Five Best Albums of 2013

by Keenan Schott

So 2013's over. You may have heard about it on Reddit or Twitter or MySpace or Fox News or 

maybe from one of your coworkers who you don't like all that much. Anyway, what that means for music

fans is that  it's time to read the best-of-2013 lists put out by major publications and then bitch on the

internet about how much those lists suck. As a music fan, I've enjoyed complaining about how Rolling

Stone, Pitchfork, and Spin completely missed the mark with their lists this year. Like others, I've had

fun speculating that those publications must've fucked up their iTunes libraries' id3 tags or put CD's in the 

wrong cases or something because no way could they be heaping accolades upon the same shit that I've

been listening to. Now, to be fair, 2013 probably won't go down as the best year in the history of music (if

you disagree with me I'm sure you have perfectly valid reasons, but you're stupid so I don't care [enjoy the

ad hominem, dumb shits]), but that doesn't excuse putting Vampire Weekend anywhere near your best-of

list, much less at the top like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork did. Vampire Weekend make music that should

be in advertisements for things that preteen girls like, not music that should be topping best-of lists. And

what's with putting a mediocre Kanye album at number 1, Spin? Are your Kanye boners so big that you'd 

rather listen to his sub par shit over someone else's dopest shit. (Obviously, because you ranked Chance

the Rapper lower.) And how can anyone anywhere enjoy the new Arcade Fire album? Trite lyrics, diet 

Talking Heads grooves, and a lack of memorable hooks doesn't make an instant classic... unless you're

Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, or Spin, I guess.

 

But whatever. I'm sure it's terribly difficult to assemble a 50 album best-of list. Plus, Rolling Stone,

Pitchfork, and Spin all included some excellent albums on their lists, so I should really just grow up and

quit whining. However, there are still some great albums that came out this year that deserve to receive

more hype, so rather than simply declaring a cease-bitching, I'm going to do one better and make my

own best-of list. It's only going to be five albums long, and I'm sure only two or so people are going to read

it, and I bet that both of those people will disagree with my choices, but fuck it, here goes nothing:


5) The Lovely Bad Things – The Late Great Whatever

 

 

This is infectious garage pop-punk designed for people who like to have fun. You're probably not going to

walk away from The Late Great Whatever with a newfound perspective on life or some grand understanding

of the cosmos, but if you're careful not to take yourself too seriously you'll certainly walk away with a smile

on your face and a pep in your step. By adding more punk to the mix while so many others (Wavves,

Ty Segall, et al.) seem to be stripping those elements from their sound, The Lovely Bad Things have created

an up-tempo, good-times album chock full of melodies that are bound to get stuck in your head.


4) Peste Noire – Peste Noire  

 

 

This may be Peste Noire's strangest album yet, which is saying something since songwriter Famine

purposefully tries to write the worst music he can imagine. It just so happens that his conception of 'bad'

involves combining French folk music, post-punk, black metal, and about a million other styles into a hot

mess of musical weirdness. With moments of intentionally bad production (see “Démonarque”), healthy

helpings of accordion (“Le Retour De La PesteYes”), ill-placed burps (“Niquez Vos Villes”), and countless

other sonic oddities (the whole damn album) Peste Noire is a peculiar bricolage that, ultimately, is too

fascinating to not love. Yes, Famine does come across as a pretty big douche bag, and yes, by pretty big

douche bag I mean racist prick, but if you allow yourself to look past the guy's French nationalist leanings and

general bad attitude and actually listen to his music you'll get a chance to hear the most absurdly crafted 

album of progressive music that came out this year. (Please don't object, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan fans. You

know Uzu could've been better.)


3) Circle of Ouroborus – The Final Egg

 

 

Finnish black metal / new wave / wtf weirdos Circle of Ouroborus had a pretty slow year this year. They only

released one split, one ep, and one lp... OK, so they still had a pretty prolific year, but compared to their five

releases last year the boys in Circle of Ouroborus seem to have been taking it easy on the recording front.

However, what they lacked in (relative) quantity they made up for with a quality fucking album. The Final Egg

shows Circle of Ouroborus blending mid-tempo black metal with new wave strangeness as seamlessly as ever,

but what makes The Final Egg stand out from CoO's other albums is that it has some downright ethereal

moments. Sure, Circle of Ouroborus has always had a lighter side to them, but tracks like “The Surface The

Deep” and “Current” seem to bask in a hazy, angelic glow. Don't get me wrong, CoO still brings the dark shit;

It's just that with The Final Egg Circle of Ouroborus seem to have found a way to temper their depressing

soundscapes with hints of beauty, which makes for one enjoyable listen.


2) Portal – Vexovoid

 

 

How does one describe this album? Dizzying, hypnotic, scary, mechanical, punishing, maniacal – how about

just damn good? Death metal albums don't usually make best-of lists for whatever reason, but it's nigh on

impossible to listen to album opener “Kilter” and not think that it's the coolest thing you've heard in a long

while. It moves from intricate passage to intricate passage with an unparalleled urgency and fluidity. The rest

of Voxovoid slays just as hard, too, combining tech sections with woozy tremolo riffs with plodding sections

that seem to be attempts at summoning some ancient, demonic force. Portal's really upped the production

value on this album, too, so you can hear each and every insectoid riff, though this shit's so frighteningly

heavy maybe that's not such a good thing...

 

1) Dan Friel – Total Folklore

 

 

I'm not a huge fan of dancing. Maybe it's because I'm fat and out of shape. Maybe it's because I'm unattractive

and socially awkward so nobody wants to dance with me. Maybe I'm a Baptist and I'm not even aware of it.

Whatever the reason, I don't like to dance. That being said, I have to dance to Dan Friel. I just have to. What's

more, I challenge anyone and everyone to listen to the song “Valedictorian” and not immediately feel impelled

to dance and jump around like a kindergartener on crack. It just can't be done. Hell, pick any track off of Total

Folklore and you'll inevitably start shaking what your momma gave you. Dan Friel makes kinetic music that

even the most slothful are forced to move to. Total Folklore is more than just dancing music, though. It is the

absolute perfect melding of pop and noise. Total Folklore is not the “noise pop” you're use to. It's not catchy

lo-fi rock. It's not half-assed shoegaze. It's not Dinosaur Jr. worship. Total Folklore is speaker blowing harsh

noise synth sounds molded into the most elegantly blown-out pop songs imagineable. It's also a collection

of possibly the catchiest songs all year, bar none. The thing is, Dan Friel has figured out how to make

happiness into audio form, and he decided to call it Total Folklore. The obvious choice for album of the year.

How did you miss it, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Spin?

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