Top Albums of 2013

Sorry this is late… But hey, it’s better than never right?

10. Avicii – True

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I don’t listen to a whole lot of EDM stuff, and my brother who does laughs at artists like Avicii who “sell out” and make EDM for the masses. However, I really love how Avicii has crafted this album in a way that mixes the populace’s current trends of loving both 4 on the floor dance music AND 4 on the floor folk music. It’s a great blend and he pulls it off well. Fun fact: Mike Einziger from Incubus plays guitar and co-wrote Wake Me Up. #themoreyouknow

Favorite Song: Hey Brother

9. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

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I’m a sucker for female vocalists and I’m also a sucker for super catchy songs. I loved their first EP and couldn’t wait to finally get their debut full length. They do synth pop right, and hopefully continue to gain traction in the mainstream scene.

Favorite Song: Recover

8. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

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After about ten years of being a huge fan I finally was able to see Sigur Ros live this year touring this record. It was everything I hoped it would be, and they translated the songs perfectly to a live setting with a huge 15-ish person band. I love how heavy this record feels, and they’ve finally added some balance to their generally angelic repertoire. The world would be a better place if more people realized and appreciated the genius of Sigur Ros.

Favorite Song: Kveikur

7. Volcano Choir – Repave

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If you haven’t heard of Volcano Choir, perhaps you’ve heard of Justin Vernon. If you haven’t heard of Justin Vernon, he is Bon Iver. If you haven’t heard of Bon Iver, we probably aren’t/couldn’t be friends. Just kidding… Maybe… Anyway, Volcano Choir is a sideband/collboration band featuring Justin Vernon and it’s incredible. Seemingly not that different than Bon Iver, but totally different in execution. It’s more “band” sounding, like a bunch of friends jamming some vibey music.

Favorite Song: Tiderays

6. James Blake – Overgrown

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James Blake has a very specific sound that doesn’t really sound like anybody else. His production is minimalistic with lots of chill drumbeats, and his vocals are unique and haunting. Honestly, if he were a little less unique this record might have moved up into the top 2 or 3 of the year. I’ve listened to the record a whole lot this year as background music, and that’s a good and bad thing. Obviously, I love it and have ranked it in my top ten, but it’s definitely a niche sound that might get repetitive to some.

Favorite Song: Retrograde

5. Haim – Days Are Gone

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I was really excited about Haim being my “Hey check them out, you’ll thank me later” band for this year. Then they played on SNL… BUT, if you missed them on SNL, let me tell you this album is one of the most fun and poppy/catchy things I’ve heard in years. These girls have great ears for melodies that stick in your head for days. Plus, the production is killer.

Favorite Song: The Wire

4. Midlake – Antiphon

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Hailing from Denton, TX, Midlake has always felt like a hometown favorite. When I was in High School they were the “big” band from the DFW Metroplex, and I always assumed they’d eventually be this huge band. Over the years, they have built a sizeable fanbase, but in Europe instead of their home country. That’s how things go I guess, but their sound is definitely European. If you’re in the mood for a lush record to rock on vinyl, this is it. They sound like a 70s band who decided to play indie music in 2013. Or an indie band in 2013 trying to sound like a 70s band. Either way, it’s a win.

Favorite Song: The Old and The Young

3. Hillsong United – Zion

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These guys need no intro. I was SUPER into Aftermath, and was really excited to finally hear their next studio offering. I was actually surprised they kept with the lush synths and progressive production for this record, since they received quite a bit of hate mail from people who called Aftermath not “congregational” enough. For Zion, they went even more synthy, but then smartly released the Zion Acoustic Sessions shortly after to tell people “Hey, look past the production and these are killer songs for the church.” Bravo.

Favorite Song: Oceans (Duh)

2. Local Natives - Hummingbird

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One of my favorite compliments we (The Digital Age) get every once in a while is a comparison to Local Natives. This makes me happy for multiple reasons. A: I think they’re an amazing band. B: They make music that sounds like what’s in my head. C: If both of us have the same kind of music in our heads, I think we’d be friends. I love their lush harmonies and use of drum elements, plus they can get away with making weird song structures somehow seem familiar. This is by far my most played album of 2013.

Favorite Song: Heavy Feet

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires in the City

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I actually have felt a little bit guilty in writing this top ten list because I knew this was going to be my top album, and almost every credible huge blog has named this album of the year. I don’t like being the guy on the bandwagon, but I have to be. I tried to bump one of these other records to number one and could not justify it. Vampire Weekend has made a fantastic album and I applaud them for it. It’s fun to listen to and intelligent. You feel emotions while listening but you also are mentally engaged. Who knew a band of Ivy League gentlemen could do that?

Favorite Song: Diane Young

Extra thoughts:

Favorite song of the year - Burn by Ellie Goulding

Favorite EP of the year - London by Banks

Most anticipated 2014 release - Manchester Orchestra

All the Poor and Powerless live at Relevant

jimllpaintit:

Dear Jim,

Please paint me Thom Yorke wrestling Mr. T in the Facility bathroom from Goldeneye for the N64.Godspeed.Zachariah Lawson

jimllpaintit:

Dear Jim,



Please paint me Thom Yorke wrestling Mr. T in the Facility bathroom from Goldeneye for the N64.

Godspeed.

Zachariah Lawson

Captured live at Air 1

Forgot about how funny this was/is. SO FUNNY.

(Source: f-launt, via bloogenes)

via vicktrolaprints.com

(Source: whalejail, via humortrain)

My Top Albums of 2012

Let’s be honest. This was a pretty weak year for new music. There were really only about 15 new albums that I really enjoyed, but that shouldn’t lessen the fact that these 10 are fantastic. So… Here we go…

10. Purity Ring - Shrines

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Every year there’s one record that seems really fresh and this year that was Purity Ring for me. I like to think of them as the electro-pop version of Sleigh Bells. I have the same general feeling about the two bands. Female singer with a heavy emphasis on the beat of the song. I will acknowledge that most the album sonically runs together, but I’ve really enjoyed having it playing while I’m doing things around the house this year.

Favorite Track: Fineshrine

9. Sucre - A Minor Bird

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I’ll be forthcoming a little bit and say I’m a bit biased about Sucre, as Stacy DuPree is a longtime friend, but I was smiling ear to ear the first time I heard her “solo” project away from Eisley. (Yes, I know it’s not technically solo, as Sucre is Stacy along with husband Darren King and Jeremy Larson). She channels just the right amount of Bjork as she’s backed by an old-timey hollywood string section. The whole album is the most cinematic thing I’ve heard in a long time. Also, the latest Apple iPod Touch commercial features this album cover bouncing around on a purple iPod and I get excited every time. 

Favorite Track: Chemical Reaction

8. Mumford & Sons - Babel

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I’m a bit disappointed that at this point, it’s kind of cool to hate on Mumford & Sons. Yes, they had huge mainstream success and yes, they have a “formula” that works, but that’s no reason to badmouth a band that single-handedly made it okay for a folky acoustic guitar to knock Chris Brown off Top 40 radio. Their sophomore release doesn’t really hold up against Sigh No More, but it’s in no way, shape, or form a “sophomore slump” record. I love the record and love that they didn’t decided to abandon their signature sound just yet. Word on the street is their next record will have synths instead of banjo… We’ll see how that goes…

Favorite Track: Below My Feet

7. Chris Staples - American Soft

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I honestly don’t know much about Chris Staples. A friend posted this album and said it was one of the albums of the year this summer. I happened to check it out on Spotify and was blown away. I had no expectations and it ended being one of the best indie rock albums I’ve heard in years. With just the right amount of catchy hooks and indie cred, this former Twothirtyeight frontman has a winning formula on his hands. I wish more people knew about this album.

Favorite Song: Dark Side of the Moon

6. John Mayer - Born and Raised

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What’s there to say about John Mayer? He went from acoustic LA playboy to folky hat-wearin’ Montana shut in. And you know what? That’s totally okay with me. I love that he teemed with David Crosby and Graham Nash on the title track and there’s just the right amount of slide guitar thrown in where it’s new and refreshing, but not so different that it doesn’t feel like a John Mayer album. 

Favorite Track: Born and Raised

5. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

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I’m way on board the Ellie Goulding bandwagon. I appreciate the fact that she was given the opportunity to have big pop star mass appeal and decided to make a weird and artistic follow up to her smash debut. She isn’t afraid to showcase her gritty voice and when she belts out high notes, there’s an edge there that few modern pop singers have. The production is spot on too, and despite Ellie’s relationship with Skrillex during the production of the album, there’s not too much dubstep going on like there easily could have been.

Favorite Track: Hanging On

4. Paper Route - The Peace of Wild Things

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I love Paper Route and I think this is a better album than their debut, Absence. I love 80s textures and they found a way to modernize them without feeling cheesy and dated. Also, how in the world can you make SO many catchy songs on one album? I think the last person to do that was Katy Perry and she tied Thriller with the most #1 singles on an album. Well done boys. Well done.

Favorite Track: Two Hearts

3. Matthew Perryman Jones - Land of the Living

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This record was a very late addition to my 2012 repertoire. The one and only Pat Dodd told me I’d love it and sure enough, I can’t stop listening to it. His voice reminds me of Ryan Adams meets Rufus Wainwright, and his songwriting evokes a strong feeling of middle American values. It makes me want to drive a truck under a starry night with the windows down. If you’d be into that, you’d probably be in this.

Favorite Track: O Theo

2. Now, Now - Threads

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Very rarely do I see a band on a late night show and think “Oh man, I need to check them out,” but when I do, it usually pays off. Now, Now was on Jimmy Fallon (the best late night show, beeteedubs) a few months ago and I’ve probably listened to this album no less than one a week since then. It was produced by Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, and there are times on the album when his guitar playing is SUPER evident. The girls’ voices are wonderful and I really can’t say enough good things about them. I hope they can continue to put out records as good as this. If they do, they could easily become a household name.

Favorite Track: Thread

1. Milo Greene - Milo Greene

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This was the most timeless record to come out in 2012. When a record comes along that feels so new and yet so old, that’s a recipe for greatness. And greatness this is. Almost everyone in the band sings, so there’s vocal variation happening constantly, and the way they play off each other makes it seem like they’ve been playing together for 30 years. They blend folk and indie rock together in the best way possible, where every song feels like an experiment gone utterly right. If you don’t own this, get it immediately and thank me later.

Favorite Track: Silent Way

Here’s to 2013 you guys!
-Mark

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Themed by: Hunson