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13 Best Albums Of 2013

Ashley Hawkins |
December 23, 2013 | 4:35 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Which record is the best of 2013? (Photo by Matt Woo via Neon Tommy's flikr)
Which record is the best of 2013? (Photo by Matt Woo via Neon Tommy's flikr)
With Kanye West being, well, Kanye West and with Miley Cyrus twerking (among other things) across America, music and entertainment news outlets hardly needed more material to infect the internet with gossip, but unfortunately, 2013 was a standout year for sensationalism in the music industry.

In case you missed any of the more memorable music moments, here is a quick recap: Justin Bieber and Robin Thicke were caught in sex and/or prostitution scandals. Chris Brown assaulted more people and faces more penalties for his actions. The 16-year-old alt-pop starlet Lorde badmouthed most of her fellow female pop stars for perpetuating negative, over-sexualized images of femininity in their songs – which,  although fairly accurate, created unnecessary drama in the news. Indie rock band Arcade Fire implemented a dress code at their concerts, angering hipsters everywhere.

Finally, from September through November, Miley Cyrus made headlines almost every day for any number of things: her infamous VMAs performance, her illicit drug use, her unrestrained twerking, her salacious “Wrecking Ball” music video, and her ungodly amount of open letters. 

Yet, despite all the insanity in the music world that dominated the media, musicians still made music. Good music. Really good music. Looking past the hype, gossip, and mania, here are the best 13 albums of 2013:

13. “Matangi” by M.I.A.

“Matangi” is a little weird for sure, but so is M.I.A. The unconventional electro-pop star’s newest album revisits her popular style from 2007’s “Kala,” blending electronic, hip-hop, and world genres for an artsy but still very catchy album that is much more distinctive than many other releases by female singers this year.

12. “Walkin On a Pretty Daze” by Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile’s new album “Walkin On a Pretty Daze” combines a mellow indie-rock backbone – fueled by simple guitar riffs – with spacy vocals to produce an album that is solid from start to finish.

11. “Nothing Was the Same” by Drake

Drake’s third album “Nothing Was the Same” is much more introspective and understated than his previous albums, showing his maturity and growth as an artist who is much deeper than an ordinary hit-producing rapper.

ALSO READ: Drake: 'Nothing Was The Same' Album Review

10. “Doris” by Earl Sweatshirt

His debut studio release, “Doris,” is a gritty, lo-fi rap album by Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA) member Earl Sweatshirt that distinguishes him from the more polished, popular style that overwhelms the genre.

9. “The Electric Lady” by Janelle Monáe

Following the immense success of Fun.’s “We Are Young,” which featured Monáe’s vocals, her jazz- and soul-infused second studio album “The Electric Lady” demonstrates Janelle Monáe’s strength as a standalone artist.

8. “m b v” by My Bloody Valentine

Released over two decades after their previous album, My Bloody Valentine’s long awaited “m b v” reestablished the band as the masters of shoegaze music and gave them the opportunity to headline FYF Fest this past summer in Los Angeles. 

7. “…Like Clockwork” by Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age’s most successful album since 2002’s “Songs for the Deaf,” “…Like Clockwork” reintroduces rock fans to Josh Homme’s talent in writing songs that are not only dark and mysterious but also technically complex. 

6. “Hesitation Marks” by Nine Inch Nails

Although Nine Inch Nails’ past few albums have paled in comparison to 1989’s “Pretty Hate Machine” and 1994’s “The Downward Spiral,” the newest album, “Hesitation Marks,” restored interest in the band after their five-year hiatus by reviving the industrial genre that originally made them popular. 

5. “The 20/20 Experience” by Justin Timberlake

Comprised of two full-length CDs, “The 20/20 Experience” defies pop music clichés, combining soul, jazz, pop, hip-hop, and R&B to create a diverse, cinematic album that can satisfy fans of all genres.

ALSO READ: Justin Timberlake: 'The 20/20 Experience: 2 Of 2' Album Review

4. “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk

Yielding the summer hit “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” is just as much a funk or disco album as it is an electronic album, showcasing Daft Punk’s versatility and commitment to reinventing the electronic genre.

3. “Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend

Much more experimental than their first two albums, Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” is a more mature evolution of their original indie-pop-rock sound that combines upbeat, dance-worthy tracks like “Diane Young” with more somber tracks like “Hudson” to create an interesting, varied record. 

2. “Yeezus” by Kanye West

Although Kanye is egotistical to the point of ridiculousness, at least his musical talent supports his arrogance. Kanye never ceases to reinvent himself and redefine the rap genre, experimentation that has culminated in perhaps the best rap album of the year and one of the most unique rap albums in years. 

1. “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire

“Reflektor,” the fourth studio album of the ever-amusing Canadian band Arcade Fire, offers a variety of genres: from the disco sounds of the title track to the more expected indie rock grooves of tracks like “Normal Person,” the new album is arguably the most entertaining album of the year.

Read more of NT's Best of 2013 stories here.

Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Hawkins here.



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