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Old 12-22-2013, 10:51 AM  
Reaper16 Reaper16 is offline
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***2013 Edition of Reaper's Favorite Albums of the Year***

It's time of the year again. It's everyone's favorite holiday present. Etc.

As always, this is a list of my personal favorite albums of the year. It's not meant to be an objective "best-of" list, because while I listen to hundreds of new albums each year I still fall far short of listening to enough to feel comfortable making an objective claim. My usual genre tendencies towards metal and hip-hop are as present as ever. Hopefully you'll find some albums you will come to dig through this list.

I'll be posting it out over the next day. I'm doing 30 albums this year.

30. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
29. Rittz – The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant
28. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
27. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
26. Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
25. Ces Cru - Constant Energy Struggles
24. DGM – Momentum
23. Action Bronson – Blue Chips 2
22. Kvelertak – Meir
21. A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP
20. Brandy Clark – 12 Stories
19. Mr. Mother****in eXquire – Kismet
18. Death Grips – Government Plates
17. ST 2 Lettaz – The G…Growth & Development
16. Ayreon – The Theory of Everything
15. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park
14. Magic Circle – Magic Circle
13. Gorguts – Colored Sands
12. Beyonce – Beyonce
11. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
10. Haim – Days Are Gone
09. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
08. Dessa – Parts of Speech
07. Danny Brown – Old
06. Deafheaven – Sunbather
05. El-P & Killer Mike – Run the Jewels
04. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
03. Rokia Traore – Beautiful Africa
02. Kanye West – Yeezus
01. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

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Old 12-22-2013, 11:02 AM   #16
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16. Ayreon – The Theory of Everything



Ayreon is the major musical project of Arjen Anthony Luccassen, a progressive rock and metal supergenius. All Ayreon albums work like this: they are rock operas. There are a bunch of guest vocalists who sing dialogue for characters. There are a bunch of guest musicians who lay down awesome instrumentals. Everything comes together to feel like a Broadway musical. The story for this album is about a savant whose father, a brilliant mathematician obsessed with figuring out the so-called Theory of Everything, gives him an experimental drug to help his autism or whatever. Unexpected things happen. The story is pure theatrical cheese, but I happen to dig that sort of thing, so whatever. Musically, this album Arjen at some of his very best: flutes and organs and harps and guitars. Heavy Kansas + Jethro Tull + Yes. The guest vocalists, headed up by Kamelot’s Tommy Kaervik, put in impressive, expressive work to sell the dialogue. The guest musicians? What a lineup! Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, Steve Hackman of Genesis, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Keith Emerson of ELP, among others. All held together by one of my favorite dummers on the planet, Ed Warby. What keeps this album out of my top 10, honestly, is the way the tracks are broken up. Arjen has essentially recorded four different 20-minute long songs. But the album breaks them up into little segments for each movement of the story (so you can follow along in the lyrics book). What happens is that instead of building true momentum over the course of a 20 minute song, the track changes undercut that tension. Sometimes a track will change in the middle of a vocal climax. It’s an unqualified mistake, and one that keeps one of Arjen’s best albums from becoming one of my all-time favorites.
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Old 12-22-2013, 11:16 AM   #17
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Love these, Reaper. Look forward to it every year.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:01 PM   #18
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Love these, Reaper. Look forward to it every year.
Thanks! I do it for all of y'all.
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:53 PM   #19
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Always a must read thread. Thanks for doing this every year!
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Old 12-22-2013, 02:15 PM   #20
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I was about to start whining about this not being up, yet. I'll be really curious to see where you put some metal albums.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:04 PM   #21
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I was about to start whining about this not being up, yet. I'll be really curious to see where you put some metal albums.
I thought this year was really, really, really poor for metal. I have HALF the number of metal albums in my top 15 that I normally do.
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Old 12-22-2013, 05:56 PM   #22
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16. Ayreon Ė The Theory of Everything



Ayreon is the major musical project of Arjen Anthony Luccassen, a progressive rock and metal supergenius. All Ayreon albums work like this: they are rock operas. There are a bunch of guest vocalists who sing dialogue for characters. There are a bunch of guest musicians who lay down awesome instrumentals. Everything comes together to feel like a Broadway musical. The story for this album is about a savant whose father, a brilliant mathematician obsessed with figuring out the so-called Theory of Everything, gives him an experimental drug to help his autism or whatever. Unexpected things happen. The story is pure theatrical cheese, but I happen to dig that sort of thing, so whatever. Musically, this album Arjen at some of his very best: flutes and organs and harps and guitars. Heavy Kansas + Jethro Tull + Yes. The guest vocalists, headed up by Kamelotís Tommy Kaervik, put in impressive, expressive work to sell the dialogue. The guest musicians? What a lineup! Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, Steve Hackman of Genesis, Rick Wakeman of Yes, Keith Emerson of ELP, among others. All held together by one of my favorite dummers on the planet, Ed Warby. What keeps this album out of my top 10, honestly, is the way the tracks are broken up. Arjen has essentially recorded four different 20-minute long songs. But the album breaks them up into little segments for each movement of the story (so you can follow along in the lyrics book). What happens is that instead of building true momentum over the course of a 20 minute song, the track changes undercut that tension. Sometimes a track will change in the middle of a vocal climax. Itís an unqualified mistake, and one that keeps one of Arjenís best albums from becoming one of my all-time favorites.
I love this album.
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:05 PM   #23
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I thought this year was really, really, really poor for metal. I have HALF the number of metal albums in my top 15 that I normally do.
They only good ones that I have heard are Infesstissumam by Ghost and The Mystery of Time by Avantasia. Iced Earth's newest won't be coming out till next month but it sounds good.

I guess you could count Anthems by Anthrax but its all covers.
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Old 12-22-2013, 06:14 PM   #24
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How does one of such eclectic tastes discover so much new music? What do you guys do? Visit forums? Radio? Pandora? Friends?
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:50 PM   #25
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How does one of such eclectic tastes discover so much new music? What do you guys do? Visit forums? Radio? Pandora? Friends?
Forums help. Various music blogs too. I find the prog and metal stuff through sites I've been going to and online acquaintances I've had for darn near a decade. I get tuned into most pop stuff through DJ friends. I live in the same town as NPR's chief music critic, Ann Powers, and she tunes me into things also.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:52 PM   #26
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15. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park






Taylor Swift get a lot of credit for writing her own songs, and she should. But be real: her songs are about some bullshit. Formulaic relationship songs lacking in self-awareness. Much better to heap awards and laurel wreathes on a young country performer who writes her own GOOD songs. Kacey Musgraves is that artist. This is the most refreshing country album I’ve heard in years. Listen to “Follow Your Arrow”, a song whose chorus breaks rhythm intentionally, supporting the song’s message to just do you, no matter who or what you are (“Make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into/when the straight and narrow gets a little to straight/roll up a joint/or don’t/just follow your arrow wherever it points”). A loose, carefree Nashville that acknowledges recreational drug use as something other than sinful? That is accepting and inviting to the LGBT community? Yes please. Lead us into tomorrow, Kacey. But it’s Kacey’s really depressing songs that most impress me. “Merry Go Round” is the best country song I’ve heard since the 90s, maybe. My Lord, what a masterpiece. You must listen to this. I’ve linked to it below. From the chorus: “ Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay/Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane/Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down./Mary, Mary, quite contrary/We get bored, so we get married./Just like dust, we settle in this town.” THAT’S THE CHORUS. Kacey has such an observational eye and an economy of words to capture small town life in an actually real way. This is impressive work.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:54 PM   #27
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14. Magic Circle – Magic Circle





This album absolutely should not work. Members from various New York/East Coast hardcore bands came together to form this side project – a band completely inspired by Black Sabbath, modern doom metal, and a splash of NWoBHM. This is my inherent bias against hardcore bands talking, but I didn’t expect them to get the song structure right. I didn’t expect the riffs to crush. I didn’t expect the pacing to be spot on. Beyond my expectations, the songs themselves surprise. “Rapture” begins with a riff stolen from Iron Maiden’s first album but gradually slows down to a Sabbath-era crawl. I mean, In Solitude tried to pull off something like this with their 2013 album, “Sister,” but they couldn’t get the energy, immediacy, or power correctly. Magic Circle, a damn side project, presumably formed for funsies, nails it.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:55 PM   #28
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13. Gorguts – Colored Sands





Quebec’s Gorguts are the godfathers of technical death metal. Every album in the genre is attempting to live up to Gorguts’ influence. The whirlwind riffs, the mathematical drumming, the progressive, complex song structure, the obvious jazz influence…these are things that lots of bands have come to be incredibly proficient at, modeling themselves after Gorguts. In Colored Sands, a concept album about Tibetan monks & Gorguts’ first album since 2001, they show that perhaps the only band to live up to them is them. Riffs on riffs on riffs. Walls of sound broken down by relentless drumming. A classical, orchestral composition in the middle of the album because why not. There’s not much more I can say here. Either the prospect of complex riffs excites you or it doesn’t.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:58 PM   #29
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12. Beyonce – Beyonce





I’ll come out with it: this is my favorite Beyonce album. I’m a Beyonce fan. I anticipated each of her albums. She’s great. I love the singles. There’s some deep cuts (“Crash Into You”!) that I love too. But I always found myself skipping some tracks on each of her albums. I’ve never been totally satisfied with an album-length listen from her. Until this self-titled album, released with absolutely no warning whatsoever (Death Grips did the same thing with No Love Deep Web, another point in my favor for rating them as highly as I did last year).

It’s so strong, all throughout. “Pretty Hurts” and “Heaven” are archetypal Beyonce ballads. “XO” and “Rocket” are the happy, lovey-dovey songs that she excels at too. But Beyonce adds a couple of other wrinkles beyond her usual. This is her dirtiest, nastiest, sexiest album yet. “Blow” is a disco song about licking her skittles, turning her cherry out, and giving her that daddy long stroke. “Partition” drips sex fluids all over the beat, and all over Bey’s clothes in the song. I could go on forever about the sexiness here. I’m most interested in how Houston this album is. Some instrumentals evoke chopped & screwed, plenty more just wear a Texas hip-hop influence on their sleeve. Beyonce herself, whether she’s performing this or not, uses a bit of Texas country inflection on this album. And the braggadocio of hip-hop is there too, especially on “***Flawless”, where Beyonce reminds other pop stars that the pop game “is my shit. Bow down, bitches” before moving on to making the track a feminist manifesto. The only weak point here is Jay-Z’s verse on “Drunk In Love,” where he favorably compares himself to Mike Tyson and Ike Turner. Why Beyonce allowed him to sing the praises of domestic abusers on an album that she and audiences want to see as a major work of feminism is beyond me. But that aside, this is an incredible pop album.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:59 PM   #30
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11. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories





What is it with disco this year? Arcade Fire played with it a lot. Beyonce touches it with “Blow.” And electronic dance masters Daft Punk released damn near a whole disco album this year. Also, it rules. Most of the tracks are immediately danceable, and the ones that aren’t are growers. Daft Punk hired a who’s who of session musicians, and the album is so instrumentally tight because of it. I love the scope and storytelling of “Giorgio by Moroder” and “Touch.” I love the electro-tinged futuristic-throwback sound of “Doin It Right” and “Give Life Back to Music.” The Pharell songs speak for themselves; you’ve heard them. The album closes with “Contact,” finally bringing things around to audience expectation of what Daft Punk should sound like. I could say more, but there’s one album this year that has a similar project as Random Access Memories, only its better. I’ll say more when that album comes up on the list.
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