40. Sunbather---DeafheavenA mysterious middle-ground where metal, post-rock, and screamo can all fuse and become one, Sunbather is just as beautiful as it is punishing. Drums pummel, vocal chords are splayed, and yet there's a majesty in these tracks, as well as a feeling of grand catharsis.
39. Herein Wild---Frankie Rose
It's about time Frankie Rose wrote a tune entitled Into Blue; every song she makes seems to be positively drenched in the color. Voice and guitar ever-swaddled in layers upon layers of reverb, HW is a dreamy, nighttime effort that wraps you up like a warm blanket.
38. Days Are Gone---Haim
The sisters of Haim were among 2013's most savvy song writers, their debut album stocked with one delectable earworm after another. Days Are Gone dabbles in R&B, country, pop, rock, and everything else under the sun; the only constants are quality and fun.
37. Mala---Devendra Banhart
It's been four years since we last heard from Banhart, and low and behold, the guy's still just as much of a smart ass as before. And yet there's nothing overtly pessimistic about Mala; the album is more interested in poking fun at the general goofiness of the human condition, as on the the laugh-out-loud ditty Your Fine Petting Duck, or the sunny sway of Never Seen Such Good Things.
36. Patterns EP---Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
One of the year's finest pop entries, Patterns consists of four rock-solid tracks, and is out the door in under fifteen minutes. It's an all-killer-no-filler approach that works wonders, the giddy electro of If You Didn't See Me (Then You Weren't on the Dance Floor) dovetailing perfectly into more relaxed numbers like Dark Water.
Holy Fire might not quite reach the delirious heights of the band's previous disc, Total Life Forever, but the Oxford boys can still make towering arena rock with the best of them. The opening one-two punch of Inhaler and My Number pits intensity against immediacy to sublime effect.
Dedicated in part to the late Women guitarist Christopher Reimer, who had toured with the band on their previous outing, Carrier is a far more emotionally earnest effort than we're used to from these guys. Their kinetics can still raise pulses and fill up a room, though even the enormity of lead single Confidence can't really shake that pervasive feeling of lovely melancholy.
Savages is right; the debut album of the London-based four-piece is a furious forty minutes that refuses to play nice, and loves you kick your ass. Vocalist Jehnny Beth's punk howl is miles removed from Karen O's comparatively polite yelps, as jagged and dangerous as the music itself.
Hummingbird largely forsakes the world-conquering largeness of the band's debut, Gorilla Manor, in favor of a smaller, more emotionally complicated sound. But while the smooth sailing of Ceilings and the balladry of the album's final section come to define the LP, singles Breakers and Heavy Feet still have no problem blowing the damn doors off.
31. Reflektor---Arcade Fire
I almost feel guilty for having Arcade Fire this low on the list, but Reflektor falls a bit short of the Album of the Year standards the band has set for themselves. Sprawling and ambitious (perhaps even to a fault), Reflektor sure isn't the sound of a band resting on its laurels, and some late tracks can go toe-to-toe with the group's best work to date.