Words: Jordan Catalana, Kathryn Freund, Devin Kelly, Bryant Kitching, James Passarelli, Danny Walsh, & Ryan Waring
The year 2013 in music saw the dawn of freak-wave, the continued rise of Beyonce, and, by my blind estimation, another Daughtry album. None of this will be covered in what follows. Our New Year’s resolution is to get our 2014 list through the fiber-optics before the ball drops…but we have all year to do that. Besides, we’ve always said that hindsight is 20-20 (the ultimate rationalization of procrastination),so another couple days can only improve the list, right? Right. In the meantime, let’s look back on the best of what reached the Ferret’s feeble, air-filled ears last annum.
25. Darkside – Psychic
Ambient-dance wunderkid Nicolas Jaar teamed up with guitarist Daniel Harrington to create one of the funkiest, spaced-out records of the year. It’s hard not to bob your head or tap your toes to the young artists’ interplay of digital and analog sounds beamed in from another planet. The project’s name is no mistake either; Pink Floyd’s guitar riffs are present throughout, most notably in the all-out jam session “The Only Shrine I’ve Seen.” With the convergence of dance, dub, pop, and hip-hop taking over the top 40 airways, it’s refreshing to hear an homage to Darkside reinterpreted for 2013. - DW
24. Drake – Nothing Was the Same
This year, the hottest name in hip-hop would rather read you his diary than his bank statement. Drake’s stellar third LP is a meditation on the pitfalls of success and the Toronto MC’s ever-lingering insecurities. He’s by no means the first rapper to wear his heart on his sleeve, but he is the first one to craft an entire persona around this idea. “I want your hot love and emotion, endlessly,” he sings on bottom-lip-biting masterpiece “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” He’s not looking for a quick hook up or a one-night-stand – Drake is in it for the long haul. Like some of the best music, we can see ourselves in many of Drake’s songs. It’s a feat not often achieved by rap albums (I’m looking at you, Yeezus), making Nothing Was The Same an exhilarating change of pace for the genre. - BK
23. Yuppies – Yuppies
I’m not convinced that all good things must come to an end, but if it is true, at least give us some time to savor them. Sadly, nonchalant garage screed-punk power quartet Yuppies’ debut record release circuit was also their farewell tour. But posterity will revel in the eleven-track story of bandom they left behind. Cracking guitar riffs on “What’s That,” “Easy Nights,” and “Hitchin’ a Ride” stick with you for days, while the priceless exchange between co-sing-speakers Noah Sterba and Boogs Begley supplies the batshit personality of a dumpster diver hooked on the wrong stuff. Get past those ornaments and you’re left with Yuppies‘ real adhesive: drummer Kevin Donahue. Caution: this album is not to be taken lightly, or with excessive stimulents. - JP
22. Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
“Why did you run from everyone who only tried to love you, Rosie?” So questions Laura Marling on “Little Bird,” turning her homespun darling folk music into a darker, more serious world. Once I Was an Eagle plays like a short story, navigating turns and coming full circle in the end. Through it all, you forget that Marling is just twenty-three, because over this sparse array of gorgeous instruments (guitar, organ, cello, keys and drums), she sounds older, wiser, sadder, and more mature than ever.
Marling runs the gauntlet of emotions; she is angry then hurt, stricken then uplifted. Listen to Once I Was an Eagle and feel the full weight of love and love lost. Marling is going through her assortment of belongings, realizing what they remind her of, and trying to decide whether to throw them away or keep them tucked somewhere only she knows. A suggestion to those who turn to Thought Catalog for relationship advice? Listen to Once I Was an Eagle. I think it might do us all some good. - DK
21. Danny Brown – Old
Danny Brown’s follow up to his 2011 breakthrough album XXX isn’t all just pussy money weed. This time around, the matured Detroit native lends the tales of his youth some backstory – #realtalk now. For example: on “Wonderbread,” he rattles off a quick story about encountering a leering drug dealer, a gun battle, and a strung-out prostitute, all while walking to the store to buy bread with his mother’s food stamps. “Lonely” is a laundry list of skeletons from his youth where he reflects on how the times have changed. Then “Dope Fiend Rental” sums things up in a few lines when Danny reminisces, “Went from holdin’ crack in my ass crack / To racks on racks on ASCAP.” Yeah, I think you get the idea. Danny’s “grown up.” - KF
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