Rooster Roundabout: Best albums of 2013
Well ... according to me
Now that Christmas is over and the New Year is upon us, many music outlets are looking back at one more year in music and the many bands that inhabited that particular point in time. 2013 was a big year. We had releases from Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and much more. But I’ve never been one to look at year-end lists because I mostly don’t agree with the writers, or I get bored with them. So if you get bored reading this one, I completely understand and won’t fault you. Now, the idea of a year-end list is to boast the work created that year. I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to list the top five albums I listened to this year.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean these albums were made this year. Hell, a couple of them were made decades ago. But, in my humble perspective, I always urge people to delve into music of the past. My argument is that you can’t completely focus on the music of today without understanding how past music shaped that sound. IE: I recently heard an interview with Lorde (who is on this list) where she said that if the Beatles hadn’t done what they did, she wouldn’t have done what she did. You get the idea. So ... here’s my list! Enjoy or don’t enjoy. And remember ... there’s always next year.
Lorde - Pure Heroine
This album completely came out of nowhere. I remember hearing “Royals” on the radio and wondering who this pop princess was. Turns out she wasn’t a “princess” per se, but more of a weird little goth chick who made sparse electronic ditties. What won me over was the fact that she wrote her own songs, helped produce the album and she was only 16 when the album was finished. If that’s not an accomplishment, I don’t know what is. Oh, and the album is actually good. Songs like “400 Lux,” “Buzzcut Season,” and “White Teeth Teens” show her range and vivacity.
Hank Williams - Wait For the Light to Shine
While I do believe in God, I’m not especially religious. So church hymns, gospel and good ol’ fashioned odes to Jesus via country music rhythms and rhymes always strike a music fancy to my eardrums. And Williams’ homage to the Lord is no exception. Tracks like “Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine” and the title track show Williams crooning over typical country ditties, but his voice presents a magic wash over the scratchy record I got at Charley’s for $1.99. My hands-down favorite track on the record is “Devil’s Train.” It’s the most scratchy, and maybe that’s why I like it.
King Tuff - Was Dead
Apparently the original pressing of this record is impossible to find, but due to an overwhelming number of people attempting to get a copy in their sweaty hands, Burger Records reissued the album, making it available for people like me (who find out about bands very late in the game). This LP never left my record player for a good month. Whether I was cleaning, eating or pooping, it was always on in the background. Album opener “Dancing On You” immediately grabs you, and Tuff’s trippy (sometimes whiny) vocals just take over. My personal favorite is “Sun Medallion,” but “Freak When I’m Dead” and “Just Strut” are great songs as well. Actually, just listen to the whole thing. It’s a keeper.
Patti Smith - Horses
This record dominated 2013 for me. While I’m an artist, I had gone through a slump, so I started becoming more diligent by painting again. So one day while painting, I played Smith’s most famous album. I’d already been a fan of it, but for some reason, while blending colors and etching out pieces of cardboard with a needle, it just hit me. It’s brilliant. From her opening rendition of “Gloria” to “Land,” the album is genius. If you haven’t listened to it, there’s still time. So from then on, any time I sat down to paint, draw, sketch or take photographs of weird ornaments, it was always on in the background ... and still is. It’s the perfect “art” record.
Savages - Silence Yourself
I can’t remember the last time I got this excited about a band. While every music blog was riding the wave of salivating over this “post-punk” prodigy, I just couldn’t get over their stark single “I Am Here.” It was my obsession with that song that prompted me to buy the album (at Urban Outfitters no less). While it has a dark, menacing tone, the musicality at work is of the upmost cohesive. Each song blends into the next, but each track is a stand-alone gem. “Husbands” is quick and painful. “City’s Full” is fantastically dreadful. And album closer “Marshal Dear” ties it all together with some horns and piano. It’s a masterpiece, and it makes me brim with anticipation for what they’ll put out next.
Those were my top five albums of the year. What were yours? Feel free to comment.