2014 Calvin Awards: Best Album

By Kim Hollis

February 10, 2014

Did they make this album in prison?

Sometimes, BOP staffers do more than just watch movies. We like other stuff, too, including books, video games, TV and… music. Since we’re a fairly eclectic bunch, our choices in the Best Album category always wind up being a fascinating mix.

Our favorite album of 2013 belongs to Arcade Fire, who previously won for their album Neon Bible (and had a fifth place finish for Suburbs). A two-disc album that enables the band to embrace two distinctly different atmospheric sounds, Reflektor packs a punch. Like their previous work, it crams plenty of big ideas into cleverly crafted lyrics, all while expanding their sound to a different level. We realize they can be a love them or hate them sort of band, but you have to admit that no matter what you think of them, they consistently evoke feelings.

Just missing the top spot is The National for their outstanding Trouble Will Find Me. They were previous winners for High Violet. This album shows their continued development, with Matt Berninger’s rich baritone growing in depth and unusual syncopations keeping the listener on their toes. It’s an album that seems to have them contemplating where they might go next, which is a question all fans certainly echo.

It’s always a good year when David Bowie releases a new album, and thankfully The Next Day did not disappoint whatsoever. From the moment he announced the album simultaneously with the release of the first single “Where Are We Now?”, we were giddy about the potential for greatness. Admittedly, the album is somewhat cryptic and strange, but it wouldn’t really be Bowie if it were straightforward. This album is a thrill.

Daft Punk has defined and redefined dance music, and they continue their domination of the genre with Random Access Memories, a dazzling, rewarding album that features aspects of disco, jazz fusion, prog rock and concept albums. It might be confounding for some, but that’s part of what makes Daft Punk who they are.

Heartthrob is Tegan and Sara’s most accessible album to date, with almost every song having a polished radio-ready feel. The siblings are in their 30s now, and their growth and maturity is on display. The album’s glossy veneer allows an atmosphere of heartbreak and regret to sneak up on the listener, making it even more rewarding on repeated listens.




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Yet another past winner shows up in our top ten; this time it’s Neko Case, who previously won for Middle Cyclone and now takes sixth place for The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You. More than just rivaling Fiona Apple for longest album title in recent memory, Case’s latest work features rich textures and gorgeous, robust vocals in a lyrically complex package.

A trio of sisters are at the center of Haim, whose Days Are Gone caught our attention upon its release in September. With infectious hooks and admittedly slick production values, these rockers are reminiscent of Pat Benatar in her heyday but updated enough that they don’t feel like complete throwbacks.

Regardless of what you think of Kanye West as a person, it’s impossible to deny that he outdoes himself with almost every new album release. Yeezus is no exception, and is probably the critical darling of 2013. Our voters agreed, landing the album at #8 in our voting. It’s an edgy if self-centered piece of work, easily his loudest album. Kanye is a performer who begs the listener to examine the depths of his soul.

If you’re looking for straight up great rock ‘n’ roll, Queens of the Stone Age’s Like Clockwork fits the bill. It’s a dark album that ponders mortality and carnality, all while seducing the listener with its darkness and crunching beats.

Finally in tenth place are Savages, who became the “it band” at SXSW in 2013 and found their album Silence Yourself receiving critical acclaim. It could be classified as rock, too, but they’re smushing together an amalgamation of genres to create a singular sound that made listeners take note.

Just missing the cut this year were such albums as Chvrches’ The Bones of What You Believe, AM by the Arctic Monkeys and The Neighborhood’s I Love You.

2014 Calvin Awards
Calvins Intro
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Best Cast
Best Character
Best Director
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Videogame
Breakthrough Performance
Worst Performance
Worst Picture


Top 10
Position Artist Album Total Points
1 Arcade Fire Reflektor 48
2 The National Trouble Will Find Me 47
3 David Bowie The Next Day 43
4 Daft Punk Random Access Memories 35
5 Tegan and Sara Heartthrob 32
6 Neko Case The Worse Things Get... 31
7 Haim Days Are Gone 27
8 Kanye West Yeezus 26
9 Queens of the Stone Age Like Clockwork 25
10 Savages Silence Yourself 21




     


 
 

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