Ten Best Indie-Rock Albums of 2013
There's the age-old argument: which is better: the oldies of yesteryear or the untz of today? When you stop to think about it, music is always getting better. Not only do we have access to all the classic songs that influence current music but also to the newbies fighting to join the pantheon of today (AKA your playlist).
And so in 2048, when people of that time period are whining that music sucks, here are the ten indie-rock albums of 2013 that they can use to win the past-versus-present fight.
In alphabetical order...
1. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Juan Fernando Velasco
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For those who like: The Talking Heads on a time machine to the year 2013.
Save the title track, Reflektor is not as instantly accessible as the Montreal band's previous three albums. The lyrics are less pointed and more abstract. If Arcade Fire is indeed the heir to the Radiohead throne -- both critical and commercial favorites -- that would make Reflektor its Kid A with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy as the producer leading Arcade Fire away from its comfort zone.
2. Bombino - Nomad
For those who like: Bellydancing to the Black Keys.
Omara "Bombino" Moctar from North Africa learned to play guitar as a refugee living in Algeria and Libya. His Saharan garage rock blues made it a natural fit for this album to be produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.
3. Deerhunter - Monomania
For those who like: The Ramones but wish they would slow things down a lot.
The band on everyone's top ten list, and deservedly so thanks to the genius of Bradford Cox. The Atlanta band's Monomania picks up where every great garage-rock band left off from ? and the Mysterians to the Makeup.
4. The Knife - Shining the Habitual
For those who like: A chilled-out Björk with a dash of Pink Floyd.
More a journey than an album. At more than 90 minutes, Shaking the Habitual takes you on a trip around the world. The Swedish brother and sister duo who make up the Knife finely merge tribalism and computer beats.
5. Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze
For those who like: Daniel Johnston without the mental illness.
Kurt Vile is the stoner in the back of your high school biology class writing lyrics in the margins of looseleaf paper and singing them back into his lo-fi recording system after sniffing some glue.
6. Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day
For those who like: Patsy Cline on opium.
A 17-year hiatus did nothing for this band, which seems to have remained in the same dreamscape it last visited in 1996's Among My Swan. Hope Sandoval's sweet voice is the lullaby to David Roback's lonely guitar.
7. My Bloody Valentine - MBV
For those who like: Feedback, distortion, and melody.
It still hurts that the Pixies' new work was so awful I couldn't put them on this list, replaced by another band who last released an album in 1991. Ireland's My Bloody Valentine did not skip a shoegazing beat with its first release since Loveless. Band members say they're done, but perhaps in another generation, they'll treat us to another beautiful release.
8. Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold
For those who like: Indie rock when it was still called college rock.
In the early '80s, this Brooklyn four-piece would be called postpunk, in the '90s, slackers. Now, they're just good old-fashioned, catchy rock 'n' roll.
9. Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals
For those who like: Christina Aguilera karaokeing to Rage Against the Machine
The heaviest and hardest-rocking of their three albums, Bitter Rivals might be Sleigh Bells at their best. The industrial sound goes down smooth with singer Alexis Krauss' poppy voice. Learn the album so you can sing along, because in an interview earlier this year, guitarist Derek Miller said they'd be back playing South Florida this spring.
10. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
For those who like: The Pretenders but hipper.
Over a decade into their career, this New York trio led by the ultrahyper Karen O continues to make listeners feel, dance, and scream as it soundtracks the lives of the species known as the urban hipster.
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