The results are in and the voter’s choice winner for album of the year is…
It was a close race, but eventually the robots took the year for 2013’s Audiophile Voter’s Album of the Year. Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories ended up running away with the vote in polling, with CHVRCHES‘ The Bones Of What You Believe coming in a close second.
It looks like the album was worth the hype in the listeners ears (albeit the best I’ve seen it do in other year-end polls is Top 10). Personally, I couldn’t agree more with the selection. The duo put together a uniquely interesting mysterious promo campaign which could not have worked better (see: Daft Punk…a decade without). Although the duo took a much different approach to this album as compared to their previous albums, the Frenchmen put together a solid album filled with live instruments and working directly with both their musical inspirations (i.e. Giorgio Moroder, Paul Williams of Three Dog Night, Nile Rodgers of Chic) and contemporary artists such as Julian Casablancas, Panda Bear and Pharrell Williams. A lot of critics were quick to write the duo off for this album because it didn’t adhere to the formula of their previous albums, and for that I wrote their opinion off. This album is best heard on a hi-fi sound system to truly appreciate the richness of the instruments, especially the deep bass performances throughout the album. The album is complex, and should not be written off as just a simple dance album. With the vastly successful smash hit single Get Lucky and fellow radio singles Instant Crush and Doin’ it Right, the robots took over the music world from their release in May through the entire summer (until the Miley saga). Where the singles are limited lyrically, other tracks on the album provide greater depth. Touch, Fragments of Time and Contact are the counterpoint to the radio singles and provide far greater musical depth than one would expect from a dance album. The album also wouldn’t be complete without a robot song, and this is where the combination of back-to-back tracks Beyond and Motherboard come in. With Random Access Memories, the robots ironically did Give Life Back to Music.
I don’t mean to take away from Daft Punk, but Ezra Koenig and company truly put together the year’s best album. Labelled by the band as the third and final piece of the “Vampire Weekend trilogy,” the group matured musically and lyrically on their 2013 album. This album presents are much more diverse band from the Upper West Side of New York City, no longer relying solely on college-level references, the band found inspiration in religious practices and spirituality and tied them in with American cultural attitudes. Bolstered by early radio singles Diane Young, Ya Hey and Step the band took to the road to tour the new album with a new and varied repertoire. These three singles could not be more different from each other. Diane Young is a modulation-heavy rocking track with drum-and-bass-centric sound. Meanwhile, Ya Hey is a Jewish-centric track lyrically, which had to have been inspired by Ezra’s upbringing (Koenig’s parents are Eastern European Jewish immigrants). Step on the other hand, is the crown jewel of the album. A lyrical masterpiece with brilliant writing and an incredible sound to it. Step is a much slower, yet more iconic track which draws out feelings of nostalgia, awe, loneliness and inspiration all at once. Paired with the simple lyric video shot with a black-and-white NYC backdrop, the font of emotions that can be drawn from this track are endless.
Apart from the singles, there are some other fantastic tracks on Modern Vampires that make it the year’s best album in my opinion. Hannah Hunt is a terrific track about personal experience and worldly wisdom while travelling across America. Everlasting Arms follows this up with a track about one’s own personal struggle questioning the relationship between a higher power and their life. Unbelievers is another fun track, reminiscent of the band’s sound on earlier albums. The final two tracks on the album Hudson and Young Lion are excellent album closers, dropping the tempo and adding ethereal backing tracks, while leaving you surprisingly optimistic as it drifts off into the musical abyss as the album comes to a close.
For more of the album, feel free to read my original review of the album written back at the album’s release: ‘New Music Tuesdays’ – ‘Who Gives a Fuck About an Oxford Comma’ Edition.
NEW: The Top 51 Albums have now been ranked in the order in terms of best of the year (in my opinion, of course).
I also want to pay particular attention to the list below, in particular to the Top 10. Something I never thought I would ever say, but I put a Punk band in my top 10 this year. Jehnny Beth and the girls of Savages truly put out a spectacular album in 2013, worth listening to by everyone (even non-Punk fans like myself!). I also wanted to highlight the sizable number of British talents on this year’s best of. Foals, Jake Bugg, CHVRCHES and Savages all hail from the UK and all put out deservedly great albums this year. Another major theme of this year’s music releases was the predominance of the female lead. Haim, CHRVCHES, Savages, MS MR, London Grammar, Paramore, Bat For Lashes, Lorde, Laura Mvula, Young Galaxy and The Naked and Famous all predominantly feature a female lead singer (not to mention the other bands on this list that split vocals) and I for one, am excited about this upswing.
Spotify Playlist: The Audiophile: Top 51 Albums of 2013
Here is the Audiophile’s Top 51 albums (Ranked IN ORDER this time):
- Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
- CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
- Haim – Days Are Gone
- Local Natives – Hummingbird
- Foals – Holy Fire
- Savages – Silence Yourself
- The Head & The Heart – Let’s Be Still
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor
- Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
- Paramore – Paramore
- MS MR – Secondhand Rapture
- Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe
- London Grammar – If You Wait
- Small Black – Limits Of Desire
- Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You
- David Bowie – The Next Day
- Phosphorescent – Muchacho
- Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
- Lorde – Pure Heroine
- Phoenix – Bankrupt!
- The 1975 – The 1975
- St. Lucia – When The Night
- Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love
- Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon
- Houndmouth – From The Hills Below The City
- Noah And The Whale – Heart Of Nowhere
- The Naked And Famous – In Rolling Waves
- Grouplove – Spreading Rumours
- Bastille – Bad Blood
- James Blake – Overgrown
- Everything Everything – Arc
- Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
- Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
- Cayucas – Bigfoot
- Capital Cities – In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery
- Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
- Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
- Young Galaxy – Ultramarine
- Cage The Elephant – Melophobia
- Royal Teeth – Glow
- Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams
- Classixx – Hanging Gardens
- Jagwar Ma – Howlin
- Rudimental – Home
- Leagues – You Belong Here
- Dave Grohl & the Sound City Players – Sound City – Real to Real
- The Limousines – Hush
- Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull
- Los Campesinos! – No Blues
- Walk Off The Earth – R.E.V.O.
Did I miss someone or leave them off the list? Let me know. Discussion is always appreciated.
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Now Playing: The Audiophile’s Top 51 Albums of 2013