PICKS: Favorite Albums of 2013 (Part 1/2)

2013 Albums

First off, let me clear it out that this is not a “Best Albums of 2013” post. A lot of music websites have said Kanye West’s “Yeezus” is the best of 2013 and my list doesn’t include that–so maybe, something’s wrong with me but that is not the point. I’m just listing my favorite albums because you know, year-end lists… ’tis the season to be listing albums of the year la la la. (Please tell me you didn’t just sing that.)

The following list is not necessarily ranked by it’s quality. I’m too torn up to pick a number one album for this year.

Sara Bareilles The Blessed Unrest

The Blessed Unrest
Sara Bareilles
(July)

I’ve always been a fan of Sara Bareilles. So when this album rolled around, I was pretty much psyched.

I didn’t have too much expectations about this new album because I’ve always been satisfied of Sara’s work. To me, the only important thing is that she releases a new record. What was surprising though is that it turned out to be a superb record. After first listen, I already knew it’d end up in my year-end list. And apparently, so did the Grammy’s because The Blessed Unrest is nominated for Album of the Year (you have no idea how proud I am).

Sara didn’t change much when it comes to her sound; she still remains the same old piano-pop singer-songwriter that brought us “Love Song” and “Gravity” but The Blessed Unrest has given us Sara in a whole new level of artistry, further raising the bar she set herself.

The best thing about this record? The songwriting.

STANDOUT TRACKS: 1000 Times, I Choose You, Manhattan, Chasing the Sun, and Brave

[Read a full review of this album here.]

Lorde Pure Heroine

Pure Heroine
Lorde
(September)

Okay, so maybe, there’s too much talk about Lorde these days. Duh, “Royals” was number one for nine weeks; I repeat, nine weeks.

It may be a bit self-righteous to say this but I have been listening to Lorde since last year when she released her first EP, The Love Club. The now-legendary track “Royals” is a part of that EP so trust me, I am probably as sick of Royals as you are.

Pure Heroine though came quite a surprise to me. I didn’t like it at first listen but it kinda grew on me until it became an album I constantly listened to. There’s something about Lorde’s music that captivates me. The pure rawness of her voice and the beats and subtle syths make the whole material unique. And it’s always nice to listen to something fresh.

Bonus points also goes to Lorde for being such a damned good live performer. She’s 17 and she nails it every single time.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Royals, 400 Lux, A World Alone, White Teeth Teens

[Read a full review of this album here.]

Tommy and the High Pilots - Only Human

Only Human
Tommy & The High Pilots
(May)

This may be not one of the most popular choices out there but this album made its way to this list right on first listen.

Tommy & the High Pilots has proven me that the alternative-rock genre hasn’t lost its charm amongst the swarm of bands that come and go these days. Only Human is a simple record, something that doesn’t try too hard to come out strong. There’s a constant ascending tempo in every track, willing each song to be someone’s anthem or a song of redemption. It’s bare but in a fun way. It doesn’t take away the fun in its personality but at the same time, it’s honest.

Tommy & the High Pilots is one of the bands I’m glad to have discovered this year. They always take me back to the days of rock where no gimmick is required to make a record work.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Devil To Pay, Young & Hungry, Somebody Make A Move, and Outta My Head

Birdy Fire Within

Fire Within
Birdy
(September)

I wonder sometimes why this album never got the attention it deserves.

‘Fire Within’ has got to be one of best–if not the best–non-conventional pop albums I’ve heard this year. Birdy, best known for her rendition of Skinny Love–steps out of her comfort zone into a larger arena of music where she shines deservingly so.

Just when I thought the album was going to be a collection of tracks that sound exactly like Skinny Love, Birdy surprises me with the purity of her talent and artistry. It’s a pleasant surprise nonetheless because I remember listening to this album for weeks!

STANDOUT TRACKS: Light Me Up, All You Never Say, Wings, and Maybe

[Read a full review of this album here.]

Electric_Lady_Target

The Electric Lady
Janelle Monáe
(September)

Look, I didn’t see Janelle Monáe coming. I don’t usually listen to futurist funk-pop but The Electric Lady is an exception to that rule.

I’ve listened to Monáe’s material before and wasn’t entirely impressed with it but her work with this album simply exceeds everything she’s done before.  This album is ambitious, mostly about ‘breaking free’ which also means it gives zero f***s about what the general audience might think about the message she’s trying to send. From her vocals to her style up to the last detail, this album is apologetically  electric and fun, and just entirely exceptional.

The entire album urges to step outside of a world where people are pressed onto labels. It’s a prequel to her debut album, The Archandroid that tells the story of Cindi Merryweather, Monáe’s alter-ego.

This, overall, is a confident album. No doubt about that.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Q.U.E.E.N., We Were Rock & Roll, Dance Apocalyptic. and Victory

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Trouble Will Find Me
The National
(May)

Come on, you can’t say you didn’t see this coming.

Every time The National releases an album, it’s entry to a favorite/best albums year-end list is almost automatic. They are that good. The band’s dire need to create song that radiates painful melancholia has almost become their identity. They never fail to give us something that is cold-bloodedly heartbreaking. Their records are mostly elemental of despair and deep-rooted longings.

But Trouble Will Find Me is probably the band’s most self-assured one. It’s that one record that holds The National right in their respective place in the indie-rock scene.

For the most part, Trouble Will Find Me is a statement–one that finds serenity in talk and criticism, thus the name. It is, as always, a brilliant record.

STANDOUT TRACKS: Demons, Fireproof, This Is the Last Time, and Hard To Find

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