Well here we are again. These are my favorite albums of the past 12 months. Most of them anyway. This was a harder year for me to pare down than most, which is saying something. In what was a largely transitional year for me personally, obvious standouts were lacking, making my ear more restless by circumstance than choice. Once I did find things I liked (which I found a lot of), I stuck with them rather than continue foraging for more. That led to a lot of stuff not quite making the cut or placing as high as it might have with more listens. I still think this list is very representative of both what I covered and what I liked most in 2013. As I said in my halftime post this year, my preferences have lately leaned toward the more intimate, introspective end of the spectrum.
Take a gander after the jump and let me know what I missed if you care to. My Songs list hopefully won’t be too far behind…
Photo by RJ
Here’s a softly surging taste of the new Wildarms EP Just for Love, out December 17 via my friends at Cascine.
DC duo GEMS have given us one of the most beguiling songs of the year with the title track from their Medusa EP. Now they’ve unveiled an “uncut” bonus version of the track that you can stream below.
The sisters of HAIM are fixing to be pretty high on a lot of best of lists this year for their debut album Days Are Gone. While I feel a lot of its best moments are recycled from previous EPs, it’s still a very absorbing and addictive pop listen. Naturally, they’re ripe for remixing and none other than Giorgio fucking Moroder has unveiled a euphoric revision of what’s now become one their signature tracks, “Forever.” Get swept away below.
HAERTS are well on their way to becoming one of 2014’s hottest pop acts after the release of their stellar Hemiplegia EP. Now they bless us with their very first remix, a raved out take on MS MR single “Think of You.” Listen below.
Jensen Sportag's Stealth of Days continues to be a left-field standout for me in this last quarter of 2013. They’ve turned the keys for their song “After Gardens” over to Obey City, who somehow manages to make it sound even chiller than it already was. Quite a feat. Listen below…
I’m actually planning to write more about this for another blog I’ll be launching and co-curating in a couple of weeks, so I’ll try to keep this brief for now. As anyone who reads or listens to me regularly knows, I’m more than a little fond of Ejecta, the new project of Leanne Macomber and Joel Ford.
Their dazzling debut full-length Dominae serves as both confident culmination and bold new beginning for both parties. Leanne’s lyrics about loss and longing hit with precise and potent poignancy, while Joel’s crystalline compositions compliment her with a masterfully deceptive minimalism. Few artists in recent memory have worn their emotions so plainly on their sleeves while holding their ambitions so close to their chest.
This is an album that both invites and demands deeper listening. You’ll be seduced by a sweet sonic detail one moment (the gossamer guitar crescendo that erupts in “Jeremiah”) only to be sucker punched by the sorrow underneath it the next. “I want my life back or I want to die,” the first line of the first song on the album, is one of the simplest, saddest opening sentiments I’ve heard on record all year.
As I said, I’ll have more to say in other spaces soon. I’ll just end by saying that in a year of music that has proven particularly hard for me to pull a favorite album from, I think I may finally have my champion.
Dominae is out now on Driftless. You can still order a physical copy here. I’d highly recommend doing so, if only to see the cute note you’ll get with it.
Here’s a haunting victory lap single from Majical Cloudz that sadly did not appear on his great debut album Impersonator earlier this year but has been making the rounds in his live sets. It’s a little less languid than the rest of his recent songs but no less lovely for it.