It's the third year of doing my Most Listened to New Albums lists. There are a metric ton of “Best Album of the Year” lists, but this one is more objective. I listen to what I like, my Last.fm keeps track of the tunes, and at the end of the year I have a no-bullshit, simple chart. These aren't necessarily my favorite albums, and according to you they probably aren't the best, but over the last 12 months I've listened to them the most. 2012 had Purity Ring on top of the list and 2011 went to The Joy Formidable. Here is 2013:
1. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
...Like Clockwork is my most listened to new album of the year for a reason - it's absolutely fantastic. Every song is a departure from their usual, from the Elton John guest starring “Fairweather Friends” to the sludgy “Keep Your Eyes Peeled”. Boneface produced some cryptic, bloody artwork and animations for the album, and the run-up to release day was teased with the short films embedded below.
Queens of the Stone Age are coming to town in February and I could not be more excited.
2. Atoms for Peace - Amok
A short but powerful debut from Thom Yorke's solo-project-turned-travelling-band (now with more Flea) Atoms for Peace. I could listen to the last two tracks “Reverse Running” and “Amok” on repeat all day long, and the latter is a go-to jukebox play.
This album would have made the top of the list if Thom didn't pull it from streaming services in protest. I'm listening to Rdio 90% of the time, and when an album disappears from the service I just don't listen to it as much. The Amok vinyl still gets some spins, but Last.fm hasn't figured out how to scrobble those yet.
3. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
My favorite band put out a stellar album, so of course it'd make the list. It did take a few listens to grow on me. Tracks like “Satellite” start off slow but really take off in the bridge. The song structure took some getting used to, but Hesitation Marks didn't disappoint.
I'm still kicking myself for not getting tickets for their Halloween show, but certain circumstances got in the way.
4. Kavinsky - OutRun
There are tracks on OutRun that I immediately skip, and how many times is this dude going to put out “Nightcall”, but overall it's a well rounded 80's throwback of an album. The neon lights and Testarossa's draw me to Kavinsky as much as his music does.
OutRun was the perfect soundtrack for my drive up the Pacific Coast Highway back in April.
5. Wavves - Afraid of Heights
I just got in to Wavves this year and I'm glad I did. It's led me to other similar bands in the same vein such as FIDLAR, Pissed Jeans, and The Black Angels. I'm okay with this surge of surf rock.
Afraid of Heights got a lot of play on those beach days of the Florida summer. When it's 90 degrees for six months straight, tracks like “Sail To The Sun” fit right in.
6. Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
I'm not 100% sure on how I found Speedy Ortiz, whether it was from a “Best New Music” list or a recommendation from a friend, but I know I gave them a listen mostly because I was stoked on their name. I know this list is supposed to be objective, but Major Arcana turned out to be one of my favorite albums of the year and one I can't stop talking about. It's the grunge-y, Breeders influenced, guitar-driven music that is right up my alley, and if I had to pick a favorite single track for the year, “No Below” would be it. I just wish the video was as great as the song.
7. Lusine - The Waiting Room
Lusine is another band that snuck up on my radar. However I heard about this, The Waiting Room is a fantastic electronic album that works great as both a driving soundtrack and a working all day at home soundtrack. Whoever send this album my way, thanks.
8. Moderat - II
Modeselektor + Apparat = Moderat. Both bring their own minimal takes on electronic music to II and create some absolutely wonderful music. This albums should be much, much higher on the list, but I did not give it a serious listen until late in the year.
If you're interested in their individual works, give Apparat's The Devil's Walk and Modeselektor's Monkeytown a spin.
9. The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
Released all the way back in January, Wolf's Law had a lot of time to grow on me. While not as hard hitting as 2011's The Big Roar, it is still a very commendable sophomore album. It also doesn't hurt that they put on a very loud and fun show.
10. Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman
Does this count as a 2013 album? Coheed and Cambria released The Afterman: Ascension in 2012 and then released The Afterman: Decension in February. Just The Afterman joins together a double-album which for some reason had each disc released separately.
I'm not sure it's a 2013 album, I have no idea what far fetched comic book story Claudio is trying to tell, and to be honest I thought the title was “The Aftermath” until I started putting together this list, but I do know that The Afterman is an album I can listen to for days on end and not get sick of. It won't win Coheed any new fans and it won't go down as their best, but it's more of the same songwriting I love and there is nothing wrong with that.