Continuing with our year-end lists, the second compilation we tackled focused on our favorite albums of the year. Instead of considering all full-length releases, we’ve separated albums and mixtapes into two different categories so this list will focus on the more traditionally-inclined records and next week we’ll be announcing our list of favorite mixtapes. Some of our favorite releases include the return of Arcade Fire and the most anticipated record of the year, Kanye’s Yeezus. Again, this consists of our Top 12 releases but it is not a ranked list.
See the full list below.
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
To fully get what I think of this album, allow me to borrow from my original review: “Arcade Fire have followed up their (Grammy) Album of the Year-winning The Suburbs (2010) with another sonic masterpiece that will surely rank high amongst the best of their entire career (and that’s saying a lot). While it took me a number of spins from start to finish to actually “get it,” once it hit me, it instantly became one of my favorite releases of the entire year.”
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Arctic Monkeys’ latest album, AM, brought back the sort of attitude-infused Rock & Roll that the world was in desperate need of for some time now. While the second half of the album is not as memorable as the first, AM as a whole is an undeniably great release packed with enough arena-ready anthems (like “R U Mine?” “Do I Wanna Know?” and “Arabella”) to remind you that these guys are part of one of the best bands in the world today.
Danny Brown – Old
Danny Brown’s Old is one of my favorite releases of 2013. The album is divided into two parts, the first is dark and speaks on the realities of being from Detroit and the second part is just a straight up party. Like I said in my review of the album, everyone is bound to enjoy at least one of the parts or like the album in its entirety like I did.
Dom Kennedy – Get Home Safely
Despite being released in October, Dom Kennedy’s Get Home Safely is definitely a summer album. Dom’s first physical retail album used no middleman and no record label. It was all just Dom and his team, and that is pretty amazing. In Get Home Safely, Dom paints a picture of what it’s like hanging out on a sunny Compton day in hopes of getting Getting Home Safely at the end of the day.
HAIM – Days Are Gone
HAIM delivered on the hype by releasing a very strong debut album in Days Are Gone. The sister group came out with an album filled with gloomy tracks featuring 80’s synth-Pop finishes. The album shows off their knack for producing very catchy tunes that can be enjoyed by those who’ve heard the band before as well as any newcomers looking for that brand of music.
J. Cole – Born Sinner
Arguably the album of the summer, J Cole’s Born Sinner defiantly makes our list for Top Albums of 2013. With his sophomore album being released the same day as the Yeezus, J. Cole was able to top the Billboard charts after debuting at number 2. Born Sinner’s best tracks, for me, are “Power Trip,” “Crocked Smile” and “Let Nas Down.” I am glad to say that Cole has stayed true to his roots of insisting to produce almost all of his work. He continues to be the sort of lyrical storyteller who could reach the kid who aspires to go to college as well as those fans who can’t have that dream.
Jay Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail
Jay-Z took a different route to advertise and release his Magna Carta Holy Grail (MGHG) album; after he signed on with Samsung, he agreed to release MCHG exclusively on Galaxy phones days before the rest of the world was able to and helped add to the hype following this new release. MCHG’s production was top notch and included, Pharrell, Hit-Boy, Mike Will Made It, and of course Timbaland. I’m really glad that Timbaland and Hov were able to crush their differences and finally get back on track to make a Grammy-nominated album.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (pt. 1)
Justin Timberlake made his big return to music in 2013. He came right out the gate with the Jay Z-assisted “Suit & Tie” and never looked back. The album flows really well and can be played front to back a few times over. JT’s The 20/20 Experience is also this year’s best selling album (boasting 600,000+ first week sales).
Kanye West – Yeezus
Kanye West lit up the music world with the release of his latest, ambitious album Yeezus. Once more, let me use my original review to speak for my thoughts on this album: “(This is) Yeezy at his darkest and, at times, his most vulnerable. It’s not pretty, it’s not Pop but it sure is something the Hip Hop world can use… Sometimes artists release albums like this not for the trend followers or your typical Top 40 DJs, but for fans like yourself that may see the artistic value of music and will judge releases not for their commercial successes, but for their ability to capture your ear and take you somewhere new.”
Kid Cudi – Indicud
Kid Cudi’s departure from GOOD Music left many people confused and upset (like myself), but his Indicud album proved his move was ultimately a good one. The album is produced in its entirety by Cudder with some help from Dot Da Genius. Indicud is a great addition to his collection of music and something that can hold fans over until MOTM 3 is released.
Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off
Mac Miller’s second studio album had some pretty tough competition on the day of its release. Not only did it have to compete with J. Cole’s Born Sinner, but it also had to compete with Yeezus. WMWTSO held its own by selling over 100,000 copies that first week and really making a statement that an independent artist can compete with anyone. The heavily self-produced album just adds to Mac’s impressive catalog of albums and mixtapes.
Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Vampire Weekend put an end to three years of absence by delivering an album worthy of their reputation as the leading band of Indie Rock in America. Pop hooks left and right, anthems worth singing for years to come, plus lyrics that really make you feel the music (i.e. “Ya Hey’s” ‘Oh the motherland don’t love you, the fatherland don’t love you, so why love anything?’) and you’ve got yourself the perfect formula for one of the best albums of the year no matter how you want to justify it.