First things first: You can view (and sample!) my top 25 albums of 2013 and my top 12 albums of 2012.
Yes, it took me a full year to finish a list for 2012. Yes, it only has twelve albums. No, that doesn’t necessarily imply that 2012 was “a terrible year for music,” nor does my doubled selection total mean that 2013 was “a great year for music.” (Any time I see those grand declarations, my eyes roll into the back of my head.) I listened to fewer albums in 2012, many bands I’d usually slot in by default had an off year, and I had less time and enthusiasm in December to complete a list, let alone replicate my exhausting review of the previous year’s contending titles. Comparatively, tons of bands—familiar and unfamiliar—issued worthy albums in 2013, I regained some energy for listening to and occasionally writing about music, and my wheelhouse genres of angular indie rock and ambient had strong years. I’m unwilling and unprepared to objectively declare 2013 a fantastic year in music for all tastes, but for mine, it certainly was. Subjectivity strikes again!
In case two year-end album lists isn’t enough, here are some supplemental selections.
Ten Honorable Mentions from 2013:
- Brokeback, Brokeback and the Black Rock (“Colossus of Roads”)
- Shane Carruth, Upstream Color Soundtrack (All of it)
- CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe (“Tether”)
- Joanna Gruesome, Weird Sister (“Sugarcrush”)
- Overseas, Overseas (“Old Love”)
- Savages, Silence Yourself (“She Will”)
- Superchunk, I Hate Music (“Void”)
- Tomahawk, Oddfellows (“Southpaw”)
- Justin Walter, Lullabies and Nightmares (“The Way of Five”)
- Yo La Tengo, Fade (“Ohm”)
Eight Excellent Seven-Inch Singles from 2013:
- Alpha Cop / Carton, Split Single
- Julianna Barwick, “Pacing” b/w “Call”
- Daria / Office of Future Plans, Split Single
- Fat History Month / My Dad, Split Single
- Future of the Left, Love Songs for Our Husbands
- Loscil, Sine Studies I
- Lower Dens / Horse Lords, Split Single
- Speedy Ortiz, “Hexxy” b/w “Ka-Prow!”
Two Sources of Ongoing Ethical Conflict
- “Free” concerts offered by shoe companies: I enjoy not paying for things as much as the next guy, but tripping over future landfills worth of Vans promotional garbage at The Walkmen’s potentially final show in Boston and seeing “Converse” emblazoned on the chest of The Men’s bassist has forced me to recognize that corporate back-slapping always has a price.
- Band-circumventing vinyl reissues: I enjoy re-buying beloved 1990s albums that I already own on CD way, way more than the next guy, but 1972 Records’ Stereolab reissues are almost certainly sourced from those very CDs instead of the original masters and have no involvement from Tim Gane or Duophonic, while Shop Radio Cast’s wish-fulfilling pressing of Hum’s You’d Prefer an Astronaut cut Matt Talbott’s attempts to reissue the album on his own terms down at the knees. (Fortunately, he has a stockpile of original copies you can occasionally buy.) Labels, be more like Numero Group and add value to your reissues by actually involving the artists who created them. Bands, be proactive in reissuing your catalogs so that shady operations don’t do it first. Record collectors, investigate the origins of the reissue you’re holding before you plunk down $27.99 on it.
Two New Year’s Resolutions for 2014
- Actually finish reviews and features: If I merged my partially and mostly completed posts from the last two years, I’d have a damn book.
- Keep reminding myself about that first resolution: I'll have a headstart on months of posts, at least.