2013 was a solid year for music. You had the release of critic darlings Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "The Heist," Haim's "Days Are Gone," Lorde's "Pure Heroine" and Kacey Musgraves' "Same Trailer Different Park."
While you should definitely listen to (and buy) each of those albums, there are a few other gems of 2013 you may have missed.
Here are some of my personal most-played albums of the year - the ones that have a permanent spot in my car (always within reach) and have had their fair share of looped iTunes listening. They may not be the most popular or come from the biggest names, but each is worth a listen - even if its just a song or two.
He's My Brother, She's My Sister: "Nobody Dances In This Town"
The town mentioned in the album's title clearly hasn't heard the music of "He's My Brother, She's My Sister." The group is all about the groove. The group's genre is hard to pin down. It's best described as bohemian folk rock, or dark, gypsy country. From the winsome chorus of "Tales That I Tell," the haunting and addictive "Touch the Lightning" to the sass-ridden "Clackin' Heels," it's a solid album that will convert you to fandom on first listen.
The Neighbourhood: "I Love You"
Probably the coolest album of 2013, The Neighbourhood's "I Love You" is a suave atmospheric exploration of the melancholy. Although filled with moody songs of self-doubt, the album is notable for its open sound. Each track sounds as if it was recorded in a broad open space, each one making full use of such a soaring space. It's a heavily produced album, an audial film noir with a shiny gloss replacing the grit.
Pokey LaFarge: "Pokey LaFarge"
Every record collection should have this self-titled album by Pokey LaFarge. With the prominence of electronica in today's music, LaFarge's album is a refreshing breath of fresh air. He harkens back to the 1920s-30s, the golden days of roots, swing and jazz music - but he isn't simply replicating the sound. LaFarge builds upon it, creating a sound that while nostalgic, is truly his own. Each song is infused with personality, from the laid-back bluesy "What The Rain Will Bring" to the hopelessly romantic "Let's Get Lost" to the playful warning "The Devil Ain't Lazy." It's an album of dynamic storytelling and one worth a listen.
Oh Land: "Wishbone"
It's difficult to peg the music of Oh Land. Listening to "My Boxer" and "Renaissance Girls," it's easy to lump the band with girl dance pop of the Katy Perry, Lady Gaga type. Then there's the disco throwback of "Pyromaniac" and the eclectic and eerie "Bird in an Aeroplane." It makes for a confusing album, but no less pleasing. Each song is distinctive and unique - but perhaps none is better than the the timeless and mournful "Love You Better," with features a simple sorrowful melody. It's a classic right out of the gate.
Franz Ferdinand: "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action"
After four years, Franz Ferdinand returned to the world of new records. Their "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" harkens back to their its roots of guitar heavy music, rather than the more experimental sound of 2009's "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand" - although there is a bit of that in "Evil Eye," a number that instantly gets stuck in your head. The more reflective in "The Universe Expanded," earns the title of best post-breakup and "coming to terms with singledom" song. But the track that lingers in your ear and causes you to bounce up and down is "Love Illumination," whose saxophone chorus will get you dancing.
Ra Ra Riot: "Beta Love"
Dance with wild abandon to this electro-pop, 80s influenced album. It starts with "Dance With Me," which will have you bopping around in no time, goofy smile in place. Then there's the sweeping hook and catchy chorus of "Angel, Please" which mandates twirling. Well the synth is heavy in this album, there are still the signature strings of Ra Ra Riot which give it just the right amount of complexity for an album that appears to be designed to get you on your feet.
Fitz and the Tantrums: "More Than Just A Dream"
Synth-funk grandiose pop - that is, in essence, Fitz and the Tantrums' 2013 album. Opening track "Out Of My League" is an 80s new wave throwback, with the kind of infectious chorus that you find yourself humming weeks later. "Fools Gold" has all the ingredients for a karaokee hit, its the kind of song you want to belt out in your bedroom, hamming it up with a hairbrush microphone. Then there's "The Walker," with a Motown edge, whistle melody and strong dance groove that mandates a strut. "More Than Just A Dream" is a hook laden, party-starting album.
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