2013…. Then there were three…
By Philip Moreno
Follow Phil on Twitter: @philipmoreno
To me three albums define what it meant to listen to and love music in 2013, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. First there was a collective who’s album is a testament to sticking to your guns and making the album that you love, not what you think the radio wants to hear. Next is an indie artist that used his new muse to create the most soulful album of 2013. Finally, there was my favorite album, and it is also responsible for my favorite song, video, and spoof video of 2013.
Starting of with my third favorite album of 2013, Vampire Weekend – “Modern Vampires of the City”. World music has never sounded so fresh since “Graceland”. The guys in Vampire Weekend are locked in on this album. What makes me appreciate this album more and more as time goes by is that when I hear these songs on the radio they just feel different. Songs like “Diane Young” “Unbelievers” and “Ya Hey” are examples of the band at the height of there powers. Great album, great band, I can’t wait for the next album by these guys, and hopefully a tour stop or two around Michigan next year.
Rhye’s – “Woman” was my second favorite album of 2013. Usually albums about love are best when love is lost and not found. Empathizing with the artist is easier when the feelings they share are from the heart, and when artists make deeply moving statements, usually its about the ending of love rather than the beginning. That is not true here however. Vocalist Mike Milosh and producer Robin Hannibal both in the beginning of new relationships let us know how they feel about the woman in their lives. The result is one of the most soulful, meaningful, and masterful albums of the past few years. Songs like “Open” 3 Days” and “Shed Some Blood” pull you in and don’t let go. You need to listen to this album straight thru, with a bottle of good wine and your special someone close by. This album is the best example of how greatness can come from anywhere at anytime. I would love for someone like Justin Timberlake or Robin Thicke to tab these guys to open there next tours. It would expose the mainstream to one of the best voices around today, and force those acts to step up there game or risk being blown off the stage every night.
Kanye West-Yeezus is my number one album of 2013. Sure other big name artists released good records. Daft Punk, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and Arcade Fire are some examples. But none of these artists pushed the envelope like Kanye did. His album is reckless and precise all at the same time. His lyrics have never been this menacing and playful within the same songs. His statements in all media should do nothing to take away from the power of this album as a whole. And that is how it needs to be listened. Songs flow next to and into each other so that instead of 10 songs you get one long manifesto from Mr. West. No subject is taboo, and when it comes to his fiancee , well nothing is sacred there as well. The video they made for the closing track“Bound 2” is a strange wild affair that was made 1000 times better by the spoof video done by James Franco and Seth Rogan.
To me the stand out track on the album and my song of the year is “Blood on the Leaves”. Its production is second to none. The sample, taken from Nina Simone’s version of “Strange Fruit” is haunting. While that song was about the horrors of racial injustice, Kanye uses the sample to tell us about the horrors of love and betrayal. This is Kanye’s best song, off of his best album. I hope that the album he recently spoke about releasing next year is half as good as this. My guess is that it will be.
The rest of my top ten albums for 2013 are
- Nine Inch Nails- Hesitation Marks
- Daft Punk- Random Access Memories
- Chance the Rapper- Acid Rap
- Queens of the Stone Age- Like Clockwork
- Portugal the Man – Evil Friends
- Placebo – Loud like Love
- Palma Violets – 180
My top 5 songs of the year
- Kanye West-Blood on the Leaves
- Rhye – Open
- Portugal the Man- Creep in a T shirt
- Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Electronica – Control
- FIDLAR – Cheap Beer
My Top 3 concerts attended this year
- Soundgarden , Fillmore Detroit
- FIDLAR/Waves, Magic Stick, Detroit
- MGMT, Calvin College, Grand Rapids