To complement The 2013 MEBBIES, each staff member has put together personal lists of favorites (and least favorites) for the year. Click on any writer’s name to see the write-up for his or her top album for the year, and click the link at the bottom of any entry to see the rest of that writer’s picks. Here’s to another great year for music in 2014!
This record is the savior of metal. I say that in the sense that this record has been listened to by more non-metal heads than any other metal record in who knows how long. Honestly, I’m shocked so many people who don’t normally enjoy metal not only gave this record a chance but actually enjoyed it – because it isn’t a simple record. Sunbather is heavy, gritty and pushes the boundaries of black metal while not commercializing the final product. Hell of an album.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Drew’s picks!
1. The 1975
I kind of resisted putting this record at the top of my list, but ranking another album here would simply be kidding myself. No other band dominated my year quite the way that The 1975 did, first with their four fantastic EPs on repeat beginning in the summer, and later with their phenomenal self-titled debut from fall forth. Although it might take some time to catch your ear, any time spent on this release pays off tenfold in brilliant lyrics, undeniable melodies, and earnest emotion that simply can’t be faked.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Jacob’s picks!
1. Laura Marling
Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Marling is one of the most captivating songwriters not just in Britain, but of our generation. Her wordplay is truly unmatched and she sounds so far beyond her 23 years that it’s scary to think what she’ll be writing in ten, even five more years. This album is split into two halves, the first a sneering, brooding and gloomier set of seven songs, then a short interlude gives way to a more upbeat, reflective and at times hopeful second half. These 16 songs of folk-rock (and many other genres in between) expand boundaries, take risks, and they all combine to make one astonishingly epic work of art.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Joe’s picks!
Deafheaven is a band I was only vaguely familiar with prior to 2013. But from the opening moments of hitting play on this record, I knew there was something special about this record. It is a challenging, aggressive, yet beautiful ode to the ideas of heavy and light when it comes to metal. At its blackest moments, the album annihilates your ears without resent, but then can flip the switch and drown you in sunny riffs just as confidently. It stands as the artistic pinnacle of music in 2013 – an almost snap pick for record of the year.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Jason’s picks!
1. A Day To Remember
Amidst much label drama and album delays, A Day To Remember’s fifth album, Common Courtesy, hit the world in October. And it did not disappoint. Being the band’s heaviest release since For Those Who Have Heart, it contains a heaping pile of face-melting breakdowns and mosh calls. But at the same time, it shows the group both at their most calm and comfortable; in “I’m Already Gone” and “I Surrender,” the band mellows down into acoustic-driven theatrics, and with “Best Of Me” and “City Of Ocala,” the band’s hearty pop-punk side shows. Considering that A Day To Remember has been one of my favorite bands for years, I was already sold before I heard the first note. It’s a fan pleaser for sure, and the pure energy and enticement contained in every single song makes Common Courtesy my favorite album of 2013.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Tim’s picks!
Please just read my full review here, posted earlier this year. My thoughts and opinions have not changed since that time and it will give you a much more detailed analysis of the record and its complete dominance over everything else 2013. Hayley Williams, Taylor York and Jeremy Davis are just perfect.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Jarrod’s picks!
1. The Front Bottoms
Talon Of The Hawk
The Front Bottoms didn’t experience the common slump with their sophomore debut, and surprised me with just how cynical they can be. This album enhances their already pathetic ambiance, but takes on a much more mature persona, and somewhat clever posture. It’s funnier and sadder. That combination sparks a new interest in this duo, and continues to please my earholes. Not to mention, their angst is still widely present and as undeniable as ever. They’re trying harder to express themselves in a less shallow manner, and taking advantage of their growing talent to harvest their pity. Really, this album is their declaration of independence, so to speak, and really embraces who they are.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Megan’s picks!
Days Are Gone
For a very long time, I assumed that my top AOTY spot would either go to Sigur Rós or The National, but as it turned out, I should’ve put my money on a new dark horse. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been as excited by a new band as I am by HAIM. These three sisters sound like the second coming of Fleetwood Mac with a heavy dose of grrl-power thrown in. Their full-length debut, Days Are Gone, would be respectfully good for a veteran band. For a new trio, it’s nothing short of shocking. You’ll come for the (deserved) hype, but as soon as the drums on opening track “Falling” hit, you’ll be hooked in for the long haul. “The Wire” has one of the strongest, catchiest hooks of 2013. If I had a dollar for every time I caught myself belting this out in my shower, I could probably pay HAIM to play a private show in my living room. My other standout track is “My Song 5,” whose down and dirty bassline introduces a perfect amount of Joan Jett-esque swagger. The quality of HAIM’s debut is outrageously good, but even more surprising would be if they don’t enjoy a long and successful career. Download this album now and be prepared to salivate for their next.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Alexandra’s picks!
1. The Wonder Years
The Greatest Generation
The Wonder Years did something really special with The Greatest Generation. While my personal attachment to The Upsides has cemented it as my favorite release of theirs, the difference between the band that made that record and the band that made The Greatest Generation is immeasurable. From the slow burning tension of opener “There, There” to the emotional pummeling of closer “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral”, The Wonder Years successfully created a masterful snapshot of all the highlights of what they can be. Whether it be the more straight forward pop-punk moments like the blistering “We Could Die Like This” or the more dynamic cuts such as the mellow piano ballad turned barn-burner “The Devil In My Bloodstream”, The Wonder Years bring a sheer power to every facet of the record, and it is evident that this is a band at their very best. The Greatest Generation is a juggernaut in every sense of the word.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Nick’s picks!
1. The Front Bottoms
Talon Of The Hawk
My torrid love affair with The Front Bottoms began in April of 2012, when I first heard the insanely catchy single “Maps”, off their “debut self-titled record.” I use the term loosely because the record is simply a combination of two EPs, one known by older fans and one that was previously shelved. Fast forward to this year and The Front Bottoms have released an appropriately fashioned full-length record, and boy is it divine. Every single song is considered, to me, a high point in the band’s career. There’s just something special surrounding each of the twelve tracks on Talon Of The Hawk. “Au Revoir (Adios)” has the perfect amount of humor and sincerity in its below-two minute lifespan, “Santa Monica” is the band’s ode to simply being emo, and “Lone Star” effectively makes you smile until you realize you really shouldn’t (that darn happy tune tricks ya!). The album’s highlight comes in the form of lead single “Twin Size Mattress”, my song of the year. Everything about the track solidifies what The Front Bottoms are all about: superb acoustic tone, excellent lyrics, and ambient naivety, with the bonus of a killer last minute. The song was the perfect setup for my favorite record of the year, one that nobody should sleep on.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Connor’s picks!
1. Laura Stevenson
Laura Stevenson’s second LP is my AOTY for over 7 months now, and for good reason. There’s simply no flaw that came up during the countless times I listened to this record. Everything is just perfect on here, from the lyrics to the songwriting, from the instrumentation to Laura’s incredibly beautiful voice; a record that definitely ranks in my favorite albums of all time.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Eric’s picks!
1. Kanye West
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.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Justin’s picks!
1. The Neighbourhood
I Love You.
Don’t let their ultimate hipster anthem, “Sweater Weather,” fool you, because The Neighbourhood is far from obscure hipster music. This strong debut album successfully makes you think a little bit more about what today’s world has become. Hauntingly honest and thought provoking tracks delve into some pretty deep themes such as bullying (“How”), consumerism (“Let It Go”), and blackmail (“Female Robbery”). With the soft, very indie sounding vocals of Jesse Rutherford paired with a hybrid of alternative and hip-hop beats all done by their own instruments, each song oozes with refreshing creativity. I Love You. might be just what you’re looking for if you really want to impress your friends with how much you understand your music.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Heather’s picks!
1. Biffy Clyro
Everyone said that releasing a double album in this current record-buying climate would be career suicide. Scottish alt-rockers Biffy Clyro, of course, promptly ignored all the advice and did it anyway, and a damn good thing, too. Opposites kicked off a whirlwind year that included multiple European headlining tours, a North American tour in support of Muse and headlining Reading Festival (their “support” acts included System Of A Down, Nine Inch Nails and Eminem); career suicide, it ain’t. Featuring songs like the heartbreaking title track, the climactic “Victory Over The Sun,” the brilliantly varied “Black Chandelier,” and arguably their best song ever, the glorious ‘Biblical’ (among so very many others), how do you not love every second of this thing? Mark my words; these boys are taking over the world.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Jeremy’s picks!
1. Daft Punk
Random Access Memories
Its been a wonderful year for electronic music. With Random Access Memories, Daft Punk takes you through the history of the music that shaped who they are today. Backed with a diverse array of tracks, the rolodex of sounds they throw at you combined with the endlessly catchy “Get Lucky,” make for a feast of sound. These elements along with the impeccable array of guest spots and old-school funk grooves culminate into the finest electronic album of the year.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Johnny’s picks!
The Blackest Beautiful
Bold and caustic, letlive’s primary goal was honesty, and it has been all along. Fake History, 2010’s massive success, drew widespread attention to the band in all of the right ways, but when pushing every envelope to the extreme, what’s next? The band went back to the drawing board and threw many of the original concepts out of the window. The Blackest Beautiful is a victorious, emphatic, poignant work of art best understood of as a whole. Whether it’s Jason Aalon Buter’s ferocity and cut-throat vernacular, Ryan Johnson’s bass lines that are cut from the funk rock mold, or the Jean/Jeff guitar powerhouse that bring to life all of the emotive foundation; the band truly understood their next place in the world and this record represents that in every imaginable way. Politically, socially, and psychologically conscious – jaw-dropping doesn’t even cover it.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Austin’s picks!
1. Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires Of The City
Ever since their charmingly unique debut was released in 2008, Vampire Weekend has always stood out from the crowd. This “crowd,” of course, is the barrage of almost-too-similar sounding indie bands that invaded the world of mainstream music around the time VW was formed. Their first two full-length efforts combined a wide palate of musical styles while still maintaining a focused sound, definitely seperating them from the rest. This was much in part thanks to the excellent songwriting of frontman Ezra Koenig, which takes center stage on the band’s latest record, Modern Vampires Of The City. The diverse sonic spectrum is mostly nonexistent this time around, but what’s left is one of the most touchingly honest albums released this year. That’s not to say that the instrumentation isn’t interesting, however. From the simple and spacious “Hannah Hunt” to the spastic “Finger Back”, there’s no shortage of creativity or personality anywhere on the record. It all adds up to make Modern Vampires the most revealing, sincere, and absolutely enthralling collection of songs I’ve heard this year.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Eli’s picks!
1. Bring Me The Horizon
With their release of Sempiternal, Bring Me The Horizon has finally put out something worth listening to. BMTH has proven that a band can completely change their sound and still keep everything that people love about them. The band toyed with new electronic sounds and clean vocals, which has surprisingly led to incredibly well-rounded record. Singer Oli Sykes maintained the unclean vocals that many of BMTH’s longtime fans love while throwing in some different vocal styles such as spoken-word. A band that can make a successful record that appeases its old fans and incorporates enough new elements to reach out to a different audience has done something excellent in my books.
Click here to read thoughts on these records and see the rest of Alexa’s picks!