Robin Hilton's Top 10 Albums Of 2013
It was an embarrassment of riches for music lovers in 2013. I've never had a harder time settling on a top 10 list of albums. And you can forget about a top 10 songs list. I added more than 4,000 new tracks to my library this year, and that's really only a fraction of all the great music I heard in 2013.
I know Bob Boilen meticulously star-rates every song he hears then compiles a list of the albums with the most five-star tracks. NPR Music's Lars Gotrich makes his top 10 list by methodically writing the titles of his favorite albums on strips of paper and rearranges them on a table top. I usually just go with the ones I'm still listening to the most at the end of the year or the ones I obsessed about the most. I found it impossible (wonderfully impossible) to rate any of my favorites against one another this year. So here are 10 of the ones I simply found myself returning to again and again in 2013. In my mind they're all number one records.
Apologies to these other number one records I didn't include: Juana Molina's Wed 21, Ty Segall's Sleeper, My Bloody Valentine's m b v, James Blake's Overgrown, Foxygen's We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic, Jetlag by Milosh, Rhye's Woman, Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires Of The City, Lily And Madeleine, FKA Twigs, Jucifer, The Knife, and about 100 other memorable albums I'll still be listening to years from now.
Robin Hilton's Top Ten Records Of 2013
1. The Flaming Lips, 'The Terror'
- Song: "Look...The Sun Is Rising"
- from The Terror
- by The Flaming Lips
The number one album of 2013 was The Terror by The Flaming Lips. I've bloviated about this one all year so I don't know what else I can say, except that I defy you to come up with a single other band that's been making music this consistently fresh and inspired for so long. U2? R.E.M.? No.
1. Son Lux, 'Lanterns'
- Song: Easy
- from Lanterns
- by Son Lux
The number one album of 2013 was Lanterns by Son Lux. I'd call this whole record a remarkably ambitious, perfectly executed stunner. Ryan Lott, the gifted composer behind Son Lux, delivers one sonic surprise after the other, mixing up hip-hop, R&B, soul, electronica and a bunch of other stuff I can't name, with help from The Antlers' Peter Silberman, Lily & Madeleine, Chris Thile and more.
1. Telekinesis, 'Dormarion'
- Song: Power Lines
- from Dormarion
- by Telekinesis
The number one album of 2013 was Dormarion by Telekinesis. I have a hard time thinking of anyone who's doing pop music now better than Michael Benjamin Lerner. Love the tension, the restraint, build and dramatic release in these cuts, especially on this opening song, "Power Lines."
1. Brass Bed, 'The Secret Will Keep You'
- Song: Cold Chicory
- from The Secret Will Keep You
- by Brass Bed
The number one album of 2013 was Brass Bed's The Secret Will Keep You. The three guys that make up this Louisiana-based band out-Wilco Wilco. Part folk, part gritty rock, with strange sonic textures and often dark themes wrapped in sunny melodies and harmonies. The opening cut "Cold Chickory" is all I ever ask of music. If they come through your town do yourself a favor and see them live.
1. Jackson Scott, 'Melbourne'
- Song: Sandy
- from Melbourne
- by Jackson Scott
The number one album of 2013 was Melbourne by Jackson Scott. This record haunted my dreams, but in the best possible ways. I was particularly moved by "Sandy," his chilling ode to the children who died in the Newtown, Conn. school shooting last year ("Little kids sitting all around / wishing they were sound asleep again"). Listening to this record feels like staggering bleary eyed and dazed down an empty street in the middle of the night, unsure of what's real.
1. Tim Hecker, 'Virgins'
- Song: Live Room
- from Virgins
- by Tim Hecker
The number one album of 2013 was Virgins by Tim Hecker. It really isn't accurate to call Tim Hecker an electronic musician, though that's the banner he's usually lumped under. He's more of a sound artist. It's often impossible to know what instruments he's using or what effects, if any. Virgins is a rumbling beast of an album that'll leave you wondering what on earth is happening, and how.
1. Death Grips, 'Government Plates'
- Song: Birds
- from Government Plates
- by Death Grips
The number one album of 2013 was Government Plates by Death Grips. Great works of art aren't always pretty. This shot-out-of-a-cannon record is loud, abrasive and just plain weird. It's also unforgettable. Put it on and you won't be able to do anything but rest your face in your hands and listen in awe. This song, "Birds," is a slithering, shape-shift brain warper.
1. Weed, 'Deserve'
- Song: Silent Partner
- from Deserve
- by Weed
The number one album of 2013 was Deserve by Weed. It was another great year for bold, gritty garage rock and this Vancouver-based band put out the most gloriously sludgy record of the lot. Bonus points for all the ear-splitting feedback the ties the whole thing together. (There's more than 30 seconds of it at the end of the song "Silent Partner" alone). Thank you for that, guys.
1. Night Beds, 'Country Sleep'
- Song: Even If We Try
- from Country Sleep
- by Night Beds
The number one album of 2013 was Country Sleep by Night Beds. Frontman Winston Yellen, all of 23 years old, gave us one of the most beautiful voices of any singer in 2013. This record just filled my heart with so much wonder and reflection. Turn off the lights and give yourself some quiet headspace to hear "Even If We Try" as it soars to the heavens, or, really, any of the other five-star songs that fill this record.
1. Jackson And His Computerband, 'Glow'
- Song: Dead Living Things
- from Glow
- by Jackson & His Computerband
The number one album of 2013 was Glow by Jackson And His Computerband. Pick a track, any track. This is what it sounds like inside my head most days: Alternating wildly, unpredictably, between abject horror and breezy good cheer. Chaotic madness and blissful joy.