This is my first attempt at writing a somewhat lengthy year-end roundup. I figured since 2013 was loaded with so many good albums that this would be a good year to jot down some of my immediate thoughts on my favorite albums of the year. So, here we go…
My 25 Favorite albums of 2013:
25. Carrollhood - VIOLENCE.
-A nice three song EP by members and former members of Anberlin, Underoath, and Tallhart. It’s an excellent trio of songs, but “MDSFWL” is a standout. Download the EP for the price of whatever you want to pay at http://carrollhood.bandcamp.com
24. The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Whenever, If Ever
- One of the most publicized albums of the “emo revival”. This album is solid all the way through, but the end is where it really shines with the spectacular tracks “Gig Life” and “Getting Sodas”. Bonus points for the mewithoutYou namedrop.
23. St. Lucia - When the Night
-I was bummed to find out that my favorite St. Lucia track, “Before The Dive”, didn’t make the album, but after hearing When the Night it makes sense why it was left off. “Before the Dive” is a bit too dark for the upbeat synth-pop anthems that populate most of this fun album.
22. Washed Out - Paracosm
- An excellent album to listen to when you just want to wind down and relax. I’m not sure Washed Out will ever make another song as good as 2009’s “Feel It All Around”, but “Weightless” tries pretty hard to convince me otherwise.
21. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
-The indie-rock darlings go in a different direction with the help of producer James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem fame). The tribal-disco feel of this album is certainly interesting and very enjoyable when I’m in the right mood for it.
20. States - Paradigm
-This band had me hooked with their fantastic debut EP, Line ‘em Up, and then they lost me a bit with some of the poppy songs on their first full-length, Room to Run. Paradigm finds a nice balance between the two, but is ultimately missing whatever ingredient it was that kept me going back for more of Line ‘em Up.
19. Misery Signals - Absent Light
-The metalcore masters return with this IndieGoGo-funded screamfest. Absent Light is heavy, yet melodic. It’s complex, yet accessible. Play it loud.
18. The Appleseed Cast - Illumination Ritual
-I was able to witness the live performance of this seasoned emo act this year, and it’s clear why this band has stood the test of time. Complex arrangements, superb musicianship, and emotional vocals and lyrics is a formula to be reckoned with.
17. Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob
-This was one of the albums that surprised me the most this year. The duo move away from indie-rock and closer to full-fledged pop.This album has so many good hooks and beats that I can’t help but hope the girls continue moving in this direction.
16. Haerts - Hemiplegia EP
-My favorite EP of the year, Hemiplegia has four well-crafted 80’s-influenced pop songs. Nini Fabi turns in one of my favorite vocal performances of the year on this EP, and especially on the incredible “Wings”.
15. Shai Hulud - Reach Beyond the Sun
-The metalcore pioneers bring back their original vocalist and New Found Glory member, Chad Gilbert, for what is my favorite Shai Hulud release in a decade.
14. Still Remains - Ceasing to Breathe
-The band that made one of my favorite metal albums ever, Of Love and Lunacy, comes back from their split-up with a crushing metalcore release. This album has only been out for a few days, so it’s possible that this album would rank higher on this list with time.
13. Jimmy Eat World - Damage
- The band responsible for many of the best emo-pop songs ever made returns with another set of catchy, emotional, sing-alongs. It may not have any of their greatest songs ever on it, but it does have some very good ones.
12. Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe
-The fact that this album isn’t in my top five just goes to show what a strong year this was for music. I’ve listened to this album quite a bit since its release a few months ago. These catchy, female-fronted electro-pop songs will be stuck in you head for weeks.
11. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
-Overall, this is probably my favorite album by The National. This album has more interesting one-liners than most rap albums have, and the songs are more immediately enjoyable than most of the bands past work.
10. Search the City - Flight
-I’m not gonna pretend that this is a “great album” in the way that most people think of. It is, however, a great Search the City album. This means fun musicianship, great energy, and undeniably catchy melodies.
9. Living Sacrifice - Ghost Thief
-I would say this is one of the best albums by the band I consider to be my favorite metal band…and it’s number nine! Wow, what an incredible year for music. If you like great, heavy tunes than you’ve probably already heard this album, right?
8. Owel - Owel
-This album is what I would imagine Sigur Ros or Radiohead would sound like if American Football was one of their main influences. This album is track after track of beautiful emo songs.
7. Canopy Climbers - Miles
-The first four tracks on this album rival almost any lead off-clean up hitter spots on 99% of the albums I’ve ever heard. The album gets a little too slow for too long by the end of the album, although the songs themselves are pretty good. Those first four spots sure could score lots of runs, though. Oh yeah, music…
6. Paramore - Paramore
-This album was the biggest surprise to me this year. I’ve always been a casual Paramore fan, but this album has made me more than that. Catchy, diverse, and exciting. Ain’t it fun?
5. Everything in Slow Motion - Phoenix
-The solo album from former Hands vocalist Shane Ochsner is a heavy, atmospheric beast of an album. Every lyric is shouted or sung with passion. Every second of music reaches for the sky or digs up graves. There is nothing boring or mundane to be found here.
4. Gold Fields - Black Sun
-I’m so glad that I happened to be watching MTVU when Gold Fields video for “Treehouse” came on. It sounded like just the kind of synth-pop sound I had been into, but with an awesome tribal feel. I immediately listened to and enjoyed the album on Spotify…then bought the CD…then bought the vinyl.
3. My Epic - Behold
-This is the album I had been waiting for My Epic to make. It’s nearly perfect. I told a friend that this album is like ‘Rich Mullins lyrics over Deftones music’, but it’s more than that really. There’s all different types of heaviness, beauty, atmospherics, and poetry to be found here…plus downright great songs.
2. Moving Mountains - Moving Mountains
-One of my favorite bands in the world follow up one of my favorite albums in the world with what appears to be the last album they’ll ever make. As sad as that makes me, I’m glad they went out in such a high note. This album is a solid mix of everything I love about the band. It has beautiful mellow tracks and earth shaking post-hardcore tracks, but they even mix in a little electronic and folk influence on this one. You will be missed MovMou.
1. Shadow Shadow - Riviera
-Get ready to hear what sounds like a fanboy gushing over his favorite album, because I can’t help but get that way when I talk about this album. Is it too soon to say that an album that came out this year is my favorite of all-time? No, because I’m saying it. This is my favorite album of all-time. A more expansive review will be coming in the near future. Until then, just let the fact that you can’t listen to this album in the US (unless you buy the vinyl) torture you. In short, this is lush, atmospheric, synth-pop. Oh yeah, and don’t forget musical perfection.
My Favorite Songs of 2013:
10. “Stuck” - Canopy Climbers
9. “Tether” - Chvrches
8. “Eastern Leaves” - Moving Mountains
7. “Treehouse” - Gold Fields
6. “Confession” - My Epic
5. “Zion” - My Epic
4. Every Shadow Shadow song that isn’t “Riviera” or “Where The Ocean Is”.
3. “Wings” - Haerts
2. “Riviera” - Shadow Shadow
1. “Where The Ocean Is” - Shadow Shadow