Best of 2013
December 22, 2013
VanRamblings' two favourite times of year occur from mid-July through the end of August, a six-week celebration revolving around the anniversary of our coming to this Earth (at least in this incarnation, in this time and place and history of life on our planet), and the period beginning in mid-
November through until December 31st. We have long been a romantic about most aspects of life, and love the idea of simply taking a bit of time off from the hurly burly of our everyday, and often too busy, life to reflect on the conditions of our existence, a deep and abiding reflection, a process in which we seek to provide meaning, context and, perhaps, resolution.
Within that contextual framework is contained our love for the arts — dance (we love the ballet), music (mostly of the pop culture variety, although we love progressive country), film, anything tech-related, literature, television, and the art of politics, which is to say, the political maelstrom that is public engagement early in this new millennium.
In this first of five columns on the Best of 2013, we'll survey a cross-section of critical opinion on the best music of the year, much of which art you may have been utterly unaware of prior to the writing that'll appear below. As a means by which to introduce new music into your life, there is no more salutary event than that which occurs at year's end, as you (and I) become aware of the music of our age, through a survey of informed critical opinion — always a life-enhancing event offering steadfast insight, in the most propitious, enlightening and expedient manner possible. Yippee!
There was a time, in recent years, when we turned to Salon (in its heyday, in the late 90s through 2005), Rolling Stone, the now defunct and the much-missed Blender magazine, but since 2009, Popmatters has been the go-to place for insight into the Best Music of the Year. Yes, we know there's NME and Paste (now available online only), Q, Pitchfork, Mojo and more, but we'll stick with Popmatters, at year's end, for our annual hit of unexpected and oh-so salutary musical insight.
Here's Popmatters 'best of music' home page, detailing the 75 Best Albums of the Year, Best Canadian, Country, Metal, Indie-Pop, and more ...
Making Popmatters' 75 Best Albums of 2013 list, at 72. The Boards of Canada; at 63. the ever-present Lorde; at 47. David Bowie's The Next Day; 42. Julia Holter (a favourite of our friend, J.B. Shayne); 38. Rhye, to whom we introduced you earlier in the year; 27. Queens of the Stone Age; 24. Our very own Tegan and Sara; at 9 and 8, the breakout bands of the year, Haim and CHVRCHES, and at number one ... well, who else would you expect? But you'll have to read through to be sure you guessed right.
One of our favourite discoveries is a duo out of England, with whom our son Nathan has long been familiar, but is new to us this year: 4. Disclosure, who represent the very best danceable British garage house music of 2013.
Now, make no mistake, there's more, a great deal more ...
- The Best New / Emerging Artists of 2013
- The Best Indie Rock of 2013
- The Best Electronic Music of 2013
And, of course, much, much more.
In the The Best Country Music of 2013 category, we discovered a couple of artists with whom we were not previously familiar, Brandy Clark, and our favourite roots, working class, progressive country find of the year, Kacey Musgraves, who's making a whole tonne of Best Of lists in 2013.
We leave you, dear and constant reader, with a survey list of the Best Music of 2013, critical reception from some of our favourite publications ...
- Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums of 2013
- Entertainment Weekly's Best Country Albums of 2013, not to mention their surprisingly diverse and inclusive 10 Best Albums of '13
- Jody Rosen, Vulture's new music critic, 10 Best Pop Albums of 2013
- Q's 50 Albums Of 2013... revealed
- Daily Beast's 13 Best Albums of 2013
- Mojo's Top 50 Albums of 2013 Unveiled
- Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2013
- Stereogum's 'The 50 Best Albums of 2013'
- NME's 50 Best Albums of 2013
- NPR's Ann Powers' decidedly distaff Top 10 Albums And Songs Of 2013
- Slate's Chris Molanphy weighs in with The Music Club, 2013
- And last but not least, one of our favourite music critics, Sasha Frere-Jones, writing in The New Yorker in a Google doc format identifies his Top 50 Albums of 2013.
Lots to listen to, lots to grok. Good luck. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!