KJHK’s Top Albums of the Year

The top albums of the year according to KJHK!

As the year draws to a close, we here at KJHK decided to pull our respective lists together and have come up with our own list of the best albums of 2013. This list features a diverse group of albums that we here at KJHK felt best represented what 2013 had to offer. As an added bonus, we will also show each of the people who contributed’s own personal list of the best of 2013. If you have any comments or you feel one of your personal favorites was left off of the list, don’t be shy and leave a comment! Now on to the list.


1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City




What can be said about this album that hasn’t been said already? Vampire Weekend pulled off what many considered to be the upset of the year by not only releasing their best album, but also the best album of the year. Critics and fans alike wondered if Vampire Weekend could possibly live up to the expectations put upon them after the success of their first two albums but Vampire Weekend were ready to rise to occasion. On Modern Vampires of the City, Ezra Koenig and Rostam Batmanglig pen some of their most personal lyrics yet back dropped by a gorgeous baroque musical setting from the rest of the band. Songs like “Unbelievers” and “Everlasting Arms” deal with Koenig’s disillusionment with organized religion, a far cry from the generally playful feeling taken on by the first two albums. Even the music itself seems to take on a darker, more world weary tone than their earlier material despite maintaining their upbeat sound which reflects back on their more mature lyrics. The album cover also seems to reflect this tone, with a black and white picture of New York covered in smog where a normally vibrant and colorful picture would be. Overall, Modern Vampires of the City features Vampire Weekend’s strongest writing and it’s no wonder that this album has been topping everyone’s year end lists, including ours.

-Jake Waters


2. Kanye West – Yeezus



“Yeezy season approachin.”
Alright. Fine. I’ll pay attention to the rap game.
I mean, I’m late to the game, I’ll admit it. In the past, I may have written off Kanye as “What the kid who only watched ESPN in middle school” would listen to before B-Team basketball practice. A soundtrack to applying way too much Axe body spray. But that was a mistake. Clearly.
Seriously though, following the rap game has made the easy decision of never buying cable TV even more validated. Find me a reality television show that has this kind of quality. It has all the necessary ingredients. Fights, disses, heartbreak, insane, aggressive proclamations of dominance. And no one polishes it for your enjoyable, gaped-mouth consumption like Kanye West.
I liked ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. I did. And I was surprised by that too. It was the first modern rap album that contained a glimmer of hope for my enjoyment. But it didn’t stick like Yeezus did. And that’s my fault. I was too new to the scene to realize its significance. But I feel like with this one, Kanye threw me a bone. I’m into electronic music, and while “traditional rap fans” are complaining about how this “isn’t a real rap album”, I am over here learning what an amazing future this genre has. And if that isn’t the hallmark of a classic album, I don’t know what is. Like I said, I am sure I am about a Kanye-album late on this realization, but when Kanye parades himself along with the whole “I’m a creative visionary” angle, you know there’s a bit of truth to that. And be honest, for all the criticism this guy no doubt deserves, about how he is unflappably arrogant, up-his-own-ass, or otherwise the supreme being of blind self promotion, if this wasn’t exactly what it he was, the Kanye you love, wouldn’t, and cannot exist.
And that’s the amazing part of this album, as much as you can agree with Kanye’s haters, you find yourself agreeing with Kanye just as much. But on a different level. At the very basics, you can see where he’s coming from, even if you’re driving your beat-up car to your dead-end job. It may be filtered through a prism of rap superstar, but you can kinda relate.
“How you gonna complain on vacation???”
Yeezus has sound design like I have never heard, it falls somewhere between rap album and Hollywood movie. His music is now as unignorable as his soundbites. And at no time is he more unignorable when he, in his own words, is “ ‘bout to tear shit down.” Perhaps thats where the whole religious angle comes into play most strongly. He and the music behind him give the impression of an angry deity with greater conviction than any art form I have seen attempt that sort of thing.
Simply put. Like it or not, he’s the best at what he does, and just like he wanted, he’s got my attention.
– Marc Schroeder

3. Arcade Fire – Reflektor


Before 2013, Arcade Fire was last known for their associations with the Grammy-winning yet underwhelming album The Suburbs. The band from Montreal, Quebec, Canada has changed their overall image, for better, with their new album Reflektor. The album carries a heavy influence of festival Rara music, a genre birthed from Haiti, and combines that with an aggressive disco-rock sound produced by LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. If you are a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem but struggled to get into Arcade Fire’s earlier work, than this is the album for you. If you are a long time Arcade Fire fan still listening to the epic debut album Funeral, or the overlooked Neon Bible, you might find yourself struggling to appreciate several aspects of this album. But if you were to overlook their sometimes overbearing marketing campaign you just might end up loving the work Arcade Fire was able to produce with Murphy. The band still shows the already established ability to produce powerful and thought invoking lyrics, which can be found in tracks such as ‘Porno,’ ‘Afterlife,’ and ‘Normal Person.’ If you combine the classic tracks of Arcade Fire’s previous work, like ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Brazil,’ and add the electronic, dance-like edge from James Murphy, you get art that looks like this album. Overall, Reflektor is an artistic masterpiece that shows a new side to Arcade Fire’s creative ability. Their diverse influence spurred from Haitain culture, Brazilian and French film, and individualistic philosophy will provide for fresh and deep new material well into the future.

– Mason Kilpatrick

4. James Blake – Overgrown


James Blake’s Overgrown changed my taste in music. Starting off with “Retrograde” in early January, when it was released as a single and promoter to his new album. I couldn’t believe how inspiring this man was through his songs. Once Overgrown was released, I was very pleased with it. Helping me get through projects during one of the most stressful semesters I ever had. The songs were like an escape from reality and immensely relaxing, like everything was going to be okay. James Blake actually came to Lawrence, KS back in April and I must say, it was one of the most intimate concerts I have ever been to. For I was extremely grateful to have met him after his show and to able to talk with him for bit. Can’t get over it. If you haven’t listened to this album, well I would highly suggest doing so because along with Kendrick Lamar, he is nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist. Note that both artists are amazing as well as their new albums, but whoever wins, wins.

-Lynnasha Gallbreath

5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away


Push the Sky Away is a brilliant, moody, endlessly evocative masterwork from the always provocative Nick Cave. Many of the songs amble along at a leisurely pace, and as a result, the listener is forced to focus in on Cave’s menacing baritone and pitch-black humor. Multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis embellishes where necessary, never distracting from Cave’s twisted lyrics and stream-of-consciousness delivery. “Push the Sky Away” is down-tempo mood music to be sure, but there’s also a lot of subtle beauty that reveals itself in sporadic, unexpected bursts, such as on the lovely “Higgs Boson Blues,” which swells and explodes into a crash of cymbals and drums. “Wide Lovely Eyes” is utterly gorgeous, and one of the loveliest songs Cave has written. The hymn-like backing vocals are perfectly matched to Cave’s mysterious words. While his vocal range is somewhat limited, Cave knows how to get the most out of his voice. The way that he sings the line “you wave and say goodbye” on “Wide Lovely Eyes” conveys an unbelievable sadness and exasperation that is nonetheless beautful and cathartic. It is the constant tension between desperation and hopefulness that make “Push the Sky Away” such a rewarding listen and one of 2013’s best.

-Vince Meserko

6. Your Friend. – Jekyll/Hyde


Your Friend, Taryn Miller, has become a Lawrence local music legend this past year. From playing multiple nights a week in local venues to topping the KJHK charts consecutively, it is no surprise that her début EP, Jekyll/Hyde, was voted into the top albums of the year. This album’s indie rock sound borders on ambient and creates an atmosphere that draws people in. Her vocals are charged with strong emotions that expose her very essence. The at times mysterious vocals found on Jekyll/Hyde leaves an interpretation open to the listeners. All of this along with the sound of her skilled guitar playing creates an unforgettable experience that involves the listeners directly. Though Your Friend is a solo act in nature, you will always find her friends rocking behind her live and also featured on Jekyll/Hyde. The many talented local individuals featured on this EP help create a community feel and a diversity of sounds. This album has made waves these past several months and new releases by Your Friend are to be anticipated in the future by new and old fans alike. Your Friend amazes listeners with her talent and creativity on her début EP.

-Rachel Bennett

7. Disclosure – Settle


You can praise Daft Punk all you want for bringing back 70’s prog-rock and disco, but for pure, unadulterated dance music, there was no better album this year than Disclosure’s Settle. The Lawrence brothers, on their debut LP, recruited some of the most talented young vocalists in Britain to add emotional depth to their infectious beats. AlunaGeorge and Sam Smith manage to stand out on “White Noise” and “Latch” without overpowering the tracks, and London Grammar injects some bone-chilling soul to album closer “Help Me Lose My Mind.” You’d think an album with such a wide variety of guest features would lack a cohesive feel, but the tightness of the Lawrence brothers’ funky-yet-refined production holds everything in place. Combining equal parts EDM and soulful R&B, Disclosure made the rare album that sound just as good when you’re listening alone in your room as it does when you’re out dancing at 3AM.

-Andy Miller

8. Kurt Vile – Wakin On a Pretty Daze

OLE-998 Kurt Vile-Walkin On A Pretty Daze

When I listen to Kurt Vile’s newest album Wakin on a Pretty Daze, the first thing that immediately comes to my mind is Neil Young. Nobody since Neil Young has been able to capture that jammy and druggy atmosphere quite as well as Kurt Vile does on this album. The track “Wakin on a Pretty Day” in particular wouldn’t sound out of place on a Neil Young album like On the Beach. Only while On the Beach’s main themes consisted of drugged out depression, Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze seems to concern itself more with just chilling out and relaxing. Kurt Vile has always been a good guitarist but this is the album where he really shines. Vile creates these guitar lines that are loose and flowing which are perfect for those long summer days of laying by the pool, thinking about what it all means. I unfortunately was not able to see Vile live when he came by Lawrence over the summer but I will just have to be content with listening to this until he comes back around. Not a bad substitute.

-Jake Waters

9. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap


Acid Rap is absolutely magnificent. Let’s get that out of the way first. Now while his hero Kanye West is an obvious influence (the first track “Good Ass Intro” samples an early mixtape track by Yeezy), Chance The Rapper is more than able to create his own lane through his frantic, but also playful rhymes. Every song on Acid Rap is sequenced with purpose and even though he’s only 20 years old, he sounds so convincing. His hometown of Chicago serves a gridiron to release his frustration on the very prevalent violence that occurs there. With lines like “We just aiming back cause the cops shot you/Buck buck bang bang, yelling ‘F*ck Fox News!’” from “Everybody’s Something,” you can only imagine the things he’s had to endure whether he was involved or not. Psychedelics are also an influence on this record. The title says it all. But it’s the use of jazzy trumpet solos and paranoiac pitch changes throughout Acid Rap that really make you feel like you are tripping right there with him…and would gladly do it again.

-Andy MacKay

10. The Flaming Lips – The Terror



The Terror ushered in a new era for The Flaming Lips. This album is a dramatic turn away from the confetti cannons, space balls, naked women, and outpourings of love they are famous for. Stemming from band member Steven Drozd’s struggle with heroin addiction, the content is as twisted demented as his addiction. Don’t be misled by the fun cover art! Rays of sunlight make brief appearances, like in “Always There…In Our Hearts” (track 9), but they are quickly swallowed by the isolation the album provides—as if the song “You Are Alone” (track 6) was not enough. The layers fuzzy synths and scratchy shallow guitar sounds create a heady environment that makes your head spin like you just got your wisdom teeth yanked and are reveling in your pain meds. This album will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about the Lips. The disjointed, chaotic, and sometimes empty sounds are similar to last year’s Heady Fwends (except minus Ke$ha and Nick Cave. Unfortunately). Heady Fwends found the Lips creating the infamous hour-long jam songs (think: the 24 hour song!) “You Lust” (track 4) clocks in at a total play time of 13:03. 13 minutes and 3 seconds of haunting ghost like repetition and melodies of a mushroom trip. Despite the layered instruments being thin, melodies introduced at the beginning of the record make an appearance through out. The way the album plays through reminds me a lot of Les Mis. Melodies repeat and have different lyrics that are woven through the song. Sometimes they are subtle; sometimes they are crass and obvious. Usually, The Flaming Lips make for great party music. “The Yeah Yeah Yeah” song is definitely on my GET PSYCHED mix. I would highly advise against playing The Terror at a party. Unless you wanna kill the party dead.


I chose this for my album of the year because it truly is a game changer. Totally revamping their live show (after God knows how long) has breathed new life into this band. Ushering in with it a new definition of the Age of the Freak, The Terror redefines what it means to be a freak. It shows the dark side of the Lips. The side that has been to the edge of hell and back through heroin dependency that almost tore the band apart. The Terror is a testimony to their too often ignored darkness and an anthem for Freaks.


Go listen my friends.

-Katie Barrett

The Contributors

Marc Schroeder – KJHK I.T. Director, Host of Input/Output

1. Deerhunter – Monomania

2. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

3. Kanye West – Yeezus

4. Disclosure – Settle

5. Classixx – Hanging Gardens

6. Brrd – Towers/Anointing

7. John Wizards – John Wizards

8. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of The City

9. Moderat – II

10. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind

Katie Barrett – Assistant Music Director

1. The Flaming Lips — The Terror

2. The Black Angels — Indigo Meadow

3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds — Push the Sky Away

4. Kevin Devine & the Goddamn Band — Bubblegum

5. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — Spector at the Feast

6. Streetlight Manifesto — The Hands that Thieve

7. London Grammar — If You Wait

8. Night Beats — Sonic Bloom

9. Classixx — Hanging Gardens

10. Big D & the Kids Table – Stroll

Mason Kilpatrick – Jazz Director

1. Vampire Weekend-‘Modern Vampires of the City

2. Arcade Fire-‘Reflektor

3. David Bowie-‘The Next Day’

4. Franz Ferdinand-‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’

5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra-‘II’

6. The National-‘Trouble Will Find Me’

7.  Daft Punk-‘Random Access Memories’

8. Derrick Hodge-‘Live Today’

9. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds-‘Push the Sky Away’

10.  Arctic Monkeys – AM

Rachel Bennett – Music Staffer

1. The National-Trouble Will Find Me

2. Your Friend-Jekyll/Hyde

3. Dog Bite-Velvet Changes

4. Arcade Fire-Reflecktor

5. Volcano Choir-Repave

6. Thee Oh Sees-Floating Coffin

7. Vampire Weekend-Modern Vampires of the City

8.  Phosphorescent-Muchacho

9. Daughter-If You Leave

10. Phoenix-Bankrupt!

Lynnasha Gallbreath – DJ

  1. James Blake – Overgrown
  2. Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
  3. Kanye West – Yeezus
  4. Daughter- If You Leave
  5. Major Lazer – Free The Universe
  6. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
  7. Your Friend – Jekyll/Hyde
  8. The Weeknd – Kiss Land
  9. Bonobo – The North Brothers
  10. The Knife – Shaking the Habitual

Vince Meserko – Host of Hickory Wind and the Jookhouse

1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Push the Sky Away”

2. Mazzy Star – “Seasons of Your Day”

3. Yo La Tengo – “Fade”

4. Neko Case – “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”

5. The Mother Hips – “Behind Beyond”

6. King Tuff – “Was Dead”

7. Phosphorescent – “Muchacho”

8. Laura Marling – “Once I Was An Eagle”

9. JJ Grey & MOFRO – “This River”

10. Various Artists – “Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label”

Jerod Barker – Host of Midwest Coast

  1. Oddisee – The Beauty In All
  2. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Day
  3. Dogbite – Velvet Changes
  4. Your Friend – Jekyll/Hyde
  5. Beach Fossils – Clash The Truth
  6. HAIM – Days Are Gone
  7. Foals – Holy Fire
  8. Shannon & the Clams –Dreams in the Rat House
  9. Ash Roth – Pabst
  10. Ta-ku – Do What You Love

Andy Miller – DJ

1. Disclosure – Settle

2. Kanye West – Yeezus

3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

4. Danny Brown – Old

5. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

6. Thundercat – Apocalypse

7. Lorde – Pure Heroine

8. Killer Mike and El-P – Run the Jewels

9. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

10. Toro Y Moi – Anything in Return

Allison McFall – DJ

1. Ty Segall – Sleeper

2. DIANA – Perpetual Surrender

3. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty

4. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat

5. Blouse – Imperium

6. Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

7. Deerhunter – Monomania

8. Danny Brown – Old

9. James Blake – Overgrown

10. Smith Westerns – Soft Will

Mike Lavin – Music Staffer

1.  Colin Stetson – New History Warfare: Vol. 3: To See More Light

2.  Tim Hecker – Virgins

3. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

4.  Matana Roberts – Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile

5.  James Blake – Overgrown

6. Forest Swords – Engravings

7. Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

8. Iceage – You’re Nothing

9. Fire! Orchestra – Exit!

10. Juliana Barwick – Nepenthe

Ethan Graham – DJ

1. Kirby Krackle – Sounds Like You

2.  Adam Warrock – Middle of Nowhere

3. Volcano Choir – Repave

4. Everything Everything – Arc

5. Paul McCartney – New

6. Schaffer the Darklord – Sick Passenger

7. Moon Taxi – Mountains Beaches Cities

8. Body Parts – Fire Dream

9. The Head and The Heart – Let’s Be Still

10. Luke Temple – Good Mood Fool

Mike Van Esler – Host of The Rinse Out

1. Oneohtrix Point Never – R + 7

2. The-Dream – IV Play

3. Los Campesinos! – No Blues

4. Omar-S – Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself

5. James Ferraro – NYC, Hell 3:00 AM

6. Krystal Klear – Addiction

7. Kingdom – Vertical XL

8. K. Michelle – Rebellious Soul

9. Dawn Richard – Goldenheart

10. TGT – Three Kings

Andy MacKay – Host of Hip Hop Hype

1. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
3. James Blake – Overgrown
4. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels
5. Kanye West – Yeezus
6. Disclosure – Settle
7. Danny Brown – Old
8. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
9. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady
10. HAIM – Days Are Gone

Emilee Stafford – DJ

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

2. Foals – Holy Fire

3.  Paul McCartney – New

4. Arctic Monkeys – AM

5. The Vaccines – Melody Calling EP

6. The Strokes – Comedown Machine

7. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Actions, Right Words

8. Junip- Junip

9. Surfer Blood – Pythons

10. Ducktails – Wish Hotel

Seth Dixon – DJ

1. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

2. Kanye West – Yeezus

3. Lucius – Wildewoman

4. Drake – Nothing Was The Same

5. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

6. Childish Gambino – Because The Internet

7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of The City

8. John Mayer – Paradise Valley

9. Rhye – Woman

10. Phoenix – Bankrupt!

Jake Waters – Music Director

1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
2. The Flaming Lips – The Terror
3. of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
4. David Bowie – The Next Day
5. Your Friend. – Jekyll/Hyde
6. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
7. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
8. My Bloody Valentine – m b v
9. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
10. Savages – Silence Yourself

Zach Clossin – Host of Post Wave

1. Iceage – You’re Nothing

2. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

3. Savages – Silence Yourself

4. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

5. Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

6. Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

7. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

8. Kanye West – Yeezus

9. The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

10. James Blake – Overgrown

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