Best of 2013: Music

THE DRUNK MONKEYS
TOP TEN IN MUSIC 2013

 

10.) PAUL McCARTNEY

9.) THE NATIONAL

8.) MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS

7.) PHARRELL WILLIAMS

6.) VAMPIRE WEEKEND

5.) DAVID BOWIE

The thin white Duke does NOT disappoint with The Next Day, which rings wholly modern, yet incorporates echoes of Vintage Bowie. The album is vocally strong but raw (in a good way) and a little melodically noisy, like Bowie’s thematic works in the late 70s and early 80s. There are a few slow-downs (“Where Are We Now”), and maybe even a smidge of meh (I’ll let you decide where). Still, all in all, the album delivers what most Bowie fans crave. Each song is smart, whether with complex emotionalism, referential storytelling, or zeitgeist-y profundity. The Next Day is not a cohesive story album; rather each song has a singular vein and stands alone within the framework of Bowie’s signature avant garde musicality. I’m studying Bowie’s guide to perpetuating innovation and youthful angst well into one’s golden years.

Pamela Langley, Fiction Editor

4.) DAFT PUNK

In the eight years since their last album, LCD Soundsystem had name-checked them, blew up, and broke up. Kanye West had sampled them and put them all over the radio (and sports arenas.) Long-term electronica fans, indie rock fans, hip hop fans and pop fans all coalesced (No doubt many saying, “Oh yeah, I’ve always liked Daft Punk.”) and made Random Access Memories one of the most anticipated albums of the year. And, of course, Daft Punk surprised us all with a matte-finish tribute to the AM Gold sound. No hard-edged grooves, no stadium anthems, just a smooth and mellow wave. Yet, this does not sound like a nostalgia album. It reassembles old markers and turns them into guideposts for a musical future.

Lawrence VonHaelstrom, Contributing Editor

3.) ATOMS FOR PEACE

Electronica, while hypnotic, often drones—or fails to evolve—and can distance listeners from emotionally investing. We don’t tend to remember it. NOT so with Atoms for Peace (named for a speech given by Dwight D. Eisenhower), which formed with such a stellar pedigree that it would be a miscarriage of talent for this collaboration to be less than sublime: Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Flea of RHCPs, Joey Waronker of R.E.M. and Beck on drums, and Radiohead producer, Nigel Godrich.
This is damn good stuff, but it takes some unpacking—you can’t be lazy. The balance of riveting, complex lyrical content and sophisticated, afrobeat/funk musicality creates a unique, soul-bending musical experience.

Amok is a distinct journey, composed like a sophisticated dish, each ingredient counts on subtle, palpable levels. “Before Your Very Eyes” establishes the rhythmic, haunting, unbridled (and ever-so-slightly unhinged) vibe that underpins the album. Listen to how Flea beats like Puck at the sadness. “Default” tip-toes in and shakes you around with self-awareness, “The will is strong, but the flesh is weak, Guess that’s it, I’ve made my bed, I’m lying in it.” “Unless” reeks of despair; “Judge, Jury and Execution” of irony, “Amok” of an ephemeral denouement … and through it all, you may find yourself strangely compelled to dance!

Pamela Langley, Fiction Editor

2.) ARCADE FIRE

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It’s not that Arcade Fire needed David Bowie to show up for Reflektor, an album with dozens of musical and lyrical surprises, stacked atop the band meeting every expectation this album had going for it. Even so, the appearance makes perfect sense. Reflektor is a strange kid. That kid likes to rip time and space into pieces for the hell of it, guessing from there as to the best way to put it back together. Bowie knows a thing or two about taking such an approach to an album. However, it’s most definitely Arcade Fire’s show, and what a show it is.

Gabriel Ricard, Film Editor

1.) LORDE

There weren’t a lot of reasons to keep your radio turned on in 2013, until a 16-year-old New Zealander stormed the charts with a simple hook, ethereal backing vocals, and a giant middle finger to pop pomp and overproduction with her gorgeous single “Royals”.

In a year full of stultifying rhetorical questions—“Is Miley Cyrus the ruination of American youth?” “Is “Blurred Lines” about date rape?” “Is Kanye West the greatest musical genius of all time?” (the correct answer to all of the above is “Who gives a fuck?”)—Lorde stood out for her honesty and her talent, and offered a welcome reprieve from the madness.

And her album, Pure Heroine, reinforced that promise, with strong songwriting, brilliant vocals, and a defiant sense of purpose. Not since Fiona Apple has a young artist performed with such supreme confidence. Only time will tell who Lorde will become, but in 2013 we were just grateful to have her the way she is now.

Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-Chief

 

LISTS OF NOTE

ALLIE MARINI BATTS, writer

#1.) VNV Nation, Transnational
2. Bloc Party, The Nextwave Sessions
3. Covenant, Leaving Babylon
4. KMFDM, Kunst
5. My Bloody Valentine, mbv
6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away
7. The Knife, Shaking the Habitual
8. Mesh, Automation Baby
9. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito
10. Skinny Puppy, Weapon

GABRIEL RICARDFilm Editor
1.) Arcade Fire
2. The National
3. David Bowie
4. Pearl Jam
5. Neko Case
6.  Bruce Springsteen
7. Nine Inch Nails
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
9. Vampire Weekend
10. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

RYAN ROACHstaff writer
#1.) Um…Madonna?
2. That date rape song by Kirk Cameron
3. Is Rolling in the Deep from this year?
4. Susan Boyle!
5. Whatever hilarious thing Eminem sang about homos.
6. “What Does the Fox Say?” (This is a real vote. That shit’s awesome).
7. Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas. The only modern Christmas classic. I don’t care if it didn’t come out this year.
8. Justin Timberlake on SNL.