I have to stress immediately, that the views here represent that of only myself, and not the other contributors to Marvin’s Corridor. You see, people on the internet are an incredibly sensitive bunch, myself included. So when people talk about their releases of the year, they should always stress whose opinion they are representing.
The criteria I am using to judge my releases of the year are based on the following:
- Its ability to surprise and exceed expectations.
- Its play count on my iTunes and Google Music
- Its ability to reach an emotional level
- Its a great body of work
- Its a great listen
That’s a fair criteria right? Each of the following releases falls under at least one of those criteria, which is why they made it onto my list. One of the markers for a great year of music for me personally, has been my small reliance on reverting back to albums and mixtapes of old, just to fill the void. It’s worth noting that many artists on that list have achieved little success and aren’t signed to major labels, bar the likes of Drake and Ghostface Killah. The music industry has had a tough time of late, album sales are dwindling and the masses are losing interest. However in that, the industry only has itself to blame. By sacrificing freedom to create, we have been left with largely manufactured goods that resembles a canned Christmas dinner. So it comes as no surprise that my list features that have been free to explore their creative capabilities and experiment with new sounds.
Anyway, here it is, in no particular order:
I won’t go into too much detail on each of them but I’ll pick out ones where I can really touch on what made the listening experience so unique.
Like Drake, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) has been thrust into the limelight, so now he has to adapt to this new found fame. Kiss Land is a documentation of becoming accustomed to the fact that his life will now involve glad handing models, drugs and not seeing home for long periods of time. It’s also evident that Kiss Land, isn’t as dark as previous mixtapes such as Echoes of Silence or House of Balloons. Perhaps alluding to the fact that he is comfortable with the life he is currently living.
BANKS is a newcomer to the industry and she is still relatively obscure, despite touring with The Weeknd this fall. On London, which was recorded during a month-long residency in the city, BANKS lays all her insecurities and troubles bare. Without resorting to comparisons, her style is similar to that of Abel Tesfaye’s. BANKS’ vocals on the dark and subdued beats, only highlights her shortcomings in past relationships.
Nothing Was The Same:
Drake’s status is cemented in stone and his relationship with his father appears to be healthy, yet still has woman troubles. That’s the only way I can describe NWTS because that’s just it, nothing will ever be the same for the Canadian artist again, even after the critically acclaimed Take Care. Drake appears to be comfortable with where he has got to, there’s no one who can take what he has away from him and that’s what we can hear on his third album.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to see Chance The Rapper, BANKS and Quadron live this year and out of them all, the Danish band took me on a completely different journey. Andrew Ryce of Pitchfork stated that Avalanche keeps its audiences at a distance, which for the most part, I would have to agree with. It is a fantastic body of work with but Coco O’s vocals and melodies don’t draw you in – that’s until you see them live. Uusually you come across a band/artist that are great in a studio but once they perform live, their style of music does them a disservice. With Quadron, that is quite the contrary as Coco O’s vocals are able to fully flourish as she commands the stage. I do recommend watching some of their live performances after listening to the album, especially the rendition of Lauryn Hill’s Ex Factor.
I certainly feel that Syd’s confidence in her own voice has grown since The Internet’s last outing on Purple Naked Ladies, this is certainly the case on Feel Good. Whilst they don’t venture into new territory in regards to their sound, The Internet seem to have only upped the levels significantly. Dontcha is a testament to their capabilities, which is so infectious, you find yourself crooning along and tapping your feet, no matter where you are; I found myself doing this at Farringdon station during rush hour.
I’m still trying to work out what those sounds are, Chance is making on almost every track he performs on. Nevertheless, I regard Acid Rap as my favourite rap release of the year. Everything from the features and lyrical content to the production and mastering makes this a solid tape. Chance certainly doesn’t lack charisma and energy, you’d almost mistake him for being in the industry for years for his flamboyant nature on the mic. Like Yeezus, Acid Rap doesn’t fall under the traditional rap umbrella and nor is it a ‘safe’ mixtape. It’s unusual to hear a sound such as this come from Chicago but with the mixtape, he was allowed a creative freedom that few major label artists seldom get. I hope he doesn’t sign anytime soon.
2013 has been a sublime year for music and I can only hope that 2014 will bear fruit. Please leave abuse, for leaving your favourite release off this list, in the comment section.
Danny Brown – Old
MellowHigh – MellowHigh
Daughter – If You Leave
Kid Cudi – Indicud
PARTYNEXTDOOR – PARTYNEXTDOOR
A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord