It was a great year of music in 2013 and this is the second year in a row that each music contributor to the site will be contributing their favorite albums of the past year. Up first, here is my Top 10.
Despite the fact that the song was released in 2012, Lorde burst onto the scene in 2013 with her smash-hit “Royals” – so much so that it was re-released as the lead single to the New Zealand teenager’s debut studio album, Pure Heroine. The album is far from perfect but all the singles are really strong and the anti-mainstream theme is pretty badass. I’m excited to see where she goes from here.
Favorite tracks: Team, Royals, Tennis Court
Justin Timberlake returned to the studio in 2013 and had one of the most highly-anticipated albums of the year with the first of his two-part ‘20/20 Experience‘ release. In my opinion, it lived up to the hype and provided a really diverse and enjoyable listening experience. I just wish JT had trimmed some of the unnecessarily lengthy tracks from Part 1 and added the few worthy tracks from Part Two…the release would have been much more satisfying.
Favorite Tracks: Mirrors, Pusher Love Girl, Strawberry Bubblegum
Speaking of highly-anticipated returns to music, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is the French duo’s first studio release in eight years and made me realize just how much I missed them. The super funky album sounds like it was bred from a different era and fused with DP’s electronic sound. The range of vocals on the album is a nice touch as well.
Favorite Tracks: Get Lucky, Lose Yourself To Dance, Instant Crush
Coming off what I believed to be their worst album in 2010′s Come Around Sundown, I was hesitant to get excited for Kings of Leon’s latest release this year. The first few singles from Mechanical Bull indicated that the band was ditching the experimental sound from Come Around Sundown and going back to their rock roots and, fortunately, the rest of the album followed suit. The album is one of their deepest, enjoyable start to finish, and most diverse. I’m so glad they’re back.
Favorite Tracks: Beautiful War, Wait For Me, Rock City
After hearing “The Mother We Share” late last year, I spent this year hyping Scottish synthpop trio CHVRCHES to pretty much anybody that would listen. When they finally released their debut album in September, I was so relieved that they didn’t make me look like an idiot. Their ability to pair catchy electronic beats with the great voice of lead singer Lauren Mayberry gives me hope they’ll be around for a long time.
Favorite Tracks: The Mother We Share, We Sink, Recover
A$AP Rocky was already on the map of most rap fans before his debut release this year, but Long. Live. A$AP guaranteed that he would be staying there for the foreseeable future. His “Fuckin’ Problems” single was one of the most popular tracks of the year in hip-hop but the album is extremely deep, has some very strong guest appearances and is far and away my favorite rap album of the year.
Favorite Tracks: Fuckin’ Problems, PMW (All I Really Need), 1Train
The three Haim sisters released their debut indie album in 2013 and, after a friend urged me to give it a listen, I knew it would make this list after one listen. The album is full of infectious tracks and puts them in the running for my favorite musical family in America.
Favorite Tracks: The Wire, Falling, Honey & I
Musical American families? What a great transition to this album! *High-fives self*
The folk rock genre has been dominated by the rise of Mumford & Sons over the past couple of years, but the Avett Brothers are probably my favorite band in the folk category at the moment. Seth and Scott Avett had the very tough task of topping 2012′s The Carpenter with their latest album but they managed to pull it off. The record is filled with flawless ballads and became a perfect soundtrack for the shrinking days of fall.
Favorite Tracks: Open-Ended Life, Morning Song, Another Is Waiting
I’m sure this is begging to bring all the John Mayer haters out of the woodwork but, as a big Mayer fan, this was probably my most frequently played album of the year. Paradise Valley builds off of the folk sound that Mayer associated with his name through Born and Raised, and does so in tremendous fashion. A lot of Mayer’s previous records have overwhelmed with depressing and heartbreaking lyrics and while Paradise Valley may not be the smartest or deepest album he’s ever written, it might be the most enjoyable.
Favorite Tracks: Paper Doll, Dear Marie, I Will Be Found (Lost At Sea)
Since the release of their great (and extremely raw) debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not in 2006, the Arctic Monkeys have struggled to find a consistent sound and identity. Well, they found a balance while displaying some fantastic range with the awesome AM. The record starts out with possibly my favorite song of the year – the badass “Do I Wanna Know?” – and doesn’t really let up the whole way through. My favorite album of the year was an extremely pleasant surprise.
Favorite Tracks: Do I Wanna Know?, One For The Road, Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Also receiving consideration:
‘FIDLAR’ – FIDLAR
‘Run The Jewels’ – Run The Jewels
‘Marsall Mathers LP 2′ – Eminem