WPGU 107.1’s Top 50 Albums of 2013: 11-20

11. Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze – Kurt Vile
Thought Kurt Vile’s latest effort wasn’t necessarily material that made a killer live concert (his show at Pygmalion was good background music), his album is a perfect mix of tranquility and sleepiness, with a hint of shoegaze here and there. It’s a great album for relaxing, a long drive, or falling asleep to (and not in a bad way). [Boswell Hutson]

12. Mikal Cronin – MCII
Mikal Cronin’s second solo album is great for summer and winter, alike. He seamlessly shifts between airy acoustic-rock and distorted shredding, making the songs easy to nod along to. His lyrics are down to earth, and reveal his tendency toward realism, but are supported by charmingly chaotic and momentous music. [Claire Schroeder]

13. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Laura Marling’s fourth album, Once I Was An Eagle is a time capsule of an album, foregoing radio friendly singles for a slow, rambling, deliberate album that functions best when listened to from beginning to end. At 23, Marling already possesses one of the strongest and most affecting voices in the folk genre. [Dylan Knox]

14. Rhye – Woman
Milosh and Robin Hannibal, the members of Rhye, came together this year and made an album that was one of my all around favorite pieces of art of the year. While playing around with the idea of sexual ambiguity, Rhye is able to make a jammable, danceable, fantastic album cemented with Milosh’s sensual vocals. [Joe Winner]

15. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
The mild-mannered acoustic songs are the bread and butter of Cerulean Salt, which make the tracks where frontwoman, Katie Crutchfield, steps on the fuzz pedal hit much harder. On top of the catchy melodies and riffs, Crutchfield’s voice is undeniably pleasant as well as painfully expressive. Cap that off with lyrics that vividly paint pictures of failing relationships, apathy and regret and you have an endlessly repeatable album that makes it hard to quit listening. [Eric Holmes]

16. The Next Day – David Bowie
One of the cool things about Bowie’s latest record is that it was recorded in secrecy. The only people who knew he was making it were the people who were directly involved with its recording. The first single, a standout track entitled “Where Are We Now?” was released on iTunes for people to find themselves – no warning or promotion. The Next Day contains Bowie’s hardest hitting performances since Scary Monsters (1980), and it is hard to argue that his songwriting has gone stale. Tracks such as “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”, “Love Is Lost” and “Where Are We Now?” have everything a Bowie fan would hope for in 2013. [Luke Ray]

17. Darwin Deez – Songs For Imaginative People
Released mid-February, this album was a forgotten favorite for me. Between his unique composition of electronic components with guitar and drums and his wise lyrics, this album is a winner. If you missed this one, “Alice” is a definite must-listen. [Daniel Szoke]

18. Smith Westerns – Soft Will
This third album from young dream-pop rockers Smith Westerns was one of my personal favorites of the year, but then again, I’ve seen them live 8 times. Though it made less of a splash than 2011’s Dye it Blonde, 2013’s Soft Will definitely shows the maturation and advancement of the group from Chicago’s North side The trio, which is becoming increasingly more polished since their first self-titled effort, seems to be building a nice niche in a subset of hipster culture that is rapidly expanding, and if that means more records, I’m all for it. [Boswell Hutson]

19. Atlas Genius – When It Was Now
When It Was Now is a great example of an album full of hidden gems. “Trojans” won our hearts, but songs like “If So” and “Back Seat” kept us coming back. In an interview with WPGU, Atlas Genius disclosed some information about their upcoming sophomore album, and it will be interesting to hear what they have in store.[Daniel Szoke]

20. Junip – Junip
Before his project Junip, I was almost entirely unfamiliar with Jose Gonzales. After listening one time, I felt as though I’d discovered a modern-day James Taylor. Though Junip gets to experiment a little more with audio effects than James tended to do, the folk backbone is apparent in this record, which seemed to mix ideas very well. This one definitely snuck up on me this year, but I’m infinitely glad that it did. [Boswell Hutson]

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