With wide-reaching arms and hungry ears, each of our writers has compiled his or her top albums of the year, for you to peruse our eclectic, atypical, and only occasionally overlapping tastes. You'd be well-served to check out every single record here.
Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, electronic Troy Micheau - metal, electronic, experimental, ambient Jason Simpson - pop, soul, electronic, ambient Ian King - electronic, ambient, instrumental, pop Peter Woodburn - ambient, metal, garage, indie Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, hip-hop Albums of the Year 2014

Spectral Hypnosis is a recurring series, featuring mesmerizing songs for one to lose sense of time and space, mind and body.
SEE ALSO: FULL POST + ALL SPECTRAL HYPNOSIS POSTS + ALL COLUMNS

Factory Floor - "How Do You Say"

The music video for Factory Floor's "How Do You Say" is really nothing more than monotonous vocals, Nik Void's bouncing hair, and geometric projections upon an empty wall -- but this, in essence, is Factory Floor. Having just caught them on their national tour, I will say that this is techno for those who don't really feel the need to go anywhere over the course of a song or even a half-hour set, because when jogging in place looks and feels like this, it's somewhat enthralling enough. Directed by Factory Floor's Nik Void and Dan Tombs themselves. Releases are spread on two digital EPs and three physical 12 EPs, to be released throughout the month of April, featuring the original as well as a number of remixes; hear Daniel Avery and Helena Hauff's below.    

Out with the old, no matter how good it is! Here's our comprehensive list of Top Albums of the Year 2013, schizophrenic as always to reflect the diverse tastes of our staff, though there is some overlap. It's highly recommended you check out every release here, as each has its own creative strengths.
Matthew Carter - electronic, experimental, metal, pop, rock Vivian Hua - dance, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Troy Micheau - classical, electronic, experimental, instrumental Judy Nelson - dance, electronic, indie, pop, psychedelic, soul Elizabeth Perry - indie, mainstream, pop, rock Peter Woodburn - classical, instrumental, metal XUA - electronic hip-hop, mainstream, pop Albums of the Year 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 yet again saw a convergence of hundreds of bands and thousands of fans on the clubs of the Lower East Side, East Village, and Williamsburg in New York City. Coincidentally, many of the bands we were most looking forward to were female-fronted (Speedy Ortiz, Eternal Summers, Hunters), and they did not disappoint. While times have certainly progressed, female-fronted bands still have something to prove, and it was good to see several super-talented guitar players and songwriters, as well as singers and performers, show themselves to be just as good as their male counterparts. All-dude groups Caveman and Grandchildren both had solid performances that left me with a good "I-discovered-something-cool-at-CMJ" feeling as well, and electropop groups were well-represented as always, with NONONO and Porcelain Raft leading the pack.

Caveman

Tuesday, October 15, 2013, Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 Brooklyn-based Caveman clearly felt right at home at Rockwood Music Hall, and the crowd was full of devoted fans. Lead guitarist and singer Matthew Iwanusa draws comparisons to Shins' vocalist James Mercer, and the band does indeed seem to draw inspiration from them, as well as African music and experimental post-rock, utilizing harmonies, tribal drums, keyboards, and hazy guitars. I enjoyed the dreamy but catchy songs off their 2013 self-titled release, like "Shut You Down" and "Where's the Time", as well as old favorite "A Country's King of Dreams" from their first release, Coco Beware.

 

Grandchildren

Tuesday, October 15, Cake Shop This was one of those CMJ experiences that is the reason you go to CMJ: to discover an amazing band you've never heard of. When I made my way downstairs at Cake Shop, I wasn't sure who was playing, but they immediately caught my attention. An ensemble of six dudes playing nearly every instrument imaginable, their melodic pop with hits of electronic and psychedelic accents make this Philadelphia-based group an interesting listen. They played several songs off their newest release, Golden Age, including "Sunrise", "End Times", and "No Way Out". Grandchildren at CMJ Music Marathon 2013

CMJ Music Marathon 2013 is the time of year when one runs through the streets of the Lower East Side, hopeful that you will be able to get into a jam-packed venue to see your favorite band -- or maybe discover a band that you haven't heard of will become your favorite band. It's also the time of year for those of us who are not 25 or under try (in vain) to re-live our wild partying years, and for those of us that are 25 and under to stay up until 4 AM partying with the band that is sleeping on our couch. CMJ 2013 is one of the last of the big festivals of the season, so make the most of this indie music feast for the senses! Here are some of our picks for bands to put on your "must see" list:

Father John Misty

Saturday October 19, 2013 10:00pm - 11:00pm @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (66 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249) Having recently seen Father John Misty at Newport Folk Fest, I can guarantee this will be a good time. Otherwise known as J. Tillman, he released his debut album under the Father John Misty moniker in 2012. He plays a blend of indie folk and alt-country that is alluring to even the staunchest anti-country music fan, especially those that are into the recent trend of the classic rock throwback. - Judy Nelson

 

Shy Girls

Wednesday October 16, 2013 9:45pm - 10:15pm @ Tammany Hall (152 Orchard St. New York, NY 10002) Thursday October 17, 2013 8:45pm - 9:15pm @ The Delancey (168 Delancey St. New York, NY 10002) A unique indie take on soul and R&B mixed with electronica, Shy Girls were just covered in our Top Pops! section here. The Portland based project of Dan Vidmar has amassed a ton of media attention West Coast, and will attempt to do the same here in NY during CMJ. - Judy Nelson

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, FYF Fest brought together an impressive group of bands once again, always managing to make it seem like it's a family reunion with its mix of veterans (My Bloody Valentine, Charles Bradley, Roky Erickson, and Flag), newcomers (Lemuria, Fear Of Men, and Poolside) and even that one eccentric, but awesome uncle (Jonathan Richman). No matter your taste, it is not hard to find something that you like, or discover something that you never knew you would like. August 24th and 25th @ Los Angeles Historic State Historic Park in Los Angeles PHOTOS BY KOURY ANGELO

Charles Bradley

You wouldn't normally expect to see a funk/soul singer like Charles Bradley at a mostly indie rock/garage rock/electronic festival, but after catching his set, you're thankful that FYF Fest had the insight to have Bradley on the lineup. Clocking in at 64 years old, Bradley had some of the best energy and moves of the entire weekend. Songs like "Confusion" and "Crying in the Chapel" were raw and hit you at the core of your soul. Accompanied by a great band, which included a horn section, Bradley transcended hipster boundaries and showed the gritty and honest passion that all music should carry.

 

Toro y Moi

For any artist whose music is heavy on the electronic side, it can be easy to hide between a laptop or a pyramid of synths. But in the case of Toro y Moi, it was nothing like that. While the sun was still out at 6:00pm, it was refreshing to witness Toro y Moi's set, which was full of amiability and charm. Whether or not you were familiar with Chaz Bundick, the brains behind Toro y Moi, he and his band welcomed you with open arms. Bundick stood in the center between two keyboards while his hands moved back and forth effortlessly; he kept a cool and calm demeanor, and it was evident that he was very comfortable in his environment. While the majority of the set was dedicated to songs from Toro y Moi's latest album, Anything in Return, some old favorites like "New Beat" were also thrown into the mix. What made the set special is that you could easily and freely dance to the infectious beats and cascading synth notes, but at the same time, also feel your brain be stimulated with the intricate layers.

Toro Y Moi Anything in Return Carpark Records Anything in Return is the record that Toro Y Moi is going to really break through with. Not because it is necessarily his best, but because the media machine has been buzzing in overtime to get him into the upper stratosphere of ultimate hipness. This process will be helped by the fact that Toro Y Moi's music has become accessible to more than a select group of Pitchfork readers as his career has progressed. He's added more genres (funk, dance, electro-pop, R&B) to his repertoire -- and while this can be a liability in some cases, TyM has managed to make it on the whole a strength. It's his time, and he's ready for it.
ALBUM REVIEW CONTINUES BELOW

 

In our 2012 Album Covers of the Year feature, we once again get our hands on everyone we can. Through interviews with designers, musicians, labels, and plenty of others, we take a close look at just how many hands are in the pot when it comes to the album artwork process. Inside this feature are 98 album covers spanning a wide array of sonic and visual styles, each selected for its own unique contribution to the world. They are not ranked; instead, they are broken down into sections based on conceptual underpinnings or artistic mediums, and then are displayed on spectrums. Get started by navigating into any of these six sections: Geometric & Pattern-Based Classically-Influenced Narrative & Symbolic Photography & Manipulations Painting & Illustration Collage, Sculpture & Mixed Media You can also see last year's at 2011 Year-End Respect For Album Cover Art
 

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. In both today's featured tracks from Toro Y Moi and Shock, the power lies in nuance rather than pounding you over the head with pop hooks.
SEE ALSO +++ FULL POST + ALL TOP POP COLUMNS + ALL MUSIC COLUMNS

 

Toro Y Moi

Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick has proven himself time and time again to be adept at shape-shifting through the indie electronic universe, and his latest, "So Many Details", spaces its way though the five-minute mark while feeling infinite. Though not as overtly funky as 2011's Underneath The Pine, "So Many Details" has a quiet allure and power behind it, and moves forward even further from Bundick's blander chillwave days. I can't get enough of this track, and cannot wait for his upcoming full-length, Anything In Return, which comes out January 22nd, 2013, via Carpark Records. The full tracklisting is below, along with 2013 tour dates. The So Many Details 7" comes out November 23rd.