Favorite Albums of 2013
Technically this is my Favorite Albums *10th Year Anniversary Edition (there may be a total of two people who’ve read them since that year, so it’s worth celebrating).
I started writing these in 2003 (originally on LiveJournal). They started as lists and eventually expanded into narrative discussions as well. As I’ve always said: it’s not my attempt at deciding what is better than what, but what I personally enjoyed the most. That’s sort of a cheap cop out, but I don’t consider myself a critic; I’m only a listener who occasionally enjoys sharing what I think and making recommendations.
Overall, I thought 2013 was a great year for music. I think it was a year of quantity rather than quality, though. There were many albums I enjoyed, but few albums that I enjoyed immensely. I’ve found that a lot of the trends of the last few years have started to settle, such as chillwave or R&B’s infusion into indie pop and electronic music. Artists who’ve mastered the latter sound, such as James Blake, have become more distinct and found more specific direction.
Noteworthy as well is the abrupt transition toward digital distribution. It’s not completely new for this year, but it’s become much more solidified and fruitful. Occasionally that makes for some awkward comparisons between releases, but it’s not the first time such a shift has happened in music. The medium has always been a factor, such as differences in recording lengths (various vinyl record formats, CD, cassette, etc). Digital allows for more freedom than ever, but for the most part, artists are releasing digital “albums” mirroring what you would expect in a traditional release: multiple tracks adding up to around 45 minutes. Smaller releases similar to EP length are also frequent. So, for the most part, artists seem to be shaping these around expectations and perhaps their own familiarity.
For alternative music, the single is more powerful than ever to in an era of quick click song plays. Previously, this sought-after immediacy was mostly produced by artists aiming for radio play. But independent artists are pursuing the perfect “single” more and more frequently. CHVRCHES’ “The Mother We Share” serves as a great example of a song that spread quickly to millions of people over a short time span, despite coming seemingly out of nowhere. Yet, it did not achieve the radio play that Lorde’s “Royals” did, at least in America, even though both imported songs share sugary pop addictiveness. Clearly, there are still many lines drawn in our supposed global village, and I don’t think that’s a good or bad thing; it’s just a thing.
I’ve only had the time/energy to write words for the Top 20 albums on this list. I really doubt anyone will read them all, but they’re there for anyone with the curiosity and time to spare.
50. Washed Out – Paracosm
49. Wild Nothing – Empty Estate (EP)
48. Small Black – Limits of Desire
47. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
46. Ghostface Killah – Twelve Reasons to Die
45. Lightning Dust – Fantasy
44. Deerhunter – Monomania
43. Saturday Looks Good To Me – One Kiss Ends It All
42. Anamanaguchi – Endless Fantasy
41. Nmesh – Nu.wav Hallucinations
40. Glasser – Interiors
39. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
38. Beach Fossils – Clash the Truth
37. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
36. Nosaj Thing – Home
35. Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise
34. My Bloody Valentine – mbv
33. Bibio – Silver Wilkinson
32. James Blake – Overgrown
31. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty
30. Yo La Tengo – Fade
29. Smith Westerns – Soft Will
28. clipping. – Midcity
27. Savages – Silence Yourself
26. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
25. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
24. Danny Brown – Old
23. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
22. Poliça – Shulamith
21. Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
20. 18+ – MIXTAP3
On this collection of songs, 18+ seem to have attempted to pack in more sexual vibes than Prince’s entire discography. Hyperbole aside, their dedication this sound and mood has created something strange and compelling. Sex is something so deep in our biological chemistry and our minds and our culture, and here,18+ explore countless possibilities of what that means to us as a sentient beings driven by something we’re not always comfortable with confronting or discussing. Here, the doors are wide open and nothing is held back. There are strangely dark avenues to explore–some familiar, some new. I’m still processing it all, but I do believe that MIXTAP3 is one of the most underrated releases of the year that deserves much more attention.
19. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
Not much needs to be said for this album. It speaks for itself. If you don’t like what you hear in the first 30 seconds, you’re going to have a bad time. El-P and Killer Mike are two of the best rappers in the game, and El-P’s production is perfectly gritty, grimey, and filthy for this release. I don’t like Run the Jewels as much as El-P’s solo work as it lacks his usual lyrical depth and production experiments, but RTJ is a high quality album that creates a playground of beats for these two gentlemen to spit fire upon.
18. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
This release was hotly anticipated after the drop of their instantly gratifying singles “The Mother We Share” and “Recover.” Though after some so-so songs like “Lies,” I questioned its potential. The final result was mixed, but positive overall. “We Sink” and “Gun” helped quench my thirst for more shockingly satisfying synthpop. The more tempered and restrained “Under the Tide” and “By The Throat” are glorious electronic anthems, while “Science/Visions” show a darker, more post-punk inspired side. The album has its flaws, but I’ve listened to it enough to mean that they matter little.
17. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
On “Doris” Earl Sweatshirt starts to edge closer to Frank Ocean than Tyler The Creator. No longer relying on shock value and absurdity, Earl becomes more introspective and reflective throughout this album. “Chum” stands out as the best example–it’s an excellent song that helped me understand and appreciate the nihilism and angst found elsewhere. Most importantly, Earl’s flow is an opiate; it’s what holds this album together. Of course, there are songs more familiar to what Odd Future is known for, such as “Whoa.” Whatever direction Earl seems to go, though, there is quality and character through dense lyrical content and shadowy production.
16. Lorde – Pure Heroin
Lorde’s success is strange at first glance. A 17 year-old New Zealand girl comes out of nowhere to plug up American airwaves. This is primarily thanks to her management and production, but whether they pointed her in the direction she’s gone, or they picked her up because of the direction she was already in – I’m not sure. She’s of course drawn comparisons to Lana Del Rey and slew of other sultry female artists who sing about nightlife and romance. This assuredly helped her with her mainstream appeal and widespread success. For me, this is usually a boring story. That type of artists is not usually my thing. But I don’t consider Lorde to be that kind of artist–not really. The resemblances dies at the surface. In a deeper dive, not only is she unlike her comparison, she is their thematic antithesis.
I have a feeling someone picking up a copy of Pure Heroin looking for 8 different versions of “Royals” is going to be disappointed. Outside of her singles, what you’ll find is somber, low key, and reflective. But me, I have no problem with this if it’s done well. And to my surprise, it is. Her frequent themes are class (as in income, not school), friendship, and loss of youth. Oh, and apparently teeth. She sings about teeth a lot. The point is, the lifestyles embraced by most Top 40 artists is a lifestyle not celebrated here; it’s a lifestyle scrutinized and prodded at.
The production on Pure Heroin is stellar from start to finish. “Ribs” and “Buzzcut Season” are rich in atmosphere. The album’s nocturnal vibes are spread throughout through its synth-driven beats. Of course, Lorde’s lyrics are front and center. I think she has a lot of room to grow, but at least she is aiming to have more depth than your typical pop artist.
She references Broken Social Scene (“Lover’s Spit left on repeat”), so clearly her influences are beyond pop. The BSS comparison makes a lot of sense in terms of mood and themes, especially their moodier, slower songs, such as “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl.” Anyway, whether Lorde’s next step is a curious one for me: will she fade into nothing? Will she become more commoditized and less interesting? For her age, she seems mature and aware of the perils of fame; it’s hard to imagine her falling off the deep end. I’d be willing to bet she sticks to her sound and continues to progress — with or without a mainstream audience.
15. Ka – The Night’s Gambit
Any rap album with samples from “The Wire” is probably going to score well with me. Ka’s flow on this record is ceaseless and indomitable. As a fan of the grittier era of Wu-Tang releases (RZA’s production on Liquid Swords in particular), the beats on this album are addictive and gripping. The only weak point is that it lacks much variation or range. But what you hear is what you get: prime lyrical prowess and an intense dedication to maintaining a fierce, seedy mood of which I’m sure Tom Waits would be proud.
14. Tim Hecker – Virgins
Had this album came out around 2005–when I was drowning myself in drone and ambient–I might have had it as my #1. Though it’s not a genre I find myself gravitating toward lately, I still try to keep up with some of the more impressive releases. Oneohtrix Point Never’s “R Plus Seven” was another fantastic ambient/experimental release of the year, but it was Tim Hecker’s “Virgins” that captured me. It is uncompromising and frightening, yet occasionally has soothing passages of respite. Pianos are a recurrence throughout, and are used equally for both the latter mentioned purposes. Many other instruments appear throughout, including an assortment of chamber instruments. The album frequently fades into distortion and chopped up disarray, and I can’t help but remember avant-garde film “Decasia” which commands a similar mood. “Virgins” is not an easy listen, but if you’re open to the darkness offered, it is sublime.
13. Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
Perhaps a slightly offbeat pick for this deep in this list. There’s nothing explosive or surprising here. Much like her 2011 debut solo album, “Last Summer,” you won’t find any of the psychedelic pop experimentations you’d encounter on [most] Fiery Furnaces releases. Where this album succeeds is simple: great songwriting and lots of character. I enjoy the infectious melodies on “Stare At the Sun” and “When I Knew.” The album is balanced by some more somber moments, such as the brooding “You’ll Never Know Me” which is packed with layered dissonance but remains highly listenable. There are a couple weak spots on this album and some questionable lyrical choices (I Am The Past is a bit cheesy, but it’s not a terrible song). But all-in-all, the album is a consistent listen in terms of quality with plenty of variation to make repeat listens delightful.
12. Braids – Flourish // Perish
Lineup changes seem to have motivated Braids to change to an electronic-oriented artist rather than the somewhat easily digested brand of post-rock they debuted with. While I did enjoy Braids’ original sound, I’m fond of the direction they’ve gone. It’s certainly one that’s in vogue, with many possible comparisons. But I feel that Braids’ origins have given them a sense of structure that many other artists in electro pop/chillwave lack. The Autechre-like beats mix well with Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s beautiful and almost otherworldly voice.
11. HAIM – Days Are Gone
On “Days Are Gone,” the Haim sisters created a dangerously catchy series of songs. Their high energy sound has clear influences from ‘80s and ‘90s pop, but their merging and ultimate result is fluid and natural. I expected Phoenix to release the most danceable and fun album of the year, but clearly Haim have emerged victorious as they conquer so many ears with insanely catchy singles like “Falling,” “Forever,” and The Wire.”
I know the three sisters share vocal duties on this album, but middle child Danielle Haim I believe takes the lead the majority of the time. Her sharp gasps which add rhythmic punctuation are reminiscent of Michael Jackson. The group’s sound is certainly not the most hip; they’ve clenched onto classic rock and ‘90s R&B as influences. Yet, they’ve packaged it in a timeless form. While it’s far from a perfect album, it manages to be one of the most enjoyable albums of the year thanks to its liveliness and zeal to have fun.
10. Young Galaxy – Ultramarine
As their name accurately suggests, Young Galaxy have a sparkling, spacey sound. This was more apparent in their 2011 release, “Shapeshifting,” which is loaded with starbound synthesizers to help shape their indie/electro pop tunes. On “Ultramarine,” they’ve continued their commitment to light, bittersweet melodies.
Despite nurturing this consistent sound, however, Ultramarine still has plenty of variety to make it an appealing through its length. “Pretty Boy” flutters and bounces in anticipation; “New Summer” is drenched in nostalgia from head to toe; “Fall For You” gently electrifies the listener. I’m particularly fond of the lyrics on “What We Want,” such as the proclamation that “I don’t need authenticity to make me more like me.” Young Galaxy’s not afraid to embrace what they love; their absolute commitment to their sound makes this album such a joy to listen to. There are a few rough patches in the last quarter of the album, but nothing that blemishes what comes before.
9. Bill Callahan – Dream River
I’m a huge fan of Bill Callahan’s 2009 release “Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle,” but did not much care for “Apocalypse” in 2011. So, my expectations were set low and I did not immediately seek this album out upon its release. But songs kept bubbling up from the Internet, and I finally took the time to give it a chance.
Consistently releasing albums since 1990, Mr. Callahan is the definition of prolific. But although no stranger to songwriting, a good Bill Callahan song isn’t always readily apparent. His understated style requires focus and attention to appreciate. On “Dream River,” he doesn’t dream big. He dreams of simplicity. It’s not a lesser dream at all. In staring at the same old scenes he’s been sharing all these years, he’s found something new. Perhaps he’s found himself. Or perhaps he’s finally found the comfort to be himself.
8. Milo – Things That Happen at Day / Things That Happen at Night
This pair of EPs is a terribly biased white boy’s selection as favorite rap release of the year. This is the difference between creating a list of things that I think are the “best” versus the things I enjoyed the most: I can pick things that spoke to me more rather than attempting to stand back and make some kind of objective assessment. As much as I enjoyed releases like Clipping’s “Midcity” and Earl Sweatershirt’s “Doris,” it was ultimately Milo that I listen to over and over again throughout the year.
There are too few rappers who bring personality *without* bringing inflated ego. Sure, Milo references himself frequently throughout his music, but it’s a mix of self-deprecating remarks and boasting that feels identifiable and human. There’s no celebrity status paranoia and it never seems like he’s desperate to proclaim himself as different and nerdy, unlike another artist who will go unnamed in this write-up. When Milo admitted that he talks to his all best friends on TeamSpeak, I knew he was the real deal. Beyond the avalanche of Star Trek and ‘90s Nickelodeon references on these songs, Milo’s flow is fantastic throughout the entirety.
The airy beats on ‘Things That Happen at Day’ perfectly match Milo’s philosophical quips and reflective tangents. At the moment, hip-hop described as “dreamy” often ends up being trap beats over synth-driven chillwave at maxxed out amplitude and high tempo. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s far from my idea of dreamy. I much prefer the balance producer Riley Lake provided on “Things That Happen at Day.” It complements Milo’s lyrical reflections without stealing the show. It’s nice to actually be able to understand the lyrics instead of having everything washed out in the mix. The end result is something listenable, contemplative, and soothing.
7. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
Sociopolitically charged and more abrasive than ever, The Knife have decided to plunge further into obscurity by releasing an album that would immediately distance themselves from whatever pop appeal their previous work had. It’s almost feels like we didn’t “get” how weird they really were and so they decided to really drill it in our heads this time.
The name of this album perplexed me considering how repetitive this album is. It’s inescapable, torrential, and… well, oppressive. I suppose that’s the point after all, thematically and musically. The album is also full of several lengthy ambient stretches, including the nearly 18 minute long “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized.”
This album is challenging to the listener and even more challenging to today’s musical climate. Personally, I struggled myself to give this album the time it deserves, and it’s only been in the last couple months that I’ve been opening up to it. There were times when I questioned it being the best album of the year. And then there were times when I couldn’t manage to listen to it another second. There is so much instinctively repulsive about this album, and yet, I feeling the urge to return to it. Perhaps there’s a masochist with me, or perhaps it’s the call of the void.
6. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
When this album dropped and the Internet exploded in collective reverence, I wanted to throw up a little. It wasn’t because I’m an old school Daft Punk fan who’s made at all the late newcomers. Quite the opposite: I’ve never liked Daft Punk much. I thought their style was unique and their singles were catchy, but their rampant use of vocoder seemed so cheesy, like it was used as a cheap way to get out of not being singers themselves but wanting to add vocals.
I’ll admit to being wrong. The singles are all at least decent, and opening track “Give Life Back to Music” had a mood and sentiment I loved. The beautiful yet strangely vacant ode on “Instant Crush” (enhanced by Julian Casablancas) was a song difficult to escape repeat listens. The songs with Pharrell aren’t my favorites, but they’re enjoyable and have wide appeal.
But where this album shines for me is in-between the singles, where albums usually are full of pitfalls. Slow jams “Within” and “Beyond” bring the album soulful rhythms. “Giorgio by Moroder” is a track I initially thought was OK but would skip over the long intro. But as I grew to understand the album as an adoring dedication to pop music of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I learned to appreciate that intro as an integral part of the album.
My favorite song on the album and one of my favorite songs of the year is “Touch.” Perhaps it strikes a chord with me thanks to its science fiction inspiration. Yeah, it’s a bit theatrical and corny in the beginning, and melodramatic toward the end… but I love it. I’m not exactly sure what Daft Punk had in mind for its overall message, but I connect with it so much for reasons I’ve never been good at explaining. All I know is that if anyone ever “gets” that part of me, they’ll be closer than anyone else has.
5. Darkside – Psychic
Following his 2011 microhouse masterpiece EP “Don’t Break My Love,” I’ve been anxiously awaiting a proper Nicolas Jaar LP built around the minimalist dance music sound he perfected. While that’s not quite happened yet, Darkside is an acceptable consolation for the time being.
Darkside is a project between Jaar and Dave Harrington. The two have taken Jaar’s sparse style and thrown it 40 years in the past. The album’s textures and vocals are strongly influenced by ‘70s psychedelic rock. The lightly plucked electronic guitars serve as a beautiful paintbrush for Jaar’s production style. The song structures and engineering, however, are current with all that’s evolved since that era. The end result is fantastically unique and stands alone against a lot of same-old-same-old sounds this year. It’s a perfect blend of new and old–mixing them when it work, and ignoring the differences to create something unique and fresh.
4. Julia Holter – Loud City Song
The word “dreamy” is used to describe a lot of music – I myself have probably used it far too frequently. Loud City Song is not dreamy – it is a dream.
On this album, Julia Holter evokes a mood seldom encountered in waking state. For me, it gives a vibe similar to Hayao Miyazaki movies. Though ethereal vibes on this album are ever-present, it retains an organic, human sound. This is much in thanks to the wide selection of instruments used on this album: cello, double violin, double bass, trombones, saxophones. Loud City Song draws upon both ambient and classical music; I’m particularly reminded of Philip Glass’s soundtrack for the film “Koyaanisqatsi.” The same adjectives could be used to describe both works: tense, ominous, and gloomy. Loud City Song manages to be open and dense at the same time.
Julia Holter’s voice here is as much an instrument as any other. Though of course you’ll find copious amounts editing in the form of voice doubling and reverb, her voice remains mostly untouched. Being able to vocally complement the uncanny sounds on this album is a feat I haven’t heard since St. Vincent’s “Strange Mercy” in 2011. Yet, Strange Mercy ultimately chose to keep its feet on the ground; Loud City Song soars into the air and eventually into space where you’ll find asphyxia-induced hallucinations and a lovely view of a world you can scarcely remember.
3. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
I’ve always had affection for Neko Case’s voice, but found her albums to be inconsistent in quality. That’s no issue here on this record. The production allows her booming voice to shine on its own merits, and the instrumentals are always spot on: from the rocking jams on “Man” to the weird sonar-like sounds on “Where Did I Leave That Fire,” to the triumphant horns on “Ragdoll,” the list goes on. The timbres always match the mood and come with plenty of variety and variation to keep it interesting throughout the entire listen. Even the acapella “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” manages to capture me completely through its beautiful harmonies and harrowing echoes in what may be the most lyrically powerful song of the year.
On “Man” she proudly claims “I am the man in the fucking moon.” Neko is strange and dark and funny and direct and compelling. Her emotions are strewn all over table throughout this album, but is scarcely a sign of weakness. Even on the song “Afraid” she confronts her feelings head-on in such a way that I can only admire. Neko Case isn’t simply some feminist figure with a chip on her shoulder: she is a stellar songwriter with a story or two hundred to tell, and she makes me want to be a better, franker, braver person. I look forward to listening again and again.
2. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Of all genres today, electronic music is by far the most successful, diverse, and evolving. Almost everyone can find some subsect they enjoy, whether it’s downtempo or ambient or dubstep or just some good old house music.
Yet, not all electronic music is equal. What sets this apart from all other electronic albums this year is the painstaking detail that went into it. It’s far more than the complex layering. It’s the slow evolution the rhythms, most spanning between 5 to 10 minutes. That length is usually easily achieved in electronic music with the use of simple looping, but on this particular record, it was feat of its own. The repetition on this album is not a crutch; it’s carefully crafted, delicately surging with purpose through every tiny, microscopic change that builds and builds into structural masterpieces.
The first half of this album is far more aggressive than the somber second half. Opening two tracks “We Disappear” and “Open Eye Signal” are equally haunting and hypnotizing. Never has the music review cliché “pulsating rhythms” felt more appropriate. But it’s “Breathe This Air” that is the album’s strongest song by far with one of the most satisfying crescendos of the year. There’s such restraint held within the pianos on this song as the bass and tempo slowly begin to boil. Even in the song’s apex, the lid stays on and retains the album’s cohesive sound.
The latter half of the album is much softer, and shifted slightly in tone. “Sun Harmonics” allows you to bask in the heat of the aftermath, and title track “Immunity” is the album’s listless denouement. It’s hard to judge of it is the sound of victory or defeat.
This year, Daft Punk requested that “if music gives you life, give life back to music.” Jon Hopkins seems to have done just that. There’s assuredly life on this album. Perhaps it’s not quite human, but it is warm, it is intelligent, and it is complex. It grows, adapts, and reproduces with every song. This is an album to get lost within.
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
The LCD Soundsystem song “Losing My Edge” feels appropriate to mention at this moment. Maybe this year is where it begins for me. Regardless, I do stand by this album’s quality, The more I listened to it, the easier this choice became.
I’ve been a mild VW fan for some time. In 2008, their self-titled album grew on me after I initially despised everything about it. What I first hated was the image I had for the band: a bunch of indifferent, well-off hipsters wearing oxford shirts on the beach, trying hard not to act like they care about anything. Perhaps this image was misinterpreted, or perhaps I identify more with this image than I care to realize. Nonetheless, even back on their self-titled, they exposed an introspective side. It was always there, it just took a few listens to pick up on, and it was more apparent on the second half of the album with songs like “I Stand Corrected” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance.”
With their second album, Contra, they found themselves in the midst of mixed reactions. I wouldn’t say they fell into a sophomoric slump, but they were certainly trying to find their footing. There were some missteps, like the out-of-place use of autotune on “California English.” But in truth, it was experiments like this that ultimately led to Modern Vampires of the City far more than their foray into calypso/Afro beat style songs like “Horchata.”
When I first heard Modern Vampires, the album didn’t jump out at me. The only blatant single that harkened strongly to previous VW singles was “Diane Young,” which showcased their usual blend of blasé, catchy, indie pop laden with light but swiftly jamming guitars. The rest of of the tracks were, for the most, low key and pleasant. But far from powerful.
It wasn’t until a handful of re-listens months later when the album started to grab me. “Step” and “Ya Hey” jumped out as repeat listens that I couldn’t escape. But more importantly, the album in its entirety was completely listenable as well, which is sadly a rare case for me to find an album with no tracks that I want to skip. They pulled off success around every corner, from the despondent “Hannah Hunt” and “Don’t Lie” to the Animal Collective inspired “Finger Back.” The album is consistent and varied at the same time, hitting that perfect balance of familiarity and adventure.
Lyrically, Ezra Koenig is still in his prime. As I mentioned before, the album is a progression from their bittersweet songs of past. With the subject matter, it feels a bit like Belle and Sebastian at times: there sketches of a few different women (Diane Young, Hannah Hunt) who are seemingly capricious, compelling, and causing bouts of unrequited love for our narrator. “Step” is sprawling with surrealist imagery and recounts a seemingly discordant romance struggling with nomadic tendencies against the desire to settle down. And maybe a little jealousy. Surprisingly, the album also has a flood of religious allegories. They’re found on a few songs, but nowhere more apparent than “Ya Hey” which extends sympathy with the loss of faith. Through and through, the lyrics are widely open to interpretation. Yet, I never doubt the honest confessionals from Koenig; he always comes off as genuine and emotive in delivery.
I’m not as confident or as excited about this album as I was with my last couple years’ favorite albums (“Kaputt” by Destroyer and “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” by Kendrick Lamar respectively). Yet, that seems to be the tone of this album. It’s not bursting with confidence and assuredness. It’s struggling to convey mercurial emotions and feels the need to constantly reinvent itself to hide from them. It’s unsure and obscure. It’s nostalgic for long passed feelings and overanalyzing of the present and the future. I don’t know if I’m writing about how I feel about the album or myself, and I think that in itself should be reason enough for why this was my favorite of the year.