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12.04.13 Top 5 Albums Of 2013 01.08.13 Top 5 Albums Of 2012

Top 5 Albums Of 2013

2013 was a hell of a year for music, replete with comebacks of classic acts and anticipated rrrfollow-ups to recent favorites. Here are the 5 albums that had the greatest impact on my year.
5Woe
Withdrawal


I participated in my first ever Nothing But Black Metal November this year, and after
saturating myself with black metal for a month, Woe's consistent quality and
distinctive take on the genre really stood out to me. Their music melds the
energetic, riff-centric side of the genre with the atmospheric and progressive
leanings of most of their prominent American peers, an approach that instantly
reminded me of Wildernessking on their 2012 debut. Withdrawal sees the band
honing the strengths they built on A Spell For the Death of Man and Quietly,
Undramatically, as well as injecting some melodic hardcore flavor into their sound.
Woe is quickly becoming a favorite and I'm glad this album is getting some
attention.
4Bosnian Rainbows
Bosnian Rainbows


Having barely listened to The Mars Volta or any of Omar's efforts outside the band,
I didn't know what to expect from Bosnian Rainbows. But their colorful approach to
catchy, female-fronted post-punk piqued my interest and only grew on me as the
year progressed. I caught their live performance at this year's Riot Fest, and as
bizarre as Teri Gender Bender's stage antics came across, they lent something
essential to the whole act (which was fantastic, either way). But ultimately the
music is what will win you over: psychedelic and progressive tendencies meld with
bleak alternative pop to create a consistently great debut.
3My Bloody Valentine
m b v


There's really nothing left to say about the 22 year dark period between this album
and the genre-defining Loveless, but this unassuming sequel leaves no question
that the taciturn kings of shoegaze are still unmatched in their field. The songs on
m b v sound like a direct progression from Loveless, and everything about them,
including the delicate (though occasionally baffling) song titles, is unmistakably My
Bloody Valentine. Not everything works perfectly, but the sheer magnitude of the
hits outweighs any slight miss.
2Chelsea Wolfe
Pain is Beauty


Apokalypsis is an album I hold in extremely high regard, and the quality of Unknown
Rooms left no doubt in my mind that a proper follow-up album would be nothing
short of incredible. On Pain is Beauty, Chelsea largely leaves behind the folky
influences of her past efforts and follows her affinity for dim, ethereal compositions
down the paths of darkwave and doomgaze. And it's amazing. Chelsea has always
masterfully balanced suffocating gothic darkness with genuine tender warmth, and
the stark electronics she incorporates into heavy guitar arrangements on this album
lend a new breadth to her sound. Seeing her perform these songs live shortly after
the release of the album only heightened my opinion of them--the volume and
heaviness made it an intensely physical experience, perfectly integrated with a
keen visual style and flawlessly accurate performance, and I have no choice but to
rank it among my favorite concerts of all time.
1Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience


This album was so far ahead of everything else this year for me that it was almost
useless to put anything more on the list. On my very first listen to the iTunes
stream, I was grinning from ear to ear for the full 70 minutes and getting chills at
regular intervals. I listened to it again when I was done, twice. I've never
experienced the "instant classic" feeling with a new release before, and I have to
commend Justin for it. The soulful throwback tropes and long, dynamic song structures
placed this album at the forefront of the modern progressive/alternative/whatever
R&B movement this decade is experiencing, and the strong variety and immaculate
quality of Timbaland's production on the album seat it firmly among similarly diverse
contemporary pop greats like Kanye's MBDTF and Gaga's Fame Monster. This album
is monolithic; every song is an expansive new way to celebrate falling in love with a
fervent sincerity that itself feels like a throwback in guarded, cynical times. If
Futuresex/Lovesounds left any question as to whether MJ's legacy had a successor, this year has cemented JT as a new
generation's King of Pop. And as unnecessary and inevitably disappointing as 2 of 2 may have been, we'll always be
able to look back at the first 20/20 Experience and say that Justin Timberlake and Timbaland made a masterpiece.
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