Well it’s that time of the year where we in the music world collectively follow through to toss in our 2 cents worth of opinions (once more) by means of our “best of” lists. After much thought about it – and believe me, I’ve been working on my list since last month – I’ve finally had the time to slave away and finish this beast off at the end of my college finals week
2013 was such a great year for music and for me as well. There were plenty of artists who either put out incredible debut full-lengths, and on the flip side, some of the best final releases. Genres didn’t matter to me much at all this year either; even though these aren’t going to be found on my overall “best of 2013” list, I’ll admit that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed new albums from so many ends of the spectrum, like Yeezus, The 20/20 Experience, Pure Heroine and Trouble Will Find Me. Of my absolute favorites, here are the ones that have made my cut.
10. Tiny Moving Parts – This Couch Is Long And Full Of Friendship
For those who don’t remember, we included Minnesota’s Tiny Moving Parts on our UTG LIST: 5 Artists To Watch In 2013 feature back in January. Shortly after that happened, I decided to take our recognition of this band one step further by interviewing them about what was then their brand new album, This Couch is Long and Full of Friendship. What was then only impressive to me in terms of musicianship and technicality had eventually progressed into appreciation for the album as a whole, especially the somber and reflective lyrics in tracks like “Clouds Above My Head” and “Amateur Night.”
9. Mansions – Doom Loop
Mansions’ Doom Loop was a complete surprise for me. Prior to this, I only knew this Seattle indie-rock duo for a couple of their softer singles from Dig Up The Dead. But it was the addition of a new found harsh crunchiness that was piled on top of the synths and emotive lyrics that the group was already known for which made this release so much more memorable and approachable as a whole.
8. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
Surprise, surprise, right? I could totally write about how I’m within 4 months of graduating and that makes this record so relateable, but that’s played out by now. The Wonder Years have gained quite the following over the past five years, but that’s for one obvious reason: they know how to write a pretty good record. It’s great to see a band that’s gone from writing pop-punk mosh songs about beating up the Kool-Aid man mature into writing songs that have lines like “I just want to know that I did all I could with what I was given” and open up for bands like The Offspring and Bad Religion at KROQ’s Epicenter festival.
7. Touche Amore – Is Survived By
I was a little hesitant about giving this album a shot when it first came out. Because of all of the hype that’s surrounded Touche Amore since the release of their previous album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me and my genuine love for not only that album, but a lot of the band’s past work, I knew that I would probably be quick to name Is Survived By as one of the best releases of the year, like so many of my friends had done before me.
But that was about three months ago, and I’ve only grown to like it more and more. It takes guts to make the transition into using happier lyrics and it takes guts to experiment by mixing in post-rock elements into hardcore. Thankfully, this has all worked out in TA’s favor.
6. Defeater – Letters Home
What makes my inclusion of Letters Home on this list is that unlike the other albums that I included, this is probably the most straightforward and expected sounds to come from an established band. Believe me, there are plenty of great straightforward hardcore albums to have come out this year, but none really match Defeater‘s latest effort in flow and theme. I mean, come on, they’ve been working off of the same story for 3 albums and a 2xEP. Yes, some of the songs here definitely aren’t 100% hardcore ( like “No Saviour”), but if you could write a song as hard-hitting as “Bled Out,” I’ll let it slide.
5. Moving Mountains – Moving Mountains
Moving Mountains‘ self-titled album makes for one of best swan songs of the year. While I was a little let down that the band didn’t keep going in the Thrice-influenced direction that they did with Waves, this record just sounds beautiful.
4. Alcoa – Bone & Marrow
If you would’ve told me a year ago that I would include a folk album on a top ten “best of” list, I probably would’ve laughed in your face. I’m not going to deny that had I not already been a fan of Defeater’s acoustic tracks, I probably wouldn’t have even given Alcoa a shot. This is the kind of record that you can just throw on and unwind to after a long day at work.
3. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
The fact that there is even a band like The Front Bottoms that’s making their way in today’s scene is amazing. When I first heard “Twin Size Mattress” back in March, I was just absolutely crushed by the emotion that’s wrung out by the duo that is Brian Sella and Matt Uychich. Maybe it’s the introspective lyrics or the overall desperate nature of the songs that makes Talon of the Hawk so special, but at the end of the day, this is one catchy record that remains to be memorable from beginning to end.
2. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
The world needs more artists that are like Frank Turner. I mean, the whole singer-songwriter shtick isn’t original at all, but the ones who have made the attempt to come up and out from the punk/hardcore scene are relatively unheard of- and that’s quite a shame. Tape Deck Heart is the most recent and most commercially successful of Turner’s full lengths, and it is one of the most well rounded releases I’ve heard all year. These songs can all be taken in from different perspectives, and that’s what’s made this album one of the most consistently played records of the year.
1. letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful
After my first listening of the album in early June, I had no doubt that I would be keeping letlive.‘s The Blackest Beautiful within close access for the days to come, but what I didn’t realize was that these days would turn into weeks, and those weeks would unexpectedly progress into months. The Blackest Beautiful is the kind of record that inspires you to go out and create something grand. To bring that thought one step further, this is the kind of record that will make you want to create something grand that inspires thought and change. There’s nothing that I’ve heard in not only 2013, but the past few years that’s matched this album’s ability to organically sound so unique. To anybody who has questioned letlive,’s presence on Underoath’s final tour, The Blackest Beautiful triumphantly serves as the perfect representation of a new band who could very well have just as significant of an impact to the music of tomorrow.
Top 5 EPs:
Frameworks – Small Victories
Bad Luck – Cold Bones
Young Statues – Age Isn’t Ours
Fall Out Boy – PAX AM Days
Diamond Youth – Orange
Paramore – Paramore
Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
The Story So Far – What You Don’t See
Koji – Crooked In My Mind
Deafheaven – Sunbather
A Day To Remember – Common Courtesy
Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
August Burns Red – Rescue & Restore
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