bad at utilizing space to its full potential. Daniel Lopatin’s records are the diametric opposite of my interior decorating skills. So much of R Plus Seven’s magic stems from his incredible understanding of where to place differing sounds and moments of silence in relation to each other. Armed with almost no vocal melodies and an armory of outwardly disparate sounds, he somehow manages to pull them all together to make a grand, cohesive statement.

Hottest Jams: “Americans,” “Problem Areas”

5. Kanye West: Yeezus
I wasn’t alive when Metal Machine Music came out, but I’d imagine we’ll remember Yeezus in somewhat the same way. The aural rendering of overwhelming frustration, Yeezus is combative, maddening, and downright dissonant in places. In short, it seems a strange career choice for one the most famous musicians on the planet. However, Kanye proved that whichever way he veers, people tend to follow, and though it was a bold move, it was ultimately a successful one. It loses points for some uncharacteristically shoddy lyrics (possibly due to the fact that he re-wrote half the lyrics in a 40-minute session). However, it sounds absolutely amazing, and I’d wager that it’ll remain an wildly influential sonic statement for years to come.

Hottest Jams: “Hold My Liquor” (f/ Chief Keef + Justin Vernon), “Blood On The Leaves”

6. Disclosure: Settle
For a couple of kids who were born in the 90s, the Lawrence Brothers have an incredible understanding of dance music’s rich history. They put that to good use on their complete, versatile debut, touching on everything from two-step to Dilla to garage to house to classic pop — often all in the same song. On Settle, they stir up all those influences to create a potent brew that is all their own. One of the best dance releases in years.

Hottest Jams: “Latch” (f/ Sam Smith), “When A Fire Starts to Burn”

7. James BlakeOvergrown
Though it garnered a generally ho-hum response from the American press, the 25 year-old Londoner’s second LP is an exquisite step forward from his much-loved debut. More than anything, Overgrown proves that Blake’s songwriting has matured greatly, showing that he can embrace more traditional song structures without losing his individuality (aka his James Blake-ness). It reminds me a lot of the XX’s quietly xx-cellent (yuck yuck yuck) second LP, in that it’s an underappreciated yet important step forward in the development of one of the most important, distinct voices in music today.

Hottest Jams: “Retrograde,” “Overgrown”

8. Autre Ne Veut: Anxiety
Autre Ne Veut translates to “I Want No Other” in French, and its implied devotion perfectly sums up what the NYC-based progressive R&B artist is all about. Anxiety is a lean, cohesive, feeling explosion of an album, that sees Arthur Ashin stretch his elastic falsetto the absolute limit, all in the name of love. It is sure to be remembered as one of the key efforts in the still-maturating young genre.

Hottest Jams: “World War,” “Ego Free Sex Free”

Posted on by TP1.COM in Best Of '13, Featured

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