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XLR8R's Best of 2013: Releases (15 - 1)

At this point, it's safe to assume that the majority of XLR8R readers know the drill. For the past three weeks, we've been cobbling together lists of what we consider to be the Best of 2013, and though our audience will finally get to have its say on Monday when we unveil the results of our annual Readers Poll, the editorial staff does have one last piece of business to take care of first—our favorite releases of the year. The first half of this list was published yesterday, but today's entry details the absolute best of the best, namely, the 15 releases we enjoyed the most in 2013. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Releases (30 - 16)

Over the past three weeks, XLR8R has dedicated itself to highlighting the Best of 2013, a process that has spawned a whole lot of year-end lists. And while we're likely all suffering from a bit of list fatigue at this point, we're happy to report that this year's "Best of" process has almost reached the end of the road. In the meantime though, we've arrived at what is most likely the most anticipated list of them all—our favorite releases of 2013. (For the sake of clarity, we should explain that anything with two or more original songs was considered a "release." Although most of our choices are albums, a handful of EPs made the cut. We also decided to include mix CDs in this category.) Whittling down the contenders and assembling a final list was no easy task, but these 30 records are the ones that we feel made the biggest impact in 2013. We'll be unveiling the list in two parts, beginning with numbers 30 through 16. Come back tomorrow for the top 15. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Disappointing Releases

For the past few weeks, XLR8R has devoted itself to highlighting the Best of 2013, and although we're not done yet—our favorite releases of the year will be posted on Thursday and Friday, with the results of our Readers Poll to follow on Monday—all of our year-end listmaking has also reminded us that not everything which landed on our desks in 2013 was as good as we hoped it would be. While it's obvious that many, if not most, of the releases sent our way weren't going to be particularly memorable, let alone good, a handful of records fell notably short of our expectations. The reasons were many; sometimes, it was a matter of an established artist taking an ill-advised stylistic detour; other times, we were disenchanted when a budding talent fell flat in the album format or someone simply didn't bring their A-game to the table. Regardless of why, these 10 releases all stuck with us; more importantly, they left us thinking that they could have, and should have, been better. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Gear

The Gear section has quickly become one of the most popular parts of XLR8R, and we like to think that's because many of our readers are as interested in the tools for creating music as they are in the music itself. Whatever the reason may be, our In the Studio, Artist Tips, and From Studio to Stage features, as well as the assorted gear reviews, continue to dominate XLR8R's publishing schedule, so we figured that gear coverage should make it into our Best of 2013 content as well. As such, we've put together a countdown of our five favorite pieces of hardware and software that appeared throughout the year; if we've calculated correctly, there's a good chance that these tools will be shaping the sounds of 2014 and beyond. Read more » 

XLR8R's Best of 2013: New Artists

We've officially passed the halfway point of December, and while the end of the year is right around the corner, there is still time for us here at XLR8R to sneak in the final few installments of our Best of 2013 coverage. Today, the focus shifts to artists, specifically the new artists who came to prominence during the past year. Granted, XLR8R devotes a large portion of its coverage to new and emerging artists every day, but there were a select few whose output was especially intriguing. Some of these artists consistently impressed us throughout the year and gradually boosted their profiles, while others simply did one or two things that were so good that they couldn't possibly be ignored. Either way, these 10 producers represent the cream of 2013's crop, and will surely continue to hold our attention in 2014 and beyond. Read more » 

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