Staff Picks for Best of 2013

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The next issue is on the way, but while we are waiting on a few bands to get interview questions back in, let’s take a sneak peek at the staff picks for 2013.

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Steve Ruff

Best of lists are hard…12 months of music means many great releases can be buried under a gazillion other releases and forgotten when the list is compiled…well, what’s a boy to do? Here is my “best of” list with the top 5 listed first and in no particular order because I just can’t do that. Support the music you love, that means, BUY IT!

(top 5) Lifesavers – Heaven High – Michael Knott, Josh Lory, Rick McDonough, Nick White and Masaki Liu return with a cohesive album of some of the best written Lifesavers songs ever recorded.

(top 5) Bill Mallonee – Dolorosa – Hauntingly beautiful, pensive and poetic, Mallonee’s best solo album to date.

(top 5) Chris Taylor – Traveler’s Hotel – Taylor blows my mind with this release that is deep, musically brilliant and lyrically poignant.

(top 5) Seventh Circle – The Struggle 2013 Re-mastered Deluxe Edition – Adam Pederson re-masters a stellar release that exudes with well-crafted songs and echoes with brooding delivery.

(top 5) Unteachers – A Human Comedy – An amazing album from members of Tantrum of the Muse, should be out soon…hopefully.

Corrections House – Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod and Scott Kelly of Neurosis deliver a blistering assault on the senses.

Bill Mallonee – Future Hymns of the New Idolatry – Hymns that I can relate too, worshipful and honest…also, best name for an album all year!

Watain – The Wild Hunt – Black Metal has been redefined and turned on its ear, brutal and unique.

Daniel Amos – Dig Here Said the Angel – Daniel Amos return with their best album from a long and incredible career.

Bill Mallonee Band/The NPR Sessions – Collection of demos, live songs and general brilliance.

Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP 2 – Say what you want, but the wordsmith returns with an album heavy on emotion and ear bending wordplay.

Skinny Puppy – Weapon – The masters return with an album that bridges the gap between their early releases and the newer direction of hanDover.

Nick Cave – Push the Sky Away – It’s Nick Cave!

Daniel Bashta – The Invisible – The only “praise and worship” album from 2013 that I find moving and outside the industry standard.

Bill Mallonee & Muriah Rose – Town Hall – Excellent live recording with Bill and the unparalleled vocals of Muriah Rose.

Crime and the City Solution – American Twilight – Members of Wovenhand, Einsturzende Neubauten and former Bad Seeds drop a stunning return to form.

Skylar Grey – Don’t Look Down – The beauty in her voice is unmatched in the pop world.

Motorhead – Aftershock – It’s Lemmy, nuff said!

Bad Religion – True North – The punk masters return with what we expect from them, complete brilliance.

Rob Zombie – Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor – The horror show returns with the best album of his post White Zombie career, better than Hellbilly Deluxe and a milestone for his music career…definitely merges the best parts of White Zombie with that deep bass groove and the perfect band of Piggy, John 5′s guitar wizardry and Ginger Fish’s manic drumming.

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Josh Lory

2013 the year I relived the 80’s and 90’s musically! Most all my favorites from those years put out new material and all for the better. Tons of great EP’s from the Pixies, Chuck Ragan, Brian Jonestwon Massacre, etc, but for this list I went with the full length albums I enjoyed most.

1. Five Iron Frenzy – Engine Of A Million Plots – Instant favorite as soon as I heard it. It hit me like that Forgetters album did last year. Very relatable lyrics for me intertwined with themes of winter and mortality. Continues the darker musical vibe of the last two FIF albums. This is my favorite they have done yet. Amazing people, amazing band!

2. Neko Case – The Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You – Her voice melts me, Case is the siren that would lure me to death if I were lost at sea. Deep, beautiful, melodies, and some of her most rockin’ material to date!

3. Daniel Amos – Dig Here Said The Angel – It’s Terry Taylor. It’s Daniel Amos. It’s timeless. One of a kind.

4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast – Most consistent band out there. Dark, bluesy, moody, gripping! Awesome cover of The Call’s ‘Let The Day Begin’, Robert Been pays tribute to his dad!)

5. Streetlight Manifetso – The Hands That Thieve – Just got into this band this year and holy crap are they outstanding! Took the whole Ska/Punk genre to a new level of songwriting. Every time I listen to this album I am blown away at the structure of the tunes and the lyrics as well.

6. Bill Mallonee and the High Desert Freaks – Dolorosa – Another huge year of Mallonee releases and really every thing he put out this year should be on this list, but I chose this one because it was a big step for Bill recording his own material. He got some new gear and put it to good use and they’ll only sound better from here on. He’s the best out there. This one and WPA vol. 18 are a tie for the most part.

7. CJ Ramone – Reconquista – The best post Ramones release from any of the members in my opinion, every song is good, CJ is an all around bad-ass! If you like the classic Ramones vibe, get this!

8. Billy Bragg – Tooth and Nail – Nice chill Americana album from Bragg, he’s the English Woody Guthrie. Old gospel inspired lyrics. This is one of his best releases to date, highly recommended.)

9. Joan Jett and the Black Hearts – Unvarnished – It’s 1982 all over again, they really tapped into the old Blackhearts sound from the first 4 albums, production and all. She’s the queen of rock!

10. Elephant Stone – S/T – Excellent blend of Shoegaze and Psychedelic rock, Matt Crosslin turned me on to this band and I bought everything I could find. This band is one to watch for, get into them while they’re still underground!

11. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart – Folk/Punk at it’s finest. Like Billy Bragg with a little more fire in his belly. Can’t go wrong with any of his releases, though I’m sure some of his lyrics will be unsettling for many believers out there.

12. Mick Leonardi – Don’t Push The River – I’ve known Mick for nearly 20 years now (crazy!). My old band Bluejacket used to gig a lot with his old band Divit, same county, same scene (side note Nick White played drums in Divit). This is Mick’s second solo outing and it’s his best material to date. Great Americana/Folk/Rock album. Heart filled lyrics and a great voice.

13. Justin McRoberts – K – the last instalment  of the ongoing CMYK project Justin started a few years back. Lyrics were inspired by letters sent to Justin by his fans. Justin is the best singer I’ve ever heard live, his voice can fill a large room and really draw you in. Half the albums songs are revised versions of songs from the C, M, and Y ep’s. A book was written to accompany the albums, I have yet to get the book, but look forward to it. Hands down my favorite release from McRoberts!

14. The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law – 2nd full length from this English trio. Mix of Shoegaze and 90’s Modern Rock. Don’t listen to this band a lot, but when I do they always impress!

15. My Bloody Valentine – MBV – The greatest Shoegazers ever return after a very long break and show how timeless their sound is. This one has topped many best of 2013 lists.

16. Bad Religion – True North – It’s a Bad Religion album, nuff said.

17. Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True – Best AK3 album since From Here To Infirmary.

18. Michale Graves – Vagabond – Former Misfits frontman made a real nice album here. Not the Horror Punk sound he’s known for, here you get a solid Modern Rock album. Shades of U2, Echo and The Bunnymen, and Blind Melon.

19. dUg Pinnick – Naked – Some of my favorite lyrics of the year on this album. Very heavy Doom/Stoner metal. C’mon it’s dUg Pinnick, the coolest rock star ever!

20. Lifesavers – Heaven High – I would have had this higher on the list if I wasn’t involved, still pretty egotistical for me to have this on here. I love this album and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!

Also at 20. The Sweet Sorrows ‘It All Belongs’ – Great release by the Electrics frontman and wife!

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Matt Crosslin

Top lists are kind of tough – I can pick 20 or so of my favorites, but ranking them past that is just too hard. This was also a busy year for music – Chris Taylor, Skinny Puppy, Motorhead, Bad Religion, Joan Jett, MBV, and dUg Pinnick are not on my list simply because I still haven’t had a chance to listen to any of them yet! So here is my list in alphabetical order again :)

Aradhna – Live in Concert – Beautiful Indian/rock fusion music that has to b experienced live for full effect. This live recording comes close.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast – Almost worth it for The Call cover alone, but the rest of the tracks prove that this band still has what it take.s

Champion Leader – 1987 – Jamie Bozeman of Luxury snuck this one in before Luxury hit the studio, and it is quite a good one. 80s throwback in a lot of ways, but very modern in others.

Cush – SP3 – I think this one was released in some way in 2013? Their best since The New Sound. Can’t wait for the rumored vinyl.

Daniel Amos – Dig Here Said the Angel – There is probably a reason that we all chose this one. Daniel Amos proves they still have what it takes to produce one of the best albums of the year.

Deliverance – Hear What I Say! – I don’t see how any fan of the Big D could not love this. It mixes all of the various Deliverance sounds into a clear, cohesive, blistering thrash fest.

Dime Store Zombies – Dime Store Zombies – If I were ranking, this album would be a serious contender for the top spot. These zombies prove they will be a force to reckon with in the future.

Easter Teeth – Being Alone With Your Thoughts Is For Inmates – a late surprise, this is one of the most original recordings I have heard this year. Not to mention it is music that only has a rhythm section? Killer.

Elephant Stone – Elephant Stone – Trippy psychedelic guitar rock from a sitar-turned-bass player? Oh, yeah. Love the Indian flourishes in several songs.

Deni Gauthier – i (am) hope – Singer/songwriters are still a dime a dozen, but the title track alone is worth the inclusion on this list. Oh, and did you know he is a killer painter, too?

Lifesavers – Heaven High – Another serious contender for top spot, don’t let Josh’s humility fool you. This is one of the best albums of the year by any band.

Nina Llopis – Unveiled (part-1) – I know this is a bit older and just a short ep, but there is something about this ep that is just hard to describe. But probably the best project Nina has been involved in, and that says a lot looking at her past projects.

Bill Mallonee – Future Hymns of the New Idolatry – Mr. Mallonee put out several stellar albums this year, but this one nabs the top of his output for me. Maybe its the rebellious title, but something about these songs really grab me.

Megadeth – Supercollider – I know this isn’t their best, but it is still miles better than most other metal albums out there. Still loud, intense, and in your face. Megadeth keeps rolling over the metal posers out there.

The Ocean Blue – Ultramarine – Another strong contender for nest album of the year, dreamy new-waveish guitar 80’s retro coolness that is probably one of the best albums they have ever recorded.

Pacifico – Without Heroes – This is really catchy stuff that should be all over the radios. Guitar rock for those that like well crafted songs.

Secret Archives of the Vatican – Storms – Electronic world dance music? I love this kind of stuff when it is well done, and Secret Archives really knows how to do it right. They will probably have three more releases out by the time we publish the next issue :)

Stryper – No More Hell To Pay – Say what you will about the yellow and black attack, they still get serious respect among metalheads for good reason. This is one of their most mature and catchy yet. It was hard to pick this one for the list over The Covering, but they have been on a roll recently.

Veil of Ashes – Eternal Teenage Angst – I know this is a collection of older tracks, but there is one new track and a few never-release, all of which are incredible. This needs a vinyl release if there was any justice in the world.

DTL Collective – I know this is cheating, and maybe I am biased, but the guys in the collective (ahem – we need to get some diversity in there guys, okay?) are churning out some great tunes this year. Hard to pick just one, so I cheated and put them all here. Mike Indest, Eddie Parrino, And How, Human 2.7, and others have put out new tunes this year, as well as several who have re-released older tunes.

One Response

  1. Great list(S)!
    Here’s illustrationISM’s TOP TEN for 2013..
    http://illustrationism.blogspot.com/2013/12/top-ten-2013-albums.html