David Goldfarb: Top Albums of 2013

Philadelphia, PA

2013. Pretty darn good year for music. In my mind, two albums that dominated from the first quarter, with a deep, deep bench of strong albums. Trout, Cabrera, and a team as deep as the Cardinals? I’ll take it.

top ten albums

10Savages: Silence Yourself

Blistering. Much of what I wanted from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. Fingers crossed for a sophomore jump.

09Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City

A good album. I find the critical consensus around its greatness perplexing. Strong, good album, but more than that? Of all the albums on my top ten, it generated the least passion.

08Arcade Fire: Reflektor

Ugh. In every way a dissapointment, a huge step in the wrong direction. After a dominant four song start, it all goes to pot, indulging both James Murphy and Arcade Fire’s worst tendencies. Is “Normal Person” a joke? “Is anything as strange as a normal person? / Is anyone as cruel as a normal person?” If it’s a joke, what kind of joke is it? A wetnoodle parody of a middle school poem? As a four song EP, with a few bonus track, this album slays. As it is, it’s a mess.

07Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap

I don’t even know what to say other than Chance’s voice earwormed into my brain in early December and permanently lodged there. I’m powerless to resist.

06Kanye West: Yeezus

Riveting, the year’s best production… and in many ways my most hated album of the year. Despite a wallop of great songs and sounds, Kanye’s navel-grazing went from Twisted Fantasy’s captivating introspection into a muddled mix of mundane self-parody and (worse) sincere proclamations of societal insight. At their lyrical and thematic core, songs like “Blood on the Leaves,” “New Slaves’, and (the “Monster” retread of) “I Am a God” are clueless and limp. Too frequently, listening to and talking about Kanye is interesting because there’s much to pick over and argue about… but increasingly it feels like there’s no there there. But still… goddamn it,Kanye, you’re good.

05Yo La Tengo: Fade

The best Yo La album in over a decade, and one of their best albums overall. Praise does not get much higher than that.

04Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Every thing that made this album unravelled into prima donna druggy nonsense when I saw them live, but not even that could ruin the sincere pleasure that is this Kinks via San Francisco’s late 2000’s garage scene nine song masterpiece. Solo albums and worse meltdowns than what I saw followed, so I’m not holding my breath for a sophomore effort, but if this is a one and done, what a one and done it was.

03Cate le Bon: Mug Museum

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. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

02Phosphorescent: Muchacho

Easily could have been my #1. 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. For days, I listened to either this or #1 below, loving each equally.

01Kurt Vile: Wakin on a Pretty Daze

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.

honorable mentions

Cass McCombs, Big Wheel and Others
Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
Danny Brown, Old
Deerhunter, Monomania
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris
Sonny and the Susets, Antenna to the Afterworld
The Julie Ruin, Run Fast

My biggest dissapointments:
Deerhunter, Monomania, but only because my expectations were still so high. An uneven album that wears well.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito. The less said about this the better.
Jay-Z, Magna Carta Holy Grail. Even for a Samsung commercial, this album sucked.
MGMT, MGMT. Even as big of a Congratulations defender as me couldn’t defend this. Dreadful.

Philly’s best non-Kurt Vile albums, in rough order:
Little Big League, These Are Good People
Man Man, On Oni Pond
Pissed Jeans, Honey
Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right
Dr. Dog, B-Room

Ex-communicated from Philadelphia, with thanks for one super enjoyable album followed by exponentionally more terrible ones: Free Energy

similarity to overall top ten: 63.17%, 7 matches

top songs

As always, my rule for songs is that none can be from albums in my top 10. And my other rule is I don’t think about it very much and order means nothing.

10Robin Thicke, “Blurred Lines”It is what it is. I wish I could say it wasn’t.

09Drake, “Hold On, We’re Going Home”Fine. You win this round, Drake. Your booby prize? Getting quoted by #CoolTeach.

08Danny Brown, “Kush Koma”Oh my melting ears.

07Earl Sweatshirt, “Chum”From the album that to my surprise struck me closest to the bone. Brutal introspection from the shock jock nonsense of Odd Future threw me for a very delighted, painful curve.

06Daft Punk, “Doin’ It Right”Around

05Daft Punk, “Instant Crush”The

04Deerhunter, “Pensacola”If the rest of the songs on Monomania had been half as good as this, it’d’ve been a monster.

03Mystikal, “Hit Me”Sure, technically this song came out in mid-December 2012. But if you’re going to get technical with a song that cribs so freely and brilliantly from James Brown, then you and I aren’t bound to be friends anyway.

02Courtney Barnett, “Avant Gardener”I can’t recommend this shimmering motorik lazy day song highly enough.

01Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”World.

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