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2013 Album Playlist: Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions - Part 3

Brent Faulkner Brent Faulkner
October 13th, 2013 2:50pm EDT
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Ariana Grande

Welcome to the final part of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013.  Here is where I housed my honorable mentions, which were many.  If you missed the previous two posts, here’s how I opened them up respectively, beginning with Favorites and ending with Least Favorites:

Favorites:

“As I look over my 2013 playlist from my iPod, I realize I have listened to numerous albums this year.  In fact, the amount of music that my ears have consumed and my pen has analyzed is pretty scary…and I still missed lots of albums! SMH! Some were special, some made me cringe, and some fell somewhere in between the two extremes.  As difficult as it was, as of October 7, 2013, I have compiled a list housing my favorites, least favorites, and honorable mentions.  I’m almost certain I’ve slighted someone and I’m sure there will be continual revisions, but for now, here’s what you should’ve spun, what you should’ve avoided like the plague, and those that were strongly consideration for favorites. Enjoy!”

Least Favorites:

“Welcome all who dare to part deux of my Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013 for all who dare to enter the brentmusicreviews zone! Ha… If you missed the first part (Favorites, Least Favorites, and Honorable Mentions of 2013, Part 1), you should like totally check out my favorites from 2013, ‘cause there was some awesome albums.  If you’re not one for positivity and optimism, maybe you’re just checking this out because some you enjoy skepticism, criticism, and the occasional, um, cynicism.

Onward to the honorable mentions!!!

Honorable Mentions… Pop

John Mayer, Paradise Valley

Travis Garland, Travis Garland

Ariana Grande, Yours Truly

Lorde, Pure Heroine

Conor Maynard, Contrast

There was one dominant pop album in 2013 and it was not by Justin Bieber (yep cheap shot).  Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience was sort of ‘the promised land’ of pop.  But Justin wasn’t the only album that impressed.  John Mayer has been more subtle lately, but Paradise Valley was well conceived.  Travis Garland isn’t well established yet, but he should be following EPs and his compilation effort Travis Garland.  Ariana Grande sounded angelic, particular with boyfriend Nathan Sykes (The Wanted) on “Almost Is Never Enough”.  Lorde’s sorta pop, sorta alternative mix made it a fine listen while Britain’s Justin Bieber Conor Maynard out-swag’d the “swaggy” singer easily with debut Contrast.

Traditional Pop

Harry Connick, Jr. Smokey Mary 

Harry Connick, Jr. Every Man Should Know

George Benson, Inspiration – A Tribute To Nat King Cole

Michael Bublé delivered my favorite traditional pop album of 2013, but who can deny the musicianship of either Harry Connick, Jr. Or George Benson? Smokey Mary introduced the funky “S’pposed To Be” to my constant rotation playlist while Every Man Should Know added its country-tinged self-titled ballad.  As for George Benson? What more is there to say to hear a legend paying tribute to one of his own legends on tracks like “Route 66” or “Unforgettable”?

Rock

Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull

Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

John Fogerty, Wrote A Song For Everyone

Rock certainly didn’t dominate 2013, but there were definitely some exceptional albums.  While Queens of the Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork and David Bowie’s The Next Day took top honors in my eyes, Kings of Leon, Alice in Chains, and John Fogerty definitely ‘did work’ too.  Kings of Leon impressed on “Supersoaker” and were humanized on the seemingly autobiographical “Wait For Me”.  Alice in Chains reminded us just how good 90s rock/metal was, particularly on title track “The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here”.  As for the legend of this trio, John Fogerty’s collaborations effort Wrote A Song For Everyone was so much better than expected, like really!

Alternative

Phoenix, Bankrupt!

Depeche Mode, Delta Machine

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away

The National, Trouble Will Find Me

Let’s just keep this short and sweet.  Stacked, stacked, stacked!!! This category of music is always loaded, period.  An annual number one seed you might say.  Vampire Weekend were definitely the act to beat, but Phoenix, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and The National all rocked too, as evidenced by their spot on my list.   “Entertainment” from Phoenix just made me feel happy because of its bright brilliance.  For electro-alt vets Depeche Mode, it’s the general darkness of the music that has a hypnotizing effect; they never sound old.  Nick Cave’s exceptional songwriting is undeniable, particularly on standouts like the opening “We No Who ‘U ‘R” and the infectious groove of “Finishing Jubilee Street”, which is a follow-up to “Jubilee Street”.  The National pleased with “Don’t Swallow The Cap” and “Humiliation” among others.

R&B

Fantasia, Side Effects of You

Bilal, A Love Surreal

Chrisette Michele, Better

Alice Smith, She

Yeah, I know I’ve whined about R&B, but most of the time it wasn’t the quality of the albums but rather the dismal sales.  None of the above mentioned albums exactly made a huge chart impact (Fantasia did well contextually speaking), but all four were and are definitely worthy of some spins.  “Without Me” was definitely my jam from Side Effects Of You, even if it is more of a women empowerment cut… don’t judge me, it’s sick!  “Winning Hand” tickled my fancy from Bilal’s A Love Surreal, while one of Alice Smith’s best moments was actually a cover of Cee Lo’s “Fool For You”.  As for CM, “A Couple of Forevers” is among my top cuts of the year regardless of genre.  All four albums receive my humble approval.

Traditional R&B

Teena Marie, Beautiful

Aaron Neville, My True Story 

R&B isn’t getting much attention in general, so of course the veterans get the worst of it.   Teena Marie’s posthumously released final studio album is one she would’ve been incredibly proud of.  As for Aaron Neville, there is literally no one who come close to the versatile soul singer’s vocal timbre. He exceptionally covers old, old school classics on My True Story.

Rap

Kanye West, Yeezus

Mac Miller, Watching Movies With The Sound Off

Tyler, The Creator, Wolf

Earl Sweatshirt, Doris

A$AP Rocky, Long. Live. A$AP

A$AP Ferg, Trap Lord

This is one lengthy list right?  There are also probably omissions and arguable omissions.   To answer the skeptics, yes I purpose excluded Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail off this list – it was not my favorite, least favorite, nor really an honorable mention in my eyes.  Kanye West definitely had an argument for a ‘favorite’, but I also had my own reservations with the album itself.  Mac Miller showed more maturity on Watching Movies With The Sound Off, but not without his fair share of references to his… Anyways, Odd Future releases are always captivating (Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt), while A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg both impressed with their respective efforts and signature styles.  I know I’ve left off others… it was a good year for hip-hop.

Reggae

Congo Natty, Revolution 

I’ll admit, I knew very little about Congo Natty, also known as Rebel MC.  After being given the opportunity to review Revolution, however, I was extremely impressed with the album and  Congo Natty himself.

Jazz

Avishai Cohen, Duende

Gerald Clayton, Life Forum

Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, The Cooker

I absolutely adore jazz, period.  However, it is easy to ‘sleep’ on a genre which played a huge role in my musical education.  Yes, it sounds like I turned my back which seems hypocritical given my jazz piano background.   Actually much of the reason is that popular music tend to ‘shock’ and pull in so many major headlines.  It’s not fair obviously, as some of today’s greatest talents lie within the jazz realm and definitely don’t receive the attention they deserve.  Jazz may often take a backseat on this particular site, but it doesn’t in my heart in the least.  I do review it in addition to the ‘pop’ and Avishai Cohen, Gerald Clayton, and Redtenbacher’s Funkestra definitely had killer albums.  #MadRespect

 

Photo Credits: Sony


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