You Asked For It: Another Top Album List for 2013. 30 of Them.

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Well fellow earbudders, here is another end of the year list from me. This was particularly hard because I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and this year was just filled with great stuff – a lot of solid pieces of work from big name artists, and indie artists. It’s HARD to pick just 30. But here they are. I’ll keep them short and sweet. Nothing more annoying than long diatribes about one album in particular. I’m not a writer, but I know what I like. For those who read my blog or listen to my podcast, some of these names shouldn’t really be a surprise. And there are a few that are I imagine. So read up, take note, and listen at will. I’m sure some won’t agree with me, but oh well. This is what I loved this year.

headheart30. The Head and the Heart – Let’s Be Still: There isn’t nothing new to this one. It’s still just as solid as their previous effort. Very chilled, very relaxed. I just took it for what it is, which was excellent.

 

 

 

 

 

bitterrivals29. Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals: They’re still loud. They’re still angry. They still want to put you in a “blow things up when you’re angry” mood. 

 

 

 

 

 

bonobo_thenorthborders28. Bonobo – North Borders: Each song makes you feel  waves of emotions ranging from relaxed to excitement. Love it when an album can make your mood change at the drop of a hat at various times while listening.

 

 

 

 

 

lonebellow27. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Below: I’m such a sucker for 3 part harmonies. And acoustic guitars. And songs that are heartfelt. It’s really a beautiful record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

thenational 26. The National – Trouble Will Find Me: It’s The National. That’s why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

julieruin25. The Julie Ruin: Riot grrrl returns. Truly a gem. Welcome back Kathleen! Garage rock at its finest. Makes you want to stand up and take the world on by storm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

wonderyears24. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation: Easy laid back melodies this time around, but still can hit you with the power punk sound we’re used to from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

passenger23. Passenger – All the Little Lights: Peaceful and delicate delivery. Quite the headphone record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

panic!22. Panic! At The Disco – Too Weird to Live, Too Young to Die!: Enjoy this ride. They switched styles from alternative emo (if there is even a thing  now) to dance new wave pop. The difference? The songs stick out in my head a LOT more than their other albums.

 

 

 

 

 

bloodorange21. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe: Melancholy dance, however Dev Hynes has enough collaborations to make it sound rich, gorgeous, and wonderful. The beats are pretty amazing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

a_fragile_2morrow20. A Fragile Tomorrow – Be Nice, Be Careful: An extremely fun album with an 80s feel. If the Replacements had children with R.E.M. circa Murmur, these guys would be the offspring. Jangly guitars give me all sorts of feels.

 

 

 

 

 

john-newman19. John Newman – Tribute: This album reminded me a lot of Mark Ronson & The International’s album a few years back. John has a very soulful voice that could easily be the male version of Amy Winehouse. Throw in some big band dance to back him up, it’s a winner.

 

 

 

 

 

chvrches-the-bones-of-what-you-believe18. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe: New wavers rule. Definitely a throwback to 80s sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

boards-of-canada17. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest: They never let me down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pushaT16. Pusha T – My name is My Name: Lyrically sick. On some other level of sickness. Highly underrated this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jessy15. Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back: One of the most overlooked albums of the year for electronic music. It’s not over the top. It’s not in your face. She pulls you in with her light vocals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

st.lucia14. St. Lucia – When the Night: Party music. Party music. Party music. Invite your friends, have some drinks, and turn it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 
magnacarta13. Jay Z – Magna Carter: The real King of NY returns (Sorry Kendrick. But you shouldn’t even try to compare yourself to this man) with an album full of rough beats, braggadocio attitude, and commentary on the state of America as only Jay-Z can do it. In other words, Jay-Z has it all. And we don’t. And we never will. And I’m ok with that.

 

 

 

 

 

demi12. Demi Lovato – Demi: One of Disney’s former princesses hits my ears hard with dance pop goodness, and a few club hits. This album also showcases how great her vocal range is in one aspect, then reveals how she pulls back that range as she lets her emotions take over in her vocal delivery. Well done Demetria. Well done.

 

 

 

 

 


rudimental11. Rudimental – Home: The other kick ass dance album of the year. It’s a cosmic slop of drum and bass, house, and r&b all rolled into one. And they tapped Emeli’ Sande and Sam Smith to sing on tracks. Not too shabby if you ask me 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

aloeblacc10. Aloe Blacc – Lift Your Spirit: Easily a no brainer on this list. He has the will, the heart, the vocal talent, and the emotion to make you feel like it’s going to be okay – whatever you’re going through – it’s going to be alright at some point. Just listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haim_-_Days_Are_Gone9. Haim – Days are Gone: Three sisters who released an album that could have easily been made in a 70s r&b era. They’ve done their homework.

 

 

 

 

 

 

mayer8. Mayer Hawthorne – Where does this Door Go?: One of the best in rhythm and blues this year. It’s a little more marketable this time, but he never completely abandoned what he’s known for – old school r&b. Smooth operator indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

disclosure7. Disclosure – Settle: “When A Fire Starts to Burn” was the song that introduced us to them. But the whole album is a gem. Sam Smith kills vocally. It’s a dance fan’s dream come true. It never loses speed. It leaves you wanting more. I certainly do.

 

 

 

 

 

arcticmonkeys6. Arctic Monkeys – AM: How much do I love these guys? A rock band with a little bit of soul and guitars that sound so dirty you want to take a shower after listening.

 

 

 

 

 

luscious-jackson5. Luscious Jackson – Magic Hour: As stated in an earlier blog, this is the comeback band of the year. Dance, organs, with hip hop appeal is where they strive. Welcome back ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

teganandsara4. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob: Quite the departure from their acoustic rock sound, they returned with an 80s throwback to dance and new wave. The lyrics were more straightforward but the self deprecation was still in full effect, just put to happier beats. Funny how that works.

 

 

 

 

 

mvula3. Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon: Words cannot express how much I love this album and the harmonies. It would be easy to cast her off as a retro singer. But she’s more than that. She is heavy on the soul, singing about everything from divorce, to her image in the entertainment field, to the lack of feeling love, which personally touched my heart. It’s just such a great record. Please everyone give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

 

daftpunk2. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories: I don’t even consider this an electronic album. It’s more dance and disco. It’s a throwback. It’s light, it’s airy, you can dance like no one is watching to it as much as you can listen to it in a car as much as you can listen in your living room. Or the kitchen. Great from beginning to end.

 

 

 

 

 
janelle1. Janelle Monae – Electric Lady: This album is divided up into two halves for me. The first half is radio friendly – the jams that you can blow up and get crazy, and the second half is introspective and personal. I won’t go on and on about this album. Just know that she gives you many sides of herself, along with ideas and imagery of how life should be with all of us in a world where people stick up for one another and aren’t judged by who they are, how they dress, and who they love. Crazy thought huh?

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

 

saintjohnsI have a soft spot for singer/songwriter albums with minimum music. However, I also despise EPs. Frankly I wish all bands would save money and add to the money used for an EP and just release one full album. But I will make an exception in this case. The Saint Johns EP, Open Water, is a beautiful yet small collection of songs that tug at the heart strings. As much as I don’t believe in love, I believe in them. And I believe they’re excellent. Please give them a chance.

 

 

 

 

beyonceOh Beyoncé. You magnificent creature. You record an album not too many knew about, then you released it on the fly, not alerting ANYONE. I mean, the nerve Mrs. Carter! But hey, you made a solid collection of tracks. You’re coming into your own. This is an r&b album, not a pop album, not a crossover album at all. If listeners are going to expect song friendly lyrics for all ages, think again. I admire you Mrs. Carter for bucking the trends and releasing songs that describe how you really are. Game. Set. Match.

 

 

 

So that’s it for the year peeps. Stay tuned for my END OF THE YEAR PODCAST, the last one of the year. Tell your friends. Keep it right, keep it tight.

 

 

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Top 20 Songs You Might Have Missed for 2013.

2HDJ-2000_LyingDown_Large

It is so incredibly hard to pick 20 songs in the pop world. But to pick 20 songs from lesser known albums is even harder. This was a great year for a lot of indie acts, a few comebacks, and everything in between. I thought I’d share with you all some of my favorite songs from albums that were very great, but kind of overlooked. Why? I don’t know. They just slipped through the cracks. But take a gander at these. Next up: Top 25 Albums of the Year. I had to up it. There was no way I could just restrict it to 20.  But for now, enjoy.

 

1. Janelle Monáe – Electric Lady (Feat. Solange)

https://soundcloud.com/atlanticrecords/janelle-mon-e-the-electric

This lady was everywhere this year, most notably as the recent Billboard Women in Music Awards this month in NY. Yet she’s not a household name – YET. She’s a Cover Girl, yet people still don’t know who she is. She’s fierce, she stays true to who she is, and she can rock it like the best of them. This title track is a standout.

 

2. Rudimental – Home

This song blew me away. The band Rudimental is definitely one to look out for in 2014. They’re a mix of drum and bass, electronic, and dance, but once you throw in a great vocalist all bets are off. Loved the words to this song as well. I think everyone can relate. Listen. And enjoy.

 

3. Aloe Blacc – Love is the Answer

https://soundcloud.com/arwindgajadien/aloe-blacc-feat-pharrell

I’ve been a fan of his for a few years. And while he’s probably known more for Don’t Wake Me Up, his song with Avicii, this song, in today’s age, is much more relevant. It almost makes me believe in love. Love is supposed to be powerful. So listen up and take heed.

 

4. Luscious Jackson – #1 Bum

As noted in my previous blog post, this is the year of Luscious. They return after many years with an album called Magic Hour, which brings to the forefront the sound Luscious was known for: dance, r&b, with a hip hop feel. Welcome back ladies. You’ve been missed.

 

5. Laura Mvula – That’s Alright

https://soundcloud.com/lauramvula/laura-mvula-thats-alright

This self affirming track should be heard by women of all races and ages everywhere. She’s fine with not fitting the norm. She’s fine that she thinks outside the box. She’s alright with herself. And at the end of the day, the only one you have to please is yourself. More of society should realize this. The end.

 

6. Mayer Hawthorne – Where Does this Door Go?

Confusion, isolation, curiosity, loveless. All of these are on the mind of a man who wants to see what’s on the other side of life. He doesn’t want to feel lost and alone anymore. Mayer has come a long way over the years, but this song is a killer retro track that makes me wish I grew up in the 70s genre it was aiming for. Congrats Mayer.

 

7. Boy George – King of Everything

The soul is still there. The voice is a little battered, but still beautiful. Boy George returned this year with a very heartfelt song about his mark left in the world and will he be able to make it again despite the self destruction. It’s wonderful, just like Mr. O’Dowd.

 

8. Creep – Call Her (Feat. Tricky and Alejandra De La Deheza)

It’s haunting, hypnotic, sparse, and just plain eerie. Mama likey.

 

9. The Stepkids – The Lottery

I first saw these guys in 2001 in DC. They are truly a mix of old school 70s r&b, pop, and dance. I would love to see them tour with Luscious Jackson. It’s like if Prince made a song with DJ Premier and Chicago. THAT’S what you get with them.

 

10. Jhené Aiko – The Worst

https://soundcloud.com/jasbouttospazz/jhene-aiko-the-worst

This sounds like a throwback to the 90s, a decade, which I’ve always treasured :-). It’s a minimalist beat, and she delivers the song like it’s more of a conversation than an actual song. Got to love that. She sings like she’s trying to convince herself that the relationship is worth it (I don’t need you, I don’t mean to, but I love you repeated over and over again), but we all know, deep down, it’s not. Nice Jay-Z reference too.

 

11. Alice Smith – She

One of the loudest voices this year, Alice delivers. Strong. This song from her cd of the same name slaps you with a “you should know better” attitude in regards that she is the only one with the power. The power to do what? Anything she wants.

 

12. Claire and the Bangin’ Rackettes – Love Letter

Look me in my face and tell me this Australian band doesn’t deliver? A mix of 60s r&b with that snarl that no one can deny. If you dug Amy Winehouse or Mark Ronson’s work, you’ll love this. Also if you like the Alabama Shakes, Claire is right up your alley. It’s fantastic. Claire also thinks everything can be solved in a love letter. If love was just that easy…

 

13. Arctic Monkeys – One for the Road

https://soundcloud.com/itsindoorsoutdoors/arctic-monkeys-one-for-the-1

This was on constant repeat. It sounds like a cross between The Black Keys meets Dr. Dre and Mike Elizondo. Truly perfect. Alex and the boys returned with one of the most intriguing albums this year because they managed to perfectly combine rock music with dance and rhythm without losing any edge whatsoever.

 

14. Boards of Canada – Sick Times

One of my favorite electronic albums of the year, BOC’s Sick Times is just stellar. It hits home and takes your mind away from whatever might be plaguing you. And it’s great headphone music.

 

15. Gold Fields – You’re Still Gone

This song definitely has an 80s flare that has been popping up in artists’ work over the past say ten years. Lyrically there really isn’t anything new – he pines for someone who is out of his life for good. But beatwise, it’s heaven. Sometimes that’s all you need.

 

16. Twenty One Pilots – Guns for Hands

A plea for people to put the guns down and work things out civilly. Imagine that. Stop resorting to violence. Our hands are the guns with the safety off just shooting at everything the MOMENT we disagree with someone. I love this song.

 

17. Laura Stevenson – Journey to the Center of the Earth

There is something about an acoustic guitar and a simple vocal that can go the distance. No over the top drum machines or mixing. Just a mic, a guitar and a voice.

 

18. The Civil Wars – The One that Got Away

Truly one of my favorites of 2013. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. You have to listen to truly appreciate it. Words don’t do it justice.

 

19. Destiny’s Child – Nuclear

Before Beyonce’ decided to drop an unannounced album, she, Michelle Williams, and Kelly Rowland collaborated on this new track for a greatest hits slow song record. The beat is stellar and works extremely well with the flow of their harmonies. Brilliant. And beautiful.

 

20. Green Velvet – Bigger Than Prince (Hot Since 82 Remix)

God bless Hot Since 82 for making this a true dance banger. Keeps the heart racing and puts a smile on my face. Nice way to wrap up  2013. And after all, how many of us really walk around like we’re bigger than Prince? Not Many. Shake it.

 

That’s it for now earbuddies. Of course there a lot of songs I omitted. I just kept the ones that got many plays on the pod. Stay tuned for more, if you know what’s good for you.

 

 

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Podcast #26: Kraak, Jagwar, and Goats, Oh My…New Stuff.

New podcast.

You know what to do folks:

Stream here

Plug in, rock out, and enjoy.

Here’s the list:

podcast26collagerowof5

 

Wasted With A Smile – Kraak & Smaak

Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction

That’s Alright – Laura Mvula

Wine Glass Woman – Mayer Hawthorne

Let It Bleed – Goat

That Loneliness – Jagwar Ma

Pressure – Robin Thicke

Charly Wingate – Ryan Hemsworth

Freakum Dress – Beyoncé

Pretend It’s OK – Little Mix

The Last to Die – Pet Shop Boys

Downtown – Lady Antebellum

Becomes the Color – Emily Wells

Court You Slowly – Symfinity

Happy Ever After – Gin Wigmore

Give Me Hope – New Politics

Playing With Fire (feat. Labrinth)  – Plan B

Long Snake Moan – P.J. Harvey

 

 

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