Friday, September 6, 2013

Taking On 2013: Top Albums (Q3 Quarterly Review)

So after taking a look at how this year has shaped up so far in terms of best songs, it's about time to mosey on over to more complete works. We're talking albums, paintings for the ears. Or I guess films for the ears since sometimes paintings can be smaller parts of a greater whole as well. Video games for the ears? What has changed since the last time? Some stuff. Music to my ears.

10. Mr. MFN eXquire - Kismet (NE)

Mr. Muthafuckin eXquire is in kind of a strange position, one where he hasn't really broken through to the quasi-mainstream like a ScHoolboy Q or a Joey Bada$$, but he also has enough of a quality discography that it's not too surprising when he puts out another quality mixtape. But I'm not here to contextualize eXquire's career in anticipation to his presumably forthcoming debut album. I'm here to say this mixtape is slow, but still full of bangers. At this point I would expect nothing less from him.

9. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (NE)

In the meteoric rise of the Odd Future crew it could be easy to forget just how great Earl Sweatshirt's Earl was when it first dropped. Thankfully with Doris he picks up (mostly) right where he left off, standing head and above every other member of his crew in terms of lyrical construction. He pairs this with rough beats that help set a tone for the album in which Earl is right at home.

8. Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse (-7)

Most of the time I would have Youth Lagoon much higher on my list, but as I looked over a few of the entries above this one, it kept slipping slightly. What I really admire about this album is the way in which it creates this soundscape without undermining the importance of Trevor Powers's lyrics. It's this brilliant balance between minimalism and maximialism.

7. Chance The Rapper - Acid Rap (-1)

The more I listen to Chance The Rapper's breakout mixtape, the more I find to like. There's this personality to it, outside of Chance's delivery which I guess is what initially draws attention to himself before the songs start carrying the real weight, but that doesn't stop tracks like "Juice" from hitting hard. Perhaps 2k13 is the year about balance.

6. kitty - D.A.I.S.Y rage (-1)

I imagine that it would be simple to label kitty's music as comedy rap or something, but realistically I feel like that kind of does a disservice to her as an artist. What she proves (or further proves, since prior to D.A.I.S.Y rage she was still making great music) is that she can lyrically hang with her contemporaries without sacrificing what makes her music such a delight to listen to, namely the way she constructs her lines and pairs them with top notch beats.

5. Migos - YRN (NE)

Look, Migos can be some pretty ignorant music, and I'm not here to talk about their nuanced social agenda, but top to bottom this mixtape has some of the hardest hitting songs that make for one Hell of a listening experience. There's this wonderful use of autotune, some great raw rapping, and even a some references to Nextel phones. What more could you want?

4. Demi Lovato - DEMI (-1)

It hasn't been a great year for pop music (though that Charli XCX album is pretty great), but don't let that diminish the accomplishments of yet another spectacular album from Demi Lovato. I'm not sure if Demi has peaked as an artist or not, there were not as many strides made between her last album that this one as there have been in the past, but that's not to say that she hasn't come close to perfecting a craft. And in the end it's all about high quality music, right?

3. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana (NE)

I think I might be a little disconnected from the scene at the current moment because I can't seem to get a finger on the pulse of Speedy Ortiz and their standing relative to other indie success stories like Cults and Sleigh Bells and what not. It's kind of strange. Though this album is great either way. I reckon music generally labeled as indie is, as a whole, still recovering from The Great Mindie Surge Of 2k12 that culminated with Passion Pit achieving levels of crossover success while still maintaining their street cred that everything this year is just kind of in this hopeless void. Sometimes it helps to put one's ear to the void though.

2. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels (+2)

Success in brevity or something. Despite great albums from El-P and Killer Mike last year, this year's focused joint effort Run The Jewels hits so quickly and so hard it's hard to not just name it the best album I have consistently listened so far. There's not a bad track on here.

1. Kanye West - Yeezus (No Change)

What more can be said about the greatness of Yeezus? Probably a bunch. But I'm just going to save all that for the end of the year and where ever this albums lands. As of now Kanye said his goal was to make an album that people could blast all summer long. Mission accomplished.

Here's a list of everything I have listened to so far this year:
  1. Kanye West - Yeezus
  2. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
  3. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
  4. Demi Lovato – DEMI
  5. Migos – Y.R.N
  6. Kitty – D.A.I.S.Y. Rage
  7. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
  8. Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
  9. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
  10. Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire - Kismet
  11. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
  12. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
  13. Action Bronson – SAAAB Stories
  14. James Blake – Retrograde
  15. Christopher Owens – Lysandre
  16. Charli XCX – True Romance
  17. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
  18. Various Artists – Spring Breakers OST
  19. David Bowie – The Next Day
  20. Various Artists – The Great Gatsby OST
  21. Various Artists – Teen Beach Movie OST
  22. Daft Punk – Random Access Memory
  23. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf
  24. Phoenix – Bankrupt
  25. Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
  26. A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP
  27. Lil B – Pink Flame
  28. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Part 1
  29. Pusha-T – Wrath Of Caine
  30. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
  31. Yo La Tengo – Fade
  32. Dutch Uncles – Out Of Touch In The Wild
  33. Jay-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail
So what did I miss? Let me know below in the comments and keep an eye out for the best films of the year so far pretty soon!


Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

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© 2013 Richard James Thorne

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