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Now that we're entering the second part of the year, it's time to give a mini review of the first six months of album releases. List your top five (as long as they were released between January 1st and June 30th 2013) as well as why you picked them.
Foxygen's We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Queens of the Stone Age's ...Like Clockwork
Kurt Vile's Wakin' On A Pretty Daze
Colin Stetson's New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City
This is what it looks like roughly. I still have a crapload to go through, but I've enjoyed the five albums above the most because each and every one of them has a style that's self-assured and confidently executed. Honorable mentions to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories, Shlohmo's Laid Out, Rhye's Woman (this album is literally sex in the form of music btw) and The Knife's Shaking The Habitual.
I thought my list was going to be too hip-hop orientated because I thought at first that no other artists had released anything decent, but as I began to contemplate it turned out I had a lot more albums to consider than I thought.
1 - A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP
This one is a bit of an odd selection for me because Rocky wasn't one of my favourite artists before this release unlike a lot of the other artists in my top five. I did like his debut mixtape Live.Love.A$AP, but I wouldn't have mentioned him as one of my favourite artists. Therefore, I suppose this really is a good release since I am less biased towards liking it. To give an actual reason, the production on the album is first class, there is surprisingly quite a bit of change in style from track to track and Rocky just delivers his verses over the top of all this well despite his lack of lyrical depth. I actually enjoyed every track on this which I can't say for a lot of albums.
2 - Kid Cudi - Indicud
This was a massive departure from his previous albums, but I think it worked. Cudi did the production himself for most (if not all tracks) and it gives the album a really good dark sort of sound (not as dark as some of the tracks on MOTM2 though). Some of the tracks I've probably already forgotten about, but the singles on this thing are really special and a few other tracks like 'Brothers' are really great. While I don't think this is up to the standard of his previous two albums, it's still pretty great. Though he is largely helped by his selection of featured artists on this one.
3 - Paramore - Paramore
A lot of Paramore fans hated this one due the attempt at incorporating other genres into the classic Alt.Rock sound. While, similarly to Indicud, I think this is their worst album so far, it is still brilliant. The breakup of the band allowed them to find some new lyrical material after largely revisiting their first album on Brand New Eyes. Overall I liked it, the singles are good and 'Future' is now the best Paramore song. period.
4 - Bastille - Bad Blood
I'm surprised this one got mixed reviews. I had enjoyed Bastille's EPs prior to this debut album and the album didn't disappoint. I don't even like hit single 'Pompeii' which is the song most people will have heard from them, it's actually the other tracks on the album I enjoy including 'Icarus' and 'Weight Of Living Pt.1'. I guess the thing I like the most about this is that it's basically an alt/indie rock album at heart yet it has a lot of electronic sounds which is good for me. I look forward to more from them in future.
5 - Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal
I was tempted to put Overgrown (James Blake) or Yeezus here, but I'm going to give it to Sempiternal because it must be an amazing album for me to enjoy metalcore. The electronic influence really helps its case because otherwise I probably wouldn't go near it. They clearly hit a sweet spot here though because their last album also had some electonic parts and while it was good, it just doesn't match up to this. I must admit this probably isn't as consistent as the two albums I didn't select for no.5, but the high points of the album are way above anything on either of those.
There's a lot to look forward to in the second half of the year including Magna Carta Holy Grail, Nothing Was The Same and an Eminem album. (Hip-Hop bias will dominate the second half, there's literally nothing from other genres coming out except maybe an a7x album) So anyway, I look forward to summing up in six months time.
So far, I've only listened to 3 albums released this year (I've been listening to mostly older music ), but I'll rank them anyway
1. Haxan Cloak - Excavation
Dark ambient, and some of the best I've ever heard. Gives the feeling of enveloping darkness better than any album I've ever heard. Miste is such a emotional song for ambient, and every song on here works together to paint a complete picture.
2. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Slightly disappointing, but I appreciate the effort. The album gives off vibes of their previous albums, but didn't really give me a distinct flavor of its own. Well, other than a few songs, reach for the dead is nice, and and jacquard causeway is now one of my favorites from them. A good effort, but I still prefer Music has the Right, and Geogaddi.
3. My bloody valentine - m b v
Somewhat disappointing, coming from the band that made my favorite album of all time. Some songs are here are shockingly forgettable, but still overall a decent album.
i don't listen to too much outside of rap and electronic but i'd like to hope im not musically illiterate
1. J. Cole - Born Sinner
I think this album was pretty fantastic overall, p4k only gave it a 6 and said it 'lacked emotion' and didn't give Cole an identity among other things but i disagree pretty vehemently with this. i think it's great that j cole used a bunch of different styles, as he really excelled at keeping the album fresh throughout, Villuminati won't sound the same as Crooked Smile, which is different from Forbidden Fruit, etc. I think the album has a ton of emotion too, with the whole theme of being born imperfect, and vulnerable to sin, but he can embrace this, dying better than the born sinner that he was, and there's a ton of emotion in Let Nas Down, the best track on the album, which tells an excellent story with no filler.
2. Kanye West - Yeezus
There's no denying that the rapping on here is pretty uninspired at some points e "I keep it 300 like the romans, 300 *****es wheres the trojans" and the fact that Chief Keef does the vocals on "Hold my Liquor" is pretty questionabl but the production is ****ing insane, the work from daft punk and the other artists on here is really great. Everything sounds solid, plus all the stupid lines Kanye drops are really memorable and hilarious. It's not mbdtf or even classic ye but I think it's still a solid release and a contender for aoty.
3.Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Even with critical acclaim it gets a lot of hate and all that because it isn't classic discovery daft punk like everyone was expecting, but I think it's still a very solid release with some great tracks [Give Life Back to Music, Get Lucky, Doin it Right], I think they tried to make this album really meaningful and succeeded, I don't have any qualms about changing up their style for this release.
4. A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP
Sounds a lot like his mixtape in the middle of it [tracks 3-7] although it definitely has better production and ASAP does add some variety at the end, a really solid debut album overall, 1train is a sick hip hop collaboration and the bonus tracks are really nice as well, especially Ghetto Symphony where rocky and ferg just tear it up, wild for the night is horrible though lol.
5. Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Not much to say here, just a pretty solid release with awesome and upbeat songs, Phoenix owns, really enjoyed this album etc. some really quality analysis here i know, i should work for p4k, just listen to the record though lol
I've only listened to four 2013 albums in full this year as well, but ranking things is fun so let's go:
4. Yo La Tengo - Fade
It probably says a lot that I'd nearly forgotten this album by the time it came to write this list, but that does it an awful lot of disservice. It may not be as flashy or as 'unique' as the albums below, but it does what it does extraordinarily well. Though I haven't listened to it as much as I probably should have, I could easily see myself not really getting tired of Fade at all.
3. Kanye West - Yeezus
I was tempted to rank this lower than Fade simply because the stuff on here that doesn't work reeeeeeally doesn't work. But, then again, the stuff that does absolutely soars. Tracks like 'Black Skinhead', 'Blood on the Leaves', though lyrically vapid and possibly offensive, just sound amazing to listen to! I completely agree with Fire Fly as to the level of insanity of the production values. In the songs that I don't like as much, I could just listen to them without West's words and feel an inordinate amount of happiness.
2. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
I only really got into The National towards the beginning of this year, and listening to their 2007 album, Boxer. High Violet beforehand had done absolutely nothing for me, but maybe it was just a case of me not 'getting' them until I was slightly older. Whatever it was, Trouble Will Find Me finds them hitting my musical sweet spot over and over again. The baritone vocals, the pianos, the gentle harmonies: it's aaaaaall good!
1. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
I really did not like Vampire Weekend before listening to this album, and from what I've read, this is a massive departure from their previous work. Moreso than any of the albums on this list, it feels not only a collection of great songs, but a cohesive unit in its own right. This feels like a true album: it has ebbs and flows and all of the songs sound great and distinctive in their own way. I'll be surprised if I listen to a better album this year, if I'm being completely honest.
This is quite an unusual selection for me in that it's a complete sausagefest. For the past two years, I've normally liked female-driven albums more... interesting! :D
Anyways, I really liked the new unofficial Jai Paul's self-titled album Jai Paul [image]. It's definitely one of my favourite hip-hop LPs from this year, alongside Big K.R.I.T.'s mixtape King Remembered In Time. It's really dizzy and unabashed. I hope Jai Paul releases an official version really soon because I'm convinced it'll be incredible stuff, especially if there are more unreleased tracks of Jasmine and BTSTU calibre.
I also feel silly to have forgotten to mention both MBV and BoC's new albums, but like Nil Nuane said, both albums don't rise to the greatness of their predecessors.