2014 is upon us, and now that the dust has cleared, we can reflect on some of the great things the past year brought us. If you’re like me, the first thing you thought of was, “What was the best album of 2013?” Thankfully, critics did all the thinking for us. According to many publications the answer was obvious: Yeezus, from mainstream hip-hop’s Lord and Saviour (Kanye West). Other popular critic picks were Vampire Weekend, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire with either Lorde, Haim, Chance the Rapper or Disclosure in a fifth place slot.
While these are all fun, well-made recordings, if every critic picked Kanye as their number one, it would make for a dull conclusion to 2013. Thankfully, a few publications changed it up, bringing more attention to other great releases of the past year. So, below are five of the best “Best albums of 2013” lists:
5) Coke Machine Glow
What first caught my eye about webzine Coke Machine Glow’s list is that they made a point of NOT putting Vampire Weekend, Daft Punk or Kanye on their list. But why should they? It isn’t their style, and it’s all been said already. And to top off their (refreshingly) short list? Frog Eye’s Carey’s Cold Spring. I’ve never heard of it either, but it’s good.
4) Gorilla vs. Bear
Gorilla vs. Bear’s 40-album list is thankfully just that—albums. No snobiness or buzzwords, just titles, artwork and a track via Soundcloud. Their top pick was the awesome R&B release Anxiety from Autre Ne Veut, and they even included After Dark 2, a Neo-80s compilation from label Italians Do It Better. If you’re a Drive fan, you’ll be glad they remembered it.
3) Tiny Mix Tapes
Tiny Mix Tapes know what they like and that’s exactly what they gave you. With a list of ambient, experimental and electronic releases, it’s a list that is proudly true to themselves. If you’re a fan of these genres or their site, you’ll be happy to see that Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven made it to the top—and probably to the top of your list as well.
2) The Needle Drop
Anthony Fantano (aka The Needle Drop) had a much fan-anticipated list, and if you know his work, it’s easy to see why. His video list has personality, and you’ll be entertained by how many adjectives he uses to describe 50 albums. He shares a bit of everything, from J-Pop to black metal, and it feels genuine. Thanks Fantano.
1) Fact Mag
Tired of the nitpicking, Fact Mag decided it’s time for a change. Instead of worrying about formats or formalities, Fact had the attitude of “if it’s good, it’s on the list.” This gave us a grab bag of everything, from cassette releases to the almighty Yeezus. What’s not to love about that? Besides being good sports, their list had fun albums, weird albums, albums I’ve never heard of and Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz. Now that’s a way to conclude 2013.