Music 

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2013 (SO FAR)

Bestof2013

The Dig loves music. Imagine our love, then, for 2013,

which just happens to be one of the greatest years for music in recent memory—and we’re only halfway through.

To celebrate the good times, we’ve compiled a list of some of our personal favorite albums from the first half of 2013. Seven of our most obsessive music peeps each chose one album, with no repeats and tons of takesie backsies. So, without further ado, let’s do this thing.

HEARTTHROB | TEGAN & SARA (WARNER BROS.)
BY SADAF AHSAN @_CANADAWHORE 

Maybe it’s because I’m a bleeding heart Canadian (more maple syrup than blood, really), but I’ve always had a kinship with Tegan and Sara. But let’s be real here, guys: Heartthrob has been one polarizing album. It’s a departure from Sainthood, one of the girls’ most definitive compilations. It oozes more pop and sexuality than the two have resorted to before. But it’s left a hot track list in its midst with a sweet undercurrent of nostalgic 80’s teen pop that would make Molly Ringwald proud.

Yeah, every track on the album has the potential to be a poisonously catchy radio single, but this may be the time to leave the cynic inside you buried deep. The twins’ nicely wound up vocals are still kicking in their Robyn-esque electro-pop venture. Call it bubbly, but it’s authentic. Themes of love, rejection, and heartbreak have been on the girls’ mind before—just not like this.

And I’m feeling it.

INDICUD | KID CUDI (GOOD MUSIC)
BY CORYN DONCASTER | @CD_BOSTON 

Kid Cudi’s Indicud is exactly what I’d hoped it would be. Man On the Moon was the soundtrack to my summer in 2010 and when I listen to Indicud I feel like I’m right back in my hometown, sitting by the pool late at night with cheap wine in my solo cup and the smell of ganja floating through the air.

“Solo Dolo Part II” proved Cudder is still a stoner, just not as lonely. Kendrick Lamar spits a verse on the track along with the hook. Cudi also collabs with Michael Bolton on “Afterwards (Bring Yo Friends)” and the insanely catchy nine-minute song turns eerie at the perfect time, after about four and a half minutes of me bobbing my head and singing along. What’s a Kid Cudi album if you don’t eventually feel like you’re trapped in his mind with him?

I wish I could gush about all 18 songs on the album because it’s just that good. King Chip, A$AP Rocky, Too $hort, Haim and RZA all appear on Indicud. 

Whether you’re lighting one up, going for a drive, or partying with friends on your porch, Indicud should be playing in the speakers.

WOLF’S LAW | THE JOY FORMIDABLE (ATLANTIC)
BY ERICA CHAPMAN | @ERICA__CHAPMAN 

The gritty, raw sound that comes from bands who make their living on the road is undeniable. The Joy Formidable is a testament to this. With their debut album, The Big Roar, they were able to make a name for themselves by touring the hell out of it. With this in mind, Wolf’s Law, their second, full-length studio album, is structured in such a way that it mimics the perfect set-list; to complement this, it’s a delicacy best served loud.

Tracks like “The Ladder is ours” and “Cholla” kick off the record with pounding riffs that make resisting an air-guitar break out impossible. The bass line in “Little Blimp” is orgasmic. “Silent Treatment” is an acoustic, atypical dialing back for lead singer Ritzy Bryan that is the perfect calm amid a sea of head-banging rock and roll. In a word, this record straight up jams. And, oh yeah, they recorded it themselves and without a producer.

Does it get anymore punk rock than that?

II | UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA (JAGJAGUWAR)
BY NINA CORCORAN | @NINA_CORCORCAN

If no one’s told you yet, it’s time to start listening to Unknown Mortal Orchestra. 2013’s mouth of nearly perfect teeth (see: m b v, Random Access Memories, AMOK, Overgrown) had a psychedelic cavity that II was written to fill.

The trio created warmth on the album that is just as appropriate in February as it is in June. Maybe I’m just mistaking my blushing cheeks for a warm tonality; the dudes do know how to charm their listeners. The calm annunciation on “Sink or Swim (Like a Shark)” paired with the Beatles bounce of “One at a Time” win my heart (and ears) over each time the songs play.

The best part? Squiggly psychedelic riffs practically mandate certain dance moves,

specifically the nose-plugged, arm up, sink to the ground wiggle that’s only allowed at age six or inside Jack Rabbit Slim’s.

TROUBLE WILL FIND ME | THE NATIONAL (4AD)
BY CADY DRELL | @HELLA_DRELLA

Maybe it’s because I’m still riding the wave of emotion that was the National’s show at Lupo’s in Providence last week, but Trouble immediately comes to mind when I consider my favorite albums of the year so far. I can’t say anything better than David Riedel did in his review of it when it came out, except that “Graceless” and “Heavenfaced” are the standouts in my mind.

Mind you, I don’t think this is a perfect album when you consider everything that’s been released so far this year. On the contrary: it’s inaccessible and it over-utilizes crescendos and it’s slow on the uptake. But it’s a perfect album for the National. For one, it makes the jump from 2007′s Boxer (which, by the way, was actually perfect) to its 2010 follow-up High Violet more explicable. It uses callbacks to older National tracks as a way to signify growth. (Witness, for example, this line from “Demons,” which I believe references several themes from 2005′s Alligator: “When I walk into a room/I do not light it up/Fuck.” Genius.)

In short, it’s everything I wanted but didn’t know I wanted from these guys.

The rest of 2013 will have to pull some pretty brilliant maneuvers to get ahead of Matt Berninger in my heart.

M B V | MY BLOODY VALENTINE (SELF-RELEASED)
BY CHARLES BRAMESCO | @INTOTHECREVASSE 

For roughly two years, I listened to My Bloody Valentine’s landmark album Loveless about five to eight times every week. Understandably, when it was announced that Kevin Shields and the gang where preparing to release a new full-length, I was frothing at the mouth. He claimed that the band was in recording and should have it done by mid-2012. Mid-2012 rolled around, and he was working on the final masters, so the date was pushed back to the last of the year.

Fast-forward many more months–well into 2013–and I’m frantically refreshing the just-crashed My Bloody Valentine webpage so that (for the first time in a few years) I can spend actual money on music. I had plans that evening, but hastily cancelled them so that I could stay up until three a.m., tears in my eyes, looking at that elusive download bar. It doesn’t matter that the album’s sound leaned more towards My Bloody Valentine’s earlier work, not necessarily my favorite phase.

It exists. 

ACID RAP | CHANCE THE RAPPER (SELF-RELEASED)
BY ALEX CILLEY | @ALEXCILLEY 

It’s been a hell of a year for music. Consider the albums still on the board here: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, and JT’s The 20-20 Experience. I have to pick one of those, right?

Nah. Because the album that has absolutely blown my mind more than any other in 2013 is a free mixtape released by a kid I’d never even heard of until a few months ago.

Chance the Rapper is a 20-year-old Chicagoan. In the past year, he’s been name-dropped by James Blake, toured with Kendrick Lamar, and earned the oh-so-elusive “Best New Music” designation from Pitchfork for his 2013 mixtape Acid Rap. He deserves the accolades, because Acid Rap is an impeccably-produced amalgamation of Chance’s many influences—gospel, Motown-era soul, classic hip-hop, indie, and a pantheon of modern rap gods including Kendrick and Kanye. His lyrics combine bighearted nostalgia, triumphant bragging, and harrowing confessionals about life in Chicago, a combination that works because it’s all authentic and because each style thoughtfully contextualizes the others.

This record is about more than repeating a sound or a feeling—it’s a huge, highly personal account of Chance’s life, delivered by a hopeful new voice I can’t wait to here more from. He even sings his own hooks, Chance ft. Chance-style.

Your move, Drake.

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