Sunday, December 15, 2013

Top 30 Albums of 2013: 10-1

Here’s the final part of my favorite albums of 2013 list.  The top 10 of this list has morphed a few times since I first put it together back in October.  A few things were a given (#’s 1, 2, and 3 for example) but after that records moved around as time went on.  Part of what has been so hard in finalizing this list, is how freaking good these ten records are.  Honestly each and every one of the albums in the top 10 are stellar and should be huge and that’s what makes ranking them so hard.   

10.  The Death of the Self-Preservation Society by Two Cow Garage
From my review –
Two Cow Garage’s sixth full-length record The Death of the Self-Preservation Society is nothing short of rock ‘n’ roll brilliance.  Time and time again this band has proven to be a juggernaut, perfectly melding and blurring the lines between alt country, punk, college rock, indie rock, and just plain rock.  So what does that mean exactly?  Well for those who have never heard TCG, try to imagine a band that takes equal influence from the likes of The Replacements, Guided By Voices, the Ramones, Uncle Tupelo, and John Cougar Mellencamp.  In other words, this band demonstrates that great rock music is great rock music, no matter what scene you come from or what label you want to slap on it.
My Review

9.  A Million Hours by Broadcaster
From my review –
Broadcaster’s sophomore full-length A Million Hours is an exceptionally solid collection of ‘90s inspired indie power pop punk rock.  This Long Island, NY based power trio knows how to write great pop rock songs and from start to finish, this record includes some of the band’s best work to date.  A Million Hours brings a new level of emotional depth to Broadcaster’s music, resulting in one of 2013’s most surprisingly powerful records.  [...]  This album is a must for fans of bands like Cheap Girls, Great Cynics, The Thermals, and Candy Hearts or classic bands like Superchunk, Buffalo Tom, Sicko, and The Lemonheads.
My Review

8.  Ordinary Silence by Mixtapes
I am relatively new to Mixtapes.  I heard one of their releases last year but never fully absorbed it.  Ordinary Silence on the other hand, immediately grabbed me.  From my review –
Ordinary Silence opens with one of 2013’s best songs in the incredibly catchy “Bad Parts” which also serves to set the stage for the rest of this tour de force.  [...]  Mixtapes shed any preconceptions about their sound and bring in elements from not only the pop punk that they are known for, but ‘90s indie rock, ‘80s college rock, and that kind of hard-to-name vibe that bands like The Gaslight Anthem, The Hold Steady, and The Menzingers have so beautifully perfected.  In other words, Ordinary Silence is a record that would be as perfectly at home next to Superchunk’s On the Mouth as it would Masked Intruder’s self-titled debut (or Let It Be or Turn 21 or Handwritten).  What really makes this record work is the band’s ability to mix-up the fast and mid-tempo and the dueling male/female vocals of Ryan Rockwell and the incredible Maura Weaver.  Ordinary Silence is the kind of record that I just love because it showcases a band that is spreading their wings while staying true to themselves and making some killer music in the process. 
My Review

7.  The Constant One by Iron Chic
I just discovered Iron Chic this year and boy am I glad that I did!  From my review –
Iron Chic’s latest album The Constant One is an emotionally cathartic record of mid-tempo melodic punk rock anthems.  Iron Chic mixes elements of pop punk, melodic hardcore, post hardcore, Midwestern punk, power pop, and 90s indie rock so beautifully and perfectly that it makes their music almost hard to describe.  There are big hooks, sing-a-long choruses, a great pop sensibility, and heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics that should appeal to a wide variety of fans.  In a way this record is kind of hard to review because it is really, really, REALLY freaking good.
This record gets better every time I listen to it!
My Review

6.  Drag the River by Drag the River
It’s Drag the River.  What else needs to be said?  From my review –
Drag the River’s sixth (I think) proper full-length record is quintessential DTR while at the same time a breath of new life into a band approaching the 20 year mark.  Drag the River is a record full of energy bringing the rock back to the forefront, with Chad Price taking up a Les Paul electric guitar for the first time with DTR.  That’s not to say that the record is lacking for this band’s signature acoustic driven ballads because they’re there (see the heart wrenching “Waste of Time Valentine”), but this time around Price and co-vocalist/co-guitarist Jon Snodgrass really deliver the rock.  The album’s opening tracks “Witchita Skyline” and “Not That Kind” set the tone for the rest of the album, acting as a rallying cry that Drag the River is back and they aren’t f-ing around.
My Review

5.  Home by Off With Their Heads
Home was the first record on 2013 that really grabbed me.  Right from the get-go, I knew it was one of the year’s best.  From my review –
Off With Their Heads’ third full-length album Home is nothing short of brilliant.  The record expresses raw emotions through melodic punk rock in the vein of Dillinger Four, Pegboy, and Avail.  What makes Home work so incredibly well is that power of the lyrics are driven home by outstanding hooks, sing-a-long choruses, and mid-tempo ballads all of which highlight the fact that Off With Their Heads isn’t your run-of-the-mill punk band.  In fact, I’ve never heard a band or a singer express desperation, isolation, and rage in such a powerful and poignant way.
My Review

4.  Tape Deck Heart by Frank Turner
It’s Frank Turner, he rules.  From my review –
Here’s the bottom line, Frank Turner is a genius and Tape Deck Heart firmly reaffirms that he is one of the best artists in rock ‘n’ roll today.  For those who have never heard Turner’s music, this is as good a place to start as any.  The songs are catchy and heartfelt performed with an earnest urgency that brings them to life in a way that few ever do.  The music is a brilliant mix of power pop, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll, played with the soul of early punk.  In other words, it’s fucking brilliant.      
My Review

3.  Titles by Red City Radio
Red City Radio keeps getting better and better and better.  From my review –
Their sophomore full-length Titles is nothing short of brilliant.  The record is a blistering blast of melodic, energetic, and passionate punk rock driven by tight hooks, great melodies, and spot on harmonies.  The band’s sound, that perfect mix of Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four, has never sounded as good or vibrant as it does on Titles.  The band’s intensity and clever lyrics shine brighter than ever before.  If Titles doesn’t make Red City Radio one of the biggest bands in punk rock today, nothing will.
My Review

2.  In The Throes by John Moreland
Simply put, John Moreland is the best songwriter alive today.  In The Throes is an album that I not only love musically, but have connected to emotionally.  From my review –
John Moreland’s fifth album In The Throes is a beautiful and soulful collection of genre defying songs that speak straight to the heart.  These songs mix elements of country, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll and are delivered with Moreland’s signature voice (which is probably the best in music today behind Chad Price).  There is such honesty in Moreland’s music, making each song feel so deeply personal while at the same time completely relatable (for me at least having grown up in the south as an outcast).  Musically In The Throes is a simple record, driven by Moreland’s singing and his acoustic guitar.  Most of the record consists of somber and heartfelt ballads that challenge you to not feel moved.
Here’s just a sample of one of my favorite lyrics from the record, from the song “3:59 AM” –
And I apologize a thousand times for holding up the show
I always had the words, but they don’t quite know where to go
You said give me one good reason, now give me 20 more
Don’t give yourself away to settle someone else’s score
My Review

1.  Devour by Dave Hause
I’d been looking forward to this record more than any other release this year and holy crap did Dave Hause deliver.  I listen to Devour and not only are the songs fantastic, they speak so clearly to me and my life that I can’t help but think of Hause as the current voice of my generation.  From my review –
Devour is easily, EASILY the best record of 2013.  Sonically, this is a rock ‘n’ roll record pure and simple.  Well, what does that mean exactly?  If you are a fan of the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, The Replacements, The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem, and the Hudson Falcons, then you will love Devour (and if you don’t, I’ll have to question whether or not you have a soul).  Lyrically and thematically Devour deals with issues of frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment with the American Dream.  In fact, Hause has put together the best set of songs that, to me at least, express the current state of things in this country.  Now maybe I identify with his lyrics and music because we’re close to the same age, grew up surrounded by similar things and experiences, and have both dealt with the glass shattering reality that is life in America.  This record speaks so close to my heart that it’s almost scary.  Hause has perfectly captured what it means to be a middle-aged misfit trying to get by in this divided and hyper-commercialized nation, and for someone like me it’s nice to know that someone else out there gets it. [...]  This record captures the frustration and the mood of this era in our history like nothing before and there is no good reason why this record shouldn’t be to this decade what Born in the USA or The Joshua Tree was to the 1980s.  Seriously, how in the world are songs like “Autism Vaccine Blues,” “The Great Depression,” and “We Could Be Kings” aren’t chart topping anthems is beyond me. 
My Review

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