Jon Skovron is an author of fantasy novels for adults and teens. He lives just outside Washington DC with his two sons.

David Levithan's Other People's Music Poll, 2013

It's here! The annual David Levithan highly unscientific music poll! Here are the winners:

  1. Lorde, Pure Heroine (38 votes)
  2. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (32)
  3. Haim, Days are Gone (24)
  4. Beyonce, Beyonce (21)
    The National, Trouble Will Find Me
  5. Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (20)
  6. Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe (16)
  7. Janelle Monae, The Electric Lady (15)
  8. Arcade Fire, Reflektor (14)
    Kanye West, Yeezus (14)

Click the link above for the long list of recommendations.

As usual, only one of my favorites was in the top 10 list. It's posted on the site among 114 others, so I've pulled it out for your convenience :)

Jon S’s list is anything but Common

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual

I had been looking forward to another album from The Knife ever since 2007's Silent Shout, which set the bar for goth pop. While Shaking the Habitual wasn't everything I hoped it would be, particularly some of the rather self-indulgent extra long jam session tracks in the middle, The Knife took bold chances and tried new things rather than resting on their laurels. Plus, "Without You My Life Would Be Boring" is an incredible track.

Chelsea Wolfe, Pain is Beauty

Another album I've been waiting on. I've picked up every Chelsea Wolfe album since 2010's The Grime and the Glow. She has such a haunting, distinctive voice. Similar to Zola Jesus, but more gritty and folk. Unfortunately, her music composition wasn't nearly as developed as Zola Jesus. At least, not until Pain is Beauty. With this album, we're finally hearing the promise that was hinted at but never owned until now.

Mutual Benefit, Love’s Crushing Diamond

The latest album from Mutual Benefit is a masterpiece of gentle, earthy reflection. Not a single song detracts from the feeling of sweet reverie.

my bloody valentine, m b v

Honestly, I had not been waiting for this album. At all. I mean, I loved 1991's Loveless just like every other emo grunge teenager, and probably for a few years after I would have wanted a follow up. But that was a long time ago. If anything, I was nervous that this new album might detract from the legacy, like some other come back early 90's bands. Boy was I wrong. Unlike The Knife, who blazed new ground, or Chelsea Wolfe, who grew into herself, my bloody valentine just did their thing. And it was just as good. In fact, it was possibly better. Deeper, more intricate, and just a hint at what might lie ahead.

Rhye, Woman

While I'm mostly an indie rock/folk with a decent helping of electronic kind of guy, I grew up in a house that had Sade more or less on endless repeat. I don't have a wide knowledge of R&B, other than my longstanding obsession with Erykah Badu. But I know when something is pretty much perfect. And if you are looking for an album that is one non-stop, slow smoldering, "take your pants off" song, this is it. Also, rather fascinatingly, despite the fact that there are moments I would swear I was listening to Sade, the lead singer is a man.

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories

My eight year old son loves the previous Daft Punk albums. He discovered the band when they did the soundtrack to TRON: Legacy. He was highly disappointed with the new album, saying it was "kinda boring" and "slow". Maybe this means that both Daft Punk and I are getting old, but I love it. In fact, I think it's my favorite Daft Punk album to date. A perfect blend of classic electronica, dance, and pop.

Vampire Weekend,_ Modern Vampires of the City_

These guys. I don't really know what to say. They keep trying stuff, it keeps being really good. Some things are pure carry over from the previous albums and some things are startlingly new. I wish there's been a bit more focus on percussion, which is my absolute favorite thing about the band, other than Ezra Koenig's voice. But still, it's a damn good album.

Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt

I loved the opening track of this album so much I put it in the video I made about my Man Made Boy tattoo. Katie Crutchfield adds some new layers and more instruments to the sound from her previous album, American Weekend, but loses none of the intimacy and heartache that made me swoon over that album, too. It's so nice to see some straight up folk rock with depth, nuance, and humor.


Moody, dark, soulful, and with a solid beat, this album harkens back to the glory days (or glory box??) of classic trip-hop without ever feeling nostalgic or tired. With the de-emphasis on vocals, and a driving, dynamic album-length arc, this is the perfect music to write something creepy to.

Swearin’, Surfing Strange

I don't know what they fed those Crutchfield girls growing up, but I want it for my kids. Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield has a sister named Allison, who is in the band Swearin' and while somewhat less of a frontwoman, she is no less talented. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't discover Swearin' on my own. My little brother turned me on to them, suggesting that it sounded like my kind of thing. And boy is it. It's a little like early 90's alt-grunge when it wasn't being pretentious, and a little like late 00's indie when it wasn't been whiny, and a little like the inside of my brain all the time.

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, We the Common

Look, I'm not saying it's actually the best album of 2013. But it was unquestionably THE album for me. I had some trouble getting into Thao Nguyen's previous work, but this album is so generous, so accessible, that it's been like a bridge to all her previous offerings. It's an album for the outlaw in all of us. It's the rambler, free spirit, laugh out loud even when you know damn well you look like an asshole album. In my humble opinion, we could all use some of that.

Publisher's Weekly reviews GRIM

Open Book Foundation @ Balou High School