Friday, December 13, 2013

Top 30 Albums of 2013: 30-21

2013 was another great year for music.  Sure most of the good stuff was completely absent from the airwaves (which is a crime) but for those willing to look, great things were to be found.  From punk to pop, from rock to folk, and everything in-between, 2013 showed us once again that not all of the good music is in the past. 

Like in 2012, I was fortunate to get to work with a lot of great artists, labels, and PR folks.  My life got a little whacky in 2013 though with changing jobs and being unemployed for a couple of months, so I did get behind on things and never really completely caught back up.  Because of that, I’m sure that there are records that I have missed that would have made this list.  I’m still working through my pile of records to review so hopefully at some point I’ll be caught up. 

In the meantime, I’ve broken down my Top 30 Albums into three posts and will also be posting a Top 15 EPs of 2013. 


30.  Dead Language by The Flatliners 
Dead Language was my first exposure to The Flatliners.  From my review –
The band’s fourth album Dead Language is a departure from previous releases in that the ska elements are gone but what is left is 13 songs of melodic punk rock, at times bordering on melodic hardcore, that drips with passion and energy.  What I’ve enjoyed most about Dead Language, is that it keeps getting better every time I listen to it.  The record has hooks and melody and passion, all in the right proportions making Dead Language feel more like a journey than a group of songs.
My Review




29.  Leavetaking by Elway
From my review –
Fort Collins, CO’s Elway’s sophomore full-length Leavetaking is an excellent example of everything that is right and good with modern punk rock.  [...]  ...Leavetaking isn’t breaking any molds or doing anything shockingly new, but honestly who cares?  This record is passionate, honest, earnest, and expertly executed and that’s all I really ask for, especially from a punk record.  The fact is that just about everything that can be done with a guitar, bass, and drums has been done, so to me what matters now is the music’s passion and soul.  Elway’s music has both in spades.  Leavetaking has moments of rousing choruses, dark lyrics, soft melodies, and lots of great hooks making it the perfect record for fans of bands like The Menzingers, Alkaline Trio, The Gaslight Anthem, and Mixtapes.
My Review



28.  Wild American Runners by Arliss Nancy
From my review –
Arliss Nancy’s third full-length Wild American Runners is an ode to love lost, long nights, and booze powered by the band’s excellent precision.  The record opens with the alt country anthems “Benjamin” and “Troubadour” and from there turns towards the darker and more, for lack of a better term, somber elements of the genre.
My Review



27.  The Stand-In by Caitlin Rose
From my review –
Caitlin Rose possesses a strikingly beautiful voice that is equal parts Patsy Cline, Stevie Nicks, and Jenny Lewis.  On her sophomore full-length album The Stand-In, she effortlessly straddles the genres of traditional country, pop, and Americana creating a sound that not only perfectly fits those styles but also transcends them.
My Review



26.  On My Page by Courtney Marie Andrews
From my review –
Courtney Marie Andrews’ latest album On My Page is a lush and breathtaking collection of folk and country perfection.  With a voice that is equal parts Jenny Lewis, Dolly Parton, and Dusty Springfield, Andrews delivers heartbreakingly beautiful songs in a breathless and effortless way that leaves the listener taken aback by her quiet power.
My Review



25.  Old Wild Hearts by The Gateway District
From my review –
The Gateway District’s latest album Old Wild Hearts is a blast of pop punk/power pop excellence.  Boasting former members of bands like The Soviettes, Banner Pilot, and Off With Their Heads (just to name a few) it’s no wonder that this band rips.  In fact, they keep getting better and better. [...]  These songs are extremely catchy and expertly performed resulting in a nearly flawless record.  This album is a must for fans of power pop, pop punk, energetic indie rock, any of the aforementioned bands, or folks that just love some great rock ‘n’ roll music.
My Review



24.  No Heaven by The Slow Death
From my review –
The Slow Death’s No Heaven is a ridiculous catchy record of punk rock ‘n’ roll that perfectly straddles the street punk, pop punk, ’77 style, and Midwestern punk sub-genres which isn’t surprising considering this band is made up of former members of The Soviettes, Dillinger Four, The Turkletons, and Pretty Boy Thorson.  From start to finish, this record is really, really good.  Granted, The Slow Death isn’t breaking any new ground with this album but what they do, they do exceptionally well.
My Review



23.  LP2 by Restorations
From my review –
Restorations’ sophomore full-length LP2 is a complex record of big riffs and bigger crescendos.  Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Restorations has created a sound that is nearly impossible to nail down but familiar all at the same time.  Elements of punk, post hardcore, progressive classic rock, and emo are all prevalent on LP2 ... [...]  The record’s best moments are the ones that let the chords and choruses ring like stadium rock anthems (see “D,” “New Old,” and “The Plan”) but even then the slower and longer songs are satisfying, resulting in a varied and poignant album by an incredibly talented young band. 
My Review



22.  Out Utero by Lipstick Homicide
From my review –
Lipstick Homicide’s latest effort, their sophomore full-length Out Utero is a blast of raw pop punk goodness.  The energy of this band is infectious and is driven by the youthful, dual lead vocals of bassist Rachel Feldmann and guitarist Kate Kane.  Lyrically, the record deals with the usual pop punk topics of love, life, and relationships, in a way that is incredibly fun and relatable.  What makes this album, and this band, so great is its pure and authentic intensity.  Sure pop punk is a well-worn path for a band to take, but Lipstick Homicide does it in such a way that it sounds completely untainted by things like commercialism and cynicism.
My Review



21.  Desperate Ground by The Thermals
From my review –
The Thermals sixth album, Desperate Ground, sees the band returning to the ultra-stripped down and lo-fi power pop of their first two records More Parts Per Million and Fuckin’ A.  As with anything that The Thermals release, Desperate Ground is filled with extremely catchy songs that straddle the power pop, punk, and indie rock genres creating that perfect blend of Weezer, The Clash, and Sebadoh.
My Review

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