My Top Albums of 2013
by, 01-06-2014 at 04:10 PM (1913 Views)
Last year I did a “My Top Albums of 2012” blog and thought I would do another one for 2013. Picking the top albums of 2013 was interesting when comparing to the prior year. In 2012 picking the top albums was easy given the three albums I picked were heads and shoulders above the rest in my mind. In 2013 there were many great albums, but it didn't have the same sort of standouts that 2012 had. This made my job a bit more difficult. I resorted to an Excel spreadsheet with a ranking system to help sort it all out. In the end there were eight different albums that were contenders to be in the top three. After it was all said and done, here is what I came up with.
Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies
Volbeat is a Danish rock band that plays a fusion of rock and roll, heavy metal, and rockabilly. They have been around for some time with Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies (Outlaw) being their fifth full studio album. Even though they had been around for sometime, Outlaw was my first Volbeat album, and what a great introduction it was.
What drew me to this album is a combination of the great music and vocalist Michael Poulsen sound. As evidence by the album title and artwork, much of the inspiration came from the old west. Michael’s voice perfectly matches the music, with a combination of Elvis Presley meets modern metal.
Keeping with the western theme, Outlaw incorporates a lot of non-traditional instruments (e.g. harmonica, banjo) directly into the songs giving them a feel as though they belong. This gives the album a sound that stands out form the normal.
I am continuously blown away with the sounds of this album. Each listen gives me a new favorite track. It is currently seeing heavy rotation on all my devices.
Clutch – Earth Rocker
Clutch shares a lot of similarities to Volbeat for me. First Clutch has been around for some time, but I was not introduced to them until 2013. While both bands are considered metal music in someway, their style is not what I would consider traditional metal. Where Volbeat has some rockabilly influence, Clutch is more southern or blues-rock.
Earth Rocker received a lot of praise from the metal community. Clutch was on the cover of several magazines, and Earth Rocker was listed on many different “Top Album” lists.
Earth Rocker truly lives up to the “Rocker” in its name. The only track that does not rock out is “Gone Cold”, which is still gritty and true as the rest of the album. With the exception of that song, Earth Rocker just a steady stream of sound that makes you want to break every speed limit. While a few songs do stick out, what I love about Earth Rocker is it is solid album start to finish. You can put it on and let it play through and I believe is an album I will continue to listen time and time again.
If I had to pick a favorite song it would be “Mr. Freedom” simply because of it’s lyrics. It takes a lot of shots at attitudes today that I see all around and annoy me.
“Serious business on your lapel, Let the people, know how you feel
And every bumper sticker on the back of your car, Makes you feel a little more real”
Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
The Electric Lady starts off strong with several songs featuring some pretty powerful guest artist. This includes my favorite song on the whole album, “Givin Em What They Love” which features Prince.
Besides just having guest artists for some change, the whole album has a lot of variety. “Dance Apocalyptic”, “Q.U.E.E.N.” are very poppy and upbeat, where “Primetime”, “Look Into My Eyes” are slow and smoky. While the songs sound different, they are all really good.
I was highly anticipating this release after Janelle’s last album, “The ArchAndroid” and it did not disappoint. I am not much of a hip-hop or R&B fan, but something just draws me to Janelle. Finally, this album comes in Hi Res from HD Tracks, which is a bonus.
There was another album released in 2013 that I really wanted to make my top three. This was “Weapon” from Skinny Puppy. Skinny Puppy has been around for years, and “Weapon” seemed to get back to their former, dark, heavy, industrial sound. What ultimately held it off the list was sustainability. While I love this album now, I can see it getting less and less rotation over the years, where my top three will still have regular playing time.
This year I am adding a dishonorable mention for an album I was hoping would be great, but ended up disappointing. This notorious title goes to Nine Inch Nails “Hesitation Marks”. NIN has continuously put out great music over the years. That combined with the release of an audiophile mastered download this album seemed to have all the right pieces in place for masterpiece. After several listens, “Hesitation Marks” is all but forgettable. Where Skinny Puppy went back to their industrial roots, NIN seems to be continuing the trend towards ambient. Trent Reznor’s side project with his wife, “How To Destroy Angels” has a harder tone than NIN, and I prefer that release.