Words by WASTER Staff

We thought the world was ending in 2012. But it didn’t. The damn thing keeps on spinning. And so, in 2013, we heard a lot of solid records that helped us get through yet another year. We met some disco act called The Reflektors, stepped into the shadows with some Queens, and even saw the triumphant return of a real live Beatle.

Sure, 2013 would have been a lot cooler without a government shutdown, those NSA snoops, and all that twerking (or would it?). Well, either way, as you reflect on your own highs and lows of the past 12 months, here’s the Top 10 Albums of the Year, according to us….

Arctic Monkeys
Domino Records
[September 10th, 2013]

Arctic Monkeys have always displayed a heightened sense of sexuality, but it’s totally OK if you’re only beginning to notice the dirty vibes on their fifth studio album, A.M. That’s because the former Internet sensations from across the pond slowed down the frenetic pacing and danceable melodies of old in favor of acid-riddled ballads that bleed depravity and sweat unfeigned, animalistic lust. Of course, working with Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who sang backing vocals on “One for the Road” and “Knee Socks” amid his own creative renaissance, likely played a significant factor, as did front man Alex Turner banishing his shaggy locks in favor of a slick greaser look. It’s a move that says “But I want you so hard” as much as it does “Stop the world ’cause I wanna get out with you,” as Turner croons on two of A.M.’s b-side tracks. It’s that kind of boldness that makes Turner a budding sex symbol ripe for the pages of G.Q., the kind of guy a prim and proper English lady would leave with at Last Call and ravage back at her place while A.M. sets the swanky mood. – Bill San Antonio


Arcade Fire
Merge Records
[October 29, 2013]

It’s no surprise Arcade Fire’s newest album is an instant classic. Over the course of the last 10+ years, they’ve pumped out excellent music, and their newest, Reflektor, is no different. The Canadian rockers tried to get weird with it, with more upbeat and eclectic sounds, and they nailed it. Add that to hints of postmodern influences akin to Bowie and the Talking Heads, and you’re definitely in for a treat. Some may say this album’s been done before, or even say the album is no good. Fuck them. This is not a normal band, they don’t make normal music, and they don’t cater to critics. Anyone who’s been listening to Arcade Fire over the long haul will respect this album immensely. It’s as interesting and diverse and fun as Arcade Fire gets, with new twists and turns, bongos, haunting lo-fi, and some impressive guitar riffs (tune into the epic track “Normal Person”), and the end result is another incredible experience, noteworthy of one of the best albums of 2013. – Dennis Ruhlin


Frank Turner
“Tape Deck Heart”
Interscope Records
[April 23, 2013]

Yesterday I read an article that said that the only people who listen to Tape Deck Heart are “Punks who live in terror that someone will find out about their trust fund.” If that’s true, then where is my alleged trust fund and why am I not using it to pay for college? Tape Deck Heart is an upbeat singalong album with some seriously inspiring lyrics (“Broken people can get better if they really want to”) even though it deals with some depressing subject matter. Frank Turner knows how to make sad situations sound like a punk-as-fuck house party (‘Plain Sailing Weather’, ‘Losing Days’) but can also write a heart-wrenching ballad (‘Anymore’, ‘Broken Piano’). He knows how to rip your heart out with one song and then put it back together again with the next. Tape Deck Heart is a musical and emotional rollercoaster that you’ll want to ride again and again and convince your friends to do the same. If you’ve recently had a breakup, this album is better than chick flicks and ice cream, and whatever guys do after breakups (porn?). This album is definitely better than porn. – Emilia D’Albero


The Front Bottoms
“Talon of the Hawk”
Bar None Records
[May 21st, 2013]

One of the best up and coming bands of the year, Jersey indie rockers The Front Bottoms absolutely killed it with their 2013 release Talon of the Hawk. This album contains all of the great elements of the classic “boy meets girl/ we’re just stupid kids” theme that makes albums like Your Favorite Weapon or Pinkerton so awesome. “And there is someone out there just like me probably keeping to themselves,” sings front man and song writer Brian Sella on track three of the album, ‘I Swear to God the Devil Made Me Do It’. Raw vocals, catchy choruses and meaningful lyrics…this album has been on repeat since I first heard it and I can’t wait to see what these guys do next. – Nick Hodgins


“Bones of What You Believe”
Glassnote Records
[September 24th, 2013]

Glasgow’s Indie-Pop/Dance trio brings us an extremely ambitious LP. There’s something on here for everyone and lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry really takes the trio’s sound to a whole other plane. Thinking of Chvrches’ instrumental creativity and “catch,” it’s easy to envision singing the bands’ praises without Mayberry’s vocals, or any vocals for that matter (their sound is just that good) – but it’s her touch that makes this album, and the band so difficult to ignore. Bones of What You Believe does a great job of creating a hypnotic atmosphere – throughout there are moments of just pure melodic bliss and it’s Mayberry’s pipes that so effectively plunge you into those pure “warm and fuzzy” moments. – Dan Petito


Queens of the Stone Age
“…Like Clockwork”
Matador Records
[June 4th, 2013]

“I blow my load all over the status quo, here we go”, Josh Homme sings on ‘Smooth Sailing’, one of the many stand-out tracks from …Like Clockwork, the latest release from alt-rockers Queens of the Stone Age. Bold lyrics, yes, but when your first record in six years features a cast of characters like Elton John, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Alex Turner, you’ve totally earned the right to talk some trash. And, upon a few listens, it turns out, Homme was right – this is no ordinary ride down the rabbit hole. Dark, dangerous, and sometimes disorienting, …Like Clockwork is a strange trip that kept us ticking through 2013. – Audra Tracy


Paul McCartney
Hear Music
[October 15th, 2013]

“We can do as we want, we can live as we choose.” Paul McCartney is doing just that, and he is choosing to bring us more great music to listen to and enjoy. NEW is all the right things at all the right times. From the trippy psychedelics of ‘Alligator’ to the bouncy Beatles-esque ‘On My Way to Work’, every song brings something different to the table. The raw acoustics of ‘Early Days’ puts Macca right there in the room with you, as he reminisces about his days walking the streets of Liverpool with his buddy John. Having worked with four different producers on the album, including Giles Martin (George Martin’s son), each had a way for McCartney to turn into a hit. It’s tough to come away from NEW without feeling good, and that is what music is all about.- Nick Hodgins


Yeah Yeah Yeahs
[April 16th, 2013]

When you haven’t cut a record in 4 years, chances are you’ve probably got a few new demons to shake loose. So, if you’re anything like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you naturally kick off your comeback album with a song about boning an angel, call it ‘Sacrilege’, and enlist a full-on choir to sing back-up vocals for it. Yes, a decade after the release of their game-changing debut Fever to Tell, these NYC art punks have still got the edge. Mosquito finds the trio’s sound sharper, fuller, and more refined, yet that raw spirit of albums past echoes throughout, especially on songs like the smoldering ‘Under the Earth’ and the arena-ready ‘Slave’. Best of all, the manic title track will totally freak out your square co-workers, and most definitely scare your parents. Exactly what you want from a rock n roll band, right? – Audra Tracy


The National
“Trouble Will Find Me”
4AD Records
[May 21st, 2013]

This stunning album from the ever gloomy The National is a step out of the dark and dreary to a slightly more upbeat location. As usual, The National uses their first track to define their album, and “I Should Live In Salt” describes Trouble Will Find Me as a whole. We still have Berninger’s vivid yet masterful lyrical cynicism, but we now have an almost optimistic sounding instrumental array complimenting his voice. It’s hard to release anything in the shadow of High Violet, but they managed to put together yet another remarkable album. Everyone in The National is on top of their game, and they complement each other to such a perfect degree that you’d be hard pressed to find a better sounding group of artists performing anywhere. This might be one of the easier albums to listen to by The National to date, so turn it on and give your friends a taste of one of the greatest albums of 2013. – Dennis Ruhlin


Daft Punk
“Random Access Memories”
Columbia Records
[May 21st, 2013]

When asked by someone who hasn’t heard the album before how it is, the first thing that comes to mind (without pointing at them and laughing) is to describe it as the kind of music you would want to listen to all the time. Random Access Memories successfully draws on the sounds from the 70’s and 80’s with an ever-present disco feel throughout and remains the most unique of Daft Punk’s previous studio efforts as the album was recorded with live musicians including Chilly Gonzales, Giorgio Moroder, Pharrell Williams and many others. If for some weird reason you’ve been living under a rock, listening to this album should be your number one priority.- Dan Petito


Need more lists? Check out Our 50 Favorite Songs of 2013