Alright, I know it is super late in the year to be putting out a list for 2013, but better late than never, right?
2013 had a lot of great music in it. I was not sure if it could match 2012, but it definitely did, at least in sheer volume. At times I thought that meant it would end up feeling a little watered down, but it managed to avoid that fate with some really strong stuff. Anyway, on to the list…
Disclaimer: I do not have any formal music training; I am really just going by what I like. I am looking for music that pulls a reaction out of me or makes me move, not necessarily stuff that lives up to hype, is musically sound, or is good compared to previous work.
Hummingbird Local Natives
Favorite Track: Black Balloons Local Native’s Hummingbird comes out as a little more cohesive and soothing than their strong debut album. The lead singer’s voice can be jarring at times, but the album meshes really well and has a really nice pace.
The 20/20 Experience Pt. 1 Justin Timberlake
Favorite Track: Don’t Hold the Wall I like almost every song on the album, but Don’t Hold The Wall gets me moving the most. Each song could almost count as a double as they fade into another version of themselves, which is a really cool concept and makes the album both quality and long (kind of a rarity these days). Timbaland does a really great job with the production while JT brings it home as it showcases his vocals.
Disclaimer: This is only for the first part of 20/20. I just could not get into the second. Maybe the 8-minute song gimmick wore off…
Electric Lady Janelle Monae
Favorite Track: Electric LadyElectric Lady lands outside my usual comfort zone, but man, this is a catchy album. While Monae wraps the package up with some great vocals and a fun theme, the funky R&B is something I could stand to hear a little more of these days.
Favorite Track: When a Fire Starts to Burn Coming in as the only true electronic album on the list, Settle is really high energy and has a great mix of loud, in-your-face sound and smooth vocals.
Old Danny Brown
Favorite Track: 25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring) This album feels like a split: the top half is his normal indie rap fare while the bottom half would feel right at home blasting at a music festival. The whole album is great and features some really good lyrics ranging from smart to funny to deep. Vocally, Danny Brown takes a huge step in the right direction for me leaving out his nasally voice (with the exception of Wonderbread).
I Love You. The Neighbourhood
Favorite Track: Sweater WeatherI Love You. is a really nice debut album from The Neighbourhood. It brings a decent amount of creativity to the pop genre. The catchy lyrics and melodies are what hooked me.
Days Are Gone Haim
Favorite Track: Falling This all-female trio came out of nowhere for me. It is fun, catchy, and upbeat. It is hard for me to describe the music, but the harmonies and melodies are really pleasing. Listening to this album has always been a good time for me.
Modern Vampires of the City Vampire Weekend
Favorite Track: Hannah Hunt I have never been a huge fan of Vampire Weekend, but I really like this album. Modern Vampires of the City hits a nice level of indie for me and has a lot of variety throughout the album to keep it interesting.
…Like Clockwork Queens of the Stone Age
Favorite Track: Fairweather Friends As one of the few true rock groups around, QOTSA really put out a gem in …Like Clockwork. They seem to have found their way for the first time since Songs for the Deaf with a refreshing sound and some really great guitar work. There got a bunch of great songs, but I suggest listening to it as an album. The flow is what really hooked me.
The Speed of Things Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Favorite Track: Run If you have talked to me about music in the last few years, I have likely mentioned the Jr. Jr. boys. I wasn’t sure they could follow up their 2011 debut, but man, I love “The Speed Of Things”. It really is an indie pop/dance listeners dream with how catchy lyrics are and how fun the melodies are. When the album slows down, it still shines with songs like The Haunting. Seriously, check this out (and I challenge you to not dance while listening).
I hope you enjoyed the list! If you get a chance, feel free to leave me a comment, hit me up on twitter (@rdonnelly), or send me an email. My goal for this year is to keep this blog up a little more and post some things that I am listening to throughout the year. Hopefully, I will follow through. If not, see you next year!