Music: an expression of humanity, escape, a soundtrack to life, deep passion….
It’s that time of year again when I count down my favorite records of the year. 2013 was a great year for music! Much better than 2012. A lot of stand outs and high quality records out his year.
My Bloody Valentine – M B V
Denison Witmer – Denison Witmer
Sigur Ros – Kveikur
Shai Hulud – Reach Beyond The Sun
Audrey Assad – Fortunate Fall
#30. Palms – Palms
The thought of Isis and Deftones combined just sounds like a great idea ad hearing Palms (which features members of Isis and Chino Moreno) was exactly what you wanted it to be. Big atmospheric riffs dive bombing into huge metal chorus, all featuring Chino’s voice. A perfect blend.
#29. The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
The Appleseed Cast have always been pioneers in the emo/indie scene. From emo classics to atmospheric masterpieces and post rock gems, the band has continued to reinvent themselves and reinvent with class. On Illumination Ritual, the band took a step back in time, creating an album that feels more at home with the mid-90’s emo classics than the band’s later post rock material. And as always, they did it well.
#28. Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent
The return of Jesse Leech was a good one. Killswitch Engage didn’t miss a beat. Leech’s vocals are stronger and crisper than they were the first time around, keeping Killswitch both heavy and polished. The kings of modern metalcore.
#27. Eisley – Currents
Following up their huge hit, The Valley, Eisley stripped down and got in touch with their indie rock side. Currents is still full of great harmonies but the band abandoned their catchy pop driven melodies for a more experimental record. Still a success, but a departure for the band
#26. The Burial – In The Taking Of Flesh
In The Taking Of Flesh is technical death metal at it’s finest. The Burial has never been heavier.
#25. False Idle – Threat
Threat is the best christian punk record I’ve heard in a decade. Great songs with hard hitting lyrics and a variety of punk “styles” to keep the strongest critics satisfied. A true gem from Thumper Punk Records.
#24. Audio Adrenaline – Kings & Queens
The return and rebranding of Audio Adrenaline was a huge success in my book. Great songs with catchy hooks, and who doesn’t love Kevin Max’s vocals? I hope there’s more to come from Audio A but the band has already lost two members.
#23. Beartooth – Sick
I had very little interest or expectation from a band featuring former members of Attack Attack, but Beartooth surprised me. One of the best hardcore records I heard all year. This ep is full of extremely heavy songs with honest and heartbreaking lyrics. I’m stoked about Beartooth’s future.
#22. Altars – Something More
Apparently Altars doesn’t like making the same record twice. Luckily for us, they’re damn good at switching it up. Leaving their melodic hardcore sound behind them, Altars delivers a smash hit of a hardcore/punk record. Great hooks, strong gang vocals, and a beautiful message. Altars is taking chances, and being rewarded.
#21. Devin Shelton – Life & Death
The former Emery co-frontman gives us a solo record that’s a reminder of what Emery is missing without him. Life & Death has moments that remind me of I’m Only A Man but Shelton does a great job of not rehashing what he did in Emery.
#20. Living Sacrifice – Ghost Thief
Ghost Thief puts all the good things Living Sacrifice has ever done and combines them. The combination of thrash and groove metal is done flawlessly. One of the band’s best records to date, Glad to hear it won’t be their last.
#19. Aaron Sprinkle – Water & Guns
Aaron Sprinkle’s first solo record in nine years is his best. Water & Guns is a pop wonderland.
#18. The Almost – Fear Inside Our Bones
Fear Inside Our Bones is my favorite record from the Almost. A much harder hitting rock and roll record. This record is proof that rock’s not dead!
#17. Overcome – No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.
Hardcore legends Overcome’s second record on their second stint and it’s even better than their first. No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. is faster and heavier than The Great Campaign of Sabotage. Classic is every sense of the word. Hopefully people aren’t taking the band for granted the second time around.
#16. War Generation – Start Somewhere Never Surrender
Punk rock at it’s finest. Catchy and passionate. As a Senses Field and Further Seems Forever fan, I have to say that I believe this is Jon Bunch’s finest work yet.
#15. States – Paradigm
Paradigm is an indie classic. States haven’t dropped their 80’s tinged vibe, they’ve just adapted it, stripped it down, and reworked it. Not as instantly catchy as Room To Run but worth the listens every bit as much!
#14. Moving Mountains – Moving Mountains
As instantly catchy and as much as I loved Waves, listening to Moving Mountains self-titled record was a huge disappointment the first listen through. Gone is the huge ambient wall of sound that I loved about Waves. But upon further listens, I found myself drawn in and compelled but the stripped down ambience and hushed tones of Moving Mountains. What I found was a great record when I put my expectations aside.
#13. Jars of Clay – Inland
The more I listen to Jars of Clay, the more I realize how talented the band is. I don’t believe they can do wrong. Inland is a beautifully simple record. Not a flashy rock record, and not leaning on the folk side. Strong rock songs mixed with beautiful ballads and some of Dan Haseltine’s most honest lyrics ever.
#12. Abandoned Pools – Somnambulist
Somnambulist is a great little record. More electronic than any of Abandoned Pools’ previous work. Less catchy, although songs like Walking Disaster make up for an overall less “pop” approach.
#11. Extol – Extol
You couldn’t have asked for anything more or anything better from the metal legends of their first record in eight years. Progressive with a lot of Queen influence, while incorporating black metal elements.
#10. Sev Statik – Sophy EP
I was hooked on Sophy from the time I hit play on the ep. Great beats, strong lyrics, catchy hooks. Everything that is good about hip-hop. Dark at times, but not without a sense of fun.
#9. Jimmy Eat World – Damage
Jimmy Eat World’s best record since Clarity? Maybe. Their best record since Bleed American for sure. Damage is a combination of everything the band has done successfully since Clarity. Jimmy Eat World always delivers!
#8. Spoken – Illusion
I’ve never been more excited about a Spoken record than I was for Illusion. And the band didn’t disappoint. Their heaviest record ever, without losing the melody they’ve become known for. Dare I say their first real masterpiece?
#7. Hope For The Dying – Aletheia
This is why I listen to metal! Records like Aletheia get me excited about heavy music! Rifftastic, guitar solos galore, beautiful melodies, super heavy! Perfect in every sense of the word!
#6. The Ember Days – More Than You Think
More Than You Think is The Ember Days best work. Spacious and ambient without losing it’s muchness. Honest and beautiful worship.
#5. Beautiful Eulogy – Instruments of Mercy
If you had told me that Beautiful Eulogy would release a record even better than Satellite Kite, I’m not sure I would’ve believed you, but that’s exactly what the group did. Using a lot of the same musical themes from Satellite Kite, Beautiful Eulogy created a tighter, more mature record.
#4. Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
I love Norma Jean. The best and most consistent band in heavy music. Wrongdoers is another masterpiece in a discography that doesn’t have a misstep. Heavy, fast, melodic, deep, insightful, and well though out. Everything that Norma Jean is and has been.
#3. Five Iron Frenzy – Engine Of A Million Plots
My high hopes for Engine Of A Million Plots were not disappointed. If the band needed ten years to release their masterpiece, the wait was worth it. Five Iron has a lot of great records and songs in their discography but Engine Of A Million Plots is on another level. Ska’s not dead. FIF has set a new ceiling for themselves. I just hope there’s more….
#2. Everything In Slow Motion – Phoenix
Everything In Slow Motion is brilliant. The new project from Shane Ochsner takes away any disappointment I had when Hands broke up. Heavy and honest. That’s Phoenix. Great melodies and beautiful riffs, combined with a deadly heaviness that matches the tone and themes of the record. Phoenix has only been out a couple of weeks, but sometimes you just have to save the best.
1. Paramore – Paramore
Catchy, catchy, catchy perfection! A four year hiatus gave us a more mature and stronger Paramore. There’s nothing to hate about the band’s self-titled record. Gone the little emo punk band that took Warped Tour by storm. Paramore is a powerhouse that isn’t going anywhere.