WSUM's Top Albums of 2013

  • Post Author
    by Web manager
  • Post Date
    Fri Dec 27 2013


Diverse programming calls for diverse listening, as the year heads to a close WSUM DJs count down their top albums, songs, and EPs of 2013.

Natalie Amend, #SONEW & Dimension 7, Music Director



1. Waxahatchee- Cerulean Salt

2. Destruction Unit- Deep Trip

3. Lust for Youth- Perfect View

4. My Bloody Valentine- m b v

5. Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven

6. Bill Callahan- Dream River

7. Darkside- Psychic

8. AlunaGeorge- Body Music

9. Iceage- You're Nothing

10. Grouper- The Man Who Died in His Boat


1. Perfect Pussy- I Have Lost All Desire for Feeling

2. All Dogs- Split w/ Slouch

3. Body of Light- Volante di Amore

4. Condominium- Carl

5. Ukiah Drag- Jazz Mama Is Cryin'

Honorable Mentions:

Mikal Cronin- MCII

Tim Hecker- Virgins

Makthaverskan- II

Omar Souleyman- Wenu Wenu

Var- No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers

Weekend- Jinx

Wildhoney- 7”

Missy Heck, Michael Voloshin, & Natalie Amend, fun fridays – 2/1

2 Chainz feat. Pharrell- “Feds Watching”

Lust for Youth- “Chasing the Light”

Randy Ballwahn, Freak Scene, DJ



1. Veronica Falls- “My Heart Beats”- Waiting For Something To Happen

2. Frightened Rabbit- “Backyard Skulls”- Pedestrian Verse

3. Bleached- “Next Stop”- Ride Your Heart

4. Surfer Blood- “Demon Dance”- Pythons

5. Wavves- “Hippies Is Punks”- Afraid Of Heights

6. Mikal Cronin- “Change”- MCII

7. Crocodiles- “Heavy Metal Clouds”- Crimes Of Passion

8. Franz Ferdinand- “Bullet”- Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions

9. Eleanor Friedberger- “Stare At The Sun”- Personal Record

10. The Stranglers- “15 Steps”- Giants

Paul Blazevich, Radio The Show, DJ


1. Kanye West- Yeezus

2. Volcano Choir- Repave

3. The Weeknd- Kissland

4. Mac Miller- Watching Movies With The Sound Off

5. Rhye- Woman

6. Drake- Nothing Was The Same

7. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires Of The City

8. Chance The Rapper- Acid Rap

9. Washed Out- Paracosm

10. The National- Trouble Will Find Me

Bonus Round

Quadron- Avalanche

Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe

Rayna Christman, Jar, DJ


Rayna C's Top 10 Albums of the Year, in no particular order at all:

Youngblood Brass Band- Pax Volumi

Man Man- On Oni Pond

Cut Copy- Free Your Mind

Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Dan La Sac vs. Scroobius Pip- Repent, Repeat, Replenish

Crunchy Kids- Mint

Kanye West- Yeezus

Pissed Jeans- Honeys

The Uncluded- Hokey Pokey

Born Ruffians- Birthmarks

Emili Earhart, DJ


1. Nine Inch Nails- Hesitation Marks

2. Whores- Clean EP

3. Queens of the Stone Age- Like Clockwork

4. Retox- YPLL

5. Ultra Bidé- DNA vs DNA-c

6. Pissed Jeans- Honeys

7. Melt Banana- Fetch

8. Red Fang- Whales and Leeches

9. Death Grips- Government Plates

10. Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold

Jolene Esterline, Cooler Than You, DJ


1. Dr. Dog- B-Room

2. Phox- Confetti

3. Iron & Wine- Ghost on Ghost

4. Laura Marling- Once I Was An Eagle

5. Agnes Obel- Aventine

6. The Avett Brothers- Magpie and the Dandelion

7. Amos Lee- Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song

8. Fitz & The Tantrums- More Than Just A Dream

9. Johnny Flynn- Country Mile

10. Phoenix- Bankrupt!

Jorge Estrada, The Arts Cast, Promotions Director












Brendan Fellenz, Light Chasers, DJ


1. Typhoon- White Lighter  

2. Local Natives- Hummingbird

3. King Krule- 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

4. The Mowgli's- Waiting For The Dawn

5. Preservation Hall Jazz Band- That's It! 

6. Volcano Choir- Repave

7. Mother Falcon- You Knew

8. The Head and the Heart- Let's Be Still

9. Youngblood Brass Band- Pax Volumi

10. The Riverside- The Riverside

Alex Gedye, The Hour of Doom, DJ


1. Blood Ceremony- The Eldritch Dark

2. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats- Mind Control

3. The Strokes- Comedown Machine

4. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

5. Egypt- Become the Sun

6. Kvelertak- Meir

7. Cathedral- The Last Spire

8. Deafhaven- Sunbather

9. Kylesa- Ultraviolet

10. Orchid- Mouths of Madness

Steve Horn, All I Want Is Dopeness, DJ 


1. Chance the Rapper- Acid Rap

2. Volcano Choir- Repave

3. Sampha- Dual EP

4. Drake- Nothing Was The Same

5. Vic Mensa- INNANETAPE 

6. French Kiwi Juice- Time For A Change  

7. Bill Callahan- Dream River 

8. Brian Fresco- Mafioso 

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- The Speed of Things

10. Kanye West- Yeezus

Tom Kaymin, The Wow and Flutter Hour, DJ


1. Roky Erickson- Gremlins Have Pictures, Don't Slander Me, and The Evil One (Reissues, Light in the Attic Records)

2. Various Artists- Jerk! Boom! Bam! Volumes 7, 8 and 9 (Jerk! Boom! Bam! Records)

3. Various Artists- R&B Hipshakers Volume 3: Just a Little Bit of the Jumpin' Bean (Vampi Soul)

4. Bloodshot Bill- The Lonesome Road (Norton Records)

5. The Non Travellin' Band- Never Prayed Once (Moon Glyph)

6. Charles Bradley- Victim of Love (Dunham)

7. Human Expression- Love at Psychedelic Velocity (Mississippi/Change Records, Moi J'Connais Records)

8. Thee Tsunamis- A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find (Magnetic South)

9. The Hussy- Clothes Mountain (Red Lounge Records)

10. Warm Soda- Someone For You (Castle Face)

Erik Kramer, The Go to Bed after This Show Show, DJ

The albums in this list come from too many different musical places for me to rank effectively, yet nonetheless here are some of my favorites of the year, sort of in order of how much I've been listening to them:

10. Bataille Solaire- Documentaires

     Constellation Tatsu Records, 2013

Bataille Solaire

Documentaires is an incredibly interesting compilation of synthscapes and sound worlds by Asaël Robitaille, a cool guy from Montreal. These synth-based compositions borrow sounds and textures from new age music, prog, and 1970's documentaries. Some tags on the bandcamp page for this album from the artist himself: “ambientclassical, new age, prog, safari, scientific, world, Montréal”. If that doesn't peak your interest I dunno what will.

9. Julian Lynch- Lines

   Underwater Peoples, 2013


Some straight-up beautiful tunes from Madison's very own Julian Lynch. Engaging songwriting and arrangements based in folk that overall definitely don't stick to any particular sound or aesthetic. He performed several tracks off of Lines at Good Style Shop with a brass and woodwind quintet last March and it was one of the best performances I've seen all year. Support local music!

8. Pharmakon- Abandon

   Sacred Bones, 2013


This is unquestionably the most intense and challenging new release I heard this year. Pharmakon is Margaret Chardiet, and you should probably fear her. She builds her sound on elements of power electronics, noise, and the industrial to create powerful, invasive, and occasionally jarring music.

Check out “Crawling On Bruised Knees” here and see what I mean:

7. Savages- Silence Yourself

   Matador/Pop Noire, 2013


Post-punk/whatever you want to tag Savages with is not the kind of music that is typically on my radar, but as I listened to them at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, I was blown away. The amount of power these four gals conjure up with their instruments is really incredible. I got a chance to see them again at the High Noon in September and I'm convinced that they are one of the best bands out there in terms of just playing excellent, straightforward music.

Check out “She Will” from Silence Yourself:

6. Saint Pepsi- Hit Vibes

   Keats//Collective, 2013


Saint Pepsi semi-emerged out of 2012's online vaporwave scene with this year's Hit Vibes and has become one of the de facto leaders of weird Internet microgenre music since the “death” of the polarizing vaporwave community. Hit Vibes is full of good feelings, nu-disco vibes and slowed R&B loop-jams. This was my Random Access Memories. Also, dat album art.

Free download here!

5. Danny Brown- Old

   Fool's Gold Records, 2013


Old was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and it surely did not disappoint. It really brings out the best in both sides of Danny Brown: Side A of the album showcases a “classic” form of his talent that fans of his older music had been mostly starved of on XXX, while Side B turns up harder than anything else I came across all year. This excellent collection of songs exemplifies the diversity of talent that has cemented Danny Brown a firm place among the most important musicians of the 2010s.

Watch the video for “Dope Song” from Old here:

4. Lapalux- Nostalchic

   Brainfeeder, 2013


Nostalchic is full of incredibly dense and complex beat-based music that was released on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label in spring of this year. It builds on the unique sound that Flying Lotus has helped pioneer but takes it to a very noisy realm filled with jagged, edges of sound collages that encroach upon contorted hip hop beats and blurry R&B samples.

Here's a video for “Without You” from Nostalchic:

3. Akron/Family- Sub Verses

   Dead Oceans, 2013


Akron/Family has over the past year or two become one of those essential bands to me- the kind of group that makes the music that you feel you've been yearning to hear your entire life. So it was serendipitous for me that Akron/Family released an album this year that focused on absolutely immense, spacious compositions in a time in my life when I was feeling obsessed with music that attempts to do exactly that. Each of Akron/Family's albums have a pretty distinct sound, but one thing they've always been so beautifully attuned to throughout their catalogue is their understanding of space in music- a Floydian (ugh sorry) understanding that the lack of notes or sound is often as important as the notes or sound you're actually using. There are some pretty “normal” songs on the album too, of course, but these carry a careful understanding of atmosphere and space. At it's most extreme points Akron/Family are creating soundscapes that reveal infinity in each individual moment.

Here's a cool collaboration with visual artist Corey Fox for “Samurai” from Sub Verses:

2. Kanye West- Yeezus

   Def Jam Recordings, 2013

 When I went to go find the above album artwork I thought to myself: Am I really putting Kanye above Akron/Family??? Is my tiny hypebeast penis showing?????? and a part of my heart almost pangs with guilt at this, but the truth is that 1. there should be no guilt in loving Kanye and 2. this is an absolutely shining example of where music is at in 2013. There is not really anything I can say that hasn't already been said by every music publication since it came out this summer. Yes, it's brash, loud, rushed, minimal, all the words that people have been throwing around concerning the album. But these descriptions should allow questions to develop about many important musical ideas and philosophies that I believe 2013 will eventually be remembered for.

For anyone who might be turned off by Yeezus, ask yourself- what is the importance of its minimalism? and why did Kanye decide to produce it the way he did? As for the rough cuts and samples throughout the album, ask yourself- what is the meaning of appropriation in music in 2013? This album has so much musical philosophy to delve into, but most of all, Yeezus has blessed us here with a collection of insanely catchy and well-crafted songs.

Here's a video of Kanye performing “Blood On The Leaves” from Yeezus on Jools Holland:

1. Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven

    Warp Records, 2013


Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, has been at the forefront of innovative music for years now: his 2011 album Replica paved the way for so much innovation in sample based experimental music, and helped spawn entire subgenres based on the recontextualizing of outdated and forgotten sounds and media. On Replica he focused on using sounds drawn from 90's television, creating a hazy, hypnagogic realm seemingly built on the listener's subconscious memories. On R Plus Seven, the same sense of composition is unmistakably present, but the sounds he chooses to use are quite different- instead of nostalgic and familiar, he goes for the absurd and hyper-modern, reflectioning on modernity and our present ideas of music. Lopatin puts a lot of emphasis on the idea of sound as material, and the importance of extramusical assocations placed on sounds and tones. His music reflects both of these ideas and R Plus Seven is a journey that intends to run farther than just a couple listens. It's been out for more than two months already and with each listen there is something new that astounds me.

Check out “Zebra” from R Plus Seven here:

Honorable Mentions:

Tim Hecker- Virgins

Blackedout- Blackedout EP

Action Bronson- Blue Chips 2

Deafheaven- Sunbather

DJ Rashad- Double Cup

Julia Holter- Loud City Song

Physical Therapy- Non-Drowsy

James Ferraro- NYC, Hell 3:00 AM

Yung Lean- Unknown Death 2002

Sophia Jones, El Monde E Musiv, Traffic Director


1. William Onyeabor- Who is William Onyeabor? 

2. Various- Choubi Choubi! Vol. 2 Folk and Pop Songs From Iraq

3. Juana Molina- Wed 21

4. Savages- Silence Yourself

5. Waxahatchee- Cerulean Salt

6. Mala Rodriguez- Bruja

7. Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My Time 

8. AlunaGeorge- Body Music 

9. Kanye West- Yeezus 

10. Deerhunter- Monomania

John Powers, The Long Division, DJ


1. Bombino- Nomad

2. David Bowie- The Next Day

3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- Push the Sky Away

4. Elvis Costello and The Roots- Wise Up Ghost

5. Nils Frahm- Spaces

6. Bill Frisell- Big Sur

7. Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy- What the Brothers Sang 

8. Jason Moran and Charles Lloyd- Hagar's Ghost

9. Shuggie Otis- Inspiration Information/Wings of Love

10. Sam Phillips- Push Any Button


Daft Punk- “Get Lucky,” “Lose Yourself to Dance”

Rokia Traore- “N'Teri”

Josh Ritter- “New Lover”

Ron Sexsmith- “Sneak Out the Back Door”

Bryce Denner and Kronos Quartet- “Tenebre”

Bruce Ravid, Go Deep With Bruce Rave, DJ


1. Arctic Monkeys- AM

2. Johnny Marr- The Messenger

3. St. Lucia- When The Night

4. Frank Turner- Tape Deck Heart

5. Of Montreal- Lousy With Sylvianbriar

6. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

7.  Bastille- Bad Blood

8. Muse- Live At Rome Olympic Stadium

9. Foals- Holy Fire

10. Beady Eye- BE

Mike Ritt, A Cure for the Common Cold, DJ


1. Tile- You Had A Friend In Pennsylvania

2. Dreamdecay- N V N V N V

3. Constant Mongrel- Heavy Breathing

4. Iceage- You're Nothing

5. KEN mode- Entrench

6. Primitive Man- Scorn

7. Bed Wettin' Bad Boys- Ready For Boredom

8. The Native Cats- Dallas

9. Lycus- Tempest

10. Counter Intuits- Counter Intuits

Rachel Rogerson, Roger That!, DJ


1. Arctic Monkeys- AM 

2. Tame Impala- Lonerism

3. Alt-J- An Awesome Wave  

4. Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My Time

5. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

6. Lady Gaga- Artpop 

7. Cherub- 100 Bottles  

8. Phoenix- Bankrupt

9. Sigur Ros- Kveikur 

10. Cage the Elephant- Melaphobia

Ben Schicker, Pattern Recognition, DJ


I had to be a little mathematical and a little intuitive, here are my most played albums:

1. Weekend- Jinx

2. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires Of The City

3. Savages- Silence Yourself

4. Marty Finkel- Might Be Found/It's Alright

5. Crocodiles- Crimes of Passion

6.  Telekinesis- Dormarion

7. The Men- New Moon

8. Black Angels- Indigo Meadow

9. Girls Names- The New Life/The Next Life

10. Foals- Holy Fire

However, there's quite a few albums that I rated as high, if not higher:

1. Washed Out- Paracosm

2. Wax Idols- Discipline & Desire

3. Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold/Tally All The Things That You Broke

4. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels

5. Wavves- Afraid Of Heights

6. Joanna Gruesome- Weird Sister

7. Polica- Shulamtih

8. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

9. Holograms- Forever

10. Mike Doughty- Circles Super Bon Bon

So, what does this all mean? Which albums are going to stick with me? Which ones could I not stop playing, even when I was off the air?

10.Savages- Silence Yourself


 Lots of hype, but they earn it. Great live. The rest has been said. Tracks: Any, but how about: Shut Up, I Am Here, She Will, Husbands

9. Wavves- Afraid Of Heights


How did I spend my summer vacation? “Demon to Lean On” on Repeat.

8. Foals- Holy Fire


These songs feel much bigger in person. I don't think they're trying to be the next U2 or Coldplay, but they're definitely keeping an eye on bigger venues. Like most of The Joy Formidable's catalog, these songs feel arena-ready. On the other hand, there's a lot of simple dance-jams (see: “My Number”), which are just stupid fun.

7. Wax Idols- Discipline & Desire


On paper, they already seemed right up my alley: Angular guitars, dominatrix lead singer, Slumberland Records. Hether Fortune just has a presence that I can't deny. Not unlike Mish Way a friends/tour mate from White Lung. But for all the darkness and back story, there's a playfulness underneath, or maybe just killer melodies. Either way. Start with: “Dethrone”, “When It Happens”, “Formulae.”

6. Telekinesis- Dormarion


Can the drummer get some? Because Michael Benjamin Lerner deserves it at this point. While there's plenty of driving rhythms, its the melodies that ultimately won me over. Tracks: “Power Lines” & “Wires” both rock. “Ghosts and Creatures” is really, really pretty.

5. Crocodiles- Crimes of Passion


With their third album, Crocodiles are hitting their stride. Crocodile's first two albums had gems, but there's a new consistency (maybe better production) that gives them a bigger sound. The songs feel more distinct and the album is soncially unified. Try: “She Splits Me Up”, or “Marquis De Sade” [I also really enjoyed Haunted Hearts, side project of Brandon Welchez & his wife Dee Dee Penny (Dum Dum Girls). While the cover art is NSFW, the tracks are great.]

4. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires Of The City


Songs about torching saabs, finding love in falafel shops, and God keeping his face hidden are so catchy, you almost don't notice how weird & specific they are. Each song is like an entire Wes Anderson movie distilled down to four minutes. Pick one: “Diane Young”, “Ya Hey”, “Step.”

3. Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold / Tally All The Things That You Broke


As if Light Up Gold wasn't pretty much perfect, Parquet Courts ended with a victory lap. I've seen them play “Light Up Gold” & “You've Got Me Wonderin' ” as a medley, and that may be the best song of the year. Essential radio hit: “Stoned And Starving.”

2. Weekend- Jinx


Pretty much a perfect album front to back. While garage rock seemed to get all the headlines, there was plenty of good post-punk/shoegaze in 2013 (see also: Holograms, Disappears, Girls Names). This is the album I played the most, and rated the highest. Can't wait to see them live as part of FRZN FEST in 2014. Entry point: July or Celebration, FL.

1. Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels


El-P and Killer Mike are having way more fun than anyone should be allowed to. This album made me chase down so much 80s & 90s hip-hop from New York and southern rap from the early 2000s. Tons of ingredients in their stew. Tasty. Try out the title track. Aw heck, just let the whole album play.

Zack Stafford, Minor Disturbance & Dimension 7, Traffic Director


Ten LPs

1. Darkside- Psychic

2. Destruction Unit- Deep Trip

3. Iron Lung- White Glove Test

4. Lust For Youth- Perfect View

5. Milk Music- Cruise Your Illusion

6. Oneohtrix Point Never- R Plus Seven

7. Radioactivity – S/T

8. Voight Kampff – Voight Kampff

9. Various- Good God: Apocryphal Hymns

10. Various – After Dark 2

Five EPs

Body of Light – Volanta di Amore

Condominium – Carl

Gas Rag – Human Rights

Perfect Pussy – I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling

Royal Headache – Stop and Stare b/w Give It All To Me

Six Live Shows

The Cure at Grant Park- Chicago, IL

Dean & Britta (Galaxie 500) / Sonic Boom at First Avenue- Minneapolis MN

Steve Gunn / Merchandise at Triple Rock Social Club- Minneapolis, MN

Infest / Los Crudos at Chitown Futbol- Chicago, IL

Prince at Paisley Park, Chanhassen- MN

The Replacements at Humboldt Park- Chicago, IL

Andrew Schneider, Rockstar Nailbomb! & Xs, No Ys, DJ

10. Kitty- D.A.I.S.Y Rage


Say what you will about Florida rapper Kitty's online persona, but after hearing her latest EP, there's no denying it anymore: this lady can flow. “R.R.E.A.M.” goes harder than any of her tracks to date, and features some hilarious lyrics, such as “I'm a little Nipsey Hussle plus a little pixie dust / I piss all on your bike, I like to see your fixie rust.” “DEAD ISLAND” is Kitty's densest and most serious song to date, where she raps “I love NY ‘cause there's so many bridges to jump off” over an ethereal beat that feels like “Pon de Floor” meets seapunk. Stellar guest verses from Antwon and Lakutis only serve to help the EP. If this release is any indication, people won't be able to sleep on Kitty for much longer.

9. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu- Nanda collection


“Kawaii” is a Japanese word meaning “cute” or “adorable.” No artist represents “kawaii” more than J-pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, whose newest album is full of so many sugary sweet pop songs that some of them could literally rot your teeth. Lead single “Invader Invader” is the standout track, featuring a bright, shiny melody that manages to have some dissonance behind it. “Ninjya Re Bang Bang” sees Kyary experimenting with more traditional Japanese instrumentation, and “Saigo no Ice Cream” has one of the best choruses of the year. Couple that with the killer production from mastermind Yasutaka Nakata and you have one of the best pop albums of the year.

8. The Dillinger Escape Plan- One of Us Is the Killer


New Jersey mathcore pioneers The Dillinger Escape Plan have returned with another intense set of songs that sees the band at their most ferocious in years. Despite losing guitarist/vocalist Jeff Tuttle, the band is working on all cylinders, with lead single “Prancer” being one of their angriest tracks, with Greg Puciato howling lines like “Gouge out my eyes so I'll never weep.” “When I Lost My Bet” has more time signatures in its first few bars than some bands have in their whole repertoire, and even the album's softer moments hit hard. The title track sees Dillinger channeling their inner Faith No More, and as Puciato sings “One of us must die / But the killer won't survive,” you get the feeling that this album could actually kill you if you looked at it the wrong way.

7. Anamanaguchi- Endless Fantasy


New York instrumental chiptune rock outfit Anamanaguchi crowdfunded this 22-track monstrosity of an album, and for everyone who paid for it, it was money well spent. Despite the album's length, it's never boring, as the band focused the chiptune side of their sound, and began to experiment with vocals and dance sound. The new sound is best exemplified on “Prom Night,” where guest vocalist Bianca Raquel sings “Love me like it's prom night,” while the band experiments with a decidedly dancey instrumentation. Elsewhere, the band slows down and gets moody on “Planet,” which is a welcome change from the often Technicolor sound that they usually bring to the table.

6. Death Grips- Government Plates


Death Grips released their newest album for free on November 13th, and within minutes, their website was overloaded. This should come as no surprise, as the experimental hip-hop titans attracted a record amount of buzz this year, between not showing up to their own concerts to posting a surreal set of videos with the title “No Hands.” This album sees the trio moving away from the paranoia-fueled lyrics of their past releases and embracing a more beat-focused approach: “Two Heavens” features a metal-inspired double bass drum line, and the opener, “You may think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for…” sees the band incorporating live acoustic drums for the first time.

5. Queens of the Stone Age- Like Clockwork


Rock outfit Queens of the Stone Age are known for a lot of things, but they typically aren't known for writing downer songs. Like Clockwork then took me by complete surprise because some of these songs reach Cure-like levels of depression, an example of this being the standout track “I Appear Missing,” where frontman Josh Homme croons “A spitting image of me / Except for the heart-shaped hole where the sun runs out.” Despite the depression, the songs still rip, especially “I Sat by the Ocean,” which has one hell of a lick that you'll be hearing blare out of Guitar Center amps for years to come.

4. Tegan and Sara- Heartthrob


Canadian indie rock duo Tegan and Sara had always had pop sensibilities, but they've embraced them as fully as they did this year on Heartthrob, a shiny, anthemic burst of indie pop. That's not to say that the songs don't have personality. An interesting role reversal sees Tegan handling the more subdued tracks (“I Was a Fool,” “I Couldn't Be Your Friend”) and Sara writing some of her hookiest songs to date (“Goodbye, Goodbye,” “I'm Not Your Hero”) They may have traded in their guitars for synthesizers this time around, but the songs remain stronger than ever, with Sara's closing number “Shock to Your System” ranking among the duo's best songs ever.

3. Fall Out Boy- Save Rock and Roll


A critically successful but commercially disappointing fourth record, a hiatus, and three failed side projects would normally take the wind out of any band's sails. Fall Out Boy, however, proved stalwart, and blasted back with a killer rock record. This record sees the boys from Chicago embracing their pop sensibilities, tracks like “Young Volcanoes” and “The Phoenix” sound like a breath of fresh air next to songs on Top 40 radio. Pete Wentz's lyrics are sharper than ever, and no man in rock is more equipped to handle them than Patrick Stump, who delivers lines like “You and me are the difference between real love and the love on TV” with more conviction than ever.

2. Dance Gavin Dance- Acceptance Speech


Sacramento-based post-hardcore outfit Dance Gavin Dance may have lost their spitfire clean vocalist Jonny Craig for the second time, but the acquisition of ex-Tides of Man singer Tilian Pearson may have been the best possible move, because his high, breathy voice allows the band to pack more soaring melodies into one song than they ever have in the past, and his voice meshes perfectly with harsh vocalist Jon Mess, whose voice never sounded as good as it does here. The title track sees Will Swan's serpentine guitar leads twist and turn around Pearson and Mess' irreverant lyrics, and this new release sees the band embracing their heavy side more than ever on songs like “Demo Team,” which is a pleasant surprise for a band that is full of surprises.

1. Deafheaven- Sunbather


Black metal is traditionally considered winter music, but San Francisco black metal/shoegaze band Deafheaven's latest record was released in June, and it immediately defined the summer. Everything from the pinkish-magenta album cover (which is supposed to resemble looking at the sun with your eyes closed) to the soaring guitar lines shone as bright as the sun at noon. The album packs seven songs into one hour of music, and they are the band's best and most self-assured songs to date. The title track would feel right at home next to any My Bloody Valentine track, and “Irresistable” is possibly the most beautiful that any black metal band has ever sounded. The opener, “Dream House,” ends on a conversation between two characters: “I'm dying.” “Is it blissful?” “It's like a dream.” “I want to dream.” Sunbather, too, is like a dream.

Michael Voloshin, #SONEW & Pop! Pop!, Station Manager


1. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

2. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

3. Chvrches- The Bones of What You Believe

4. Kanye West- Yeezus

5. Chance the Rapper- Acid Rap

6. Sigur Ros- Kveikur

7. Autre Ne Veut- Anxiety

8. AlunaGeorge- Body Music

9. Man Man- On Oni Pond

10. John Wizards- John Wizards

Peter Werhle, DJ


1. Neko Case- The Worse Things Get

2. Yo La Tengo- Fade

3. Camera Obscura- Desire Lines

4. Mavis Staples / Jeff Tweedy- One True Vine

5. Sleigh Bells- Bitter Rivals

6. James Blunt- Moon Landing

7. Phoenix- Bankrupt

8. Boards of Canada- Tomorrows Harvest

9. The Boy Least Likely To- The Great Perhaps

10. The Pastels- Slow Summits

Eric Wiig, Wiigy's Audio Dreamsicle & Wisconsin Student Radio Players, DJ


1. Savages- Silence Yourself

2. The Besnard Lakes- Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra- II

4. Night Beds- Country Sleep

5. Rose Windows- The Sun Dogs

6. Gregory Alan Isakov- The Weatherman

7. José James- No Beginning No End

8. Bill Callahan- Dream River

9. The Lone Bellow- The Lone Bellow

10. Thundercat- Apocalypse

Lorenza Zebell, The Road Trip, DJ


1. Rhye- Woman 

2. The National- Trouble Will Find Me  

3. Local Natives- Hummingbird

4. The Head and the Heart- Let's Be Still  

5. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

6. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories 

7. Arctic Monkeys– AM  

8. Childish Gambino- Because the Internet

9. Noah and the Whale- Heart of Nowhere

10. Lorde- Pure Heroine