Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bunny Gamer's Top Albums of 2013. Part Five: 10-1.

Well, here it is. It took a lot longer than it should have, but finally at long last, here are my top ten albums of 2013! It was a lot of fun and hard work making this list so I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to comment with any thoughts and opinions. Click to read the list below the jump, and see you next year!!

10. CHVRCHES - 'The Bones of What You Believe'
Genre: Indie Synthpop
Country of Origin: Scotland
Yet another record to add to the list of phenomenal debut albums this year, The Bones of What You Believe simply decimates any and all peers it has. CHVRCHES are simply wonderful at their craft, effortlessly creating emotive, synth-led tunes which are as catchy as they are intimate. The trio manages to craft deeply personal, powerful tracks which hit hard for just about anyone around, but they also create such beautifully textured and intricate tracks that it's impossible not to love their music. This is by far my most-listened record from this year, and it simply never gets old. Between the soaring synths, deep mood, exciting melodies, heartbroken lyrics, stuck-in-your-head-for-weeks choruses, and Lauren Mayberry's confident, aching, and pointed vocal delivery, The Bones of What You Believe is simply everything that underground pop music should be. Fun, dark, catchy, intimate, and distinctly human, CHVRCHES have made one of the best albums of the year, and potentially the best album their subgenre has ever had.
Top tracks: Gun; Night Sky
9. Rhye - 'Woman'
Genre: Downtempo Indie R&B
Country of Origin: Canada/Denmark
Michael Milosh's voice is simply too beautiful to be real. This is the central point of all of Rhye's music--the most gorgeous vocals around backed by simply stunning instrumentals courtesy of Robin Hannibal. Both artists have found a fair amount of success on their own, with Milosh releasing his own brand of laid-back solo downtempo music and Hannibal working his way up the ranks as a producer/writer. On their debut album together as Rhye, however, they both instantly top everything they made on their own. Woman is an absolute tour de force, dripping with luscious orchestral strings, piano lines, and subtle horns, backed by simple beats and topped with a truly incomparable voice. Every moment of the album is heart-warming and room-filling, truly some of the most indescribably sublime music around. Woman is one of the best love albums of the year, and hands down the most beautiful record to come out in recent memory. Rhye have made a simple and perfect masterpiece, and the kind of comforting and sensitive album that you never want to end.
Top tracks: Open; The Fall

8. Justin Timberlake - 'The 20/20 Experience'
Genre: Progressive Pop
Country of Origin: USA
Justin Timberlake absolutely destroyed the first quarter of this year with The 20/20 Experience, delivering one of the most exciting and intricate albums to come out of the modern pop world, period. The record is full of eight-minute atmospheric R&B jams, full of excellent production, dark beats, brooding melodies, and above all, Timberlake's jaw-dropping voice. It's simply ridiculous how good Justin sounds throughout The 20/20 Experience, and his songwriting consistently keeps up with his singing in quality, offering ambient-influenced, complex, and near-perfect songs that can barely even be considered pop music. The album is far too long for a pop record but never feels it, jumping from the smooth hooky choruses of 'Suit & Tie' to the simply gorgeous throwback that 'Strawberry Bubblegum' offers, the remarkably dark sample-based 'Tunnel Vision' to the absolutely gorgeous ambient closer 'Blue Ocean Floor.' As a whole, The 20/20 Experience is simply the best album of its genre, and one of the most impressive records of the year, and stands as a testament to what even the most radio-friendly musicians out there are capable of. Justin Timberlake has created an absolute masterpiece, one that will continue to be exciting and moving for years to come.
Top tracks: Strawberry Bubblegum; Tunnel Vision

7. 後藤まりこ - 'm@u'
Mariko Goto - 'm@u'
Genre: Experimental Harsh J-Pop Rock
Country of Origin: Japan
Mariko Goto has calmed down a lot since her days with Usagi and Midori (the band that she's most famous for), but she hasn't lost any of her bizarre tendencies. Although her second solo full-length follows more traditional pop and rock templates than her previous jazzy noisecore works, it still has its fair share of confusing, vicious moments of abstract instrumentation and Goto's blood-curdling shrieks. This is contrasted wonderfully by moody downtempo electronic pieces, catchy guitar lines, and ridiculously catchy, fun choruses. As a whole, m@u is exceptionally difficult to explain, as it really runs the gamut of every style and genre, while simultaneously warping, celebrating, and mocking everything it encounters, from fun rock songs to silly cutesy J-pop to violent free jazz to atmospheric beat music. Mariko Goto has a finely tuned ear for how to deconstruct the most interesting and varied styles of music, and every track is at once fun, funny, frightening, silly, and deeply powerful. m@u is one of the most intensely visceral records out there, full of beauty and horror, and built on some of the most intricate juxtapositions of positivity, violence, and deep sorrow out there. As if she needed to prove anything at this point, Goto has once again shown herself to be one of the most singularly intriguing, strange, and uniquely exciting artists to come out of Japan, and one of the most impressive minds in the modern experimental world.
Top tracks: ラブロマンス; す☆ぴか

6. Foxing - 'The Albatross'
Genre: Twinkle Emo/Vocal Post-Rock/Ambient Post-Hardcore
Country of Origin: USA
Foxing's first full-length is almost exhaustingly sad. It's one of those albums which only makes sense to listen to while standing on top of a tall, lonely hill on the foggiest day of the year and singing along into the air until your throat hurts. Foxing are a band of somewhat whiny singing, pained shouts, noodly guitars, post-rock climaxes, mournful horns, and gorgeous ambience. But the style of music honestly doesn't matter. What's important is that The Albatross is one of the most viscerally destructive forces of the year, filled with understated sorrow and overpowering loneliness. This is a record which reaches deep into what makes us human and reminds us that it's okay to hurt. The Albatross strokes your hair while you cry and reassures you that things will be alright, but for the next year, feeling hollow and broken is allowed. Foxing have made one of the most stunning, sorrowful, and utterly immense works of the year, and they can only get better from here.
Top tracks: Rory; Bit by a Dead Bee Pt. I

5. Laura Stevenson - 'Wheel'
Genre: Indie Folk Rock
Country of Origin: USA
If you've been lagging on the Laura Stevenson hype train, you really need to get on it right now. Sit Resist was phenomenal, and follow-up Wheel is twice as excellent. You may know her as the keyboard player for Bomb The Music Industry!, but her solo work is a wonderful form of folk-based indie rock built on her simply stunning voice. Stevenson has such a phenomenal talent for communicating emotion, her songs brimming with ecstatic glee or filled with devastating sorrow, and her voice matches both feelings so perfectly. Wheel is one of the most emotionally genuine albums out there, and the fact that someone's songwriting can be so deep that she can express such a wide variety of sentiments so pointedly is jaw-dropping. In fact, that's the way I'd describe the whole album. Laura Stevenson is one of the greatest up-and-coming modern songwriters out there, and Wheel is her best album yet, an absolute joy to listen to and an incredible work of power and joyful beauty.
Top tracks: The Move; The Wheel

4. The National - 'Trouble Will Find Me'
Genre: Indie Rock/Sadcore
Country of Origin: USA
The National are one of the most consistent bands around. Ever since Alligator in 2005, the quintet have pumped out record after record of effectively perfect songwriting that felt impossible to top (until their next album came out and inevitably topped it). Now four albums out from their first masterpiece, The National have calmed down a little--Trouble Will Find Me is subtle and quiet, less about intense emotionality (High Violet), tragic nostalgia (Boxer) or maturing angst (Alligator) and fits more into a lonely acceptance. It's the soundtrack to brewing anxiety, a frightening reminder bubbling under the surface that something is deeply wrong in your life and you have no idea how to fix it. The National are masters of defeated discontent, and this hasn't shown anywhere as well as on Trouble Will Find Me. It's a bit more of a grower than past records, but Matt Berninger's sad, rich baritone slowly creeps under your skin and reminds you of all the sad things in your life that you wish you felt strong enough to change. The National are no longer the sound of a mid-life identity crisis and are now the much more subdued and frightening sound of a life made of regrets, a gut-wrenching and menacing work of complex drums, thick bass, beautiful clear guitars and mournful keys. There will probably never be agreement on which album is the band's best, but one thing is for certain: Trouble Will Find Me is yet another masterpiece from a band who can practically do no wrong, and one of the hardest hitting albums of the year.
Top tracks: Pink Rabbits; I Need My Girl

3. Chelsea Wolfe - 'Pain is Beauty'
Genre: Gothic Dark Folk/Doomwave
Country of Origin: USA
Chelsea Wolfe has always been a real master of dark, atmospheric music. From her first album, she's blended gallons of reverb and an eerie mood with her mourning guitar-based folk and rock to create effectively the best goth music of the modern era. On Pain is Beauty, her approach has changed a bit, working in more electronic drums, synths, and general accessibility, and drifting away from her black metal-inspired folk origins. That said, the core of Wolfe's music is still rock solid--beautiful melodies, creeping ambience, and her absolutely haunting voice over the top of it all. Pain is Beauty is Chelsea Wolfe's most intricate album yet, and also her most revealing, exploring love and loss through dense layers of keys and guitars, with lyrics about herself instead of otherworldly demons. There's still her usual share of black-eyeliner-poetry, and the record is still a mass of darkness, but it's also a window into the artist's personal struggles for once, and is all the more lovable and powerful for that. Pain is Beauty is an expansive, deeply terrifying and intense, passionate and sorrowful work of mastery, with some of the most incredible singing and intensely oppressive atmosphere around, and yet another work of wonder from Chelsea Wolfe's young career.
Top tracks: We Hit A Wall; They'll Clap When You're Gone

2. Melt-Banana - 'Fetch'
Genre: Experimental Noise Punk
Country of Origin: Japan
Melt-Banana have always been one of the stranger bands around, full of strange guitars, fast-paced songs, and high-pitched yelping. Six years after their last album, the currently-two-member outfit have released a masterpiece of a comeback, and although it's notably more synthesized (especially noteworthy are the entirely programmed drums) than past efforts, and a bit more emotive and accessible at times, the group hasn't lost an ounce of their spastic charm. Fetch is filled to the brim with convoluted melodies, noisy and bizarre guitar tones, and even the occasional genuinely heartfelt chorus bursting through the assault. Many have taken to disliking frontwoman Yasuko Onuki's unconventional vocals, but her shouts and yips help to give Melt-Banana's music a wonderful and childlike charm not found anywhere else. Little touches like extended samples of frog sounds and loops of guitar noise help remind you why the band are such a big deal in the underground noise punk scene already, but the newfound beauty and power helps push Fetch into an impressively intense, passionate, and memorable place compared to previous efforts by Melt-Banana. Simply put, this is the biggest comeback of the year, in the form of a strange band making a strange album which is somehow also one of the most moving and impressive works of art around. Fetch is an incredible record through and through, and an exciting progression for an incredible band.
Top tracks: My Missing Link; Schemes of the Tails

1. boris - 'präparat'
Genre: Post-Rock/Post-Metal/Atmospheric Doomgaze
Country of Origin: Japan
I don't think there's any band as hard to categorize as boris. Releasing dozens of records since 1992 in styles as diverse as drone doom, post-rock, J-pop, noisecore, stoner metal, and about a zillion others, just about everything they've done has somehow managed to impress. In recent years, they've drifted more and more towards a pop-oriented sound, but präparat showcases an exciting new direction (yet again) for the three-piece. Between Wata's gorgeous guitar leads, Takeshi's thick backing guitar and bass, and Atsuo's minimal-yet-exceptional drumming, boris have made an album of some of the most moody and remarkable post-music out there. Less than half of the songs spread throughout präparat have any singing whatsoever, but when they are present they perfectly complement the heavy shoegaze styles with soft male-female dual vocals. The record skillfully shifts between slow, rainy-day tracks and more intense sludgy numbers, but at its core, this is an album of mood and nothing more, and the style of of song simply shifts to flesh out the atmosphere being formed. Every song has a purpose and every moment is stunning and achingly beautiful, and in the end, präparat is simply an immense work of mastery from one of the most accomplished bands in the world. There's nothing out there like it, and that's okay, because with something this phenomenally majestic, nothing else is needed. With their latest album, boris have made an unbelievably powerful, varied, intriguing and affecting work of art, blowing all of their peers out of the water, and undeniably producing the absolute best record of the year, period.
Top tracks: 哀歌 -elegy-; mirano



  1. music is for nobs

  2. Cannot physically thank you enough for making these each year. You're kickin' fuckin' radical to the max and probably my favourite source for new music. Know that you have at least one fan!

  3. Thanks! Super glad to hear it, it really means a lot to know people dig these lists and get something out of them. Hope there were some great discoveries that came out of this one!

  4. I look forward to your lists every year, thanks again! Keep up the good work!

  5. This list is really impressive man. I know I'll be mining it for ages. Many thanks!

  6. Just wanted to show my appreciation again for your rad music taste. I fin it harder and harder to find decent music but these lists really bring out the gems.