An alternative take on the best albums of 2013
Isn't it great that a month or so after all the best of 2013 lists are out, the Grammy Awards take place? They’ve got their own favourites, with nominees being dominated by rap and hip hop artists such as Eminem, Drake, Kanye West, and Jay Z. However, there was much more to 2013 than Miley Cyrus gyrating, Katy Perry roaring, Britney Spears working or Daft Punk getting lucky. Plus, if you’d like an alternative take on the best albums of 2013, here is a list of the top 10 this year, in no particular order:
Palms – Palms
Never dismiss a supergroup – that’s rule number one when listening to new music. As plain as Palms – comprising members of now-defunct post metal band Isis and alternative metallers Deftones’s vocalist Chino Moreno – were marketed, their dreamy style of rock is the best companion to a journey – filled with emotions and heart-breaking crescendos.
Eminem - The Marshall Mother's LP 2
A late release for Eminem aka Marshall Mathers this year, but that doesn’t mean he can take the spotlight away from Drake, Kanye West and Jay Z. He doesn’t exactly diss them, but what every rapper wants is the top spot. On the sequel to his 2000 album, Mathers calls himself a ‘Rap God’. It’s not fair to agree, but you know he’s leading the game now.
Arctic Monkeys – AM
It’s been thought of as the album which saw Arctic Monkeys go all out American. But the British alternative rock/punk band has so much more going for it on AM, not just the R&B-soaked vocals of Alex Turner. There’s progress like no other album before that puts AM at the band’s peak.
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
Nobody likes growing old and nobody likes growing old alone. When vocalist of afrobeat/indie rock band Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig, sings “you ought to spare your face the razor/because no one’s going to spare their time for you”, you know that’s the lyric of the year. And the album doesn’t fall too far behind either.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is the Killer
Mathcore might not be everyone’s cup of tea and Dillinger Escape Plan seemed to have realized that. While there are slower, more prog rock-oriented songs on the morbid One of Us Is the Killer, they blitz through songs like ‘When I Lost My Bet’ and ‘Prancer’ in chaos that’s yet to be matched by any metal or punk band.
Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
Frontman Josh Homme didn’t just go and produce another Arctic Monkeys album this year, but instead called in his friends (Dave Grohl, Elton John, Trent Reznor, and Alex Turner) to help him release an album that’s one of the best growers of the year. If you spin it enough times, there’s rewarding music on …Like Clockwork.
Tesseract - Altered State
How do you break out of a jinx of lineup changes to put out stunning prog metal? By being Tesseract, of course. Their India gig might have got washed out, but the essence of this album, from its saxophone solos to its off-time drum signatures, is not at all lost in the over-saturated modern metal scene.
Atoms for Peace – Amok
Yet another supergroup that was, unlike Palms, hyped up to the high heavens. Radiohead fans, Red Hot Chili Peppers fans and electronica fans all lined up to take in Amok, an interesting experiment for vocalist Thom Yorke and an (presumably) radical undertaking for bassist Flea.
Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Trent Reznor had a bunch of collaborations this year, including …Like Clockwork with Queens of the Stone Age and on the Sound City: Real to Reel but releasing his own Nine Inch Nails material – the first in five years – really proved he still hadn’t lost interest in being one of the founding fathers of industrial rock.
Paramore – Paramore
For everyone who had dismissed the pop punk group straight from its early days to even when they gained mainstream success with Riot!, this album proved Paramore’s ability to be diverse and still retain those sweet, pop songs about love.
Earthless - Uluru Rock, Karnivool – Asymmetry, Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Lifafa (Delhi) – Lifafa I – for the best introduction to glitch and trip hop this year.
Hoirong - The Resurrection Of The Princess Of Woe And Her Vampire Hound Posse – for proving that lo-fi can sound catchy and that there’s more to Kamal Singh than post-rock band Lounge Piranha
Tankbund – Tankbund – for daring to have 15 tracks on a debut offering when most artists stick to five-track EPs, and keeping it filled with fresh trip hop.
The Raghu Dixit Project – Jag Changa – for finally releasing another album to keep innumerable folk rock fans at bay for a good two or three years.
The Bicycle Days – Calamitunes – for making one of the most unclassifiable albums “chronicling the human experience” this year.