TheOddPope's Top 10 Albums of the Year - 2013
The Decade So Far
2010: MGMT - Congratulations
2011: A$AP Rocky - Live. Love. A$AP
2012: Death Grips - The Money Store
My honorable mentions this year aren't necessarily my 15-11 spots. Instead, I've used this list as a means to show off some albums that I feel need more recognition or perhaps take too much flak. There may be some albums such as Yeezus that while I did enjoy and did not include on my Top 10, I felt like they will be talked about extensively enough on here. While I did want to limit it to 5, there were two more inclusions I felt necessary to talk about here: Indigoism, a tape that shows promise from yet another up-and-coming east coast outfit The Underachievers, and MGMT's self-titled album, which had the unfortunate position of being the follow-up to my 2010 AOTY Congratulations and just didn't live up to it.
Let's face it - Ferg came out with the sleeper hit this year for rap. Trap Lord is ridiculous, diverse, and unlike the large majority of offerings from the A$AP Mob, enjoyable from start to finish. While I feel there were many more rap albums more deserving of a "Top 10" certification, Trap Lord shouldn't be slept on by any trap/rap/hip-hop fan.Highlights
- Murda Something, Hood Pope, Dump Dump
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Serving as my main fix for Electronic music these days, Burial came out of nowhere with the Rival Dealer EP earlier this month. Personally, every Burial drop is a gift, another chance to experience more dark, tranc-y tracks with stellar samples. While every track is enjoyable, the EP as a whole isn't substantial enough to crack the top albums but is a great listen regardless.Highlights
- It's Burial, so the whole damn thing.
I got into YC the Cynic's GNK fairly late this year, but it has definitely been on heavy rotation since my first listen. While the concept and themes don't always connect with me in every song, YC's delivery is on point throughout. The constant homages to west and east coast legends Pac and Biggie are well done (unlike the overbearing nostalgic MC, Joey Bada$$) and props must be given to the high level of focus on the album. Definitely looking forward to more of this guy in the future.Highlights
- Pacs, Hvnly, Molotovs at Poseidon
Another album I got into way after the fact, Thundercat's Apocalypse is a definite improvement from his previous work. Basslines are complex and groovy as ever, with spot-on vocals accompanying the majority of the tracks. This album feels sexy, and is sometimes too smooth and quiet for my tastes. I can't deny my enjoyment every time I give this album a listen-through though, so I definitely recommend it.Highlights
- O Sheit It's X, Without You, Heartbreaks + Setbacks
Okay, so it didn't re-invent hip-hop. It didn't challenge my views on rap, music, or art in general. There isn't much of a statement in this album at all. But you know what? I enjoyed this album. After Rocky dropped the New York-Southern hybrid tape LiveLove, the top release in my 2011 albums of the year (though admittedly debatable as I didn't make a list for that year), I had high hopes for his debut studio album. Did it live up to it? In short, no. However there were enough fun tracks full of bars and bars of braggadocio and outrageous claims as well as an infectious energy throughout. Much like Trap Lord, Rocky brings an element of fun that my Itunes play count cannot deny.Highlights
- Goldie, Ghetto Symphony, 1Train
The Top 1010.
"So now I'm smoking by my lonely, by my god-damn self, ain't nobody really know me"
Danny Brown may come off like a complete spaz in almost every public appearance, but the man can put out some truly deep and meaningful material. Side A of Old is fantastic on its own with only one or two road bumps. As with the tamer side of XXX, these tracks are a great insight into the life of Danny Brown. Side B is full of ambition but only really connects with me on a couple of tracks (those tracks are amazingly fun however). That being said, I can't deny the slick production throughout the album. When Danny connects with the production some outstanding songs come out as a result, but the misfires on the back half are really the only keeping it from ranking higher. Highlights
- Lonely, Red 2 Go, Dip9.
"Hated the popular ones, now I'm the popular one, also hated homes too 'til I started copping me some"
Easily my favorite work of Tyler's to date, I really can't say many more positive things that haven't been said about WOLF in 1,000+ post threads here already. The production is slick, so much so I might have been just as satisfied with the album if it were just instrumentals. Tyler's major shift into the next phase of his career is exciting if this album is any indication. For supposedly being over rapping, he drops some of his greatest verses on a few highlight tracks. Features from outside OF add a nice touch, and a few songs that have no redeeming qualities (Parking Lot, Pigs) blemish what is otherwise a great addition to Tyler's library.Highlights
- 48, IFHY, Rusty8.
"...I'm afraid I'm gonna blow it, and them expectations raisin' because Daddy was a poet, right?"
Edging out Tyler with what I consider to be Odd Future's best release of the year, Earl's return to civilization is chronicled on Doris perfectly. An album with the expected flurry of bars, the real surprise was Earl as a budding producer. Without some stinkers, namely and ironically the songs featuring Tyler which I had high hopes for, Doris would have been my favorite hip-hip release of the year. The lazy tone throughout pairs with the production to create a surreal experience, and Earl continues to mature with his wordplay making me more excited for his future releases.Highlights
- Burgundy, Sunday, Centurion7.
"One bird, two birds, three birds, four. Five birds, six times life is war"
It may just be that Death Grips can do no wrong in my eyes. Taking off from my AOTY in 2012, Death Grips have continued to de-evolve into something so primitive its astonishing they can even manage to keep a sense of rhythm. This album is book-ended by two off-the-walls, very Death Grips tracks. Its the middle that makes the project so interesting though. Many people have called this a "beat tape" due to the lack of ride, and that may be fair. It is certainly not a knock against it though. Like The Money Store, they have managed to make disgusting and obnoxious sounds infectious. More time with the album may change my stance on its placement here one day, but for now all I can really say against it is that I simply like the remaining albums more. Highlights
- Anne Bonny, I'm Overflow, Whatever I Want (Fuck Who's Watching)6.
"Raps just made me anxious, and acid made me crazy"
Starting the year completely off my radar and ending with my favorite rap project of the year, Chance the Rapper has pulled off an impressive feat. I was instantly drawn in by the Chicago-soul-inspired production and tenacity that Chance has during the opening tracks. He constantly changes his sound, ranging from standard a smoking-and-fucking affair with Ab-Soul to relaxing tracks like Lost and Everybody's Something. He shows he can spit with more established cohorts Gambino and Bronson and pays respect to Frank Ocean along the way. Chance has my undivided attention, and I hope we continue to get great releases from him very soon.Highlights
- Good Ass Intro, Favorite Song, Chain Smoker5.
"It's imperfect, it's not forever, but you're further, you're still patient"
Admittedly, I have always considered Toro y Moi's previous efforts great, but not that
great. Anything in Return is the first album from Toro after his move to California, a move that is very evident throughout. I'm definitely biased towards west coast music, but this album pays respect to old school west coast jazz, funk, and pop that anyone from any city can enjoy. It's a calming album, but isn't afraid to crank up the volume from time to time. The production is entrancing and Chaz's vocals are crisp when they need to be heard loud and clear, vague when they need to melt into the beat.Highlights
- Say That, So Many Details, Cola4.
"Touch...I remember touch, pictures came with touch. A painter in my mind, tell me what you see"
Easily my most anticipated album of the year, Daft Punk didn't disappoint. Growing up with parents that were into Michael McDonald, Tina Turner, and many other 70's soft rock and disco icons, this album felt like it was made for me. The crisp and clean production, the intricate attention to detail and the mesmerizing vocals combined to create another Daft Punk classic. The albums starts with the phrase "Give Life Back to Music," and continued to live up to that declaration. The centerpiece of the album alone is packed with enough dedication to music history to make it into my top 10. From a lonely ballad featuring Julian Casablancas to a classic "driving down the California freeway" jam like "Fragments of Time," Random Access Memories captivated me from start to finish and will remain an immortal album from the year 2013. Highlights
- Instant Crush, Touch, Fragments of Time3.
"This is sex, this is war, this is me fucking you on the dance floor"
Allow me to break formalities here to just express that Chastity Belt came out of buttfuck nowhere for me. The Seattle-based all-female group can seriously rock, and they know it. Songs titles like Giant Vagina and Nip Slip come from a hybrid of confidence and not giving a single fuck. The album is only about a half hour, but the songs will stick in your head for weeks - think bubble-gum pop with the Pop being Iggy. The ballsy-ness of these women doesn't come off as confrontational, but fun. They definitely seem like girls you can go to a shitty party with and still have a good time. No Regrets is an absolute blast, easily the funnest album of the year.Highlights
- Black Sail, Seattle Party, James Dean2a.
"I left my love in San Francisco (that's okay, I was born in L.A.)"
That isn't a typo - I am cheating this year, squeezing 11 albums into my top 10. I couldn't help it, especially with an album like We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. Foxygen beat MGMT at their own game this year, plain and simple. Though it may be a friendly competition between modern psychadelic pop bands, Foxygen's album is some serious music. It begins with a rocking chorus, like walking out from a pitch black room into the bright sunlight - on acid. From there the zany lyrics and nerdy obsession to every change in rhythm, tempo and instrumentation culminate in an outstanding trip. On the peaks of Blue Mountain, everything seems hunky-dory; From the depths of the parlor at the hotel (where a girl hangs out wearing animal earrings), there is evidence of a murder being covered up. It all culminates in a hammy final minute about love, God, and doing what is right.Highlights
- No Destruction, On Blue Mountain, Oh No2b.
"I loved you Jesus, you raped the world. I feel defeated, let's all go surf"
Afraid of Heights is what Wavves has been working towards for years. Song after song feature giant chords, giant melodies, giant themes, and plenty of "ooh ooh" - filled choruses. Somewhat in the middle of a stoned out Sunday afternoon at the beach and a full blown Nirvana-esque wave of depression and social apathy, Afraid of Heights touches upon serious issues but bats them away by the next track. The production is more dressed up than any previous Wavves effort, and Nathan's songwriting couldn't be more self-loathing. Still, this is what makes Wavves great in the first place, so seeing these components turned up to 11 is incredibly satisfying. The project comes together despite some out of place (or perhaps just mis-ordered) tracks to offer a fun and deep listen. Highlights
- Demon To Lean On, Lunge Forward, Afraid of Heights, Gimmie the Knife
"'Cause when you're going through hell...Well you just keep going"
There's been no question about my number one album of the year from the first listen. King Krule is the best new artist around, and 6 Feet Beneath the Moon packs a serious punch. The left hook? He sounds like Frank Sinatra with diabetes. Modern day ballads are hard to come by from artists other than 50 year old washed up singers desperate for money doing stints on American Idol. Any time I try to describe this album I realize that it's not worth it. I could go into the truly unique voice, the heart-wrenching guitar plucking, the out-of-left-field trumpet solos, but no - this album is something to be experienced. Talent like this doesn't come around often, and even if he turns out to be a flash in the pan, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon will remain a testament to the devotion of music in a time of defilement. Highlights
- Border Line, A Lizard State, Out Getting Ribs