Staff Year End List: Music Director Michelle Feghali’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

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Let’s face it, I’m no Rolling Stone Magazine writer or NPR music aficionado… but I do have a specific, codified list of what I consider to be my favorite albums of 2013. Unfortunately this year, nothing really stepped up and wowed me like how I felt with Alt-J and Frank Ocean’s albums in 2012. Regardless, I did enjoy quite an eclectic handful of albums that debuted in 2013.

1. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
Consisting of emotional tracks like “Au Revoir”, “Santa Monica”, and “Twin Sized Mattress”… I could listen to this album on repeat most days. Someone actually said to me that they thought they couldn’t get into this album because they hadn’t had a terrible childhood or multiple bad break ups in their lifetime. To be honest, I kind of agree. The lyrics are spot on for any heart-wrenching ex who’s seeking an outlet of poetic statements to scream and whine out loud with. It may not be the top album for everyone but it’s definitely the top album for emotional, romantic-tragedy loving, saps like me.

2. A Great Big Pile of Leaves – You’re Always On My Mind
The most chill, fun-loving, down to earth, group that I have encountered this year: A Great Big Pile of Leaves. I guess I’m a sucker for lyrics because I think this band takes the cake when it comes to getting quirky with their lyrical content. “All the dirty dishes keep on multiplying. Someone’s got to clean them up, but we’re all trying hard to quit.” – Pet Mouse. Anytime I’m in a bad mood I listen to this album and it brightens my day. The realness in their words makes me feel like somebody out there gets it, and I appreciate that so much.

3. James Blake – Overgrown
Ever since James Blake covered “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell I have been utterly impressed with his work. He always seems to find the most innovative and intriguing sounds to intertwine with his flowing vocals. My favorite track from this album is “Retrograde.” The lyrics are so spot on that sometimes I wonder if James Blake stalked me for a few months and then wrote that song about me. However, this album has tracks for any sensitive, piano-loving, individual who can appreciate a little soul jazziness every once in awhile.

4. Rhye – Woman
When first hearing this album I knew I had never heard anything like it. I can’t tell if it’s way ahead of it’s time or a blast from the past… regardless, it’s beautiful. What I found most interesting about this group is that, despite the name of the album, the singer is not female but male. His voice, so smooth and sultry, adds sentiment to every track. I believe Woman to be an album about love, heartache, and the perception of a woman. Some call this lovemaking music, but I just describe it as pure bliss.

5. Andrew Bird – I Want To See Pulaski at Night
Though only one song on this (and I know, I’m cheating) EP has lyrics it still made it’s way onto my top albums list. I appreciated these tracks because they all remind me of songs that Wes Anderson would use in his films. With it’s wintry sound and Asian influences I had to add this compilation of greatness to my top albums list, despite the fact that is only an EP – it’s just so melodic and wondrous.

6. Daughter – If You Leave
I suppose that a lot of music experts left this album off their lists of the best albums from this year, but this album is something other than the best for me. I connect most with music that inspires me or makes me feel something so deeply that the whole world around me melts away while I’m listening to it. This album is an emotion that I never want to forget. Between it’s chilling sound and genuinely passionate lyrics, I wouldn’t consider this the best album but rather the album that hit my soul the hardest. Listen to the track “Smother” and maybe your world will melt away and then you’ll understand what I mean.

7. Foxing – The Albatross
This album is screaming with spirit. Literally, though, the lead singer screams a good majority of his lyrics and does it with such grace. This Foxing album is on my top albums list mostly because of the track “Rory”. I suppose that I could be confessing this just because I’m a sad sap during winter but this song is another that struck me down to the core and moved me in ways that I can’t describe.

8. The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Whenever, If Ever
From the cover art, to the album title, to the lyricism, this album makes me so proud. If somehow all of us die-hard emo fans are all wrong and there actually is some sort of “emo revival” occurring at least we can all be assured in knowing that The World Is A Beautiful Place… will definitely be a strong contributor to that movement. Also, the trumpets, did you hear those things? Freaking love ‘em.

9. Balance and Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing
I couldn’t not add this emo, hardcore, post-grunge – whatever you want to call it – album from Balance and Composure. Lead singer, Jon Simmons, has found a way to consistently create tracks that are both poetic and anger thrilling and I dig it, hardcore.

10. Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
Though some of you may find it childish that I still listen to Fall Out Boy… well first off, I’d say screw you because whatever, I like what I like. And then I’d tell you to go listen to the album because you probably haven’t yet. I don’t know though…maybe I was just happy that I had a new album for my 8th grade, pop-punk defending, self to rock out to. Either way, I will always love blasting the “The Phoenix” through my headphones and I will continue to not GAF about who knows it.

Honorable Mention
On An On – Give In
Kanye West – Yeezus (I had to)
Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Lorde – Pure Heroine

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