We hope you enjoy our Top 10 list of the Best Albums of 2013. Please note that albums considered and selected were taken from only those Puluche reviewed in 2013. Please feel free to make any comments on our selections. We greatly value your feedback.
We look forward to a great year of new music in 2014!
10) Paramore – Paramore
Paramore is the perfect example of a group of musicians maturing and taking the next step in their career. It demonstrates a shift in the musicality of the band and is confronted head on. When a band loses members and gains a new one their sound tends to change. Paramore was able to successful change their song style by adding more appealing pop sensibility, while keeping the same intensity as older Paramore albums. Paramore focuses on Hayley Williams creative lyrics while layering them with newly explored instrumentations. The music successfully navigates various genre categorizations. All 17 songs on this album bring a different level of creativity to the album and make this not only Paramore’s most experimental album but the best they have ever made. So much for their future being in question. – James King
09) Savages – Silence Yourself
Silence Yourself is a powerhouse of a record, exhibiting sonic nods to post-punk and punk of the seventies and eighties, but still respectfully bringing its production into the 21st century. Silence Yourself seems to have that added charm. It is a reinterpretation of the early eighties, and it has the charm and angst of that era, combined with the palatability (just enough) of a great pop rock record. Simply put, this record has the potential to defibrillate rock and roll back to its former glory. This is an album that demands you take it seriously in any way you wish. But one thing is for sure, it is one hell of an exciting record. – Brian Rash
08) Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Modern Vampires of the City quickly differentiates itself from Vampire Weekend’s past two releases. While it maintains the experimental and playful feel that Vampire Weekend have crafted themselves, Modern Vampires delves deeper into the world of faith, reality and maturity. The incredibly talented and creative co-op of ivy league alum disposed of some of their youthful exploration and picked up a more intensely fueled adventure into captivating indie-rock. Ezra Koenig’s songwriting is vivid as his sunny vocals are tweaked and chopped in multiple tracks. The dynamics of the instrumentation range from lifting and anthemic to lighthearted and cheerful. Modern Vampires topped the charts for good reason. For a group of spirited college friends, Vampire Weekend produced one of the most engaging yet mature records of the year with Modern Vampires. – Ryan Glaspell
07) Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Upon first listen Reflector is a difficult and challenging one to grasp. That is until you recognize who the producer is then it all falls into place. Producer James Murphy enforces a cohesion in the recordings that reminds us of his LCD Soundsystem days and pushes the boundaries set by Arcade Fire themselves on previous releases. His production hits us in waves and it is down to him and his recording/production techniques that the tracks emerge from a wall of sound to grab us by the guts. From disco to dub, Berlin period Bowie to early Talking Heads, this 75 minute double album has it all. Win Butler’s songwriting has taken on a whole new life and reminds the listener of his almost spiritual quest from the humble beginnings of Arcade Fire into something frighteningly good. It’s hard not to be impressed by the scale of not only his but also Arcade Fire and James Murphy’s ambition. Bound to be bemused by many, this bafflingly brilliant rollercoaster ride of an album is sure to influence many an emerging artist for years to come.
– Del Chaney
06) Pearl Jam – Lightening Bolt
Many of the songs on Lightning Bolt could have easily been a part of one of Pearl Jam’s earlier releases, yet they still hold power and prominence in 2013. That isn’t to say they aren’t relevant, much the opposite. Vedder’s voice, dancing between passion and aggression, and the fearless, firm instrumentation make this record relevant in any era. Lightning Bolt is dark and creeping, yet clear and fulfilling. Pearl Jam continues to prove that music doesn’t have to be enamored with synths and “drops” to move listeners. Some are hesitant to compare this album with their earlier releases, but regardless of where it stands in the band’s grand discography, it is one of the strongest and most confident albums of the year. – Ryan Glaspell
05) David Bowie – The Next Day
David Bowie is an integral artist and as such is able to print his vision and expertise not only in music per se, but in the composition of a variety of characters he brings to life, giving the opportunity to enjoy those amazing conceptual albums. Therefore we should not be surprised by the mystique surrounding the release of The Next Day, the successful secrecy and consequent massive impact when the news of his expected come back went public. Even from release date, his own birthday, information began to leak as little clues in a scavenger hunt leaving the entire universe on hold. The combo was impeccably shocking. This is an album destined to Bowie fans. It can be surely enjoyed by anyone due to its excellence in sound, poetry and interpretation. However, the underlying significance and connection timeline may be only understood by those who best know his story; the ones that carry his sound on their skin as a trademark through the years and could not help getting excited with the announcement of a long-awaited return. – Vanna Reflex
04) Kurt Vile – Walking On a Pretty Daze
Wakin On A Pretty Daze delivers on the massive potential that Smoke Ring for My Halo promised less than two years ago. The more upfront musical approach is striking in its confidence and his unchanging vocals point to comfort in his own skin. At times funny and self-deprecating, his lyrics tell the tale of a man who’s head hovers somewhere between the pull of touring and maternal bliss. Smoke Ring for My Halo was going to be a tough act to follow, but in making Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze Vile has not just released an album that could match it, but in time this may be the one that his fans admit to preferring. His influential star is most certainly on the rise. – Tom Byrne
03) Queens of the Stone Age – … Like Clockwork
To summarize minimally, …Like Clockwork is fantastic. The daring nature of this album is not unlike previous work but the combined efforts with other musicians adds an extra appeal. Moving in a different musical direction was not necessary for the band but ultimately it was beneficial to redefine their sound from previous albums (Rated R and Era Vulgaris) in order to emphasize darker undertones in the music. Every song is a must listen, especially the product of a Grohl and Elton collaboration. Queens of The Stone Age possess an unencumbered brilliance with words. …Like Clockwork, is loaded with provocative yet oddly empowering lyricism. A welcomed triumph. – Arielle Gelb
02) Steve Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
Steven Wilson is not one to let his creativity pause for rest. Not since releasing albums under his own name has Wilson been able to truly and freely demonstrate his own muse and visionary intent. The Raven… is musically enthralling and exquisitely executed. At its most unique, it showcases fusions of modern rock, progressive and jazz, creating an evocative hybrid reminiscent of bands such as King Crimson, Genesis, and Yes. Whether through instrumental musical interludes, intimate piano pieces or orchestral soundscapes, Wilson produces truly captivating pieces that hit the mark each and every time. A perfect combination of musicians has allowed Wilson to reignite the classical sounds that influenced rock in the early years, bringing to the 21st century an innovative (and somewhat retrospective) collection of tracks. The Raven… is a complex album that truly demonstrates how Wilson’s creativity is as unique as it is entertaining. But what makes The Raven… such an outstanding album is undoubtedly the clever musical compositions that seem to embrace and blur the boundaries between genres on each track. While the album features a clever compendium of musical influences, Wilson encourages the talent of his accompanying musicians to shine through, elevating the album to a level we have not seen in quite some time. – Lilen Pautasso
01) Arctic Monkeys – AM
In much the same way that the career of The Beatles can be summed up as pre- and post-Revolver, Arctic Monkeys are now clearly in Sgt. Pepper territory with AM. After perhaps playing it safe with the intelligent pop of 2011′s Suck It and See, the Monkeys returned with an album which again confounds with its change in direction but raises the bar to stratospheric levels in terms of ambition and artistry. Injecting hip-hop beats and R&B rhythms into the heavy rock sound they cultivated out in the Californian desert under the tutelage of Queen Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme on Humbug, AM shows once again that this is a band which views stagnation as the death of creativity. Freedom and confidence are wonderful things and Arctic Monkeys have embraced both to great musical effect on AM. It’s is a record which is unafraid to wander off into songs which are wildly diverse from one another, giving it the feel of a late-era Fab Four album. And yet, as with the Beatles at their best, this is a cornucopia of styles which still sounds brilliantly cohesive. AM is a brave, flawless move into a league of their own and is quite deserving of Album of the Year.
– Nick Amies
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