And now, for your holiday pleasure, watch as I struggle with the intensely difficult task of hierarchically ordering five of the best 2013 albums of that have graced KRUA’s airwaves. With so many uniquely good records, this is going to be nearly impossi — no. Wait. They’re all so great. I don’t think I can say with certainty that one is better than the other. So I’m going to lay them out here in no particular order. You can decide.
“Days Are Gone” by Haim
People have disputed whether the California sisters are indie or not. The truth is, it just doesn’t matter. Because what they did on this record established them as a powerful force in the world of pop music. They took stock in — or maybe even initiated — the 2013 trend of returning to the royal retro. And from that well of old-school experimental songwriting and glamorous adventures in melody, they surfaced a modern piece of music that combines the best elements of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac and others to the end of being completely incredible.
“The Speed of Things” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Another record here that took notice of reworking sounds from other eras, “The Speed of Things” put DEJJ on the map like none of their previous work. And that is for the simple reason that the entire record is outstandingly catchy, heartwarming, lyrically clever, acoustically inventive and just damn good. DEJJ here nabbed style points from each decade between now and 1950 and collaged them into a festival-headlining record that, because of its retro leanings, has an appeal for the widely varied masses.
“Nothing Was the Same” by Drake
The idiom “showing one’s true colors” might be applied to Drake’s latest works. Because on his newest, his true color is blood red. The Hollywood jolly that was the former nice-boy rapper has been replaced with a gritty, unrelenting, straight-up angry evil-twin version of Drake who reminds listeners that he has immense talent and will flaunt it just because he can. This “just because I can” attitude is what makes “Nothing Was the Same” into something else, while not losing sight of his knack for ridiculously catchy hooks and all that made Drake into a sensation in the first place. Sometimes, it’s just terribly pleasing to watch someone get pissed.
“Let’s Be Still” by the Head and the Heart
Just listen to “Another Story” and you’ll know why “Let’s Be Still” is one of the top 10 records of 2013. H&H sure went ahead and wrote themselves another story that listeners hear with absolute joy, a transformational piece for a band that was beautiful to begin with. “Let’s Be Still” is the album that took their quaint folk rock and brought it to the world on a silver platter with a shot of whiskey. Their experimentation and exploration of classic rock while maintaining their incredible ability to write beautiful folk music is what makes their newest record one of the foremost sonic triumphs of the year.
“Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk
With the overbearing trend in electronic music of glitchy, twitchy, omg-I’m-freaking-out buildups leading to massive drops, it’s nice to know that not all robots malfunction. Perhaps the two most renowned robots in music returned this summer. And they returned to a scene they indisputably helped to establish. It was if they came back to say “Bonjour, tout le monde. We are here to show you how it’s really done.” And they did. “Random Access Memories” is a timeless, smart and sophisticated piece of music that, while definitely being dance-oriented, reaches into so many genres as to render it almost unclassifiable. It’s just good. So very good. It was the perfect way to solidify the Daft Punk legacy, which will no doubt become the stuff of legend for those who were fortunate enough to experience it.