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And a Teenager Shall Lead Them

Lorde Rules a Year-End List. By JON PARELES. December 13, 2013

1. Lorde Pure Heroine (Universal) In hip-hop, keyboard-centered processionals ofte
n accompany self-congratulatory boasts. Pure Heroine, the debut album by Lorde the
songwriter and singer Ella Yelich-OConnor, from New Zealand commandeers those wi
de-open spaces with her lustrous voice and angel-choir harmonies carrying seriou
s thoughts. Lorde writes about suburban provincialism, peer pressure, insecurity
, determination and in the irresistible Royals about pop-culture fantasies and cla
ss-conscious realities. Shes 17.
2. Laura Marling Once I Was an Eagle (Ribbon Music) A seven-song suite that accele
rates from folky contemplation to fierce East-meets-West strumming is the sweepi
ng start to Laura Marlings fourth album. The songs could be the chronicle of a br
eakup, but they lead her through legend and family memory, lament and accusation
and hymn. Her nimble guitars and her serenely knowing voice make every conundru
m intimate.
3. Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City (XL) Gravity and cleverness seesaw
all the way through Vampire Weekends third album. The characters in the songs now
face grown-up responsibilities and questions of faith. Meanwhile, the tunes are
full of manic invention and nutty juxtapositions: Baroque pomp and trash-can dr
um sounds, rockabilly twang and digitally chopped-up vocals. Overthinking pays o
4. Nine Inch Nails Hesitation Marks (Null/Columbia) Restarting Nine Inch Nails for
the first time since 2009, Trent Reznor didnt return to blasting and shouting. I
nstead of guitars, pointillistic keyboards build the tension in many of the song
s. The music makes every sparse syncopation matter, and it pulls inward instead
of lashing out just right for songs that are more a battle with himself than wit
h the world.
5. M.I.A. Matangi (Interscope) M.I.A. brags a lot on Matangi, her full first name. A
nd she earns it, not entirely for her lyrics though she delivers some sociopolit
ical zingers in her defiant singsong but for the dizzying cross-cultural barrage
that surrounds them, mashing up geography and technologies. Her sounds are shin
ier than ever, her refrains are purposefully catchy and her attitude is newly ch
eerful, which just lets her pack more jolts into each song.
6. Janelle Mone The Electric Lady (Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy) This installatio
n of Janelle Mones continuing sci-fi epic about a fugitive android, power, discrim
ination and rebellion is actually a romantic prequel. Thats her opportunity to wr
ite love songs and invoke strong female role models her mother included as she c
ontinues to traverse pop history from hip-hop back to big bands, lingering at R&
B and soul. Multiple agendas dont hold back her exuberance.
7. David Bowie The Next Day (Columbia) After nearly a decade, David Bowie re-emerg
ed bleak and brittle with The Next Day, an album that confronts mortality with bit
ter fury. The music looks back to his 1970s Berlin albums, with brusque drums an
d bristling guitars; as he sees time ravage youth, idealism, love and hope, the
lush moments are disconsolate and the glimmers of pop are sardonic. Just remember
, duckies, he sings. Everybody gets got.
8. Tal National Kaani (FatCat) The repeating patterns of funk stay unpredictable i
n the frenetic grooves of Tal National, a band from Niger. The music keeps leapi
ng ahead with one surprise after another: guitar parts that align and diverge an
d reconfigure, drumming that pounces on offbeats. The patterns are crisp, comple
x and tireless, but Tal National is no funk machine: Its alive.

9. Laura Mvula Sing to the Moon (Columbia) Laura Mvula, an English singer and song
writer, arrives like an emissary from an alternate pop timeline, where Nina Simo
ne, Gil Evans, the Swingle Singers and epic film scores loom larger than anythin
g plugged in. Her voice is deliberately modest, and her songs take eccentric sha
pes; as she ponders her place in the world, orchestras and choirs materialize ar
ound her, rising toward a purely sonic redemption.
10. The Haxan Cloak Excavation (Tri Angle) Bobby Krlic, who records as the Haxan C
loak, plunges deep for the sounds of the ambient, austerely suspenseful Excavatio
n. There are throbs aimed for subwoofers, depth-charge descents, crackles of stat
ic and kick-in-the-head impacts. A beat or a pulse might appear and vanish. The
tracks are amorphous and unmelodic, but too eventful and sometimes too brutal to
recede into the background. This could be the sound of looking into the abyss a
nd having the abyss look back.
Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean New Slaves (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam)
Kacey Musgraves Follow Your Arrow (Mercury)
Atoms for Peace Before Your Very Eyes (XL)
Danny Brown Lonely (Fools Gold)
Kelela Enemy (Fade to Mind)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Despair (Interscope)
The Knife A Tooth for an Eye (Rabid)
The Blow A Kiss (Kanine)
Phosphorescent Song for Zula (Dead Oceans)
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell Blurred Lines (Star Trak)
Songs That Transcend the Tricks
Ben Ratliffs Favorites of 2013
1. Ccile McLorin Salvant WomanChild (Mack Avenue) A young jazz singer of radical ta
lent, who teaches you in her own terms with high clarity and zero pedantry that
singing old songs has nothing to do with transmitting an outdated sensibility, a
nd that jazz is necessarily part of a bigger and greater story of American music
, and that American music is necessarily part of a bigger and greater story of m
odern art.
2. Deafheaven Sunbather (Deathwish) Bitter, recessive, black metal melting togethe
r with sweet, surging pop sentimentality. An everything-that-rises-must-converge
kind of album, a young bands argument against pops clear orthodoxies, but above a
ll, a major pleasure.
3. Body/Head Coming Apart (Matador) Kim Gordon, of Sonic Youth, in her first serio
us post-Sonic Youth band: a two-guitars duo with Bill Nace. Improvised in sound
and word but conceptually sturdy, it makes you wonder why its as good as it is, w
hat holds it together. Its full of disquiet and indirection, but self-possessed.
4. Mestres Navegantes: Edio Cariri An endlessly fascinating collection of field reco
rdings in the continuing Mestres Navegantes project, this batch made in the Cari
ri region of the Brazilian state of Cear by the musical researcher Beto Aguiar. (I
ts all recently recorded, and discs were given to educators and NGOs through the
sponsorship of the cosmetics company Natura; you can stream the music and watch
video footage on Soundcloud and Vimeo.) Here are cabaal bands with wood flutes, b
ass drums and cymbals; music of the traditional reisado parades the evening befo
re the day of Epiphany; the vocal songs of religious penitents, etc. The idea is
preserving folklore, but this is a folklore of immediacy, swinging and rowdy an
d vivid.
5. Craig Taborn Trio Chants (ECM) In which Mr. Taborn, the jazz pianist, fully est
ablishes himself as a rising greats, a bandleader for our time. Theres much going

on in these tracks: along with the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Gerald
Cleaver, hes delivering strong melody and rhythm without giving up any of his my
stery and recondite structural games.
6. Black Host Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy) The drummer Gerald Cle
aver formed a flexible and visionary free jazz-progressive rock group, with grea
t grooves, big melodies, distorted and processed guitar, waves of polyrhythm. Its
an unlikely mixture, better than what seemed possible, done so well it seems to
answer a need.
7. Marc Anthony 3.0 (Sony Music Latin) A sort-of return to salsa and old strengths
by one of its great second-wave singers, full of momentum, sentimentality and c
omplex, interleaved arrangements.
8. Sky Ferreira Night Time, My Time (Capitol) This young singer is working on a ne
w mode of super-dark poutiness, excellent if limited. But the songwriting and pr
oduction here are for all time, collapsing huge distances: between Phil Spector
and 80s girl-pop, between the throbbing miasmic scuzz of Suicide and the textures
of current, post-Dr. Luke digital pop.
9. Tye Tribbett Greater Than (Motown Gospel) Mr. Tribbett, the gospel singer, soun
ds like hes able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and his hyper-charged
songs race through pop as a great open field: deep funk and country-pop and tech
no and light-crust R&B.
10. Rhye Woman (Republic/Innovative Leisure/Loma Vista) The nexus of smooth-pop an
d minimal-indie, sophisto-disco and dark ambient, with a male voice (Mike Miloshs
) that assumes the sound and shape of a females Sades, more or less. But the songs
transcend the trick, repeatedly, and with multiple strategies.
The Weeknd Kiss Land (XO/Republic)
Haim Falling (Columbia)
Andy Bey It Never Entered My Mind (HighNote)
Kvelertak Spring Fra Livet (Roadrunner)
M.I.A. Warriors (Interscope)
Bill Callahan Javelin Unlanding (Drag City)
The Blow I Tell Myself Everything (Kanine)
Sleaford Mods Fizzy (Harbinger Sound)
Drake Worst Behavior (OVO Sound)
Christian McBride Trio Ham Hocks & Cabbage (Mack Avenue
A Mix of Sounds, Generations and Styles
Craig Taborn, Wayne Shorter and Bill Callahan Achieve By NATE CHINEN
1. Craig Taborn Trio Chants (ECM) The deep, seductive intelligence at work in Chant
s, Craig Taborns first piano trio album in a dozen years, suggests an ocean of inf
luences distilled into an original potion. Unpacking his terse compositions in c
ommunion with the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Gerald Cleaver, Mr. Tabo
rn gives each oblique maneuver a purpose, and often a flicker of intrepid grace.
2. Wayne Shorter Quartet Without a Net (Blue Note) The postbop sage Wayne Shorter
has made volatility a trademark of his quartet, to the extent that its concerts
can feel like enigmas to be parsed. Here we only have choice moments that put hi
s saxophone at the center of a drama shaped by developing insights from Danilo Pr
ez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums.
3. Bill Callahan Dream River (Drag City) On his strongest album (and there have be
en some really good ones lately), Mr. Callahan applies his dark, dry baritone to
a bundle of songs about love and death and luck and motion, using ordinary lang

uage to extraordinary ends. His ruminative deadpan meets a deceptively simple ba

ckdrop: some masterly guitar work, some drums and flute, all put together with s
ly serenity.
4. Andy Bey The World According to Andy Bey (HighNote) Mr. Bey, a songbook savant
now approaching his mid-70s, has already recorded memorably in the solo piano-an
d-vocal format. But this album finds him in extravagantly fine form, not only em
broidering standards but also singing his own perceptive and idiosyncratic songs
in a still-limber voice that should be registered with the Smithsonian.
5. Ashley Monroe Like a Rose (Warner Bros. Nashville) A quiet stunner of a country
album, full of traditional-sounding songs that refuse to recoil from uncomforta
ble realities; the title phrase holds the implication of a survival badge. Ms. M
onroes singing is soft and clear, subversive precisely in its sweetness.
6. Dave Douglas Quintet Time Travel (Greenleaf) The trumpeter Dave Douglas formed
a smart new quintet last year, and along with a beautiful album of hymns, it cre
ated this knockabout winner, capitalizing on the diversity of a roster with the
saxophonist Jon Irabagon, the pianist Matt Mitchell, the bassist Linda Oh and th
e drummer Rudy Royston.
7. Eric Revis, Kris Davis, Andrew Cyrille City of Asylum (Clean Feed) Three genera
tions of improvisers from far-flung aesthetic coordinates Mr. Revis, a bassist;
Ms. Davis, a pianist; and Mr. Cyrille, a drummer devoted most of their first al
bum to a free-form expedition, testing every premise and taking nothing for gran
8. Chris Potter The Sirens (ECM) Heroic proficiency has never been a problem for M
r. Potter, the tenor saxophonist. Impressively, this album, inspired by The Odyss
ey, is more a study in reflection than exertion, with exquisite ballad work and p
lenty of shifting texture, much of it conjured by a pair of brilliant pianists,
Craig Taborn and David Virelles.
9. Earl Sweatshirt Doris (Tan Cressida/Columbia) Not the only painfully self-aware
album this year by a rapper of intoxicating skills just the least opportunisti
c, and the most credibly human. The brisk wordplay, the stoner cadence, the styl
ish production, the tightknit crew: none of it puts Mr. Sweatshirt at ease, and
for now thats just fine.
10. Ccile McLorin Salvant WomanChild (Mack Avenue) This American debut of an arrest
ing young jazz vocalist allows for comparison to Abbey Lincoln and Sarah Vaughan
(and for bonus points, Valaida Snow), but thats not its end game. Ms. Salvant ha
s designs on a tricksters kind of traditionalism and the right trio, led by the s
cholarly pianist Aaron Diehl, to play her straight man.
Drake Hold On, Were Going Home (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic)
Lorde Royals (Universal)
Brandy Clark Just Like Him (Slate Creek)
Sky Ferreira Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay) (Capitol)
Pusha T Numbers on the Boards (G.O.O.D./Def Jam)
Kacey Musgraves It Is What It Is (Mercury Nashville)
Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean New Slaves (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
Queens of the Stone Age My God Is the Sun (Matador)
Jason Isbell Cover Me Up (Southeastern/Thirty Tigers)
Savages Husbands (Matador)
Rolling Stone

The past 12 months had more great music going on than any year in recent memory.
Some of the most innovative artists of the last decade Kanye West, Daft Punk, Q
ueens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire all made watershed album
s. Rock & roll greats like John Fogerty, Paul McCartney and David Bowie proved t
hey could be as vital as ever. The EDM explosion kept blowing up thanks to artis
ts like Disclosure and Avicii; old-school titans like Eminem and Pusha T pushed
hip-hop forward alongside new-school innovators like Chance the Rapper, Earl Swe
atshirt, J. Cole and Danny Brown; Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe made country
that was traditional and iconoclastic. But the most exciting news of the year m
ight ve been the astonishing number of breakout new artists, from retro-Eighties
sister act Haim, to Brit-folk prodigy Jake Bugg, to indie-rockers Parquet Court
s, to post-punkers Savages to chart-topping 17-year-old truth-bomber Lorde. Even
Miley Cyrus wrecking ball of an adult-oriented breakout album was kinda awesom
e. Oh 2013, you gave so much and asked so little; 2014, get crackin . You ve got
a lot to live up to.

Contributors: Jon Dolan, Will Hermes, Christian Hoard, Rob Sheffield, and Simon
1 Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
The first two Vampire Weekend albums showed off a sound unlike any other in rock
: a precocious mix of indie pop, African guitar grooves and wry, boat-shoe-prepp
y lyrics that were sometimes too cute for their own good. But with Modern Vampir
es of the City, they went deeper, adding scope and ambition to all the sophistic
ation. In 2013, no other record mixed emotional weight with studio-rat craft and
sheer stuck-in-your-head hummability like this one. It s one of rock s great al
bums about staring down adulthood and trying not to blink that moment where, as
singer Ezra Koenig puts it, you realize "wisdom s a gift/But you d trade it for
youth." The music is sculpted and subtly bonkers, with orchestral sweeps balanci
ng hymnlike beauty and dub-inflected grooves. Koenig earns those Paul Simon comp
arisons thanks to vivid lyrics about youngish things in crisis the unemployed fr
iend who can t find a reason to shave in "Obvious Bicycle," the weary couple sol
diering through the road-trip epic "Hannah Hunt." Then there s Koenig himself, f
illing songs like "Worship You" with religious allusions, evoking the search for
meaning and faith with wit and skepticism. The album s fog-over-New York cover
reminds us just how hard that search has become. The music makes it feel worth t
he heartache just the same.

2 Kanye West, Yeezus

Kanye s electro masterpiece is his most extreme album ever, which is saying some
thing. No wonder the late, great Lou Reed embraced Yeezus, since it s basically
the Metal Machine Music concept translated into futuristic hip-hop, all industri
al overload and hypertense egomania and hostile vibes. The music is part Eightie
s synthblitz dark wave, part Jamaican dancehall. But it s all Kanye, taking you
on a guided tour of the dark shit inside his brain. He rages about racial politi
cs ("New Slaves"), he demands his damn croissants ("I Am a God"), he comes on li
ke a robot sex machine ("I m in It"). He kibitzes with the Lord, who agrees Kany
e is the shit. And he ends with the Seventies-soul send-up "Bound 2," maybe the
most audacious song he s ever written, not to mention the most beautiful.

3 Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

Now that the pop world has caught up with what Daft Punk were doing 15 years ago
, naturally the French electro pioneers decide to rip it up and start again. So
they spend most of Random Access Memories doing lush Seventies-style studio funk
fusion, not at all unreminiscent of Steely Dan or Average White Band. Is it a s
trange move at the height of the EDM era? Yes. (Any album that can fit in appear
ances by the Strokes Julian Casablancas, German disco godfather Giorgio Moroder
and Seventies shlock-pop king Paul Williams is working on its own terms.) Is it
awesome? Mais oui. And for all the lovingly detailed live-band touches, Daft Pu
nk prove they re still pop fans at heart with "Get Lucky" an instant disco class

ic where Pharrell and the great Nile Rodgers raise their cups to the stars.
4 Paul McCartney, New
The sound of a 71-year-old Beatle getting back in the ring. McCartney plays to h
is strengths: Wings-like glam rock, Little Richard howls and, yep, some remarkab
ly Beatlesque pop tunes and George Martin-ish arrangements (thanks partly to Mar
tin s son, Giles, who produced several tracks). "Early Days" challenges lingerin
g misconceptions about McCartney s role in the Beatles ("I don t see how they ca
n remember/When they weren t where it was at"). Sir Paul also engages 21st-centu
ry pop with sharp ears, bringing in young-gun producers like Paul Epworth, Mark
Ronson and Ethan Johns. He even rocks a quasi-rap flow and some giddy, Gaga-styl
e stadium chants on "Queenie Eye." As Macca understands better than almost anyon
e, rock & roll is fueled by a hunger for good times and an ageless exuberance.

5 Arcade Fire, Reflektor

Seventy minutes of wide-screen dance rock co-produced by LCD Soundsystem retiree
James Murphy, the Grammy-grabbing, high-aiming, arena-filling, indie-earnest fa
mily band does what the Clash, Talking Heads and so many before it have done: re
connect rock to its dance-floor soul. There are flashes of glam, punk, disco, el
ectro, dub reggae and Haitian rara. Being Arcade Fire, there s also emo dramatic
s and cultural critiques (staring at screens: don t do it!). Of course, the hate
rs hated; the chin-scratchers debated the politics of the album s Caribbean unde
rcurrents. But that ability to provoke actual feelings is what makes this great.
And no release this year had a more entertaining rollout brouhaha. Stephen Colb
ert called them pretentious to their faces; they laughed too. And then the party

6 Queens of the Stone Age, Like Clockwork

Josh Homme came back after a life-threatening illness, called up some rock-star
pals (Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Elton John) and revived his mordantly arch-metal
outfit to kick out creepily torrid, darkly suave Camaro rock like only he can.
Homme combines menacing riffs and glammy refinement, sounding like Bowie reborn
as a winking dark lord of the underworld. "Fairweather Friends," featuring Grohl
and Sir Elton, is a grunge-grease bitchfest. On "I Sat by the Ocean," Homme cru
shes riffs and mellows out with "a potion to erase you." Yet for all the awesome
ly negative vibing and genuine twistedness (see "If I Had a Tail"), Clockwork hi
t with an everydude heaviness that s getting rarer and rarer these days. Plus, t
he king of Queens still has the best hard-rock falsetto of his generation.

7 Lorde, Pure Heroine

"We don t care/We aren t caught up in your love affair," declares 17-year-old Ne
w Zealand pop savant Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O Connor on her hit "Royals," a bitc
h-slap to status-driven music culture on behalf of every cash-strapped kid (and
grown-up) exhausted by it. Lorde s debut album ended up ruling the pop charts an
yway, thanks to a sultry, swaggering, hip-hop-savvy, fully grown voice and stark
synth jams as earworm-y as Miley s or Katy s splashiest hits. Set against the m
usic s minimal throb, Lorde s languidly aphoristic lyrics balance rock-star swag
ger and torqued-up teenage angst, so lines like "We re hollow like the bottles t
hat we drain" or "We re so happy, even when we re smiling out of fear" have a ra
ttle-nerve pathos and power like nothing else going in 2013.

8 The National, Trouble Will Find Me

These Brooklyn guys have spent the past decade building their rep as the most re
splendent sadsters in indie rock, a band whose ornate music matches the Cure-siz
e heartache of singer Matt Berninger. But on the best record of their career, th
ey pare back that richly ornamental sound to reveal its black-candy pop core. Be
rninger moans his afflicted romantic entreaties like a man drowning in too much
merlot and just enough Leonard Cohen, over tensely coiled rhythms and hazy guita
r shimmer. The National s fast songs have never had such immediate surge, and th
eir slow ones have never had such elegiac power. "If you want to see me cry, pla

y Let It Be or Nevermind," Berninger sings on "Don t Swallow the Cap," nailing t

he album s ambition to make mood-swing rock with old-school gravitas.

9 Arctic Monkeys, AM
On its fifth album, this quintessentially British band moved to L.A., took inspi
ration from old Aaliyah hits and glam Bowie, and made a spiky, slinky beast of a
record, perfect for that moment in the evening when you just realized that mayb
e that seventh drunk text you sent to your ex-girlfriend wasn t such a hot idea.
The album was reportedly inspired by Alex Turner s breakup with model and TV ho
st Alexa Chung, and songs like "Why d You Only Call Me When You re High" and the
achingly slow "Do I Wanna Know" are full of slow-simmering heartache. The caree
ning "chip-shop rock & roll" (as Turner called it) of previous records was repla
ced by a creeping desert-rock paranoia. And the frayed party s-over lullaby "Mad
Sounds" might ve been the sweetest Velvet Underground echo of Lou Reed s final

10 John Fogerty, Wrote A Song For Everyone

The songs Fogerty wrote in Creedence Clearwater Revival are as embedded in the A
merican grain as any in rock & roll. But this collection of recut CCR hits and s
olo tracks recorded with fans like Bob Seger, My Morning Jacket, Keith Urban, Mi
randa Lambert and Foo Fighters shows how vital and relevant his songwriting rema
ins more than 40 years after it owned the radio. Fogerty updates his Vietnam War
missive "Fortunate Son" for the Iraq-Afghanistan era backed by the Foos, belts
out "Born on the Bayou" alongside Kid Rock, unspools the ballad "Someday Never C
omes" with roots rockers Dawes, and gets locked in a guitar duel with Brad Paisl
ey on the underrated solo gem "Hot Rod Heart." The result is a wonderful convers
ation of an album not to mention a damn good time.

11 Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold

The songs on Parquet Courts breakthrough are fast, brief and laugh-out-loud fun
ny. These Brooklyn dudes take inspiration from the Nineties vibe of Pavement or
Archers of Loaf, hitting their slack-ass glory in the climactic guitar groove "S
toned and Starving," where picking out snacks in a bodega feels like an epic que

12 Jake Bugg, Jake Bugg

Nineteen-year-old U.K. singer-songwriter Bugg is an acoustic revivalist with the
guts to shake up the traditions he loves. On his debut, Bugg gave 62 Dylan, Bu
ddy Holly and the Everly Brothers a cocky Oasis charge, while packing his songs
with sharp observations about street-fighting strife and coming-of-age confusion

13 Disclosure, Settle
This U.K. brother duo may still be too young to get into some of the clubs where
their music is bumping. But they re steeped in disco history ("White Noise" cou
ld be an old-school techno classic). Settle sounds like an anthology of great cl
ub singles, using guest vocalists and stylistic jumps to flow like an expertly c
urated party tape.

14 Drake, Nothing Was The Same

With Kanye breathing fire in rarified air, Drake is the people s rapper, a smart
kid conflicted about his fame, heart, family, everything except his mic potency
. But what makes his lonely fantastic voyage matter is its emotional weight, whi
ch gets crucial amplification from Noah "40" Shebib s whirlpool beats.

15 Atoms for Peace, Amok

Thom Yorke s side band moves your body, even as it does Radiohead-ishly unnatura
l things to your mind. Joined by Flea and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, York
e has rarely sounded so freewheeling vocally, and the music s marriage of live i
mprovisation and studio mixology gives him a rich, shifty palette to play off of

16 David Bowie, The Next Day
Bowie s first trip in 10 years gets more fascinatingly weird the longer you list
en (see the sly Leonard Cohen parody "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die"). But it
s the naked emotion of "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" that sums up The Next Day
loud, melodic, intense, with the man pushing his thin white voice into the strat

17 Danny Brown, Old

The year s most gripping hip-hop street-life narratives came from a crazy-coiffe
d Detroit native with a gift for vivid introspection and a taste for wild beats,
from the Detroit techno of "Dubstep" to the avant-trap of "Side B (Dope Song)."
It doesn t get much more disturbingly real than the raw-sex chronicle "Dope Fie
nd Rental."

18 Ashley Monroe, Like A Rose

This Knoxville girl gave us a juicy old-school honky-tonk set wrapped in pedal s
teel, full of characters as real as your neighbors and sung with Dolly Parton so
ul and sass. But when Monroe suggests ganja and whips and chains to her man on "
Weed Instead of Roses," it s clear this isn t your grandma s country music.

19 Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks

On the first Nine Inch Nails album in five years, Trent Reznor threw a dance par
ty at the edge of oblivion. Songs like "Came Back Haunted" and "All Time Low" co
mbine the gnarled-gear drive of vintage NIN with the ice-storm atmospherics that
Reznor has brought to his recent soundtrack work.

20 Laura Marling, Once I Was An Eagle

Marling is the most compelling singer-songwriter of the U.K. roots-revival scene
, with a voice that conjures young Joni Mitchell. Kicking off with a heart-surgi
cal seven-song opening suite, her fourth LP is the record Carey Mulligan in Insi
de Llewyn Davis might have made after kicking Justin Timberlake to the curb.

21 Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time

Ferreira s Eighties-weaned diva pop recalls no-nonsense Nineties alt-rockers lik
e PJ Harvey and Shirley Manson, setting love-wracked disclosures to grungy guita
r static, electronic gauze and computer-groove churn. When she sings about her "
heavy-metal heart," she s not kidding: The woman works well with machines.

22 Phoenix, Bankrupt!
The French indie-pop group didn t come through with hits on par with "1901" or "
Lisztomania." Phoenix did something even cagier, rolling out sleek, savvy songs
that took apart fame, fashion and coolness from the inside, without scrimping on
their space-rock whoosh, surging melodies and wry New Wave pout.

23 My Bloody Valentine, MBV

It s the noise-rock Chinese Democracy 22 years in the making and utterly throttl
ing just the same. MBV s third LP echoed their landmark Loveless with new shapes
and colors, but the same deceptive tunefulness. And "Nothing Is" is nothing les
s than the art-rock equivalent of crazy-strong hash.

24 Eminem, Marshall Mathers LP 2

On the sequel to his 2000 masterpiece, Eminem taps the maniac genius who first s
cared America into submission Stan s little brother even came back to murder Mr.
Mathers. But on "Headlights" he made peace with his estranged mom in what s got
ta be Slim Shady s huggiest moment ever.

25 Elton John, The Diving Board

Sir Elton reunites with rock & roll curator T Bone Burnett and old writing partn

er Bernie Taupin for a return to classic piano-man form. Mixing singer-songwrite

r balladry, music-hall storytelling, corner-church testifying and parlor-room no
stalgia, it s the sound of a legend with his showbiz guard dropped.

26 Chance The Rapper, Acid Rap

The second mixtape from this 20-year-old Chicago MC is the ultimate in psychedel
ic hip-hop. Chance spins Lil Wayne-meets-Hendrix language swirls punctuated by t
he real-life observations of a kid who grew up in a world where "it s dark a lot
. . . easier to find a gun than it is to find a fucking parking spot."

27 Miley Cyrus, Bangerz

Amid all the foam-finger hub-bub, Miley made an excellent pop record. Bangerz is
full of country-flavored slow jams and dirty beats like "Do My Thang" and the a
ce Future duet "My Darlin ." She drops top-shelf electro hooks and navigates com
ing-of-age conundrums, bringing depth and vulnerability to one hell of a party.

28 Kacey Musgraves, Same Trailer Different Park

This charmingly matter-of-fact 25-year-old Texan makes commercial country sound
artistically fertile again. Singing about a friend with benefits ("It Is What It
Is") or weed smokin and same-sex kissing ("Follow Your Arrow"), she s ballsy,
traditional and pop. Call her the millennials Loretta Lynn.

29 Bombino, Nomad
For this raw cross-cultural jam, Omara "Bombino" Moctar a hot-shit guitarist fro
m Niger hooked up with Black Key Dan Auerbach, who produced the LP with a cratedigging R&B/psych vibe. It s full of hypnotic fuzz, and the cosmic country of "T
amiditine" conjures Workingman s Dead if it d been made in the Sahara desert.

30 Tegan & Sara, Heartthrob

After a decade-plus making smart folk pop, this duo of Canadian twins took a lea
p into radio-hungry dance beats. Their songwriting stayed sharp and revealing as
ever, and on "Closer," they show up all the billion-dollar divas with a disco b
urner about "how to get you underneath me" that is one of the year s sweatiest s

31 Haim, Days Are Gone

On their debut, these three harmonizing Los Angeles sisters found an elusive art
-pop sweet spot between TLC and Kate Bush and won over indie kids and teenyboppe
rs alike. "The Wire" plays like a great lost Eighties radio hit. But "My Song 5,
" with its broken beats and snaky flow, is the hook-mad high point.

32 Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe

On their debut, this Glasgow trio made indie-weaned synth-rock that hit with as
much big-box thwump as Rihanna or "Roar." Singer Lauren Mayberry throws herself
into stalker-pop come-ons, and nearly every song is bright and cutting and almos
t scarily impassioned.

33 Pusha T, My Name Is My Name

The cockier half of the Clipse didn t choose to go solo he had to after his brot
her found God. Pusha, in turn, found Kanye West, whose stark and twisted product
ion helped make My Name Is My Name feel like a more lyrically focused companion
piece to his own Yeezus. It s the year s sharpest hit of street philosophy.

34 Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the
More I Love You
The country-rock firecracker s sixth LP is full of bold arrangements and hot gui
tars (courtesy of My Morning Jacket, among others). It s also a tour de force of
intense, big-chorused songwriting. In other words, plenty more than just a big
voice. But, damn: That s one knee-bucklingly magnificent voice.

35 Best Coast, Fade Away EP

It s just seven songs but still felt like a breakthrough, mixing the noise-pop b
uzz of Best Coast s 2011 debut with the swarming melodies and emotional payoff of
last year s The Only Place. It s where Bethany Cosentino s love of Patsy Cline
meets her love of My Bloody Valentine, and it suggests she s growing as a songwr
iter by the month.

36 Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt

In a year of great Nineties-indebted, female-fronted indie-rock albums (see also
: Swearin , Speedy Ortiz), Katie Crutchfield s stood out. It s full of rubbed-ra
w heart-to-hearts about hanging with other miserable young people, waiting for t
he fun part to begin, and starting to get the suspicion this might be the fun pa

37 The So So Glos, Blowout

The So So Glos are Brooklyn kids the kind who actually grew up there, a band of
brothers brimming with boyish energy and burn-down-the-house exuberance. Even wh
en the songs on their third album are full of darkness and doubt, they jump to t
he pogo-punk style of Rancid or Green Day, but with a Clash-style sense of missi

38 Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze

The fifth LP from the resplendently mellow Vile is a beautiful sinkhole of medit
ative guitar mysticism. The meandering tunes roll along on craggy, ambling licks
and the wisdom gleaned from whiling away his days in a "shame chamber" quite co
ntentedly, it would seem, judging by how pretty these songs are.

39 Keith Urban, Fuse

The amiable country dude s latest is called Fuse for a reason only Taylor Swift
has done so well synergizing dance-pop drive and countrypolitan pump. Urban yoke
s Eighties guitar flash and Euro beats to tight-crafted Nashville songs about ca
rs and girls and girls in cars classic images given a fresh polish.

40 Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt

Pearl Jam s 10th album is a brooding, pissed-off set great news for fans. Lots o
f Lightning Bolt s best moments are downtempo, including "Sirens," their own hau
nted take on the PJ-inspired power-ballad subgenre. But let s be clear: The kill
er punk-metal rant "Mind Your Manners" should be played extremely loud.

41 J. Cole, Born Sinner

Releasing your major-label rap record the same day as Kanye took balls. So did s
taying true to hip-hop s vaunted edutaining tradition with a set of hypersmart,
excellently self-produced tracks that recall, well, vintage Kanye in their abili
ty to dramatize the tension between Hov-size career ambition and post-Pac truth

42 Earl Sweatshirt, Doris

Odd Future s brightest cult star lives up to his reputation as an unholy verbal
wizard on his long-awaited debut album. He also upends it pushing past the amora
l bomb-lobbing that won him notoriety with a newly introspective style, perfectl
y suited to third-eye-opening beats courtesy of Pharrell, RZA and Earl himself.

43 Savages, Silence Yourself

"I m cold and I m cold and I m cold and I m stubborn," Savages Jehnny Beth info
rms us on the band s debut. With the repetitive insistence of a howitzer and the
urgency of an air-raid siren, these four women made some of 2013 s scariest, mo
st thrilling noise, finding new worlds of terror and stress in Eighties U.K. pos

44 Valerie June, Pushin Against a Stone

This New York-via-Tennessee singer mixed blues, soul, country, string-band folk
and gospel while the Black Keys Dan Auerbach added old-school ambience. It s th
e sound of a rookie doing her own thing like no retro-soul singer since Amy Wine

45 Avicii, True
Hey, you got Mumford & Sons in my EDM! Swedish producer Avicii slyly celebrated
electronic music s stateside boom by combining vintage roots music and energetic
house beats. It s an exuberant cross-cultural good time, and thanks to anthems
like "Wake Me Up," it never lets up.

46 Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action

After four years away, the mod Scottish boys jump back into the game swinging ha
rd. Right Thoughts has many of their friskiest tracks ever, long on witty high-e
nergy blasts of rhythm-guitar lechery.

47 M.I.A., Matangi
Once again, the avant-R&B rebel proved the raw power of her global-cauldron danc
e beats and hater-blasting lyrics. Matangi takes on her bird-flipping 2012 Super
Bowl scandal and even has a tender lover s jam in "Come Walk With Me," finding
revelation by living out contradiction.

48 Fuck Buttons, Slow Focus

This duo s third set of psychedelic electronic rock gets pretty dark, but its wo
rdless tension-and-release journeys are no less majestic. It s filled with tsuna
mis of corroded synthesizer noise and industrial beats like the soundtrack to a
dystopian sci-fi movie, or real life in 2013.

49 The Flaming Lips, The Terror

The Lips return to the apocalyptic acid punk of their Eighties albums, with monk
ish meditation, darkening-plains rumble and scouring electronics. It s what happ
ens when psych heroes find the hard-won honesty in whoa-dude revelation.

50 Beck, Song Reader

There s old-school, and then there s "Man, it would rule if someone would invent
electricity" old-school. Beck s "album" of sheet music turned out to be a sly c
ollection of folky swing tunes, steeped in Beck s absurdist wit. One ukulele bal
lad, "Old Shanghai," even became a YouTube hit.

NME s 50 Best Albums Of 2013

1. Arctic Monkeys - AM
AM felt like a genuine evolution for the Monkeys, and one that wasnt without risk.
Its success, however, rested on the two things that had always made them special
: Alex Turners wry way with words, and his way with a tune. AM boasted an embarrass
ment of riches on both counts. AM is the album against which everything else will
now be measured.

2. Kanye West - Yeezus

Two schools of thought when it comes to Kanye West. One is he s an egotistical f
ame-gobbling ignoramus. The other is he s all of that, but also a genius. Yeezus
was his most sonically challenging album to date. His impeccably selected colla
borators would ensure that Hudson Mohawke, Charlie Wilson and Daft Punk. And som
e of it ranked among Kanye s best work.

3. Queens of the Stone Age - Like Clockwork

Like Clockwork became Queens of the Stone Age s highest-ever charting album in
the UK. It was the bands most accessible work to date, featuring appearances from

Elton John, Alex Turner, Jake Shears, Dave Grohl and Nick Oliveri. None of that
diluted the essence of what Queens Of The Stone Age were all about, though.
4. Foals - Holy Fire
Holy Fire was another giant stride forward for Oxford s Foals. It proved theyre a b
and capable of being wildly diverse at the same time as still sounding like them
selves. A number two chart placing, a Mercury nomination and their first festiva
l headline slot at Latitude followed. Holy Fire was the record that tipped Foals i
nto the big leagues.

5. Savages - Silence Yourself

Silence Yourself almost never happened Savages early management put them in a pos
ition where splitting up seemed more appealing than compromising any further. Of
course, the quartets unfuckwithable nature prevailed, and they fired their manag
ers and channeled their ire into these 10 songs that are as much indebted to abs
urd metal as post-punk.

6. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

This year, Daft Punk returned as robotic superheroes. Their album has since caus
ed a significant upturn in vinyl sales, created a cult of audiophile fans discus
sing its headphone moments online and made a hit DJ of 73 year-old Giorgio Morod
er. And the most improbable thing? They did all this while barely putting in a p
ublic appearance.

7. Arcade Fire - Reflektor

It was a heart-in-mouth moment, the release of Arcade Fires fourth. A finely judg
ed masterstroke hung on the perfect pairing between a dancier Arcade Fire, inspi
red by the carnival spirit, and rock scholar and beat maestro James Murphy. They
may well be the most important band of their generation and theyre gonna have fu
n doing it.

8. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
The band s first album since Caves longest collaborator Mick Harvey left the band
saw violinist Warren Ellis take a more prominent role. The band created an unch
aracteristically eerie and ethereal sound of terse guitar throbs and twitchy ele
ctronic warbles. It was a lesson in how to experiment by a band at their peak.

9. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

If the basic premise of Once I Was An Eagle - another failed relationship goes u
nder the folk-rock microscope felt overly-familiar, the results were often surpr
ising. It was an album about self-examination and empowerment, on which Laura Ma
rling refused to let herself be defined by the man shed just ushered out of her l

10. David Bowie - The Next Day

2013 socked us in the face with a surprise David Bowie album that probably was h
is best since Scary Monsters, eschewing concept and reinvention for the sheer joy
of solid, poppy, classic songwriting in the company of prime-era producer Tony Vi
sconti. Oh ill health rumours, up yours, said Dame Dave, in so many words.

11. Jon Hopkins - Immunity

He kicked off with the noise of him opening-up his own studio, and finished by r
ecording the street sounds from his own road at 3am. Immunity was Jon Hopkins tryi
ng to get beyond the abstract colour-wash of pure techno to build something brai
ny that also reached out into the imperfect real-world of real emotion, and actu
ally touched you.

12. MIA - Matangi

There was a lot riding on MIA s fourth album. Mantangi proved proved that one
of music s most fearless and playfully intelligent provocateurs was still as ful

l of ideas as she ever was.

13. Drenge - Drenge
The dark bubbling underneath the predominant paisley wash of this years new bands
came from Drenge, whose debut heaved with the lurching energy of prime grungers
like early Nirvana. Drenges take was bratty and witty rather than angsty. Smart
and slightly surreal in interview, brilliant live, their debut showed a duo with
potential beyond a swift namecheck.

14. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City

In an experiment-or-perish year, Vampire Weekend served their innovation with cr
acking great tunes on. Their masterfully restrained third album sounded like it
was played on wooden chests, antique synths, icebergs and cash registers. But at
its core was some of the most consistently artful and intelligent songwriting o
f the year.

15. Peace - In Love

Peace were the first of Birminghams new wave of talent (see also: Swim Deep, Trou
maca, Superfood) to release a debut album. In doing so they justified the hype s
urrounding the city and themselves. With songs such as the psychedelia of Higher
Than The Sun, they marked themselves out as a band full of spontaneity, hormones
and natural talent.

16. Jagwar Ma - Howlin

According to Noel Gallagher, the future of the galaxy depended on Jagwar Mas debut
album. No problem: the Sydney trio melded acid house beats baggier than Ian Brow
ns trousers with a sleek, contemporary aesthetic that went way beyond mere pastic
he. The result was an album that was next to impossible not to dance to.

17. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Katie Crutchfields second album using the Waxahatchee moniker was a breakout inde
pendent hit this year a soulfully scuzzy, bare bones grunge-pop triumph. It coul
d have been plucked from the mid-1990s racks of Empire Records, but was also ver
y now, with Girls creator Lena Dunham amongst the record s champions.

18. Hookworms - Pearl Mystic

The DIY punk and hardcore that inspired Leeds quintet Hookworms to make music ma
y not be obvious in their tranced-out, glowingly psychedelic garage rock, but its
essential to their ethos. This unexpected smash of a debut album offered repeti
tive riff monolithia and reverbed tenderness akin to a less pompous Spiritualize

19. Disclosure - Settle

Settle helped introduce underground house music to a generation of clubbers more
familiar with David Guetta than genre pioneer Ron Hardy; it mixed that sensibil
ity with the 2-step swing of 90s UK garage; and managed to be so glossily chart-f
riendly that the brothers scored a Number One album in June. Clean club beats ne
ver sounded so cool.

20. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

The Nationals summer release was decidedly unsunny, a tearjerker of a record that
should be hidden well out of sight of the recently broken-hearted. Delivering u
nadorned, Merlot-infused passion alongside asymmetrical time signatures, Troubl
e Will Find Me was busy and Sea Of Love was awash with rolling waves of uncert

21. Iceage - Youre Nothing

If the songs of Iceages 2011 debut New Brigade felt veiled and cryptic, there would
be no confusing the contents of Youre Nothing. Across 12 tracks, Elias Bender Rnnen
felt wrang his soul dry. We also heard a band evolving beyond the Joy Division m

oves of their debut, adopting a new heaviness and vigour. Magnificently abrasive
22. Deerhunter - Monomania
Monomania was an ugly record about ugly feelings - of inadequacy, of desperation a
nd, above all, of betrayal that wasnt so much a break-up album as a falling-to-pi
eces one. Dont let that put you off, however: Cox brought some remarkable songs b
ack from his personal abyss. Monomania was searingly honest and brilliantly uncomp

23. Chvrches - The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches managed to deliver on the early hype with a debut album full of heart,
attitude and - above all - massive tunes. Here s was a synth pop band you could
hold close to your heart; intimate and endearing, but also stuff full of hooks.

24. Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold

So evocative of New York that sewer steam seemed to vent through the speakers wh
enever you played it, Parquet Courts debut was low in fidelity, but high on every
thing else. These 15 tracks were imbued with a wit and charm of Pavement, REM an
d Television that instantly endeared itself. Andrew Savages lyrics were laugh ou
t loud funny.

25. Haim - Days Are Gone

The pressure was on Haim sisters Este, Danielle and Alana to deliver an album as
good as their raucous gigs. Six years of work was condensed into 11 tracks that
weren t the raw rock their gig-goers had come to expect. Instead the record bri
mmed with bright ideas and pop hooks a twist in their narrative that became anot
her reason to go Haim mental.

26. Factory Floor - Factory Floor

While Daft Punk and Arcade Fire yoked their wagons to opulent disco to make a st
atement about how accomplished they were, Factory Floors long-awaited debut album
got inside the genres nerves and bones. Their intense arpeggios seemed to irradi
ate the fleshy parts of your body less catchy than utterly mind-controlling.

27. Earl Sweatshirt - Doris

Doris confirmed sleepy-eyed Thebe Kgositsile as Odd Futures most talented wordsmith
, a man capable of twisted and wickedly funny wordplay. Owing a large debt to th
e surreal rhymes of MF Doom, the ingenuity of tracks such as Whoa and Hive suggested
a student on the brink of overtaking teacher.

28. These New Puritans - Field Of Reeds

Released three years after NMEs album of 2010, Hidden, These New Puritans third albu
m featured 40 musicians, a Portuguese fado singer and a hawk. It was also a brav
e slice of game-changing experimental music from the Southend-On-Sea band. On Fra
gment Two, V (Island Song) and Dream they sounded like no other band on the planet.

29. My Bloody Valentine - m b v

After 22 years, many had all but given up hope of Kevin Shields finishing My Blo
ody Valentine s third album. Yet m b v was a worthy successor to Loveless an
d then some, wandering off into a murky drum n bass hinterland.

30. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

With its unchristian gospels, swampland treks and ballads built around the reallife rattle of underground trains, Mosquito was a malevolent neon monster intent o
n spiking the pristine buttock of pop and sucking it dry. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs fou
rth album took Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chases funk-punk to previously unex
plored extremes.

31. Merchandise - Totale Nite

Merchandise drew inspiration from everything from eastern philosophy to the expe
rience of coming of age in a post-boom America tearing at the seams when making
Totale Nite . Not bad for a group that notionally, at least, you could categori
se as a punk-rock band.

32. Palma Violets - 180

Recorded during two weeks of party sessions, Palma Violets debut was a snapshot o
f a band who made you want to be in their gang with every hedonistic howl. The a
lbum teetered on the edge of chaos, but rescued itself with songs as heart-warmi
ng as opener Best Of Friends that were catchy and bright enough to shine through t
he madness.

33. Tegan And Sara - Heartthrob

Lily Allen producer Greg Kurstins influence shone through on the twins seventh alb
um. It saw Tegan and Sara Quin ditch their usual new wave sound for sugar-rush s
ongs influenced by great contemporary pop. It was golden moments like the Gwen Ste
fani-indebted Drove Me Wild that helped the pair outgrow their cult status after 2
0 years of trying.

34. Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady

Received wisdom goes that Mone is a better concept than popstar, but on her secon
d studio album, she dropped her guard to confront her personal limits and sounde
d more fully realised than ever for it. The Electric Lady was funky and glittering
, and slipped out the odd humanising tear. Power up.

35. Bill Callahan - Dream River

Newly engaged and following the serene path laid out on 2011s Apocalypse, Callahans
15th album was stunning for its simple contentment: I really am a lucky man, he sa
ng on Small Plane. The only advance singles were two dub remixes but the genres war
ped lope permeated the gentle Americana Callahan whittles here.

36. Deap Vally - Sistrionix

This debut from LA duo Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards was bold and fearless. It
wasnt just the riotous rock n roll clatter that was gutsy, though. It was also t
he messages within the music: an assault on misogyny and sexism in the music ind
ustry that sat alongside storming jams about peace, love and understanding.

37. Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile s the kind of guy you can imagine strumming a steel-string guitar on a
porch somewhere. This album, bookended by two monstrous tracks (Wakin On A Pretty
Day and Goldtone) that hovered around the 10-minute mark, distilled his ability to
take a single, simple musical idea and stretch it into hypnotic mega-jams.

38. Courtney Barnett - The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas

The lyrics on Barnett s debut saw her eking out a whole song from a gardening-in
duced panic attack and another one about penning "the best song ever written" th
en forgetting it.

39. The Julie Ruin - Run Fast

The fluorescent, punky spit of Run Fast was Kathleen Hannas first release since rec
overing from Lyme disease, an experience that made her confront her mortality an
d reputation as riot grrrls de facto leader. There are still radical feminist sta
tements on Run Fast, but its more complex than that: the sound of one woman celebra
ting survival.

40. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus

Fuck Buttons music was beamed all over the world in the 2012 Olympics Opening Cer
emony, but Slow Focus didnt sound like a victory lap, exactly. Fuck Buttons third lo
ng-player was a moody and truculent beast. Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung t
oning down warm waves of bliss in favour of snarling synth and synapse-searing c

41. The Strokes - Comedown Machine
After 2011s Angles vanished in a cloud of inter-band uncertainties and drug hab
its, few things seemed less likely than a new Strokes album this year. Then came
Comedown Machine . No interviews, no tours, no festival slots, barely any cove
r art just 11 gleaming tracks and Julian Casablancas high-pitched vocal among t

42. Cate Le Bon - Mug Museum

There was a slow-burning, rural air to Cate Le Bons first two albums, perhaps bec
ause of her upbringing on a west Wales farm. For Mug Museum she moved to LA and re
corded with producer Noah Georgeson, who Cate described as the perfect combinatio
n of calm and brutality, but her music retains its blurry, out-of-time psychedeli
c wonder.

43. The Knife - Shaking The Habitual

They may as well have called it Shaking Off The Hipsters, so effective and bracing
was The Knifes fourth album in scaring off fairweather fans and the faint of hea
rt. Yet for all its hellish terror, it also contained the sorrowing, chilly beau
ty of Raging Lung and the sexy fury of Full Of Fire. Never predictable, always compe

44. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana

Speedy Ortizs debut album drew eyes and ears to Massachusetts, where Sadie Dupuis
, Mike Falcone, Matt Robidoux and Darl Ferm were channeling the discordant groov
es of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. The enchanted guitars were layered with Dupuis sa
ccharine snarl, and the poetry lecturers remarkably eloquent and detailed stories

45. Future Of The Left - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Their relationship with the music industry has often been fractious, so Future O
f The Left bit the bullet and asked fans to fund their fourth album via Pledgemu
sic. The result more than rewarded the generosity. A pop sensibility was constan
t, but How To was the Cardiff bands heaviest and most acerbic work.

46. Primal Scream - More Light

The most important music chimes with the times, and no 2013 record did that with
more impact and insight than Primal Scream s barnstorming 10th. Arabian horns a
nd demon beats illuminated Bobby Gillespies trawl through throttled culture, poli
tical atrocities and domestic abuse, and built to the redemptive finale of It s
Alright, It s OK .

47. King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

Archy Marshalls debut was released on his 18th birthday, and listening to it was
like pushing open a teenagers bedroom door and being hit by a smoke fog of dub, s
oul, hip-hop, jazz and electronica. Also in there was Marshall s vocal, an unmis
takable growl lamenting the peaks and troughs of London life.

48. Pusha T - My Name Is My Name

Executive produced by his G.O.O.D Music boss Kanye West, My Name Is My Name wa
s the moment Clipse member Pusha T finally hit the home run he promised for so l
ong. The beats snapped hard, the guests including Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross and
2Chainz glittered and the overall vibe was dirty but triumphant.

49. Daughter - If You Leave

Daughters first triumph came in 2012, when their track Youth soundtracked Channel 4s
Tour de France coverage. If You Leave was their second, and marked the London tri
o out as a band capable of injecting heartbreak and defiance into their lyrics,
and shining a progressive light on modern folk with their delicate music.

Rolling Stone | 20 BEST DANCE ALBUMS OF 2013

01 Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
A monumentally ambitious, old-school concept LP filled with wonderfully WTF mome
nts, from Julian Casablancas vocoder soul to Paul Williams robo-schmaltz fantas
ia, this is a fantasy-baseball-style idealization of the sort of cratedigger dis
co that first inspired Daft Punk s sample-driven, game-changing house music. The
record hot-wired Nile Rodgers radio-ruling rhythm guitar, rebooted Pharrell s
irresistible hip-hop soul, and basically did the time warp in a high-wire act of
reverse engineering. (Daft Punk s work on Kanye s Yeezus, meanwhile, was anothe
r triumph.) You could say they stayed up all night to get lucky, and boy did the
y. But in truth, luck had nothing to do with it.

02 Disclosure, Settle
That remix of Jessie Ware s "Running" put them on the map. But on their debut LP
, the brothers Lawrence (Guy, 21, and Howard, 18) brought house music s yin to d
ubstep s yang and effectively declared themselves heir to the tradition of The C
hemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx and Daft Punk marquee EDM duos as devoted to voc
al-driven songcraft as to get-out-on-the-floor beat making. Highlights include t
he echo-warped Cockney flourishes of "White Noise," their buoyant collab with fe
llow newcomers AlunaGeorge (who also made a great dance-pop LP), and "When The F
ire Starts To Burn," the year s best motivational club banger.

03 Fuck Buttons, Slow Focus

Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power s last set of gargantuan, uncompromisingly t
rippy electronic dance-rock was selected as part of the soundtrack for the Londo
n 2012 summer Olympics. Their third LP is way darker, but its journeys in tensio
n and release are no less awesome, filled with tsunamis of corroded synthesizer
noise and industrial beats (see the brutal opener "Brainfreeze"). These wordless
anti-hero anthems may not impress the next Olympic Committee. But they d make a
perfect score for dystopian sci-fi films and for life at the moment, which feel
s like roughly the same thing.

04 Jon Hopkins, Immunity

These gorgeous, glitchy, sexy, somber jams were the year s most addictive bedroo
m beats EDM for those evenings when you d rather curl up at home with a vapor pi
pe and your boo. Hopkins drifting sense of melody recalls both Eno and the pian
o minimalism of Erik Satie. But he also likes forward motion and the sly schaffe
l beats of German techno. By the time the 4/4 kick drums materialize, you ll be
dancing on the couch.

05 Four Tet, Beautiful Rewind

Four Tet s Keiran Hebden had a hand in two of the year s best dance sets, produc
ing Omar Souleyman s latest alongside this lushly kinetic set. Having just celeb
rated the 10th anniversary of his folktronic Rounds with a deluxe reissue, he fo
cuses squarely on the dancefloor here, but without compromising his deeply psych
edelic loops and timbres. "Kool FM" turns house music hollers and turntable rewi
nds into a fractal of old-school reverie; "Buchla" is a smeary datastorm over a
whirlpool of dubby beats. This music sent bodies pinwheeling at New York s Elect
ric Zoo in September. But it works just as well through headphones on the bus.

06 Omar Souleyman, Wenu Wenu

A revelatory set of Syrian electro-pop by a veteran wedding singer-turned-cultur
al emissary/Bjork remixer, Souleyman pitches R&B woo with fierce Arabic fricativ
es and the occasional invocation of Allah. But for lay fans, his hookah-bar synt
hs and digitized hand-percussion translate perfectly as top-shelf EDM belly danc
e music. Produced by Kieran Four Tet Hebden, it s a hot, matter-of-factly radica

l sound.
07 The Field, Cupids Head
A dark pleasuredome of submerged club beats, aching phonemes, and droning loops
that distend and morph with the awesome intractability of crumbling glaciers, th
is was the year s most magnificently hallucinogenic EDM set. It s mostly about t
he bliss of beats, but not entirely: see "No. No," a nine-minute trip into wildly
abstracted negativity. And even that one is pretty positive.

08 DJ Rashad, Double Cup

This breakout set from the ambassador of Chicago s footwork club scene was one o
f the year s freshest-sounding dance LPs, ominous and decidedly futuristic. Yet
the style shows deep ties to early house and Detroit techno, and echoes of 70s
R&B and soul-jazz abound just compare the analog keyboard vibe of "Pass That Shi
t" with that of Kool & The Gang s "Summer Madness," and you ll feel Rashad s roo
ts. Then pass that shit, like the man says.

09 Darkside, Psychic
The bandname seems no accident: The new project by avant-techno savant Nicolas J
aar and multi-instrumentalist pal Dave Harrington works in colors conjuring midperiod Pink Floyd. EDM posing as prog-rock, or visa-versa, it s driven by humano
id drum grooves, handclaps and some surprisingly bluesy licks "Paper Trails" sou
nds almost like a JJ Cale remix. Meanwhile, their free-download remix of the ent
ire Daft Punk record was a bold act of shotgun digital impressionism. Together,
the duo made a convincing argument that the Cold War between dance music and roc
k is ancient history.

10 Johnny Jewel, After Dark 2

The multi-tasking Montrealer behind Chromatics (whose recent Kill For Love opene
d with a hushed take on Neil Young s "Hey Hey, My My [Into The Black]" before mo
rphing into trippy synth-pop) dons his dance rock alter-ego for a set of hook-st
udded Euro-trashy jams that can get Daft Punkier than the latest Daft Punk recor
d. And unlike so many trigger-finger EDM producers, dude knows when to hold a gr
oove and when to cut. Note to Arcade Fire: bet your homeboy could bring the remi
x fire.

11 Kavinsky, OutRun
Good dance music needs a beat more than it needs a concept, but OutRun, thankful
ly, is the rare example where the latter strengthens the former. Daft Punk pal K
avinsky s retro drum machines and pop-metal guitars are, on their own, enough to
make butts and EQ needles wiggle. An attached teen-movie storyline about a thri
llseeker resurrected from a fiery car crash who speeds around in a supernatural
Ferrari Testarossa adds a layer of ridiculous fun.

12 Avicii, True
Hey, you got Mumford & Sons in my EDM! Swedish producer Avicii slyly celebrated
electronic music s stateside boom by combining vintage roots music and energetic
house beats. It s an exuberant cross-cultural good time, and thanks to anthems
like "Wake Me Up," it never lets up.

13 Party Supplies, Tough Love

In his production work for Action Bronson s Blue Chips mixtapes, Party Supplies
(real name: Justin Nealis) uses Eighties MOR samples to add pop snap to Bronson
s blunted storytelling. On Tough Love, with help from multi-instrumentalist Sean
Mann, Nealis eschews swagger for swooning rhythms, winsome melodies and bubbly
beats. It s dance music for introverts.

14 Rudimental, Home
Where other dance mavens compel a sweatily physical loss-of-self, Rudimental s H
ome lifts listeners to a more spiritual plane. Graced by soulful vocal guest spo

ts by the likes of John Newman and Ella Eyre (on, respectively, standouts "Feel
the Love" and "Waiting All Night"), the London DJ-production collective fuses gl
owing house and propulsive drum n bass with sanctified pop melody. If heaven is
a dance party, this is what s playing.

15 Factory Floor, Factory Floor

If James Murphy s major innovation was bringing the burdens of an aging hipster
s heart and curator s brain to bear on dance music, his DFA dudes in Factory Flo
or get over by adding an alluringly icy, metallic sheen to their post-punk influ
enced grooves. Throughout, Vocoder d vocals intone gnomic questions ("Did you fe
el like you were going to/fall on the ground?") while industrial synths and disc
o drumwork move the music towards the singularity.

16 The Haxan Cloak, Excavation

Bobby Krlic s psychedelic beat canvases are 50 shades of black and considering t
heir glacial tempos, it might be rhythmically misleading to use the term "beat."
Yet they are gorgeously bass-y, bulbous and fascinating. Ambient EDM to disappe
ar into your hoodie by.

17 Boards of Canada, Tomorrow s Harvest

The long-brewing fourth album by the revered, elusive Scottish duo is to 70s am
bient prog rock (see Tangerine Dream, etc.) what Daft Punk s Random Access Memor
ies is to 70s disco: a loving, evocative nostalgia trip decidedly framed by 21s
t century technology. Full of glittery analog textures and looping melody fragme
nts, it s like watching the movements in a murky fish tank, flashes of beauty fi
ghting their way through the gunk, and more moving for it.

18 Holy Ghost!, Dynamics

Something like New York s answer to Phoenix (the band, not the city), these LCD
Soundsystem associates focused their pop lens on their second LP, the upshot bei
ng a delicious balancing act of club-beats and song hooks. Inspirational low-ren
t New York lyrical shout-out: "This bodega s got a lovely basement!

19 DJ Koze, Amygdala
An elegant mix of streamlined Teutonic techno beats, hip-hop jump cuts, oddball
instrumentation, and warped vocals, including Rhye s Mike Milosh (swimming in a
bubble bath of bells on the title track) and the late German actress Hildegard K
nef (whose reading of Rodgers & Hart s "I Could Write A Book" suggests the tripp
iest Pal Joey revival ever).

20 Classixx, Hanging Gardens

The fizzy, elegant L.A. remixers (Phoenix, Madonna, Passion Pit) channel the thr
ow-your-hands-in-the-air pleasure principles of 80s dance pop. "All You re Wait
ing For," with LCD Soundsystem s Nancy Whang, conjures Madge s rubber-bracelet d
ebut; elsewhere there s the conga-handclap magic of vintage Latin freestyle. But
the helium-balloon builds, primordial-ooze bass lines and thick-waisted beats a
re all 2013, just minus the stadium EDM overkill.