10. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II
Expanding on the jangly, lo-fi sound of UMO’s debut, the trio seem to find a harmony between noodly-jamming and bonafide pop songs, all while keeping that four-track sound.
9. Twin Tigers - Deathwish
Trading guitars for a variety of synths, the Georgia rock outfit conveys the memories of youth wrapped in a blanket of melancholy and unease. The result comes in the form of eight varied tracks touching on the good and bad of dream chasing.
8. These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
These New Puritans was never one for doing the same record twice. Evolving from their post-punk roots, TNP seems to move past rock itself by incorporating more of an orchestral mood into their third record. Field of Reeds shows less of an angry band and more of one who has moved onto bigger issues in life with a sense of maturity.
7. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt
Lyricism is alive and well in 2013. One of main contenders in the pursuit of deep lyricism takes form in Katie Crutchfield’s project as Waxahatchee. Crutchfield’s lyrics touch on everything from damaged relationships to meaningless sex to isolation.
6. Queens Of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
After an extended break since 2007’s Era Vulgaris, Queens of the Stone Age are back and enlisting all the help they can manage. Even Nick Olveri is back (if only briefly) in addition to Dave Grohl contributing to QOSTA’s rager: “My God is the Sun”.
5. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus
After a warm-up contributing music to the London Olympics, the electronic duo returns with an aggressive third album. Songs like “Year of the Dog” and “Brainfreeze” exhibit the two pushing forward at full blast, contributing war drums and buzz-saw synths to cut through the ambience.
4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
With the amount of touring The National handles, one would think they would be burnt out by the time a new record was due. Instead, the New York group shines once again with a stripped-down album (compared to 2010’s High Violet) revisiting the lovesick lyrics of singer Matt Berninger accompanied by flourishes of guitar by the Desner brothers.
3. Beach Fossils - Clash The Truth
On his debut record, Dustin Payseur beautifully demonstrated the beach-longing feel for someone juxtaposed in the middle of Brooklyn. Naturally, Payseur wanted to expand his sound and succeeded with this year’s Clash The Truth. Enlisting Ben Greenberg of The Men, Payseur finds a harder edge to his songwriting, contributing tracks such as “Generational Synthetic” and “Caustic Cross”.
2. Tim Hecker - Virgins
Taking the concept of room space as a unified theme, Tim Hecker has taken acoustics to a literal level. Space is a common theme on Virgins, with Hecker exploring every sense of the presence of space by using rooms as a living instrument via echoing walls.
1. Darkside - Psychic
To quote the duo consisting of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington, “I thought I was making a dance record.“ “I thought I was making a rock record.“ “We both failed.” Releasing their first full length as a duo, Darkside has created something else in entirety with Psychic being not quite an electronic album but not quite a rock album either. The two seem to feed off each other and blend their talents, one as an electronic producer and the other as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, redefining what albums incorporating dance and rock together should sound like. Take “Paper Trails” for example. The only way to describe the lead single is to mash Clapton-esque blues with the ambient drone that Jaar excels in creating. The two have made a hell of a debut in creating the refreshing world of Psychic.