This is not a top 10 because (a) there's not 10 of them and (b) I make no presumption of knowing what the best releases of 2013 were. Hell, I'll be finding out a lot of that in 2014. I'm no fukkn music critic but I know what I like, and this stuff is what I can best recall listening to from this year. Look elsewhere if you want to read some nerd gush about the world-shattering innovations in Yeezus.
Not as good as last year's Light Up Gold, but good enough to tide you over til the next LP. Overall the mood set is light, you could bop your heard mindlessly to these tunes, but the words are too clever and thoughtful to ignore so use yer brain. The more you use it, the more it works.
Excellent compilation tape released by Accidental Guest featuring Hysterics, Technicolor Teeth, Perfect Pussy (see below), and 20 more of today's greatest punk hitmakers. The initial run quickly sold out, but they're doing a second pressing so don't fret young ponx. My favorite ones on here are probably the tunes by Split Feet, Roomrunner, and Potty Mouth but really a solid comp all around. Oh and it's for a serious good cause, with proceeds benefiting Rachael's
Women's Center in Washington, D.C.
Reel life American rock and roll, this. Echoes of Neil Young and Les Rallizes Dénudés give Cruise Your Illusion a compelling sonic palate. There's a slacker vibe, a thorough knowledge of parents' record collections, and a flawful punkness underlying these confessions and lamentations. Some parts might get a little noodley for some of you, but for the most part it's driving rhythms and leads that are simple but scorching nonetheless. I like how the vocalist can't really sing that well, but goes for it anyway, riding on nothing but pure nerve. Welcome to the real fukkn world, brother.
Wrote this one up eight months back, still one of the best documents of punk this year (even though it was all recorded before 2013). Currently in its second pressing at Not Normal.
Thirty-five minutes of pop mastery. Songs about boys and girls and heavy shit. Vocals to die for. Simple, romantic tunes you can't help but join in on. I can't formulate complete sentences to describe this album, but I like it a lot.
The singer of this band sent me their debut album when they released it in April, and listening on-and-off I struggled to box it into enough words to convey what's going on here. They call it 'free punk;' I still can't quite articulate it beyond saying it's sounds like the fallout of an existential disaster, and channels the noise and goth sounds of Pop Group//Jesus Lizard//Birthday Party etc. plus the general weirdness that has permeated the last 30 years of south-central European punk (e.g. Disciplina Kičme). Recorded live in an empty post-socialist community house in the Hungarian village of Ersekvadkert, these songs cast their bleak gaze upon a Future which will surely embody the "interesting times" of the apocryphal Chinese curse. These songs contain the palpitating heartbeat of a million lost minds, waiting for the other boot to drop and finish things off once and for all. Over your cities grass will grow.
If my words don't convince you, the wiz's review over at Drug Punk surely will.
I gotta admit listening to Kremlin never made me think much of 'em. It sounded like punk that sounded like punk, it was competent, catchy, all of that -- but never gave me goosebumps or a dopamine rush or anything. Maybe I shoulda seen 'em live ... anyway this final release of theirs really does it for me, way better than Drunk in the Gulag. They play around with the guitar more, with cool leads and melodies you don't hear as much on their other stuff. Best song is the title track at the end, with its genuine rock hooks (and acoustic guitar?!). Sad to see 'em go after hearing this.
Band of the year.
Sample-based electronic pop that really nails it on this release. If you ever wanted to know what a chopped 'n' screwed Johnny Thunders or GG Allin sounded like, look no further. Fantastic Planet continues in the vein of the last few Puke Skywalker releases with progress-ively stronger composition. See how many samples you can spot.
I can't keep up with Robert Pollard. For all I know dude has released a dozen records this year, either solo or with Guided By Voices. In any case this is the one I've been hooked by. If you are at all familiar with his work, you know what to expect; Pollard produces crucial pop songs like most of us shed dead skin.
Gloomy postpunk outta southern Illinois with all the reverb you want with none of the artschool sheen you don't. This is the second annual report of Trauma Harness's contribution to the Spotted Race Halloween series, and it's at least as good as last year's cassingle. Covers of hallowed tunes by John Carpenter and Alice Cooper plus a couple of their most menacing originals. Buy the tape: come for the tunes, stay for the awesome insert.
This band has been around for some years now, and though I'm not real familiar with their past work, everything about this record is tight. From the playing to the song parts to the production -- those guitars! those backing vox! -- Expired Language strays far enough from the tropes of hardcore that its accessibility might convert a few normies.
This could be one of the best of 2013 for sure. Dead-on perfect pop songlets somewhere between They Might Be Giants and Weezer, each track bookended with an arena rock guitar lead ... this is not very different from Tony's band Ovens at all, but man, it all comes across really well here. In case the creative connection to Guided By Voices isn't obvious enough in the songs, he goes ahead and covers "Wondering Boy Poet" but it fits so well it sounds like it could be one
of his own.
Demos of 2013:
This demo retains the noise blasts and world-falling-apart melodies of Shoppers, but they manage to sound more melodic AND more pissed off. This is a powerful fucking band, and I'm excited to see what they do in 2014. Read the lyrics too, goddamn.
Six nuggets of tough '80s hc worship from the Belleville/STL area. Can't find any digital audio for this one, so just take it from me that the guitars sound like powerdrills and it's fukkn great. Get it from Spotted Race/Lumpy Rex.
Best Chicagoland band of 2013?? Come find out at the stacked all-day show event with Tenement, Lumpy, and more going on in Northwest Indiana the day after new year's.
Looks like this got the vinyl treatment, courtesy of Hardware Records.
2014 watch out:
This was supposed to come out this year but got delayed. Probably will be on my 2014 list. Order up at M'lady's Records.
|photo cred: Daniel Fernandez|
They've been making brilliant -- actually brilliant -- power pop for some years now, but I think the rest of the world is about to find out.