|Breakingthefragile's 2013 Of Pretty Cool Albums And Some Overlooked Stuff As Well
Truth be told, my choices for the best albums of the year would mostly
be the exact same albums that everyone is putting on their end of the
year lists, and I don't think the site needs another list with Deafheaven,
Run the Jewels, ?Like Clockwork, and others of the universally lauded
sort this year. So this is just simply a list of some albums I personally dug
the most, some acclaimed favorites I couldn't help but include, and some
albums I've found to be underrated around the site. The first five spots
are reserved for EPs, and the rest are the traditional 50 album slots. I
tried to include a well-rounded mix of all genres for an amazing year in
music overall. Here's to a promising 2014!
It?s not a period piece by any means, but Submotion Orchestra have decided to
dedicate a little bit of their time to engulf neo-jazz with abyssal production and
some salacious female vocals.
Sort of like a female Tricky in a way. Abrasive whispers of lust that permeate
throughout trip hop music, which is a respectable route to go down these days
when it?s so easy for bedroom electronic artists to succumb to the popular draw of
|Soap and Skin
Female solo artists without a doubt comprised the majority of the EPs that I dug
this year, and even though it doesn?t breach the ten minute mark, Sugarbread
doesn?t feel as short and sweet as its name may imply. Yoko Ono-esque shrieks
may be the garnish for this hazy fraction of post-industrial music, but within the
minimalism to be found here, Soap and Skin has unearthed an enhanced level of
intimacy through brevity.
After getting Jamie Woon to aid in production and scoring a tour with The Weeknd
as an opening act, the sheer quality of this downcast yet alluringly catchy EP
cements Banks as a young artist with loads of potential and a promising future. This
is one to watch in the independent R&B scene, we may have a future queen on our
hands in 2014.
The voice of an angel now comes with the moves like Jagger.
His mindset may still be in the 90s, but it?s nice that Tricky sounds like he?s
mumbling the lyrics of other songs to himself while he?s driving towards a promising
destination, rather than grumbling his paranoid musings while delirious in bed from
Berberian Sound Studio
If this is anything to go by, I?m sure that if the fictional film that this collection of
disturbing guttural noises and droning white noise was made to score ever came to
be in reality, it wouldn?t be NEARLY as terrifying as this soundtrack standalone.
|Toro Y Moi
Anything in Return
A much more light-headed and ethereal approach to the shimmering R&B developed
by How to Dress Well. Recommended to soothe undergraduate hormonal angst.
This. Is. Post-punk. Attention to the infinite number of bands that can?t stop
covering Joy Division, take notes on this assortment of frantic jams where every
instrument is audible and prevalent.
So I?ve noticed Sputnik is into awkwardly cheesy throwback R&B that talks about
sex and relationships like they?re losing hair and gaining new silver ones (Blood
Orange, Justin Timberlake). In that case, I?ll refer you to ?Nono/Yoyo? which is like
making sweet motel love to 80s porn VHS tapes that didn?t have labels but you
settled for it anyway.
I want you to imagine Kings of Leon except for a few things: not terrible (still with
me?), draws heavily from Brian Eno-esque atmospheric production, and pumps out
quick-jabbing hooks for a concoction that brings to mind images of the dance floor
and a bird?s eye overview of the dance floor.
Here we see lo-fi production, left-field hip hop, and jazz-influenced R&B all settled
down happily into a polygamist marriage.
Any fan who has grown wearisome of the very light and high-spirited fluffiness of
their previous two albums should find a lot to love in Kveikur. Sigur Ros has made a
partial return to the bleak and icy soundscapes of ( ), and while it is at times darker
and more somber than anything they've put out in the last decade, this album has
as much sonic diversity as ?g?tis byrjun. Some tracks venture back into instances
of sweeping melancholia, but at the same time it retains the whimsical joy of
Takk..., and the nostalgic innocence of Me? su? ? eyrum vi? spilum endalaust, and
hell, it even provides a stark contrast to all of this through some harsh blasts of
distortion. But what's most admirable about Kveikur - as is with every Sigur Ros
album - is how seamlessly and beautifully everything comes together to forge an
all-around mystifying experience.
Without Your Love
Say what you want about witch house as a genre, but this guy?s music
instantaneously immersed me into its submerged depths with its forlorn samples and
It?s sad that this project spawned from Omar Rodriguez Lopez neglecting The Mars
Volta, but there could not be a better vocalist than Teri Gender Bender singing over
his wailing guitar. This is the most subdued that Lopez has been in a long time,
especially following a string of absent-minded solo albums of unfocused chaos. An
Omar that shows some restraints and sets limitations for himself is an interesting
one to hear, and it?s nice to hear the beautiful and abstract singing of a woman
keeping his chords in line.
Among the countless electronic music producers out there, this guy still isn?t
getting the attention he deserves sadly. You can help by showing this album to any
fans of Flying Lotus, Four Tet, Aphex Twin, or Squarepusher. It?s music that?s worth
sharing even if you can?t figure out how to type the ?µ.?
It?s really a shame that this came out as late into the year as it did, because this is
an album that is packed to the brim with guests, but never feels bloated, over-
stuffed, or disorderly. After the underwhelming disappointment that Deltron 3030?s
return was this year, The Kitchen might be the best thing Del the Funky
Homosapien has been heavily involved with in quite some time. There?s cruisers,
even some bangers, and an abundance of clever raps that just want to show you a
Step up your game, La Roux, you?re about to get knocked down.
Much more distorted and grizzly than your typical Christian metalcore. Even
Underoath wasn't this vile.
|I Am Legion
I Am Legion
An entire album made for those who couldn?t get enough of ?Shellshock.? I?m one of
those people. It?s personally hard for me to say no to grime this filthy, especially
when Noisia is making sure the music being it all is nothing less than pulse-
Tales of Us
Glistening dream pop with a ravishing noir sheen that finds the former trip hop
princess utilizing synths for more refined purposes than attempting to make polish-
laden post-disco sound anything but filtered.
Nothing Was the Same
Contrary to popular belief, a lot of things are the same actually, but they?re things I
honestly didn?t want to ever change. 40s sullen production still leaves a coat of
frost over goose bump-ridden skin, and Drake is still the most open rapper about his
emotional injuries, but remains thoroughly confident and always offers a witty wise-
crack with a smirk and wink for reassurance. ?Own It? has contagious melodies
despite its unconventional framework, and the trap tracks can sound a bit odd at
first, but will undoubtedly become growers as Nothing Was the Same defies Drake?s
own conventions so much that it?s hard not to get on board with.
Breaking Bad, Vol. 2
There?s no other soundtrack on television, or even in film, that sounds like the
magic Dave Porter works. The way this man integrates the inspiration from the
show into the score to make a seamlessly matching soundtrack solidifies Vol. 2?s
cinematic quality as being comparable to something you?d hear booming from the
The album I have always wanted Alter Bridge to make, and one that I predicted
they were steadily progressing towards unleashing upon the rock radio waves. Mark
Tremonti completely lets loose and offers up relentlessly bruising riffs and solos over
surprisingly forward-thinking and layered song structures. With Myles Kennedy
returning from under Slash?s wing and never sounding more vocally impressive,
Fortress cements Alter Bridge as the most technically proficient and naturally
talented band in a marginally vapid genre that?s mostly devoid of a partnership of
brains and bronze.
No Poison No Paradise
Raps from a devious mind and equally devilish beats.
|Robert Glasper Experiment
Black Radio 2
I thought the first Black Radio was a formula for success, and thankfully making a
sequel that capitalizing on the quality music harvested from cool raps over smooth
jazz in a radio playlist like setting hasn?t worn the formula too thing yet. Though I
think Black Radio 3 would probably be stretching the chances a bit.
Most schizophrenic Tetris soundtrack I?ve ever heard.
The Ways We Seperate
If you?ve ever wanted an artist similar to The xx, but focuses more on the
downtempo side of minimalism than the shoegaze inspired side, than this is the
album for you.
The Night's Gambit
Predatory underground hip hop on the midnight prowl; ready to pounce on its willing
victims within a world rife with urban decay and street crime blues.
Heavily textured and cerebral dream pop that will turn heads for those who are fond
of Bjork and Fever Ray.
The North Borders
Ambient trance-step music for hung-over mornings during a vacation to the tropics.
Pain Is Beauty
It?s incredibly refreshing to hear a Goth rock record that isn?t incessantly concerned
with plugging its own faux-satanic-laced self-loathing in every conceivable crevice
of the music. Chelsea?s stripped down and rustic take on doom folk is surged with
razor-sharp industrial influences on Pain is Beauty, and the result is a pitch black
atmosphere whirring about like a storm over a reserved yet pained heart.
It?s vivid, visceral, and speaks loudly through the most somber quiet. It?s Tim
House of Gold and Bones - Part 2
In my experience (and quite a lot of unfortunate experience with post-rock at that)
modern post-nu metal alternative rock bands who try to make double concept
albums never follow through with material supporting the hype because they either
deflate the themes with radio appeal, or fail to have the concept as the main
priority. Corey Taylor penned this dystopian story arc along with a comic book tie-
in, and the whole thing is so focused, well-thought out, and panders to single-
ready songs as well as some interesting music experiments for the band and hard
rock genre as a whole, that it?s a wonder why the front man didn?t do this with a
Slipknot record years ago.
The only thing you really need to say to sell me on this is ?Chino Moreno in a post-
rock band.? Of course Isis with Deftones? vocals goes hand in hand marvelously.
|Cult of Luna
Charging, imperialistic post-metal that never stalls or meanders, but lunges across
mountainous terrain, and never becomes too far gone from the earth to ground
itself for some shockingly accessible metal tracks.
Who doesn?t love Danny Brown? I think the worst you can be is indifferent towards
this character. His voice can come off as annoying to the casual listener, but it?s
difficult not to grow to adore it, but Danny Brown has never failed to express
musically, and Old finds him catering to every demographic within his ever-growing
fan-base. Packed with incendiary trap cuts that reinvent wild party-tailored hip hop
in the best way possible, and somber tracks reflecting on the sweet sorrow of
frequent partying, Old is the Danny Brown album that can appeal to everyone.
A very solid collection of garage tracks that?s strung together over two discs with
capacious production. Zomby is keen on the right limits for everything, and With
Love mostly benefits from this restraint by having brief tracks that delve into
|The Dillinger Escape Plan
One of Us Is the Killer
Continuing to provide evidence for why they?re one of the only metal bands around
today whose music is malignant as hell despite pummeling you with its hyperactively
calculated riffs and totalitarian rage.
The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One
I said it before in my review, and I?ll say it again: ?The Legend of Korra: Original
Music From Book One is the most mature, daring, and adventurous album of music
that we?ll probably ever receive under the Nick Records label.? I still stand by these
claims because it?s difficult to argue with such diverse couplings of Dixieland jazz,
traditional Chinese music, and western orchestral music.
Twelve Reasons to Die
Restoring staggering grit and densely nocturnal production back into paranoia-
charged horror hip hop.
A gripe I almost always have about solo albums from guitarists is that they're far
more interested in constantly flashing their guitar skills than writing actual worth-
while songs. Thankfully, Johnny Marr has delivered some of the best guitar-oriented
rock music in general this year.
Flourishing and whimsical ambient music that's gargantuan and vast in scope like an
expansive desert being viewed from space.
Innocence Is Kinky
Confounding music as far as detailing a genre description is concerned, but it's
freaky, eyebrow raising, and stimulates your brain (and hopefully only your brain).
The Sun Comes Out Tonight
The catchiest and most antagonizing cuts of bulky industrial rock muscle from the
band that helped make the genre just a tad bit more accessible to the modern hard
rock community, and is consistently doing so once again in a more appealing way
|How to Destroy Angels
Gone are the instances of painfully awkward S&M-themed interplay between Reznor
and Maandig, Welcome Oblivion is a true display of caustically dynamic chemistry
between the Nine Inch Nails' frontman and his wife. This album can be as hostile
and bursting at the seams with glitches and hisses as the heft of NIN's music
manages, but Maandig's gently alluring croons and disconcerting wails soaked in
static gives this music a foreboding and ominous touch that Trent can't quite crack
anymore, and through this she has proved herself as a valuable asset that makes
How to Destroy Angels more than just a Trent Reznor side-project.
Random Access Memories
Daft Punk is teaching us all how to boogie again whether you like it or not. Random
Access Memories takes us back to glory days of the earliest form of Daft Punk's
source of inspiration: disco and raw bass-licking funk. The 70-plus minute run-time
slips away as you dance time out the window through the irresistibly catchy
singles. Daft Punk have built more of a time machine than an album, and in doing
so, they've paved the way for a future of IDM with groovy life breathed back into
Never before on a soundtrack have I heard ambient music with an atmosphere this
monolithic and immense. These are gripping, suspenseful, tense, and suffocating
compositions that rapidly rise in tension up into the void above before they wither
away into the unnerving calm of bleak quietness and even chilling silence. The
tracks perfectly toggle and transition between beautifully spacious and complacent
meditative music, and breathlessly chest-crushing eruptions of noise both as
claustrophobic and vastly deep as the perpetual space that the film takes place in.
The Electric Lady
Were there ever concept albums in the R&B genre this theatrical before Janelle
Monae came along? With her lovable quirkiness, flair for the cinematic, intriguing
ambition, and love for a blend of hip hop, neo-soul, and 80s arena rock, this little
lady rightfully has everyone's ears, and is singlehandedly rejuvenating a genre that
is admittedly struggling in the thematic department.
|No Bird Sing
Without a doubt the most obscure take on the concept of rap rock that you will
ever hear. Definition Sickness is equal parts riveting spoken word and vigorous
conscious hip hop as it is experimental rock, post-rock, and exquisitely rustic and
organic ambient music.
|Melt Yourself Down
Melt Yourself Down
The most spastic avant-garde jazz to surface in a long while. Melt Yourself Down
couldn't be bothered with progressive leanings or complex song structures, and that
really doesn't matter when out of all the music making noise out there, this album
manages to grab the most ears with its unique clatter.
Loud City Song
Julia Holter might be my new favorite artist and one of the best of the 2010s.
There's nothing else exactly like Loud City Song, and it?s an album that rewards
repeated listens with a growing appreciation for indisputably interesting music.
I've returned to this album so many times over because it's honestly hard to believe
just how impeccably Blake has perfected his craft of core-rattling soul melodies
echoed through dissonant dub tones. This is the peak of this man's artistry, and
with the lush ambient production, captivating rhythms, and infectious verses, it's
clear that Blake has finally found the human core among the restless searching
through robotic experimentation.
Flowers For My Father
A beautifully crafted atmosphere aids in making Sadistik's cathartic poetry and
vulnerable delivery chill to the bone and resonate within the psyche. One of the
scarce but essential winter hip hop albums.
Aside from it being absolutely vicious, primal, and ruthlessly aggressive in its
vulgarity-induced industrial assault, I've realized over time that the main reason this
has become my favorite Kanye West album is because it was the first collection of
his music that refused to let me escape for its entire run-time, and I myself didn't
want it to let me go long after it ended.