Top 10 albums of 2013 critics' picks: Gregory Adams

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      This year’s favourites had me either grooving solo on a packed dance floor or curled up crying in a bathtub with the shower running, Big Chill–style. Try to guess which ones are which. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      Rhye
      Woman
      A deeply romantic debut from the downtempo R&B duo, featuring swirling, playful pizzicato strings, shivery synth sensuality, lite-funk beats, and other heaven-sent sounds built around the androgynous, Tobacco Vanille voice of Mike Milosh.

       

      Colin Stetson
      New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
      Guest vocals from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon arguably made this third volume of ambient-sax master Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare series the most approachable, but it’s the marquee artist’s own melancholic moans, running wordless and whale-like beneath hypnotic skronk-outs like “Hunted” and “Part of Me Apart From You”, that’ll make your heart swell.

       

      Queens of the Stone Age
      …Like Clockwork
      What better way to cope with an existential crisis brought on by a near-death surgery experience than by delivering your sexiest masterstroke? Josh Homme and the rest of the Queens do this with a collection mixing high-gloss goth-glam, murky balladry, slinking rhythms, and muscled-up rawk licks, all cooked to perfection beneath a desert sun.

       

      AlunaGeorge
      Body Music
      George Reid’s production work on Body Music is a complex tapestry of wobbly bass pulses, faux pan flute blasts, and other assorted synth sounds, but when paired with fellow Brit Aluna Francis’s toffee-sticky melodies and relatable relationship wordplay, it comes out as one of the most primally danceable collections of the year.

       

      Iceage
      You’re Nothing
      Though slightly more together than the Copenhagen crew’s chaotic debut, You’re Nothing’s whirlwind of hardcore, postpunk, and Italian pop influences still flies by fucked-up and furious. It’s not pure anarchy, however, with the 24-Carlsbergs-later howls of Elias Bender Rønnenfelt running heartbroken on blitzes like “Morals” and “Burning Hand”.

       

      The Pro Era
      PEEP: The aPROcalypse
      Joey Bada$$ may be the star of the bunch, proving his worth with his bars on tracks like the spliff-loaded “School High”, but with a roster rich with young talent like A La $ole, Kirk Knight, NYCk Caution, CJ Fly, and more, it’s only a matter of time before the entire Beast Coast crew gets its due.

       

      Kanye West
      Yeezus
      It’s become incredibly unpopular to back Kanye these days, especially in Vancouver, but Yeezus’s scattershot assault of on-the-fritz electro beats and off-the-cuff one-liners still makes a case that the guy is indeed a rap god. Now someone get him his croissant already.

       

      Baptists
      Bushcraft
      Baptists’ molten metalcore blasts and muck-mired doom riffs make for a most earthshaking debut. Andrew Drury’s growls take aim at the working world (“Think Tank Breed”) or drift off into a dreamworld with a feathery spirit animal (“Still Melt”), all pointing to a desire to cut the cord from society, head to the hills, and practise, well, Bushcraft.

       

      Deerhunter
      Monomania
      While scrubbing away the electronic washes of 2010’s Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter slathered a little extra six-string distortion onto Monomania, with in-the-red standouts including the searing “Leather Jacket II” and the saturated-but-sweet “Sleepwalking”.

       

      Run the Jewels
      Run the Jewels
      After collaborating on each other’s respective solo albums in 2012, rapper Killer Mike and producer/MC El-P got together as Run the Jewels to issue a hard-hitting love letter to hip-hop and friendship. While both bounce brawler braggadocio off of El-P’s nasty beats, the meanness just barely masks the mile-wide grins these two sport whenever they get together.

      Comments

      2 Comments

      Tyler

      Dec 11, 2013 at 1:50pm

      I will never understand the world's love of Kanye West. His music just sounds like complete garbage to me. I'd sit through a Beiber acoustic show any day then listen to West's vomit.

      0 0Rating: 0

      jack

      Dec 13, 2013 at 12:45pm

      Ha! What a burn on Homme!

      0 0Rating: 0