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The Worst Albums of 2013

The following albums deserve no explanation whatsoever other than that they were complete and absolute shit. Either all hype and no substance or only snooty little hipsters (critics) liked this garbage because they knew no one else would so they gave it praise while the general public was left shaking their head saying “What the fuck did I just listen to?” They might be the best albums to play if you were planning on torturing a terrorist suspect. And here they are:

Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP2
Should have been called: Eminem I Ran Out of Ideas

French Montana Excuse My French
Should have been called: French Montana Excuse my Record

Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse
Should have been called: Youth Lagoon What the Fuck!?

The Knife Shaking the Habitual
Should have been called: The Knife Perfect for Deaf People

Boards of Canada Tomorrow’s Harvest
Should have been called: Boards of Canada Bored in Canada

Kurt Vile Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Should have been called: Kurt Vile Let Me Put You in a Daze

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Specter at the Feast
Should have been called: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club  Membership at Zero


Honorable Mention Albums of 2013

Foals Holy Fire
Foals do their best Coldplay impression, not musically, but in size and scope. They come very close.

Bastille Bad Blood
Another great EDM album with several songs that should/could become hits.  The song Bad Blood was one of my favorites this year.

Avicii True
A unique blend of dub step, country roots and soulful singing makes for a delicious grab bag of an album.

The Strokes Comedown Machine
They will probably never make an album as good as Is This It or Room on Fire but this album reminds us just how good they can still be.

London Grammar If You Wait
It’s easy to compare them to Florence + the Machine or The XX and when that is who you are compared to, clearly you are doing something right.

Arcade Fire Reflektor
I actually enjoyed some of these songs which is surprising since previously I enjoyed one or none on previous albums. I’d like to give them more credit but honestly had the producer not been James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem fame I would have slid them over to my list of Worst albums of 2013.

Tegan and Sara Heartthrob
The ladies try their hand at 80’s inspired music and remind us of the good old days of The Go-Go’s and Banarama. That’s not a bad thing.

Lorde The Love Club EP
5 tracks of monster hits. Had it been a full album it would have made the Best
list. Pure Heroine was decent but as a follow up to this EP it was a big disappointment.

Deafheaven Sunbather
The album cover, which is pink, is incredibly misleading. Deafheaven are a hardcore, post metal band that combine their scream-o with shoegaze and my, oh my, the result is thrilling.  It’s a musical journey with highs and lows, lyrics need to be printed.

Torres Torres
It’s a chick and a guitar and I know what you are thinking, how could that make for a good full album? Torres figured that out. Listen to “Jealousy and I”. Great, great song.

The Field Cupid’s Head
This album is straight up dope. It’s a great headphone album to get lost in. The pulsing synths, distorted sampling and rhythmic basslines are nothing short of mesmerizing.

Best Albums of 2013

20. The Weeknd Kiss Land
Quite possibly the years worst album title but don’t let that prevent you from listening to The Weeknd’s major label debut. Abel Tesfaye’s voice is hard to turn away from. The dude could sing the ABC’s and you’d get all the way to Z. On “The Town” he sings “You did many things that I liked, that I liked And you like diamond rings I can provide, I can provide for you You made me feel so good Before I left on the road And you deserve your name on a crown, on a throne” which sounds like a personal departure from the underworld of The Trilogy. Musically he kicks it up a notch or two and the result is exhilarating. The shades are still drawn but from time to time he peeks out from behind the blinds to let a little light in.

19. Drake Nothing Was The Same
I have never been a Drake fan until this album was released. The production on this album is slick and infectiously minimal. “Tuscan Leather” is the perfect table setter giving us a prelude to the album’s tone and lyrical content – “I’m livin’ like I’m out here on my last adventure, past the present when you have to mention, this is nothin’ for the radio, but they’ll still play it though. Cause it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go. Heavy airplay all day with no chorus”. Drake raps with a chip on his shoulder reminding us continuously that nothing in fact, is the same.

18. Savages Silence Yourself
Savages are a London-based post-punk revival rock band who exploded onto the music scene in 2013. It’s pure white knuckle rock and roll, delivered by an unlikely ensemble considering they are an all female band. I’m not saying females can’t rock hard….okay, most females can’t rock hard. These ladies specialize in drawing you in closely before they unleash an all out assault on you as in the song “I Am Here”. They cruise through the first half of the song before they mash the accelerator and repeat the song title over and over and you realize its not really a song but a confession.

17. Foxygen We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Foxygen know how to have a good time with their musical talents. It is a throwback album with a heavy 60’s influence. Yet it doesn’t sound dated or too pretentious. The songs have a dose of humor in them, “I left my love in San Francisco, that’s okay, I was bored anyway” (San Francisco). The magic here is each tune takes you back to a time where we weren’t so aggressive (No Destruction) and consumed with technology and with who has what and who’s better than who (Oh Yeah). Foxygen are encouraging us, “Ah if you believe in yourself you can free your soul” (Shuggie). Grab some friends, put your arms around one another, sway back and forth and let the Ambassadors lead the way.

16. Autre Ne Veut Anxiety
The best R&B album of the year comes from an unlikely source, American singer Arthur Ashin. He’s white, he sings about sex and …..dying? Yep. It’s a bit of a paradox, it’s uplifting (Dance With Somebody) and sobering (A Lie, Gonna Die). But he is bringing something new to a genre that seems to be dying in its own cyclical, monotonous, predictability. Autre Ne Veut is anything but predictable. On the song World War he sings, “Sometimes I see your face I’m under right now, rather just stand here fighting you, world war” and it sounds like it’s being sung to an alien invasion that ends halfway through the song. Don’t let the name of the album fool you. As they say, don’t judge an album by its cover. There’s some joy in this Anxiety.

15. Majical Cloudz Impersonator
Majical Cloudz is a Canadian indie pop duo consisting of singer Devon Welsh and producer Matthew Otto. This album is a raw confessional. “See how I’m faking my side of it? I’m a liar, I sing, I make music” (Impersonator). The music is minimal and achingly beautiful but the purpose is for us to bond with the man behind the mic. Welsh has plenty to say, as if he’s in a small room with a crowd and a stool, microphone in hand. “If this is all that I am, If this is the last thing I do, I feel so good” (This is Magic). Take the time to listen to Impersonator, I bet you remember the experience.

14. Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks
Trent Reznor is the master of pain and pleasure. His music personifies both so effortlessly that you forget that hesitation marks refers to the cuts one makes on the wrist in a premeditated suicide attempt. Trent Reznor is just trying to find his way through the bleak, uninspired world in which we all live. It’s kind of a morbid way to look at things but somehow it doesn’t feel too heavy. “Hey! Everything is not okay” he sings on All Time Low but it’s with a fist in the air not a head on a pillow. He knows how to breathe life into his darkness as evident on tracks like “Copy of A”, “Came Back Haunted” and “In Two”. It’s been a long while since Reznor has made a solid, consistent album all the way through. Hesitation Marks isn’t a resurgence, it’s a resurrection.

13. A$AP Rocky Long.Live.A$AP
A$AP isn’t the greatest lyricist. I won’t be quoting any songs here but the production is tight and the guest spots here are a perfect fit. My favorite song here is “Fashion Killa” which is really about a girl who wears a bunch of cool clothes, oh and her pistol goes boom-boom-pop-pop. But the beats are on the money. “1 Train” and “F**kin Problems” with their guest spots are a few of the best ‘pass the mic’ rap songs ever assembled. “Wild for the Night” is a welcome surprise too which features a Skrillex dub step beat as A$AP navigates his way through with finesse. It shouldn’t work but it does. If Rocky was going for a knockout punch, he came awfully close. If he can raise his game lyrically I’ll credit him with a KO, until then he scores a TKO.

12. CHVRCHES The Bones of What You Believe
You could argue that this was the year of EDM (electronic dance music) and a great argument it would be. CHVRCHES are a big contributor to the genre’s success this year. Synth pop is this Scottish group’s specialty and they lead it off with one of the best songs of the year, “The Mother We Share” which wears the crown for the most infectious chorus. On “Tether” they sing “Will we ever get away from this place, It’s an image that’s burned on my chest, For a moment you need me to stay, Cold blooded and drifting away” and continues “I feel incapable of seeing the end, I feel incapable of saying its over”. Like a forlorn relationship this record is impossible to let go of too. CHVRCHES is a place I will gladly revisit because unlike actual churches, I enjoy their sermons and hymns.

11. The Civil Wars The Civil Wars
This album is heartbreaking, lyrically and literally. The opener “The One That Got Away” turned out to be a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts, “I miss the way you wanted me, When I was staying just out of your reach, Begging for the slightest touch, Ooh, you couldn’t get enough, mmm”. Now that Joy Williams and John Paul are at odds and taking a hiatus, we may never experience the magic those two created together. Even when they can’t seem to get along they make one of the best albums of the year. They can do cover songs like no one else, “Disarm” (Smashing Pumpkins) and “Tell Mama” (Etta James) are the two featured and it’s that blend of styles that makes them such a fascinating listen. Listen to “Eavesdrop” and you just might shed a tear because it may be the last time you get to.

10. Kanye West Yeezus
It seems Kanye can do no wrong. He can pretty much rap over anything he wants. On Yeezus, Kanye leads us on a parade through his twisted mind. The album opens with some distorted electronic schizophrenic beat and the first words we hear are “Yeezy season approaching, Fuck whatever y’all been hearing, Fuck what, fuck whatever y’all been wearing, The monster about to come alive again”. The next track “Black Skinhead” opens with what appears to be a Marilyn Manson drum blast from “Beautiful People” and then the Yeezus monster truly comes alive – “Stop all that goon shit, early morning cartoon shit, This is that goon shit, fuck up your whole afternoon shit I’m aware I’m a wolf, soon as the moon hit, I’m aware I’m a king, back out the tomb bitch”. And once again we witness the resurrection of Kanye West. Kanye unveils a back to back one-two punch, “Blood on the Leaves” and “Guilt Trip”, that should go down as two of his greatest hits. The guy is just a bad ass mother fucker. What else can I say?

9. Queens of the Stone Age ….Like Clockwork
The Kings of rock and roll have returned. This album was much needed since the rock music scene appears to have damn near disappeared. The stomping opener “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” thunders along like a slow destructive earthquake. And with lyrics like “Big smile, really a show of teeth without a care in a world of fear, Lonely, you don’t know how I feel, Praise God, nothing is as it seems” you know these guys aren’t just aiming for the gut. This is heavy rock music for the most cerebral. The years best ballad appears on this album, “…Like Clockwork” or is it “The Vampyre of Time and Memory”? Hell, I don’t know. I didn’t know they could pull one off much less two. And that’s what makes QOTSA such a rewarding listen. The album is loaded with some of QOTSA’s best stuff ever written. Listen to “If I Had a Tail” – “I’m machine, I’m obsolete, In the land of the free, Immortality”. With this album they have achieved just that.

8. Woodkid The Golden Age
This album did not get the praise it deserves. The album tells a story of a young boy growing up through childhood and it’s told with big, bold strokes of epic instrumentation. As majestic and sweeping and emotional as it can be it never feels forced or too over the top, though it certainly takes us to the brink. Woodkid knows how to pull back in order to keep the listener engaged. If every song were as epic as “Stabat Mater” (my personal favorite) you would need multiple intermissions. But some of the best moments are the quieter ones like “The Boat Song” and “Where I Live”. If you are at a point in your life where you are in the middle of a personal struggle, “Iron” takes no prisoners -“A soldier on my own, I don’t know the way I’m riding up the heights of shame I’m waiting for the call, the hand on the chest I’m ready for the fight and fate”. Put your headphones on and join the battle. This is the perfect soundtrack.

7. Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience Part 1
Nobody does pop music like JT, even if he’s making a throwback, classic suit and tie, Brat pack inspired experience. 20/20 is really hard to dislike, believe me I found it hard to admit that I actually enjoyed the album but I did….every song on it. Timbaland’s at the top of his game and so is JT. The songs are long, yes, but the good kind of long, like all the Godfather films, you’ll be glad you saw it all the way through. Each song gives your body extra room to loosen up and get your groove on. Whether he’s comparing the love for a woman to that of a drug pusher or reveling in the scent of her bubblegum flavor, as long as he’s got his suit and tie we’ll get dressed up for the occasion too. But ladies, good luck keeping your dress on.

6. Daft Punk Random Access Memories
If you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s this will sound like a nostalgic throwback to those eras. If you didn’t you’ll get a great representation of why that was the golden age of music. The album kicks off with a disco inspired hand clapper “Give Life Back to Music”. It seems that’s just what Daft aim to do here. “Lose Yourself to Dance” is an encouragement and if the album fails to get your body moving then you my friend, lack a pulse. What’s so mesmerizing about the album are the moments Daft Punk slow things down and inject some soul into their musical landscape (Game of Love, Within). They are arguably the best moments on the album. By the time you get to the pulsing bass line of “Doin’ it Right” you really can’t help but start to plan your next house party. RAM = Instant classic.

5. The National Trouble Will Find Me
“When I walk into a room I do not light it up. Fuck”. Yep, you’re listening to The National. These guys don’t aim to cheer you up but rather reach out a hand and settle it on your shoulder. There is a lot of misery in life and as hard as you try to avoid it, much like the album title, trouble just seems to find you. Lyrically they have never been better, “Oh, but your love is such a swamp
You’re the only thing I want, And I said I wouldn’t cry about it, I…. This is the last time”. It’s really hard to explain the gravitational pull you get sucked in to with The National. Maybe it’s their evident sincerity or the deep baritone of Berninger’s voice or the brooding, rhythmic beauty of the instrumentation. Or maybe there is no maybe. They don’t go big on horn sections or expand themselves into outer space. It’s slightly more down to earth but that doesn’t mean the album is any less exhilarating than their previous albums. In fact it may just be the opposite.

4. Disclosure Settle
Disclosure are an English electronic music duo, consisting of brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. Settle is their debut album and this electronic album succeeds where most others do not, with its guest artists. Almost every song features a guest vocalist yet the spotlight never drifts from the music. The singers compliment each track perfectly. One of the strongest collaborations on the album is with England’s London Grammar on the track “Help Me Lose My Mind”. It was a great introduction for London Grammar who would go on to release their successful debut album later in the year. It’s a blissed out house beat that cruises along smoothly as the words “You help me lose my mind and you believe something I can’t define” repeat frequently. And that sums up the album. Hard to define, easy to enjoy.

3. Run the Jewels Run the Jewels
If you are looking for this years best hip hop album, look no further. Not even Kanye could touch this thrilling duo of Atlanta’s Killer Mike and NYC’s underground kingpin, El-P, who supplies the thundering beats and some of the illest raps of 2013. “I’m bored, Enough of your bummy shit, it’s numb to the core, sure You suck a good dick for the fame and couldn’t resist getting played I fuck like I’m headed to war I’m really not playing no games, Tag me god damn it I’ll kill the carrier that mentions my name” – (Banana Clipper). On DDFH, which stands for do dope fuck hope, El raps, “Look: ta-dah! The sound of your hopelessness I can feel it too, from the ground rising up in us, Right above the clouds there’s a shroud there to smother us, Make a sane man walk around with a blunderbuss, Peel another round, make a sound that is thunderous”. Killer Mike is a great addition to El-P’s beats because Mike raps hard and when you have two of the dopest MC’s on the planet going hard you have a hip hop classic in the making. Sorry Eminem, Drake, Kanye, Jay -Z and A$AP, I think when El-P kicks off the album with “Oh dear what the fuck have we here? These motherfuckers all thorn no rose…” I think he may be talking about you.

2. Twenty One Pilots Vessels
Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are the duo from Columbus Ohio who are Twenty One Pilots who have been touring the country tirelessly connecting with people and expanding their fan base. The album was released in January and how this album has been virtually overlooked is criminal. On “Ode to Sleep” we are introduced with a pulse pounding electro beat that explodes the moment Josh Dun crashes the drums. Tyler Joseph sings and um…raps and he does it effectively. There is nobody out there who sound like 21 Pilots. They have carved out a style all their own. The song structures are schizophrenic and cross several genres including reggae and piano ballads. There are surprises a plenty and each song takes itself to new heights, new joys, new levels. Lyrically they know how to cut right through us and open up our deepest emotions. On “Car Radio” Tyler sings “Sometimes quiet is violent I find it hard to hide it My pride is no longer inside It’s on my sleeve My skin will scream Reminding me of Who I killed inside my dream I hate this car that I’m driving
There’s no hiding for me I’m forced to deal with what I feel There is no distraction to mask what is real I could pull the steering wheel”.
It’s an album I can’t recommend any particular song because I would recommend them all. All I can say is just push play and get ready to feel something.

1. Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City
Is it irony that the chorus for the first song, “Obvious Bicycle” goes “So listen oh, so listen oh. Don’t wait, don’t wait”? I don’t think so. The chorus is a serenade preparing us for one hell of a ride. And from there Vampire Weekend have our full attention. The next track, the whimsical “Unbelievers” continues with “We know the fire awaits unbelievers All of the sinners the same, Girl you and I will die unbelievers Bound to the tracks of the train”. Again, the irony about a pair of people who believe so deeply in something they are willing to die for not being believers of another thing. Hmmmm. And that’s how deep and intellectual the entire album becomes. On Diane Young, which is a play on words (dying young), “Nobody knows what the future holds And it’s bad enough just getting old Live my life in self-defense You know I love the past, ’cause I hate suspense…” And this is what makes Modern Vampires a modern classic. The ability to enter our cerebrum in order to find its way into our hearts. Almost every song features an angelic choir or Gregorian type chant and on “Ya Hey”, a show stopper in its own right, those chants accompany “Through the fire and through the flames You won’t even say your name Only “I am that I am” But who could ever live that way?” – solidifying the fact that Vampire Weekend have made the year’s number one album.

Best Songs of the year 2013

25. The Field Cupid’s Head
One of the most hypnotic, electronic grooves of the year. It’s hard to ignore. The song doesn’t build or let up. You might argue the song becomes repetitive a few minutes in but Cupid’s Head catches you in subtle ways. If you don’t let it play out, well, you miss out.

24. The Weeknd The Town
Much like Ben Affleck’s movie by the same name, it is a surprise hit you never saw coming. “You did many things that I liked” as the opening line goes and this song is one of them. Killer bass line, Abel’s sweet falsetto that is so eerily familiarized with the King of Pop and the stunning pounding of the electronic piano a third of the way through. What’s not to like?

23. Nine Inch Nails All Time Low
The return of NIN was a highly anticipated one and Trent delivers plenty of industrial angst but none more so than on All Time Low. When Reznor strains those chrome plated vocal chords to howl, “everything is not okay” how could one argue. Welcome return for sure. Check out the killer remix by Todd Rundgren.

22. Major Lazer Get Free
A song I frequently revisited in 13 simply because there were no other reggae flavored pop gems out there. And as far as those go, this one is damn near perfect. Grab yourself a cocktail and get free from all your troubles.

21. Phosphorecent Song For Zula
This is one of those songs you might catch in the background of (insert major network drama here) and immediately Google to find it. I found it for you. Here it is. Chances are you caught it somewhere and it’s been driving you nuts ever since.

20. These New Puritans Fragment Two
A superb blend of piano balladry, orchestral strings, liquid brass and lazy vocals that make for a sweet audio treat for the ears. Thank goodness you have two ears to hear with because you’ll want seconds.

19. Toro Y Moi Rose Quartz
This song I can’t compare to anything we experience on earth. It’s simply a heavenly fantasy for your mind to discover when you hear it. Just listen and see where it takes you. It’s a ride worth standing in line for.

18. Woodkid Stabat Mater
Stabat Mater is the title of a thirteenth-century Latin hymn and it means “the Mother was standing.” That’s one hell of a mother. Probably the most epic song of the year.

17. Parquet Courts Stoned and Starving
Kind of a throwback to old 90’s grunge rock. You’ll have a toe tapping, head shaking good time if you get Stoned and Starving. Must keep in heavy rotation. You won’t lose your appetite for this one.

16. A$AP Rocky Fashion Killa
One of my favorite hip hop songs of the year. Swaggin’ to the max.

15. Foals Late Night
On Foals last album Antidote you could sense where these guys might be headed. They lacked a stand out track on their previous album but stepped up to the plate with Holy Fire and hit a homerun here with Late Night. You will find yourself wanting to revisit the jam session about 3:30 into the song. My it tis’ impressive lads.

14. Queens of the Stone Age If I Had a Tail
The great thing about QOTSA is they seem to be the only band on earth who knows how to truly rock. They bring it every time and here they make no exceptions. Call these queens, Kings.

13. Bastille Bad Blood
I ripped a free copy of Bastille on line because it was out earlier in the year in Europe and it took too long to be released in the States. After hearing this song I couldn’t wait. There. I admitted to breaking the law in order to get my hands, or ears, on this song!

12. CHVRCHES The Mother We Share/Tether
I couldn’t pick one over the other. The electro pop delivered by CHVRCHES is undeniably good. Tether holds our hand and walks us into a damaged relationship only to show us the joy and freedom of letting it go. The Mother We Share has the best chorus of the year. “When it all fucks up you put your head in my hands it’s a souvenir for when you go-o-o-o..”

11. The Civil Wars The One That Got Away
The most depressing song of the year, not just lyrically but literally. It may be the last time we get to hear John Paul and Joy Williams bounce their achingly beautiful voices off one another. It’s a match made in heaven or hell as it would seem but it makes for great musical theater. Let the Civil War continue please.

10. Daft Punk Within
Most people may look at my choice from one of the year’s greatest albums and scratch their heads. Why on a dance filled album did I choose a smoothed out ballad sung entirely with a vocoder? Because it’s the last thing you would expect Daft Punk to do! And it’s so darn infectious. It moves more than just my feet.

9. Drake Hold On We’re Going Home
Dude, slickest fuckin’ R&B song I’ve heard in a loooooooong time. Maybe Drake should let the rapping go. When he sings he flat out kills it, like one of my other favorite Drake gems, Find Your Love. This guy started from the bottom, well probably not, but who cares….he’s here.

8. Justin Timberlake Pusher Love Girl
JT is a hit machine as this opening track will attest on his Part 1 of the 20/20 Experience. It’s 8 minutes of pop perfection and when Timbaland and JT blend their talents it’s clear this is a perfect marriage.

7. Run The Jewels 36″ Chain
Run The Jewels is the duo of El -P and Killer Mike, rappers from NY and ATL respectively. These guys know how to bring it and bring it hard. El-P is his usual genius self laying down the tightest beats he’s ever created. Killer Mike lays it down over El’s production and holds his own but when El-P unleashes the mic it catapults the album into the stratosphere. The guy is on fire.Hip hop album of the year and it’s not even close.

6. The National Heavenfaced
“If you lose me I’m gonna die”. That’s how I would feel too if we lost The National. Heavenfaced is one of the best songs The National have ever made and that is saying a lot. They just don’t know how to suck. Ever.

5. Majical Cloudz This is Magic
“I feel like a kid. I see some monsters standing over my crib and they fall in”. Some of the year’s most memorable lyrics in my opinion. The song is brooding and dark but simply divine. Proof that you don’t have to have a big budget to make one of the best songs of the year. Sometimes less is more.

4. Vampire Weekend Worship You
I love songs that have a climactic finish. Songs that raise the spirits and ignite the endorphins. Songs that vary the instrumentation and lyrics that require some thought and analysis. This song does it all. I have difficulty singing along because of the complex delivery of the lyrics, except for the charming chorus. But I love a challenge. This is one of many great songs on Modern Vampires…

3. Kanye West Blood on the Leaves
This song leaves more than blood on leaves it paves a path of carnage to wipe up in its wake. It’s bold, melodramatic, a full on assault to the eardrums. It’s a song about divorce and betrayal so it has a gritty emotional spite to it. Vintage angry Kanye.

2. Disclosure Help Me Lose My Mind
This song features another guest artist who made a big impact on my iPod this year, London Grammar. The album itself is a classic and this song certainly was a huge contributor to its success. When the right electronic artist hooks up with the right vocalist to glide through a righteous house beat, it’s all right and no wrong.

1. Twenty One Pilots Car Radio
I know for a fact I will be the only one who chooses this song for best of the year. There is no other reason than the song simply struck a chord with me on a personal level. Twenty One Pilots sing about the every day struggles of the human race. This song experienced live is a reminder that we are all in this together so hands in the air, dance, jump, scream, let it all out. Then hit replay and listen to Car Radio all over again because the struggle is real and it’s time to break free from them. A song I simply have to thank, so…..thank you.

50 Best Songs of the year 2012

My 50 favorite songs of the year 2012 (in order)

1. “Wasted Days” by Cloud Nothings
2. “Other People” by Beach House
3. “The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids
4. “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” by Chromatics
5. “Stubborn Love” by The Lumineers
6. “40 Mark Strasse” by The Shins
7. “Heaven” by Walkmen
8. “Cold Nights” by How To Dress Well
9. “Bitch Please” by Death Grips
10. “The Full Retard” by El-P
11. “Elephant” by Tame Impala
12. “Backseat Freestyle” by Kendrick Lamar
13. “Take My Bones Away” by Baroness
14. “Freedom at 21” by Jack White
15. “Tesselate” by Alt-J
16. “Yet Again” by Grizzly Bear
17. “Doused” by DIIV
18. “Blue Flower” by Paradise
19. “Wet Blanket” by Metz
20. “Daredevil” by Fiona Apple
21. “Lost” by Frank Ocean
22. “Oblivion” by Grimes
23. “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
24. “Cocaine Blues” by Escort
25. “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men
26. “Floating Spit” by Perfume Genius
27. “My Better Self” by Tennis
28. “No One Like You” by Best Coast
29. “Higher Ground” by TNGHT
30. “Grace” by Aesop Rock
31. “The Veldt” by Deadmau5
32. “The Lords Graffiti” by Actress
33. “Mature Themes” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafitti
34. “Some Nights (intro)” by Fun.
35. “Youth Without Youth” by Metric
36. “Constant Conversations” by Passion Pit
37. “The Lion’s Roar” by First Aid Kit
38. “How We Land” by POS
39. “Parachute” by Future
40. “Affection” by Crystal Castles
41. “Let Them Talk” by Spoek Mathambo
42. “Hero” by Family of the Year
43. “It Gets Dark” by Holy Ghost!
44. “Clique” by Kanye West
45. “Get Free” by Major Lazer
46. “The Seer Returns” by Swans
47. “Open Your Heart” by The Men
48. “Swimming Pools (Drank)” by Kendrick Lamar
49. “Held” by Holy Other
50. “Wildest Moments” Jessie Ware

25 Best albums in 2012 – douginstereo

My top 25 best albums of the year

1. Death Grips – The Money Store
Holy fucking shit. Here’s something you’ll never hear, “Death Grips sound like…..” No, they don’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard. It’s offensive, in your face, dark, unsettling, disorienting and prompts middle fingers to extend. Not since Rage Against the Machine have we seen such a polarizing group of non-conformists. We can’t release two records in the same year? Fine, we’ll give the second (No Love Deep Web) away for free. Suck on that record execs. Who’s running the show? You are either going to love them or hate them but really, they don’t give a shit. Neither do I for that matter. My middle finger is fully extended and it means number 1.

2. Beach House – Bloom
This is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. It boasts one of the best dream pop songs you will ever hear, “Other People”. If you haven’t heard this album yet you simply must. Since hearing the first few records I thought their sound might get a little too repetitive but I was wrong. They find new sounds and melodies that are sweeter than the ones that have preceded them. How is this possible? Apparently with Beach House, anything is. Can’t wait for the next trip to the beach.

3. The Walkmen – Heaven
LOVE this album. I have been listening to this album constantly and it appreciates over time like a rare baseball card. I never really liked The Walkmen before this album(I know, I know, I’m nuts) but that’s a testament to how good this album really is. Now, I’m a huge Walkmen fan. Heaven was my introduction and its their most stripped down set of songs. These songs get stuck in your head for days like a Carly Rae Jepsen pop song minus the suicidal thoughts. I wish I was Hamilton Leithauser because I’d sing these songs to myself. If you don’t know who these guys are, turn off the radio and put on your hipster pants.

4. The Lumineers
The Lumineers will illuminate your soul. The hand claps and sing alongs are littered everywhere on this debut album. Think Mumford and Sons but from a better time and place. A place where it was all about picking up classy girls (but not in bars) while here it comes, a big parade, watching with flowers in your hair. You’ll laugh (Submarines), you’ll cry (Stubborn Love), you’ll smile (Hey Ho) from ear to ear. Give these guys an Oscar!

5. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. City
“I pray my dick gets big as the Eiffel Tower so I can fuck the world for 72 hours”. Move over Kanye and Jay-Z, this is Kendrick’s throne in 2012. It’s a story book mega hit about a young mans rise and sometimes fall on his way to fame. Kendrick Lamar is for real. He’s a chameleon of sorts with his delivery so guest artists are never needed even though he has a few. I do have one piece of advice – Kendrick, you don’t need Dre in your corner. He’s old and slow and a drag to be around.

6. Tame Impala – Lonerism
And the clouds parted and the heavens shone down upon us. If God had a iPod Tame Impala would be on his playlist. (Sorry Kanye, your album didn’t make this list). Psych rock that is as good as it gets. There’s a 1-2-3 song punch, mid-record, that will absolutely knock you the fuck out. “Why Won’t They Talk to Me”? Because we are speechless man.

7. Baroness – Yellow and Green
This thing just slams and….jams and…..mellows out…..and keeps on Marching to the Seas. It’s a maze of sorts in the sense that you never really know what turns its going to take. But its a maze you are not looking to exit once you start listening. This double album is meticulously put together and well thought out. Though its long on time it’s also long on great melodic rock tunes for the heavy metal fan and the hardcore rock fan or any rock fan because it just flat out…

8. Cloud Nothing’s – Attack on Memory
How does a kid go from making music in his parents basement to making a universal top 10 album of the year? Oh, I don’t know, talent? “Wasted Days” was one of my favorite songs of the year – damn near nine minutes of ass kick. When Dylan Baldi bursts into screams of “I thought I would be more than this!” that pissed off teenager awoke in me and I’m 38. If you can’t relate to this album then you’ve lead a privileged life and you should stick to listening to Train or LMFAO or whatever bullshit is in heavy rotation on your local radio.

9. The Shins – Port of Morrow
Put all the song titles from Port of Morrow on a dart board. Toss your dart and no matter what song you land on – bullseye. You cant miss! This is the best Shins album ever. No, it won’t change your life like Natalie Portman says on Garden State, the film that shoved The Shins into the spotlight. But damn if it won’t improve it. When Mercer hits his signature falsettos while gold is pouring out of his instruments you know you’ve entered a musical utopia of sorts. This is the work of one of music’s greatest talents. If this guy gets any better, he will jump 8 spots.

10. Chromatics – Kill for Love
The absolute best electronic album to come out in 2012, er, or….EVER! How these songs have not exploded yet is beyond my comprehension. Kill for Love is still in heavy rotation for me and its staying for quite a while. Listen to “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” and “Lady”. The samples alone will have you typing in your iTunes password. “Once you’re gone you can never come back”.

11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Transcend!
Epic, grand, overwhelming, orchestral rock from one of the biggest bands on the planet. You really have to set aside some time to hear this album but be prepared to take some breaks. And during those time outs limit the number of times you say “Wow” if you can. I said earlier this year as i listened to “Mladic” that if I were in medieval times slaying a dragon, this would be the music playing in the background. Oh, and I’d win.

12. Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It
Intimate masterpiece from a very tortured soul. But wait, this album is beautiful and optimistic. Yeah shit happens in life but we can all get through it as long as we have each other. That’s the message I got listening to this piano driven album. Mike Hadreas covers some pretty touchy subjects such as child abuse and drug addiction but he will take the dark parts of your heart into his. And that’s just a beautiful, beautiful thing.

13. El-P – Cancer 4 Cure
Damn. This is a true blue hip-hop album for the ages. It’s gritty, filthy and ready for war. El-P has something he’d like to get off his chest so you better listen up, as if you have a choice. Crank this epic and pump this shit like they do in the future. Everything is not alright.

14. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
ROCK – RECORD – OF – THE – YEAR! Hands down. This album opens with the sound of fireworks and they launch at you grand finale style from beginning to end. “The House That Heaven Built” is worth the price of admission alone and also a contender for song of the year. And to think these guys were going to hang it up before giving it one last shot. Well fellas, you fired a canon! From beginning to end this album never takes its foot off the gas. Why would you when you are having this much fun?

15. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – The Heist
It took me a while to get to this album, but it quickly became one of the best I have heard all year. Macklemore doesn’t rap about the same old shit (bitches, hoes, making money, busting caps). He takes on religion, same sex marriage, his battles with drug addiction, love and… at thrift stores with $20 bucks and how fucking awesome that is. The production by Ryan Lewis is catchy, hooky, and flashy. Macklemore’s lyrics are the star here though. On the stand out, Starting Over, he raps “I’m just a flawed man, man I fucked up, Like so many others I just never thought I would,….. Doin’ it by myself, didn’t turn out that good”. If he can be an example of getting sober then he can be an example of starting over. Word.

16. DIIV – Oshin
I can’t decipher many of the lyrics on this album but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. It’s a clinic in sonic guitar melody. “Doused”, “Sometime”, “Air Conditioning” don’t carry much in terms of lyrics but these are songs I found myself revisiting often. Perfect for an afternoon drive through some horrendously shitty traffic. Their guitars soar and bend into time and space. Words? Who needs words?

17. Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls
A feel good, classic rock album, like they don’t make anymore. The revival is here and it’s return is lead by a bunch of people you might see at your next family reunion. They are some of the most unassuming rock stars you’ll ever see but the album will blow you away. Brittney Howard, the lead singer of the Shakes, sings about somebody up above saying, “Come on Brittney, you’ve got to come on up!” Listen God or whoever you are, hold on…..she just got started.

18. Grimes – Visions
This came out early in the year, January to be exact but its withstood the entire year without being shelved. It’s that good. And this woman made the album on her damn iPad. It’s electronic/dance music that never irritates. I don’t know what Grimes looks like but based on her sweet voice I hope she’s as hot as her album is.

19. Aesop Rock
Also one of my favorite hip hop albums of the year. Every song is amazing. The lyrics may not always make sense but the production is flawless. Aesop’s lyricism is mind bending. Did this guy get a degree in literature at Harvard? Who talks like this? “M-m-moral compass all batshit
Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets, Ever sporting the artist or enable in the attic of me”, Now I don’t know what any of that means but that’s part of the fun! Its like you need a lyrical decoder ring. It’s a hip-hop diamond in the rough. Dust it off and let it shine. Just don’t forget to say “Grace” and stop being a total pussy.

20. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
I think this album is a bit over hyped but its got some genuine classics such as “Forrest Gump”, “Lost”, “Bad Religion” and “Pyramids”. He recalls some of R&B’s best like Prince and Stevie but he makes it all his own. Had he edited a few of these 17 tracks out he might have earned Classic status. Sometimes less is more Frank, but you are certainly here to stay. I think he’ll end up on top of a lot of critics’ top 10 lists. But…..I’m no critic.

21. TNGHT – EP
Hard hitting, booty slammin’, trunk thumping, party beats. It’s an EP and its a bomb that is ready to drop. Quick run for shelter! Scratch that, pop it in and lets get the party started. Is it fair that an EP with only 5 songs made this list? I’ll stack these five against any other five on any other album in 2012.

22. Metric – Synthetica
A pop rock album that is as addictive as it is, well….relative. It’s easily accessible and that’s not a bad thing in Metrics case. “Youth Without Youth” is a hard hitting, fist pumping single. Emily Haines sings about her being “as fucked up as they say” on the album opener. Lets keep it that way Ms. Haines. With lyrics like, “Call me out, my regret only makes me stronger yet”, I’m all ears.

23. Burial – Kindred EP
A soundtrack for the apocalypse. It’s only three songs long but it’s such a remarkable listen. It’s dark, twisted, eerie and trippy. You think you are only going to listen to it once but then one lonely night you hear it calling for you. Put on some headphones, turn up the volume and let your imagination run wild. Well, what are you waiting for?

24. The XX – Coexist
The masters of minimalism are back again but this time a bit more expansive and experimental with the emphasis on ‘a bit’. The XX are never going to overwhelm you. Rather they sneak up on you like the tortoise in the race against the hare. Before you know it they’ve won you over and you have no idea how! From the track, “Swept Away” they sing, “I’m soothed by you, you take it all away, I lose to you, surrendered at the start of the game”. I can’t help but think we should be singing that to them.

25. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
Great folksy record with life affirming lyrics. They are relatable and cerebral, yet they are teenagers. WTF? Teenagers are not supposed to make music this good. There are some great tunes on this album from “The Lion’s Roar” where they sing about being cowards and fools but then again so are we, to the “Emmylou” country twang tribute, and “This Old Routine”, which will drive you mad it’s just a mumble never spoken out loud. This is an album you need to have in your car, just like a real first aid kit.

*25. Mick Boogie & the Beastie Boys – Grand Royal
The Grand Royal is a mix tape of Beastie hits. There’s nothing on here from Licensed to Ill because you might get sued! Licensed was a classic and like any valuable artifact you see in a glass case in a museum you simply treat it as such. You can take it out but don’t fuck with it. So Mick Boogie got his hands on all of the Beastie’s other greatest hits from Paul’s Boutique to Hello Nasty and made a tribute album of sorts that is filled with remixes of hits from said albums. Somehow Boogie makes Beastie sound fresh and new. He managed to make a new mix of my favorite “So Watcha Want” that made me feel like I had just heard the song for the first time. Then I immediately listened to the original and tipped my cap. A Grand Royal tribute indeed.

Honorable mentions

A. Tennis – Old and New
Some really great songs that blend a 50’s sound with indie pop. But like any tennis match you have some good shots, some great shots and some real stinkers.

B. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel….
I’ll say this, if I was a Fiona Apple fan she would be high on my list for albums of the year. She’s not my cup of tea but I can appreciate a good cup when I taste one.

C. Purity Ring – Shrines
Not sure how you classify Purity Ring, call it what you like – dubstep, electronic, trip hop, whatever it is will perk up your ears. They are definitely on a planet all their own. It almost sounds as if you are drifting in and out of consciousness and you just pray you don’t lose it. Keep your eyes open! Keep them open!

D. Best Coast – The Only Place
Bethany Cosentino sings “There’s No One Like You” and its so warm and mellow like one of those Corona commercials. She’s right, there is no one like Best Coast. If you long for warm sunny days spent on the coast of Cali, with your swimsuit on, a beach towel in hand and a great group of friends to spend a day at the beach with, this is the album for you. And a few Corona’s couldn’t hurt either. Why would you live anywhere else?

E. Jack White – Blunderbuss
There are some classic Jack White guitar riffs on this album (Freedom at 21, Sixteen Saltines) that I’m still listening to. Jack has many musical personas. If you like them all then you will enjoy every track on here. But I still long for Jack White and his ass kicking White Stripes to reappear for an entire album. He only shows up on 3 or 4 songs here. Not sure what a Blunderbuss is, but its a blunder nonetheless. Bring back Meg White and the Seven Nation Army!

F. Fun. – Some Nights
It was just that, a FUN album. Not to be taken too seriously, especially since the radio absolutely murdered “We Are Young”. But man that opening intro of Some Nights, boy does that belong in a broadway musical.

G. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
I like to think the band name really means Alternative Joy rather than that triangle thingy that symbolizes change or whatever the hell. It’s hard to place this band because they are as unique as the lead singers voice, which is an instrument of its own. Upon completion of this album I immediately hit restart – maybe that’s what Alt-J really stands for.

Grizzly Bear “Shields”
Look, I tried okay. I just don’t get it! I like a few songs here but aside from “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” the rest is just fucking noise.

Jessie Ware “Devotion”
Just calm down. Just because we lost Whitney does not mean we need to replace her.

How To Dress Well “Total Loss”
One of the best songs of the year, “Cold Nights” is on here but the rest fails to capture any of its magic. You’d need a magic wand for that.

Of Monsters and Men “My Head is an Animal”
One single does not make one album good. Too repetitive, lacks variation, lyrics fall short. It’s just not the year for Monsters and Grizzly Bears. Sorry.

***These opinions are that of douginstereo’s and should be taken very seriously because he knows what the hell he is talking about. Until next year……

My first blog entry

I’m really excited about this blog I have now. I have my own private place to store my thoughts, my inner demons, my angers and frustrations with the world and my good times.

I’m currently reading a great book by Robert Green called “The 50th Law” and it’s mostly about living without fear. This is my new goal in life – to be 100% myself all the time without fear of judgement or non-acceptance. I want to stay a constant observer of life and learn as much as I can from everyone I meet. I’ve always wanted to be powerful. Who doesn’t though right? Not powerful like to be a dictator or slay my enemies, though I would love the opportunity. I’m talking about being and having a powerful mind. One you cannot penetrate or defeat. One that is filled with knowledge and fascinates others. I want to write the next great American play and be someone who is respected and held in high regard in the field of education. I want to continue to inspire my students to be what I could never be at their age. But most of all I just want my wife and daughter to have the best husband and father they can have. I want to be that for both of them. They deserve it. If I can accomplish all those things before I die then I’ll say goodbye with a smile on my face. No regrets. So I’ve got some work to do. Goodnight February 6, 2012.