30. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Whether unabashed optimist or sterling cynic, everybody can hear a bit of themselves in Pedestrian Verse. It’s a collection of solemn songs, and anybody who’s even vaguely familiar with Frightened Rabbit should have expected that from the minute they learnt of its existence. But this time around, it isn’t such a bad thing to be a downer– the beautiful thing about this record is that despite its dispirited undertones, it certainly has its own way of coping with things– constructive melancholia. Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison is no stranger to woe, but his lyrics have never embraced that as much as they do here. There’s no need for Hutchinson to pretend anymore– he’s too old for that. He can get away with singing “Let’s promise every girl we marry / We’ll always love them when we probably won’t” in opening track “Acts of Man,” because he’s including himself in the very demographic at which he’s scowling. Frightened Rabbit’s music has always been about breaking promises, if not forgetting about them entirely; it just seems that with Pedestrian Verse, the trick is accepting it’ll always be that way. –Jacob Royal
29. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
My like – but not love – of The Wonder Years had previously confounded me. All of the pieces of the puzzle existed to make for a personal favorite, yet something unidentifiable just didn’t click on a consistent basis. Well, any doubts concerning the Philadelphian sextet are well and truly laid to rest on their 4th LP The Greatest Generation. Improving every aspect of their craft, this hard-working outfit mature to be a force as a rock band, without losing any of their efficacious pop-punk attributes. Containing many lyrical nuggets, Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s poignant & passionate vocals deliver personal themes that many will relate to. Excellently produced by Steve Evetts, The Wonder Years’ songwriting continues to evolve for the better, with more detail & diversity than ever before. Recommended Tracks: I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral, Passing Through a Screen Door, We Could Die Like This & Dismantling Summer. –DaveyBoy
28. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
If this year’s 20/20 Experience is touted as “music you can see,” then Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven must be the polar opposite. With the former, everything is vivid–displayed eviscerated as a feast for the eyes and ears. In typical Oneohtrix fashion, though, everything on R Plus Seven is obfuscated and mystified. One taking everything at face value leads to a conundrum of sorts. The dark ambient tones meld into the hollow synths most peculiarly, like morose replica of the past. But it is the frenetic “Zebra” that cuts through the album, offering up a multi-layered piece that feels surprisingly at home on the record. Quickly, however, it plunges head first into the murkiness from which it was born. And really, we would have it no other way. –Eli Kleman
27. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
The first line of “KV Crimes”, a song whose title suggests that its creator has a lengthy rap sheet stashed away somewhere, is “I should have known – my heart has overgrown.” But if Philadelphia native Kurt Vile is referencing the manner in which 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo unexpectedly received widespread critical acclaim and earned him an expanded fan base, he doesn’t sound too concerned about the burgeoning expectations that tend to come with such success. In fact, Wakin On A Pretty Daze is the kind of record that can only be made by a man at perfect ease with himself, which may be why it’s always such an absolute pleasure to listen to.
Daze owes at least some of its success to the newest member of The Violators, multi-instrumentalist and synthesizer whiz-kid Rob Laakso, whose mastery of sound engineering and sequencing is key to the cohesion of more ephemeral tracks like “Was All Talk” and “Air Bud”. But there’s no denying that the rest of this brand of magnanimous stoner rock is all Vile’s own doing: songs like “Wakin On A Pretty Day” and “Was All Talk” are riotous swirls of sun-baked vibes that go on extended jaunts through the American singer-songwriter’s mind, while others like “Too Hard” and “Goldtone” are submerged in a particular dusky mood, made for crackly old speakers and roaring fireplaces. Keep this up, and the only crime Vile will be guilty of is to make us wait too long for the next record. –Irving Tan
26. Saint Pepsi – Hit Vibes
Voraciously reading criticism has taught me to look at any piece of art, regardless of medium, in its historical context. So it is with vaporwave, a subgenre that has surreptitiously and very weirdly become some manner of crucial in our present cultural milieu, and into which Ryan DeRobertis a.k.a. Saint Pepsi’s ebullient Hit Vibes kinda-sorta fits. Browse through any review of this stuff and you’ll find what I’m not going to give you here: a definition of the genre, a sweeping overview of its blogosphere debut and subsequent growth, and its Baudrillardian philosophical undercurrents. In other words, its context.
In reading through the Western canon for college, however, I’ve also picked up another way of looking at things: what kind of community does this work create? What kind of context does it imagine for itself? This seems the more interesting question to ask of Hit Vibes, which corrals into its loving embrace Mario Kart 64, the Woody Allen movie Everyone Says I Love You, and a metric ton of obscure disco. On masterstrokes like “Better,” DeRobertis conjures up an environment in which these elements don’t just coexist but go out to party together, drifting like intoxicated ghosts from nightclub to nightclub. Vaporwave historians will pick up this record centuries later and try to discern whether or not this extended party is “ironic”; to my ears, it knowingly observes its own apparent vapidity while still reveling in it, without any ideological contradictions. If the preceding 35 minutes of pure, liberating funk aren’t enough to convince you of his commitment, the man lays bare his modus operandi through an unidentified sample on the warm and alluring one-minute outro: “I’ll be honest with you, I try not to think too much.” –Alex Robertson
25. The Drones – I See Seaweed
The latest full-length from Australian rock masters The Drones is an album built upon contrasting emotions. I See Seaweed’s eight songs are pensive and ominous, but also brash and raucous. The music drops away to almost nothing one moment and builds up to a monumental climax the next. The Drones have brought these dynamics to life with admirable attention to detail, delivering their most nuanced offering thus far. The outfit still operate within the confines of their singular brand of blues-soaked garage rock, yet their sound shows further expansion. The addition of keyboardist Steve Hesketh lends the record ample weight and depth. Frontman Gareth Liddiard also proves to be in scintillating form. Increasingly committed to avoiding cliches, Liddiard demonstrates his prowess as a commendable storyteller with uniquely fatalistic visions. His lyrics might seethe with uncomfortable observations and helplessness, yet there’s something oddly captivating about these bruised rock suites. Even though they seem bleak and uninviting on the surface, at the end of the day you can’t help paying attention infatuated with their supreme intensity. The emotional resonance I See Seaweed encapsulates is in a class by itself. –Greg Fisher
24. Carcass – Surgical Steel
It is rather obvious that Surgical Steel is Carcass’ first album in 17 years, not because they sound rusty or have forsaken their roots for something new , but because the sheer amount of riffs unleashed on the band’s comeback LP can have no other plausible explanation. Taking back the songwriting technicality along with the vulgarity and overtly sickening imagery of their first three albums, while still retaining a feeling of the more straightforward melodic death metal of Heatwork or Swansong, Surgical Steel is the perfect bridge between the two, despite the fact that it was released some 22 years after that transition occurred. It’s an interesting mix, because it allows the band to keep their fanbase happy while also having a whole lot of fun with the songwriting. The fact that Carcass are obviously having a blast playing each and every track on Surgical Steel does not make the album a joke, either. The album’s epic closer “Mount of Execution” is the longest Carcass song ever, making for a focused, yet varied piece that proves Carcass are not all about ripping your face off with riff after riff of razor-sharp guitar licks. The band continues to avoid being bound to a single genre, but it has to be said that Surgical Steel has a feeling not of melodic death metal, but of death metal that happens to be very melodic. There is a clear difference between the two, because their focus is not to woo listeners with faux-emotional theatrics or antics, but instead to write an album that is not afraid to be hugely melodic without much sense of emotion or obsession with creating atmosphere. The throaty rasps haven’t changed much – in fact, Carcass really has not changed at all – it’s just that they realized the best way to make a comeback is to make it seem like they never left. –Kyle Ward
23. Future of the Left – How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident
It took Future of the Left only 5 hours to finance the recording session for their fourth album. How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident is a brilliant showcase of fan-funding done right. Freed from any label interference, the group have come up with their most diverse material that finds tight noise-rock arrangements embellished with new textures. When the album doesn’t sound boisterous as hell, it wallows in darkness, proving that there’s more than one facet to the quartet’s off-kilter songwriting. Frontman Andy Falkous aptly complements the stylistic shifts with a broadened vocal palette while not forgetting to imbue the songs with formidable hooks. But it isn’t just an expansion of the sound that makes this record so alluring. Falkous turns out to be a peerless lyricist once again, and his output is even more unhinged this time around. He takes satirical jabs at the music industry, celebrities, cold marriages, blanket-blaming the male gaze for relationship problems and many other timely topics. The fact that Falkous’ dadaist spin on masculinity is at once genuinely hilarious and utterly relatable makes for the album’s resounding triumph. For those rock fans grown cynical, How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident is a perfect antidote for disillusionment with the current state of rock music. –Greg Fisher
22. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap just barely made it into my top five for the year, but that’s not the story told by my iTunes playcount, which probably launches it somewhere in my top five ever. An exhaustive chronology would look like that part of the Book of Genesis where it’s just the descendants of Adam and Eve and the absurd ages at which they died for like thirty pages: first I took to Pitchfork and spotted their Best New Music label for “Good Ass Intro,” which I then proceeded to listen to about thirty times in a row, before hungrily downloading the mixtape and moving onto “Pusha Man,” which I listened to about fifty times in a row before going back to “Good Ass Intro” and listening to that, again, ten times in a row, then listening to the “Good Ass Intro”/“Pusha Man” combo about twenty times, and finally moving onto “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” which warranted about fifteen repeated listens.
I am not joking. Chance—who is still only 20, by the way—has clearly grown up listening to great music, rap and otherwise, isolating those “Woah, I need to listen to that again” moments. Acid Rap is a pulpy glass of juice extracted from the fruit of pop music’s labors. It is That Moment, over and over again. During “Paranoia,” the jittery second half of “Pusha Man,” Chance ends the first three lines of his first verse with a tacked-on “watch” (as in: “Move to the neighborhood / I bet they don’t stay for good, watch.”) and within that word espouses wisdom, humor, doubt—it’s positively gripping. Then on the lazy, playful “NaNa,” Chance raps harmoniously along to the Freddie Hubbard-ish bassline of the beat, and it embodies a similar brilliance—that is, until Action Bronson begins his guest verse with the same melodic ploy, only transposed a few pitches higher, and it’s just inexplicably fucking hilarious and weirdly revelatory. I could go on for hours, but at a compulsively listenable 53 minutes, Acid Rap is its own delightful testament. Go forth and be hooked. –Alex Robertson
21. Captain, We’re Sinking – The Future Is Cancelled
Without fail, it happens every year; a band will take such a huge step up in their craft, that you can’t help but be taken aback. In 2013, the biggest surprise comes in the form of The Future Is Cancelled, the 2nd LP from Pennsylvanian quartet Captain, We’re Sinking. Sure, you could hear the raw potential amongst the rough production of their earlier releases, but the advancements in songwriting here are simply astounding. Needless to say, they aren’t titling their songs “The Neck Romancer” any longer. Best described as punk with flourishes of emo & post-hardcore, the technically accomplished music is not only intense & emotional, but deceptively melodic. This is despite the constant lashings of melancholy contained within the captivating lyrics, that are delivered by the dual vocal attack of Bob Barnett & Leo Vergnetti. Containing no filler, this powerful album not only builds well to individual climaxes, but progresses cohesively as a whole. Recommended Tracks: A Bitter Divorce, Annina We Will Miss You, You Have Flaws, Here’s To Forever & Brother. –DaveyBoy
20. Radical Face – The Family Tree: The Branches
The family tree at the center of Ben Cooper’s trilogy of acoustic Americana records is a sprawling, gnarled one, tortured by history and bloodlines, pockmarked by regrets and recriminations. Cooper grew up with nine siblings in the deadened, hazy heat of Jacksonville, and after the bloodletting of 2011’s The Roots, it’s a bit of a surprise listening to Cooper still unearthing his past on The Branches, another haunting, frayed image of childhood and family ties, albeit one cast in an almost nostalgic light. It’s not an immediately obvious difference; for all intents and purposes, the music and feel of The Roots and The Branches are nearly indistinguishable from each other on the surface, vibrant yet graying images of rustic living and small town drama, scrapbook photographs and old scars. Yet there’s a redemption here for Cooper, scrabbling against the prison of his memory to get out – “In my dreams I can hear a voice, a call, a withering echo / and it sings, it sings all-knowing words / but ones I can’t understand,” Cooper whispers on “From The Mouth Of An Injured Head,” and in its hurried shuffle and soaring chorus you can hear Cooper’s vulnerability beginning to transform into strength. Cooper’s path forward is still a difficult, twisted one, but The Branches is a monumental step in finishing the entire portrait. –Rudy K.
19. The Dodos – Carrier
Carrier is the sort of record you fall in love with. You know the type (or at least I hope you do, because these are the best sorts of records): you play it and while you aren’t particularly taken aback at first listen, you concede there are at least a few things in it worth revisiting. So you try again, and yeah, it’s nice, but this time you catch something, a tiny detail or a striking lyric, that you must have missed the first time because you weren’t paying that much attention, and it hits something inside you don’t quite understand. What else does this album so ostensibly simple have going on underneath it? A month later, it’s woven into the fabric of your heart. That striking lyric has come to stand for the meaning of your entire existence. The album expresses the thing that can’t be put into words, the thing that makes you you, better than you ever could.
Or perhaps this is just me? Forgive me. I lost the ability to be critically distant from this album a long time ago. For me, that lyric is the album’s final one. “Why won’t you be where I want you to be?” is how Meric Long wraps up “The Ocean.” This year, I graduated college and moved to New York City, while my girlfriend went to England, along with two of my close friends. Robin also continues to reside there, much to my chagrin. Two other best friends moved to California, another to Australia. So yeah, “Why won’t you be where I want you to be?” has become something of a mantra for me. Carrier has a ton of those. “Death, what could be worse? If I had something to complain about.” “If this love comes unto me, I’m with it.” “You will forget, and I will remember.” I think it’s an album about feeling invisible and anxiety of fading from the consciousness of loved ones. I’ve made it mean that for me. What it actually is, ultimately, is an album of tremendous heart and tremendous longing. Who couldn’t fall in love with that? –Adam Downer
18. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Well, yeah, the National. These dudes are indisputably Sputnik’s house band, one the site has grown up with and then reflected anxiously on the state of growing up with. Leave the analysis to the seventy-page thread of fragmented lyric quotes – the only debate to be had is which of their unbelievably fucking consistent records is the mostnconsistent. For those who want their wise-cracked aphorisms to have a sharp edge, it’s Alligator; for those who’d rather turn in early, their life revelations softened with lounge piano, it’s Boxer; for the anxious and unceasingly fidgety, it’s likely to be High Violet.
The question, then, isn’t whether Trouble Will Find Me is any better or worse, or has any features peculiar to it – it balances the same pastiches as ever, bundling gorgeous, hushed indie lullabies in with the not-quite-aloof Berninger and his attempt at screaming, screeching rock songs – but for who it’s going to hit. The answer, for once, isn’t in what Berninger says; it’s what his heroes say. Trouble Will Find Me is preoccupied with the rock canon and seeks a great deal of solace in it, calling out to Violent Femmes, sloshing around the place with Nevermind and Let It Be on the stereo, and sobering up to Elliott Smith. It’s a sombre record that spins other ones to feel better, and I like to think that, too, will be its legacy. There’s anxiety in Berninger’s words, uncertainty in the Dessner brothers’ guitar licks (seriously – play “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “Fireproof” back to back), and an awakened urgency in Bryan Devendorf’s drumming, but there’s also comfort in this record’s ability to pick itself up in the confines of a song. The National abhor clichés, and with age, bullshit has only become more obvious to them – “You said it would be painless / It wasn’t” – but clichés can be what make songs homes. The fucking National, man; they’ll be there. –Robin Smith
17. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Surviving where many a buzz band before them had felt their hype punctured by the indifferent needle of Public Expectations, Vampire Weekend persevered not because they were particularly better songwriters than their contemporaries – although you could certainly make that argument – but because they finally turned the spotlight onto the emotional weight always playing second fiddle to their carefully coiffed indie image and Ezra Koenig’s obstinately straight-faced Twitter account. Modern Vampires of the City is the kind of Vampire Weekend record fans have to expect and adore, full of hooks and winking wordplay that feels effortless, but it did something to me that I’ve never had happen to me in the context of a Vampire Weekend album before: it made me feel grief, and hope, and all the crushing uncertainty of life that I was unconsciously devouring in music this year as I reached my mid-20s. Koenig has the ideal voice for this, a sweet, boyish quality to it finally juxtaposed against honest, hesitant lyrics that give weight to the kind of big picture themes that charge things here. There’s love, and loss, and whatever the hell you’re going to do next, and who really wants to think about that anyways because it’s all as existentially shot as the narrator in “Hannah Hunt.” I fell in love with Modern Vampires of the City on the slippery precipice of real, actual, pay-your-own-bills adulthood, and I think, for the first time in my life, in love with the music of Vampire Weekend as well. –Rudy K.
16. Deerhunter – Monomania
Monomania is a very nostalgic album. At times it references the noise-indulging rawness of Cryptograms and Turn It Up, Faggot, and in others it fast-forwards to the ‘psychedelically-tinged’ garage pop and dream-like atmospheres of their more recent albums. But while this is a ‘return-to-roots’ kind of record, so to speak, it also exhibits the band’s growth as songwriters. There’s a newfound level of finesse and ingenuity in both the way the music is composed and performed. I didn’t give credit to producer Nicolas Vernhes for this in my initial review, but I have to say that he did an excellent job in aiding Deerhunter in establishing a good balance of sonically abrasive tracks and mellower tunes. I honestly love the way the album leaps from different moods and sounds throughout its run. It lets Deerhunter be as creatively eccentric as they desire. “Neon Junkyard” and “Leather Jacket II” were my two favourites from the discordant fog that is the first half of the album. In fact, one of my absolute favourite moments of Monomania was the final half in “Leather Jacket II”, where the waves of sonic distortion start flowing in and the song just drowns you in the cacophonic spectacle of it all. One of the unique qualities of “Leather Jacket II” and the other noise-rock tracks was that despite these songs being assaults on the senses, they all had a rather ironically optimistic attitude to them. They were cheerful and fun, and I was honestly really impressed at how Deerhunter could create avant-garde-noise-pop(ish) tracks and actually make them rather catchy. The mellower portions of the album is is where a lot of the instant hits are, like “The Missing” and “Sleepwalking”. I myself cannot resist Bradford Cox’s brand of pop, and even after months of having listened to the album on several occasions, I still say “Sleepwalking” is not only the best track in Monomania, but one of Deerhunter’s finest tracks ever. It’s got euphonic harmonies, relaxed tempos, and that same hazy texture that made Microcastle such an irresistible album. If it isn’t already obvious, I loved Monomania and I honestly could not have been happier with how it turned out. In the conclusion of my review, I said that the album demands undivided attention and continuous play to truly see the beauty within its surrealism. Even after listening to it for weeks before writing my review, I didn’t really begin to truly appreciate the album until months later. If you missed this one all year long, do yourself a favour and listen to it. It’s thought-provoking and sonically complex, but not necessarily riddled in obscurity. It just takes some getting used to. –Hernan M. Campbell
15. Paysage d’Hiver – Das Tor
When House Stark first uttered the infamous “Winter is coming,” as their family words, they must have been listening to the work of the undisputed King of Cold, Wintherr. His solo ambient black metal project, Paysage d’Hiver, perfectly embodies the unrelenting harshness, fragile beauty, and seeming desolation that comes with the season, and the long-awaited Das Tor, or “The Gate” is certainly one of his crowning achievements. The sounds of lashing winter winds introduce the album before being joined by crystalline ambient synth, building up to the burst of lo-fi tremolo riffing and blast beats that complete the aural blizzard of “Offenbarung”. Long stretches of repetition entrance to enhance eventual tempo changes and instrumental reprieve as distant, muted screams cry out from the swirling wall of sound. Whether rapid assault or steady, calculated cadence, the guitar passages coupled with the icy keyboards never fail to satisfy and transport the listener to Wintherr’s dimension of frostbitten isolation. While Das Tor doesn’t see much departure from the tried-and-true Paysage d’Hiver formula, it perfectly showcases his mastery of it. –AngelofDeath
14. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
My personal album of the year. Call me a fanboy, if you must, but this album really blew me away. The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) pretty much ignores the modern influences of Insurgentes and Grace For Drowning, and presents itself as a bonafide retro-prog album. If you jammed “Raider II” more than any other song in Grace For Drowning and have always had a thing for Porcupine Tree’s acoustic ballads, then you’re in for a treat with this one. With the aid of prog-rock legend Alan Parsons engineering the album’s sound, The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) offers a collection of songs that are sonically diverse, but intricately connected by the album’s theme of supernatural fantasy. Songs like “The Holy Drinker” and “Luminol” represent the heavier side of the album, which emphasize on jazz-inspired technical work and a Camel-meets-Yes-meets-King Crimson overall style of sound. The rest of the album, aside from certain moments in “The Watchmaker” and “The Pin Drop”, are melodious ballads that radiate either a fantastical or emotive ambiance. Honestly, there’s nothing that’s really unique about any of the clever schemes found in this album. It’s all directly inspired by the various sounds that were being explored in both the prog-rock and jazz fusion scenes of the ’70s, but nonetheless every composition is beautifully composed and offer an utterly captivating performance. Remember that the point of this album isn’t to revolutionize the progressive rock genre but to celebrate its legacy. This is an album made specifically for prog fans, and doesn’t try to be more than that. If prog-rock is what you’re into, you have to give this a try. –Hernan M. Campbell
13. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
How do you follow up what is arguably one of the most profoundly influential and beloved albums of, well, ever? For My Bloody Valentine, the answer to that question took almost 22 years. Even through the reunion tours and then the post-reunion tours, their 1991 album Loveless remained the insurmountable elephant in the room. Sure, we had been promised a new My Bloody Valentine album since the mid-’90s, but we all knew that was never going to happen. That was, until it did. The realization that one of the most intangible dreams in the music universe had finally come to fruition, nearly broke the internet – or at the very least it crashed the fuck out of MBV’s website. It was all worth it. After 22 years we finally had tangible proof that the years of rumors and jokes weren’t a lie after all. But how would it live up to the monumental expectations heaped upon it?
The answer is perfectly. m b v takes off right where Loveless left off. m b v is awash in a beautiful and comforting haze. It’s an all encompassing warmth of fuzzy modulated tones, blanketing the senses like a familiar, friendly hand to the small of the back; the faded drums melding with each wafting tremolo arm bend breathing out and sucking back in like a tiny set of lungs keeping time to a beating heart. As each track builds and recedes it pulls you in closer, but the distance is always comfortable. It’s the same feeling of rapture that drives their live show, but instead of that encompassing volume m b v is much more personal. Kevin Shields and Belinda Butcher’s airy, subdued vocals float across the noise, adding just enough lucidity to the lovely soundscape to root it to reality, but not enough to detach it completely from its dream like state. It’s an incredible balancing act. m b v is a timeless masterpiece just like its predecessor. Hopefully this time around it doesn’t take another 22 years to hear its follow up, but if it’s this good, the wait will be worth it. –Adam Thomas
12. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
Janelle Monáe is surely an artist first and foremost; while this shines brilliantly through her concept at large, all of her music videos, and even live performances, the complete package is certainly something greater than the musical substance within. The Electric Lady revamps the ideas of ArchAndroid, taking her prior soul experimentations, updating them, and turning them into more focused, pop-driven affairs. This truly expands the envelope for tracks like the self-titled “Electric Lady” — a head-nodding affair and certifiable banger. “We Were Rock and Roll” lives in this same space, instead pulling from an imaginary place in history where arena rock co-existed with only the greatest of Motown classics. But when combined with Monáe’s socioeconomic musings, her larger-than-life compositions inflate dramatically, emphasizing the simple truth that humanity as a whole not only lives and breathes for this exact moment, but for every moment we’ve experienced and progress we’ve made. This is the true beauty of The Electric Lady; it’s a simple project at face value with an underlying cerebral message of positivity, change, and discovery of the all-encompassing truth — whatever that may be. –Sobhi Youssef
11. Kanye West – Yeezus
Let it be said: Yeezus is here because we love it. The few still clinging on, palms bloody from the strain, eyes bulging in earnest at every vile punchline, those dazzling non sequiturs, and that incorrigible God complex. We have managed to position Kanye West’s latest right before the coveted top 10, the edge of the Internet’s interest where a dangling fat chunk of album analysis clings to every list; an indulgent offering to a year of music already eviscerated in hushed corners over the dubious task of singling out a set of 50, 30, 12 albums. Yeah, Yeezus sits at number 11. That feels right. Everything that could be said has already been said. And I won’t argue any group of folks looking to grant ten amazing records their due recognition over the loudest din this side of the MTV Music Awards. We can’t waste this space as time’s window of relevancy closes on this year of 2013: Yeezus was large; it was all we could talk about; here it is. And so I dedicate this spot to every album on this list, from The Electric Lady to Old Mornings Dawn. To every voice working within and without Kanye, from his collaborators to his audience. To every artist enraged by his positions and his sound; to those inspired by his zeal. To every person who felt something, because God knows sometimes music criticism doesn’t feel like it, I dedicate this to you. Jesus wept. –Lewis P.