Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Better Late Than Never: The Witzard's Top 5 Albums of 2013 (Happy New Year!)

Let's be honest here, it'd be almost impossible for a part-time writer/web-master like myself with a regular 9-5, too to even attempt to assemble a 50-album year-end list in an effort to "compete" with the Big Dogs like Pitchfork, Stereogum, etc; I think it'd be far more feasible to do a list of my Top 5 Favorite Albums of 2013, not even your typical run-the-mill best of list. So, with that said, here's a collective run-down of the most played artists and companion albums on The Serpent (my 160GB iPod), my car stereo, and personal iTunes library. I tried to compile a pretty diverse broad-spanning list, which ranges from Industrial Aggro-Hip-Hop to Philly-bred "Pig-Fuck." Enjoy the list and Happy New Year!

While The Wizard's #5-ranking album is seemingly an unwarranted 16-track leaked bootleg; the scattered fragments of Jai Paul's long-rumored XL Recordings album. Included within were 16 rough tracks, 3 of which had been previously released, and a cover of mid-90's mega-hit, "Crush." The unreleased album was supposedly uploaded from Jai Paul's stolen laptop and was only available on Bandcamp for about two days before XL and Paul had it taken down. At this point, you might be pretty hard-pressed to find a copy of Jai Paul's leaked non-album online; But @HIMANSHU said it perfectly in 140 characters or less, "jai [paul] made the best album of the year and what happened was [it's] a leak someone stole [from] his laptop [when] his label got fed up with him, y'all forgot?"

Pissed Jeans are a four-piece band from The City of Brotherly Love (Philly) that's led by righteous frontman Matt Korvette. For whatever reasons, their music is often referred to as "Pig-Fuck" ha, but it's basically Metal-infused Hardcore/Noise-Rock. Their latest studio album for Sub Pop, Honeys was released last February; Pissed Jeans ripped through the majority of Honeys' 12 tracks when my buddy Jason Morroni and I saw them at perfectly shitty hole-in-the-wall bar-venue Underground Arts the Friday after the album's release. Honeys spawned two of the year's best music videos, as well: "Bathroom Laughter" and Romanticize Me" (below). Newbie-director Joe Stakun somehow managed to conjure up a pair of tastefully simple, yet mildly offensive star-studded video-singles.

Ringing in the coveted #3 spot, we have America's favorite Albanian-Jewish Rap Singer, Action Bronson and his devilishly good-looking producer buddy, Party Supplies (Justin Nealis) with Blue Chips 2. First off, Bronson isn't your average "white rapper," the former Top Chef is equal parts Ghostface Killah and Rick Ross. Blue Chips 2, the long-awaited sequel to their similarly-titled 2012 effort is anchored by countless off-kilter YouTube-ripped samples; John Cougar Mellencamp, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, "Tequila," The Pharcyde, Quincy Jones, Dionne Warwick, and more. It's a fairly half-assed, disjointed "street album" (mixtape), but trust me, like any good wine or worth-while woman, Blue Chips 2 gets better with age! Action Bronson's finally headed out on The Blue Chips 2 Tour spanning from January 10th to March 3rd and Blue Chips 2 is still available online for FREE download.

Run The Jewels is El-P & Killer Mike's first full-fledged collaborative album, and the epitome of cold hard Hip-Hop. Fool's Gold unleashed Run The Jewels' self-titled/untitled album online for FREE download and later, in a number of for-sale CD and vinyl packages. Aside from a few quick Big Boi, Prince Paul, and Until The Ribbon Breaks guest spots, all 10 tracks were written-recorded by El-P & Killer Mike. Instant highlights include "Banana Clipper," "36" Chain," "Get It," and holiday anti-hit, "A Christmas F**king Miracle." Seasoned producer-rapper El-P sonically melts and contours almost every track into a wildly different mondo-beat mid-way through which makes the painfully short album just feel a little bit longer. Have no fear, Run The Jewels 2 is supposedly already in-the-works for a 2014 release!

It's kinda like an unknown music writer once said, and I paraphrase, Kanye had the best Nine Inch Nails album this year (who released an original album). Said record, Yeezus is a hyper-aggressive 9-track anti-Hip-Hop album, especially for a recently engaged first-time father. It's also littered with sonic fingerprints of Industrial, Chicago Drill, Acid-House, Dancehall, Noise-Rap, etc. Yeezus is arguably a modern day minimalist masterpiece, from it's album cover-less artwork to building-side promotional campaign. To date, three ear-piercing anti-singles have been culled from Yeezus: "Black Skinhead, "Bound 2," and "Blood On The Leaves." Attention College Drop Out enthusiasts: Throwback Kanye Soul BANGER "Bound 2" even received the celebrity re-make treatment, by way of a scene-for-scene James Franco & Seth Rogen video parody, obviously dubbed "Bound 3." Kanye's soon-to-be wife Kim Kardashian even went as far to Tweet, "You nailed it!!! Sooo funny!," echoing their consent of Franco & Rogen's experimental art-project ha.

Honorable Mentions: Queens of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork, Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1), Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost, Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull, Pusha T - My Name Is My Name, Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of The City, Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city, Danny Brown - OLD, Jay-Z - Magna Carta... Holy Grail, King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, A$AP Rocky - LONGLIVEA$AP, Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons to Die, HAIM - Days Are Gone, Daughn Gibson - Me Moan, and Daft Punk, Pharrell & Nile Rodgers - "Get Lucky."

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