Dido, Lorde, VV Brown and Ellie Goulding to Justin Timberlake, Moby, Shane Filan and John Newman. Or perhaps it’s bands like Texas, Tonight Alive, Lady Antebellum or Fall Out Boy that have ticked your boxes this year?
2013 has certainly been a fantastic year for music. It has seen bands wake from a lengthy hiatus, outfits parting ways to produce superstar solo artists and icons continuing to dominate the international charts. This has made it a busy year for Renowned For Sound with ample music releases to sink our teeth into.
With the year swiftly drawing to a close, we look back on some of the releases that found their way out of the artist and into our hands with a list of what we think have been the best albums released in 2013 so far (alphabetically)…
Artist: A Day to Remember Album: Common Courtesy
Common Courtesy is an excellent release which is why it deserves to be recognized as one of the best albums of 2013. It is one of the most mature releases by the band to date as the lyrics of the songs can really connect with the audience as well as the catchy pop-punk choruses and the heavy breakdowns.
Top 3 tracks: I Remember, Right Back At It Again, Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘A Day To Remember – Common Courtesy’ from Amazon
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘A Day To Remember – Common Courtesy’ from Amazon
Artist: AlunaGeorge Album: Body Music
Many a current band or artist makes it no hidden fact that they take almost direct influence from the musical sound of decades previous, however few manage to successfully subvert it into something that sounds entirely relevant to the present day. There is something about AlunaGeorge – comprised of, you guessed it, Aluna and George – and the music they create that feels comfortingly familiar, yet also succeeds in breaking the mold. Songs such as You Know You Like It and Just A Touch are buzzing pop bangers, however it is when they push the boat out on Your Drums, Your Love that they shine in their unconventionality. Listen to this album, and you’ll have an immediate pop favourite!
Top 3 tracks: You Know You Like It, Just A Touch, Your Drums,Your Love
Artist: Alison Moyet Album: the minutes
There are a number of voices over the course of music history that are so distinctive that you know instantly who they belong to as soon as you hear the first note. Eighties pop icon Alison Moyet, or ‘Alf’ as she is also known, is the owner of one of them. When Alison released the minutes earlier in the year we were offered one of the best studio releases that the singer has delivered since her eighties heyday. When I Was Your Girl was the first single taken from the record and this track alone was a sign that the icon, with those husky, bass heavy tones, was back!
Top 3 tracks: When I Was Your Girl, Changeling, Right As Rain
Artist: Amos Lee Album: Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song
This album is a sheer joy to listen to. Amos manages to bring a mix of old and new sounding songs to the table with a folksy, bluesy twist, and pulls it off so well it puts other artists that have tried to do this to shame. In the last few years Amos has become so skilled at his craft, probably helped by hanging around, supporting, and learning from greats such as Bob Dylan. An artist bound for big things, have a listen and enjoy.
Top 3 tracks: Stranger, Chill In The Air, High Water
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Amos Lee – Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Amos Lee – Mountains Of Sorrow, Rivers Of Song’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Arcade Fire Album: Reflektor
If you haven’t at least heard the title of this album mentioned before there’s a good chance you’re living under a fairly sturdy rock. Reflektor, Arcade Fire’s fourth album, catapulted the band to heights that rock groups haven’t seen in ages. Arcade Fire already proved their talent with each of their three previous albums, but Reflektor saw the Canadian band abandon everything they knew in an attempt to try something new. This attempt has proven to pay off in remarkable ways with the album skyrocketing to the top of the charts around the world. Say what you will about this “hip” group of Montreal musicians, but the music found on Reflektor is intrinsically powerful. Thanks to Reflektor, Arcade Fire is now a household name and rightfully so.
Top 3 tracks: Here Comes the Night Time, Normal Person, Afterlife
Artist: Arctic Monkeys Album: AM
It wouldn’t be too bold to say that this quaint group of English musicians has successfully put England back on the music map in the 21st century. When pop music held the world firmly in its grasp, Arctic Monkeys strutted out and melted our collective face with their feverish rhythms and poignant lyrics. With each of the Monkey’s records, a formula has been struck and complied with. However, with their latest effort, AM, it’s fair to say that the band has completely come into their own unique style of rock n’ roll. AM is a solid album of moods, bass lines, guitar solos, and catchy lyrics that no one other than these four Sheffield natives could conjure up. AM is captivating and fresh but never loses any of the charm we’ve come to know and love. There’s an undeniable swagger found in AM and if this album is any indication, Arctic Monkeys are only going to continue to soar high above their contemporaries in the coming years.
Top 3 tracks: R U Mine, I Wanna Be Yours, Arabella
Artist: Babyshambles Album: Sequel to the Prequel
Babyshambles have had a tumultuous history throughout the course of their relatively brief career, largely due to the exploits of front man Pete Doherty. Doherty has found himself gracing the headlines for years now due to his rambunctious and reckless behaviors, which has ultimately forced his music to the back burner. Fortunately, Doherty has harnessed his inner demons and used them to write one of this year’s best rock albums. Sequel to the Prequel is diverse in its musical forms and stunningly raw in its lyrics. Sequel to the Prequel is an album you’ll have no trouble listening to from start to finish as each track harnesses an energy that no other group could come close to unleashing. Forget what you’ve heard about Doherty and his band mates; there’s a clear talent to be heard here and that talent should be recognized.
Top 3 tracks: Fall From Grace, Picture Me in a Hospital, Minefield
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Babyshambles – Sequel to the Prequel’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Babyshambles – Sequel to the Prequel’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Boyzone Album: BZ20
BZ20 is Boyzone’s first album since 2010’s Brother and is a collection marking the boybands 20 successful years making pop music, capturing a matured act that has withstood the harsh pop terrain for an impressive 2 decades. The tracks featured on the new album are feel good, positive and powerful songs and the record sees the boys enjoy themselves again. Even after all these years they are able to produce and make good music and still sound like they did when they first started out.
Top 3 tracks: Love Will Save The Day, Best Night Of Our Lives, Light Up The Night
Artist: Brendan Benson Album: You Were Right
If Brendan Benson could be blamed for anything, it wouldn’t be for idleness as the alt folk singer songwriter and Raconteur returned in November to release You Were Right, a mere year and a half after 2012’s What Kind Of World. Its seems hard work pays off as You Were Right proved to be an album packed to the brim with the man’s signature catchy songwriting ranging from the power pop of Rejuvenate Me to the blues piano of Swallow You Whole. Benson’s former years were revisited in spirit with tracks like As Of Tonight and Long Term Goal harking back to the singer’s hook-laden pop classic album Lapalco. More than just Jack White’s sidekick, You Were Right cements Benson’s place as a heck of a musician in his own right.
Top 3 tracks: Long Term Goal, I’ll Never Tell, She’s Trying To Poison Me
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Brendan Benson – You Were Right’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Brendan Benson – You Were Right’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Celine Dion Album: Loved Me Back To Life
Celine Dion is a top-selling artist and has a made strong comeback with her latest album, Loved Me Back To Life. It’s safe to say that she has put in a lot of effort and hard work releasing this album and has successfully transitioned from her adult contemporary-pop roots to a musician that is trying to breakthrough into the Pop/RnB scene too. The album itself has a mixture of Pop/RnB elements as well as showcasing her amazing vocals in her sentimental, love ballads. Loved Me Back To Life is honestly one of her best albums to date and a sure favourite by any old or new fan of the lovely musician.
Top 3 tracks: Loved Me Back To Life, Incredible, Somebody Loves Somebody
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Celine Dion – Loved Me Back To Life’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Celine Dion – Loved Me Back To Life’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Charli XCX Album: True Romance
Until we received synth-pop hit-maker Charli XCX’s debut album True Romance to review, we were fairly unaware of her work in music. Thankfully True Romance was very fast at catching our attention and we very quickly became dedicated fans of the Brit who has thrown out numerous edgy, synth-pop nuggets from this album including You (Ha Ha Ha) and Nuclear Seasons but don’t just stop at the single cuts because the real beauties lay within the record as unreleased pennings.
Top 3 tracks: Lock You Up, You (Ha Ha Ha), Grins
Artist: Daft Punk Album: Random Access Memories
Robotic duo Daft Punk took to a trip back in time to release Random Access Memories, an album of 70’s influenced electronic tunes with collaborations a plenty. Popular artists Pharrell Williams, Julian Casablancas and Panda Bear all lent their musical talents as well as the likes of renowned Disco legends Giorgo Moroder and Nile Rodgers. The results came in the form of tasty tunes like Give Life Back To Music, Instant Crush and Lose Yourself To Dance as well as, arguably the song of the year, Get Lucky. Always at the forefront of technology, this time the robots gave us a time machine.
Top 3 tracks: Giorgo By Moroder, Instant Crush, Lose Yourself To Dance
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Daft Punk – Random Access Memories’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Daft Punk – Random Access Memories’ from Amazon
Artist: David Bowie Album: The Next Day
The songs on The Next Day sound familiar. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) recalls a bit of Diamond Dogs and How Does The Grass Grow? would sound right at home on Low. Yet because Bowie and fellow long-time producer Tony Visconti manage to update Bowie without rehashing ‘classic Bowie’ between Aladdin Sane to Scary Monsters, the songs sound fresh. They have a spark. The Next Day also proved that Bowie never lost his ability to write subtle yet thought-provoking songs. Valentine’s Day is particularly poignant in light of the recent American gun massacres; check out its video! Bowie is back.
Top 3 tracks: The Stars (Are Out Tonight), Valentine’s Day, How Does The Grass Grow?
Artist: Dido Album: Girl Who Got Away
Dido releases albums only every couple of years so the wait to receive something new from her is always a lengthy one however, when we are delivered some fresh material it always makes the wait of usually 4 years between releases seem unnoticed. While her last album, 2008’s Safe Trip Home was a little heavy on the sombre side of things, Girl Who Got Away is quite the opposite, returning Dido to the peak of her song-writing craft and offering us one of the best records of her career and of 2013.
Top 3 tracks: End of Night, Love To Blame, Loveless Hearts
Artist: Ellie Goulding Album: Halycon Days
Halycon Days is an album to be reckoned with. A remastering of Goulding’s 2012 album Halycon, its 28 track list flows easily over a range of genres and features some old and new songs. Highlights include Hearts Without Chains, a ballad about healing and How Long Will I Love You a sweet love song featured in the rom-com About Time. Another great track is Goulding’s collaboration with French house producer Madeon for Stay Awake, a dance track in the same vein as Burn. From angelic ballads to throbbing drum & bass tracks, Halycon Days is a showcase in variety.
Top 3 tracks: How Long Will I Love You, Hearts without Chains, Stay Awake
Artist: Eminem Album: Marshall Mathers LP 2
Eminem is 41 years old, why the hell is he releasing his eighth album?! Because as good as these modern day rappers think they are, they are never going to be able to reach the ability, the talent and longevity Eminem has shown time and again over the last seventeen years. He just has to make a cameo appearance every few years these days to shake the Hip Hop world up and leave it trembling into the foreseeable future. His incredible rapping technique is as good if not better than it’s ever been, and his absolute hunger to prove not only to his fans but to himself that he can still murder anyone on his day is there for all to see; no one wants to mess with the white boy.
Top 3 tracks: Legacy, Bad Guy, Survival
Artist: Fall Out Boy Album: Save Rock and Roll
After a four year hiatus, Fall Out Boy was back in 2013. The album gets off to a racing start with the heavy, charging beats of My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark. The Phoenix really shows what the guys are all about, with the title a nice touch symbolising the bands rebirth. Whilst the rest of the songs on the album may be more pop-rock than rock-alternative, it has a youth anthem vibe that works. Save Rock and Roll offers both a new sound and a mission for Fall Out Boy, who have shown that they still have what it takes to make an impressive album.
Top 3 tracks: The Phoenix, Alone Together, Young Volcanoes
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Forest Fire Album: Screens
With Screens, Forest Fire provides a sound that is indubitably contemporary yet infused with the raw feeling and vocal inflection of Lou Reed and similar acts. Whilst they have a definite experimental bent, the band does not lose sight of the importance of good songwriting. As such their tunes, melody-wise at the very least, are some of the strongest to be heard, not only from any band this year, but from any group I’ve heard working in a genre that has a prefix like ‘noise’ or ‘art’ attached to it.
Top 3 tracks: Alone With The Wires, Cold Kind, Annie
Artist: Franz Ferdinand Album: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
After the chaotic recording of 2009’s Tonight and a break from the industry, Franz Ferdinand decided to write songs before actually recording them for their fourth album. The result is a lean (just 35 minutes) yet fun and hook-filled collection of songs. There are plenty of surprises as the band manage to sound like themselves (the title track) whilst entering new territory (e.g. the disco-fied Stand On the Horizon, which is apparently the first Franz track with strings). The songwriting by Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy is also as strong as ever, especially on the sweet, summer sunshine of Fresh Strawberries.
Top 3 tracks: Right Action, Stand On the Horizon, Fresh Strawberries
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: The Fratellis Album: We Need Medicine
The problem with hiatus’ is that you just never know how a band or singer is going to sound like after such a long period of time. There are many successes and failures of new music from musicians, and the roaring sounds of We Need Medicine is why it’s makes it on our list of the Best Albums of 2013. After only 2 albums these Glasgow rockers shot into stardom, and bring us a booming rockabilly sound with their latest album after a 5 year break. We Need Medicine is a sure fire way to get anyone cheering and dancing, with the comfort of knowing The Fratellis are finally back.
Top 3 tracks: This Old Ghost Town, She’s Not Gone Yet But She’s Leaving and Until She Saves My Soul
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘The Fratellis – We Need Medicine’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘The Fratellis – We Need Medicine’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Goldfrapp Album: Tales of Us
While Goldfrapp have dipped their toes in genres like Dance and eighties retro on previous records, the duo’s latest album is anything but dance inspired or retro glazed. In fact, upon first hearing the band new record we were slightly torn – was it good or was it just a little too sombre for our liking? A few listens later and we consider this album one of the defining record of the Goldfrapp catalogue. While the tracks that form the tracklisting of Tales of Us are paced and melancholic, the beauty lies in the finer details of each song and lyrical work of this record and really showcases a band who have honed in on their songwriting craft and taken full advantage of what lies within. Alison has also never sounded so vocally stunning on a Goldfrapp record either and that alone deserves a nod from us.
Top 3 tracks: Clay, Annabel, Drew
Artist: Haim Album: Days are Gone
One of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year, the Haim girls really kept us waiting for this one! Fortunately it doesn’t disappoint. Some people were worried when there was talk of the record differing from their live sound, but this is one of Days are Gone’s many strengths. 80’s influenced, pop classics, hooks galore, they manage to shove so much into the debut with a clear focus, it’s almost as if they’ve been releasing albums for years. It great to see a debut which hasn’t been rushed out, but really thought about and time taken over to make it the best it can be, and it really shows.
Top 3 tracks: The Wire, Go Slow, Days are Gone
Artist: Icona Pop Album: This is Icona Pop
Icona Pop’s album This Is… Icona Pop is a place for the duo to play with and solidify their iconic sound. Even though the best-selling track I Love It is the main reason many people will invest in the album, This Is… Icona Pop has a fun track list which continues this edgy and anthemic sound. Other great tracks include Ready for the Weekend which offers pulsing beats and athemic lyrics and On A Roll which has catchy “do-do-do” hook and a pounding beat, albeit a slightly lower tempo.
Top 3 tracks: I Love It, Ready for the Weekend, On a Roll
Artist: John Newman Album: Tribute
UK up and comer John Newman’s debut album Tribute showcases Newman’s interesting voice, while going into soulful and desperate places. The album features Love Me Again, Newman’s best-selling single which is different, catchy and heartfelt. Cheating, the second single from the album is almost as catchy as Love Me Again, and infuses a motown feel into this multilayered pop song. Running keeps the Love Me Again vibe alive, albeit with a lower, less intense chorus and a great breakdown towards the end. Tribute is a holistic and successful first album from Newman.
Top 3 tracks: Love Me Again, Cheating, Running
Artist: Jimmy Eat World Album: Damage
Alternative rock legends Jimmy Eat World gave us one of their best records in years with Damage. The album consists of some of Jim Adkins’ most personal and impressive song writing and vocal talents as the boys go back to basics and deliver a more mature version of the Jimmy Eat World we all know and love. Providing a taste of the record and first taste of new Jimmy Eat World since 2010, the first single I Will Steal You Back is the perfect representation of Damage – slow at times, heavy at times, and entirely catchy.
Top 3 tracks: I Will Steal You Back, How’d You Have Me, No Never
Artist: Justin Timberlake Album: The 20/20 Experience Part 2
Justin Timberlake’s return to music was a mind-blowing two-part album, and while part one was musically expressive and elegant, part two brings the heat, providing the explosive sexual energy that was missing from part one. Part two is sexy, animalistic and provides some great urban rhythms. Producer Timbaland is very present on the album and the track T.K.O exemplifies this Timerblake-Timbaland collaboration. Cabaret also features this sound, with a standout guest appearance from Drake. Take Back the Night, the first single from the album, has a Studio 54 feel and has a funky vibe, with stunning vocals.
Top 3 tracks: T.K.O., Cabaret, Take Back the Night
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Part 2’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience Part 2’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Kanye West Album: Yeezus
Yeezus is practically a living thing. It is bursting with emotion: with paranoia, with fear, with outrage, with love. Yes, it is crass and offensive, but part of the joy of this album is in how uncensored it is. It is completely refreshing and totally engrossing. Dealing with themes of race, sex, consumerism and relationships, Kanye is as relevant as ever. He is also a genius at finding the perfect samples to fit around his vocals. Yeezus is a masterpiece.
Top 3 tracks: Black Skinhead, Blood On The Leaves, Bound 2
Artist: Katy Perry Album: Prism
Katy Perry was back and better than ever this year, with her new edgy sound on Prism. She earned the title of being the world’s biggest pop star, with the first single Roar being number 1 in numerous countries. Each track from Prism offers something different and exciting, and together has an overarching theme of strength and optimism. From soaring ballads such as Unconditionally, to the powerful beat of Roar and the upbeat vibe of Walking On Air, Katy Perry shows why Prism should be counted as one of the best albums of the year.
Top 3 tracks: Roar, Unconditionally, By the Grace of God
Artist: Lady Antebellum Album: Golden
America’s Country music sweethearts Lady Antebellum really can do no wrong and it’s a trait that has helped them strut very successfully through the last 5 years and collect almost every accolade the music world has to offer superstars of their calibre. Golden is the bands 4th studio record and another fine example of pop meets country with truly spectacular results, commencing with the lead single Downtown and the gorgeous title track.
Top 3 tracks: Goodbye Town, Golden, Downtown
Artist: Lady Gaga Album: ARTPOP
Having been so enormously successful for 5 years with The Fame, The Fame Monster and her previous Born This Way releases solidifying her superstar status, Lady Gaga continues to set the bar pretty high and with that expectations are also raised when word gets out that the Bad Romance singer preparing to release a new record. It is difficult for us to be disappointed with a Gaga release – she certainly knows her way around a chart worthy pop juggernaut and that is what her latest record is overflowing with. Whether it is lead single Applause, RnB/R.Kelly duet Do What U Want or any one of the many other infectious, acid-fueled hits residing within the new record, you won’t be disappointed either.
Top 3 tracks: Applause, Venus, Mary Jane Holland
Artist: Laura Marling Album: Once I Was An Eagle
2013 saw the return of Brit songstress Laura Marling with her fourth album (she’s still only 23!) Once I Was An Eagle, an album which surmounted many a critic’s expectations of her, and cemented the fact that she is one of Britain’s leading singer-songwriters at work today. The opening quartet of songs truly showcase her writing prowess as they fluidly transition from one to the next, whilst Master Hunter shows Marling in a darkly powerful light, however it is Saved These Words – the final track – that shines a light of promise for a more optimistic fifth album.
Top 3 tracks: Master Hunter, Saved These Words, Once
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Lisa Loeb Album: No Fairy Tale
No Fairy Tale is Lisa Loeb’s first mainstream studio album in almost a decade. Her last was The Way It Really Is and between releases she worked on her side project of recording children’s music for her Camp Lisa foundation as well as creating an eyewear line. We adore Lisa and when it was announced that the singer was to release this album, we were jumping around in glee. This record is very ‘Lisa Loeb’ – anyone who knows of Lisa’s work in pop music prior to her commercial hiatus will be familiar with tracks like Stay (I Missed You), I Do and Do You Sleep and won’t be disappointed in the make-up of this new record which sits on familiar and comfortable yet fresh territory for Lisa who delivers each song in true singer-songwriter and Lisa Loeb style.
Top 3 tracks: No Fairy Tale, The 90’s, Weak Day
Artist: Little Scout Album: Are You Life
With Are You Life, Little Scout provides a collection of pop tunes that are hooky as anything as well as musically substantial. The band weaves an appealing Jeff Buckley-brand ethereality amongst pieces of starkly differing colour, giving their overall sound a depth that is all too rarely achieved by artists in today’s industry. The diverse but distinctive record also plays with a range of grooves, enticing one into some energetic bouncing at some points and some laid back nodding of the head at others.
Top 3 tracks: Go Quietly, Are You Life, Don’t Teach Me To Sing
Artist: Lorde Album: Pure Heroine
March 8th, 2013 marked a special date for Lorde. It was the day that her minimalist mega-hit Royals was first released to the world. Since then, the teen – who has recently turned 17 – has received international success and praise aplenty on the back of that one track, and riding the crest of that wave saw the release of her debut album Pure Heroine. As one can expect and hope after one listen of Royals, Pure Heroine is an accomplished debut. Tracks such as Tennis Court build on what Royals started, but it is the experimentality of Ribs truly highlights Lorde’s songwriting capabilities. Pure Heroine is an album to be proud of for an artist of any age.
Top 3 tracks: Royals, Tennis Court, Ribs
Artist: Luscious Jackson Album: Magic Hour
Magic Hour is such a fun album. It is filled to the brim with rad grooves, funky beats and sexy vocals. Almost every song made me feel like dancing. While Luscious Jackson’s style hasn’t changed much, the album still feels totally relevant and current and is very well produced. The drumming is also spectacular. It sounds like the group had a great time making the album, which corresponds to a great time for listeners. This is the perfect party album, equally good for dancing around the house in your pyjamas and for partying at a friend’s house.
Top 3 tracks: You And Me, #1 Bum, So Rock On
Artist: M.I.A Album: Matangi
Matangi, MIA’s fourth studio album, is a return to form for the rapper turned pop star. After the largely disappointing /\/\ /\ Y /\, Matangi sees the brash and outspoken singer utilizing her voice of empowerment to the fullest extent. Matangi is one of this year’s strongest releases for its unapologetic attack against contemporary culture. Still, the music on Matangi is nothing short of stellar throughout the album’s 15 tracks. This is an album that evidences what a great pop album should be; it’s modern without being generic, it’s exciting without being overpowering. MIA has always been an outspoken celebrity who speaks to larger issues in the world outside of her music. However, with Matangi, MIA is using her skills as a rapper and producer to fully bring to light her confident and soaring declaration of progress. Ultimately, it’s an accessible album that will see MIA gain a slew of new fans while still pleasing those who have been with her since the first mixtape.
Top 3 tracks: Bad Girls, Double Bubble Trouble, Exodus
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘M.I.A – Matangi’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘M.I.A – Matangi’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Miley Cyrus Album: Bangerz
Bangerz is Miley Cyrus’ most experimental album to date, reminding everyone just how talented the young star really is. Exploring a more hip-hop influenced style and working with other stars including Britney Spears and Pharrell Williams, Bangerz is a party record with an edge and moments of raw vulnerability. Recent singles We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball represent the juxtaposition of the album, which switches between light party anthems and emotional ballads, showing off Miley’s versatility and impressive vocals. Love it or hate it, Bangerz is undeniably original and refreshingly mature compared to Miley’s previous efforts.
Top 3 tracks: Adore You, Wrecking Ball, #GETITRIGHT
Artist: Moby Album: Innocents
When Moby released the phenomenal Play way back in 1999, I could easily identify myself as an EDM fan. Play opened me up to a whole new genre that I was unfamiliar with and it was with that release that I found an appreciation of the genre, which was certainly a step outside of my usual pop box. Innocents sounds like a strong continuation of Play and contains a myriad of new hits for the bald hit-maker including some notable guest appearances by Cold Specks and Skylar Grey.
Top 3 tracks: Everything That Rises, A Case For Shame, Almost Home
Artist: Moderat Album: II
2013 brought about the anticipated return return of Berlin super group Moderat as the trio released their second full-length album, II. The album quickly became a favourite among fans and critics alike but what made this album stand out from the pack was its unapologetic foray into a truly immersive experience while completely differentiating itself from what is commonly heard in electronic music. The best of both worlds was met with this second combination from Modeselektor and Apparat with power, emotion and an heir of delicacy. Listening to II is a sonic ride that can’t be found with other albums in or outside the genre of electronic music. It’ll make you dance and it’ll make you feel. II is a stunning album from start to finish and will remain so long after 2013 concludes.
Top 3 tracks: Bad Kingdom, Milk, Gita
Artist: Natalia Kills Album: Trouble
Trouble, the sophomore album by British pop star Natalia Kills is a cohesive set of very catchy electro pop tracks. It’s a tight, well-crafted, insightful set of songs that are lyrically interesting…and I couldn’t stop listening to them. Taking an autobiographical tone, the songs explore a broader range for the artist and include straight up pop, synthpop, retro, and more soulful sounds.
Top 3 tracks: Television, Controversy, Marlboro Lights
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Natalia Kills – Trouble’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Natalia Kills – Trouble’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Neko Case Album: The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
Neko Case’s sixth album showcases the American singer-songwriter’s range by going through a plethora of genres, from atmospheric electronica (Where Did I Leave That Fire) to soul (Night Still Comes) to raucous rock n’ roll (Man). Yet despite the strength of her vocals and songwriting, Case does not take herself too seriously; hear the silly brass sounds on the closer Ragtime. This un-pretentiousness is incredibly refreshing and is sorely needed in music today.
Top 3 tracks: Night Still Comes, Man, Where Did I Leave That Fire
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Newton Faulkner Album: Studio Zoo
Newton Faulkner is incredible! Let’s just get that out there straight away! He is one of those artists that challenges himself with each new record and seems to be able to tackle the most challenging arrangments in the name of music and creating quality tunes time and time again. With his latest album, Newton put its title to the test and himself under the watchful eyes of his enormous fanbase, streaming live the creative and recording process over the space of a month for all the world to see. The result? A fantastic, raw and intricate patchwork of acoustic gems that only an artist like Mr Faulkner can deliver.
Top 3 tracks: Losing Ground, Orange Skies, Indecisive
Artist: Paul McCartney Album: New
It would be impossible for any new record from Paul McCartney to elude comparison to his work with the Beatles, but New stands on its own as a collection of masterful pop rock tunes. Experimental in places, and perfectly conventional in others, this record shows that McCartney is as ready as ever to take his music in new directions, but is at the same time fully aware of what makes a song successful.
Top 3 Tracks: Alligator, New, Hosanna
Artist: Paula Cole Album: Raven
It has to be said that Paula Cole is a songwriting force to be reckoned with! Though she may be principally known for 90’s hits I Don’t Wanna Wait and Where Have All The Cowboys Gone, these form just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cole’s talents at crafting timeless and thought provoking hits. Raven is the Massachusetts singer-songwriters 6th studio album and it is a sublime release for a long-overlooked hit-maker. The record is filled with songs from the heart and soul of Cole and the record is Paula’s first independent release. Raven was also created through the Kickstarter platform.
Top 3 tracks: Eloise, Strong Beautiful Woman, Secretary
Artist: Phoenix Album: Bankrupt
How do you follow a modern classic of an album? Do something completely different of course. As was the case with French indie dance foursome Phoenix following their critically adored album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix with a limitless album entitled Bankrupt!. More electronic and poppy than its predecessor, hits like Drakkar Noir, Trying To Be Cool and explosive album opener Entertainment soon became live favourites as the band dominated festivals worldwide with exciting sets. Start to finish, Bankrupt! keeps the blood pumping and more importantly proved the band still have much to offer.
Top 3 tracks: Trying To Be Cool, Drakkar Noir, Cholorform
Artist: Queens of the Stone Age Album: …Like Clockwork
Waiting six years between albums is a dangerous game to play for any band but with …Like Clockwork, the rocking return of Queens Of The Stone Age, it soon felt as though they’d never been gone. With the menacing nature of If I Had A Tail, gigantic grooves of Smooth Sailing and cinematic charm of I Appear Missing continued the band’s penchant for songs of raw energy. However it was delicate moments The Vampyre Of Time And Memory and title track …Like Clockwork that saw singer Josh Homme wear his recent battle scars on his sleeve. The ginger god, human after all.
Top 3 tracks: I Sat By The Ocean, Kalopsia, I Appear Missing
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: Robin Thicke Album: Blurred Lines
That video! Yep, everyone now knows of Robin Thicke because of THAT video. If you have no idea what I am talking about, just do a Google search for the title track of Thicke’s latest offering and you will be quickly brought up to speed. After years of trekking the charts and the globe as a rising phenomenon, Robin Thicke finally made it to superstar status with the release of his 6th studio album, Blurred Lines. But it isn’t just the lead single that proves to be a global hit as the singer seems to be riding on a crest of a wave with each track released from this bad boy.
Top 3 tracks: Blurred Lines, Feel Good, Give It 2 U
Artist: Shane Filan Album: You and Me
Hearts broke the world over when Westlife announced in 2012 that they would be parting ways after a hugely successful 12 year journey together. Though the Irish four-piece may no longer be recording and touring together, front man Shane Filan offered us a superb collection of Nashville coated pop hits on his debut album, You And Me. Though love is the order of the day on the debut, there are also a few meaty hits with some good old fashioned Country twang thrown in for good measures making the record a very diverse collection.
Top 3 tracks: About You, Everything To Me, Knee Deep in My Heart
Artist: Spiderbait Album: Spiderbait
Sounding as if they hadn’t left the music scene for an entire 9 years, Spiderbait’s self-titled album is a must for any type of music fan. With so much variety and gusto, the Australian rocker’s seventh release is sure to take you on a magical journey into the cosmos. Marvel at the beautiful and powerful vocals of Janet English and Kram (Mark Maher), the distortion heaven that is Damien Whitty’s guitar work, and the drum’s head-banging beats. From futuristic vibes, old-fashioned rock n roll, and even an acoustic gem, Spiderbait’s newest album is not one to disappoint!
Top 3 tracks: It’s Beautiful, The Sun Will Come Shining, Mars
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”]Buy ‘Spiderbait – Spiderbait’ from Amazon[/CBC]
[CBC country=”uk” show=”y”]Buy ‘Spiderbait – Spiderbait’ from Amazon[/CBC]
Artist: St Lucia Album: When the Night
Every year a new band comes along with an album that completely blows any and all expectations out of the water. 2012 was the year of Tame Impala’s Lonerism and 2013 is the year for St. Lucia and their debut album When the Night. This album is hard to classify into one single genre, and that’s part of the reason it’s been deemed so great. Ultimately, it’s a pop album simply because each song is a full on assault aimed directly at the pleasure-center of the listener’s ears. The sounds heard on When the Night are fresh in today’s musical landscape but ultimately each song is grounded in a euphoric building of emotion that culminates in a release of sound that will force you to your feet every time. When the Night is clear in its intent and is unconcerned with trends and fads; its just simply good music.
Top 3 tracks: All Eyes on You, Elevate, The Night Comes Again
Artist: Taylor Henderson Album: Taylor Henderson
Taylor Henderson may have only entered the limelight this year on the X Factor Australia, but he is fast becoming a favourite Australian artist. Whilst his self-titled album may only feature one original song alongside many covers, Taylor manages to make every song sound as if it were his own. Taylor Henderson showcases a variety of hits, from Daryl Braithwaite’s classic The Horses to Passenger’s 2013 hit Let Her Go. This album offers something for everyone, and Taylor’s exceptional vocals make it one of the best albums of the year.
Top 3 tracks: Borrow My Heart, Human Nature, Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Artist: Tegan and Sara Album: Heartthrob
Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob is one of the best albums of 2013 because it really showcases what indie pop is actually meant to be. Heartthrob is one of the best releases by the duo because it has a mixture of fun songs as well as meaningful ones too. It is definitely catchy and has a rhythm that can keep listeners engaged for quite a while.
Top 3 tracks: Love They Say, Goodbye, Goodbye and Shock To Your System.
Artist: Texas Album: The Conversation
This is album number 8 for Scottish band Texas and a welcome catalogue addition for the band who brought us classics like I Don’t Want A Lover, Say What You Want and more recent hits like Getaway and the title track of this new album, The Conversation. The band take a much more twang-fueled/ Americana approach to this record so there are a lot of steel string guitars and the songs are a little more stripped back and less production-heavy than previous pop-coated tracks that these guys have offered us but that is what makes this record work. Sharleen Spiteri is, as always, on top form on this record too.Its diverse and fresh but still contains the successful elements of a great pop record – something that Texas have been able to deliver for over 20 years now.
Top 3 tracks: The Conversation, Detroit City, I Need Time
Artist: Tina Arena Album: Reset
Tina Arena seems to be pretty hard to avoid these days with releasing her first album in a number of years, being a contestant on the Australian version of Dancing With The Stars and appearing on various television shows to plug said album including a fantastic X Factor performance where the songbird also helped mentor the final few wannabes. Reset is the reason for it all but rather than succumb to the promotional activities in order to be sold on the record, the music contained within Reset really does do all the talking. The lead single, You Set Fire To My Life was the one that got me. As soon as I heard the track my body tingled. The voice is just flawless and while the majority of the tracks on the new album are centred around the singers signature 90’s reminiscent ballad or mid-tempo style, each inclusion on the album plays like sweet perfection.
Top 3 tracks: You Set Fire To My Life, Let Me In, Only Lonely
Artist: Tonight Alive Album: The Other Side
Australian youngsters Tonight Alive followed up their massive debut album What Are You So Scared Of? with The Other Side and proved why they’ve been so successful so far in their brief career. Their youthful, versatile sound has seen them become one of Australia’s most celebrated pop-rock bands, experiencing huge international success including scoring a spot on the Vans Warped Tour in the US two years in a row. Developing into a heavier and more intense music style, Tonight Alive showed a range of emotions and musical variety on The Other Side and displayed maturity beyond their years as they switched between upbeat and darker sounding tracks.
Top 3 tracks: The Ocean, Lonely Girl, The Fire
Artist: TRAAMS Album: Grin
With Grin, TRAAMS combine a reckless punk energy with a strong sense of melody, creating songs that latch onto your mind at the same time as domineering your body. The band certainly has its formula, but it works; the vocal and guitar lines dance together in unison, creating a somewhat mesmerising effect, and the ratty attitude with which the songs are spat certainly entice the listener to seek out the band’s live show, which must be a sign of a successful record.
Top 3 tracks: Grin, Flowers, Reds
Artist: Turin Brakes Album: We Were Here
Turin Brakes have got to be one of the most underrated bands of the past 20 years. It seems strange that so many guitar bands seem to break out internationally while Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian continue creating acoustic masterpieces to only ever be overlooked. We Were here is a must have record, but then we can say that about almost every release in the Turin Brakes catalogue. If there is a ‘new’ band to discover – this is it! While the band continue down the intricate guitar playing and intensely sentimental lyrical path that has seen them release 6th studio album prior to this beauty, We Were here incorporates a much grander Blues vein than previous records – something that will appeal to a U.S fanbase. There really is no excuse not to hear (and own) this incredible release.
Top 3 tracks: We Were Here, Blindsided, Dear Dad
Artist: VV Brown Album: Samson & Delilah
Having given success a dabble as a pop star in the late noughties, VV took a fairly decent hiatus out of the public eye to focus on her next album, scrapping one in order to work on this release. This album was her highly anticipated comeback record and displays a much darker songwriter than the Shark In The Water hit-maker we were familiar with the first time around as well as some goth-styled vocals. This album is absolutely incredible from start to end and was worth every minute of the long wait for the return of VV Brown.
Top 3 tracks: The Apple, Ghosts, Samson
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.