Friday, December 27, 2013

Three Pop Albums I have Enjoyed in 2013

Have you ever watched one of those major network New Year's Eve shows where millions of people gather in the streets of New York to listen to some old fart talk about the news and scream at pop singers who grow more and more ridiculous with each passing year?  I know, that was a long sentence, but try to follow me here.  I'm the only one?  No, I'm not, because I don't watch them.  I have better things to do. 

If you are a regular reader here, you know that we don't cover much pop music.  Mainstream pop is a particular genre where singers try to outdo each other at ridiculousness.  They have to do that, because that's the only way to keep people talking about them so people will buy their records so they can pay off concert bookers, PR people, agents, and dancers.  This is, of course, in my own biased view.  I'm not a big fan of pop music.  But sometimes an artist releases an album that really grabs me.  Three such albums were released this year.

1. Black City Lights-Another Life
These New Zealanders impressed with their debut EP a couple of years ago.  In 2013 they released their debut full-length album.  Surprisingly, this album contains all new tracks, carrying nothing over from the EP.  This is as good as dream-pop gets.  The vocals are must impressive, as are the underlying atmospheric synths.  Simply put, they don't make pop albums like this anymore.   Here's why.

2. Sarah Brightman-Dreamchaser
Our regular readers had to know this was coming.  Easily the most anticipated 2013 pop release in my view, this album didn't quite live up to its predecessors.  Sarah Brightman continues to pit operatic singing with undertones of symphonic music against pop hooks.  The first disappointment was that none of the tracks are original pieces.  All of them are cover songs and some are better than others.  The other disappointment to me was that this material crosses too far into mainstream pop territory than I care to venture.  Still, there are some exceptional vocal melodies, as Brightman is the world's best operatic vocalist.  That is a bold statement, but it is in they ear of the listener, after all.  That's why I'm sharing it here.

3. Io Echo-Ministry of Love
Southern California's Io Echo impressed with their debut album, Ministry of Love.  This was a surprising listen, as it borders between dream pop and shoegaze tones.  I categorize it on the pop side due to the strong poppy hooks that permeate much of the music.  The singer may not be the best pop singer in the world, but the vocals are far from bad.  This music is just weird enough for me to enjoy.  Check out a track from the album below.

Because I don't believe there were enough good pop releases in 2013 to warrant a top of the year list, there will also be no honorable mentions. 

As always, thanks for listening and enjoy! 

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