Friday, December 20, 2013

Best of 2013: Albums/EPS/Mixtapes

Here at Chromatist, I'm pretty general when it comes to my end of the year, 'best of' posts. What I mean by that is, I try not to give too much numerical value to what I think was some of the best music of the year. Taste is so subjective and with music there is no standard to compare music to. Therefore I think it is kind of unnecessary to crown a single album as the crowning achievement of the year in music. Sure, some albums come out better than others but that's just how things go.

This is my collection of the 40 best albums (AND YEAH I'M INCLUDING EPS AND MIXTAPES) of 2013. In no particular order. These were the albums that gave me life, got me through some times, made me want to dance and/or were the most inspiring. These 40 are simply the best of the year, to me. (With a couple of sentences about every other.) ((But the ones that don't get some words get a video embedded with them, fair??))

Beyoncé- Beyoncé

I'm going to start with Beyonce because you always start with Beyoncé. This eponymous album came out of the thinnest of air and pretty much destroyed the charts, everyone's end of the year lists, the internet and all fans of Beyoncé. I don't want to go into how this is some of her most 'sophisticated' work or whatever because the album speaks for itself. The album has some of the most beautiful tracks of the year as well as some of the most catchy and infectious (I'm specifically referring to 'Mine', 'Yoncé', 'XO', 'Blow', etc...) I mean if I had to pick a single album to represent the year, It'd be this one.

Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe

A$AP Rocky- Long.Live.A$AP

I mean, in my opinion 'Fashion Killa' deserves its own kind of award. 'Wild For The Night' even though it is a collab with my arch nemesis (lol) Skrillex grew on me as one of the most addictive and rampant singles of the year.

Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My Time

Lorde- Pure Heroine

A 16, now 17, year old teenager from New Zealand made some of the biggest waves this year. I discovered her The Love Club EP in June and I just had this feeling and a couple of days later 'Tennis Court' came out and the blogosphere blew up and the rest of the world discovered the, then 5 month old, 'Royals' and we all know how things are now. Pure Heroine is a very raw, relatable album that expresses adolescent emotions with grittier and greater clarity than I think is often done. There is something pseudo-spiritual about this album, it feels momentous, yet patient.

MØ- Bikini Daze EP

Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Mosquito

I won't lie when I say that Mosquito is not my favorite album by the much-loved YYYs. Mosquito isn't a bad album by any means it just pales, to me, in comparison to all of their previous work. However, Mosquito is one of the most effective subtle-releases of the year. Much of the album is drenched in addictive guitar-solos, dark imagery and the kind of riotous fervor you'd always want from the YYYs.

Austra- Olympia

Disclosure- Settle

Lauded by many as one of the electronic albums of the year (nominated for a Grammy...which is cool) this was, in the least, one of the most hyped releases of 2013. Amidst a bunch of much loved singles the duo added in some newer, slightly more instrumental, tracks that further cemented that "post-dubstep" and 90s dance music is going to be here to stay for a while.

Slava- Raw Solutions

Charli XCX- True Romance

As a long time fan of Charli XCX, I was quite thrilled by this album. One of 2013's finest in terms of pure-pop music, True Romance catapulted Charli XCX into cult-fame a la Marina And The Diamonds, Ellie Goulding and various others. The internet-savvy album is sure to satisfy anyone craving pop music at its finest as well as the variety of nuances in the album like drama, darkness and semi-histrionic romantic tragedy.

Autre Ne Veut- Anxiety

FKA Twigs- EP2

With a name change from the singular 'Twigs' to FKA Twigs this very subtle and secretive solo artist released EP2 to critical acclaim and cult success. EP2 emphasizes what FKA Twigs does best, ambient soundscapes, fragile yet present vocals and instrumental experimentation that is unparalleled in terms of developing rich sonic textures.

Mykki Blanco- Betty Rubble: The Initiation EP 

Cakes Da Killa- The Eulogy

This mixtape/album is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated of the year (up there with Mykki, Le1f, Angel Haze, Amplify Dot, you know...) But basically, The Eulogy is compelling, candid and exciting. The whole of the album is very in your face and unapologetic, perfect for when you're feeling banji or for simply bumping loudly.

Jaymes Young- Dark Star EP

Ciara- Ciara

I mean, who doesn't love Ciara. And with singles like 'I'm Out', 'Body Party' and 'Overdose' this album is full of nuance and pure quality. Ciara is an album that proves that Ciara is back for good. As a fusion album of dance music, pop, R&B and hip-hop Ciara burns up nearly all the competition. And come on, 'Body Party' is basically the best slow-burn, R&B, airy-voiced track of 2013 hands down.

Rhye- Woman

M.I.A- Matangi

M.I.A's Matangi has been on the tongues of fans for what seems like forever. Matangi was, allegedly, postponed due to sounding "too positive". No matter, what does matter though is how Matangi is one of M.I.A's best albums to date. With firestarters like 'YALA', 'Double Bubble Trouble' and  'aTENTtion' in complement to more slowed-down tracks like 'Know It Aint Right' and 'Karmageddon', Matangi covers a wide range of influences and sounds. On the whole, Matangi is one of the, if not the, most energetically exciting and enigmatic albums of 2013. But who's surprised by that, it's M.I.A.

Banks- London EP

Janelle Monáe- The Electric Lady

Monáe's most recent contribution to her seven part Metropolis series is as fabulous as you'd expect. With nods towards a plethora of different genres The Electric Lady is one of the most powerfully inclusive albums of the year. Janelle's lyrics are obviously on point and well informed as they always are, full of intention and meaning you could spend years unravelling. And yet, The Electric Lady makes you want to dance all the same. We can be guaranteed that parts six and seven of her concept series will be just as perfect.

Moko- Black EP

AlunaGeorge- Body Music

The debut album from R&B/Electro's favorite lovechild was one of the most anticipated albums of the year (for me in particular). I've been a longtime fan of the duo and the mix between popular-pleasing singles and new tracks. My personal favorites being 'Lost & Found', 'B Ur Boo' (though I'm still mad this wasn't on the US release), and 'Best Be Believing'. Body Music was a very solid debut from AlunaGeorge and was a marvelous showcase of their sound, their range and variety of influences.

Postiljonen- Skyer

Chvrches- The Bones of What You Believe In

This debut from Scottish trio, Chvrches has really taken much of the world by storm. What started out as a trio posting the track 'Lies' on the internet quickly developed into an internet-savvy cult following that boosted them further into stardom with each single. With precise vocals, lyrics set into powerful imagery and undeniable synth-pop melodies and percussion, it's easy to understand why they've done so well so quickly.

HAIM- Days Are Gone

Natalia Kills- Trouble

Kills' sophomore album is full of emotional highs and lows. Trouble is in many respects complex. Much of the album feels very autobiographical with hints towards much of Kill's personal past while the rest of the album emphasizes a very contemporaneous and outright observation (critique?) of cultural tropes, the internet and 'glamour'. This is definitely one of those albums that you have to listen to a couple of times to obtain the full message. Altogether though Trouble is addictive pop-music that will sometimes make you feel reckless, sometimes glamorous and deliciously dramatic.

James Blake- Overgrown

London Grammar- If You Wait

The debut by this trio is one that is drenched in beautiful piano melodies, dramatic vocals and haunting soundscapes. But I mean, for me, it is the vocals that really make this album hypnotic and compelling. With a voice that croons and shouts from darkened emotions and palpable feeling Hannah Reid spins you into a dreamy haze where senses are blurred and feelings enhanced. Altogether, If You Wait is marvelously engrossing.

The Knife- Shaking the Habitual

Say Lou Lou- Better In The Dark EP

Dream-pop found some new royalty this year in Say Lou Lou. Initially, I wasn't very interested in Say Lou Lou's sound but as I listened I grew to love it. The two sisters have complementary voices that gorgeously melt together and come apart. Between their amber-smooth vocals and their monumental sounding dream-pop synths, it's hard not to love anything they make. 'Beloved' from the Better In The Dark EP almost comes close to their near-perfect track 'Julian', just listen for yourself.

Laura Mvula- Sing To The Moon

Deptford Goth- Life Before Defo

Life Before Defo was a very important album to me for quite a few personal reasons this year. Soft-spoken vocals, emotionally subtle lyrics and gorgeously ambient production made Life Before Defo relaxing, understanding and cathartic. And that's all I can really say.

Zebra Katz- DRKLING Mixtape

Woodkid- The Golden Age

Much of what comes from The Golden Age is a grandness of feeling. Much of the album feels massive and awe-inspiring. Part of it comes from the production and part of it comes Woodkid's deep crooning vocals. But to me, the lyrics in many of the tracks tie all of this together, leaving the listener with unanswered questions that stay with you. "Is there any chance you can see me too, 'cause I love you."

Poliça- Shulamith

Le1f- Fly Zone Mixtape

Le1f's Fly Zone mixtape is a completely satisfying slow-burn coalescence of tracks. Smooth, low-key beats are thrown into the mix with quick paced and sharp tongued lyrics to make an addictive mixtape that flows between features and style.

Ariana Grande- Yours Truly

MS MR- Secondhand Rapture

MS MR were poised to be a buzz-band of 2013, in 2012. And with this it should have been obvious the turn pop-music was about to take, a turn into subtlety, a step away from throbbing bass and outrageous synths. MS MR's debut is a stylish take upon this turn, subtle, rich and sweet.

Sampha- Dual EP

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