Best of 2013: The Albums

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Who doesn’t love lists?

We here at Pop-Break were raised on lists. We love them like we love bears, Keanu Reeves’ surfer movies and all things pop culture.

So as we do every year, we present to you our personal favorites in film, music (albums and songs) and television.

Brent Johnson (Co-Founder, Managing Editor, Singles Party Columnist):

Honorable Mention: Song Reader by Beck
Here’s a novel idea: release an entire album on nothing but sheet music and encourage your fans to record their own versions. That deserves praise for cleverness alone.

5. The Next Day by David Bowie
On his first album in 10 years, the Thin White Duke proves that he can still whip up a strong collection of original and arresting music four decades after Ziggy.

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4. The ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Soundtrack
The companion to the Coen Brother’s elegiac ode to the early-’60s Greenwich Village folk scene is a reminder of how beautiful and emotionally rich the music of that era was. Plus, the film’s star — the sweet-voiced Oscar Isaac — proves to be as talented on record as he is on screen. And those who are looking for something lighter should listen to ‘Please Mr. Kennedy,’ a mock NASA protest song featuring Justin Timberlake and the oddest backing vocals of the year. Here’s hoping this will do for folk music what the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? did for bluegrass.

3. Yeezus by Kanye West
Was anyone else worried that spending too much time with reality TV’s most famous family would dull Kanye’s force? No need. This is the sound of a musician whose vision is as brash as his ego. And bonus points for ‘Bound 2,’ an awesomely ridiculous way to close an album — with an awesomely ridiculous video to boot.

2. Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend
Make it three great records in a row for one of music’s most polarizing bands. Yes, they sometimes come off like pretentious hipsters. And yes, that album title is pretty lame. But few records this year feature as many intersecting styles, as many bursts of experimentation, and as many literate lyrics.

1. New by Paul McCartney
He spent the ’60s inventing modern pop-rock. He spent next two decades racking up Top 10 hits. But maybe the most unheralded chapter of Paul McCartney’s career has been the last 20 years. This is the fifth straight album of original material that shows pop’s greatest songwriter still has plenty of exceptional music to make. From the dark-but-beguiling ‘Aligator’ to deliciously bubbly title track, there’s so much to like here. Can you say the same of the recent records released by other classic rockers?

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Matt Agosta (Staff Writer, Hip-Hop Writer, Singles Party Columnist):
1. MMLP2 by Eminem
2. Wolf by Tyler the Creator
3. Born Sinner by J. Cole
4. Something Else by Tech N9ne
5. The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Bill Bodkin (Editor-in-Chief, Singles Party Columnist)

1. Specter at the Feast by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — Sweaty, in-your-face garage rock meets chilled out tripped up, ethereal goodness. The album shouldn’t work but the duality of the record keeps serious, serious ass.

2. Earth Rocker by Clutch — One of the most complete Clutch records to date. Earth Rocker is pure rock fury with a healthy dose of blues-infused. Overlooked by many, this was the definitive metal album of the year.

3. Merkaba by Alan Evans Trio — A psychedelic, cosmic jam of a record that’s anchored by machine-gun-like drumming by the band’s leader.

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4. Idle No More by King Khan & The Shrines — A pure trip through the world of psychedelic rock by way of King Khan’s fat, funky sound.

5. Kings & Queens by John Brown’s Body — The timeless sun-soaked breeziness of classic roots reggae warped into the cosmos through the band’s electronically enhanced ‘future roots’ style. The band’s best effort yet.

6. Bangs by Brick + Mortar — Asbury’s electro duo delivers an anthemic, hook-laden EP that screams “next big thing” with every track.

7. Pineapple Grenade by Ballyhoo! — Reggae meets pop in the best way possible. This B’more band keeps it irie but with a Top 40 sensibility, it’s summer caught on CD.

8. Inside Llewyn Davis Soundtrack by Various Artists — The Coen Brothers have always had great soundtracks but this slice of the folk scene is their greatest soundtrack to date.

9. The Olms by The Olms — The debut record from Pete Yorn’s super group captures the beautifully breezy sound of the 1960s California pop/folk/rock scene.

10. Big Beach Bootique 5 by Fatboy Slim — My love of British electronic dance music knows no bounds and this high-energy and utterly infectious live album will have you pumping your fist in a non-ironic way.

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Laura Dengrove (Staff Writer):
1. When It Was Now by Atlas Genius
2. Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out Boy
3. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
4. In a Tidal Wave of Mystery by Capital Cities
5. The Civil Wars by The Civil Wars

Mallory Delchamp (Staff Writer):
1. Crash my Party by Luke Bryan
2. True by Avicii
3. Days are Gone by Haim
4. The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
5. Bangerz by Miley Cyrus

Eric Gallegos (Video Game Writer)
1. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
2. Native by OneRepublic
3. Artpop by Lady Gaga
4. The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
5. The Blessed Unrest by Sara Bareilles

Kelly Gonsalves (Staff Writer, Singles Party Columnist)
1. Pure Heroine by Lorde
2. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
3. Yeezus by Kanye West
4. The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES
5. Trouble Will Find Me by The National

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Matt Haviland (Staff Writer)
1. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 by Eminem
2. Hokey Fright by The Uncluded
3. Yeezus by Kanye West
4. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
5. mbv by My Bloody Valentine

Michael J. Heyliger (Editor-in-Chief of Popblerd!, Pop-Break Staff Writer, Singles Party Columnist)
1. New Constellation by Toad The Wet Sprocket
2. Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend
3. Yeezus by Kanye West
4. Love In The Future by John Legend
5. The 20/20 Experience: The Complete Experience by Justin Timberlake

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Brendan Hourican (Staff Writer):
1. Trouble Will Find Me by The National
2. Yeezus by Kanye West
3. … Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age
4. What You Don’t See The Story So Far
5. Golden Record by The Dangerous Summer

Luke Kalamar (Television Editor)
1. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
2. Bankrupt! by Phoenix
3. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
4. The Next Day by David Bowie
5) The Wack Album by The Lonely Island

Jason Kundrath (Senior Editor, Singles Party Columnist)

1. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
VW goes three for three with their greatest and most accessible collection of songs to date without sacrificing an ounce of ambition.

2. Reflektor by Arcade Fire
James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem) brings a smoky, neon-lit groove to Arcade Fire’s sweeping, epic soundscapes, and resulting album is deep, dark, and entrancing.

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3. Days Go By by HAIM
This band of sisters had an amazing year and capped it with a delicious album of delightfully glossy, danceable pop-rock that evokes tones of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

4. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
The legendary, helmet-headed robotic dance duo followed their epic promotional campaign with a record that actually exceeded our hyped expectations, tossing out the rule book, and showing us the future by taking us back in time.

5. Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara
For their latest effort, these Canadian twin sisters reach for the brass ring, going full electro-pop with an album’s worth of sweet, sad, and savory tunes, and it’s a win.

Al Mannarino (Staff Writer):
1. The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES
2. Bankrupt! by Phoenix
3. An Awesome Wave by ALT J
4. Bad Blood by Bastille
5. Yeezus by Kanye West

Asia Martin (Staff Writer):
1. Love and War by Tamar Braxton
2. The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae
3. Born Sinner by J. Cole
4. She by Alice Smith
5. Native by OneRepublic

THE 20/20 EXPERIENCE ALBUM COVER AND TRACK LIST REVEALED!

Justin Matchick (Staff Writer):
1. …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age
2. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
3. mbv by My Bloody Valentine
4. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
5. The Next Day by David Bowie

Lisa Pikaard (Senior Editor, Interviewer, Country Writer)
1. Connect by Sick Puppies
2. Brave Bold & Broken by Mindset Evolution
3. Bring You Back by Brett Eldredge
4. A.M. by Chris Young
5. First Date by Original Broadway Cast

Nick Porcaro (Graphic Designer, Singles Party Columnist, Senior Writer)
1. Yeezus by Kanye West
2. Immunity by Jon Hopkins
3. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
4. m b v by My Bloody Valentine
5. Migrant by The Dear Hunter
6. Reflektor by Arcade Fire
7. Asymmetry by Karnivool
8. My Name is My Name by Pusha T
9. The Mountain by Haken
10. One of Us is the Killer by The Dillinger Escape Plan

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Lauren Stern (Assignment Editor, Singles Party Columnist)
1. Evil Friends by Portugal the Man
2. Young Legs by Anthony Green
3. MGMT by MGMT
4. Talon of the Hawk by The Front Bottoms
5. The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

Jason Stives (Music Editor, Senior Editor, Singles Party Columnist)
1. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend
2. AM by Arctic Monkeys
3. Days Are Gone by Haim
4. Talon of the Hawk by The Front Bottoms
5. The Stand-In by Caitlin Rose

Anthony Toto (Staff Writer, Interviewer)
1. Disarm The Descent by Killswitch Engage
2. The Blackest Beautiful by let live
3. Rescue & Restore by August Burns Red
4. Vengeance Falls by Trivium
5. Everblack by The Black Dahlia Murder

Joe Zorzi (Senior Editor, Singles Party Columnist)
1. Trouble Will Find Me by The National
2. Yeezus by Kanye West
3. The 1975 by The 1975
4. Hummingbird by Local Natives
5. Wolf by Tyler, The Creator

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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