A Year Of Music

I love tracking my listening habits with Last.fm. It’s a simple application you can use with music programs such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, or for the modern age, Spotify. Obviously there are things I listen to, such as the radio in my car or Pandora when jogging, that don’t get recorded, but it’s fun to see my general listening habits visualized (at least I find it extremely fun)

This post is simply me, sharing my top artists from 2013 (well technically past 12 months so you get a little bit of 2014 thrown in there) and some commentary on why the top ten fifteen are there.  Some of the results were surprising to me!

lastfmAs I’ll probably discuss at one point in a post, I really like when a band has a solid album as opposed to three singles and nine filler songs so I can just push play and listen all the way through instead of having to cherry pick the songs I enjoy and make a playlist for each band.  That has a definite influence on what bands made the top fifteen.

albums1-5I am amused that Lana Del Rey would be my top artist, she’s not necessarily the most talented artist I enjoy. However, I listened to a lot of her over the summer because she was different without being too out there. I always am looking for that in music. She was also the kind of artist I could just put on a dozen songs and enjoy.

Broken Bells has seriously become one of my favorite bands of all time. A beautiful blend of Danger Mouse and the Shins? – you can’t go wrong. They only have 16 songs total on Spotify but still managed to get enough plays to take my number two spot. Every song is good, no joke. Love, love, love them.

Phoenix had a new album come out that was pretty solid.  Like many of their albums, it starts of with several very catchy songs but the quality kind of drops off by the end.

Fairly late in the year I found Ivan & Alyosha and fell in love. The first single I heard, Be Your Man, is actually quite upbeat, a stark contrast to their other music, which skews beautifully existential.  I can’t say enough good about this band.

They’ve been around a while, but I listened to a lot of The Shins because of my Broken Bells obsession. They’re just a great band all around, even if they didn’t have a new album drop last year.

albums6-10Ra Ra Riot’s album Beta Love came out last year and it was different enough from their existing music to be very exciting. The music was still upbeat and catchy like we’ve come to expect from the band, but it had much more of an electronic feel. This theme even carries over into lyrics on songs like Binary Mind and title track Beta Lovethat’s why I need this binary mind, so I can forget how lonely feels. Hmm, the more I think about it, the more I wish this could have been a full-blown concept album. It would have been ridiculously awesome.

I randomly got turned on to Metric’s 2012 album Synthetica (try spelling that right…) which opens up with a few very strong songs – Artificial Nocturne and Youth without Youth – but grows a considerably weaker midway through the album. Enjoying that album encouraged me to listen to some of their older singles as well.

I didn’t feel like I ever went out of my way to listen to Fleet Foxes, but they are one of those bands I can always put on at work for a rainy day, leading to their high ranking on the list.

Sleeper Agent was actually suggested to me by Spotify (thank you!) and is a wonderful upbeat catchy band.  Looking at the other artists on this list, you’d probably like them if you’re into Phoenix, Ra Ra Riot or Vampire Weekend.

Number ten is The Decemberists, another band I can put on for a cold, rainy day. Their albums range from overarching themes to full out concept albums.  Hazards of Love and Crane Wife are my favorites.

albums11-15I’m surprised Ellie Goulding wasn’t higher. She has two solid albums without filler songs, she was huge in 2013, and her voice is amazing. Her music was also destined for dubstep remixes, not sure if that’s a plus or a minus.

Bend Sinister I think I heard about in Nashville *tear* and they’ve got an album with some insanely catchy songs, like Don’t You Know and Man of Faith and Virtue.  The only gripe I have is that only about half of the songs on the album are of this quality.

A new album from Vampire Weekend sent them skyrocketing up the list.  Not necessarily as good as Contra, the album is solid and Unbelievers is seriously one of my favorite songs of the year.

When you see someone in concert, you naturally listen to their music leading up to the event to get excited, and afterwards in fond memory. I had the chance to see John Mayer this summer (and he is amazing live, let me tell you) and he had a pretty good album come this year out as well.  I will always miss the John Mayer Trio/Continuum era music, but I still have hope for him yet.

Even though I’ve been aware of them for years, for some reason I am on a huge Arctic Monkeys kick right now. I always enjoyed them, but never considered myself a “fan.” Their earlier music is irreverent, adolescent, pop-with-punk-influences, which is what I’ve defined them by. But upon listening to their late-2013 album AM I realized over the years they have gradually matured into a much more complex band. Several of the songs on this album, such as Do I Wanna Know? or I Wanna Be Yours, are dark and insightful, portraying a view of how twisted love and desire can become.

I’m passionate about music, so as you can see, writing about it comes easily. I could have rambled on about my top 100. Let me know what you think of my top 15 and if you see anything on there you’re not familiar with, take a listen!

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