M&T Best Albums of 2013

Here it is, our final “Best of” list for 2013. We’ve compiled our 30 favorite albums from the year and you can check out the full list below and take a listen to each album via Spotify. We’ve also done some dirty work for you and put together a track from each record into one Spotify playlist which you can explore using the button below. We hope you enjoy the list, here’s to 2014!

Full Spotify Playlist

30. Arctic Monkeys- AM

Their sound has evolved from their early 2000s punk influenced days, but I bet they still think you look good on the dancefloor.

Essential Tracks: “Arabella”, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High”


29. Foals- Holy Fire

Another English rock band who should be much more popular here in the States.

Essential Tracks: “Inhaler”, “Out of the Woods”, “My Number”


28. Futurebirds- Baba Yaga

Futurebird’s second studio album, Baba Yaga, keeps the group on track with their bro bluegrass sound coming through. Tracks like “Tan Lines” and “Dig” show the dynamic ability of the group to go from mellow slide guitar to loud and aggressive guitar solos, a nice addition for their live set repertoire.

Essential Tracks: “Tan Lines”, “Virginia Slims”, “Dig”


27. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

The robots made their triumphant return with a record full of radio hits, special guests, and one massive single that produced countless YouTube covers.

Essential Tracks: “Giorgio by Moroder”, “Doin’ It Right”, “Get Lucky”


26. Kingsley Flood- Battles

With Battles these local heroes burst onto the national stage and rightly so.

Essential Tracks: “Don’t Change My Mind”, “Sun Gonna Lemme Shine”, “Sigh a While”


25. San Fermin- San Fermin

A chamber-pop concept album about 20-something struggles featuring a Matt Berninger sound-alike and the girls from Lucius? San Fermin’s debut sounded too good (and too weird) to be true – it wasn’t.

Essential Tracks: “Renaissance!”, “Sonsick”, “At Night, True Love”


24. Hey Marseilles- Lines We Trace

Another spectacular album and Hey Marseilles is finally starting to get the respect they deserve.

Essential Tracks: “Heart Beats”, “Dead of the Night”, “Bright Stars Burning”


23. White Denim- Corsicana Lemonade

This Jeff Tweedy produced effort is tight, and hard-hitting yet still has the jam influences that made 2011’s D a breakthrough album.

Essential Tracks: “At Night in Dreams”, “Pretty Green”


22. Mikal Cronin- MCII

The former Ty Segall bandmate impressed with his sophomore solo effort.

Essential Tracks: “Shout it Out”, “Weight”


21. Grouplove- Spreading Rumours

A surprisingly complete follow-up to the 2011 breakthrough record Never Trust A Happy Song.

Essential Tracks: “Ways To Go”, “I’m With You”, “Schoolboy”


20. Miniboone- Miniboone

It really is a crime that this record has not shown up on more year-end lists.

Essential Tracks: “I Could, I Could”, “Gimme Gimme Gimme”, “Magic Eye”


19. Haim- Days Are Gone

These three sisters were the breakout band from 2013.

Essential Tracks: “The Wire”, “Forever”, “Don’t Save Me”, “My Song 5”


18. Volcano- Repave

Have you ever heard of a bad Justin Vernon record?

Essential Tracks: “Byegone”, “Acetate”


17. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend have become veritable philosophers of the Facebook age with Modern Vampires of the City, an album that is exceptional on the surface, and even better when you dig into its contemplative and complex lyrics.

Essential Tracks: “Step”, “Diane Young”, “Hannah Hunt”


16. Typhoon- White Lighter

Although lead singer Kyle Morton’s lyrics can tend to be a bit dark, this record still exudes a triumphant vibe.

Essential Tracks: “Young Fathers”, “Dreams of Cannibalism”, “Common Sentiments”


15. Phosphorescent- Muchacho

Matthew Houck has been making music for years, but he definitely made a name for himself, and Phosphorescent, in 2014.

Essential Tracks: “Song for Zula”, “Ride On/Right On”, “A Charm/A Blade”


14. Jonathan Wilson- Fanfare

Jonathan Wilson’s second album, Fanfare delivers and cements Wilson’s place as an artist to watch over the next couple of years. Tracks like “Dear Friend”, “Fazon” and “Moses Pain” are leaders on an album full of winners, with sounds of bluegrass, rock, soul and jazz. There is something for everyone on this album.

Essential Tracks: “Fazon”, “Fanfare”, “Dear Friend”, “Love to Love”


13. Leagues- You Belong Here

You don’t really associate pop music with Nashville, but every song on You Belong Here could be a radio hit.

Essential Tracks: “Spotlight”, “Walking Backwards”, “Magic”


12. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down- We the Common

We had this one on repeat for a solid month in early 2013, and it’s still sounding fresh.

Essential Tracks: “We the Common”, “Holy Roller”


11. The Lone Bellow- The Lone Bellow

The self-titled debut album from The Lone Bellow climbed to No. 64 on the Billboard 200 for a reason; it’s simple, pure and powerful. Tracks off this album will surely be showing up at weddings in the years to come.

Essential Tracks: “Green Eyes And A Heart of Gold”, “Tree to Grow”


10. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Many were critical of the promotional campaign launched ahead of the release of Reflektor, but when all was said and done this is a damn good album. It’s a bit more of a grower than The Suburbs and although it stretches across 13 tracks and two discs, there are hardly any moments of self-indulgence. Reflektor may not be the best record of 2013, but is arguably the most important album to come out this past year. It also includes some of the band’s best songs over their 10 year career like “Afterlife” and “Reflektor”

Essential Tracks: “Here Comes the Nightime”, “Afterlife”, “Reflektor”


9. Jim James- Regions of Light and Sound of God

Inspired by a 1920s graphic novel, Jim James’ solo debut has the My Morning Jacket frontman experimenting with many new sounds that you won’t hear in any of his other projects. James played nearly every instrument on the album’s nine tracks, even showing off his impressive saxophone playing skills on a few songs. Though it clocks in at just over a half hour in length there’s plenty to get excited about, even the instrumental “Exploding” is catchy and addicting.

Essential Tracks: “A New Life”, “State of the Art”


8. Little Green Cars- Absolute Zero

Little Green Cars exploded onto the scene in 2013 following the release of the single “The John Wayne,” and once Absolute Zero arrived, it seemed that each track was just as good as the last. Though the average age of the band is just around 20, the songwriting on Absolute Zero is much more mature than one might expect. Vocal duties are shared by Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke, creating plenty of opportunity for dynamic harmonies and storytelling. Try not to get hooked on this album, we dare you.

Essential Tracks: “Harper Lee”, “The John Wayne”, “Big Red Dragon”


7. Little Comets- Life Is Elsewhere

Released in their native UK in late 2012, Little Comets’ sophomore release didn’t hit stores in the US until this summer. To say this record flew under the radar would be quite the understatement. Each song is equally addicting and once you’ve listened through all 14 tracks it’s hard not to stop back at the top over and over again. With the band doing minimal US touring in 2013, we hope that they’ll be back soon with a Boston date so we can hear these incredible songs come to life.

Essential Tracks: “Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night”, “Violence Out Tonight”, “Bridge Burn”, “Bayonne”


6. The Head And The Heart- Let’s Be Still

The Head And The Heart could have gone in a few different directions following their 2011 self-titled breakthrough album. They could have rested on their laurels, made a very similar record, and most likely still achieved mainstream success, but instead they took another route. Let’s Be Still is a beautiful evolution of the band’s sound and builds from their self-titled debut, which was a folk record through and through. The progression of their style from 2011 to now gets us very, very excited to hear what this band will do next since they’ve showed with Let’s Be Still that the sky really is the limit.

Essential Tracks: “Summertime”, “Shake”, “10,000 Weight In Gold”, “Let’s Be Still”


5. Houndmouth- From The Hills Below The City

We sang the praises of Houndmouth throughout 2012 and their full-length debut did not disappoint. From The Hills Below The City included three of the four tracks from the band’s self-titled EP and picked up exactly where those four tracks left off. We predicted that Houndmouth would become the next Lumineers and with this album they are certainly taking a step in the right direction towards superstardom.

Essential Tracks: “Come On, Illinois”, “Casino (Bad Things)”, “Halfway to Hardinsburg”


4. Diarrhea Planet- I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

A full-on four-guitar assault on your ears, and hands-down the best punk rock album that came out in 2013. Don’t let the name fool you, these guys are supremely talented and have made one of the best records of the last year. If you’ve had the pleasure of catching this band live, it’s easy to see how much fun these guys have playing music and that’s the way it should be. Their energy is infectious as are the songs on this record, so take a listen and you’ll understand why they’re having so much fun.

Essential Tracks: “Kids”, “Separations”, “Babyhead”, “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”


3. Frightened Rabbit- Pedestrian Verse

Over the past year these Scotsmen have quickly catapulted themselves into my pantheon of favorite bands, much to the credit of 2013’s Pedestrian Verse. The band’s fourth full-length album gained them plenty of critical acclaim and rightly so. They’ve already been mentioned on this site for having one of the best songs and putting on one of the best shows we’ve seen in 2013 and Pedestrian Verse is no different. Beyond “The Woodpile” there are plenty more remarkable songs like “Late March, Death March”, “The Oil Slick”, and “Acts of Man”, the latter of which was translated onto the stage as an epic pre-encore set closer during live shows. It’s safe to say that Frightened Rabbit will be producing quality records for years to come and you can bet the Christmas money you got from grandma that we’ll be at every one of their Boston shows.

Essential Tracks: “Acts of Man”, “The Woodpile”, “The Oil Slick”


2. Lucius- Wildewoman

Lucius is often explained in a simple phrase: “two girls, one voice,” but this talented ensemble is far more than that quick reduction. The band’s two leads, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, sing, dress, and even cut their hair in unison. But a compelling aesthetic does not a top album of the year make. What makes Lucius one of this year’s best is an album comprised of eleven smart and polished pop songs. This album will captivate you from the first clip-clops of the empowering “Wildewoman,” and it won’t let up until the last rollicking love proclamations of “How Loud Your Heart Gets.” Wildewoman is inspired by their 60’s girl-group predecessors, but it’s still modern and new. It’s cohesive and refined, but never takes itself seriously. Wildewoman is pop music you can believe in.

Essential Tracks: “Tempest”, “Until We Get There”, “How Loud Your Heart Gets”, “Hey, Doreen”


1. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper- Ripely Pine

We said it when highlighting “Bird Balloons” in our favorite tracks from 2013, but it bears repeating– Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s full-length debut is full of raw passion and energy that you can feel. Every song on Ripely Pine is an adventure, with many of the tracks eclipsing the 5 minute mark, yet never feeling dragged out. The album’s opening song, “Hair to the Ferris Wheel”, is a microcosm of the record itself, with a slow-building intro, a quick change in pace, and a raw, emotional climax. The best part about this record is that from there it only gets better. Similar to Tango In The Attic’s Sellotape (M&T’s choice for the best album of 2012), with each listen to Ripely Pine we hear something new that didn’t come through on the last listen. The layers of horns and strings supporting Aly Spaltro’s voice provide the perfect backdrop to get lost in this album, and we mean that in the best way possible. There’s plenty to love about this record and we hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as we do because it truly is a musical triumph.

Essential Tracks: “Bird Balloons”, “You Are the Apple”, “Crane Your Neck”


Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013

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