Top 5 Albums of 2013

Top 5 Albums of 2013

AFTER a HUGE year in music it’s once again time to call on some of my music-loving pals to take on the almost painful task of narrowing down their list of favourite artists and albums to just five – their top 5 albums of 2013.

We’ve got a bit of everything in the mix this time around, but with stand-out favourites coming in the form of The National’s “Trouble Will Find Me” and Chvrches’ “The Bones Of What You Believe”.

A big thanks goes out to all who have helped me out this year, especially my regular contributors, in Michelle, Kat, Ryan and Matt, who are back for their third year of helping me out with this wee project. You’ll also notice I’ve attempted to widen the genre pool a little this year by calling on my workmate and devoted hip hop fan, Jason, who provides us with an interesting new perspective.

Here we go…

MICHELLE DAVIES (@michd10)

Michelle Davies

1. REFLEKTOR – ARCADE FIRE

I am continually impressed by the evolution that is Arcade Fire. From start to finish this album is just so much fun.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Afterlife”.

2. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

Some songs actually stop me in my tracks, and there are more than a few on this album that have that effect. I didn’t think they could top Boxer, and then High Violet blew my mind… and now this.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Don’t Swallow The Cap”.

3. LIGHTNING BOLT – PEARL JAM

My love for Pearl Jam is of venti proportions, so the release of this album was Christmas come early. It’s just SO good, and translates even better live.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Yellow Moon”.

4. RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES – DAFT PUNK

My first few spins of this album made me feel like I’d travelled back to the ’70′s. And I dug it. Now I just need to see them live.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Instant Crush (ft. Julian Casablancas)”.

5. THE CIVIL WARS – THE CIVIL WARS

What do you mean they aren’t speaking now?! Upon the release of this beautiful piece of art, Joy and John had some kind of falling out and well, it doesn’t sound promising. I hope they can work things out, because there are few things as gorgeous as the 12 songs they strung together here.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Dust to Dust”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

December 04, 2013 Pearl Jam @ Rogers Arena, Vancouver

3.5 hours of pure rock bliss. There aren’t many bands on planet earth as solid live as Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder’s vocals somehow manage to get better as the night goes on, and pulling out rarities like “Thumbing My Way” and covering “Mother” by Pink Floyd took it to the next level.

I’ve never wanted to hit rewind so bad.

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

The Head and the Heart.

I feel like their teetering on hitting it big. If you’ve seen them live, you know what I’m talking about. Their albums are so solid throughout, and then they take it to another level when they perform. They’ve been cruising through the festival circuit the past few years, but I feel based on their sophomore album they are going to become the headliners in a hurry.

RYAN ASHTON (@rwashton)

Ryan Ashton

I’ve read and been told that 2013 was an incredible year for music. I, admittedly, can’t say I’ve been on the cutting edge of this bounty of veritable audio riches this year, which seems almost criminal to say in the presence of the other incredible contributors to this annual list.

With my adoption of Songza in the early part of the year, I found myself pressing ‘go’ on a playlist, and taking the easy way out with the tunes on cruise control. But that’s no way to find new music, is it?

So although my horizons this year are a little narrower than in years past, I think I still managed to find some true beauties that I hope are new to you as well. Here’s to the selections and contributors for this year’s annual list, and to yet another great year of “music that matters” in 2014.

1. THE CIVIL WARS – THE CIVIL WARS

These guys hit me hard with their debut release, Barton Hollow, in 2011, so knowing they had a follow up album due out this year I was intrigued and excited to see what they had in store. Man, they did not disappoint. Their self-titled sophomore release is nothing short of sensational from front to back.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): The album leads off on what I think is the strongest track of the bunch, with “The One That Got Away” and keeps you hooked from there on in. As well, a solid nod to the Smashing Pumpkins with their haunting rendition of “Disarm” too – well done.

2. THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE – CHVRCHES

I didn’t uncover this album until the middle of November, so I’ve only had a few weeks to get this into a consistent rotation. I’m glad I have, as this album is outstandingly fun and fantastic from the get go.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Right now, I’m loving “We Sink” as my go-to track, but that is bound to change as I keep this album on the go.

3. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

Again, a late addition to my regular rotation in 2013, but outstanding nonetheless. The voice of lead Singer Matt Berninger seems like it got even deeper on this album, which is hard to fathom, but regardless of his pitch he and the rest of the band nail it with this release. And a rarity in an era of digital music – the album cover art is totally awesome.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Standout track on the album goes to “Don’t Swallow The Cap” for sure.

4. MOUNTAINS OF SORROW, RIVERS OF SONG – AMOS LEE

For any of those who know me, you’d know you can count on at least one thing when it comes to new music. If Amos Lee sings it, chances are I’ll love it. 2013 continues that trend, with his release of Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song. In classic Amos Lee fashion, he straddles the line (or lines) between country, folk and blues and does a great job in the process.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): For me, the top track on this release has to be “Chill In The Air” with a stick tap to the banjo-infused “Tricksters, Hucksters and Scamps”.

5. AM – ARCTIC MONKEYS

Tragically, this is the first time I’ve ever really listened to the Arctic Monkeys. It feels quite shameful, as they’re a hell of a band. And this is a hell of an album. I had zero expectations going into it, with no track record to cloud or bias my judgment and I came out of it wishing I’d found them earlier.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Standout track for me, without question, has to be “Arabella”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

September 19, 2013 The Lumineers @ Dear Lake Park, Vancouver

I guess if you only get to a single concert in a year, there isn’t much choice when having to decide on the best one. But saying that, with the show that The Lumineers put on under a starry Vancouver sky on a warm September evening, I’d probably still choose this one as my favourite even if I made it to dozens others.

Having just seen their set at the iTunes Festival on AppleTV earlier in the year, I was hopeful of a similar performance. Man, they did not disappoint. There’s something to be said for a band that has the crowd singing right back to them for each and every song they played. Highlight of the night had to be their cover of Sawmill Joe’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem But My Own” which, funnily enough, isn’t even their own song.

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

I tried. I got nothing.

KATIE DRECHSEL (@kat_drex)

Katie Drechsel

1. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

Yes, I cheated big time but this album was too good to pick one (or even two) tracks as my stand out. I’ve played this album end to end, non stop all year and I’m not sick of a single song.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “This is the Last Time”, “Slipped”, “Humiliation” & “Sea of Love”.

2. WHEN IT WAS NOW – ATLAS GENIUS

This years 80′s throwback.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Back Seat” & “Centred On You”.

3. THE HURRY & THE HARM – CITY & COLOUR

A bottle of wine and Dallas. That is all.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “The Lonely Life”, “Thirst”, “Two Coins” & “Death Song”.

4. URBAN WILDERNESS – ALEX LLOYD

The surprise entry. This album isn’t even available on iTunes in Canada but a friend from Down Under got me sorted and now I’m hooked. Can’t wait to see Alex LLoyd live.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Black Cat” & “Untouchable Moon”.

5. RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES – DAFT PUNK

A mix of disco, soft rock and pop. A must have on your iPhone.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Giorgio by Moroder”.

CONCERT(S) OF THE YEAR

September 01, 2013 ALT-J (∆) @ The Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

I’m looking forward to a full album from Sir Sly and the new Broken Bells album!

ROB MASEFIELD (@masey)

Rob Masefield

It’s my own fault really. Devoting myself to a project such as #MusicMonday has found me searching for, and therefore being exposed to, so many amazing new and familiar artists throughout the year. This has inevitably made, once again, the process of selecting only five albums to present in this here post, damn near impossible.

While I only have provision for the brilliant albums listed below, I feel it’s only fair to pay kudos to those artists that so narrowly missed my final selections this year. Artists such as “Flume”, “The National”, “Eskimo Joe”, “St Lucia”, “Disclosure”, “Haim”, “City & Colour” & “Fat Freddy’s Drop”.

*Sigh* it hardly seems fair. But anyway…

1. AM – ARCTIC MONKEYS

Given the strength of their previous four albums which all debuted at the top of the UK charts – making them only the second band in history to do so, the anticipation for “AM” was pretty high.

Once again, Alex Turner and the rest of the lads from Sheffield delivered, this time with an album that has no apparent weaknesses across all 12 tracks. It’s UK Indie Rock at its very best!

I’m genuinely stoked to already have tickets in my hot little hands for these guys as they are scheduled to bounce into Brisbane in May. Can’t wait!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Ummm… errrr… do I have to? Well… ok… “R U Mine?” then.

2. THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE – CHVRCHES

Like a good few of my fellow music-lovers on this page I was somewhat blind-sided by this stunner of an album. I mean come on… “scottish synthpop”? Who would have thought… right?

No doubt about it, the pint-sized, oh-so-cute Lauren Mayberry and her synth-wielding cohorts Iain Cook and Martin Doherty have created something special here. From “Recover”, to “We Sink” and “Lies”, it’s a collection of tracks that will be spinning and being dropped into various playlists for all occasions, long after the buzz around “The Bones Of What You Believe” wanes.

A must-listen if you’re sitting there right now asking yourself, “Who?”.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): It’s criminal splitting the opening four tracks on this album, but in the interests of this requirement, for me, you can’t go past “Gun”.

3. IF YOU WAIT – LONDON GRAMMAR

One look at attractive lead vocalist Hannah Reid, and you’d expect to be dished up a collection of neat, catchy pop tunes on this killer debut album from British trio “London Grammar”.

Instead, she opens her mouth and a divine, unexpected, almost Florence Welch-ish voice wraps itself around a selection of brooding but powerful songs that tell of people who have come and gone from Hannah’s life.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): The collaborative effort with fellow Brits “Disclosure” is right up there, but “Strong” is the one track that will forever stay with me.

4. HOWLIN’ – JAGWAR MA

All throughout 2013 I’ve been banging on about the strength and depth of Aussie music right now. A stellar example of this can be found in Sydney trio “Jagwar Ma”.

With their own unique style described as psychedelic/dance, the lads have received love this year from respected critics on both sides of the pond (US & UK), as well as acclaim from noteworthy peers such as “Foals” and “The XX” with whom they toured during the year.

Just one of the acts featured in the solid lineup I’m looking forward to catching at next year’s “Laneway Festival”. Lock them in, right alongside the likes of “Chvrches”, “Cloud Control”, “Haim”, “Lorde”, “The Jezabels” and more – woot!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Let Her Go” – dig the harmonies, the flow, the beat. What a beaut!

5. DARK STAR – JAYMES YOUNG

Easily the best debut artist find for me over the past 18 months has been the silky-smooth, mysterious, Jaymes Young. While his 2013 EP release doesn’t necessarily match the full-length efforts of the various company above, the production quality and sheer addiction value of each and every track on this album solidifies his position in my top five this year.

If there was ever a time I wished I was back living in London, it was probably earlier in the year when London Grammar, supported by Jaymes Young, shimmied into town. Ahhhhh to have been but a fly on the wall at just one of those gigs…

When this fella decides it’s time to unleash his first full-length studio album on us all, hopefully in the new year… “LOOK OUT!” is all I can say.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): Again, on an EP of only 5 tracks, all brilliant, it’s tough to single one out. But… “Fragments” gets the nod this time around.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

Mutemath @ The Hi-Fi

March 23, 2013 Mutemath @ The Hi-Fi, Brisbane

It felt like I’d been waiting my whole life to see Mutemath live. The few times they came through Vancouver when I was living up in the “Great White North”, I was either out of town or unable to get a ticket – such is the popularity of these guys and the reputation they have as a live act. Respected US music magazine “Alternative Press” even went so far as touting the group in their very first year together as a band (2007) as, “the #1 band you need to see live before you die.”

It’s safe to say I went into this gig with HIGH hopes, and every single last one of those cloud-flirting expectations were met, if not exceeded. The Hi-Fi was a writhing, sweaty mess by the time the last song of their set wound up. I could go on and on about the night in this here spot, but I’ve already covered how it all went down here, so check that out if you want.

For those of you curious to hear and see more, check out their “Armistice Live” CD/DVD combo, or to have a quick look now at the boys in action, click here to see a performance of their hit “Blood Pressure”, recorded in 2012 in Washington DC.

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

So I thought I’d squeeze in this wee question category this year giving everyone a chance to flaunt their music discovery chops… and here I am completely torn as to who I am going to highlight myself.

For all the reasons mentioned earlier, it’s hard to go past Jaymes Young having a completely outstanding year, should he choose to assemble and release a full-length album combining the strengths of his latest EP with the quality of other tracks he has tucked away.

Looking more locally, however, two young blokes with contrasting styles who really made some serious waves this year and will hopefully really shine in 2014 are Triple J Unearthed artists, Patrick James and Dustin Tebbutt.

Look out for these guys. Look for the track “Brighter Lights” for a taste of Patrick’s talents, and “Where I find You” to hear what Dustin has on offer.

MATT BURGESS (@therealburgo)

Matt Burgess

2014 was probably the “smoothest” year I can remember in music for quite some time. By that, I mean it was the year where polished pop music finally became cool again, and was totally embraced by the indie kids. That’s definitely reflected in my choices below; it’s by far the most “pop-driven” list of any of my end of year recaps, in all the years I’ve been blogging. And I think that’s actually a really, really cool thing.

Below are in no particular order, because I’m a rebel like that.

1. BAD BLOOD – BASTILLE

Just a great, great album. There’s something here for everyone, and – although that sometimes can water down an album in other case – in this case, Bad Blood is only stronger for it. From start to finish, Dan Smith speaks both for and to you, in completely predictable ways – but damned if that doesn’t just make me enjoy this more.

Sometimes predictability isn’t a bad thing… it’s predictable because it feels right, natural. As a result, there’s a comfort and familiarity listening to these tunes, like it’s your favourite band from years ago; all this despite the fact that it’s Bastille’s debut album (EPs and previous singles aside).

Synth-laden and electronic pop that will appeal to fans of Mumford and the likes. Give it a spin.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): In an album of stand-out singles? Tough, but I’d have to go with album opener, “Pompeii”.

2. MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY – VAMPIRE WEEKEND

So, I’ve had a thing about VW in the past. I caught myself humming along to their tunes, but in a lot of ways, I just couldn’t get into them as much as others did. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they were great at crafting catchy hooks, but whenever I tried to listen to a full album of theirs, something just seemed… off. There was a lot of hype and glossy style there, but they just couldn’t sustain me all the way through.

With “Modern Vampires of the City”, however, that all changed. In an interview with the New York Times, Ezra Koenig said, “In the past, I think a lot of our songs have had detours… I feel like every song on this album has a purpose”, and when I read that, I finally knew what was different. Ezra was spot on in his own awareness of their music; it’s the most complete album of theirs yet, and one that I can totally get in to. I don’t think it’s their most mature album – people have been using that label like they’ve been immature before – but I do think it’s their most focussed album.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Unbelievers”.

3. THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE – CHVRCHES

Wow. Wow wow wow. Ok, seriously, find me a stronger album opening in 2013 than the trio of tunes that open, “The Bones of What You Believe”. Honestly, I’m hard pressed to think of a stronger opening act at all, come to think about it. “The Mother We Share”, already hyped in my own mind as one of the year’s best songs prior to the album’s release, was then followed by the even catchier “We Sink”, with “Gun” rounding out the hat-trick.

Overall, just a super-strong album, with only “You Caught the Light” seeming the odd tune out in terms of enjoyment. But, that aside, probably my favourite album of the year – and, again, it’s synth-driven electro-pop. I’m a singer-songwriter/folk/americana stalwart… what the heck happened in 2013??!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “We Sink”.

4. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

So, we should probably get this out of the way: if you weren’t a The National fan before this album, I’m not sure this will be the one to turn you around. Like most albums from the band, it’s not an immediate winner. At first listen, you’ll probably be hard pressed to remember a “single”. But after multiple spins, you’ll find you just keep coming back to it, again and again… likely with a wistful sense of nostalgic desperation. Let’s be clear, it’s no Alligator, nor Boxer — but if you’ve grown with these guys from the beginning, it’s exactly where the album needed to be.

Self-aware to the extreme, it’s a slow burner that will bury itself deep inside your mind. The frantic sounds of Alligator aren’t here, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be disappointed. But there’s something a whole lot more menacing, if weary, here.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Graceless”.

5. DAYS ARE GONE – HAIM

You know, it was kind of inevitable that there would be the backlash against Haim. Danielle and Este Haim were a tween-pop outfit. “Valli Girls”, put together by Richard Marx (yes, that Richard Marx), prior to striking out on their own with younger sister, Alana. So, already, they’re tarnished with the “manufactured” label. And the production values on “Days Are Gone” don’t help their case; it’s so slick, so damn polished, that you’d immediately think that means it eliminates any personality, any soul from the release.

But somehow, Haim pull it off. Perhaps it’s because they’re just so insanely, insanely talented. “Days Are Gone” is an amazing debut for the sisters, and one that really isn’t worthy of the current hipster backlash on the LA trio. Because when you get down to it and throw all those preconceptions away, this is just a band making ridiculously tight music. So do your part and enjoy it.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “The Wire”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

Errr… I racked my brain on this one, but honestly can’t remember going to any gigs in 2013. Should I hand in my music blogger press card now, or after the hors d’oeuvres?

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

You know, I like to think I’ve got a pretty good track record on these things: I called Tim Nelson and the Cub Scouts back in 2011 on this very blog, and 2013 was a good year for them with tons of Triple J exposure. I called Ben Howard back in 2009, when 2011 was his big year for radio play. Then there was Joe Pug, called back in 2008, when 2010′s “Messenger” was really his breakthrough for the mainstream. I could keep on going back further and name a lot more, but I already sound pretty wanky.

That said, I’ve also completely got things wrong. I’ve always thought artists like Bob Schneider, Julian Velard, Donavon Woods, Randy Ponzio, Robert Francis, The Oh Hellos and many more would be household names. There used to be a category on my blog, “Artists to look out for in [NEXT YEAR INSERTED HERE]“. All of those artists I just mentioned were listed as ones to look out for, and none of them ever really got the recognition I felt they needed (sadly likely never will, in Randy’s case).

But there’s one band that I just keep on coming back to. Since 2007, I’ve been calling The Damnwells “The World’s Most Underappreciated Band”, and I still feel that way. It boggles my mind that tunes like Golden Days, Like It Is and Down With the Ship have not seen a wider audience.

So here’s the thing: Alex and the original lineup of The Damnwells are currently raising funds for their 5th LP, with a scheduled release of 2014. So, who do I think you should look out for in 2014? The Damnwells. Because, dammit, it’s their time.

NOTE:

Burgo has his own brilliant music blog which is worth keeping your eyes on throughout the year.

SARA DEARING (@smallmemoires)

Sara Dearing

1. THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE – CHVRCHES

Definitely the album of the year for me. I just couldn’t get enough of this synth-pop beauty. Addictive, inventive and I’m yet to take this out of my rotation since discovery.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Tether” & “The Mother We Share”.

2. DARK STAR – JAYMES YOUNG

To be honest I’m not sure it was ever an official album or just a beautiful list of all his songs to date that I was sent via drop box, regardless this artist had me swooning. His sound was very hard to pin down for me, bluesy or R&B, emo at times, but very seductive and had me craving for more for many weeks out of the year.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “One Last Time”.

3. THE HURRY & THE HARM – CITY & COLOUR

This album actually surprised me. At first I had to ask myself, “where was the raw, acoustic, vegan sound of Dallas Green’s guitar and naked voice that I normally find with City and Colour”. Although more processed than previous releases, this album is still a winner in my books.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Harder Than Stone”.

4. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

There is something about this guy’s work that is just so entirely hopeless and depressing, but my god its layered with such dark undertones of art and beauty. There is a very apparent sense of sadness in Matt Berninger’s baritone delivery, of what can only be described as despair-ridden lyrics. Its hard to describe, but its almost like he pulls something good out of you when he brings you down to that dark place.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “I Need My Girl”.

5. WHEN IT WAS NOW – ATLAS GENIUS

This album has a great sound. I’ll admit some of their tracks sound a little repetitive, but the collection of gems on the album prompted me to still have it on repeat!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “If So”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

To my utter shock and displeasure I’ve realised that I haven’t gone to see any concerts this year, with the exception of sitting in Hyde park over in London when the “Stones” were playing.

My excuse for this? I spent most of my “fun budget” this year travelling (not a bad second to music) and got to see the home town of CHRCHVES. I am happy to share, however, that I will be seeing City & Colour this Spring with Half Moon Run as the opening act. Very excited about that!

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

To be honest I have bad vision when it comes to pegging who’s going to break into the scene, but I have to mention that Dominique Fricot’s “Our last song” was one of my favourite tracks in 2013 and I would love to see him just sweep the country with his sound and vision.

Another Canadian artist I recently discovered but has been around for a while is Jenn Grant. I’m not sure how big she ever got, but a few of her hits off of the 2012 album “The Beautiful Wild”, particularly “I’ve Got Your Fire”, have been playing on the local indie channel and I’m hoping they stick! ;)

DAMIEN HILL (@damienhill)

Damien Hill

1. TROUBLE WILL FIND ME – THE NATIONAL

The combination of Matt Berninger’s deep baritone voice and the clever, introspective song-writing have made The National’s albums a staple for me over the years. This album continues to meet the high standard that The National is known for.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Don’t Swallow The Cap”.

2. THE WEATHERMAN – GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV

The master of the ballad, I fell in love with Gregory Alan Isakov’s music in 2012 when I first heard his previous, 2009 album “This Empty Northern Hemisphere”. This new album is even better than the last.

His style is kind of easy listening but there’s a lot of depth to the lyrics and his vocal style is somehow raw and smooth at the same time. I imagine seeing this guy live would be kind of magical.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “St Valentine”.

3. LET’S BE STILL – THE HEAD AND THE HEART

I’ve been waiting for this release since their debut album two years ago and I wasn’t disappointed. In the same vein as The Lumineers and other recent folk acts, but a little slower paced at times.

Long live the folk revival!

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Another Story”.

4. HUMMINGBIRD – LOCAL NATIVES

Another band’s sophomore album I’ve been patiently waiting for and delighted to finally hear. The band’s use of harmonies and changes in percussion are so catchy and the band does a great job with this album to create space and atmosphere in several of the tracks.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Heavy Feet”.

5. MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY – VAMPIRE WEEKEND

Another great album. Still fast and snappy but this album seems to be a little more varied with a bit of gospel influence and the production is fantastic. I enjoy all tracks from beginning to end.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Unbelievers”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

Embarrassingly I didn’t get to a single gig in 2013 (having a one year old daughter probably has something to do with that).

We were planning to see The Civil Wars at a church in Brisbane but the tour was cancelled.

The only live act I can recall seeing this year was Tim – The King of Kids at a local fair… my daughter loved it! Hopefully in 2014 we’ll use our babysitters more often.

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

I’m horrible at predicting any kind of success so I’m going to dodge the question and instead say what I’m looking forward to in 2014.

Mew, the alternative rock band from Denmark are working on their first album in four years and have just released a preview track. Another album I’m looking forward to is Bombay Bicycle Club’s 4th album which is due in February 2014.

Bring on the new year!

JASON CORBETT (@jsncbt)

Jason Corbett

1. NOSTALGIC 64 – DENZEL CURRY

Denzel Curry, former member of the Raider Klan, brought us his debut album in 2013 – Nostalgic 64. This was the first I’d ever heard of Curry – no singles, no features. The only member I knew from the Raider Klan was the leader – SpaceGhostPurpp.

Curry delivers the best hot streak of the year. By the time I have made it through track 1 to 8, I want to rob a bank. This album makes you feel you’re sitting in the back of a car in the dark, with your homies, getting ready to do something bad.

Packed with druggy production and some serious Bone-Thug-esque flow, this album has got me very excited for what this guy can do.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Threatz”, “Parents” & “A Day In The Life Of Denze Curry Pt 2″.

2. BECAUSE THE INTERNET – CHILDISH GAMBINO

I have always liked Gambino, and thats as far as it went. His first album “Camp” had some catchy tracks, solid production, but often the content was a little cheesy and hard to relate to. It seems like CG has taken a big hit from the social world and seems very sensitive and open minded to his latest project.

CG calls this album “an experience”. He created a screencast that he expects listeners to watch simultaneously and he even acted in character for all media commitments.

Childish comes through with some top notch productions, awesome concepts and features Lloyd on the hook on the track “Telegraph Ave”. The world needs more Lloyd hooks.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Worldstar”, “Shadows” & “No Exit”.

3. WATCHING MOVIES WITH THE SOUND OFF – MAC MILLER

This album is one of those unskippable albums. Considering this album has 16 tracks, thats pretty impressive. It seems Cheesy Mac has taken a lot more drugs since his last project, “Blue Slide Park”, and it has worked wonders for his creativity and subject matter.

With some great features from Action Bronson, SchoolboyQ and production from Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller’s producer alias), Mac provides you with an amazing listening experience. While you’re at it, check out his live version of this album, called “Live from Space” featuring the Odd Future sub-group “The Internet”.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Watching Movies”, “Objects in the Mirror” & “Red Dot Music”.

4. OLD – DANNY BROWN

Danny Brown. God damn. This man puts it all on the line on this album. “Old” has a Side A and Side B concept, paying tribute to the days of the record but at the same time translating that Danny Brown is not just about getting fucked up on Molly and receiving fellatio whilst on stage performing.

He also has come from a seriously dark past and seen some seriously dark things. Starting off in his home town of Detroit, Danny tells of trips to the corner store to get bread and seeing a junkie get shot, he talks about “Gremlins”, people that go mental once the sun goes down and they get some drugs in them.

Then you get to Side B, starting with “Dope Song” where Danny says this is his last ‘dope song’, given that he doesn’t need to sell drugs anymore, with money he makes from music. The back half of the album has you turning the volume right up and wanting to get out of your seat. After “Old” I’m super keen to see Danny at the “Laneway Festival” here in Brisbane in February.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Gremlins”, “The Return”, “Side B” & “Smokin’ & Drinkin’”.

5. THE SWOUP SERENGETI – SPARK MASTER TAPE

Spark Master Tape comes out of nowhere with his second mixtape, jam packed to the rafters with pop culture references, out of this world bass lines, voice synthesisers and too many cocaine references to count.

SMT is the anti-rapper, still yet to show his face, or provide any interview disclosing his identity. The production on this tape feels a little more polished than his first tape, “Syrup Splash”. With almost the whole thing produced by Paper Platoon (whether that is Spark Master himself just using another alias), you know you’re in for an eargasm with a heavy Southern influence.

STAND OUT TRACK(S): “Murder Monsoon”, “Leave My Crib” & “Tina Tuna”.

CONCERT OF THE YEAR

Pass.

2014 BREAKOUT ARTIST PREDICTION

Yung Lean.

I must admit I haven’t listened to too much of the young Swede’s music, but there is a lot of buzz about him on the net. I think if he moved to the states he would blow up, but I don’t see that happening.

The playlists

A “Top Albums” list on masey.co just wouldn’t be the same without an accompanying set of playlists for you to load up and enjoy, so here’s a couple of links for you.

Cheers and see you in 2014! For those of you interested in receiving new music in your inbox every week, sign up for my #MusicMonday updates.

Rdio Top 5 Albums of 2013 Playlist
Spotify Top 5 Albums of 2013 Playlist
QUESTION: Agree or disagree strongly with any of the selections above? What would you have in your top 5 for 2013? Drop a comment below with your picks.

 Image credits: Background & lead image by Tyler Lewis (Flickr).

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