Even though Burial and Beyonce have both dropped new music since we made this list, it’s still a pretty good picture of what our favorite albums from the past year are. Every buzz music staffer agrees and disagrees with this list, as I’m sure you will too, but something we all can settle on is that this year was fantastic for music. From newcomers to comebacks, 2013 did not disappoint. Without further ado, here’s buzz’s best of 2013. – Maddie Rehayem

50. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Matthew Houck has been making sad, mopey tunes for a long time now, but on Muchacho, it seems he finally got sick of that. Kicking the self-pitying habit has had a really positive effect, as songs that were once tiring and depressive are vibrant, breathing soundscapes as epic as anything at U2's spacecraft arena tours. If only someone could convince the guy to put a shirt on. – Tyler Durgan

49. Spray Paint – Spray Paint

Austin’s Spray Paint consists of two guitarists and a drummer, yet they create tidal waves of discordant, clanging sound. The effect is somewhat akin to the sudden panic induced by an alarm or siren, but drawn out over 37 minutes. The gruesome, abstract lyrics don’t help. No one needs to “keep Austin weird” as the t-shirt says, because these guys seem to naturally exude some pretty unsettling vibes. This is the first of two albums they’ve released this year and hopefully they don’t slow down. I imagine they’ll just keep speeding up until they disintegrate, leaving no remains. – Will Carr

48. Bass Drum of Death – Bass Drum of Death

Nobody will argue this record changed the game in 2013, but it did do something most didn’t: it rocked. In a music world where ambiance and atmosphere have become overvalued, Bass Drum of Death delivers a necessary lo-fi slap to the face, reminding us that guitars should sound more like guitars and less like a reverbed summer breeze passing through a PVC pipe. Writing and recording alone in Mississippi, John Barrett drenched his punk riffs and surf hooks in a dirty Southern attitude that makes you want to bang your sweaty head rather than nod behind a pair of Wayfarers. – Nick Rossi

47. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

The original album art for Arthur Ashin, aka Autre Ne Veut’s debut album depicted two sets of disembodied arms holding up Edvard Munch’s iconic painting “The Scream”. Like many of Munch’s paintings, Ashin’s music is quite charged with sexual anxiety (if that wasn’t obvious in the title of the record itself). But instead of conveying that anxiety with impressionistic brushstrokes, he does so by coating his ever-emotional whine with glitzy instrumentation, making his music reminiscent of a more sensitive, more glitchy and industrial, more honest Justin Timberlake. Autre Ne Veut knows you’re not on the floor in a suit and tie and he’s here to cry about that with you. – Maddie Rehayem

46. A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP

A$AP Rocky came with a versatile flow on his 2013 album, Long.Live.A$AP. With a good variety of features and producers working on the album, A$AP definitely presents a solid tape. Really, I can’t say that A$AP is a good lyricist, but even while relying so heavily on his production, he does manage to create an album with an array of easy, fun, relevant tracks in today’s hip hop environment. Long.Live.A$AP is by no means a classic, but hey, it’s not too bad either. – Amrit Singh

45. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

Chaz Bundick released his third studio album in January as Toro Y Moi. On Anything In Return, Toro Y Moi expanded the synthpop, dance music style that he essentially created through his first two albums, and he added a pop twist, making his music more accessible. A couple of standout tracks are "Rose Quartz" and "Never Matter." Overall, it's a chill album you can listen to on repeat that may just surprise you with something new each time. – Taylor Odisho

44. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Despite beginning his first project since 2010’s Earl with a guest verse filled with garbage bars (shame on you, SK La’Flare), Earl’s long-awaited return is a relatively seamless transition for the Odd Future emcee. While the same lyricism and brashness are littered throughout Doris, Mr. Double S supplements his usual shock value with a more personal self-examination. The album’s first single, “Chum,” delves into Earl’s struggles with his past. “I’m indecisive, I’m scatterbrained and I’m frightened / It’s evident, in them eyes where he hiding all them icicles at,” Earl confesses. With a new arsenal of content, Doris is a step in a more mature, self-aware direction for Earl. – Will Robinson

43. Oozing Wound – Retrash

Oozing Wound’s been thrashing Chicago for two years, but don’t call them “thrash revival”. There’s no denying the Wound plays fast, loud and evil, but there’s more to it. Chicago is home to a tradition of endearingly misanthropic noise rock bands, and killer LPs this year from Heavy Times and Running will back that statement up. Oozing Wound emerges at the top of the pile with this neck-snapping debut. It rips, burns and shreds. It gets you high and chucks you at the ground from space. I laughed and cried and begged for mercy. Need more. – Will Carr

42. Ovlov – Am

I can’t get enough of Ovlov’s sound. It’s like they meshed together all of the distinctive sounds of the 90’s – the Dinosaur Jr influence is immediately apparent, as are the shoegaze inspired droning riffs and distortion – yet still created an album that is entirely their own. Am is, start to finish, a really solid album, and is also one of those rare records that simply never fails to sound good, regardless of time, place or situation. – Anwen Parrott

41. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

In an early 2013 release Nick Cave set the tone for a year full of powerful new albums by 90’s relics. His dark vocals tell the kind of cryptic tales that have amassed him such a cult following. The album’s electronic elements and rhythmic build give it an ominously heavy feel. This is where Nick Cave lives under the endless umbrella people call “Modern Rock”. – Kevin McMahon

40. Jenny Hval – Innocence Is Kinky

The experimental nature of Jenny Hval’s art goes far beyond how the way her music sounds. On Innocence Is Kinky, her second album as as Jenny Hval (as opposed to Rockettothesky, her former pseudonym), the Oslo performer’s approach is anything but conventional. She uses her voice more like an instrument, and at times instruments speak for her. The lyrical content addresses the problematic make gaze in an admirably risky way, but if that’s too much for you (it shouldn’t be) it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the way Hval is able to distort her voice without much distortion at all. – Maddie Rehayem

39. Weekend Nachos – Still

Weekend Nachos probably don’t give a shit if they’re on any year-end lists or not, but Still deserves mention simply for being the year’s hardcore triumph. Powerviolence is slowly creeping into the realm of music that can be taken seriously by the masses – and the guitar-work on this album’s title track is ample reason to perk your ears up. – Maddie Rehayem

38. Eat Skull – III

Portland’s Eat Skull haven’t lost their psychedelic vibe on III but they gained a lot in the hook department. Opener “Space Academy” could have been Pollard-penned and “How Do I Know When To Say Goodnight” sounds like it’s probably the weirdest pop song ever imagined. It’s really hard to get bored of this album – you notice a new subtlety with every listen. –Maddie Rehayem

37. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

Fuck Buttons' newest record lays heavier on the drone than the English two-piece has in their past two efforts. Trading calm, soothing soundscapes for something more harsh and robust, Slow Focus lends its grandiose presentation to one of 2013's most tightly-produced albums ever. If the thundering drums on "Brainfreeze" don't rattle to the core, the penultimate "Stalker" will shake the foundations of modern electronic in it's steady deterioration of sludgey synth and shrieking keys. – Austin Gomez

36. Owen – L'Ami du Peuple

Mike Kinsella’s first Owen release since 2011’s Ghost Town continues in that album’s direction, adding more elements to the recorded version of his music versus his live solo acoustic performance. Guitar twinkles are accompanied by xylophone twinkles. “Bad Blood,” my personal favorite track on the L’ami Du Peuple, is even almost a headbanger. – Maddie Rehayem

35. Russian Circles – Memorial

Sargent House’s Russian Circles are masters of post-metal, layering sound to build a sense of anxiety and then letting listeners vent their emotions by pouring into aggressive riffs. Memorial shows that Russian Circles are honing their craft. Most songs sit below the five-minute mark making for more tracks and more stories told. The title track ends the album in a satisfyingly gentle way with Los Angeles’ Chelsea Wolfe showing up to deliver an ephemeral, mournful performance which solidifies the message of the album—that which we fight for we love best. – Fergus Lynch

34. Yo La Tengo – Fade

After three decades, praising Yo La Tengo feels redundant. Several of their albums areconsidered classics and most of the rest are at least considered really good. Fade falls in the latter category but we’re talking YLT standards. The extended jams are absent and their approach is more consistent and mellowed-out. Fade plays to all their pop strengths, from their signature blissful fuzz to their other signature meditative, chugging slow-burners. They aren’t exactly breaking ground but why should they? Far-out is already their home turf. Rock ‘n’ roll in its entirety is their home turf. They sound great, as always. – Will Carr

33. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

This year, the underground super-producer and rapper El-P teamed up once again with Atlanta rapper Killer Mike and created the rap group Run The Jewels. Throughout the group’s self-titled album, Killer Mike keeps it light in terms of content, compared to his critically acclaimed R.A.P. Music, but his lyricism is just as intact. Both emcees flow brilliantly over El-P’s instrumentals as they trade verses as well as any rap duo in recent memory. Despite the inevitable comparisons to Kanye and Jay-Z, “There will be no respect for the thrones,” Killer Mike warns. – Will Robinson

32. Grandkids – Timeshare

From the energetic jam in “Collegiate Peaks” to the gentle wave of “Engines”, Timeshare represents everything going right in the Champaign-Urbana music scene today. It was long awaited – for over a year – and its execution was spot on. In songs like “Not This, Never This” and the album's title track, frontwoman Vivian McConnell's songwriting is at the top of its game. With the band freshly graduated and moved up to Chicago, Timeshare was Grandkids' collegiate peak. We can only hope there's another point up the mountain for Grandkids to climb to next year and deliver another impressive record. – Sean Neumann

31. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow's Harvest

With the BoC’s fourth studio release it is clear the IDM producers are not trying to make their music any brighter. It’s a work which stays dark and fluid throughout, incorporating endless trance-like synth and drum melodies. For Tomorrow’s Harvest, as in all BoC releases, “The Devil is In the Details”. The subtle undertones of the album are what allow it to occupy its own space in electronic music, and what allow the listeners appreciation to grow with repeated listening. – Kevin McMahon

30. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

In 2010, Arcade Fire released The Suburbs and it won a Grammy for Album of the Year. To say they had a lot to live up to with the release of their fourth album is an understatement. But as was expected, Arcade Fire rose to the challenge and created Reflektor. It's a lot darker, both lyrically and in its sound, than The Suburbs. Don't let the two hour runtime turn you away, Reflektor is a beautiful album with a sound unlike anything Arcade Fire has previously released and it may take a few listens to fully appreciate that new direction. – Taylor Odisho

29. Milk Music – Cruise Your Illusion

There was something special about the classic riffs and Dinosaur Jr-style fuzz on Milk Music’s 2010 release Beyond Living, but I don’t think they had realized it just yet. Fast forward to 2013 and they’re still shredding at full blast but also flaunting the talent they might have been denying they had on Cruise Your Illusion. Milk Music have learned how to walk the line between their attitude of punk rock rawness and the talent inherent in their melodic sensibility. – Maddie Rehayem

28. James Blake – Overgrown

Few artists can pull off mixing R&B rooted electronic dub with choir boy good looks and vocals quite like James Blake. Overgrown follows the trends of its predecessors in this way, while breaking if only to delve deeper into emotional pensivity. Blake is a fan of phrases both musically and vocally. Throughout the album he puts these selected phrases on repeat, adding and subtracting subtle textures to create different moods on the same words, exemplified perfectly on the track “I Am Sold”. Overall it’s an album with many great moments and an eclectic feel. It is clear we can look forward to much more from the young Brit. – Kevin McMahon

27. The Dodos – Carrier

The main narrative surrounding the release of The Dodos’ fourth record centered on the death and sustained influence of the duo's friend and one-time collaborator Chris Reimer (of Women and other various solo efforts). But the thematic and sonic complexity of Carrier transcends that experience. It follows a self-reflective trajectory that only wallows temporarily, but eventually finds its way to enthusiastic celebration and a new life for The Dodos. – Tyler Durgan

26. Death Grips – Government Plates

Government Plates continues Death Grips' tradition of dropping full-length albums with absolutely no notice whatsoever, so it's a godsend that the music holds up as well as some of this year's ultra-hyped releases. Taking on a psychedelic approach featuring more catchily disjointed sampling than MC Ride's characteristic shouts, the record nearly finds itself as a Death Grips soundtrack piece more than anything. While not as abrasive as the Sacremento noise-rap-punk's past releases, Government Plates puts Death Grips right on a new evolutionary tract - and they're still showing no signs of slowing down. – Austin Gomez

25. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation

The Haxan Cloak is producer Bobby Krlic. He’s based in London, but his music transcends the realm of this Earth. It might be more accurate to call the producer Hades-based. Not in a hell-raising, Slayer sense, but in the sense that this record sounds like what you might experience after you die. It’s apparent on the first listen, even without being told beforehand. From loud drones to hints at a house beats to the occasional startling bang, the record is minimalism at its finest: cold, dark and plain scary. It’s a real thriller. Excavation was released on Tri Angle records, frontrunner in the genre, or trend of witch house – a movement for which The Haxan Cloak may well be the final frontier. — Maddie Rehayem

24. Bill Callahan – Dream River

A better name could not have been found to describe Callahan’s latest work of baritone soul. The album uses enough crisp electric guitar melodies to allow it to bounce between several genres, ending up with a sound that’s reminiscent of a folky Velvet Underground with Callahan’s soothingly deep vocals at the forefront. Dream River is not in a hurry and reminds us that maybe we don’t always need to be either. — Kevin McMahon

23. Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

Walkin on a Pretty Daze introduced a more complex, self-aware Kurt Vile. Instead of being filled with short, wholly guitar-based and often angsty songs, half of the tracks on Wakin on a Pretty Daze clock in at six-plus minutes. He piles on layer after layer of whashy guitar sounds, producing a very full and experimental yet whimsical and relaxing result. Vile’s growth as both artist and human is apparent, notably marked by his lyrical maturation. — Anwen Parrott

22. Drake – Nothing Was the Same

Nothing Was the Same is Drake’s third studio album, and he does not disappoint with this one. He gives listeners a great sense of who he is and where he’s been — it’s a peek into the honest rapper’s mind. The album has features from hip-hop legend Jay-Z and up-and-coming singer Jhene Aiko. Drake ranges from delivering sweet harmonies on the song “From Time,” to showing his position in the hip-hop industry in the song “Worst Behavior.” It’s not an industry that always wants to accept him, but in the greater environment of music in 2013, this is one of Drake’s best albums yet. — K’lex Hilton

21. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

Where the band’s first record focused primarily on catchy, repetitive vocal hooks, the sophomore album II opened up a whole new side of psych rock trio UMO. Big, Zeppelin-esque guitar riffing dominates II, yet the rest of the formula remains, and the end product is a happy midpoint between the melodic pop of The Beatles and the fuzzed-out, time warp-cool of Tame Impala. — Tyler Durgan

20. Ezra Furman – Day of the Dog

A marked progression from his first solo release, The Year of No Returning, Ezra Furman goes wild with rock ‘n’ roll fury on his 2013 follow-up. Many themes relate back to his Harpoons days as well as his return to more upbeat grooves. The inclusion of a fifth member on saxophone gives a jazzy vibe to the whole effort and a more complete sound to the appropriately simple guitar parts. There’s not a single weak song, and the tunes themselves provide a fascinating insight into Ezra’s mind and, in turn, create a personal story for the listener. — Danny Stankus

19. DJ Rashad – Double Cup

The cover of Double Cup is an aerial image of Chicago lit up in gold, surrounded by black night. Rashad’s a veteran DJ hailing from the South Side, the epicenter of the global footwork scene. The glow of the city is a hard-earned display of hometown pride — the scene has never been more vibrant. The music itself, characterized by rapid beats, repetitive samples and radiant synthesizers, absolutely glows. But the black backdrop suggests something sinister. Double Cup is 2013’s unrelenting party soundtrack with the street-toughened edge of someone who knows to keep an eye over his shoulder on the way home. — Will Carr

18. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

On Cerulean Salt, her second album released as solo project, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield found something that sets her apart from the countless other female singer-songwriters with whom she shares a space. This “something” could be the merging of an acoustic, lo-fi sound with her punk roots, or perhaps the delicate balance struck between stingingly confessional lyrics and clever, almost lighthearted ones. Whatever it is, Crutchfield knows how to deliver a message, even when singing in hushed tones. — Anwen Parrott

17. Danny Brown – Old

Danny Brown is a rap innovator, and he continues to push the boundaries of what rap music is with his third studio album, Old. He mixes trap beats, EDM and his outlandish personality, which is portrayed through his lyrics. The rhymes on Old range from being really serious at some points (“Clean Up”), to the Brown we heard on XXX, with tracks like “Dope Fiend Rental.” He works with artists like Purity Ring, Scrufizzer and Charli XCX on a few tracks, showing his courage to make risky collaborations. — Taylor Odisho

16. Diahrrea Planet – I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Opening with an all-out axe assault reminiscent of their its album, Loose Jewels, Diahrrea Planet’s sophomore record immediately turns up the fist-pumping joy felt at any DP live show. However, the subsequent twelve songs necessarily expand on that emotion, incorporating themes of isolation, frustration and uncertainty over ever-tasty riffage. It’s been clear that these guys know how to play, but this album is proof that they’ve learned how to write songs. On the whole, I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams shakes hands with the painful confusion of growing up then smiles as it spits in adulthood’s face. Shred ’til you’re dead. — Nick Rossi

15. Pissed Jeans – Honeys

Pigfuck is the actual name of a subgenre of punk, describing sludge-caked, bleak noise with a morbid sense of humor. Pissed Jeans have been described as “pigfuck-revival,” but Honeys sounds more like “grown-up, white-collar pigfuck.” They’ve joined the adult world that terrifies younger bands, rocking when they can escape mindless day jobs, condescending project managers, physical decline, unsatisfying relationships, subsequent adventures in online dating and further subsequent desperation and shame. At least they’re laughing. Closer “Teenage Adult” examines the alternative with some of Honeys’ sharpest barbs: “Never leave the house and you never have to make a mistake.” I’m still deciding. — Will Carr

14. Atoms For Peace – AMOK

A strangely overlooked album among many list-makers we’ve seen so far, the Atoms for Peace debut leaves behind no reason for such a treatment. Bonded by a love for afro-beat, the band clearly gives Radiohead’s Thom Yorke a medium to express his enthusiasm for more electronic-based dance music. Yorke is never one to forget his sensitive side, as “Ingenue” plays a snyth-laced ballad on par with the likes of “The Daily Mail” and “Last Flowers.” Flea’s bass also weaves a funky web through the nine-track album. It certainly worthy of a re-listen if you’re one of those who may have not quite given it the attention it deserves. — Kevin McMahon

13. HAIM – Days Are Gone

Days Are Gone is a masterful debut and lived up to the hype it garnered after the band’s extensive touring in 2012 and early 2013. While the record reels you in with its happy-go-lucky dance feel, it’s the intricate vocal patterns between the three Haim sisters that leave you most in awe. Six of the first seven tracks could’ve been singles, while the remaining four songs stand nearly as tall — reminding the world of music that this is just the beginning of HAIM’s indie-rock reign. — Sean Neumann

12. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Vocalist Matt Berninger delivers a full-bodied listening experience in Trouble Will Find Me. Berninger’s rich baritone matches his unique and crestfallen lyrics. The instrumentation is clean and relatively minimal, built around soft-but-clean drum beats and an elegant use of the piano but also incorporating violin, harmonica and drifting guitar. Trouble Will Find Me is sulking and bitter, yet inexplicably warm, making clear that The National isn’t cruising along on fumes but is still evolving its subtle vitality. — Fergus Lynch

11. Darkside – Psychic

Nicholas Jarr and Dave Harrington’s progressive microhouse project produced one of the year’s most sublimely mellow releases amidst a sea of other experimenting electronic acts. Between Jaar’s mixing and Harrington’s spacey guitar, Psychic uncovers a lucid depth that grants mesmerizing tracks like “Freak, Go Home” and “Heart” the most comforting sinking feeling imaginable. In the spirit of the opening track “Golden Arrow,” the record builds minimalist anticipation until it hits like a melodic runaway train. — Austin Gomez

10. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap

On his first project, 10 Day, Chance The Rapper foreshadowed a perfect summary of his 2013 mixtape: “Here’s a tab of acid for your ear.” Sonically, listeners are prone to catch a contact high from the mind-bending flows and psychedelic production sprinkled throughout the mixtape, but Acid Rap is more than just a soundtrack to an LSD trip. With the unofficial track “Paranoia,” Chance paints a chilling picture of his hometown, Chicago. “They murkin’ kids, they murder kids here/Why you think they don’t talk about it? They deserted us here,” he explains. By blending all those elements, Acid Rap is full of some of the catchiest experimental hip-hop you will ever hear. — Will Robinson

9. Deafheaven – Sunbather

San Francisco-based Deafheaven formed in 2010 and has truly found its sound with Sunbather, an album that refutes any claims that metal must be melodramatic. The tracks range from the robust soundscapes of opener “Dream House” to the gentle, introspective melodies of “Irresistible” and then into the eerie and dusky sounds of “Vertigo.” Sunbather represents a range of emotions, giving fans of heavy, aggressive music a common ground to meet with fans of indie and pop-rock. — Fergus Lynch

8. My Bloody Valentine – m b v

Listening to a new My Bloody Valentine record is like biting your lip and it tasting like sugar: it happens unpredictably, but suddenly greets you with unexpected sweetness. To say this feeling was long-awaited would be an understatement. Luckily for MBV, their last release, 1991’s Loveless, left such an impact on shoegaze fans that they were welcomed back into the picture with unhesitating, open arms. The signature MBV shoegaze sound hasn’t been abandoned in 2013 by more recent musicians, either, with groups like Whirr and Beliefs making music that clearly bows down before the returning king and queen of shoegaze, MBV’s Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher. — Maddie Rehayem

7. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven

Some fans of Daniel Lopatin’s Replica LP in 2011 were taken aback by the plunderphonic artist’s latest release and its attachment to almost-barren minimalism. In many ways, R Plus Seven feels unfinished, leaving tracks like “He She” and “Zebra” left open to vulnerable gaps in sound that are, at first, jarring. But the entire album’s deliberate lack of cohesion is what makes it resemble a mysterious jigsaw puzzle without looking to be solved. — Austin Gomez

6. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat

Liz Harris has got the copyright on the soft-spoken ambient breeze that is her music. She’s your grandmother’s grandmother, singing you a lullaby from the ether. Her voice is nothing short of angelic, but she grounds it with the comforting strum of her acoustic guitar, the strings of which occasionally squeak. On The Man Who Died In His Boat, she diversifies her signature sound, delicately layering vocal tracks on “Cover the Long Way,” incorporating alien bleep-bloops at the end of “Vanishing Point” and even simplifying to the point of plainly heard lyrics on the closer, “Living Room.” And “It’s getting harder to fake/acting like everything’s in it’s place” is one lyric most of us can’t help but relate to. — Maddie Rehayem

5. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City

These guys get a ton of very undue hate from the buzz Music staff, but getting their latest record on this year’s list was my final, defiant defense of their bright, Ivy League pop. Ezra Koenig and company have dropped the Afro-Caribbean grooves and themes of collegiate angst, trading up for more existential concerns (and less post-colonially problematic sonic appropriation). Biblical allusions and a Souls of Mischief reference only sweeten the deal. — Tyler Durgan

4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

What were the robots to do after releasing album upon album of electronic dance anthems? Create another upbeat record full of award-winning singles or take us back in time with a moody, disco-inspired compilation? The French duo, known for its unpredictability, obviously chose the latter. Featuring artists such as Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, and Giorgio Moroder, who are all leaders in their respective genres, Random Access Memories has very few technical flaws. Using live instrumentation, RAM recalls individuals’ past stories while incorporating electronic elements to associate human memory storage to a computer’s hard drive. Thomas Bangalter (the one with the silver helmet), in an interview with Pitchfork, conveyed the thought behind the album best: “In a computer, everything is recallable all the time, but life is a succession of events that only happen once.” — Danielle Janota

3. Iceage – You’re Nothing

As you probably heard, “selfie” was declared Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. Iceage rebuts that supposed cultural signifier. “You’re nothing/feel the void grow!” roars Elias Ronnenfelt, the band’s 21-year-old singer. Like the band’s debut, You’re Nothing is noisy, frigid and atmospherically violent. The wounded hearts within these songs explode with dizzying beauty, doused in youthful anxiety. “Ecstasy” is ecstatic but claustrophobic. Ronnenfelt’s gasping for air, singing about temporary highs to escape from the pressure of daily existence faced when coming of age. Youth culture outside the social network is alive and kicking, screaming, sweating, bleeding and starting bands. — Will Carr

2. Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM brings you back to the most happening bar in Sheffield where it all began. It’s the triumphant return of a band that was thought by many to have taken a dive into mediocrity. The record takes you through the full range Arctic Monkeys has to offer, from the already-classic riff on “R U Mine?” to the modern funk of “Arabella” and the Lou Reed nod “Mad Sounds.” Frontman Alex Turner has re-asserted the band’s role as the pre-eminent rock stars of 2013. —Kevin McMahon

1. Kanye West – Yeezus

Kanye West makes a declaration so strong with Yeezus that it almost feels wrong to write anything about the album. One thing’s for sure: with Yeezus, Kanye has reclaimed his own narrative. The media may think that it can craft a perfect story for Kanye, one where he is a villain or an A-list celebrity or a narcissist, and as Kanye declares on Yeezus, he is all of those things and he is none of those things. He is whatever he wants to be. He is in control. If Kanye says he is a god, then he is. So be it. From possible Marilyn Manson samples (“Black Skinhead”), to observations on new forms of oppression (“New Slaves”) and an honest-to-goodness love song (“Bound 2”), Kanye’s meta opus is a schizophrenic look into the brain of a genius artist. It’s scary, abrasive, nasty and yet somehow still entirely listenable and pleasing. Maintaining that kind of balancing act is something that must be applauded. — Dan Durley

Show more