Hi. Kim peeking in here for a quick minute for an end-of-year review of sorts – featuring (some of) my favorite album releases of the year. 2013 was a great year for music, so this is by no means a complete list. There were SO MANY new releases by favorite artists, and new releases that led to some of my favorite songs of the year, though not necessarily favorite albums. But for sake of space and attention spans I’m keeping it short-ish (yeah, right. Like I can do that!) and only focusing on the ones I think every music fan should own, or at least listen to. These are the albums from which I absolutely love all or almost all of the songs contained on them; the ones that have been in constant rotation since I got them.
First off, let’s start with an honorable mention (but ONLY because it’s a greatest hits compilation):
Direct Hits – The Killers
And as a greatest hits compilation, it’s pretty much spot-on, featuring many of their best songs from their four studio albums. I was disappointed that they excluded “Battle Born” because it hadn’t been released as a single, but overall I was very happy. I can always skip to “Battle Born” if I want to hear it, right?
Direct Hits *does* feature two new tracks, both of which have the unmistakable Killers sound. But while they are good songs, neither of them (just my honest, humble opinion here) are quite on par with the other singles featured on the album. My favorite of the two is “Shot at the Night.”
Here are the rest (in no particular order except for the last)….
Hesitation Marks – Nine Inch Nails
Industrial pioneer Trent Reznor has been busy this year, releasing Welcome Oblivion with How to Destroy Angels in addition to NIN’s latest effort. I don’t know how much time was devoted to each project, but Hesitation Marks doesn’t seem to have suffered for it, delivering sounds and songs that will make you want to move. I’m not sure how other fans and critics are responding, but while nothing will ever top Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral for me, this is absolutely my favorite release since the mid-ninties. Don’t get me wrong, I like it all, but I am particularly excited about Hesitation Marks. So far, there have been three singles released: “Came Back Haunted” (which got massive airplay on U.S. radio), “Copy of A” and “Everything.” But my favorite tracks are the very dance-able “Satellite” and “Various Methods of Escape,” which could pretty much sum up my feelings about the past two years perfectly.
A Bad Girl in Harlem – New Politics
I have to admit I am really, truly, woefully late in my appreciation of this band. I should have been fangirling over them for some time now seeing as they’ve been around since 2010, have performed at South by Southwest, and have opened for Panic! At the Disco, Pink, and Fall Out Boy. Well, I may have only found out about them when I learned they would be opening for Thirty Seconds To Mars on their LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS tour, but I’ve fallen hard and fast. Since seeing them with TSTM, I’ve given their album many, MANY listens, and I’m still listening. (I have their previous album now, too, and I just love them both so much!)
Full of track after catchy track, I get shades of 80′s New Wave (think The Outfield), 90′s pop-punk, indie pop (a la MGMT) and the dance/electronica of today. It’s music that will make you shake your booty and smile To sum up their sound, they’d be the PERFECT openers for Weezer….Hey, Weezer, are you reading this? Ahem. Actually, I’m ready to see them headlining their own tours.
The whole album is worth a listen in its entirety, but singles “Harlem” and “Tonight You’re Perfect” are excellent starters. Also worth a listen? “Just Like Me” and my personal favorite, “Fall Into These Arms.”
Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam
Alternative/Grunge legends Pearl Jam may not be as huge today as they once were, but they’ve definitely stood the test of time and continue to deliver amazing music each time they release a record. They’re also a band I can usually only take in small doses, just because many of their songs are so raw and lyrically emotional. I’m more of a sound person, but even the sounds of many of their songs manage to hit deep enough to take my breath away. My favorite on their latest release is the haunting “Sirens.” The music is beautiful, and I just LOVE Eddie Vedder’s voice on this one.
If you need a palate cleanser after that, here’s the much more aggressive “Mind Your Manners”:
LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS – Thirty Seconds To Mars
Oh, come on. You all had to have known this was coming! This album sounds quite different from their last, This Is War and is divided into four segments: love, lust, faith and dreams, of course. I know each person has the ability to take something completely different from a song than the next person, but it was really interesting to see which songs the band chose to put into each category. (For instance, I figured the track “City of Angels” would surely fall under Dreams, but it’s under Lust instead.) For me, all the songs seemed to have at least threads of the ongoing theme of fighting for what you want/believe in, getting back up when you get pushed down, to keep going when you stumble, never giving up on the things that are important to you, and doing whatever you need to do to find yourself. LOVE LUST FAITH + DREAMS would have been a favorite album for me regardless of what kind of year I’d had, simply because I adore the band so much and love hearing the new sounds they incorporate into their music with each album. But I think that what truly made this my favorite album from this year was that it was full of music that made me feel hopeful again.
I know those of you who live in markets where they actually play Thirty Seconds To Mars on the radio have probably heard this song more times than you can count, but I’m posting it here because it never gets old for me, and it’s my favorite song on the album. This is the short film for “City of Angels,” featuring some familiar faces:
What were your favorite albums this year? Let’s discuss!