December 31, 2013

QuickCrit's Top 25 from 2013

1.     The National - Trouble Will Find Me
“Conjugal sad.” -Sir Beatdown
“Once again they have fully won me over and I love all the tracks. Every week I have a new favorite track and they’ve all (all!) held the slot at some point in the seven months since I bought the disc.” -Jeremy
“I have to reward my favorite band with the number 1 position again this year.  They evolve, but never change so much as to alienate their fan base, and from my perspective, just get better and better.” -Tex
“These guys are such a class act.“ -Ancient Indian Wizard
“What's not to love?” -ve1cro
“My wife got this and I rolled my eyes because I've never really liked The National. But I liked this, a lot. To me, they sounded like a different band.” -JT
“Boxer or High Violet, it is not. Berninger, Devendorfs and Dessners slow it down and still put together something amazing.” -NightraiN
“‘You said it would be painless It wasn't that at all' (classic National... lovely dark & dire little numbers).” -Joshua
“I don't care that most of the songs sound the same.” -Nesto

2.     Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

“This is what I wanted the new Tegan and Sara album to sound like.” -ve1cro
“I had to put a moratorium on listening to this album for a few weeks.  It's so catchy that it was always in my head.  I love it so much that I started to hate it.” -Tex
“More Chvrches songs were stuck in my head this year than from any other band. Amazingly tight for such a young band.” -CloningMishap
“Watching 'live' videos of these Scots is a reminder that nobody looks cool playing a sampler but that we're happy that somebody does.” -Ancient Indian Wizard

3.     Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends

“If there is such a thing as being musically blindsided, it's PTM.” -Nesto
“Built around a serious of recurring themes, this is the album that finally made me stop ignoring Portugal. The Man. Songs flow into each other and produce an album that, unlike so many these days, is impossible to listen to a track at a time.” -CloningMishap
“P.TM and Danger Mouse... a recipe for awesomeness.” -NightraiN
“Long-time favorite keeps the streak alive. With each stylistic shift I love them even more.” -awmercy

4.     Kanye West - Yeezus

“Dirty, disgusting, and full of pure genius. Built around the most interesting beats Kanye West has ever produced, Yeezus is a celebration of everything terrible in celebrity life.”  -CloningMishap
“Uh huh, honey.” -The Crane Wife
“Kanye's music is so out there & his lyrics so over-the-top insane that I find myself unable to dislike this shit.” -Joshua

5.     Neko Case - The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love

“This album got me through some interesting moments this year!”-ve1cro
“I love her and I love the songs ‘Calling Card’ so much!!” -Ancient Indian Wizard
“I'm a sucker for anything she does. Because she really does kick ass. Her explanation for "Man" and its less than traditional outlook: "My grandma always referred to herself as a guy. [Old-lady voice.] 'Well, how does a guy get on the 90 from here?' I would talk like that because of her, then I would get corrected, and I’d be like, 'Fuck off! I’m a guy if I wanna be a guy.'" -JT

6.     HAIM - Days Are Gone

“Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush made triplets and they sent them in a time machine back to 1993. And it was good.” -The Crane Wife
“I've come to believe that the ‘Throwback’ bands are not just novelty or niche.  They're taking the sounds that shaped them and refining them and putting out really quality music.  It's the same with punk and garage, so why can't it be true for 90's R & B?” -Tex
“I get hints of Stevie Nicks and undertones of early 90’s R&B.  It’s phenomenal.” - Ancient Indian Wizard

7.     Jason Isbell - Southeastern

“It's meditative, and with one damn gut-punch of a song about cancer. Listening to this album is like reading William Faulkner to me. Similar to Kasey Musgraves but better, these are real stories set to music.” -JT
“He’s got a bracing confidence in both his singing and his songwriting these days, and this album showcases both. Many songs are carried almost entirely by his strong vocal performance, and like a good short fiction writer, his songs suggest fully realized characters with a life beyond the songs.” -Jeremy
“A beautiful album that carries on the tradition of Mr. Isbell simply creating superior to most of his peers.” -NightraiN

8.     Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

“Lyrically deeper than their previous albums but still with a touch of fun. What it lacks in pop sensibilities, it gains in depth.” -CloningMishap
“Listen to the bit in 'Hannah Hunt' where he shifts into the higher register & sings/pleads 'If I can't trust you then damnit Hannah... there's no future, there's no answer'... sooo good, so raw.” -Joshua
“Lame album title but a surprisingly lovable album.” -ve1cro

9.     Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

“A nearly perfect loving homage to the prog side of disco.” -Paul
“Clever in ways that Daft Punk haven't been before. They took their knowledge of music production and used it create a meditation on disco and dance.” -CloningMishap

10.    Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze

“This album played so much at my office that a coworker dressed up as a female Kurt Vile for Halloween. True story.” -Joshua
“Just love this guy's sound.” -Tex

11.    Mikal Cronin - MCII

“A late addition, but a mainstay on my recent playlists.” –Nesto
“Fresh. Unexpected. One of my go-to records of the year even though I never heard of this kid before 2013.” -Joshua

12.    Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons

“Put on the album, turned off the lights, got in the shower... and rocked out to the entire thing. Best album listening experience of the entire year.” -NightraiN
“This is what modern Americana should be.” -Nesto

13.    Phoenix - Bankrupt!

“One of the few albums of 2013 where I was aware of its release date (I live under a rock).  They had a rad epilepsy inducing website up before the album launched too.” -Ancient Indian Wizard

 14.   The White Buffalo - Shadows, Greys & Evil Ways

“Not for the weak of heart and those who can't handle their alcohol.” -Nesto
“The story of Jolene + Joe seems to get better with every listen... touching and epic.” -NightraiN

15.    Battleme - Weight On The Brain EP

“It wasn’t even a contest this year. After being blown away live, these songs kept those moments fresh on my stereo, again and again.” -awmercy
“4 tracks that stayed on repeat and finally captured what it's like to see Battleme in concert. Bring on a full-length release!” -CloningMishap

16.    Lucius - Wildewoman

Hailing from Brooklyn, hmm. I forgive! A little indie-folk, a little girl group...hits my music sweet spot." -Brasilliant
"Damn... those harmonies are tight.” -awmercy

17.    Josh Ritter - The Beast In Its Tracks

“More stripped-down than recent releases. This is basically a concept album about a guy (himself) breaking up, getting divorced, and getting over it. But it's never really sad. In fact, it's pretty uplifting.“ -JT
"I was determined to not have Josh Ritter grace my top five this year, but then he went and recorded "Beast in its Tracks." Damn you Ritter! You are my crack." -Brasilliant

18.    The Head And The Heart - Let's Be Still

“At first glance this band seems like just another Luminonsters and Sons, but then the songs surprise you by taking you someplace different. This was true on the first album and even more so on this second one. An expansive, creative album that rewards multiple listens.” -Jeremy
"My favorites playlist found happy relief in the Head and the Heart from hundreds (or thousands) of repeats of the Lumineers. They calm my brain, even through the toughest editing assignments." - Brasilliant

19.    Phosphorescent - Muchacho

“The first track's Smile-era Beach Boys giving way to the objectively & astonishingly beautiful 'Song for Zula' is one of the finer points of music in recent memory.” -Joshua
“Really, really good on a few tracks... less interesting on others.” -NightraiN

20.    Arcade Fire - Reflektor

“I feel like this is Arcade Fire's Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness -- a sprawling album showing that they've mastered their craft. It may not feel new, but it doesn't stumble a single time across two cds.” –CloningMishap
“An easy listen.” -Graham

21.    PAPA - Tender Madness

“Since the EP release to now, PAPA has been crushing my speakers with Springsteen-esque catchy tracks.” -NightraiN
“Great mix of light and heavy. Does not disappoint.” -Nesto

22.   Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob

“Beautiful without being wasteful, and the most purely happy album I listened to this year.” -CloningMishap
“Whenever people are complaining about an album being over produced they’re usually talking about an album that I like. Case in point.” -Ancient Indian Wizard

23.     Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse

“The melancholy that’s always laced even in their most uptempo songs is more front and center here, and some of the songs are quite dour (which I don’t mind at all) but their signature crescendos and epic builders are still here.” -Jeremy
“A little more mature and self-aware than anything else they've put out.“ -CloningMishap

24.    Air Review - Low Wishes

“Moving and beautiful.” -Nesto
“Found it late in the year, but have been enjoying the indie folk harmonies.” -NightraiN

25.    J Roddy Walston & The Business - Essential Tremors

“Grows on me with each listen. More even, restrained, and less raucous than their earlier albums, but still good garage rock.” -JT
“Somewhere between shredded and blown out, J Roddy Walston has mastered the rock scream, imbuing his otherwise simple songs with pain, urgency, passion, and explosiveness.” -awmercy