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01.01.15 A Short And Sweet 201410.03.14 Need More Death Metal
12.29.13 Ilj's 2013: The Definitive List 12.23.13 21st Birthday Recs
10.26.13 Saw The Chariot Last Night09.14.13 All Lights Fucked Surface?
08.16.13 Rip The Chariot08.09.13 Chicken And Waffles Lays
08.02.13 Norma Jean Ranked07.02.13 Another Halfway List
06.15.13 Seeing The National Tonight06.11.13 Yeezus
05.14.13 Finally Backing Up My Music Library05.02.13 Fuck You Calculus
04.28.13 Finals, Again04.09.13 Is Lost A Good Show?
04.02.13 First Quarter Report03.27.13 Amazing Night
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Ilj's 2013: The Definitive List

2013 was a year in which I rediscovered my enjoyment of hip hop and certain pop music. It was a year full of highly anticipated albums delivering, disappointing, and of course, plenty of surprises. 1-40 are pretty well ranked, anything beyond that is loose at best. Some albums have descriptions and song links and others don't because well that's just how it worked out. As always, recs are more than welcome.
100Fire! Orchestra

free jazz
99Tyler the Creator

hip hop
98Kacey Musgraves
Same Trailer Different Park

97Touche Amore
Is Survived By

post hardcore, emo
96Scale the Summit
The Migration

prog metal, instrumental
95A Great Big Pile of Leaves
You're Always On My Mind

indie rock
94 Grouper
The Man Who Died on His Boat

93Paul White
Watch the Ants

instrumental hip hop with the occasional rapper feature. Danny Brown features on a track.
Summer Death

The Living Infinite

Rival Dealer

UK garage
89The World Is a Beautiful Place...
Whenever, if Ever

emo mixed with post rock

experimental electronic
87Blue Sky Black Death

instrumental hip hop
86The Story So Far
What You Don't See

pop punk
85Kitty Pryde
D.A.I.S.Y. Rage

hip hop with a girl

post rock
83 Jacco Gardner
Cabinet of Curiosites

Cerulean Salt

indie pop, folk
81The Flaming Lips
The Terror

psychedelic rock, that fucking cover hurts my eyes
Tangible Dream

hip hop

pop punk
78Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Push the Sky Away

alt rock, i guess
77Still Corners
Strange Pleasures

dream pop
76Cheyenne Marie Mize
Among the Grey

indie folk
75Lord Snow

74My Bloody Valentine
m b v

73Death Grips
Government Plates

While Ride's vocals have been toned down (in that they don't appear as often) the wackiness of the music has been cranked up. Probably their worst album.
This is How the Wind Shifts

Silverstein's best. post-hardcore
71The Men
New Moon

folky, rocky, totally different from their gritty shoegazey beginnings

instrumental hip hop
69 Fusigi
Solitary Wonderland

68Their / They're / There
Their / They're / There

emo, whoever decided to put spaces between the slashes and their (hue) respective words is a cruel bastard
67Steven Wilson
The Raven that Refused to Sing

66Streetlight Manifesto
The Hands that Thieve

ska punk, it's Streetlight
65Loma Prieta/Raein

Loma's side only. skramz
Greener Pastures

metalcore that doesn't suck ass and doesn't revolve around shitty chugs and breakdowns hallelujah.
The Albatross

twinkly emo

61Forest Swords

60 Patterns
Dangerous Intentions

synthpop, house
59Cult of Luna

post metal
58Jon Hopkins

57Boards of Canada
Tomorrow's Harvest

56Arcade Fire

indie rock darlings
55K Sera
Collisions and Near Misses

indie rock, produced by Casey Crescenzo

skramz, shame they split up
53Tegan and Sara

52Chance the Rapper
Acid Rap

hip hop obviously.
51Julia Holter
Loud City Song

ambient, kind of poppy too

post rock/post metal
Time is a Machine

I want to like this more. I really, really do. But it just doesn't click with me like the other albums have. Still a great listen (huehuehue) nonetheless
48Keaton Henson

indie folk
The North Borders

trip hop
Yessir Whatever

Hip Hop with raps that sound like they were rapped by somebody messing around with helium.
Pure Heroine

Still a little flustered as to how fast and magnificently she blew up, but Pure Heroine is certainly a fantastic pop album. Deserving of praise indeed.
44The Dear Hunter

The first 7 tracks on this are great, but it seriously falls off after that.
43Russian Circles

Fucking amazing post-metal. Probably like this more than it's actually rated, but I haven't quite had the chance to digest it.
Silence Yourself

Old school sounding post punk
The Bones of What You Believe

Sugary as hell electropop, and it's damn good.
40Have Mercy (MD)
The Earth Pushed Back

A great combination of emo and indie rock
39Tim Hecker

One of the best ambient producers out there.
Colored Sands

It's Gorguts.
37Norma Jean

Norma Jean release the best album of their career and somehow find a way to make one of the most stale genres in the world (metalcore) sound somewhat fresh.
36Chelsea Wolfe
Pain Is Beauty

Given how much I loved Apokalypsis and her acoustic EP, I really want to like this more, but I'm just having trouble. House of Metal is amazing though. Perhaps in time I'll like this better than I do now.
35The Haxan Cloak

Dark ambient

Probably the best trap ever produced. If you like TNGHT, you'll love this.
33Pusha T
My Name is My Name

Everything on here is awesome with the exception of Let Me Love You. Seriously, that song is just egregiously out of place.

The prettiest black metal (kind of) you'll ever hear.
31Shai Hulud
Reach Beyond the Sun

30Kanye West

Kanye West just doesn't give a fuck, and neither do I. For all of its flaws, Yeezus is still a great effort from a gifted producer. Black Skinhead alone is worth listening to the entire album.
29Touche Amore/Pianos Become the Teeth

"Hiding" is one of the best songs of the year, hands down.
28The Knife
Shaking the Habitual

Music to check your privilege to
27Janelle Monae
The Electric Lady

Not as good as the Archandroid, but it's Janelle doing what she does best.
The Electric Lady:
Dance Apocalyptic:
26The Dillinger Escape Plan
One of Us is the Killer

Another blisteringly technical mathy release from TDEP. Not their best, but it's still extremely solid.
When I Lost My Bet:
25Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

I didn't really find this to be particularly good on first listen, but upon subsequent listens it became better and better.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled:
I Appear Missing:
24Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus teams up with a string quartet and puts out some gorgeous tunes.
Avalanche (Snow):
Pretty Good

This is actually supposed to be 21 but I'm too lazy to go back an edit so instead it's at 23. Dads release a really solid four track EP to follow up the stellar American Radass from last year.
My Crass Patch:
22Protest the Hero

I still can't stand Rudy's vocals, but this riffs so hard and good that I don't even give a shit.
A Life Embossed:
21Lil Ugly Mane
Three Sided Tape Volume One

A one hour long mostly instrumental tape consisting of some familiar beats and entirely unheard beats from Lil Ugly Mane, and it's damn good. It's free on his bandcamp, so I won't bother linking anything.
20Senses Fail

I may have a soft spot for this band, but it doesn't change the fact that Renacer provided a much needed change in pace for the group. They took the intensity and cranked it up to a ten and churned out arguably the best album of their career. It's not your poppy Senses Fail anymore.
Holy Mountain:
19Paysage d'Hiver
Das Tor

Extremely lo-fi black metal that I don't hate. It's a rare occurrence, but Das Tor provides the perfect amount of lo-fi blast beat vocal shriek goodness and atmosphere without becoming overbearing as a listen. Not going to link a song because honestly if you're going to put up with a 15 minute black metal song you should probably just listen to the whole thing.
18Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience

If you had told me that a JT album would make my top 20, or even an AOTY list at all ever, I certainly would not have believed you, but alas, here we are. Part 1 of the 20/20 is pop at its core but it goes beyond the typical constraints the genre usually follows, instead boasting very long track times with extended outros and immaculate production from Timbaland. It's not without its duds, and Part 2 was a resounding disappointment in comparison, but Part 1 stands as the best pop album of 2013.
Don't Hold the Wall:
Blue Ocean Floor:
Black Death Horizon

Death metal that is much, much more than super technical and fast riffs and ridiculous blast beats and hyperspeed double bass, Black Death Horizon is everything that a modern death metal album should be, and something it's needed for a long time.
Goat Skull Crown:
Though I'm Alone

Though I'm Alone is simply not for the faint of heart. It's a musical abyss of tortured screams and ridiculously dense production. But at the heart of all this is a great album that warrants the many listens it takes to dissect it.

Say what you want about this being too poppy, it's infectious and is one of the few things I've ever heard that actually made me want to dance. And for that alone, it should be commended.
F for You:
Defeated No More:
Oblivion Hymns

Yet again, Hammock drops another release of some of the most gorgeous music you could ever find. And apparently they're in the process of making yet another one.
I Could Hear the Water at the Edge of All Things:
Like a Valley With No Echo:
13 Nails
Abandon All Hope

Listening to Abandon All Life is the aural equivalent of having your skull caved in by a sledgehammer. It's a short album, but it feels like twice its actual length. It's unforgiving and relentless, sludgy and angry, and it's all the better for it.
God's Cold Hands:
Abandon All Life:
12James Blake

A more varied take on his post-dubstep sound that he forged on his s/t. A better one at that.

An intriguing concoction of post-hardcore and emo, Orthodox is a brief but very fun and enjoyable little affair. There are many danceable moments throughout and they use the quiet/loud dynamic with great execution. Definitely a group to keep an eye on in the future.
Word City:
Books on Tape: (skip to 1:14, the first part of this is silent for some reason (not on the album, just the link (look at these multiple parentheses!)))
10The Ocean

The Ocean finally release a concept album based on, well, the fucking ocean. The vocals leave something to be desired at times, but instrumentally it's on point and wonderfully executed. As the album progresses, the production becomes more dense and claustrophobic and sludgy. If you don't dig the vocals, there's an instrumental version released with you in mind.
Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny:
Abyssopelagic: Signals of Anxiety:
9Valley Maker
Yes I Know I've Loved This World

A little known indie folk album that needs a lot, lot more love. Endearing tunes about matters of the human heart, but completely genuine sounding and 100% non-cheesy, and backed by subtle and absolutely gorgeous female backing vocals. Highly recommended for people that like The Tallest Man On Earth.
Only Friend:
Pretty Little Life Form:
8Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels

It's El-P and Killer Mike trading mad verses with each other over monster beats. What's not to fucking like?
Sea Legs:
7Laura Marling
Once I Was an Eagle

Once I Was an Eagle is everything beautiful about Laura Marling fleshed out and packed into an hour long mammoth of gorgeous folky acoustic tunes. Lack of variation in the instrumentation department is made up for by great guitar playing and the somewhat quirky vocal melodies. It's Laura Marling's best album. Listen to it.
I Was an Eagle:
Little Love Caster:
6Kayo Dot

I don't understand Hubardo, and I don't think I ever will. Not in a million listens do I ever believe that I will be able to fully grasp the dense slab of prog metal that is Hubardo. And you know what, I'm okay with that, because that's part of the appeal of Hubardo. It's dense, it's weird, it's crazy, it's cacophonous, but beyond all, it's brilliant. Trying to select a couple songs out of this isn't easy as it's really something that should be taken on as a whole, but here are a couple nonetheless.
Zilda Caosgi (to Water the Earth):
5State Faults

With as many times as I've listened to this since it dropped, it's hard to deny this album anything other than a top 5 spot. Resonate/Desperate is a brilliant combination of skramz and post-hardcore with absolutely stunning instrumentation and vocals. The production issues present on Desolate Peaks have been resolved and the production is very apparent but still has that rawness that music in this vein should have. At this rate, State Faults is going to be a band to reckon with for many, many years.
Disintegration: Couldn't find a link to this particular song so instead here's a link to the entire album:
4Local Natives

An album that sort of came out of left field, Hummingbird was an album that sat on my harddrive for many months before I even touched it. And I kicked myself for doing so. Hummingbird takes many of the aspects of their previous album and improves on them and focuses them into a cohesive whole. The album is varied enough in that it never really gets boring and they have an incredible live show to back it up. "Heavy Feet" is another candidate for song of the year.
Heavy Feet:
3Danny Brown

The fact that any hip hop album is in the top 5 this year shows just how rapidly I've taken to hip hop as a whole, when just a year and a half ago I, for whatever reason, rejected it almost entirely. Danny Brown is a big part of this change. His hilarious wordplay and his ability to take things seriously forced me to reevaluate my stance. XXX was an extremely varied and well executed album, and he had a lot to live up to for the follow up, and deliver he did. Minus a dud or two (ahem, "Way Up Here") Old is Danny Brown in both his personae. Songs like "Torture" and "Clean Up" are introspective and reflect on the shit he's going through and been through, while tracks like "Break It (Go)" and "Handstand" are perfect party bangers with absolutely killer beats. But perhaps the biggest highlight is the closer, "Float On." With an incredibly dark vibe and immaculate backing vocals from Charli XCX it closes out the album much in the same way that "XXX" did. It's Danny fucking Brown, and I don't know how else to say it.
The Return:
Float On:
2The National
Trouble Will Find Me

In year in which The National became my new favorite band, it's not surprising to see their album so high on the list. At first, I thought Trouble Will Find Me was the worst of their big four (the other three being Alligator, Boxer, and High Violet of course) but over time, I've come to love it just as much as the others, if not more. And it's not surprising, as the band has a knack for releasing slow burners, and even my very enjoyment of the band has been a long time in the making. As for the album itself, it's much more atmosphere based than previous efforts, and it pays off. And it's hard to argue against "Don't Swallow the Cap" being song of the year. Here's to another ridiculously fucking good album by The National.
Don't Swallow the Cap:
I Need My Girl:
1Laura Stevenson

I enjoyed "Sit Resist." Granted, I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as others seemed to, but I still found it a rather pleasant listen. I certainly didn't expect Laura's follow up "Wheel" to be as perfect as it is and take the AOTY crown. It's both uplifting and heartbreaking, sometimes in the same line and note, and it's a beautiful listen from beginning to end with nary a dull moment. Laura shines with her vocal delivery at every turn demanding the listener's attention right up until her last utterance of "I'll turn over like a wheel" on the title track. Without a doubt the best album of the year, and one of the better albums to come out in some time.
Every Tense: (live, but still sounds great)
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