It has been a good year for music, I think. Plenty of albums were released over the year and I listened to a very slight fraction of them. Here is my top 10 list of those albums I listened to and liked and my favorite song from each:
10. Kavinsky - Outrun
Spawned from the mind of French DJ, Vincent Belorgey, Kavinsky is actually a character itself. The story goes that a man died in a fiery car crash in his Testarossa in 1986. Now he is back from the dead to exact revenge by playing beautiful synths? Something like that. All I know for certain is that Outrun is an amazing throwback 80's synth album. I usually live or die by vocals in music, but this album is mostly devoid of any lyrics, and I still can't help but get lost in those bumpin' synths.
As for my favorite song, it's obviously Nightcall, which you'll recognize from the movie Drive.
9. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
It actually took a few listens to liken up to this one. I have enjoyed QotSA stuff prior to this album, but I wasn't familiar with them until a few years ago, so this was the first album from them that I had to anticipate. It's also not the best work from QotSA, though. It does, however, still quite rock. QotSA is probably my favorite straight up rock band going these days.
My favorite from the album was obvious from the instant I heard it, The Vampyre of Time and Memory.
8. Lorde - Pure Heroine
Man, what a debut. And she's only 16?! Fuck, what am I doing with my life. Well, listening to a damn lot of Lorde, that's what. Lorde is the stage name for New Zealander (that's not what they call people from New Zealand, is it?) Ella Yelich-O'Conner. And she is probably the best thing to happen with mainstream female pop in a long time. The lyrics on Pure Heroine are dark and meaningful and satirical, but the songs still have poppy/catchy choruses. Couple this with the low, hard hitting bass drums and synth that backs each track and Lorde's beautiful voice, and you have an amazing pop album on your hands. Really excited to see what she comes up with next.
My favorite track from the album is one that actually grew on me over time, Glory and Gore.
7. Born Ruffians - Birthmarks
I wouldn't be surprised if you've never heard of this little pop/rock band, cause I hadn't even known of them until like a month ago. I wanna say Spotify recommended a song, and I gave them a shot. Then I listened to it again and again and decided to actually listen to their now third album, Birthmarks, which was released this year. Yeah, I like it. Not every track is amazing (some are pretty forgettable). But of the ones I like, I really, really like them. It's standard pop/rock formula, but the songs are so catchy and I really love the frontman's voice. One that came out of absolutely nowhere and now is one of the best albums of the year.
My favorite track is different from every other track on the album, and has this distinct 50's rock vibe in it's chorus (the ohh-ahhs in the background). I always see myself coming back to this little track called Cold Pop.
6. Kanye West - Yeezus
Now I know, fuck Kanye West. He is an asshole. But god damn does he know how to make a fantastic rap album. Now, this is a very controversial album among the public, however. When it comes to my friends, you either love it or absolutely hate it. Obviously, I love it. Kanye throws away the regular beats that you'll hear from every other rap song, and instead goes with hard hitting synths and drums. Every song hits hard. And yes Kanye still knows how to rap, and he raps well here, but it's the instrumentation and the samples that keep me coming back. My god the samples.
Sampling is used so effectively in this album, especially in the song Bound 2, which also happens to be my favorite song from the album (God, this music video is so bad but so good and James Franco and Seth Rogan is just... yeah. I love it)
5. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Was not expecting this one in the slightest. I have tried listening to Arcade Fire's previous albums and could never get into them, but when I first heard the song Reflektor, I sorta already knew this one would be a different case. I actually felt hyped for the album and I fell in love with the album after just the first listen. It is a bit of a weird album genre-wise. Each song sounds different from the last. Some songs are punk-y, some hard rock, some are even disco. It's an odd album stylistically, but it works.
My favorite song from the album has one of the catchiest choruses of the year and I cannot get it out of my head after I listen to it, Joan of Arc.
(this is the only album version of the song I could find on youtube)
4. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Now, just like Reflektor above it, RAM actually mixes some genres throughout the length of the album and gets pretty out there genre-wise when compared to previous Daft Punk outings. The hit song from the album, Get Lucky (which was my song of summer 2013), is a straight up disco song featuring the vocal talent of Pharell and includes one of 70's disco's biggest players, Nile Rodgers. Some songs, though, still sound like regular ol' electronic-fueled Daft Punk songs like Motherboard or Contact. It's an odd album for Daft Punk, but I'm so glad they went ahead and took this direction with RAM. There's the two songs featuring Pharell's voice talents are so catchy and will make you want to get down with yo bad self. And then there's the chill, build-up electronic songs like Giorgio By Moroder that are so good you cannot help but get lost in it's sounds.
Giorgio By Moroder also happens to be my favorite song off of the album. Listen to that sweet, sweet voice of Giorgio Moroder narrating while you drift away to a land of electronics and beautiful, beautiful synths.
3. Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
Just like Arcade Fire, I never got too much into Portugal. The Man before their 2013 album. I instantly fell in love with this album though. It has to be that it was produced by Danger Mouse. Evil Friends still retains that Portugal. The Man sound and lyricism, but I feel this album is far more catchier and just better produced than previous Portugal. The Man albums. It's a fun, catchy album from beginning to end.
My favorite song from the album is a little anthem called Modern Jesus
2. Phoenix - Bankrupt!
I'm not all that big a fan of Phoenix. I really like a few of their songs from previous albums, but never cared for their albums as a whole. That is why I was so surprised by Bankrupt!. I think it's a synth-pop album at it's finest. It's catchy, dance-y and every song is just fun. I find myself singing along to every note and bobbing my head and bouncing my feet along to the beat. It's just a feel-good album that I cannot get enough of, even after listening to it dozens of times over the span of 8 months.
The song Drakkar Noir is a prime example of what I'm talking about with this album. I just love it from top to bottom (and may I recommend this amazing remix of the song
1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
I went most of the year thinking Phoenix's Bankrupt! would end up being my favorite album of the year. I actually thought that up until a few days ago. I had listened to Modern Vampires of the City plenty of times over the year and absolutely loved it, but it wasn't until I bought the vinyl of it and played it over and over again that I really felt it deserved to be number 1 on this list. Of course it's catchy and has all of the standard indie pop/rock stylings, but it's how the album flows and it's lyricism that makes it stand out. Now, I'm no religious man, but even I can appreciate the religious undertones and lyrics of the album. Ezra Koenig really poured his heart and soul into this album, and it shows. It's a masterpiece.
My favorite song from the album was actually a song I hated the first half-dozen times I heard it. Diane Young is now one of my favorite songs of the year and god dammit I can't get it out of my head and I can't stop listening to it!
Well, there you have it folks. I hope you enjoyed my list and maybe even found a new song or band you like because of it. Let me know what you think about my list and most importantly, happy holidays!