Over the years, the “Top 40 Albums” list (once a measly list of 10) has become the apex of BDWPS, a culmination of a year’s worth of obsessive listening and re-listening (and re-listening) to every piece of music I can get my hands on. Even as I compile this final definitive list (which I traditionally question months and years later), I find myself revisiting albums I was quick to write off, or I end up digging for gems that may have slipped through the cracks of my consciousness. I didn’t have as tough of a time leaving albums off the list this year; I don’t know if that means 2013 was a weak year in music or if I just didn’t have as tight of a connection with as much music as usual. Regardless, I can promise you that the following 40 albums are well-crafted collections of music/art worth investing your time in…lord knows I have.
I always have difficulty when coming up with these lists because there are often albums I’ve enjoyed that I’m forced to leave out. When I had the current mid-year list down to 25, I thought about bucking my yearly tradition of 20 and upping it to 25. Then, I recollected a long forgotten high school memory. During my junior year, our basketball coach had a decision along the same lines – with 10 returning seniors and a strong incoming Junior class of 10 quality players, he had to make cuts in order to meet the roster limit of 15. Instead of manning up and just cutting some of the old players or telling some Juniors to take a year off, he let the extra five Juniors (one of them being me) stay on the team as kind of a practice team. This would turn out horribly with our group of five often feeling outcast and forgotten, and by seasons end, we’d named ourselves The Bullheads (because in Iowa, a catfish isn’t considered a keeper). I decided that, yes, there are some great albums on the outside looking in this year, but at the same time, including them would water down my already loaded list. 2013 is off to a great start musically, and here are my “Top 20 Favorite Albums” so far (no bullheads included: i.e. Daft Punk).
Ores & Minerals
[Fat Possum; 2013]
In Billy Collins poetic plea “Introduction to Poetry,” he asks his students to “drop a mouse into a poem / and watch him probe his way out.” Recently while reading this poem, I found myself making a connection between the lab rat metaphor and the London band Mazes. The obvious association is in the band’s name, but my connection went much deeper than the literal.
From the first time I heard Ores & Minerals, I knew I loved the band’s sophomore album. The problem was in the fact I didn’t know why I liked it so much. Like the students in Collins poem who “…begin beating (the poem) with a hose / to find out what it means,” I wanted a clear analysis of what was at the core of my enjoyment. Few of the songs feature choruses, and if they do, they aren’t instantly memorable. There aren’t any tracks on the album that beg my attention nor do the lyrics ever delve much beyond the contents of a fortune cookie. The songs seem to ramble on for long stretches of time, never really going any place. Yet, despite all this monotony, I couldn’t quit listening to the album. Like the mouse in the maze, I was lost in the music but had no real way of figuring out the answer as to why.