Native – OneRepublic
The world has a love hate relationship with pop-rock. Many of us seem to hate that we love the genre so much because it can be incredibly difficult to accomplish effectively. It almost feels like it really isn’t a genre in itself and that the two worlds should be separate. That being said, I have not met a person who hates OneRepublic, and this album keeps people from denouncing them as musicians and artists. Their single “Counting Stars” is one of the bands most successful of their career, and with “If I Lose Myself,” “Feel Again” and “Something I Need” rounding out their singles list and an album where almost every song is just as good as their singles, it is easy to see why we keep listening.
Save Rock And Roll – Fall Out Boy
The surprise album of the year definitely goes to Fall Out Boy’s “Save Rock And Roll.” After four years on hiatus, the band came back better than ever with a new sound and an evolved feel. The songs range in genre, drawing from pop, rock, alternative and classic rock while still sharing a cohesive tone making the album play fluidly. Fall Out Boy sets out with a goal in mind, and with a diverse sound for each song, it can safely be said that their mission is accomplished.
Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend
If there was ever an album that reminds us of simpler times, “Modern Vampires of the City” would be it. The diverse album features songs that inspires listeners to explore the world, go on adventures, love the people around you and live life to the fullest. Departing from their original sound, Modern Vampires refreshes not only the indie rock genre, but themselves as well. Winning a Grammy award for best Alternative album and topping “Rolling Stone’s” top 50 albums of 2013, it would be surprising to find someone that doesn’t feel connected to the album in some way or another.
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
The French duo returns to the music scene with their fourth studio album that made big waves. “Random Access Memories” draws inspiration from the late 70s and early 80s with an electronic twist. While many in our generation will knock the dance/disco era, Daft Punk revives the sounds that our parents fell in love with and make us do the same. Unsurprisingly, the duo earned a Grammy win for album of the year, and with it, the Robots show the world that we aren’t so different than our previous generation.
Because the Internet – Childish Gambino
Released in early December, it is easy to have overlooked the rap album from the up-and-coming artist Childish Gambino. While most of the world will recognize Donald Glover from “Community” or from his standup, the Internet has proven that his rapping career is just as defining. The album is ambitious to say the least, receiving multiple criticisms mainly due to people seeing him as Donald Glover the actor instead of Childish Gambino the rapper. Gambino works with his beat instead of trying to force the lyrics in, and more importantly, his music is real. He doesn’t see himself as a grand rapper who’s on the top that needs to bash others to prove his worth; it’s not the same party-like-it’s-the-best-night-of-your-life-type music, and it digs into the psyche of self-doubt and the unknown that life brings us. If you listen to this expecting Troy from Community, you will be disappointed. The chapter of Gambino in Glover’s life has just begun.