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2013 Readers Poll - The Results

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Album of the Year

  1. Tim Hecker, "Virgins" (Kranky) that I loved about Hecker's past work is present yet again, but it is now mingled with some wonderfully unexpected violence and dissonance.  This is Tim Hecker's masterpiece. - Anthony D'Amico

    Cool album, but this is actually one of my least favorite Tim Hecker recordings. Not that it doesn't belong here. It's exciting to see him branch out and toy with his sound, but something just didn't click for me. I did listen to it an awful lot though. - Lucas Schleicher

    Ravedeath, 1972 is still my favorite release from Hecker, but with each successful listen of Virgins, it makes a hard sell for that spot. Everything is crisp, clear, and perfectly conveyed, and it's good that way, because it's all terrifying. Everything Tim Hecker wants to say he says. As far as statements go, no one made a more powerful one this year. - Adam Devlin

    There's something magical about an album you can play for a friend—who knows nothing about the artist and little about the genre—and they are taken aback, stopped in their tracks, and immediately latches on. - Jon Whitney

  2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Push the Sky Away" (Kobalt)

    I had only bought this out of habit and, expecting another lackluster Bad Seeds album, I was delighted to hear Cave back on form. This has fast become one of my favourite Bad Seeds albums, not just one that is better than recent albums. Cave's soundtrack work with Warren Ellis has led to a more subtle and nuanced than anything the Bad Seeds have done before. - John Kealy

    Definitely one of Nick's better works in recent years, but even after a few spins I do not feel as if it has fully clicked for me.  Not a bad record by any means, but one I think I have to revisit a few more times to see what I think of it. - Creaig Dunton

    Nick works very well when he makes something concise, direct, to-the-point, and incorporates enough variety. Having catchy tunes that linger on after the album always helps too. - Jon Whitney

  3. Boards of Canada, "Tomorrow's Harvest" (Warp)

    People keep telling me that this is great, but I refuse to believe them. -Anthony D'Amico

    It's less of a reinvention than The Campfire Headphase but still a welcome return for a band that should take fewer long breaks between albums.  - Matt Jeanes

    Didn't Emeralds split up?  It's obvious who bought their gear. - Jon Whitney

    Bored of Canada is more like it. Actually, that's not true. I still listen to their music from time to time, but in a year when lots of artists branched out and, for better or worse, tried new things, Tomorrow's Harvest sounded remarkably like the Boards of Canada I already know. - Lucas Schleicher

    Boards of Canada got a lot of criticism not for their delay in releasing this but in their total retcon of whatever progress they had made on The Campfire Headphase. In comparison, this is solid material, but it's so generically "their sound" as to be kind of extraneous. There's still a good number of songs to add to the canon ("Jacquard Causeway," "Palace Posy," "Nothing Is Real," "New Seeds") although none of the shorter pieces really make an impression. -Adam Devlin

  4. The Haxan Cloak, "Excavation" (TriAngle)

    "Consumed" is one of the best openings to an album ever. -Anthony D'Amico

  5. Autechre, "Exai" (Warp)

    Brown and Booth's best record since Confield, and high in the running for one of their best records period. I fell in love with these guys when I was a teenager, and they're still one of the most exciting bands going 15 years later. Lots of beautiful melodies on this one; plenty of heavy, bizarre rhythms, and some dense passages too. A spectacular marriage of Autechre's best and most puzzling qualities. - Lucas Schleicher

    I really have enjoyed how more recent Autechre (since Oversteps) have drifted back into more rhythmic/melodic territory rather than the generative rut they were in for awhile, where things were more interesting than enjoyable.  A bit on the bloated side at two discs, but completely worth it. - Creaig Dunton

    This is by far the best thing they've done in years, and the L-Event EP was a nice cherry on top. I'm still holding out for them to do some revolutionary foley work, however. -Adam Devlin

  6. My Bloody Valentine, "m b v" (self-released)

    I desperately wanted this to be a worthy successor to Loveless but given the time it has taken to come to light, it was not that surprising when it was a bit disappointing. There are some great songs that would have been even greater had they come out in 1994 or so but there is also a sizeable chunk of filler that could have been left on the shelf. - John Kealy

    I've listened to this like ten times and can barely remember anything about it.  I recognize that there is absolutely no way this album could have met the insanely high expectations that everyone had for it, but some more hooks and surprises would have been nice. -Anthony D'Amico

    Never made it through the entire album in one go and I don't feel like I'm missing much. The myth of MBV's greatness is so much greater than the reality. - Lucas Schleicher

    Top 10? Please! There's only 3 actual songs on this album and a bunch of useless filler. - Jon Whitney

    I would not have necessarily called this a full disappointment, but it didn't rock my world as much as I would have hoped either.  I think everyone who sat with Loveless and Isn't Anything for so many years would have probably felt the same way, since nothing new can recreate the experiences we all had listening to those albums, beyond just the music.  Probably like those Star Wars geeks feel on a regular basis. - Creaig Dunton

    Since I wasn't privy to the Loveless experience the first time around, my joy for this album was felt differently than how I think a lot of people experienced it. There's definitely some non-essential material, but I still can't help enjoying this and playing it over and over again. No one makes that guitar sound so genuine, so wanting to please like Shields, and it's impactful in a way that few records this year were. - Adam Devlin
  7. Grouper, "The Man Who Died in His Boat" (Kranky)

    I took me ages to fully warm to Liz Harris' slow-motion, reverb-drenched vision, but I think I have finally come around.  "Living Room" is a heartbreaking beautiful song. -Anthony D'Amico

  8. The Legendary Pink Dots, "The Gethsemane Option" (Metropolis)

    I am pleased that LPD had a high-profile release this year and that people were excited about it, but I can easily think of at least three recent LPD-related albums that are significantly better than this one. - Anthony D'Amico

  9. Wire, "Change Becomes Us" (Pink Flag)

    Mixed feelings on this one.  I have never truly disliked anything Wire has done, but I do miss the more dissonant elements that have been glossed over with more of a pop sheen as of late.  Plus, considering that most of these are reworks of songs from Document and Eyewitness, it is harder to wrap my head around reinterpretations of songs I've been listening to for many years. - Creaig Dunton

  10. Matmos, "The Marriage of True Minds" (Thrill Jockey)

    One of my favorite albums of this year for sure and definitely the most fun album to review ever. - John Kealy

    No one was happier in the studio this year than Matmos. - Adam Devlin

  11. Locrian, "Return to Annihilation" (Relapse)

    I've been following these guys since their earliest works, and here everything seemed to gel perfectly.  Difficult and abrasive at times, but still managing to put together memorable, catchy pieces that make for actual songs.  - Creaig Dunton

  12. Barn Owl, "V" (Thrill Jockey)
  13. Julia Holter, "Loud City Song" (Domino)

    Glad to see Julia Holter high on the list. She's a great songwriter and a great performer. I disliked Ekstasis, but this record is much, much different. Like some of my favorite bands, her sound seems to change from project to project, which means I'll always want to hear what she's doing next. - Lucas Schleicher

  14. Broadcast, "Berberian Sound Studio" (Warp)

    This is far more "soundtrack" than album. There's some interesting interludes and BBC Radiophonic throwback sound effects, which are inextricable from the film's subject matter. It's not really a Broadcast release; it's barely an album to speak of. -Adam Devlin

  15. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Code Noir" (Beta-Lactam Ring)

    I'm stunned at the amount of GREAT albums the dots have presented this year. - Jon Whitney

  16. Oren Ambarchi, Jim O'Rourke and Keiji Haino, "Now While It's Still Warm Let Us Pour in All the Mystery" (Black Truffle)

    A storming album. This trio can do no wrong. - John Kealy

  17. Chelsea Wolfe, "Pain is Beauty" (Sargent House)
  18. William Basinski, "Nocturnes" (2062)

    When I saw Basinski live this year, he augmented the wonderful title piece with one or two similarly great non-album works in the same vein.  And he did not play the very dull "The Trail of Tears."  Why couldn't he have done that with the actual album? -Anthony D'Amico

  19. Bill Callahan, "Dream River" (Drag City)

    One of a handful of rock records that caught my fancy this year, and the only one with a flute. A River Ain't Too Much to Love was the last time Callahan had my attention. He picked it up again this year mostly because he hopped off the country caravan and started toying with other sounds. Melancholy Bill sounds best that way, when his sound isn't confined by genre. - Lucas Schleicher

  20. Tropic of Cancer, "Restless Idyll" (Blackest Ever Black)

    This was a bit too gloomy and mumbly for me, but "Hardest Day" and "Children of a Lesser God" could easily pass for lost gems from 4AD's early years. -Anthony D'Amico

    I love 4AD and The Cure too, but we don't need another tribute band for either. - Lucas Schleicher

  21. Mika Vainio, "Kilo" (Blast First Petite)

    I excitedly bought this as soon as it came out, but then thought it was too plodding and forgettable to listen to a second time.  I guess I should consider giving it a second chance, but I am not optimistic. -Anthony D'Amico

  22. Pan American, "Cloud Room, Glass Room" (Kranky)

    Quietly, humbly beautiful. An underappreciated release from this year. -Adam Devlin

  23. Wolf Eyes, "No Answer: Lower Floors" (De Stijl)

    "Choking Flies" and "Confessions of the Informer" were great, but the rest of the album was a definite mixed bag and "Warning Sign" is unlistenable. -Anthony D'Amico

  24. Low, "The Invisible Way" (Sub Pop)

    On the surface, The Invisible Way seemed a little lightweight for a Low album but the more I dug into it, the more I came to love it. "Just Make It Stop" has been rattling around my head for months but I just want it to keep going. - John Kealy

    This is the Low-iest Low record in a long time. Simple arrangements, lovely harmonies, and words that repeat helped to define Low's early sound and all of that works here as well as it ever did.  - Matt Jeanes

    At this point Low has nothing to prove to me. I'll keep buying their records as long as they're willing to make them, if for no other reason than to hear Mimi sing. The problem withThe Invisible Way is that it doesn't congeal until about the time it's over. Several great songs here, there just isn't a coherent album running between them. - Lucas Schleicher

    I enjoy the approach: it's been 17 years since Curtain Hits The Cast and it's the first album since that has held to the formula that established them in the first place: one person per instrument. It's only piano, drums, and guitar this time around, but it works amazingly well and the songs are still top-notch. - Jon Whitney

  25. Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld, "Still Smiling" (Specula)
  26. Colin Stetson, "New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light" (Constellation)
  27. The Knife, "Shaking the Habitual" (Mute)

    Yawn. They didn't even make an effort. Just turn a drum machine on and leave the room for about 10 minutes. Where are the damn hooks this time? Where are the fucking songs you jerks? What a lazy-ass piece of rubbish. - Jon Whitney

    I'm so sick of hearing "Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realized" every time I turn on the radio. -Adam Devlin

  28. Lustmord, "The Word As Power" (Blackest Ever Black)
  29. Mazzy Star, "Seasons of Your Day" (Rhymes Of An Hour)

    This album leaves me breathless. Seriously. - Jon Whitney

  30. The Legendary Pink Dots, "The Curse of Marie Antoinette" (Rustblade)

    "Ghost of a Summer to Come" is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year, but the whole second half of this album is fairly spectacular.  -Anthony D'Amico

  31. Forest Swords, "Engravings" (TriAngle)
  32. Rashad Becker, "Traditional Music of Notional Species, Vol. I" (PAN)

    Brilliantly, boldly otherworldly from start to finish. -Anthony D'Amico

  33. Prurient, "Through the Window" (Blackest Ever Black)

    Prurient for people who do not like Prurient.  And dance music for people who haven't heard much dance music.  This was a bad idea on every level.  -Anthony D'Amico

    Vatican Shadow was worse. Can we get off this techno/noise kick and just reissue Pleasure Ground instead? Nobody does it very well anyway. - Lucas Schleicher

  34. Body/Head, "Coming Apart" (Matador)

    These songs made me uncomfortable.  -Anthony D'Amico

    Kim Gordon makes leaving Sonic Youth seem like no big deal and releases Coming Apart with Bill Nace. If you can get your hands on a copy of their self-titled Open Mouth EP, do it: that one's just as good. - Lucas Schleicher

  35. Julia Kent, "Character" (Leaf)
  36. Mogwai , "Les Revenants Soundtrack" (Rock Action)

    It's Mogwai writing music for a TV show based on one of the most inventive films about the undead in the last decade. What's not to love?  - Matt Jeanes

  37. Wrekmeister Harmonies, "You've Always Meant So Much To Me" (Thrill Jockey)

    This completely floored me.  The surprise of the year.  -Anthony D'Amico

    I have more than one friend who did not listen to this all the way through, and missed out on one of the best metal albums of the year. -Adam Devlin

  38. Dirty Beaches, "Drifters/Love Is the Devil" (Zoo Music)

    I've been playing the hell out of "Night Walk." -Anthony D'Amico

  39. Master Musicians of Bukkake, "Far West" (Important)

    Fantastic as usual, and best heard start from finish. -Adam Devlin

  40. Oneohtrix Point Never, "R Plus Seven" (Warp)

    Wow- Daniel Lopatin has finally made the transition from wildly overrated to somewhat under-appreciated.  I liked this, but I don't think I will ever fully warm to Oneohtrix's more choppy, blurting tendencies.  -Anthony D'Amico

    This is my favorite album of the year. As someone who thought early praise for Daniel Lopatin's synth loops was a little undercooked, this completely floored me. It was succinct while saying a lot, and familiar in timbre while being so utterly new in every aspect. Replica and R Plus Seven are on permanent repeat on all media, forever. -Adam Devlin

  41. The Dead C, "Armed Courage" (Ba Da Bing!)

    This was a glorious mess. -Anthony D'Amico

  42. Daniel Menche, "Marriage of Metals" (Editions Mego)
  43. Main, "Ablation" (Editions Mego)

    Main was one of the first forays I had into avant garde music as a teenager, so I will always have a soft spot for Robert Hampson's work.  Even with that aside, Ablation feels like a Main album should.  Not entirely removed from his recent solo works, but still retaining a signature, unique sound. - Creaig Dunton

  44. These New Puritans, "Field of Reeds" (Infectious)
  45. Factory Floor, "Factory Floor" (DFA)

    So much hype around this one but I'm left BEGGING for some good hooks. It's all so empty to me. I kept waiting for the music to start. - Jon Whitney

  46. Föllakzoid, "II" (Sacred Bones)
  47. Laurel Halo, "Chance of Rain" (Hyperdub)

    Grew on me more than I thought it would. I still miss the vocal nuances of Quarantine but this is superb, and outdoes most of her strictly instrumental work so far. -Adam Devlin

  48. Boduf Songs, "Burnt Up On Re-Entry" (Southern)

    A surprising but satisfying release from Mat Sweet. Despite the gloss of accessibility, this will never set the charts on fire but it is another solid reminder of how great Boduf Songs are. - John Kealy

    I almost completely forgot about this. "Everyone Will Let You Down In The End" is so harrowing.  -Adam Devlin

    Shame on you Brainwashed readers for not putting this in the Top 10. SHAME ON YOU ALL. - Jon Whitney

  49. Phill Niblock, "Touch Five" (Touch)

    If this was the first disc alone, it would be a masterpiece but as it stands, Touch Five is too bloated for me. It might seem perverse to give out about excess on a Niblock release but did the world really need three versions of "Two Lips"? - John Kealy

    Excessive, yes.  However, I've come to expect that sort of thing from Niblock, and the first disc is essential.  The second, with the three versions of "Two Lips" is more conceptually interesting than compelling. - Creaig Dunton

  50. Implodes, "Recurring Dream" (Kranky)

    Uneven album, but I love "Zombie Regrets." -Anthony D'Amico

  51. Ensemble Pearl, "Ensemble Pearl" (Drag City)
  52. Emptyset, "Recur" (Raster-Noton)
  53. Julianna Barwick, "Nepenthe" (Dead Oceans)
  54. Pere Ubu, "lady From Shangai" (Fire Records)
  55. Benoit Pioulard, "Hymnal" (Kranky)

    Some of the saddest and most beautiful pop of the year. -Adam Devlin

  56. Vatican Shadow, "Remember Your Black Day" (Hospital)

    I like Vatican Shadow a lot, but most of these songs were on the dull side.  One of Shadow's most anticipated, yet least essential releases. -Anthony D'Amico

    Fernow still could do with an editor, but I at least felt for the most part this felt like an album, just not maybe a definitive one. - Creaig Dunton

  57. Chris Watson, "In St. Cuthbert's Time" (Touch)
  58. Mohammad, "Son Sakrifis" (PAN)
  59. Steve Gunn, "Time Off" (Paradise of Bachelors)

    Kurt Vile and Gunn both put out monsters this year. Every song is solid, including the instrumental, and the excellent rendition of "The Lurker," whose 20-minute version won my heart back on that Three Lobed comp from 2011. -Adam Devlin

  60. Noveller, "No Dreams" (important)

    "No Dreams" is yet another strong candidate for the single best song of the year. -Anthony D'Amico

  61. Cindytalk, "A Life Is Everywhere" (Editions Mego)
  62. The Necks, "Open" (Northern Spy)
  63. CoH, "Retro 2038" (Editions Mego)

    The only Giorgio Moroder-inspired record you needed this year. Catchy, playful, reverent, and inventive all at once. - Lucas Schleicher

  64. Jesu, "Everyday I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came" (Avalanche)

    The opening "Homesick" was lovely, even if it was simplistic and followed the Jesu template to the letter.  The rest of the album seemed to slowly slide after that, however.  Better than Ascension, but the EP releases are still where it's at. - Creaig Dunton

    I keep thinking "this deserves another listen" and then I lose interest after "Homesick". -Adam Devlin

    What they said. - Jon Whitney

  65. Bardo Pond, "Peace on Venus" (Fire)
  66. Jasper TX, "An Index of Failure" (Handmade Birds)
  67. Svarte Greiner, "Black Tie" (Miasmah)
  68. Fire! Orchestra , "Exit!" (Rune Grammofon)

    The best jazz release of 2013. Both sides are unique and monolithic. -Adam Devlin

  69. *AR, "Succession" (Corbel Stone Press)

    "Relics" is 12:48 of pure heaven. -Anthony D'Amico

  70. Mountains, "Centralia" (Thrill Jockey)
  71. Roly Porter, "Life Cycle of a Massive Star" (Subtext)
  72. Bill Orcutt, "A History of Every One" (Editions Mego)
  73. Ryoji Ikeda, "Supercodex" (Raster-Noton)
  74. Black Boned Angel, "The End" (Handmade Birds)
  75. Date Palms, "The Dusted Sessions" (Thrill Jockey)
  76. Jacob Kirkegaard, "Conversions" (Touch)
  77. Matana Roberts, "Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile" (Constellation)

    Another great jazz record from this year, but not nearly as powerful as Chapter 1. The operatic tinges of Jeremiah Abiah are an interesting contribution. There's nothing superbly memorable like "Bid Em In" here, but rather an irresolute, finicky song cycle of moods that are occasionally very moving. -Adam Devlin

  78. Zola Jesus and JG Thirlwell, "Version" (Sacred Bones)

    This was much less compelling than it could have been.  Some of the arrangements were cool, but this collaboration was far less than the sum of its parts.  -Anthony D'Amico

    I think I would have appreciated this far more if it was a re-invention of the songs along with the string arrangement. I would have liked to have heard more Thirlwell to be honest, if he's going to get equal billing.

  79. Pharmakon, "Abandon" (Sacred Bones)

    Hooked from the first ten seconds. So shrill and undeniable. -Adam Devlin

  80. Pet Shop Boys, "Electric" (x2)

    Hot. - Jon Whitney

  81. Aidan Baker, "Already Drowning" (Gizeh)
  82. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Taos Hum" (Trademark of Quantity)

    You guys don't have to release every single thing you record, you know. -Anthony D'Amico

  83. Demdike Stare , "The Weight of Culture" (No Label )
  84. Hacker Farm , "UHF" (Exotic Pylon)
  85. The Stranger, "Watching Dead Empires In Decay" (Modern Love)
  86. William Tyler, "Impossible Truth" (Merge)
  87. Gabriel Saloman, "Soldier's Requiem" (Miasmah)
  88. Wooden Wand, "Blood Oaths of the New Blues" (Fire)
  89. Paul Jebanasam, "Rites" (Subtext)
  90. Colleen, "The Weighing of the Heart" (Second Language)

    I am thrilled that Colleen has resurfaced, albeit sounding quite a bit different.  -Anthony D'Amico

  91. Matt Elliott, "Only Myocardial Infarction Can Break Your Heart" (Ici d'ailleurs)
  92. Basic House, "Oats" (Alter)
  93. Jenny Hval, "Innocence is Kinky" (Rune Grammofon)

    One of the better surprises of the year that wasn't a reunion tour or comeback album. Every concurrent listen reveals new things to love, both about Hval's voice and the character she exudes on these songs. -Adam Devlin

  94. Bruce Gilbert & BAW, "Diluvial" (Touch)

    It might not have the intensity of In Esse or the complexity of Gilbert's 1980s output, but Gilbert still knows how to make a great racket. - Creaig Dunton

    Bruce Gilbert and BAW did an awesome job combining INA-GRM style noise with threads of melody, ambient music, and field recordings. A very interesting and hard-to-pin-down album. - Lucas Schleicher

  95. Daniel Menche, "Vilke" (Sige)

    I would have ranked this one higher than Marriage of Metals both because of its more idiosyncratic construction (using the cries and howls of wolves), but also its much more beautiful presentation.  Both of these albums are great Menche works, but this is the top one in my opinion. - Creaig Dunton

  96. Duane Pitre, "Bridges" (Important)
  97. Glenn Jones, "My Garden State" (Thrill Jockey)

    Glenn Jones deserves a much higher spot than 97, especially given how beautiful this album is. My Garden State is an absolute jewel, if you have not heard this then rectify that situation now! - John Kealy

    I can not praise this enough. Have you listened to this yet? Brew some coffee, grab a chair. Sit down and listen to it. -Adam Devlin

    This is in my personal top 10 of the year. - Jon Whitney

  98. Kaboom Karavan, "Hokus Fokus" (Miasmah)

    Endearingly, wonderfully deranged. -Anthony D'Amico

  99. The Silverman, "Finisterre" (Trademark of Quantity)

    "Spring" is absolutely brilliant.  This should have placed much higher. -Anthony D'Amico

  100. Little Annie & Baby Dee, "State of Grace" (Tin Angel)

Single of the Year

  1. Tutti, "Coolicon" (Conspiracy International)

    Stunning. - John Kealy

    I wish more bands would release singles and EPs, as there were so many great songs buried on so many not-great albums this year.  There's no shame in releasing just one stand-alone stone-cold banger (like this one). - Anthony D'Amico

    Chris & Cosey (sorry, but Carter Tutti sounds like a law firm) excel when they are working in their own sandbox. Their collaborative works lately have been good but as a duo they have an incredible track record of excellence. This is no exception. - Jon Whitney

  2. Demdike Stare, "Testpressings 4" (self-released)
  3. Autechre, "L-Event" (Warp)

    This might be the first Autechre single/EP in a while that isn't secretly another album, but with Exai's double disc-ness, it is acceptable.  A bit more flat in comparison to the album, but still some great rhythms to be had. - Creaig Dunton

    Did you voters even listen to this? - Jon Whitney

  4. Burial, "Rival Dealer" (Hyperdub)

    "Ashtray Wasp" is still my favorite of his longer pieces, but this pleasantly subverted a lot of his past crutches to his credit. -Adam Devlin

  5. Helm, "Silencer" (PAN/Alter)

    Alter is rapidly becoming one of my favorite labels around–Luke Younger has excellent taste.  Also, Helm is reliably great. -Anthony D'Amico

    Yes! One of my favorites this year. Who needs Vatican Shadow when Luke Younger is around? He absolutely kills it on this record. - Lucas Schleicher

  6. Vatican Shadow, "When You Are Crawling" (Hospital)

    This made Remember Your Black Day completely obsolete, as it reprises its two best songs and gets rid of everything else.  Redundant?  Sure!  Necessary?  Hell no!  However, as a stand-alone release, Crawling is easily one of Vatican Shadow's strongest efforts to date.  -Anthony D'Amico

  7. Pete Swanson, "Punk Authority" (Software)

    Pete Swanson seems to reliably deliver one song each year that tears my head off.  "Punk Authority" was this year's.  -Anthony D'Amico

  8. Miles, "Unsecured" (Modern Love)

    Heavy, banging, sharp-edged, no-frills techno of the best kind. - Lucas Schleicher

  9. Cut Hands, "Damballah 58" (Blackest Ever Black)
  10. Nurse With Wound/Graham Bowers, "Diploid" (Red Wharf)

    I find it odd that the bonus disc from Parade makes the singles chart but no sign of Parade itself on the albums chart. No NWW at all for that matter. What happened? - John Kealy

    I thought Parade was a totally unhinged, tuba-powered nightmare of an album, but this less manic companion EP is much less likely to cause an instant headache.  I can see why people preferred it, though the actual album is probably stronger artistically. -Anthony D'Amico 

  11. Pye Corner Audio, "Conical Space" (Dekorder)
  12. Lee Noble, "Ruiner" (Bathetic)
  13. Khan Of Finland, "Thin White Sinner" (I'm Single)
  14. Boduf Songs/Jessica Bailiff, "Decapitation Blues / Lakeside Blues" (Morc)
  15. Edward Ka-Spel, "The Patriot" (Unlimited Drift)
  16. Moin, "EP" (Blackest Ever Black)
  17. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, "Needle Boy" (Kobalt)
  18. John Foxx and the Belbury Circle, "Empty Avenues" (Ghost Box)

    Ghost Box can do no wrong in my mind. -Adam Devlin

  19. Low, "The Visible End" (Sub Pop)
  20. Pye Corner Audio, "Superstitious Century" (Boomkat)
  21. Al Cisneros, "Ark Procession" (Drag City)

    This along with Teresa of Avila show that Cisneros's obsession with dub has not diminished but I cannot help but feel that these are unfinished demos for a new Om album. Fingers crossed we will see such a thing by the end of 2014. - John Kealy

    I refuse to listen to this until Cisneros issues a formal apology for the Om dubplates. -Anthony D'Amico

  22. The Fall, "The Remainderer" (Cherry Red)
  23. The Bug, "Filthy" (Ninja Tune)
  24. Al Cisneros, "Teresa Of Avila" (Sinai)
  25. Pale Sketcher, "Warm Sunday" (Avalanche)

Live album/vault recording/reissue (or otherwise not really a "new full-length album")

  1., "Not Here/Not Now" (Young God)

    Another prime reason to love Swans. Counting down to the new studio release! - John Kealy

    No physical medium can truly capture what a Swans performance is like, but these recent ones at least make a valiant effort, and are excellent companions to the studio work given how much the songs have evolved. - Creaig Dunton

    Every live document is worthwhile from Swans, and every live document reminds me about how much I enjoy being in the moment. Once again this document comes with the bonuses of new sketchwork to whet our appetite for what's to come. - Jon Whitney

  2. Grouper, "Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill" (Kranky)
  3. Edward Artemiev, "Solaris Original Soundtrack" (Mirumir)
  4. Natural Snow Buildings / Isengrind / Twinsistermoon, "The Snowbringer Cult" (Ba Da Bing!)

    This is one of the most essential releases in Solange and Mehdi's daunting oeuvre.  It's damn nice to have it back in print again.  The Natural Snow Buildings' disc is especially wonderful.  -Anthony D'Amico

    Oh, wow. This destroyed me for a month. Whether you like the droning long sound collage, the short experiments, the lo-fi folk songs, whatever; this is such a magnificent set of material. I would recommend starting here if you're not sure where to dive into NSB's dense catalog. -Adam Devlin

  5. Songs:Ohia, "The Magnolia Electric Co." (Secretly Canadian)

    I listened to this more than anything else this year. It's the best rock 'n' roll album recorded since I was born, no doubt about it. Having all the demos and "The Big Game Is Every Night" in one place makes this the re-issue of the year. - Lucas Schleicher

    Very few albums can continue to make the same impact they made when you first heard them over 10 years ago. This album continues to be one of the select few and the reissue package is more than generous. - Jon Whitney

  6. Bernard Parmegiani, "De Natura Sonorum" (Recollection GRM)

    When Bernard Parmegiani passed away in November, the world lost a giant of electronic music. This reissue of his masterpiece came as an unfortunately timely reminder of the power, inventiveness and beauty of his work. He will be sorely missed. - John Kealy

    I really need to catch up all the great Recollection GRM reissues that I missed from last year, especially this one. -Anthony D'Amico

  7. Iannis Xenakis, "GRM Works 1957-1962" (Recollection GRM)

    The recording of "Bohor" on here absolutely knocks my socks off. A brilliant side-long piece of music that I never would have heard if it weren't for Recollection's efforts. - Lucas Schleicher

  8. Edward Artemiev, "Stalker/The Mirror - Music From Andrey Tarkovsky's Motion Pictures" (Mirumir)
  9. Four Tet, "Rounds" (Domino)
  10. Chrome, "Half Machine from the Sun" (self-released)
  11. Godflesh, "Hymns" (The End)

    This was always my least favorite Godflesh album, and this new expanded/remastered version hasn't moved it out of that slot.  However, Broadrick's remastering helps quite a bit to take it out of its unfortunate nu-metal production, and that demo version of "Anthem" is as brilliant as it was when it was released online a decade ago. - Creaig Dunton

  12. Sandwell District, "Fabric 69" (Fabric)
  13. Edward Ka-Spel, "A Pleasure Cruise Through 9 Dimensions" (Trademark of Quantity)
  14. The Legendary Pink Dots, "9 Lives to Wonder redux" (Trademark of Quantity)
  15. Grails, "Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4, 5 & 6" (Temporary Residence)
  16. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "Live from KCRW" (Bad Seed Ltd.)
  17. Come, "Eleven:Eleven" (Matador)
  18. Peter Jeffries, "The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World" (De Stijl)
  19. The Legendary Pink Dots, "Seconds Late for the Brighton Line redux" (Trademark of Quantity)
  20. Alastair Galbraith, "Cry" (MIE)
  21. Roky Erickson, "The Evil One" (Light in the Attic)
  22. The Legendary Pink Dots, "From Here You'll Watch the World Go By redux" (Trademark of Quantity)
  23. Devo, "Hardcore" (Superior Viaduct)
  24. Drexciya, "Journey Of The Deep Sea Dweller IV" (Clone Classic Cuts )
  25. Horseback, "A Plague of Knowing" (Relapse)

    Three discs of singles, limited tape releases, and outtakes means some bloat and excess, but when Jenks Miller drifts out of that southern black metal drone sound on here, it works really well for being out of his comfort zone. - Creaig Dunton

  26. Robert Wyatt, "68" (Cuneiform)
  27. Dead Can Dance, "In Concert" (Play It Again Sam)
  28. Eliane Radigue, "Opus 17" (Alga Marghen)
  29. Ensemble Economique, "The Vastness Is Bearable Only Through Love" (Shelter Press)
  30. M. Geddes Gengras, "Collected Works Vol. 1: The Moog Years" (Umor Rex)

    Meditative gold. -Adam Devlin

    Everyone can stop making synthesizer albums now.  No one is going to top this one. -Anthony D'Amico

  31. Sun City Girls, "Eye Mohini (Sun City Girls Singles Volume 3)" (Abduction)
  32. Fluxion, "Vibrant Forms" (Type)

    I like this album more and more every time I hear it.  Keep those Chain Reaction reissues comin', Xela! -Anthony D'Amico

  33. Gnod, "Chaudelande" (Rocket)
  34. Loren Connors, "The Departing of a Dream" (Family Vineyard)
  35. Alberich, "Machine Gun Nest: Cassette Works, Vol. 0" (Hospital)

    Man, I would have LOVED this if it had come out in the early '90s.  I still like it a lot, but my tolerance for heavily processed Industrial/Power Electronics vocals is extremely low these days.  Heavy stuff.  -Anthony D'Amico

    Pulverizing music, and completely exhilarating. -Adam Devlin

  36. Iancu Dumitrescu, "Pierres Sacrees/Hazard and Tectonics" (Ideologic Organ)
  37. Robbie Basho, "Visions of the Country" (Gnome Life)
  38. The Slaves, "Ocean on Ocean" (Helen Scarsdale)

    Ack! This actually came out in 2012.  Still a very cool album though. -Anthony D'Amico

  39. Codeine, "What About the Lonely?" (Numero Group)
  40. Robert Turman, "Beyond Painting" (Fabrica)
  41. Steve Hauschildt, "S/H" (Editions Mego)
  42. Craig Leon, "Nommos" (Superior Viaduct)
  43. Francois Bayle, "Les couleurs de la nuit" (Sub Rosa)
  44. Muslimgauze, "Izlamic Songs" (Staalplaat)
  45. Troum, "Syzygie" (Cold Spring)
  46. Fela Kuti, "The Best of the Black President 2" (Knitting Factory)
  47. Felicia Atkinson, "Visions/Voices" (Umor Rex)
  48. Loscil, "Intervalo: Adaptations for Piano & Laptop" (Frond)
  49. Piano Magic, "Heart Machinery" (Second Language)

    I wish someone would make me a mixed CD of every great Piano Magic song, as I definitely lack the patience and energy to sift through all their forgettable ones to find them.  - Anthony D'Amico

  50. Songs: Ohia, "Hecla & Griper" (Secretly Canadian)

Various Artist Collection of the Year

  1."Touch30" (Touch)
  2. "Metal Dance 2: Industrial, New Wave, and EBM Classics & Rarities 79-88" (Strut)

    This was certainly fun nostalgia-wise, but it is not quite as good as the first volume and very few of these songs have aged all that well–probably would have been better as a single album.  That said, there were definitely a few great songs that I'd never heard before (Tuxedomoon, Godley & Creme, and Crash Course in Science), as well as a fresh reminder that Chris & Cosey's "Driving Blind" is awesome. -Anthony D'Amico

  3. "Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988" (Strut)

    This is a prime example of why the post-punk era was so great: even the totally obscure bands were weird, unique, and exciting. -Anthony D'Amico

  4. "Deutsche Elektronische Musik 2" (Soul Jazz)
  5. "I Am The Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990" (Light in the Attic)

    I liked this much, much more than I expected to, as these pioneering early New Age artists were quite an iconoclastic, visionary bunch.  Also, Laraaji is clearly a dude who knows how to write a killer song about unicorns. -Anthony D'Amico

    The total commitment to quality and curation pays off dearly. New Age music is often maligned as cheeseball and insincere, but the careful choices on this comp go to show how forward-thinking and very legitimate that genre tag started out as. Beautiful from start to finish. -Adam Devlin

  6. "An Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music Vol. 7" (Sub Rosa)

    I'm sad to see this series end but what a way to go, my ears will never be the same again! - John Kealy

  7. "After Dark 2" (Italians Do It Better)
  8. "Change the Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979-1987" (Strut)
  9. "L.I.E.S. Presents Music for Shut-Ins" (L.I.E.S.)
  10. "The Crying Princess: 78RPM Records from Burma" (Sublime Frequencies)
  11. "Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight to Ghana 1974-1983" (Analog Africa)
  12. "20 Jahre Kompakt/Kollektion 1" (Kompakt)
  13. "Choubi Choubi! Folk & Pop Songs from Iraq Vol. 2" (Sublime Frequencies)

    I have a pile of Sublime Frequencies vinyl waiting to be listened to, but I rarely get a chance to listen to records.  It is so hard being me. -Anthony D'Amico

  14. "Ethnic Minority Music of Southern China " (Sublime Frequencies)

    Fun story: I once awoke to the sound of my old college station playing this in the middle of the night, the sounds of "Song On the Origin Of The World" seemingly repeating endlessly in my sleepy delirium. It was terrifying! I couldn't get back to sleep for hours. This is a magnificent album, however. Sublime Frequencies puts out lots of great material, but I'd have to recommend this if you're having trouble deciding which one to buy this year. -Adam Devlin

  15. "Collision/Detection" (Front & Follow)
  16. "Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s and '80s" (Soundway)

    Characteristically stellar.  -Anthony D'Amico

  17. "Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound" (Numero Group)

    If you know anything about this, you should want it already. -Adam Devlin

  18. "Hassaniya Music from the Western Sahara and Mauritania" (Sublime Frequencies)

    Let's face it, Sublime Frequencies need to do very little to impress but this overview of north African music is a level beyond the normal quality. Pure bliss. - John Kealy

  19. "Livity Sound" (Livity Sound)
  20. "Halh: 20 Years of Downwards" (Downwards)

    I really need to get this.  Downwards has been releasing some killer stuff.  -Anthony D'Amico

  21. "Down To The Silver Sea" (Blank Workshop / Gecophonic Audio Systems)
  22. "Feral Grind" (Submit)

    This was far less uniformly amazing than I had hoped it would be, but the Mincemeat Or Tenspeed track is absolutely crushing. -Anthony D'Amico

  23. "20 Jahre Kompakt/Kollektion 2" (Kompakt)
  24. "Studio One Ska Fever!" (Soul Jazz)

    I am embarrassingly obsessed with Soul Jazz's Studio One compilations and never miss a single one, as each generally has at least one song that I become utterly infatuated with.  This one didn't have that, but it was still atypically solid.  Great stuff by The Wailers, Lee Perry, The Gaylads, and The Ethiopians. -Anthony D'Amico

  25. "Greek Rhapsody (Instrumental Music from Greece 1905-1956)" (Dust-to-Digital)


Boxed Set

  1. Radigue, "Adnos I-III" (Important)

    This probably would have been equally great as a single album, but otherwise reaffirms that Radigue is probably my favorite drone artist ever.  Why wasn't I listening to this when it first came out in 2002?  God, I must have been so lame then. -Anthony D'Amico

  2. Cabaret Voltaire, "#8385 Collected Works (1983-1985)" (Mute)

    On the expensive side, especially for those of us who had this material already.  But the remastering does give the released material a bit extra edge, and even though Earthshaker is largely songs that ended up in different forms on Micro-Phonies and Covenant, the early versions are no less captivating.  Anyone who isn't familiar with this era of CV should jump right on it though. - Creaig Dunton

    I'm surprised that this many people own this set, given the price. I bought it, however, and am glad that I did. The mastering on Covenant is worth it for the price alone, as the original CD was horribly mastered, clumsy, and irrelevant. This new version sounds like the way the duo intended, and not a crummy CD made from the untweaked vinyl master. The videos and the bonus and the other tunes make it an amazing set, however I would have appreciated the inclusion of The Drain Train as well as compilation tracks that ended up on Listen Up, as they were part of this phase of the group. - Jon Whitney

  3. Can, "Can" (Spoon)

    Who actually bought this? This makes the Kraftwerk box set from a few years ago look like good value. - John Kealy

    Vinyl fetishists are weird, and are suckers.  I picked up all of the SACD reissues, so no way in hell I'm going to touch this.  But I am a bit annoyed that this is the only way to get a recent pressing of Out of Reach, even though by all accounts it is an utter turd. - Creaig Dunton

    Really?  I want one person who voted for this to email me a selfie holding this set up in their livingroom. If I get no emails in the next week I will delete this from the poll!  I'm serious! - Jon Whitney

  4. Natural Snow Buildings, "Daughter of Darkness" (Ba Da Bing!)

    I love Ba Da Bing's Natural Snow Buildings reissue campaign.  They outdid themselves with this one. - Anthony D'Amico

    This is one of those releases that reminds me that this duo needs to tour, damnit! - Jon Whitney

  5. Eleh, "Homage" (Taiga)

    Good vibrations. - John Kealy

  6. Akos Rozmann, "Images of the Dream and Death" (Ideologic Organ)

    Jumped into this one blind and was fascinated.  Some truly hellish, demonic sounds coaxed out of synthesizers. - Creaig Dunton

  7. Skullflower, "Kino I-IV" (Dirter)

    In terms of music, this is brilliant. In terms of a box set, this is severely lacking especially given the price. Still, the music is what's important and to have this material back in print is huge. - John Kealy

  8. The Hafler Trio, " A Cure For Kenophobia-an Empowerment In 4 Easy Stages At Very Reasonable Rates; Recordings 87-99 " (Vinyl On Demand)
  9. My Cat is an Alien, "Psycho-System" (Elliptical Noise)

    I am so happy that other people liked this too.  A brain-melting monolith of deep psychedelia. -Anthony D'Amico

  10. Red Temple Spirits, "Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon/If Tomorrow I Were Leaving for Lhasa, I Wouldn't Stay a Minute More... " (Independent Project)
  11. Conny Plank, "Who's That Man: A Tribute to Conny Plank" (Grönland)
  12. Dennis Johnson, "November" (Penultimate Press)
  13. Greg Haines, "2006-2012" (Denovali)
  14. Half Japanese, "1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts" (Fire)
  15. Jandek, "The Song of Morgan" (Corwood)

    The most baffling and exasperating release of the year by a landslide.  Nine CDs of Jandek not sounding at all like Jandek.  This sounds like something Erik Satie might have done as a teenager on an absinthe bender, except he would have been totally embarrassed by it when he sobered up and hurriedly destroyed all traces of its existence. -Anthony D'Amico


Act of the Year

  1. The Legendary Pink Dots

    Ka-Spel and company certainly had the most prolific year of anybody, but they were also responsible for a few of my favorite songs.  I'm glad they're getting some well-deserved appreciation and I look forward to slowly digging through all of their remasters in the coming months. -Anthony D'Amico

    It was truly a banner year for them. LPD's campaign to bankrupt every fan of theirs by issuing FOUR albums of new material along with multiple expanded reissues seems to be having some success. Well done. - Jon Whitney

  2. Tim Hecker

    Much like The Legendary Pink Dots, Tim Hecker is creatively restless and constantly evolving.  Unlike the Dots, Hecker quietly surfaced just long to drop an absolutely brilliant album, then quickly vanished from the spotlight yet again.  And he definitely won't re-appear until he has painstakingly crafted something similarly stunning.  I love that about him. -Anthony D'Amico

  3. Grouper
  4. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  5. Autechre

    If nothing else, Autechre should be respected for not only staying consistently productive, but also for continuing to update their sound, even if the results are sometimes off-putting. - Creaig Dunton

  6. Edward Artemiev

    Is this the first time that an elderly Russian man has ever been a serious contender for Act of the Year?  It must be.  I hope this starts a trend. -Anthony D'Amico

  7. William Basinski
  8. Boards of Canada
  9. Natural Snow Buildings

    Wow- they didn't even release anything new this year.  I guess the world needed some time to catch up.  -Anthony D'Amico

  10. Swans

    Swans makes the top 10 and they only put out a live album this year.  That alone should demonstrate the force that they are. - Creaig Dunton

Label of the Year

  1. Kranky

    I concur.  Tim Hecker's Virgins and Disappears' Era are my supporting evidence. -Anthony D'Amico

    Kranky proves every year that it's not quantity, it's quality. - Jon Whitney

  2. self-released

    I collect everything on this label, but I must admit the label numbering system is a bit confusing. - Creaig Dunton

    Seriously? -Adam Devlin

    This is the first time "self-released" has placed in the top 10 and it's a sign of the times. However, it wasn't enough to unseat the mighty Kranky. - Jon Whitney

  3. Thrill Jockey

    What's up with Chicago?  Their domination of the experimental music landscape is somewhat unnerving.  -Anthony D'Amico

  4. Important

    There were definitely quite a few Important releases that I did not like this year, but I loved how adventurous and eclectic their release schedule was nonetheless. Eliane Radigue's Adnos reissue was probably the highlight for me, but Noveller and Günter Schickert also made quite an impact.  -Anthony D'Amico 

  5. Editions Mego

    Always a great label, but their ambitious Recollection GRM reissue campaign has made them even better. -Anthony D'Amico

    Absolutely. Recollection GRM is an excellent series, and Editions Mego is an awesome label. I love that COH album and am still digging into the Äänipää record from the end of the year. Toss in Ideologic Organ's releases and O'Rourke's Old News series and you have one of the best experimental music resources hands down. - Lucas Schleicher

  6. Blackest Ever Black

    I don't get it. I don't think they put out a single record that I enjoyed this year. And if they did, I've already forgotten about it. - Lucas Schleicher

  7. Matador
  8. Warp

    I can't think of anything they put out this year I didn't like (besides that terrible !!! album). - Adam Devlin

    The negative numbers of that !!! album certainly set them back. - Jon Whitney

  9. Constellation
  10. Touch

New Artist of the Year

Rashad Becker

After years of mastering for the finest vinyl mastering outfit, the man steps out to make the highest charting debut album. Well done.

Overlooked Staff Picks

  • Nurse With Wound & Graham Bowers, "Parade" (Red Wharf)
  • Nurse With Wound & Aranos, "[SIC]" (self-released)

    I don't know how these two releases got looked over but they are two monsters. I know some less than stellar NWW albums have been voted up in previous polls but these two both confirm that Steven Stapleton is doing some great work at the moment. Bowers and Petr Vastl both add their own flavors and ideas to these albums, making them two very different but very enjoyable beasts.

  • Lisa Germano, "No Elephants" (Badman)

    Germano continues to be one of the most original, innovative, and talented contemporary composers. This album is a masterpiece. - Jon Whitney

  • Yoshi Wada, "Singing in Unison" (Em Records)

    This is the most remarkable album I have heard in years. I get shivers even just thinking about it. - John Kealy

  • Fushitsusha, "名前を つけないで ほしい 名前を つけて しまうと 全てで なくなって  しまうから" (Heartfast)
  • Fushitsusha, "まだ 温かいうちの この今に  すべての謎を 注ぎ込こもう" (Heartfast)

    It is not really surprising that these two Fushitsusha albums have gotten overlooked given how slow distribution outside of Japan has been for Heartfast releases. However, they are worth the hassle of tracking down - two raw and heavy studio workouts by one of the greatest rock groups of all time. - John Kealy

  • Daughter, "If You Leave" (4AD)

    Did everyone sleep on this record, or am I just in love with it a little too much? Either way, this offering to the gods of cynicism and heartache is my favorite of the year.  - Matt Jeanes

  • Keith Rowe/Graham Lambkin, Making A (Erstwhile)

    My pick for album of the year. Erstwhile had several in the running actually and, like Anthony, I'm disappointed that Photographs didn't make it onto the list. But Making A arrived first and I spent more time coming to terms with it than any other album this year. It prompted all kinds of questions, led me to reading essays about Cornelius Cardew, Christian Wolff, John Cage, and The Scratch Orchestra, and generally improved my musical understanding and vocabulary just by being such a radically different kind of recording, almost like a puzzle. This is challenging music on several levels: it can be perplexing, sometimes frustrating, and it meanders in places. The structure isn't always clear, there are no conventional melodies or rhythms, and neither Keith nor Graham hold your hand and tell you what to think about it. They aren't speaking to you in any way, and once you realize that, the album opens up and becomes something entirely new. The sum total of all this is a mind-expanding and inspiring set of music. Keith Rowe was already a favorite of mine, but in 2013 I learned to keep my eye on Graham Lambkin too. - Lucas Schleicher

  • Man, there were an absolutely staggering number of baffling omissions this year–I don't even know where to begin.  I guess the most glaring one for me has to be Disappears' Era, which offered up some of the most scary and bad-ass rock in recent memory.  I also thought Russian Tsarlag's Gagged In Boonesville was an absolute monster of an album, though I can certainly understand how its "slime-coated Dirty Beaches" aesthetic would severely lack mass appeal.  Aside from that, I really dug Big Blood, Helm's Cryptography reissue, Iron Fist of The Sun, Liberez, Huerco S., Katie Gately, Oiseaux Tempête, The Field, and just about everything that Samuel Kerridge released. Also, I thought you guys liked Jason Lescalleet–where the hell is Photographs? -Anthony D'Amico

  • Throwing Muses, "Purgatory/Paradise" (4AD)

    Okay maybe a two-CD set inside a book was a lot to handle but it's stellar from start to finish. Kristin Hersh remains one of the most prolific songwriters of our time but maybe a 10-song Throwing Muses album would have been easier to digest. - Jon Whitney

  • Stara Rzeka, "Cien Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem"

    Apart from a scarce number of blogs, I didn't see much attention paid to this at all, despite it being one of the strongest releases of the year. A mixture of Americana folk, neofolk, black metal, drone, harsh noise, kosmische, and krautrock, and that's all in the first song. Polish composer Kuba Ziolek has made a masterful album exploring Polish culture and folklore by way of a seamless blend of disparate styles. It's dense and very unafraid to spread out, as evidenced by the spectacular title track and strange sequencing, and it ends with a breathtaking Nico cover. Everyone should hear this.
    - Adam Devlin

  • Foetus, "Soak" (Ectopic Ents)

    Massive. How on earth did the Brainwashed readers completely miss this masterpiece?  Thirlwell has had a triumphant year with his recording and tour with Zola Jesus, the new Foetus album, and his score for The Blue Eyes. JG's albums are an experience unlike any other: part gangster chase scene, part horror, part mad scientist.  Soak is a vividly intense experience, with all the magic that has made Thirlwell's recordings withstand the test of time, landing him the opportunities as a well renowned producer, composer, orchestrator, and conductor. - Jon Whitney

Lifetime Achievement Recognition

Jason Molina

As with most things in life, I did not fully appreciate Jason Molina until he was gone: I figured he'd always be touring and writing great songs and I that I could always catch back up with him when I got around to it.  Sadly, I will have to do that posthumously now, but he left behind quite an impressive body of work for me to sift through and I am belatedly realizing that I slept on a lot of great Magnolia Electric-era stuff like a total chump.  In retrospect, I have no idea why I tuned out (too "rock?"), as the sole Magnolia Electric Company album that I picked up (What Comes After The Blues) is quite good and "Leave the City" has been in fairly heavy rotation in my life for almost a decade now.  I always loved Songs:Ohia though: I still get chills when I hear "Steve Albini's Blues" and Ghost Tropic obsessed me for months when it came out.  And every single one of those albums features at least one absolutely amazing song, as Molina was an utterly transfixing force of nature when he got a song just right–like a deeply haunted, world-weary Neil Young who had made a pact with Satan and was nervously dreading the time payment would come due.  Songs like "Coxcomb Red" are not just beautiful-they are actually scary in their intensity.  I can't think think of many other songwriters (if any) who can make that kind of impact on me.  Jason Molina was truly one of a kind.  You will burn on in my soul forever, Captain Badass. - Anthony D'Amico

It's hard to talk about Jason Molina without resorting to superlatives, but that's because he was one of the best songwriters and bandleaders around. He never stopped changing his sound from his first 7" to his last album, he wrote ceaselessly, toured every chance he got, and released one great album after another, often with completely different bands. By the time Magnolia Electric Co. came out in 2003, he had recorded nine albums in roughly seven years, plus numerous singles and EPs—at least 15 in total between 1995 and 2002—that were scattered across various labels, from Palace Records and Secretly Canadian to Acuarela, Western Vinyl, and Temporary Residence. He then went on to record one EP, two 7" singles, and seven more albums with Magnolia before he died, three of which were bundled together in the Sojourner boxed set and recorded in the same year. Somehow, within that same time span, he found the energy to write, record, and release four more albums, three under his own name and one collaboration with Will Johnson. He collaborated and released records with so many people it's hard to keep count: The Arab Strap, Will Oldham, Alasdair Roberts, Scout Niblett, Oneida, My Morning Jacket, Mike Mogis, Steve Albini, Jennie Benford, Richard Youngs, Edith Frost, David Lowery—the list goes on. And what's more, they're all worth hearing, even the rougher stuff. Some musicians need quality control and restraint: Jason Molina simply couldn't release enough, and if it's true that he burned or destroyed a lot of music on top of what he released every year... well then who knows. There's apparently still many recordings of his left in the vaults. I hope to hear them eventually, but nothing will ever beat seeing him on stage with Magnolia Electric Co. and hearing him sing. No one was better at it than he was. - Lucas Schleicher

At the funeral of John Balance (Geff Rushton), Peter Christopherson described him as this force of energy, like a bolt of lightning, difficult to predict and too bright to look at directly. Molina, too, was a force of energy, more powerful than this world could handle. In his short lifetime, he amassed an incredible volume of material that is peerless. It, as Lucas stated, is all worth listening to as he always had something worthwhile to say and was an amazingly talented composer, performer, and singer. I have been a fan for close to 15 years at this point and selfishly, I am angry there will be no more new music. However, as a listener, it will continue to take me years to come to truly get to the heart of each song on each album. It breaks my heart to not be able to see him once or twice a year as I did when he was doing the Songs: Ohia thing, solo thing, or the Magnolia Electric Co. We always had great talks and while I didn't consider him a true "friend" in the conventional sense, we knew and appreciated who we each were and what we do. I'm glad to have been one of the rare few who was able to corner him and get some great interview and live footage. He truly achieved an amazing amount in his lifetime. - Jon Whitney


Worst Album of the Year

  1. Arcade Fire, "Reflektor" (Merge)
  2. Vampire Weekend, "Modern Vampires of the City" (XL)
  3. The Men, "New Moon" (Sacred Bones)
  4. !!!, "THR!!!ER" (Warp)
  5. Darkstar, "News from Nowhere" (4AD)
  6. Queens of the Stone Age, "...Like Clockwork" (Matador)
  7. Smith Westerns, "Soft Will" (Mom + Pop Music)
  8. Chvrches, "The Bones of What You Believe" (Glassnote)
  9. Cut Copy, "Free Your Mind" (Modular)
  10. Majical Cloudz, "Impersonator" (Matador)

    I was really looking forward to making lots of bitchy, hurtful comments about all the albums I hated from this year, but this reads far more like an "Overexposed" list than a "Worst" one.  In any case, I successfully managed to avoid hearing any of these, though Arcade Fire did ruin the trailer for Spike Jonze's Her for me. Also, the name "Majical Cloudz" makes me intensely angry. And have you guys heard about this wild new sub-genre called "dance punk?"  If not, you will–it's totally here to stay.  - Anthony D'Amico

    I did not hear a single one of these albums this year.  So, I can then conclude my taste in music is much better than those who have. - Creaig Dunton

    I feel like most of these are low-hanging fruit. Was anyone surprised by Arcade Fire's double album? Did anyone who hated their previous work thing this bloated, overproduced latest work would be a revelation? The worst album of the year should be unilaterally bad, and there were some not-utterly-horrible moments on Reflektor, as well as on the rest of these. New Moon was lopsided but not worthless, and even the Darkstar album had at least one pleasant song. Maybe the only real and total disappointment here was !!!, who managed to somehow self-ascribe the title of "masterpiece" to their worst release yet, and further alienate and confuse both fans and detractors. - Adam Devlin

    I'm disappointed The Knife wasn't in this list. Barf. - Jon Whitney


Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:14  


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