Top Albums of 2013

Oh boy. Later and later every year. I’d like to claim that I put extra work into this year’s ranking methodology, but nothing could be further from the truth. But hey, after five years in the league, the knees get to be a little wonky and you don’t run the court as well as you used to. Better late than never, right? Speaking of: five years we’ve been doing this, you Noise Dorks.

I would say, however, that I’m as excited about 2013’s music as I was about 2012’s, and possibly a good deal more so.

Thank you to all the Noise Narc contributors from 2013, who to a Narc take the ranking with a seriousness that I absolutely adore. Except when they deviate from my list.

For the first time in many years, we don’t have a consensus pick. The top three are very close. And two of them are completely deserving, in my very nonhumble opinion.

As always, if you’re a nerd, you can check out our ranking methodology. And if your nerd handicap comes in a geographic flavor, you can talk shit on each other cities here [TO BE COMPLETED SOON; CHECK BACK!]. Individual voter pages are here, and the entire top to bottom list is here. You could also check out last year’s list, or those from 2011, 2010, or 2009.

First, to the voter awards:

Most Influential / Biggest Sheep Award

Despite listing only seven albums, Aaron G was this year’s pacemaker. Nepotism alert. Or: the algorithm doesn’t take into account that non-answers are VERY dissimilar to answers.


Miya T either has the best or worst taste among us. Either way, her list was the least similar to the top ten.

Most Albums Listened To / Cushiest Desk Job

Look. I listen to all the albums on the nomination list not because I like it (seriously: amongst the atrocities on this year’s nomination list were Britney Spears’ new album, Dawn Richard’s album of sameness, Phoenix’s slide into irrelevant bombast, and WORST OF ALL the Spring Breakers soundtrack (!!!!!)) but because the scoring method rewards it so heavily. The point is: David Goldfarb, who wins every year.

And now, to our top twenty…

20Run The Jewels: Run The Jewels

Total Votes: 2; Highest Ranking: #4
19The National: Trouble Will Find Me

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #6
18The Roots and Elvis Costello: Wise Up Ghost

Total Votes: 2; Highest Ranking: #3
17Savages: Silence Yourself

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #2
16Janelle Monae: The Electric Lady

Total Votes: 2; Highest Ranking: #1
15Laura Marling: Once I Was an Eagle

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #4
14Yo La Tengo: Fade

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #5
13Lorde: Pure Heroine

Total Votes: 4; Highest Ranking: #2
12Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #1
11Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #3
10Disclosure: Settle

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comment: Mature beyone their years. In the good way, not the Britney Spears way.Miya T

09Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Total Votes: 4; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: Detest the band name and album title, but adore their sound and wintergreen flavor.Ryan M

08Haim: Days Are Gone

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comment: Danielle Haim has some of the coolest, weirdest vocal phrasings. This album has LOTS of flawless moments, but none of it feels overworked.Phil M

07Cate le Bon: Mug Museum

Total Votes: 3; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comments: Less Nico than last time and slightly more Moody Blues maybe. I love it.Chris T

God. She took the neo-Nico routine from her last album, turned it up to 11, threw in some Annie Clark worthy shredding, and, oh yeah, wrote the best songs of her discography.David G

06Daft Punk: Random Access Memories

Total Votes: 8; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comment: I bopped around to this a lot this year, like everyone. I liked it. And I liked the way it made me remember listening to “Around the World” at midnight every night in the Herald office in college.Katherine H

05Kanye West: Yeezus

Total Votes: 5; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comments: Riveting, the year’s best production… and in many ways my most hated album of the year.David Goldfarb

Fuck whatever y’all been hearing.Matt K

04Arcade Fire: Reflektor

Total Votes: 8; Highest Ranking: #3

Choice comments: As much as I love James Murphy, I just wanted his influence to go away.Matthew Simone

I’m really a sucker for the Orpheus myth and Kierkegaard.Chris T

03Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City

Total Votes: 8; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comments: With mature lyrics, sharp song structure and sonically tight grooves there are no real gimmicks, nor any need to stuff cheese in their crust.Ryan M

The first two minutes of most of these songs are perfectly great, traditional Vampire Weekend songs, many of which sound like two-minute-and-out rave ups or ballads or ideas. None of them are. The crescendos and unexpected turns to which these songs lead are each individually better than anything VW’s ever done.Phil M

02Phosphorescent: Muchacho

Total Votes: 8; Highest Ranking: #2

Choice comments: According to iTunes, this is a breakup album. I guess I don’t pay much attention to lyrics, because to me, it was the most romantic album of the year.Katherine H

I simply don’t have good enough words to describe this full, warm, brash countrified delight, but it’s awesome.Matthew Simone

A breakup album so gorgeous it can shamelessly steal the chord progression from Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games” and get away with it. Just a damn near perfect album.David Goldfarb

01Kurt Vile: Wakin on a Pretty Daze

Total Votes: 8; Highest Ranking: #1

Choice comments: I’m still all hung up on Kurt Vile’s off-kilter guitar riffs. They are never quite what I expect to hear but those melodies always manage to lodge themselves in my brain.Kandace G

Odds are pretty good this album crowns Dave G.’s list. But it won’t just be hometown pride, and Vile’s hometown sure is proud.Chris T

Our favorite hometown space forklifter all grown up. A beautiful stoner daydream of warm Philadelphia days that shifts effortlessly into long stretches of gorgeous songwriting and snide sincerity.David Goldfarb