Best Of 2013 So Far: Madelyn's Picks

10. Cayucas - Bigfoot

Still searching for the best soundtrack to your summer? Bigfoot is it. From happy-go-lucky opening track “Cayucos” to eponymous album closer “Bigfoot,” Cayucas present eight catchy, summery tunes sure to make your next vacation playlist. And hey, they might put you in such a good mood that you’ll forget about the sweltering heat!

9. Rhye - Woman

Three months after its release, Woman's sensual, eargasm-inducing first track "Open" still blows me away upon each listen. "Open," along with about four other tracks, including "The Fall" and "3 Days," serve as the album's highlights while the remainder are forgettable. Yet, Woman is such a short album that it is easy to listen to on repeat before realizing you have been doing so for hours. With the seductiveness of Woman and their mysteriousness, Rhye have made an impression on the music world, but only time will tell if they stick around long enough to do it again with a second release.

8. Savages - Silence Yourself

This is not yet an album to which I can sing along word-for-word (as tends to be the case with my favorites), but Savages’ debut is almost too in-your-face and harsh for that. Savages are more about the statement they are making through their music and live performances. Between writing manifestos and mandating no phone usage at shows, the ladies of Savages are sure to calculate the band’s each and every move. One thing’s for certain – their abrasiveness has taken the music world by storm and provided a necessary, refreshing realness.

7. Ducktails - The Flower Lane

When not recording or performing with Real Estate, guitarist Matt Mondanile takes on the Ducktails moniker. With this project, Mondanile has released multiple albums, the most recent being this year'sThe Flower Lane. While it may not appear on others' mid- or end-of-the-year lists, The Flower Lane showcases Mondanile's strengths as a solo artist stepping from the wings up to the mic to deliver his own musical stylings. The result - great, dreamy tracks like "Under Cover," which has a gnarly sax solo, and "Letter of Intent," that, if anything, will keep Real Estate fans occupied until the band's next album.

6. Wild Nothing - Empty Estate EP

This seven-track EP marks a departure from Wild Nothing mastermind Jack Tatum’s tendency to create dreamy, shoegazy music. Empty Estate, although still rooted in an appreciation for synthy ‘70s and ‘80s tunes, comes off as much more urgent and fast-paced than the ethereal Nocturne or Gemini. While his two full-length albums are more appropriate for night driving or stargazing, Empty Estatesounds more like a soundtrack to a video game or retro computer commercial.

5. Deerhunter - Monomania

Deerhunter’s Monomania seems to be the most polarizing album of 2013 so far; listeners have either loved or hated it. I’m in the camp who loves the band’s sixth studio album and in fact, it’s the first of theirs I’ve really enjoyed. Admittedly, though, the array of musical styles showcased on Monomania – from country-tinged “Pensacola” to dreamy “The Missing” and garage rock “Dream Captain” - serves as both the album’s strength and weakness. At times it feels all over the musical radar, and others it proves frontman Bradford Cox’s genius. Regardless, Monomania sounds like Cox genuinely enjoyed making this album and might not have been as nitpicky as with previous releases.

4. Kurt Vile - Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze

Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze has been my go-to album when doing work and needing familiar music in the background on endless loop to power through an assignment. The eleven tracks drone into one another in the best way possible, creating a dreamy rock album that serves as the perfect accompaniment for buckling down, zoning in, and being productive. Just be careful - “Never Run Away” might get stuck in your head for days.

3. The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Trouble Will Find Me reinforces what is often said about The National - that their music takes time to grow on you. As with the band’s strongest albums High Violet and Boxer, it takes multiple listens toTrouble Will Find Me before the nuances that make it so genius are truly heard. The subtleties of Trouble Will Find Me then lend themselves to tugging at your heartstrings while soothing you with lead singer Matt Berninger’s smooth baritone voice, as most National songs tend to do.

2. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City

Admittedly, upon hearing the singles “Ya Hey” and “Diane Young,” I was apprehensive about whether I’d like this album. To me, Vampire Weekend’s sophomore effort was a let-down, and I was afraid their third studio release, Modern Vampires of the City, was destined to be disappointing to me as well. Modern Vampires quickly grew on me, though, and it was not long before I was listening to it nonstop. Truthfully, this album is what I was hoping Contra would be. It sounds like the natural progression Vampire Weekend should have taken after their first album rather than diluting their talent with effects to lead singer Ezra Koenig’s vocals. Modern Vampires reaffirms the quartet’s strength for writing academic, socially conscious lyrics and embedding them amongst catchy, poppy musical hooks.

1. Beach Fossils - Clash the Truth

I don’t even have to check my charts to know that Clash the Truth is, so far, my most played album of 2013. Even when it wasn’t playing in my car, on my laptop, or through my headphones, Clash the Truth was on constant loop in my head. Falling in love with this album, with its subdued, poignant punk, jumpstarted my irrevocable affinity for Beach Fossils. As more releases debut in the second half of this year, it will be interesting to see whether any other new album will swoop in to dethrone Clash the Truth of its number one spot on my list of 2013 favorites.