10. Yeezus – Kanye West
Influenced by industrial, new-wave, and Chicago house music, Kanye West’s polarizing sixth studio album, Yeezus, is abrasive, misogynistic and lyrically superficial, but also ambitious in its stripped-down production and originality.
9. Apocalypse – Thundercat (Jul 9, 2013)
The sophomore release from bassist and Flying Lotus collaborator Stephen Bruner is not easy to categorize. A fusion of hip-hop, electronic, soul and jazz, Apocalypse proves that it’s more than just the sum of its parts. The album is full of in fectious bass lines and soulful melodies, showcasing Bruner’s talent, both as a songwriter and a producer.
8. About Farewell – Alela Diane
Alela Diane’s divorce from her husband was the influence behind this fourth full-length release. A sobering account of how love’s flame can fizzle out as quickly as it once blazed, About Farewell is more than just a breakup album; it is achingly honest and raw, all the while maintaining sentimentality.
7. Ceremony – Anna von Hausswolff
Swedish singer-songwriter Anna von Hausswolff’s sophomore release is a sonically immense and atmospheric album. As rich and majestic as the pipe organs and synthesizers she employs, the album demands your attention with its striking confidence and cinematic arrangements. With prevalent lyrical themes of death and loss, Ceremony won’t likely be the soundtrack to your summer beach parties.
6. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
The Civil Wars’ follow-up to their 2012 Grammy award-winning album Barton Hollow may have been paved with discord, but Joy Williams and John Paul White’s personal differences have led to the creation of their darkest and most intense album to date.
5. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
Random Access Memories was well worth the eight years since the last studio album from French electronic duo, Daft Punk. Boasting a mix of dance, electronic, soul and disco influences, many would agree the lead single “Get Lucky” is a serious contender for the summer’s biggest anthem.
4. Body Music – AlunaGeorge (Jul 29, 2013)
Body Music is the debut album from London-based electro-soul duo Aluna Francis and producer George Reid. The mix of Aluna’s sugar sweet vocal style and George’s garage and dubstep influenced production has crafted a sophisticated urban pop album that sounds fresh, all the while feeling nostalgic.
3. Impersonator – Majical Cloudz
After releasing several EPs and being featured on Grimes’ 2012 album,Visions, Montreal-based producers Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto, also know as Majical Cloudz, have finally released their debut album. Impersonator demonstrates synth-pop at its most restrained, offering an emotionally cathartic experience that is as haunting as it is complex.
2. Pushin’ Against a Stone – Valerie June
June defines her sound as “organic moonshine music”, and on the Tennessee country singer’s fourth full-length album we couldn’t agree more. Pushin’ Against a Stone was produced by Kevin Augunas and The Black Keys’ frontman, Dan Auerbach, which explains the album’s clarity and pop sensibility.
1. WomanChild – Cécile McLorin Salvant
Pulling inspiration from jazz legends like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald, Savant offers something fresh and original yet steeped in tradition. The technical ability, tempo and charisma displayed in WomanChild are evidence that she is far from a novelty act, but rather a true original in a re-emerging genre.
10. Yeezus – Kanye West