Top 10 albums of 2013 critics' picks: Alex Hudson
I spent much of 2013 obsessed with R & B singer Frank Ocean, who didn’t release an album this year. These are the LPs I enjoyed in between repeated sing-alongs to “Novacane”. In alphabetical order…
Boards of Canada
The Scottish electronic duo’s latest collection of bleakly futuristic mood pieces came out in June and made for a seasonally inappropriate (but nevertheless excellent) summer soundtrack.
Drifters/Love Is the Devil
I normally favour music with catchy hooks, but my number one most-listened-to song according to iTunes is Dirty Beaches’ ambient jazz dirge “Greyhound at Night”. The rest of this double LP—particularly the cinematic, mostly instrumental Love Is the Devil—is similarly eerie and immersive.
Nothing Was the Same
Fame-obsessed braggadocio tends to be dull, but Drake tempers his boasts with poignant confessions about heartbreak, family, and two-faced friends. Plus, “From Time” contains the year’s funniest diss lyric: “Then she started telling me how I’ll never be as big as Trey Songz/Boy was she wrong.”
Days Are Gone
Consider Haim’s inclusion on this list a raised middle finger to everyone who harps on about how “The Wire” sounds like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”.
I’ve been rooting for these four Canadian dudes ever since they shared their first album, Record in a Bag, as a free download in early 2009. White Paint fulfills their potential with unforgettable power-pop choruses, big-picture lyricism, and intricately wrought sonic structures.
Shawn Mrazek Lives!
Thought He Was Dead
The title of “Love Is Bursting Through the Walls” sums up the life-affirming spirit of this local drummer-turned-frontman’s big-hearted indie-rock anthems. With just eight songs in 19 minutes, it’s short enough to be considered an EP, but it has the emotional scope of a much larger project.
My Bloody Valentine
m b v
When thinking about My Bloody Valentine’s catalogue, I sometimes get confused about which songs appear on m b v and which ones are on 1991’s Loveless. Considering that the earlier LP is the most legendary shoegaze album ever, this similarity—in both sound and quality—is definitely a good thing.
The Vancouver-based P:ano/No Kids frontman goes solo for a collection of sad-sack acoustic laments, which are softly strummed and sung in a whisper. It takes restraint to release music with this much negative space, and the results are beautifully intimate.
Many of the 16 tracks on Everything, Everything are barely a minute long, but they’re all bursting with good-natured wit and Pavement-style quirkiness. Shotgun Jimmie’s likable everyman charm makes this album pretty much the polar opposite of Yeezus…
…which isn’t necessarily a knock against Yeezus, because there’s a twisted appeal to Kanye West’s morally confusing mix of scathing social critiques, pervy sex fantasies, and blasphemous megalomania. The only thing more compellingly abrasive than the rapper’s personality is the production, since the beats are primally sinister and frequently sound like they were ripped from a slasher flick.