The Indie Blender presents: The Best Albums of 2013

So we decided to join the world in doing a “top 2013” list. A few of our writers, including Dave and I, decided to put together a list of our top 5 independent albums of 2013. Some of them included a non-independent honourable mention. Some are in order, some are in no particular order at all. What I’ve found particularly interesting is that no album or artist appears in more than one list. Shows how diverse our writers are! So without further adieu, enjoy our top albums of 2013.

Top Albums of 2013

Priya

No matter what you say, looks are important. And Priya has been one of the essential people who had a part in our look. Here are her picks, all the way from Alberta:

(In no particular order)
Bonobo – North Border
Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap Mixtape
Vanilla – For What It’s Worth
Tryezz – Atmospheres Art of The Sonic Groove
Overdoz – BOOM Mixtape

Non-Indie choice of the year:
Tyler The Creator – Wolf

The year has been fresh in all sorts of way, a lot of good textbook indie-pop and rock came out and a fair bit of folk too – i’d be lying though if i didn’t dub the year as one of hiphop, funk and chilltronica. While I have spent the first two weeks of December listening to the two year old Channel Orange by Frank Ocean on repeat, I do have some favourites that are more recent to ’13.

Bonobo’s North Border’s exploded onto the scene this spring, it is my choice pick for something beautifully crafted and lush for those rainy days of self imposed existentialism and mind wandering. My nods to 2013’s rich explosion of DJ’s who aren’t knee deep in the ‘edm’ scene and instead dabble with beats far more dreamy and rich are to Tryezz and Vanilla. Atmosphere’s is aggressive, loud and funky as hell – it’s a perfect summer city album for when you want to feel like a video game character in a sprawling urban landscape. For What It’s Worth is the other side of summer – nostalgic, luxuriant and gorgeous in its ability to convey so much with no words. Chance The Rapper’s ‘Acid Rap’, his self released mix tape is one of the most stunning debut’s of the year on the hiphop scene. Coming in with a completely new voice and the energy of a kid rolling out of the arcade whose played all the games young and mastered it, Chance will shine in 2014 as the rapper to look out for. Lastly, Overdoz’s BOOM, which released just a month ago is also one of hiphops better secrets – a slick talking, smooth moving group of boys who understand rhyme and rhythm and keep the subject matter purposely lax while hinting at brilliance in how even their silly narratives are conveyed make for a genuinely cool sound on a great mixtape.

In regards to a more popular album, I’d have to go with Tyler The Creator’s Wolf. Showing off a more romantic and melodically driven side to the rapper, Wolf is actually a beautiful album with collaborations from names like Pharrell and Frank Ocean. Wolf is rich with the idea of young love, and each of its songs are tightly constructed, and TTC’s voice shows both mature restraint and an understanding of storytelling that isn’t just meant to shock as his previous work does. Probably my years most favourite album, definitely check it out.

KarlyD

KarlyD has been with us practically since the beginning, and has been (as I’m sure if you’ve been reading regularly you can tell) one of the most consistent writers at the Indie Blender, here are his picks for 2013:

(In no particular order)

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s Fly By Wire
When I first heard the album in its entirety, I didn’t really like most of the tracks. As I kept coming back to listen though, I really started to enjoy the amusing and simplistic tunes. All in all, I always choose to listen to a few hits every day, just to brighten it up a bit.

Ronald Jenkees’ Days Away
This album meant a lot to me this year. I’ve always been fond of Ronald’s work, since I first was exposed to him on Wimp as a viral video. You just can’t deny how incredibly talented this self-taught artist is. Those melodies, right?

Foals’ Holy Fire
Bring on the ROCK! The slow climbs up this band’s sleeve is what kept me hooked. My favourite tunes start with only the vocal work and some drums, followed by a slowly integrated scratch guitar riff. Ah, I will definitely STAYYYYY(-AYYYY with me) with you late into the night Foals. Their older albums were pretty damn impressive as well, glad to have found them.

The Naked and Famous’ In Rolling Waves
It’s maybe not 100% indie, but it sure sounds like it. Every song on this album meant something different to me as I worked through it 3 or 4 times a day. Perfect for those long days when I need a good mind meld to reevaluate what it is that I want in life.

Breakbot’s Bedtime Stories Mixtape
Fourty-five minutes of pure funk. I was extremely surprised one morning to see that Breakbot was playing at a club in Toronto that night! He played way past 2am on a Wednesday night, mixing in some of the “Valentine Mixtape” and Daft Punk’s “Face To Face”. I can’t wait to throw a Breakbot party at my house in the new year.

Paul

Paul is new to The Indie Blender, expect more from him in the new year. I also want to note that Paul wanted to do a top 10 or even a top 20, and I wouldn’t let him. So he took to twitter do it on his own. Check out his recent tweets here (you may have to scroll back to DEC 19th). Here are his top 5:

  1. Fuzz- S/T.
    Doing what he already does quite well, bring rock and roll back to it’s roots. Ty Segall and Charlie Mootheart do the exact same thing with metal. Fuzz is exactly what the name implies, and is Sabbath/Hawkwing/Motorhead 2.0

  2. Mac DeMarco – 2.
    Think about August,and if you so partake in the devil’s cabbage. That is basically this album. Have a beer on the back porch and cook up something good. I’m thinking ribs!

  3. Savages – Silence Yourself.
    Jehnny and company had an explicit no taking pics during the concert with yr cell phones deal at their show at the Opera House this past September. I didn’t, most did, most did, and frankly I figure I had a more enjoyable time. Jesus Christ, did Jehnny ever go for broke on the vocals for “I am Here”? If you were paying attention you might know, otherwise….

  4. Haim – Days Are Gone.
    Why Isn’t Alana my girlfriend yet? Summer in 12″s .

  5. Bleached – Ride Your Heart.
    Why isn’t Jessica or Jennifer my girlfriend now? Fucking amazing heartbreak rock/pop from a ambiguously pop/rock band. My album of the summer, Daft Punk and Lorde ain’t got shit on this. Jessica and Jennifer Clavin you are the Queens of my world. That is my top five of ’13, fuck shitty music and hail hail rock and roll.

Dave

I don’t need to butter Dave up any more than I already have this year. Here are his top albums of 2013.

1. Tomorrow’s Harvest – Boards of Canada
This much anticipated record stretches the boundaries of electronic music and auditory sanity. Not only would I pick this as best indie release, I also consider it the best album of 2013.

2. Kveikur – Sigur Ros
Sigur Ros went in a new direction with their latest album with a more high energy sound and a healthy dose of darkness. Having seen Sigur Ros live this year also boosted this album, due to the fact that I was completely hooked on Sigur Ros in general.

3.Today We’re Believers – Royal Canoe
Royal Canoe exploded onto the Canadian music scene with this synth-powered album . Providing an amazing combination of pop, electronica, and psychedelics, Royal Canoe instantly made a fan out of me.

4. Jaron Freeman-Fox and the Opposite of Everything – Jaron Freeman-Fox and the Opposite of Everything
Jaron Freeman-Fox is the best fiddle player I have ever heard. Period. This record managed to navigate around a folk centre through so many different genres, while featuring an entire band of brilliant musicians.

5. Trouble Will Find Me – The National
The National’s most recent album has immense amount of atmospheric depth. This rather laid back album gently carries me through a dreamlike state.

Non-Indie Honourable Mention
Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
I must admit the non-indie crop this year was a little bit disappointing for me. There were a handful of really solid albums but many of the albums I was most excited for won’t be coming out until 2014. While I have not listened to the new Vampire Weekend record nearly enough, it has struck me as one of the best albums of this year.

Marc

We’ll end with my top albums of 2013. I’ve listened to a lot of great music this year, and seen a ton of great shows. Maybe Paul was right, maybe we should expand to a top 10. But there’s always next year. We’re new at this.

  1. Jane’s Party – Hot Noise
    This album pretty much embodies what I love about the summer.

  2. Dinosaur Bones – Shaky Dreams
    This was the album I kept in my car for the entire fall semester. This is the album you watch the leaves change colour to, and then watch the leaves fall and disappear altogether to. Their first album was good, but this album shows the band means business.

  3. Lucius – Wildewoman
    Where did this band even come from? Don’t tell me Brooklyn, you smart ass, that’s not what I meant, and you know it. Lucius is going to be huge in 2014, and this album is just a preview. Expect a full review within the next few days.

  4. Hollerado – White Paint
    The follow up to Record in a Bag is superb. It’s mature, it’s immature, it’s awesome.

  5. Poor Young Things – The Heart. The Head. The End.
    This was the album I listened to every single time I took the bus/subway downtown this summer, which was a lot. It’s the first of what I expect to be many superb albums from this Toronto-based band from Thunder Bay.

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