As I go through the various top ten lists of 2013, I have been seeing a serious lack of Long.Live.A$AP. Released the first month of the year, many may have forgotten about one of the best debut hip-hop albums in recent years. Fortunately I haven’t forgotten, because tracks like “Goldie,” “Angels,” and “PMW” have rarely left my head since I first listened to the album. It boasts crazy hooks (though A$AP Ferg may now have him beat in this respect), excellent production, and some great verses. Rocky has led the A$AP Mob to stardom thanks to this, and with an excellent 2013 behind him, I’m anxious to see where his career will take him next.
I’ve never been the biggest metal fan in the world, but I fell absolutely in love with the mere seven tracks on Sunbather. You can hardly even call it strictly metal, since it blends so many genres together, most notably shoegaze. Each track is split up by an interlude that weaves together the epic tracks seamlessly. Each of the landmark tracks sound separate from each other, “Veritgo” sporting a quick switch from beauty to death, complete with some of the best guitar work on the album, and closer “The Pecan Tree” goes from black metal to a more rock sound. But what stands out to me so much about Sunbather is how absolutely beautiful it is, even during the chaotic moments. Plus, it was the highest rated album on Metacritic this year, which is monumental for a metal record.
Doris is the most criminally underrated album of 2013. There, I said it. Earl is one of the best rappers in the game today, his flow poetic and monotone, his lyrics both quirky and heart-wrenching. His rhymes are so thick that it takes multiple listens to know what he actually means, and once you adapt to his double-entendres and made-up words, you’ll find a dense album that captures the desolate mood of the artist in question perfectly. “Hive” is one of the best songs anyone in Odd Future has ever released, and if you have any doubts of Earl’s talent, listen to his jaw-dropping verse on “Centurion” and see what you have to say then. Doris is both introspective and exciting, and while I understand that it may be hard to grasp, once you do, you’ll understand why it’s my third favorite album of 2013.
For me, English indie-rock group Arctic Monkeys just couldn’t live up to the hype of their incredible debut album. Luckily, 2013 was the year that this changed. Alex Turner and co returned with their strongest (and admittedly most American) album to date. From the swaggering stomp of first single “Do I Wanna Know?” the Monkeys set the stage for the dark drug-tinged play that is AM. Listening to the entire album feels like you’re with the band, drinking and getting high at an England bar…until the night ends. While AM features some of the group’s darkest songs, it also has two back-to-back softer tracks that, while out of character, allow you take a step away from the party and take a look into Turner’s heart. It gave me hope not only for the band, but for the Turner, whose heart is still yearning to be filled.
2013 was a more than crowded year for hip-hop, but nothing stood out as much as Kanye West’s Yeezus. Nobody on planet earth thought that Ye’s next album would sound so dark and minimalist, the first taste of the sound projected on buildings across America. While it didn’t sell nearly as well as his past efforts, the album was adored by fans and critics alike. From the high-pitched screaming on the opening track to the absurd music video of the final track, Yeezus sweeps the listener in something truly unique. It’s my album of the year because of all of this, but also how much it changed the game. He didn’t release any singles until after the album was released and worked with producer Rick Rubin to finish the album mere days before it was released. Say what you will about Kanye West, but he makes some damn good music.
A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord
Of Montreal – Lousy With Sylvianbriar
Most Anticipated: Schoolboy Q