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Take a look back at last year’s best albums

Story by Annelise Tarnowski

It’s been a month since the end of 2013. This was a year of new bands, new partnerships, comebacks and a couple hundred notable albums.

For the first music article of the year, I’m giving you the first five albums from my Top-15 List of the albums you should pick up if you haven’t already. In alphabetical order, we begin.

“Amok” – Atoms For Peace

The first time I listened to this album, I accidentally played it on repeat about six times in a row. Atoms For Peace is a new project made up of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, R.E.M.’s Joey Waronker and Forro in the Dark’s Mauro Refosco and produced by Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich.

This album is heavy in electronic sounds of all kinds, but Yorke’s familiar voice makes it feel more personal than just a bunch of bouncing electronoise.

Not sold yet? Watch the music video from the third track, “Ingenue.” That should convince you. Listen to this album while writing that paper you’ve been putting off.

“The Bones Of What You Believe” – CHVRCHES

I always get excited whenever I hear a talented female singer in the synthpop genre. CHVRCHES is only a few years old (although they sound like they’re a band straight out of the ‘80s), and 2013 allowed the group to release their first, much-anticipated, studio album.

The first track is catchy enough to pull you in right away, which is likely why it was released as a single a year before the album, pulling the group from obscurity to popularity.

The rest of the album doesn’t disappoint. Listen to this album while you get ready to go out.

“The Civil Wars” – The Civil Wars

The aptly named sophomore album from the folk-Americana group debuted amidst the tail end of the drama that had been building within the duo.

Citing irreconcilable differences, the band decided that upon the album’s release, they would be on hiatus.

Most of the specific details of the split have been too varied to confirm, but listening to the sadness that somehow creeps into all parts of this album allows us all to feel what they felt going through their breakup process.

Listen to this album while you read through all your old journals.

“Days Are Gone” – Haim

More and more often, we see that bands gain national attention after just one album. That’s the case with this band of center-part sisters.

This album, getting the most attention from their single “The Wire,” is contagiously singable. Two-part harmonies and music reminiscent of the synthy rock of the ‘80s and ‘90s make this album feel familiar.

Listen to this album anywhere where you won’t be made fun of for singing (poorly) into a hairbrush.

“The Electric Lady” – Janelle Monáe

If you haven’t heard her “ArchAndroid” album or the “Metropolis” EP, spin those first.

These songs tell the fictional story about a future civilization. Monáe plays the role of Cindi Mayweather, an android sent back in time to free the oppressed citizens of Metropolis.

The EP and the albums all create a metaphor to talk about oppression of minorities in America.

Beautifully crafted music, and catchy lyrics that may just change your perspective on funk and inequality. Listen to this album after taking your first sociology class.

Look out for next week and the next five albums from my Top-15 List.

Tarnowski is a junior radio/TV production and sociology double major and can be reached at annelise.tarnowski@drake.edu

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