21. Ghostface Killah, Twelve Reasons To Die — This is Ghostface Killah at his best–not just deep, intense rapping but a coherent album tied in with the archaic media styles that Wu-Tang Clan love so well. It’s giallo in this case, cheap Italian horror/crime stories of the 70s, and the lurid genre melds perfectly with 21st century hip hop.
22. the Dodos, Carrier — I had never heard of these guys until the last few weeks. It’s fascinating stuff, firmly in the American indie pop camp but with pronounced progressive rock tendencies. Just when I think I have a song of theirs figured out it goes in a totally different direction, one that seems obvious and beautiful in retrospect.
23. Savages, Silence Yourself — Rare is the year when I can point to an album and say “This is it. This one’s the best.” 2013 is an exception, because London-based Savages just released one of the best debut albums in rock history. The power, the fire, the artistry, the sheer command of the stage this young band shows is astounding. It’s a revival of the 80s postpunk sound à la Siouxsie and the Banshees, but Savages leave mimicry and retreading far, far behind.
24. MS MR, Secondhand Rapture — It feels like I waited forever for this album, but it was certainly less than a year. MS MR came out with a super-tight EP in 2012 and Secondhand Rapture delivers on that promise. They’ve got the knack for making fascinating music that crosses over into the mainstream–think early U2, Florence and the Machine, Peter Gabriel. I think MS MR is gonna be a big player in the music world this decade.
25. Arctic Monkeys, AM — Hey, speaking of big players! Age isn’t mellowing Arctic Monkeys, but it is maturing them. The band’s Britpop instincts are coming to the fore here; AM isn’t as danceable as their earlier work but it’s every bit as catchy, well-crafted, and important.