[Everyone who helps me to sort through all the music that’s sent to this site was asked to pick their favourite recommended tracks of the year. Today it’s Brent Chittenden’s turn. – AC]
2013 was a pretty solid year for albums. I don’t just mean a collection of song, I mean honest to God albums, top to bottom great albums. It’s the first year in a while that I can remember buying as much as I did. But with the end of the year comes end of the year music lists. My criteria is pretty simple, “What did I really like?” and “What did I replay the most?” Replay is the most valuable in my mind. I do a fair amount of commuting so if an album can kick the podcasts out of my car, it’s probably made this list which after looking at it, is probably a little more mainstream then my colleagues but hey, I like what I like. This my list of favourites of 2013, not best of 2013. As for the year in music itself, I would categorize 2013 as a year of great returns.
10) Skinny Puppy – Weapon
I have loved Skinny Puppy ever since Jeremy Bell got me to listen to a collection of their singles, so when I got the chance to preview their new album in it’s entirety, I was very happy. And I stayed that way. Weapon is a culmination of all of Puppy’s current electronic interests. A great combination of Puppy gristle and current electronic sounds, it’s not for everyone but if you’re an old school industrialist or into modern electronic music, this is for you.
9) Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Decent
When Killswitch lost singer Howard Jones, I pretty much thought they were done. When they brought their original singer, Jesse Leach, I was pretty sure I was done. I had never been a fan of his run in Killswitch and figured this was a big step backwards for the band as opposed to forwards. Boy was I wrong. Killswitch Enageg took all the song writing chops they had learned from the Jones era and brought back a little more fury. Loved this album and a must for those who like their music heavy.
8) Kirby Krackle – Sounds Like You
This might be due to my summer. As part of my other job as a geek writer, I went to a lot of conventions this summer and this became my de facto convention soundtrack. The best thing about this album is that while it is a nerdy album, Kirby Krackle have the ability to break away from that genre. Great stuff and I hope there’s more coming.
7) My Bloody Valentine – MBV
FINALLY! A new My Bloody Valentine album! I’m kind of surprised that among the critics lists, this one seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle (maybe due to appearing so early in the year). While it isn’t Loveless, it’s still very good and refreshingly different then a lot of other albums floating around. This is also an album that I had to listen to all of the way through, great for long car trips at night to the cottage.
6) Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam
They dress like evil monks with an evil pope lead singer and most of the songs on this album are about the Antichrist. Despite this, Infestissumam kicks ass. It’s catchy, it’s heavy and oh so good. Also has one of the best opening tracks for a rock album I’ve heard in years.
5) Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
A great surprise, given a great number of things said by Trent Reznor lead many to believe that it would be a long time before we saw Nine Inch Nails reappear. Then, out of the blue, Reznor tells us that new material under the NIN moniker was on the way. And it’s good. Probably his best album since 2007’s Year Zero. A great combination of maturity and anger, Hesitation Marks adds to the Nine Inch Nails sound without compromising what has come before.
4) Lorde – Pure Heroine
If you had told me last year, that a pop album by a seventeen year old girl would be one of my favourite albums of the year, I would have viewed it with some skepticism. The truth of the matter is that Lorde managed to make a very good pop album that is smart, has a bit of wit and blows most of her contemporaries out of the water. AND she WRITES her OWN material! I feel a little bad for Lorde though as she’s going to be expected to follow Pure Heroine up with something as good or better. Hopefully she stays this course.
3) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
Nick Cave is amazing. Push The Sky Away is an album that is a little softer than The Bad Seeds’ previous work but no other band could have made this album. Push The Sky Away feels like the calm before the storm… or maybe the quiet in the aftermath of a hurricane. It is a tremendous album that really focuses on Cave’s lyrics as opposed to the usual fury of his performance. A near perfect album for the Bad Seeds.
2) David Bowie – The Next Day
A new Bowie album was pretty much the last thing I expected to see released this year. That being said, this is really good and stands in line with Bowie’s greatest works. Recorded in secret, this really feels like the final Bowie album, not that I wouldn’t welcome another mind you, it’s just that The Next Day seems like such a good album to leave things on. It harkens to the past of Bowie’s career but still manages to sound fresh and vital. We didn’t see this album coming, maybe he’s got another waiting for us but if not, it’s a great send off for Bowie.
1) Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Their first proper album since 2005’s Human After All, Daft Punk took a different tack with Random Access Memories. They hired a band. Random Access Memories is probably one of the best disco albums ever made. An amazing album that features a ton of tallented and varied guests, ranging from a guy who has worked with Snoop Dog (Pharrell Williams) to a guy best known for his work with The Muppets (Paul Williams). This was playing non-stop for a good long time and then became the in-between album. I’d get tired of a new album, Daft Punk would go back on. My favourite album of the year by far.