2013 was a great year for music. Though, as long as great new music, and there is a lot of it, keeps on coming out; every year is going to be great. I find more recently that I have a very different style of consuming music than most people I am friends or acquaintances with. I am very much an album listener; whereas the people I interact with seem to be a single song listener. They know the hits and what they like from that artist or a particular album, but are not as familiar with the work as a whole. I enjoy listening to an artists’ whole album. I like to think that each song is an artistic stroke of the brush, that when added with the rest of the songs, completes the masterpiece painting. Not saying that there is a right or a wrong, as long as people are listening to music that they enjoy, it’s all good.
I thought about doing a top ten list for my favorite albums of the year, but realized I wouldn’t be able to whittle my list down to ten (how do the professionals do it?). At one time or another every new album I listened to this year was my favorite. However, there was one album in particular that stood out and I enjoyed just a little bit more, Arctic Monkeys AM.
Before this album came out, I knew a little about Arctic Monkeys, listening to their albums here and there. I knew that I really liked how rocking they were and that I thoroughly enjoyed “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”. Not really sure why I didn’t dive in head first when I first heard them.
Upon hearing the opening riff and groove of “Do I Wanna Know?” on WEQX, I was hooked. I have heard the song so many times and yet I am still not sick of it. The sound and songwriting on AM is what caught my attention when first listening through the album. It has evolved into a more straightforward, structured songwriting.
The move to Los Angeles for the recording of AM oozes from all of these songs; the sound of nighttime debauchery and loneliness in the city of angels seeps into every nook and cranny of this album. The groove on “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” harkens back to early 90’s west coast rap. I can hear Snoop Dogg, er Lion, singing right along with lead singer Alex Turner.
One of the things that always interest me with bands is seeing the direction they go in once they have released a couple of albums. Do they stick with what made them famous and release album after album of mostly recycled sounds or do they forge into new territory, pushing themselves and their craft into a different realm. That is what I believe separates the great from the good. After AM I believe the Arctic Monkeys are taking themselves to a different level.
Other albums from 2013 that have tickled my eardrum:
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor
- Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
- Atoms for Peace – Amok
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
- Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
- Dr. Dog – B-Room
- Fitz and the Tantrums – More Than Just a Dream
- Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions
- Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
- Hanni El-Khatib – Head in the Dirt
- Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
- Johnny Marr – The Messenger
- Kanye West – Yeezus
- Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
- Man Man – On Oni Pond
- Mikal Cronin – MCII
- Minor Alps – Get There
- Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
- Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt
- Phoenix – Bankrupt!
- Pond – Hobo Rocket
- Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
- Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
- Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana
- Telekinesis – Dormarion
- The Black Angels – Indigo Angel
- The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
- Vista Chino – Peace
- Washed Out – Paracosm
- White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade
- Wild Belle – Isles
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
- Yuck – Glow and Behold