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Operation Manatee: Chris’ Top 5 Albums Of 2013

1. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe
2. Knower – Let Go
3. Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love
4. Death Grips – Government Plates
5. The Parlour Trick – A Blessed Unrest

Chvrches - The Bones Of What You Believe
Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches’ The Bones Of What You Believe has been in constant play since I picked it up just over a month ago. Somehow, presumably using magic, Chvrches has blended together something resembling ’80s dark synth with only the good features of modern pop. When their music comes on, I instantly want to party like it’s 192010. Nineteen two thousand ten, baby! Yeah!  It’s catchy as hell, it’s original while familiar, it’s lead by a cute girl, it fits current trends without boring the shit out of the listener by sounding like the garbage machine (pop radio, etc.)…  I can easily see myself still enjoying this years down the road and not feeling guilty about it.

Knower - Let Go
Knower – Let Go

You know how you tend to get stuck in an infinite loop on YouTube by clicking on suggested videos? Well, I stumbled across this duo doing that earlier this year and holy crap am I ever glad I did! What these two do with a couple of keyboards, a drum kit and a video camera, Britney Cyrus couldn’t do with a dozen writers and a $30 million budget! Fuck yes for DIY internet music stuff! Seriously, just listen. This is bad (good) as hell:
Knower – Time Traveler

Right? How can two people sound this slick? It’s modern, it’s poppy, it’s electronic, but best of all: it’s brilliant!  Very tricky, smart stuff pulled into this deadly duo. There is not much I wouldn’t do to see them perform! Knower’s latest album, Let Go, is their strongest work yet. I can’t stop listening.

Charles Bradley - Victim Of Love
Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love

Ah! Charles Bradley. Thank Daptone Records for putting this man back on the A list! On this record, Mr. Bradley demonstrates why he is one of the world’s great voices in R&B. This isn’t just another good album for your collection though. Victim Of Love is a beautiful anthology of love songs sung with the fiery power and tender care that can only be delivered by a master with many miles of experience. Buy this record not to listen to once and toss aside, maybe showing it to your friends once every couple of years. Buy this record to make your life more complete! Buy this record so that you can come closer to understanding the true feeling of soul! The meaning of love and life! I tell you, they don’t make them like this anymore.

Death Grips - Government Plates
Death Grips – Government Plates

Listening to Death Grips’ new album, Government Plates is to the ear as delightfully self-flagellating is to the flesh… and you’re going to like it. Death Grips has a history of being a little “off.” They cancel gigs a lot, they piss off their record labels a lot, and they truly leave no reason for me to doubt that they are potentially violently insane. So I kind of knew what I was get no into. This album dives deeper into their unique style of electro punk hip hop dance bass noise thing-they-do into a realm that feels both exploratory and motherfucking rock star. At times you groove, at times you scream, but none of it is for long, as the album keeps you guessing the more you listen. Are they insane? Are they genius? I keep listening to this album expecting myself to wake up from what was actually an ether-induced dream. Instead, I reach the end and conclude, ‘Yep, that actually happened.’ Then I start over, wondering if it’s healthy to do so. Am I actually writing this? Oh yeah, they released this album for free online without telling their label (prompting the label to dump them). I like that “fuck you” attitude!

The Parlour Trick - A Blessed Unrest
The Parlour Trick – A Blessed Unrest

Finally, but not to be forgotten, notes of solitude and sorrow among moments of careful joy are found in the LP A Blessed Unrest from a duo of lovers known as The Parlour Trick. This recording is best listened-to alone, in a dark room with few comforts. Befitting the scene immediately after your own death, this album can be a little intense for something relatively quite simple, but it’s really worth multiple listens to reveal all of the textures. The use of colour in the music, combined with the lack of colour in the album artwork and quirky song titles all work to make A Blessed Unrest not only memorable, but enjoyable. Also, it’s weird. This is not something you hear every day and that just makes me want to hear more of it. Finally, it features a good deal of theremin, and that’s just cool!

Can you think of some albums that should have made this list? Let us know in the Comments!

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