The International Year of Quinoa (oof) was also the year that gay marriage became legal nationwide, and the year that Edward Snowden blew the whistle on secret surveillance programs. Also, Greta Thurnberg and Quvenzhané Wallis turned ten!
Cult of Luna – Vertikal
I owe some of my best writing to Cult of Luna. Vertikal‘s cinematic scope swept me off my feet from the very first chord and galvanized me into a year of deep introspection on fate, sacrifice, and the existential need to know.
Chvrches — The Bones of What You Believe
Happy music with sad lyrics is overrated (come at me), but Chvrches can get me crying at the club pretty dang quick. This is their strongest album in my eyes; it’s full of juicy bass and saw-tooth synths, and it’ll get stuck in your head until you just have to pick it back up.
Lorde – Pure Heroine
Lorde is, I think, the reason I like pop music at all. She’s so young on Pure Heroine, but she’s already sick to death of a pop culture that glorifies stupidity and shallowness, and her attitude, along with this album’s brilliantly sparse production, won me over where so many others failed. The current crop of young people making popular music and I both owe her for expanding our horizons and showing us that there’s more than one way to wear the crown.
Lumbar – The First And Last Days of Unwelcome
Catharsis is the process that the black and baleful engine of this album executes; chronic illness is that engine’s fuel. It’s a harrowing record of genuine pain. It is not a good time, but the process of this machine is bleakly beautiful to undertake.
Mutoid Man – Helium Head
There were a lot of really dark albums released in 2013; this is the antidote to all that doom and gloom. Mutoid Man are like a herd of caffeinated elephants moshing in a barcade. There’s some crazy technique going on on Helium Head, but I get the sense that Mutoid Man are entirely unconcerned with showing off—they’re doing this because it’s FUN.
Windhand – Soma
It’s hard for me to imagine the contemporary metal landscape without Windhand; it’s even crazier to me that this, their breakout second album, only came out six years ago. I love Dorthia Cottrell’s shrouded, androgynous wail on Soma just as I love her clearer, smoother croon on their subsequent records.