Best of 2013: Readers' Picks

Best of 2013: Readers' Picks

By AllMusic Staff

Jan. 13, 2014

Here at AllMusic we're as ready to leave 2013 in the rear view mirror as you are, but we couldn't let it get away without hearing what our readers had to say about the best releases of the past year. So we took the albums from 2013 given the highest star ratings (with at least 75 total ratings) by AllMusic users, compiled the top 100, and opened it up for voting, with each voter allowed to make 10 selections. Sure, Yeezus didn't make the cut, which hacked off a lot of people in the comments, and Beyonce's latest came out so close to the end of the year that it didn't get the chance to collect enough votes to warrant inclusion. If you want to help avoid such oversights in the future or don't see your favorite albums or genres represented, register with AllMusic and give albums star ratings throughout the year. Omissions aside, we're pleased to present our Readers' Picks for the Best of 2013.

10. Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze
(12.3% of ballots)

"Kurt Vile isn't aiming to ape or even update the canon of classic guitar-based songwriters, but is very much his generation's chapter of the evolution of rock. Easily his most focused and accessible work, Pretty Daze is the strongest so far in a chain of releases that seem to suggest there are even greater heights to be reached." -- Fred Thomas

9. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
(14.8% of ballots)

"While most of these songs contain simple melodies and arrangements that offer the appearance of vulnerability and tenderness, it is inside this framework that they eventually reveal their sharp fangs and malcontent." -- Thom Jurek

8. My Bloody Valentine - m b v
(14.9% of ballots)

"For years, a follow-up to their 1991 masterpiece Loveless seemed impossible, and perhaps even unnecessary. M B V answered those worries with a set of songs that felt immediately familiar. They're not trying to re-create Loveless, nor should they, and M B V doesn't have to reinvent music (again) to be worth the wait." -- Heather Phares

7. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
(16.7% of ballots)

"Trouble Will Find Me's best moments...find Matt Berninger and his laconic baritone nervously pacing the deck of a sinking ship while simultaneously trying to find his sea legs as his bandmates constantly pull the rug out from under him with familiar rhythms and melodies that hide countless trap doors." -- James Christopher Monger

6. Arctic Monkeys - AM
(19.3% of ballots)

"Neatly splitting the difference between the band's two personalities -- the devotees of barbed British pop and disciples of curdled heavy rock -- AM consolidates Arctic Monkeys strengths, a tricky task in and of itself, but the band pushes further, incorporating unapologetic glam stomps, fuzzy guitars, and a decidedly strong rhythmic undercurrent." -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine

5. David Bowie - The Next Day
(19.9% of ballots)

"The album has been systematically stripped of eeriness, trading discomfort for pleasure at every turn. And pleasure it does deliver, as nobody knows how to do classic Bowie like Bowie and Visconti, the two life-long collaborators sifting through their past, picking elements that relate to what Bowie is now: an elder statesman who made a conscious decision to leave innovation behind long ago." -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine

4. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
(21.6% of ballots)

"Modern Vampires' quieter approach also showcases what might be most enduring about Vampire Weekend's music -- endearing melodies and carefully crafted lyrics. Ultimately, Modern Vampires of the City is more thoughtful than it is dark, balancing its more serious moments with a lighter touch and more confidence than they've shown before." -- Heather Phares

3. Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
(21.8% of ballots)

"Homme flirts with his history as a way to make sense of his present, reconnecting with his strengths as a way to reorient himself, consolidating his indulgences and fancies into a record that obliterates middle-age malaise without taking a moment to pander to the past. It's complex, harder, and catchier than anything QOTSA have done in a decade, and more song-oriented, too, but that's a sign of maturity: Homme has marshaled all of his strengths on ...Like Clockwork and has found a way forward, a way to deepen his music without compromising his identity." -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine

2. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
(26.0% of ballots)

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"The Montreal collective's much anticipated fourth long-player and first double-album, moves the group even further from pop culture sanctification with a seismic yet impenetrable set that guts the building but leaves the roof intact. Reflektor is as fascinating as it is frustrating, an oddly compelling miasma of big pop moments and empty sonic vistas that offers up a (full-size) snapshot of a band at its commercial peak, trying to establish eye contact from atop a mountain." -- James Christopher Monger

1. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
(27.7% of ballots)

"Daft Punk have never shied away from "uncool" influences or sentimentality, and both are on full display here. At first, it's hard to know what to make of all the fromage, but Random Access Memories reveals itself as the kind of grand, album rock statement that listeners of the '70s and '80s would have spent weeks or months dissecting and absorbing -- the ambition of Steely Dan, Alan Parsons, and Pink Floyd are as vital to the album as any of the duo's collaborators. For the casual Daft Punk fan, this album might be harder to love than "Get Lucky" hinted; it might be too nostalgic, too overblown, a shirking of the group's duty to rescue dance music from the Young Turks who cropped up in their absence. But Random Access Memories is also Daft Punk's most personal work, and richly rewarding for listeners willing to spend time with it." -- Heather Phares