I am not a music critic, but I have been compiling lists of what I feel
are the best music albums of the year. The problem is that there is so
much out there that it's difficult to sort unless it's your full-time
job, which for me it isn't. I rely on recommendations from music critics
from various publications, both in print and online.
Spin magazine, Pitchfork Media, The Guardian and The Los Angeles Times all posted their top albums of 2013 so far. All four lists are somewhat similar and have quite a few crossovers. One title that's most common in their lists and others is Sunbather by Deafheaven. Because I'm not a fan of heavy metal, I skipped the record.
Another title that's high atop most of the lists is Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, the Grammy-winning, French duo that does mostly electronic music and who scored the film Tron: Legacy. I like Garrett Kamps' review. I particularly like the first line and the last line, which reads, "So the album opens like an overture to a Siegfried & Roy revue... It is theater: absolutely sincere and totally fake."
Aside from Deafheaven and Daft Punk, the critics also are rallying around Once I Was an Eagle by Laura Marling and Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper. In August Brown's review for The Los Angeles Times, Marling is compared to Joni Mitchell. Other critics call her an "old soul." Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper is being called a mix between Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. In the review for The A.V. Club, Evan Rytlewski writes about Chance, "Just two years removed from high school, and with no label support, he's crafted the most assured breakthrough Chicago rap release since The College Dropout.
Acid Rap is available for free via Chance the Rapper's web site.
It can be downloaded or streamed as a mixtape. When it comes to Hip Hop
music, putting out mixtapes is a more common thing. So many artists have
done it, as opposed to country artists. Lil B did so. The Weeknd
released a series of mixtapes, which were later compiled into one large
album release and so on and so forth.
Hip Hop music or Hip Hop artists made numerous headlines, as they seem to do every year. Jay-Z produced a baby and the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby. In both cases, he made odd choices. Kanye West drew attention with his relationship to Kim Kardashian and his album Yeezus which has a track called "I Am a God."
West hit the scene years ago with a track called "Jesus Walks" off his 2004 album The College Dropout. That song seemed to have a respect or a call to respect to this monumental figure known as Jesus Christ. For him to now call himself a god smacks of disrespect on his part to that same monumental figure.
With his song last year called "No Church in the Wild," West might pride himself on his merging of religion or religious ideas into rap music. Yet, an artist who I think does it better is Lauryn Hill. Hill sang, "Now hear this mixture, When hip hop meets Scripture," on her Grammy-winning album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998, long before Kanye West hit the scene.
Unfortunately, Hill was sentenced to prison this summer for tax evasion. She was working on some music prior to jail time being laid down. She released a single called "Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)," which has its criticisms, but I think it's way ahead of anything that Kanye West has ever and probably will ever do.
Best Folk / Country
IN TIME by Mavericks
AMERICAN KID by Patty Griffin
COUNTRY SLEEP by Night Beds
GHOST ON GHOST by Iron & Wine
THE HIGHWAY by Holly Williams
Best Rock / Alternative
MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY by Vampire Weekend
HEAD DOWN by Rival Sons
II by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
HUMMINGBIRD by Local Natives
HEZA by Generationals
BANKRUPT! by Phoenix
SONGS FOR IMAGINATIVE PEOPLE by Darwin Deez
Best Pop / Electronic
RANDOM ACCESS MEMORIES by Daft Punk
PALE GREEN GHOSTS by John Grant
JAMIE LIDELL by Jamie Lidell
DUNGEONESSE by Dungeonesse
BIGFOOT by Cayucas
BETA LOVE by Ra Ra Riot
Best R&B / Soul
SHE by Alice Smith
NO BEGINNING NO END by José James
TRUE [EP] by Solange
TO DUST by Alice Russell
LADY by Lady
BYE BYE 17 by Har Mar Superstar
Best Rap / Hip Hop
ACID RAP [Mixtape] by Chance the Rapper
TAPE TWO & TAPE ONE [EP] by Young Fathers
THIS GENERATION by The Lions
FLY ZONE [Mixtape] by Le1f
LIP LOCK by Eve
FREE THE UNIVERSE by Major Lazer
Best Singles from Non-listed Albums
"Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)" by Lauryn Hill
"Green Garden" by Laura Mvula from SING TO THE MOON
"Weed Instead of Roses" by Ashley Monroe from LIKE A ROSE
"Ores & Minerals" by Mazes from ORES & MINERALS
"Good News" by Big Harp from CHAIN LETTERS
"To the Last" by James Blake from OVERGROWN
"Lift Off" by Conor Maynard from CONTRAST
"Sleep Apnea" by Beach Fossils from CLASH THE TRUTH
"As I Roved Out" by Sam Amidon from BRIGHT SUNNY SOUTH
"Villain" by Junip from JUNIP