The 100 Best Albums of 2013 (all styles, all genres)
As selected by Ted Gioia


See also my article for The Daily Beast on "The Strangest and Most Surprising Recordings of 2013."
Ted Gioia
HONORABLE MENTION

Here is my Honorable Mention list another 100 recordings of distinction, each one worthy
of your listening attention:

Terry Allen   Bottom of the World   Country-Folk
American Contemporary Music Ensemble   Joseph Byrd: NYC 1960-1963   Modern Classical Music
Timo Andres   Home Stretch   Classical Music
Raquel Andueza   Alfabeto Songs: Guitar Songs from 17th-Century Italy   Classical Music
Arambolla   Dreamland / Live in the Jungle   World Music Fusion
Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones   Foreverly   Pop
Mulatu Astatke   Sketches of Ethiopia   Ethio-Jazz
Austin Lounge Lizards   Home and Deranged   Folk / Rock / Humor
Bajofondo   Presente   Electro-Tango
Lucian Ban & Mat Maneri   Transylvanian Concert   Jazz
Stefano Battaglia   Songways   Jazz
Tarik Bentlemsani   Step Dance   Solo Jazz Guitar
Eric Bibb   Jericho Road   Folk-Blues
Billy Bragg   Tooth & Nail   Alt Folk-Rock
Anthony Branker and Word Play   Uppity   Jazz
Alan Broadbent   Heart to Heart   Solo Jazz Piano
Carbon Leaf   Ghost Dragon Attacks Castle   Celtic Rock
Ian Carey   Roads & Codes   Jazz
Terri Lyne Carrington   Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue   Jazz
Gerald Clayton   Life Forum   Jazz
The Cog is Dead   Full Steam Ahead!   Steampunk
Steve Coleman and Five Elements   Functional Arrhythmias   Jazz
The Como Mamas   Get an Understanding   Gospel
Harry Connick Jr.   Smokey Mary   New Orleans R&B
Nataly Dawn   How I Knew Her   Singer-Songwriter
Simone Dinnerstein & Tift Merritt   Night   Classical-Pop Fusion
Gustavo Dudamel & LA Philharmonic   Mahler 9   Classical Music
Madeline Eastman / Randy Porter   A Quiet Thing   Jazz
Ensemble MidtVest   Vagn Holmboe: Chamber Music, Vol. 2   Classical Music
Bryan Ferry Orchestra   The Jazz Age   Retro Jazz-Pop Instrumentals
John Fogerty   Wrote a Song for Everyone   Rock
Jonny Fritz   Dad Country   Country
Kenny Garrett   Pushing the World Away   Jazz
Robert Glasper   Black Radio 2   R&B / Hip-Hop
The Greencards   Sweetheart of the Sun   Folk
Guadalupe Plata   Guadalupe Plata   Spanish Blues
Uri Gurvich   BabEl   Jazz
Buddy Guy   Rhythm & Blues   Blues
Harlem Quartet   Delights & Dances   Contemporary Classical Music
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite   Get Up!   Blues-Rock
Corey Harris   Rasta Blues Experience Live   Blues
Hem   Departure and Farewell   Folk-Pop
Kenneth Hesketh   Wunderkammer (Konzert)   Contemporary Classical Music
Molly Holm   Permission   Jazz
Susan James   Driving Towards the Sun   Folk-Country
Elton John   The Diving Board   Singer-Songwriter
Tom Jones   Spirit in the Room   Pop
Kayhan Kalhor & Erdal Erzincan   Kula Kulluk Yakisir Mi   World Music / Jazz
Yolanda Kondonassis   American Harp   Contemporary Classical Music for Harp
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba   Jama Ko   Afropop
Mark Kozelek   Like Rats   Acoustic Folk-Pop
Kronos Quartet   Bryce Dessner: Aheym   Contemporary Classical Music
Femi Kuti   No Place for My Dream   Afrobeat
Ivan Lins and SWR Big Band   Cornucopia   Jazz / Brazilian
Joe Lovano and UsFive   Cross Culture   Jazz
Vusi Mahlasela   Sing to the People   South African Folk Music
Jason Marsalis   In a World of Mallets   Percussive Jazz
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell   Love Has Come for You   Folk
Jimbo Mathus   White Buffalo   Roots Folk / Rock
The Mavericks   In Time   Country / Latin Fusion
Christian McBride   Out Here   Jazz
Tony McManus   Mysterious Boundaries   Classical Guitar
Myra Melford   Life Carries Me This Way   Jazz
Pat Metheny   The Orchestrion Project   Jazz
The Milk Carton Kids   The Ash & Clay   Simon & Garfunkel Redux
Jane Monheit   The Heart of the Matter   Jazz
Ruth Moody   These Wilder Things   Folk
Moreland and Arbuckle   7 Cities   Blues
Mount Moriah   Miracle Temple   Alt Country / Rock
Michael Martin Murphey   Red River Drifter   Country-Bluegrass-Folk
Mandolin Orange   This Side of Jordan   Folk-Americana
Magnus Öström   Searching for Jupiter   Jazz
Rosa Passos   Samba Dobrado: Cancoes De Djavan   Brazilian Popular Music
Phil Perry   Say Yes   Soul
Enrico Pieranunzi   Live at the Village Vanguard   Jazz
PitchBlak Brass Band   You See Us   Hip-Hop + Brass Band
Eric Reed   Reflections of a Grateful Heart   Gospel-Jazz Solo Piano
Monika Roscher Big Band   Failure In Wonderland   Big Band Jazz
Mara Rosenbloom   Songs from the Ground   Jazz
Florian Ross Big Company   Ties & Loose Ends   Big Band Jazz
François-Xavier Roth  & the LSO   The Panufnik Legacies   Contemporary Classical Music
Matthew Shipp   Piano Sutras   Jazz
Amanda Shires   Down Fell the Doves   Country-Folk
Wayne Shorter   Without a Net   Jazz
Ben Sidran   Don't Cry for No Hipster   Jazz
Silk Road Ensemble & Yo-Yo Ma   A Playlist Without Borders   World Music
Ballaké Sissoko   At Peace   Traditional West African Music
Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby   Cluck Ol' Hen   Country-Bluegrass
Son Volt   Honky Tonk   Alt Country
Palenke Soultribe   Mar   Cumbia / Dance / Hip-Hop
Amy Speace   How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat   Folk
The Staves   Dead, & Born & Grown   Folk-Pop
The SteelDrivers   Hammer Down   Bluegrass
Paige Stockley   August Ruins for Cello   Contemporary Classical Music
Davide Swarup   Dreamland / Live in the Jungle   World Music Fusion
June Tabor, Iain Ballamy, Huw Warren   Quercus   Jazz
Joby Talbot   Alice's Adventures in Wonderland   Contemporary Classical Music
Trio 3 + Jason Moran   Refraction-Breakin' Glass   Jazz
Unknown Mortal Orchestra   II   Rock
Mark Weinstein   Todo Corazon: The Tango Album   Tango
Fumio Yasuda & Theo Bleckmann   Mother Goose Melodies   Modernized Children's Songs
Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/tedgioia
BACKGROUND

I am often asked how I compile my
annual list of the 100 best albums.  
Here is some background information.

What styles of music do I include
in my listening?  
I listen to all genres
and all styles of music. I like to listen
to music that is fresh and different,
and this spurs me to search outside
the dominant commercial categories
and hit releases. But I also listen to
the heavily promoted albums from
the major labels.  

How much music do I listen to?  
I like to hear new music every day.  
In 2013 I listened to around 900
new releases.  (The exact number
was 886.)

Why do I compile this list? Like
any music lover, I enjoy sharing my
favorite music with others. But in
the last few years, a different
motivation has spurred me. I believe
that the system of music discovery
is broken in the current day.  There
is more music recorded than ever
before, but it is almost impossible
for listeners to find the best new
recordings.  The most creative
work in music is increasingly found
on self-produced projects and
releases from small indie labels—
to an extent hardly conceivable only
a decade ago.  Very little of this
music ever shows up on the radio,
where formats seem to get narrower
and narrower with each passing
year.  Music fans once heard good
new music at indie record stores,
but most of them have closed.  Or
they could read reviews in the
newspaper, but both the news-
papers and the music reviews are
shrinking or disappearing.   And the
big record labels are the worst
culprits of all, picking acts for their
looks or their potential appeal to
fourteen-year-olds, or some other
egregious reason, and in general
jumping on the most trivial passing
fads.  On the other hand, the Internet
presents an almost infinite amount of
music and music commentary—yet
where do fans even begin to
separate the good from the bad
and ugly?  My personal solution to
this dilemma has been to listen to
lots and lots of music, and try to
identify recordings of quality and
distinction. I share my list because I
know, from past experience, that
many other listeners are frustrated
with the broken system of music
discovery, and are also looking for
good new music.

What criteria do I apply?  I have
no axe to grind.  My list is filled with
music I enjoy, and suspect others
will too—especially if they have a
reasonably good ear, and an open
mind.  I like recordings that show
some flair and creativity, a sense
of style, solid musicianship, and an
emotional commitment to the
moment of performance.  I
appreciate it when an artist
possesses a sense of musical tradition;
on the other hand, I don’t want to see
slavish imitation of the past.  When
music strikes me as too formulaic or
contrived or cold, I start to
lose interest.  Like any critic, I
want my readers to think that I am
cool and hip and oh-so-up-to-date,
but I learned some time ago that
many of the best recordings are
decidedly uncool and unhip.  So if
you want to laugh at me for honoring
Tom Jones or Steve Martin, or
making some other dorky move,
feel free to do so.

Do I exclude albums if I was
involved in their release?
Yes, I do omit releases if I played any
role in their creation or release.  For
this reason, I was forced to keep
Cécile McLorin Salvant's
WomanChild and Dave Brubeck
& Tony Bennett's
The White House
Sessions
out of my rankings.  But
these are outstanding albums, and
I recommend them both.


Happy listening!



Related Links:
The 100 Best Albums of 2012
The 100 Best Albums of 2011
1     
Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran   
Hagar's Song
Jazz

2    
Laura Mvula  
Sing to the Moon
Polyphonic Soul Music  

3
Jim of Seattle
We Are All Famous
Maximalist Pop-Rock

4
Laura Marling     
Once I Was an Eagle       
Folk-Pop   

5
The Knells        
The Knells        
Rock + Vocal Polyphony + String Quartet

6   
 
Dawn of Midi       
Dysnomia     
Unconventional Jazz      

7    
Neko Case      
The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You   
Singer-Songwriter       

8  
 
Yeahwon Shin    
Lua Ya     
Ambient Vocal Jazz

9  
  
Stephan Micus      
Panagia        
Modern Settings of 7th Century Byzantine Texts

10  
Nick Moran        
Who We Are       
R&B

11  
Dawn Upshaw & Maria Schneider        
Winter Morning Walks       
Jazz Art Songs    

12   
Fred Hersch & Julian Lage    
Free Flying   
Jazz       

13
   
Seasick Steve
Hubcap Music
Blues

14    
Vadim Neselovskyi    
Music for September     
Jazz

15
Dobrinka Tabakova       
String Paths
Contemporary Classical Music

16    
Big Farm  
Big Farm          
Avant-Garde Rock

17   
     
Pat Metheny      
Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20      
Jazz

18      
  
Hope Wechkin  
Leaning Toward the Fiddler: Music for Voice and Violin        
Minimalist Balkan Folk Music

19    
    
Stefano Bollani & Hamilton de Holanda       
O Que Será   
Jazz

20        
North Mississippi Allstars        
World Boogie is Coming      
Blues      

21      
  
Conrad Tao   
Voyages   
Classical Music

22
       
Rudresh Mahanthappa      
Gamak       
Jazz        

23   
     
La Vida Bohème       
Será      
Venezuelan Rock

24        
Petra Haden
Petra Goes to the Movies
Extravagant Film Music Covers

25   
     
Ben Folds Five    
Live  
Punk Rock for Sissies

26        
Thundercat        
Apocalypse       
Jazz-Inflected R&B  

27       
 
Gregg Kallor    
A Single Noon      
Solo Jazz Piano        

28       
Reggie and the Full Effect  
No Country for Old Musicians  
Rock

29    
    
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society      
Brooklyn Babylon  
Jazz

30      
  
Grandbrothers       
12V/3A     
Experimental Music    

31
       
Sara Bareilles      
Brave Enough: Live At The Variety Playhouse     
Singer-Songwriter       

32      
  
Gretchen Parlato       
Live in NYC    
Jazz  

33       
 
Sorie Kondi       
Thogolobea
Afropop

34        
Iva Bittová        
Iva Bittová    
Contemporary Music for Violin, Voice & Kalimba

35       
 
Harry Manx       
Om Suite Ohm      
Blues / Folk / World Music

36        
Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer        
Child Ballads       
Traditional British Folk Music

37      
  
Nadia Sirota        
Baroque       
Contemporary Classical Music    

38        
Mànran
The Test      
Gaelic Folk-Rock

39       
 
Bobby McFerrin
Spirityouall     
Spirituals / Jazz

40
       
Shannon McNally
Small Town Talk      
Roots/ Country / Funk

41       
 
Emily Lau    
Isle of Lucidity
Contemporary Choral Music

42   
     
Bobby Rush       
Down in Louisiana       
Blues / Funk

43       
 
Attacca Quartet       
Fellow Traveler: The Complete String Quartet Works of John Adams      
Contemporary Classical Music

44        
Enrico Rava       
On the Dance Floor
Jazz-Rock

45       
José James       
No Beginning No End     
R&B   

46        
Darryl Harper     
The Edenfred Files   
Jazz

47    
    
Sue McKenzie / Ingrid Sawers   
The Coral Sea: New Music for Soprano Saxophone and Piano  
Contemporary Classical Music

48     
   
Billy Martin's Wicked Knee        
Heels Over Head   
Demonic Modern Brass Band Music   

49       
 
Old Man Markley      
Down Side Up
Bluegrass Punk     

50        
Joshua Redman        
Walking Shadows       
Jazz

51        
Great Divide       
Great Divide       
Funk-Soul-Rock with Horns

52       
 
Alex Lubet
Spectral Blues: New Music for Acoustic Guitar    
Genre-Bending Solo Guitar

53        
Vana Gierig    
Making Memories  
Jazz        

54        
Maria João Pires     
Schubert    
Classical Music  

55    
    
Steafán Hanvey
Nuclear Family       
Singer-Songwriter

56
    
Béla Fleck  
The Impostor
Banjo Concerto and Quintet

57    
Keith Jarrett
Somewhere
Jazz

58      
  
Straight No Chaser  
Under the Influence    
Acappella Pop

59        
Gurf Morlix  
Gurf Morlix Finds the Present Tense  
Raw Country and Roots Music

60        
Villagers  
{Awayland}  
Pop

61
       
The Slide Brothers
Robert Randolph Presents The Slide Brothers      
Sacred Pedal / Rock / Funk

62       
 
Aaron Parks     
Arborescence     
Jazz       

63  
      
Monoswezi     
The Village      
African Music / Nordic Jazz Fusion

64        
Chris Potter      
The Sirens       
Jazz

65       
 
François Salque and Vincent Peirani    
 
Tanguillo
Tango / Classical Music        

66
       
Various Artists     
Sound City - Reel to Reel   
Analog Rock   

67        
Lark Quartet
Jennifer Higdon: An Exaltation of Larks     
Contemporary Classical Music

68
  
Shuggie Otis
Inspiration Information / Wings Of Love
R&B / Soul / Blues    

69      
Craig Taborn     
Chants    
Jazz    

70   
 
Os Mutantes    
Fool Metal Jacket     
Brazilian Pop-Rock

71     
John Moreland  
In the Throes        
Singer-Songwriter

72    
Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos
Live in San Francisco      
Roots Music / Latin

73     
Bill Frisell   
Big Sur
Jazz  

74    
Nicholas Cords
Recursions  
(Mostly) Modern Music for Viola

75    
Mark Hetzler
Three Views        
Contemporary Trombone Music

76   
NEXT Collective
Cover Art    
Jazz     

77
  
Shauna Rolston & Heather Schmidt   
Icicles of Fire        
Contemporary Classical Music       

78   
Matthew Barley   
Around Britten      
Classical Music

79   
Henri Dutilleux  
Correspondances   
Contemporary Classical Music

80    
Steve Swallow
Into the Woodwork  
Jazz        

81
 
Solá Akingbolá     
Nigerian Beats
African Music        

82    
Carrie Rodriguez     
Give Me All You Got
Singer-Songwriter

83  
Rokia Traoré     
Beautiful Africa     
Malian Singer-Songwriter

84   
Various Artists       
Son Of Rogues Gallery        
Sea Shanty Covers

85   
 
Flamme Kapaya
Banningsville
African Rock     

86     
Kevin Coelho
Turn It Up
Jazz        

87     
The Civil Wars and T-Bone Burnett
A Place at the Table
Film Soundtrack      

88   
Aaron Diehl
The Bespoke Man's Narrative  
Jazz

89    
Charlie Patton's War  
Charlie Patton's War    
Blues Rock

90   
Ben Wendel & Dan Tepfer
Small Constructions
Jazz

91    
Rael
Ainda Bem que Eu Segui as Batidas do Meu Coração
Brazilian Hip-Hop

92    
Richard Danielpour
Darkness in the Ancient Valley
Contemporary Classical Music

93   
Keith Jarrett
No End
Jazz

94   
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project
Devils 'n Darlins
Rock

95   
David Lang  
Death Speaks  
Contemporary Classical Music

96   
Etran Finatawa
The Sahara Sessions
African Music

97  
Hanan Townshend
Soundtrack to To the Wonder
Film Soundtrack

98   
Rory Block  
Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt
Roots & Blues

99
Carla Bley
Trios
Jazz

100
Caleb Burhans   
Evensong   
Contemporary Classical Musicv
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