2013 has come and now it has gone. As a year that was very fruitful in terms of music, it was very difficult to choose only a few of this year’s albums that were my favorites. The following is a list of albums that I thought made a really impactful impression on the year, Kimye included. However, I will add that I did not have the chance to listen to every critically acclaimed album this year and the following are just based off my personal taste in music and opinion, (Sorry, Beyonce!!!) and there is a bit of personal bias since over half of these albums I was fortunate enough to see performed live this year. While this past year had tons to offer in the music world, only time will tell to see what kind of musical awesomeness 2014 will grace us with (I’m looking at you, Adele).
Night Time, My Time- Sky Ferreira
Based purely on her grunge gutter punk looks, one would assume Sky Ferreira’s music to be a mix of gritty metal and angsty noise. Even Ferreira’s naked cover reflects a rough, sad portrait that you’d expect to be emulated in her debut album, “Night Time, My Time”. I’m not gonna lie, the first time I heard her was unbeknownst to me in her song “Everything is Embarrassing” sampled in a Hoodie Allen song, but “Night Time, My Time” is a fantastic display of her musical abilities that no distorted sample could ever show. However, there has been a lot of media scrutinization about Sky this year without giving her much credit for her songwriting and vocal talents. Ferreira does deal with inner demons and sadness in songs like “I Blame Myself” and “Nobody
Asked Me (If I Was Okay)” that reflect her six-year struggle to get her album up to her standards and not her record label’s, but her music doesn’t sound too rough and dreary until the closer the album is named after. However, the listener quickly finds out that Ferreira’s ‘80s pop influences like Prince and Michael Jackson (who was a dear friend to her when she was younger) are reflected with ease and a modern twist of heavy guitar chords more than her dark, grudgy cover would portray. This album earned a spot on this list by Ferreira’s ability to master grungy pop and show off her amazing vocals- acquired through opera voice lessons she took when she was yo
unger- all while pointedly doing things the way she wants.
Acid Rap- Chance, the Rapper
I had the honor of seeing Chano perform his newest mixtape twice this year,
both times equally as enthusiastic as you would expect upon hearing just his album opener “Good Ass Intro,” which was laden with soulful trumpet and backup vocals. In “Acid Rap”, Chicago native Chance brings energy that bursts into every one of his tracks, whether he is having fun on “Favorite Song” with Childish Gambino, or talking about his fear of the summer and gang violence in his Chatham neighborhood in “Pusha Man” (They be shooting whether it’s dark or not, I mean the days is pretty
Settle- Disclosuredark/ Down here it’s easier to find a gun than it is to find a f****** parking spot). This album earned a spot on this list with Chance’s blatant creativity and willingness to experiment with different types of sounds and genres, such as soul, funk and even psychedelic rock.
When listening to English duo/brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, it is a breath of fresh air for listeners of electronic music. Disclosure brings soul influences on their debut album, “Settle”, and brings the listener back to house roots with songs like “Fire Starts to Burn” and “Help Me Lose my Mind”. “Settle” is crafted with such flow to ensure the listener is taken through each song effortlessly and listens to the album as one cohesive piece, bringing a magical touch of hip hop and soul to stray from the regular house/electronic album. This album earned on a spot on this list with an array of singers on the album such as Sam Smith (“Latch”),Eliza Doolittle (“You & Me”) and Jessie Ware (“Confess to Me”) to really bring Settle’s disco and retro influences to life and distinguish itself as one of the best -if not the best- electronic albums of the year.
Pure Heroine- Lorde
Lorde proved her vocal prowess and different take on society on her hit single, “Royals”, but in her debut album, “Pure Heroine”, Lorde delves even deeper into her criticism of society, love and being in the spotlight with edgy vocals and moody lyrics in songs like “Tennis Court” and “Team”. On this record, Lorde shows she isn’t afraid to disagree with societal norms and point out its flaws, ready to pout that she’s going to do just as she pleases: “Glory and gore go hand in hand/ That’s why we’re making headlines/ You could try and take us/ But victory’s contagious” (“Glory & Gore”). This album made it on the list because Lorde makes an impressive start with this debut, full of wise, catchy criticism with powerful pipes to back up her opinion… Did I mention she’s 17 years old?
French group Phoenix had a lot to live up to after their previous album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” had huge success with hits “Lisztomania” and “1901” breaking them into the mainstream scene of alternative rock. However, with the release of “Bankrupt!”, Phoenix shows they can do so much more than produce a couple of hits. “Bankrupt!” shows the group’s growth from their previous albums, experimenting with psychedelic synth chords (“Chloroform”), but still keeping their New Wave indie pop vibe with songs like album opener “Entertainment” and “Trying to be Cool”. This album earned on a spot on the list because “Bankrupt!” shows Phoenix’s growth and ability to produce more sleek, catchy music that takes listeners on a trip, flowing through each song effortlessly.
Modern Vampires of the City- Vampire Weekend
Compared to their two previous albums, listeners might expect the same type of upbeat, happy East Coast-y-condemning music from Vampire Weekend. However, with “Modern Vampires of the City”, VW showed maturity and instead of capitalizing on their youth, talked about the inevitable sadness of dealing with growing up: “Wisdom’s a gift, but you’d trade it for youth. Age is an honor, but still not the truth,” (Step). This album earned a spot on this list because Vampire Weekend went deeper into their music this time around, discussing adulthood and their fears of being old as well as even looking for religion, but of course that’s not without the witty lyrics of lead singer Ezra Koenig: “If Diane Young won’t change your mind, baby, baby, baby, baby ride on time,” (Diane Young).
Yeezus- Kanye West
Kanye West has certainly been in the headlines more than usual this past year, being engaged to baby mama Kim Kardashian and comparing himself to God in his interviews. However, per usual, interviews aren’t the only place Ye was making statements this year; “Yeezus” is West’s best album yet, with him angrily talking about racism, the media and you guessed it, his god complex. Even his album title suggests his realization of himself as a higher deity like his homie, Jesus. West’s song “I Am A God feat. God” definitely shows his take on media scrutinization of who they really think Kanye is. Spoiler alert: God does not make an appearance on the track; it’s just Kanye the whole time. But that doesn’t stop him from comparing himself to Jesus or Michael Jordan in the song. With lyrics like “In a French ass restaurant, hurry up my damn croissants” shouted on the track, it might make one giggle upon first listening. But with further analysis and inspection, this song is really Kanye venting about how hard it is to be as great as he is, giving a middle finger to whoever thinks he’s a crazy egomaniac. “Yeezus” is completely stripped down, featuring no artists, definitely an important thing for Kanye after an album that had twelve artists featured on it. On the album, we find Ye vulnerable and insecure, especially after heartbreak and divorce (Blood on the Leaves). While the music video for album closer “Bound 2” was a little questionable to say the least, Yeezy proved himself and then some as an artist, rapper and maybe even mastermind genius. This album earned its spot on the list with broken-down West evaluating society for what it truly is, not needing musical doo-dads and flourishes to embellish his gritty beats and autotuned screams. Besides, how could you ever deny someone who made the original video to one of the best video spoofs of all time?