In a year where we saw albums from breakout artists such as Lorde and Speedy Ortiz, and the return of several cult favorites such as Daft Punk and Boards of Canada, some might say 2013, “could possibly be the best year for music.” Well, we are not so bold as to make such a sweeping statement, but none can argue that this has been one of the most progressive years for music in quite a while. Congrats to the UK for heavily dominating our list this year.

Christian Johnson and I are proud to finally release Void’s very first top 25 albums of the year list. We have been compiling, and arguing, this list for a couple months now, so browse through and enjoy…or just get pissed off that your favorite band is not on the list. Also note that you will not, find any Miley, Macklemore (Did he really win a grammy over K.Dot? Seriously?), Drake, Lil Wayne, or Vampire Weekend…sorry. If this list seems a little too unfamiliar to you, listen to the selected tracks and give them a chance. The top 10 also include a brief summary.

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1. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

When Daft Punk announced their inevitable return after an eight year hiatus, the world eagerly waited to see what the French duo would come up with next. The album was largely kept under wraps, much to the chagrin of their fans, who drank the slow trickle of information the band released like a man dying of thirst. Well, when we finally got a taste in the form of “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk literally took over the music world. We’ve all probably heard that song like 962 times, but you know what…it’s still great. The reason Random Access Memories is so successful, is that instead of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo simply compiling a bunch of tracks by the artists who inspired them the most, they actually went and found these musicians and worked with them to create new songs. To many, RAM feels like a nostalgia trip, like something you would find tucked away in a bin full of old records in your parent’s attic, and they’d be right. RAM not only recaptures this glitter-coated, disco-fevered golden age of music in the 50s, 60s and 70s, but builds upon that, mixing in updated genres that range anywhere from house to rock. To sum up why RAM is just so great, and why it deserves the No. 1 spot on our list, it can be easily done by taking a quote from one of the duo’s most beloved artists. This quote by Giorgio Moroder, taken from his self-titled track on the record, could not be a more perfect example of how much artists such as Moroder have influenced Daft Punk, encouraging them to break the mold and reinvent dance music. “Once you free your mind about a concept of harmony and music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So, nobody told me what to do, and there was no preconception of what to do.” For RAM, and giving life back to music, we thank you Daft Punk. — ZS

2. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

What a year 2013 has been for Arcade Fire. The group returned from a three year silence with the release of their monumental album Reflektor. To say this album was good would possibly be the biggest understatement of all time. From top to bottom, Reflektor is flawless. Everything from production to promotion was executed with the precision and confidence of a well seasoned veteran. Arcade Fire pulled out all the stops with Reflektor, and possibly the biggest was the group bringing in former LCD Soundsystem frontman and mastermind James Murphy to co-produce the album alongside longtime Arcade Fire producer Markus Dravas. This move helped to reinvigorate, as well as to help grow Arcade Fire’s sound, all while keeping the band’s true essence. Many reviews on the internet sight the album’s major downside as being that it strayed too far from what the band is “supposed” to sound like, or what they “used” to sound like. But frankly, that is a bunch of bullshit. Looking back at Arcade Fire’s first album and leading up to now, the band has continuously evolved. Winn Butler said it best himself in an interview with Rainn Wilson,”Each time the band made a record, we could have easily been called the funerals, the neon bibles, or the suburbs. It’s almost like we’re launching a new band every time.” There are so many shining moments on this album that it’s hard to choose a favorite song. At one listen-through, any one song could be considered the best for one reason or another. I will say however, that the songs Porno, Flahshbulb Eyes, and It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus) were the band’s boldest tracks. Aside from the musical content that made Reflektor so great, there was also the promotional aspect, where Arcade Fire crafted one of the greatest marketing schemes in music to date. The band abandoned traditional marketing concepts for a guerrilla-style, underground campaign, in which the band placed album logos throughout the United States and performed a few  impromoteu gigs in elaborate costumes. Arcade fire is currently on their world tour, and from the looks of things, the band is only getting better. — CJ

3. Arctic Monkeys – AM

In the prolific words of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, “It sounds like a Dr. Dre beat, but we’ve given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster.” Having listened to AM more times than I can count, seriously my roommates hate me for the amount of times they’ve heard “Fireside,” it’s clear that Turner hit his mark. Anyone  could easily imagine Dr.Dre dropping a verse on “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High,” or “Do I Wanna Know.” The deafening bassline, coupled with Turner’s vocal melodies, is not something many other singers or bands could pull off. That’s one thing that makes AM so great, it’s the ability to be a classic British rock album, while still growing to incorporate other musical elements. What AM has done is put the Arctic Monkeys into a new division of their own. The Arctic Monkeys have long since been one of Britain’s strongest groups, as well as a U.S. favorite for quite some time now, but AM has helped the Arctic Monkeys capture a whole new audience. AM  is catchy from start to finish, and quickly pulls the listener along without them even realizing it, leaving them wanting more at the end. During the past few months, there has been news from the Arctic Monkey camp that a follow up to AM could be arriving in the near future. Turner was quoted in an interview with NME saying, ” I can’t really confirm or deny that one. I can sort of imagine what it might be. I could see it when the record was finished. We’d met the deadline, but the thing was still sort of snowballing a little bit, and for that reason, we could still find ourselves walking into another one.” Well then, it looks like we will be eagerly waiting Mr. Turner. — CJ

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

4. Disclosure – Settle

Like most other music fans out there, I am downright DONE with the behemoth that dubstep has become. Like most great things, it became overused and oversaturated, being featured in nearly every single commercial, whether it be toilet paper or a new razor blade. Dubstep has been used to death. As the dubstep regime loomed over the EDM world like a cruel, ruthless dictator, a duo from London emerged from the wreckage and offered us some new music to tap our feet and shake our booties to. Settle was the dancing relief that we all needed. It brought electronic music back to an era where the songs were less about bleeps, bloops, heavy drops, and bass turned up to 11. To a time where
soul, disco and R&B were all seen as counterpart. From start to finish, Settle possess the ability to get the listener dancing, without being too overpowering. There is no need for head banging and womping like a maniac with Disclosure, just groove to the basslines and lyrics that are too catchy not to sing along with. Part of the reason that Settle is featured so high on our list, is because of what it has done for Disclosure. Bringing two relatively unknown brothers out of their parent’s attic, (the group still lives at home with their parents) to performing and headlining at festivals around the world. Disclosures’ rise to fame can only be characterized in one word, meteoric. And from the looks of the things, the brothers aren’t going to be stopping anytime soon. The two have had possibly the busiest January in the industry, which could only indicate that great things are on the horizon. — CJ

5. Lorde – Pure Heroine

It didn’t take long for New Zealand-born singer Lorde to turn the music world on its head. Lorde’s lyricism continues to baffle me throughout the entirety of her debut album, and I often find myself wanting to blast her quotes out to my entire generation. At just 16, I can hardly believe how gifted this young singer truly is. Lorde has an aura about her that makes her seem much wiser than her years. O’Connor’s best lyricism is undoubtedly on the track “Ribs.” With vocals such as, “We’re so happy even when we’re smiling out of fear, it looks alright in the pictures,” I can hardly believe her songwriting history is just three years young. In her album, Lorde elegantly brings to light the underlying fears that people try to hide by pretending that they don’t care about anything or anyone, essentially calling out this whole “I don’t give a f*ck” generation. “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air. So there,” might just be my favorite excerpt from the record. Pure Heroine is hands down the best pop album of 2013, and Lorde is prepared for anyone to critique her latest work as she closes out the 40-minute album with the words, “People they talk…Let them talk.” Hopefully, O’Connor will remain one of the few honest artists in her age group, unlike her peers such as Miley Cyrus, which is almost an insult to even compare the two. I must admit, there are few artists like Lorde that I listen to regularly, but for some reason I’ve found Pure Heroine to be quite addicting… — ZS

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

6. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

Enough cannot be said about this album. If 2013 had not been such a phenomenal year for music, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon would have easily graced the top five. Be that as it may, Archie Marshall’s freshman debut was amazing. So many different genres were infused within the album. Elements of jazz, hip-hop, soul, punk, and everything else in between were artfully crafted into one of the best breakout records of the year. When you look up King Krule by genre, he is classified under rap. To me, this classification doesn’t do him justice, or make sense for that matter. In actuality, no classification does Krule justice, and that is what makes this album so great, it is truly a sign of the times. Because of the internet, and the connections that it allows, artists are now influenced by all genres, incorporating different aspects into their music to create something truly unique. King Krule’s prowess as a musician shows brightly throughout the record. Krule crafts beautiful chord progressions that possess the ability to draw an immense amount of emotion out of the listener. Krule’s voice, that captivating voice, is one of his biggest distinctions. Whether you like it or not, no one can doubt the power and emotion it carries. With every growl and croon, it’s as if you’re reliving every memory, going back to the exact moment that inspired the songs and lyrics. Krule shows what it means to be a person on 6 Feet Beneath the Moon. He shows us that in life, at one point or another, we are all vulnerable. We feel distraught over what someone has done to us, so much so, that it gets to the point where all we can can do is scream and hope to get over it. We find solace in knowing that their is someone out there to sympathize with us. Krule is that someone. — CJ

7. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

Acid Rap is one of the albums on this list that I have listened to pretty much every week since I discovered it this summer. Chance the Rapper, or Chancelor Bennett as his mother would call him, is Chicago’s newest rising rapper, and for good reason. At first glance, many would be put off by the album’s irregularity, since it sounds so much different than the majority of rap, but I promise you after a few listens, you too will be infected with the record’s alluring stlye. Chance’s album has had me perpetually addicted since I listened to “Favorite Song,” where the young rapper pairs up with Childish Gambino, in what is…my favorite song on the album. Throughout the trippy journey of Acid Rap, Chance the Rapper mixes in smooth, jazzy textures into his witty lyrics about being a young student in a school for gifted kids in Chicago. The results are something of a throwback sound akin to that of early Kanye…before he became “Yezzus,” mixed together and sampled with J Dilla and A Tribe Called Quest. What really sets Chance apart from his contemporaries, and the reason he’s on our top 25, is that instead of picking up these hand-me-down beats and lyrical flows that are dead or overused, Chance builds his own from the ground up. The cadences that he uses on Acid Rap are frantic, borderline crazy, hectic, and often astounding. Where other rappers lack ingenuity, often trying to bring back a certain sound or borrow from peers, Chance invents his own style that is a little bit maniacal, but genius.

8. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

After a seven year drought, Boards of Canada released Tomorrow’s Harvest, and it is one of the Scottish duo’s best works to date. The album is an amazingly beautiful work of music. In their latest LP, the Scotland-based duo creates a surreal blend of electronica that is immensely enthralling. Boards of Canada has a sound unlike other artists and it almost seems to paint a picture of some dreamscape or distant land as the music flows in through your speakers, and into your ears. Some describe their sound as ambient, and their works are often compared to that of a movie’s soundtrack. Their sound is much different from a lot of music that people are used to listening to, but Tomorrow’s Harvest offers a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale and boring electronic music genre. Grab a pair of good headphones and lose yourself in this album…you won’t regret it. — ZS

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

9. Local Natives – Hummingbird

When a friend first showed me Local Natives’ debut album, Gorilla Manor, back in 2010, I knew I had discovered something great. The Los Angeles-based indie rock group released their second studio album Hummingbird in January 2013, with high critical acclaim. Hummingbird is a strong return for the band and sticks close to Local Natives’ roots, sharing many similarities to the distinctive indie rock sound they were known for on Gorilla Manor  three years ago, yet the album feels more mature as the band carves out their own niche amongst their contemporaries. The record has a noticeably more different tone in the music that presents both a richer and more diverse experience that is both uplifting and heartbreaking. As Local Natives continue to grow and distinguish themselves, this fan has high hopes for the band’s promising future. — ZS

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

10. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Faultless Youth

This year could easily be considered one of the best for indie electronic music in some time. We saw the extraordinary rise of Disclosure, as well as the arrival of a slew of new electro pop artists. All the while, the so called “fathers of post-dubstep,” known as Mount Kimbie, cruised under the radar, and in the process, were able to release one of the most underrated albums of 2013. Mount Kimbie have been churning out some of the industry’s best abstract-electronic music since early 2010. Throughout MK’s career, they have gained the aforementioned reputation of being the “fathers of post-dubstep.” Their music could easily be seen as a rebellious gesture against the tyrant that dubstep has become in the EDM world. No wobs and heavy drops to be found on a Mount Kimbie record, just groovy song structures that have just enough of a groove to get your head bobbing and your foot tapping. In my opinion, Cold Spring Faultless Youth is a great showcase of all that the duo has to offer. The album features a wide array of sonic textures, which at some points can be haunting, like on the tracks “Home Recording,” and “You Took Your Time,” which features our other top 25 artist King Krule. Other songs such as “Break Well,” and “Meter, Pale, Tone,” there is a stronger dance aspect. One thing that truly continues to set this album apart to me from most others, especially those which are considered to be EDM, is the fact that at no point is it overwhelming. You could easily listen to the CSFY all day and it would never tire out your ears with heavy, overused bass. The listener is moved gently along a genre-defying journey, which seems to end just as soon as it began. The growth Mount Kimbie showed us from their first full-length album, Crooks and Lovers, up until now, is truly remarkable. In an interview with Pitchfork, Mount Kimbie member Kai Campos said, “With Mount Kimbie, we started off trying to imitate other stuff– and we failed. But in failing to do that, we stumbled across a sound that’s inherently our own.” That statement was only strengthened with the release of CSFY, the group changed, and yet still remained so familiar. Let us only hope that we can continue to listen as Mount Kimbie continues their musical journey. — CJ

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11. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return

12. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

13. Pusha T – My Name Is My Name

14. Phoenix – Bankrupt!

15. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

16. Atoms for Peace – Amok

17. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

18. Washed Out – Paracosm

19. The Strokes – Comedown Machine

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

20. Cage the Elephant – Melophobia

21. Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

22. Thundercat – Apocalypse

23. Run the Jewels – S/T

24. Tyler, the Creator – Wolf

Read Void’s full review of this album here.

25. MBV – S/T

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Honorable Mentions … The ones that almost made it.

J. Cole – Born Sinner

Yuck – Glow and Behold

Forest Swords – Engravings

A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP

Beach Fossils – Clash of the Truth

Death Grips – Government Plates

Danny Brown – Old

Pity Sex – Feast of Love

Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

London Grammar – If You Wait