BEST OF 2013: Madelyn's Picks

10. Rhye - Woman

Here's hoping Rhye's Woman is what everyone buys their significant other for Valentine's Day next year because, man, does it hit you right in the feels. Milosh releasing a solo album in the latter half of this year could unfortunately signal that Rhye has already come and gone. If that is the case, at least the enigmatic duo left the music world with an instantly classic album of heartfelt, honest love songs.

9. Ducktails - The Flower Lane

Between Real Estate recording a new album and individual members Alex Bleeker and Matt Mondanile releasing and touring side project material, the Ridgewood, NJ boys have had a busy 2013. Mondanile's The Flower Lane marks the fourth full-length release under his Ducktails moniker, and may just be his best yet. Through ten masterfully crafted dream pop tracks, "Under Cover" and "Letter of Intent," with their sultry sax solos, stand out as personal "song of the year" contenders.

8. Deerhunter - Monomania

Longtime Deerhunter fans may not enjoy Monomania as much as previous albums from the Atlanta supergroup, but there's something about this album enticing me to keep it on my year-end list. Leading up to and following Deerhunter's Sixth & I show earlier this year, I streamed Monomania virtually nonstop until I grew tired of it. While the album's array of musical styles could come off as too "all over the place," it is actually what I enjoy most about Monomania. Dreamy "The Missing" is just as solid as country-tinged "Pensacola" and garage rocky "Dream Captain." Bradford Cox might not be able to get away with making another Deerhunter album like Monomania - nor will people be as intrigued with his promo gimmicks the next time around - but at least the band's sixth album sounds like the usually obsessive-compulsive genius genuinely had fun making this body of work.

7. Widowspeak - The Swamps

As if it wasn’t obvious enough in my interview with Widowspeak guitarist Robert Earl Thomas, this EP was one of my most anticipated 2013 releases. Being from Louisiana, I can attest that Widowspeak succeeded in their attempt to capture the psychological stagnation the sticky, murky swamps evoke, and beautifully so. Between The Swamps and Almanac, Widowspeak’s other 2013 release, I am excited to hear what the duo presents on their third, “to be recorded” full-length

6. Arctic Monkeys - AM

Before AM, I was only a casual fan of Arctic Monkeys, with Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007) being the only other Monkeys album that I like from start to finish. Unlike Humbug (2009) and Suck It and See (2011), the commanding garage rock of AM sounds like an appropriate follow-up to the vibe created on Favourite Worse Nightmare. Alex Turner’s suave, Sheffield-accented lyrics, particularly on "Do I Wanna Know?" and "R U Mine?", add an extra kick to AM, surely making females in the frontman’s fan club swoon.

5. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City certainly outshines Vampire Weekend's sophomore slump Contra and seemingly unanimously stands as one of the year's best releases. Ezra Koenig and co. maintain on Modern Vampires both the lyrical wit and poppy songwriting prowess heard on previous albums, but this time in a more personal, introspective tone. The earnestness of tracks like "Obvious Bicycle" and "Don't Lie" hint that exploring themes of death and mortality was a necessary, genuine endeavor for the group, who manages to avoid morbidity and instead provoke thought along the way.

4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Like most National albums, Trouble Will Find Me is a "grower" - only after repeated listens can its genius be fully appreciated. Musically, Trouble Will Find Me is not as dynamic or interesting on its own as in High Violet or Boxer, but Matt Berninger's lyrics and delivery central to The National, are as gut-wrenching as ever. Don't believe me? Listen to "This Is the Last Time" to hear it for yourself.

3. MINKS - Tides End

It all started when I heard "Painted Indian" in a certain "hipster" clothing store (I'll let you figure out which one and hope you won't judge too harshly) in early August. I scrambled for my smartphone to Shazam the catchy track, but to no avail. Googling "From black to white to red / To white and back to red" proved fruitful, though, and from there I became obsessed with Brooklyn's purveyor of bright electropop. Tides End, for me, is indicative of a certain time - late summer into early fall - and the optimistic mindset the changing seasons bring. MINKS' sophomore album quickly ascended my year-end favorites list and will assuredly be a go-to album the same time next year.

2. Kurt Vile - Wakin On a Pretty Daze

Wakin On a Pretty Daze jumped up two spots from #4 on my mid-year list of favorite albums for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s no secret that Kurt Vile’s live shows aren’t the most exciting. Lackluster concerts usually turn me off from an artist or a specific album, but Daze managed to maintain my admiration even after being let down by their live renditions. Daze’s dreamy droning provides the perfect soundtrack to a variety of occasions, including zoning in to write a paper and road tripping to Philly. In fact, trekking to Fishtown to see the Daze mural Vile commissioned for the album’s cover is a highlight of my year.

1. Beach Fossils - Clash the Truth

For me, 2013 has been the Year of Beach Fossils. I’ve spent much of the year obsessing over the Brooklyn band, seeing them live three times, falling in love with their discography backwards, and spreading the gospel of Clash the Truth’s subdued, poignant punk to whoever would listen. I was curious whether another 2013 album would dethrone Beach Fossils’ sophomore full-length of its #1 spot on my year-end list, but it has comfortably remained since its February release.