Daybreak's highlights of 2013: Best recorded music

We at the Day prefer not to describe our Year-End album lists in a "Best of" context. Since it's not remotely possible for any one person to listen to every song or CD, we can't know whether something is "the best."

However, the following CDs respectively meant a lot to each of us in 2013. Let us know what you think.

Also, look for Rick Koster's annual 10 Favorite Albums in blog form at the start of the new year.

- Rick Koster

DEATH ANXIETY

POCKET VINYL

The Telegraph Recording
Company

Eric Stephenson has always been a smart and witty songwriter, with inspirations ranging from George Orwell to synesthesia. Death Anxiety, inspired in part by the experience of attending his grandmother's wake, is Stephenson's most personal writing. Listening to the album is the emotional equivalent of staying up all night with a best friend sharing your darkest fears.

- Peter Huoppi

SPENCER

SPENCER

The League of Bandsmen

For quite some time, another year meant a new album and a new band name for Spencer Albee. Then, after 2010's "Space versus Speed," a three-year creative hibernation. Albee was recently mentioned by Rolling Stone for his annual Beatles tribute concert, and the influence is apparent in his own work: lush pop rock that sounds retro without being derivative. Hopefully we don't have to wait another three years for his next installment.

- Peter Huoppi

WED 21

JUANA MOLINA

Crammed Discs

The Argentine musician's first album in eight years (her sixth in all) is a continuation of her unique blend of the sort of layered singing you associate with African field recordings, lilting tempos and trance-inducing beauty ... with a new twist. This Molina album is far more electronica than ever before, a sort of Astrid Gilberto-meets-Brian Eno. Molina has built a global following, and this beauty of a recording session should spread it further yet.

- Milton Moore

MIGRANT

THE DEAR HUNTER

Equal Vision Records

Providence genius Casey Crescenzo's vision for his band the Dear Hunter couldn't possibly be any proggier: their first three records were concept albums - but only the first half of a conceptualized six-album story arc. Those were interrupted by a series of nine EPs Crescenzo wrote, each reflecting a different theme based on a visible tone in the color spectrum. This year, the Hunter released a stand-alone disc (!) called "Migrant," and it's tremendously melodic and beautifully performed sophisticated rock. Without a doubt, "Migrant" is the CD I listened to more than any other in 2013.

- Rick Koster

THE MESSENGER

JOHNNY MARR

Sire/Ada

It's hard to believe folks once said that Marr couldn't musically survive after the Smiths broke up and he didn't have Morrissey with whom to collaborate. Marr has done more than fine, working with The The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and 7 Worlds Collide. But his new solo album, "The Messenger," is a near-masterpiece. It's crammed with great songs and, of course, Marr's signature rhythm guitar and minor key chord voicings. Irresistible.

- Rick Koster

THE AUDIO GUIDE TO HAPPINESS PART 2

JOLLY

Inside Out Music

It's not the fault of vocalist/guitarist Andale - yes, another of those "one-word-name" dudes - that he sounds eerily like Scott Weiland. Hey, you may LIKE Scott Weiland. In any case, Jolly is a post-modern alt-prog act out of New York City, and they've distilled a huge number of intriguing influences - from Radiohead and Opeth to glorious '80s New Wave pop - to create an eminently listenable, powerful and beautifully flowing record.

- Rick Koster

FOR NOW I AM WINTER

ÓLAFUR ARNALDS

Mercury Classics

It's not surprising Icelandic composers like Sigur Rós or Arnalds haven't written too many surfin' tunes or "hot fun in the summertime" paeons. Arnalds is a composer whose frosty, impressionistic classicism fuses with ambient minimalism and gorgeous chamber pop - and the entire record is a rewarding, continually pleasing experience.

- Rick Koster

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