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best of 2013

We'll Be Back in 2014... Until Then, Check Out the Best of 2013

The end of the year is a busy time for just about everyone, including us here at XLR8R. Throughout December, we've primarily been keeping ourselves occupied by looking back at all the music that surfaced during the past 12 months. More specifically, we spent time creating an entire series of lists devoted to the Best of 2013, for just about every category we could imagine. Over the past month, we've tackled our favorite releases, tracks, labels, new artists, and more. We tallied up the top 100 most popular downloads of the year, and we even conducted an official readers poll to see what our audience had to say about the year gone by. In truth, the whole thing was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun; regardless, the holidays have arrived and we'll be taking a little break for the remainder of 2013. New posts will resume on Thursday, January 2, but in the meantime, we encourage anyone who hasn't already checked out our Best of 2013 lists to go ahead and do so; to make it easy, we've gone ahead and posted links to the entire series after the jump. Apart from that, enjoy the holidays and have a happy new year. We'll be back in 2014. … Read more »

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Readers Poll

All month long, we here at XLR8R have been indulging in our usual round of end-of-the-year fun, turning out list after list detailing what we think is the Best of 2013. Based on the response, it seems that most of the the XLR8R audience has enjoyed the process; still, after digesting three solid weeks of our editors' opinions about the past year, we figured that many of our readers would want to have their say. With that in mind, we asked them to vote for their choices in many of the same categories that we've already published our own lists for, and the final results are fascinating, to say the least. As always, it's interesting to see where the audience's opinions have diverged from our own—although that has happened less than usual this year—and we can't help but laugh when some of the same records appear in both the "Best Releases" and "Most Disappointing Releases" categories. This is the final article in our Best of 2013 series; we'd like to send out a huge thanks to everyone who voted, and we can't wait to hear what our readers will have to say in 2014. … Read more »

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 »

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Tracks (25 - 1)

Yesterday, we kicked XLR8R's Best of 2013 coverage into high gear with a list containing the first half of our favorite tracks of the year. Now, we're rounding out the week with the second half, which comprises our top 25 tracks of 2013. Without question, it's a varied collection of tunes, but in a year when the best electronic music came from all across the map, this list offers an accurate representation of our listening habits over the past 12 months. … Read more »

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Tracks (50 - 26)

As much as we'd like to think that all of our Best of 2013 content is equally important, we do realize that a few of our lists are going to be more highly anticipated than the rest. With that in mind, we're fairly certain that today's feature is one of those year-end big-ticket items, as it contains the first half of what we think are the 50 best tracks of 2013. (The second half will be published tomorrow.) Perhaps it goes without saying, but XLR8R is quite literally flooded with new music on a daily basis; as such, we're willing to admit that although our list may not be the definitive "best," it does reflect the tracks that we enjoyed the most this year, and, more importantly, found ourselves coming back to again and again. … Read more »

XLR8R's Best of 2013: Labels

Up to this point, the entirety of our Best of 2013 content has been focused on material that has popped up here on XLR8R throughout the year. However, starting today, we're turning our attention outward, specifically toward the new music that surfaced during 2013. Of course, much of that music was delivered by record labels, which continue to occupy an important position in the music world. While the internet has undoubtedly reduced their relative power and bridged much of the gap between artists and their fans, record labels—at least the good ones—act as curators, and help deliver music according to a particular perspective. Of course, those perspectives will often vary wildly from one imprint to the next, but that's undeniably part of what makes following labels so much fun. In truth, 2013 didn't really have one dominant label, or even a dominant sound, and as a result, the entries on this list don't necessarily have all that much in common, apart from a devotion to steadily releasing excellent music. (Keen-eyed readers will also recognize many of our picks from October's Labels We Love series.) That being said, during an era when people often complain about being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of music out there, celebrating labels whose activities are focused on quality seems like the right thing to do. … Read more »

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