Best albums of 2013 – Ria’s picks

James Blake at the Vogue Theatre Vancouver

James Blake at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, November 19, 2013. Robyn Gerry photo.

James Blake, Overgrown – Blake’s heartfelt vocals, mesmerizing synths and hip-hop beats come together in this stunning, Mercury Prize-winning record. Standout tracks “Retrograde” and “To the Last” merely scratch the surface of his experimental, often brilliant songwriting.

Video – James Blake, “Retrograde”:

DeerhunterMonomania – Atlanta’s Deerhunter returns with a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Halcyon Digest. Soaked in ambient guitar riffs and Americana rock melodies, Monomania is absorbing and infectious.

Video – Deerhunter, “Back to the Middle”:

Caveman, Caveman – When they weren’t cheering on the Knicks, this Brooklyn band of seasoned musicians put out on one of the most arresting albums of the year. Their sophomore effort boasts a seamless, ethereal collection of rustic yet new wave-sounding tracks.

Video – Caveman, “In the City”:

Washed Out, Paracosm – Ernest Greene released this dream-synth beaut in August, and it’s been keeping fans warm and comfortable all winter. Essential tracks include “Great Escape” and “Weightless”.

Video – Washed Out, “Weightless”:

Dick DiverCalendar Days – The Melbourne band has truly hit their stride with this record, maturing in both lyrical content and instrumentation. Get hooked on the jangley guitar numbers “Water Damage” and “Alice”.

Video – Dick Diver, “Water Damage”:

Sin FangFlowers A sprawling set of airy, electronica numbers from the Icelandic artist. “Young Boys” is an example of the positivity and playfulness that runs through this record.

Video – Sin Fang, “Young Boys”:

Ducktails, The Flower Lane – Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile moonlights under the moniker Ducktails and released this dream pop masterpiece. Don’t miss the yacht rock vibe on the title track and the sultry “Letter of Intent” featuring Future Shuttle’s Jessa Farkas.

Video – Ducktails, “Letter of Intent”:

Pure X, Crawling up the Stairs – Every year I am more impressed with these psych-gaze Austinites. Raw and experimental, this is a thoughtful progression from their debut LP Pleasure.

Pure X, “Crawling Up the Stairs”:

Wampire, Curiosity – Ridiculous bloodsucking name aside, the Portland band is all business in their debut LP. Curiosity is a solid permutation of psychedelia and DIY garage.

Video – Wampire, “Orchards”:

Pure Bathing CultureMoon Tides – A beautiful, nostalgic nod to ‘70s blues and soft rock, fleshed out by contemporaneous genres like dream pop and witch house. Float away to the whimsical tracks “Scotty” and “Twins”.

Pure Bathing Culture, “Scotty”:

And…

Best Shows of 2013 – Ria’s Picks

1. Father John Misty at the Commodore Ballroom, Oct. 8

2. James Blake at the Vogue Theatre, Nov. 19

3. Deerhunter at the Rickshaw, Aug. 30

4. Lee Ranaldo at the Biltmore Cabaret, Dec. 7

5. Sleigh Bells at the Commodore Ballroom, Oct. 10 

6. Empire of the Sun at the Orpheum, October 22

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