Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Top Albums of 2013 Survey (Part 1)

As I said in a Facebook post today, I realized as the end of year best-of lists started coming out that I somehow missed most new music from 2013.  Yeah, I knew Justin Timberlake had an album that people said didn't suck and Miley Cyrus had an album out that apparently passed an extremely low bar of not completely horribleness and David Bowie actually put out something new that was worth listening to (and yes I know it's quaint to talk about "albums" but that still the way I think), but beyond that I have no idea what is new and interesting.  So in order to narrow the sampling down, I decided to compile a bunch of those year-end lists.  I stuck to the usual suspects, including the old farts at Rolling Stones and the hipsters at Pitchfork and a few others (see list below).  I rejected user polls like Slicing Up Eyeballs (their readers would have just invented new Cure releases to vote for) and I rejected polls with fewer than 50 albums (for ease of math) and I didn't pull in polls from general news sources, preferring to stick with music/entertainment-oriented media.  In the end, I chose the following:


Pitchfork
Rolling Stone
Spin
Paste
Stereogum
Mojo
Consequence of Sound
NME
Popmatters

All had Top 50 lists except for Popmatters which had something like 70+ in theirs (including local band Mount Moriah's release at number 51, meaning it didn't count for my purposes).  In the end, there were 181 releases mentioned from 180 performers/bands (DJ Rashad getting a double entry for his Double Cup album in one poll and his I Don't Give a Fuck EP in another one).

There were only 6 albums that showed up in all nine polls (and oddly enough Neko Case's wasn't one of them):


Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Haim - Days Are Gone
Kanye West - Yeezus
My Bloody Valentine - mbv
Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City (I guess they ARE still around!)

Two more were in 8 out of the 9 polls:


Disclosure - Settle (ignored by Paste)
Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt (left off by Mojo)

And 9 releases made it into 7 of 9 (see what I did there, Star Trek fans?):


Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
Kurt Vile - Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Pusha T - My Name is My Name
Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
Savages - Silence Yourself
The Knife - Shaking the Habitual
The National - Trouble Will Find Me

In all there were 54 albums that were mentioned in at least 3 polls, making them a good place to start listening. 

The obvious critical darlings were Vampire Weekend and Kanye (does every middle-aged white music critic HAVE to say he likes Kanye?  Is it some kind of rule?).  Vampire Weekend finished number 1 in 3 of the polls and only finished outside of the top 10 once.  Kanye also had 3 number 1s but was considerably lower in a couple of the polls.  No one else was number 1 in more than one poll.

I'll do a further breakdown in a follow-up post along with some interesting (well, I think they're interesting) anomalies and oddities.

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