Stereotype Top Albums of 2013

2013 has been a huge year for great new music. Maybe it’s just that I feel like I’ve listened to more new music than last year, and the number of new albums that I enjoyed made forming this top 10 a very difficult task. As always, I don’t claim this as a definitive “best of 2013” list, but rather a “Stereotype favourites” list. It’s impossible to call something the best when you’ve only experienced a small percentage of what was released in a given year. So while the supply us high, the great thing is that the demand has never been higher. The resurgence of vinyl keeps bubbling away and on that note we’ve seen great demand for the new range of Music Hall turntables which in our opinion offer the best performance in their class. Digital downloads and streaming are now the normal – even if I feel like I am the odd one out who still likes to buy CDs, let’s hope the likes of iTunes/Spotify/MySpace/Xbox Music etc. keep pushing for better quality files. At the moment the quality is pretty low, and unfortunately brilliant services like HDtracks don’t have the range, but this is improving. While I still buy CDs I do find myself streaming music via my Micromega MyDAC more often that spinning discs. I guess the most important thing is to not really get that hung up about the format, it has never been more affordable to get a high quality source regardless of whether that’s analogue or digital, and for me they all have a place.

lonebellow10. The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

The debut album from Brooklyn based based Folk group The Lone Bellow came up in my recommendations list shopping on Amazon. I gave it a quick listen and thought, now there’s a brilliant vocalist. The album has country and gospel influences in places, tracks Tree to Grow and Teach Me to Know are the stand outs, while the opener Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold doesn’t do it for me and You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To is too country for me. Some gems in here, recommended.

daftpunk9. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Without a doubt the most hyped album of 2013, featuring the most played song of 2013. But does it live up to the hype? Does the rest of the album have anything worth listening too? Thankfully yes. It’s a fantastic recording and The Game of Love became a go to demo track. However, my favourite song is Instant Crush featuring The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.

repave8. Volcano Choir – Repave

Indie darling Justin Vernon’s side project Volcano Choir released their follow up album to 2009’s Unmap. Repave is less experimental, which makes it more listenable, and no doubt more appealing to the Bon Iver fans. There are three stand out tracks for me and they are back to back on the album; Byegone, Alaskans and Dancepack. All different, all genius. However, Byegone is an epic song that I would have put either as the opener or closer to this great album.

amok_7. Atoms for Peace – AMOK

Every time I listen to this album I hear something new, there are so many layers, and so many background sounds that sneak up on you that you weren’t expecting. I unashamedly pretty much love everything Thom Yorke touches. If you’re intrigued, checkout Default and Judge Jury Executioner which are two of my favourites. One of my most listened to albums of 2013 as its great to work to with your headphones cranking.

fandango6. The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango

The Phoenix Foundation made our 2010 list with Buffalo, and Fandango carries on nicely with playful adult pop at its best. Clever lyrics, catchy riffs and NZ made, what’s not to love here? Thames Soup should’ve got NZ Song of the Year, but of course someone ruined that for the boys. Support your local, buy it!

articmonkeys5. Arctic Monkeys – AM

I never got into earlier Arctic Monkeys songs but when the single Do I Wanna Know was released I couldn’t get enough of it. I bought the CD on the basis of this track expecting to be a little disappointed with the rest and to my pleasant surprise this a bloody good rock album. And just when you thought you’d figured out the album, they drop rock ballad No.1 Party Anthem that will be turning the Gallagher boys green.

mazzystar4. Mazzy Star – Seasons of your Day

A new Mazzy Star album was exciting news for me. In my book lead singer Hope Sandoval can do no wrong. She could sing the dictionary and it would be amazing. Fade Into You is one of my all time favourite songs and Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus which features Sandoval, was one of my favourites from 2010. Pour a glass of Pinot, turn the lights down, listen and enjoy.

thenational3. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

It took me a few listens before Trouble Will Find Me stood out as a truly great album. The opening track I Should Live in Salt and the track Heavenfaced show off lead singer Matt Berninger’s voice beautifully. In my 2010 list, The National’s High Violet made it to the #1 spot, so it was a tough act to follow, but they’ve proved there’s plenty more in The National boys, I can wait three years for the next album if the quality remains this high. Highly Recommended.

boyandbear2. Boy and Bear – Harlequin Dream

Aussie band Boy and Bear produced a crackingly good album this year, you’ll probably be familiar with the opening track Southern Sun if you listen to Hauraki or presumably other Rock radio stations. Bridges and Back Down the Black are the stand out tracks for me, and if they left off the country influenced End of the Line this album would be perfect!

localnatives1. Local Natives – Hummingbird

The more I listen to this album the more l enjoy it! Hummingbird was an early favourite for the top spot and it held on. It’s hard to pick stand out tracks but Three Months, Heavy Feet (which has a brilliant video featuring visually impaired model aeroplane pilots) and Mt Washington would be my favourites. Really the whole album is outstanding apart from perhaps Black Spot that I finding myself skipping over. Album of the year for me, so yes I think you should rush out and buy it.

Well there you have it, what was your favourite?

Merry Christmas from both Tiens and I, thanks for the continued support and we look forward spending many more hours listening to great music on great sounding Hifi in 2014.