Top 50 Albums of 2013

albums banner 2013 procMaking our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly.  We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience.  We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed.  If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.

50 – WampireCuriosity
49 – Dot DashHalf Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles  – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed CastIllumination Ritual
46 – Bad SportsBras
45 – Part TimePDA
44 – Dick DiverCalendar Days
43 – Math and Physics ClubOur Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica FallsWaiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely WildThe Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love LanguageRuby Red
38 – Gun OutfitHard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le BonMug Museum
36 – Daughn GibsonMe Moan
35 – Andre ObinThe Arsonist
34 – ArpMore
33 – Gap DreamShine Your Light
32 – The Black WatchThe End of When
31 – Ty SegallSleeper
30 – The StevensA History of Hygeine
29 – Of MontrealLousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror TravelMexico
27 – Local NativesHummingbird
26 – Girls NamesThe New Life
25 – GRMLNEmpire
24 – Small BlackLimits of Desire
23 – AudacityButter Knife
22 – Mikal CroninMCII
21 – Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty
20 – FoalsHoly Fire
19 – Radical FaceFamily Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth LagoonWondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry MaltsNobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out LoudsOptica
15 – Kurt VileWaking on a Pretty Daze
14 –  BraidsFlourish//Perish
13 – Crystal AntlersNothing is Real
12 – TyphoonWhite Lighter
11 – Ski LodgeBig Heart

10 – GamblesTrust

Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created.  In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.

9 – The GrowlersHung at Heart

I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.”  But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track.  I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.

8 – Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

Hether Fortune seems to scare people.  Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes.  That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense.  The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors.  If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.

7 – Parenthetical GirlsPrivilege

While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work.  It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record.  The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.

6 – The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

What else really needs to be said about The National.  They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts.  I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party.  Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.

5 – LegsPass the Ringo

When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve.  Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.

4 – Warm SodaSomeone for You

Someone For You came our way in January.  On my record player, it hasn’t left since.  This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record.  You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.

3 – Coma CinemaPosthumous Release

At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners.  You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.

2 – Bubblegum LemonadeSome Like it Pop

In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers.  But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music.  This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special.  Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.

1 – Magical CloudzImpersonator

This album is about Devon Welsh.  From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note.  The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow.  It made us believe in great music again.

 

The Lonely Wild – The Sun As It Comes

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Rating: ★★★★ ·

Though this band hails from L.A, you may have caught them somehow in your slew of SXSW shows this year. However, if you didn’t, not to fret, this band is an up and comer that will be hard to miss in time to come. Born in 2010 as the project of Andrew Carroll, The Lonely Wild released an EP that generated them some fame in their local scene, but their first full length, The Sun As It Comes, is here to stick this band on your radar.

This album is one that grabs your attention the instant you put it on. First, song, title track, and possibly one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year, “The Sun As It Comes” is a cathartic build up of folksy beginnings to a fiery finish. What starts as hair distant but powerful feminine “Oohs” accompanied by soft plucking of guitars transitions to the hair raising harmonies of Carroll and Jessie Williams, as they take you on an eerie journey of storytelling. All the while, the electric guitar gradually pushes itself into your listening spectrum and demands attention. Then, suddenly, Williams has gone back to the background vocals and Carroll’s Conor Oberst-meets-Ben Gibbard voice is screaming at you in frenzy. Such songs of gentle intrigue, along with outright fire, are to be found and enjoyed on this album.

The Lonely Wild have a lot of things going for them on this first full length release aside from a great opening track. Additionally, the songwriting on all of the songs here is engaging, apt, and relevant, serving as the icing on the cake to the sonically delightful music that this band doles out, track after track. By yhe third track, this band proudly shows you that they mean serious business, and aren’t shying away from creative details. Take “Everything You Need” as another example of an exemplary song that can be found here. Once again you have the dual vocals of Carroll and Williams, but wait, what’s that? Horns?! And an outright jamming beat from the start? What more can you want?

If your answer to that rhetorical question was a variety of tracks that transcend genres and bridge the gaps between rock and folk then look no further—The Lonely Wild has you covered. From start to finish, they hook you and then close the deal too, sealing it with their glorious harmonies and effortless likability. Do yourself a favor and give it a listen; you won’t want to be the last one to hear this band!

Rolling Folk Pop from The Lonely Wild

1175Something about the damp weather brings me home to blossoming folk tunes, such as this new number from The Lonely Wild.  When the song opens, it’s got a lengthy build in, accented by soft horn accompaniment in the background. Then the track sets its sights on evoking that emotional tug at your heart with male/female vocal harmonizing.  It’s a simple formula, but when executed so well, I find it hard to ignore.  If you enjoy what you hear, be on the lookout for The Sun As It Comes, which will be released on April 2nd via Ursa Major Recordings

Sprawling Beauty from The Lonely Wild

As much as I adore fast paced rock n’ roll, I have a great fondness for carefully crafted music of the folk/orchestral sort.  This new single from LA’s The Lonely Wild fits perfectly into that mold, with a swell of orchestration and harmony sung in unison.  But, there’s also a gruffness that comes in towards the middle of the track, which provides a bit of an edge to the track as a guitar cascades through the background.  They’ll be releasing their new album, The Sun As It Comes, on their own via the Ursa Major Recordings imprint…that should be available to you like-minded folks on April 2nd.