As Ben said yesterday, we don’t feel qualified to list the “best” albums of 2013, just the ones we’ve liked over the course of the year, and the ones we can’t stop listening to. Yesterday we ran through our first 5 of our 25 favorite albums of 2013, and today we give you 6-10. Today’s list features two bands I wrote my first ever post about, Daughter and The Joy Formidable, and three great albums from The Dig, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Julia Holter. If you missed yesterday’s list, you can check it out here!
DAUGHTER – IF YOU LEAVE
The London, England based Daughter released their first album, If You Leave, in 2013. They released series of excellent EPs and singles over the last couple of years, so it would be no surprise their debut LP would end up being one of my favorite records of 2013. The heartbreaking music Daughter play is simply beautiful; songs like “Youth” and “Human” are some of the best of the year. Lead singer Elena Tonra’s voice delivers these lyrics with a vulnerability that is actually quite relatable. Under Tonra’s voice is an almost ambient sound that builds at times, faint rumblings of drums and long sustained guitar notes, adding to the melancholy feeling this album brings.
Daughter are a band I saw perform a little over a year ago to a small crowd in New York. Not even a year later, I saw them headline one of the largest venues in the city. If You Leave is truly a breakthrough album. ~~~Rich
THE DIG – TIRED HEARTS (EP)
Smooth, sultry, dreamy. New York’s The Dig have produced some of the best ambient, psyche pop music of the past year. They released two EPs this year – Tired Hearts in June and You & I in November. While both albums are deserving of fans’ attention, it is the earlier EP that has the most memorable songs produced by the band. The five-track EP could be the soundtrack of a Spike Jonze movie with the repeatedly shifting melodies and rhythms and cinematic flourishes. “Angeline”, a cool, mid-tempo song with a climatic finish; “Can’t Trust a Feeling” layers synth-pop textures within an indie rock rhythm; “Over You Again” is mesmerizing, contemplative; “Permanent Night” is dark and throbbing, something that you might hear in an ’80s flick; and “Without Your Love” is a high-paced finisher with a catchy hook and chorus.
Comprising of Emile Mosseri (bass/vocals), David Baldwin (guitar/vocals), Erick Eiser (keyboards/guitar), and Mark Demiglio (drums), The Dig are still hard at work in producing new music. If their early works are any indication, I impatiently wait to hear what the future holds for this talented band. ~~~Ben
GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV – THE WEATHERMAN
Currently based out of Denver, Colorado, the South African native and Philadelphia-raised Gregory Alan Isakov has quite a few stories to tell. The Weatherman, his 2013 album, is a beautiful portrait of those travels and experiences. Much like Daughter, Isakov’s voice and lyrics have an engaging vulnerability and soothing quality to them. The stories told are relatable, and the music sets the scene. Isakov’s music is beautifully crafted folk music featuring acoustic and electric guitars, violins, pedal steel, and banjos. “Amsterdam”, an inspiring album opener, and the gorgeous “Saint Valentine” are just two tracks on what is a moving album.
There is a bit of an Americana and folk revival going on lately, and it has spurred some incredible artists and has launched some into superstardom. Isakov’s music is humble, and it may not reach the masses like Mumford and Sons or even Fleet Foxes, but Isakov’s music should not be overlooked. The Weatherman is inarguably one of the top-25 albums of the year. ~~~Rich
THE JOY FORMIDABLE – WOLF’S LAW
Welsh hard rockers The Joy Formidable released their sophomore LP, Wolf’s Law, in January, making it one of the earliest-released albums on our list. Wolf’s Law isn’t quite the in-your-face album rocker their first album, A Big Roar, was, but that’s part of why I love it so much. The heavy stuff is there – tracks like “This Ladder Is Ours” and “Little Blimp” rock hard, and there are some other tracks, most notably “Silent Treatment,” that show a softer side of The Joy Formidable. The amount of energy Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas bring to their records and especially their live shows is almost unmatched, making them one of the best rock bands today. .
The Joy Formidable may be proving their versatility with acoustic songs and incorporating strings, but Wolf’s Law proves that the hard rockers are still the bread-and-butter of The Joy Formidable’s sound. If you’re going through this list and listening to this album, make sure you crank up the speakers. ~~~Rich
JULIA HOLTER – LOUD CITY SONG
In August, Californian composer Julia Holter released her third record, Loud City Song, and it has been in our rotation ever since. Leaving her bedroom where she recorded her first two records, Loud City Song is a gorgeous album – from the improved production to the varied sounds and layers contributed by guest musicians. Holter’s songwriting is versatile, her songs are quirky at times, but the music is incredibly intriguing at times.
The album is based on life in hectic Los Angeles. For instance, “Horns Surrounding Me” tells the story of a character dealing with paparazzi . All of the songs on this record were composed by Holter except for a cover of “Hello Stranger”, which was originally written by Barbara Lewis and Holter confesses to messing up because she “always kind of cries” when she sings it. That’s part of why I love Holter’s music so much – a genuine passion and it shines through on Loud City Song.
If I felt Ben or I were qualified to pick the best album of the year, you’d have a tough time convincing me this wasn’t in the top 5. Unique, haunting, and intriguing, this is very close to a perfect album. ~~~Rich
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