My Favorite Records of 2013

I listened to quite a lot of new music this year. Lots of metal, a bit of hip-hop, a ton of retro / psychedelic stuff. A lot of REALLY BAD garbage.

These are all the albums that stuck with me somehow. Mostly, these are the albums I played more than once. Overall, I’d say 2013 was one of the best musical outputs of any year this century (so far). Here’s my favorites…

25.) The Safety Fire - Mouth of Swords

I was pumped to catch these guys with Between the Buried and Me in the fall of 2012. But I missed the show. I had heard so much good stuff about these guys but never listened to them before. Mouth of Swords really wowed me. Excellent metal record, right up the BTBaM alley. Tommy Giles even makes a guest appearance. I really like their song writing, solid record overall.

24.) Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2

Ok, before I go into this record, my gripe with the title. I got into several heated arguments about the title, and how I don’t think this record IN ANY WAY resembles a “follow-up” to the original opus. But I digress…

What a banger. Front to back, this record is awesome (with a couple misses in the middle). Rap God, Berzerk, and Brainless are all stand outs. This guy spits fire at the drop of a hat, and I love listening to him rhyme.

23.) David Bowie - The Next Day

Bowie is timeless. This record really blew me away. I wasn’t expecting it to be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this great. He keeps up with the times AND holds onto his bread and butter songwriting.

22.) Tesseract - Altered State

The sophomore record from Tesseract. 4 songs divided into 10 tracks. All clean vocals. Progressive metal masterpiece. A brilliant follow up to One, if you like intricate, progressive metal, check this out.

21.) Russian Circles - Memorial

I love this band. They make some excellent atmospheric instrumental metal. Memorial is no exception.

20.) Dead Letter Circus - The Catalyst Fire

I first heard about these Aussies from a friend of mine when he showed “One Step” and I was chomping at the bit for more.

I was really looking forward to this record, and it shines. Kim Benzie’s voice is incredible. Reminds me of Maynard.

19.) Ghost - Infestissumam

Ahh, Ghost. What a band. What a record. These guys have really grown on me in the last year. Infestissumam is an excellent record. If you can put aside the EXTREMELY over-the-top Satanic references you get some truly great 70s-style fuzzy metal, and it rocks.

18.) Protest the Hero - Volition

What do you get when Protest the Hero has Lamb of God’s Chris Adler play drums on their new record? A masterpiece, that’s what. Better than everything they’ve ever done, in my opinion.

17.) Kanye West - Yeezus

Yeezus. Weird record. Really weird. But I like it. This guy is full of himself, almost to a fault. But he makes good tunes. Blood on the Leaves, what a jam.

16.) Red Fang - Whales and Leeches

I’d love to party with these guys. They make some kick ass tunes, and have been for a while. I put them in the same league as Mastodon, and they deserve it.

15.) Pelican - Forever Becoming

I played this record 3 times the first time I heard it. It’s awesome. These Chicago natives know how to groove and write some truly magical tunes.

14.) The Ocean - Pelagial

Something about these guys strikes me as quite pretentious, but I don’t care that much because they rock the house. Pelagial is beautiful, both with vocals and on the instrumental. These guys haven’t made a bad record yet, and this one is really great.

13.) Carcass - Surgical Steel

CARCASS! Their first record since 1996 and it SLAMS! This has to be one of the best produced, best sounding albums of 2013. Solid riffs, incredible drums, and great songs. You want some good, solid death metal, then you’ve come to the right place.

12.) Anciients - Heart of Oak

I never heard of these guys before their debut record dropped. I listened to it the day it came out and was blown away. Kind of a heavier Mastodon with a bit less melody. Great record.

11.) Gorguts - Colored Sands

Razor blade proficiency on these riffs. Gorguts is awesome, and they put out one of the best death metal records of the year.

10.) Kylesa - Ultraviolet

This one caught me off guard. I’ve heard of Kylesa before, and had an idea what they were all about. They’ve had quite a history so far. Ultraviolet is just incredible.

The dual vocals of Laura Pleasants and Phillip Cope work so well together. And the twin drummers make for some interesting rhythmic assaults. Slamming record from start to finish.

9.) The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack

Hands down one of my most anticipated records of the year, and boy did it deliver. I love this band. Everblack was incredible. Production, song writing, riffs, everything was great. I look forward to hearing these songs live when they come around with Carcass.

8.) Clutch - Earth Rocker

I never have been a die hard Clutch fan, but this record might have changed that. Every single song on this record is great. Gone Cold gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.

7.) The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us is The Killer

First time I listened to this record I was impressed, but I wasn’t falling in love with it or anything. Then I let it sit there for a while, and came back later. And came back again. And again. Now I can’t get these songs out of my head. Nothing’s Funny and One of Us is the Killer do not leave my brain much. Incredible record from one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen (there, I said it).

6.) Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

Trent Reznor came back with a vengeance on Hesitation Marks, and it delivered. This record reminded me a lot of With Teeth or Year Zero more than anything else, and it rocked. Lots of catchy NIN type stuff, and the songs are still stuck in my head. I’m pissed I didn’t get to catch any of the live shows, the production looked incredible.

5.) Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Mind Control

Best band name ever. This record had to be good to make it into my top 5. Just go listen to it. Stoner / psychedelic rock from the 70s with just enough headbanging groove to make it heavy.

4.) Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork

I think this is the record I listened to the most out of anything that came out in 2013. It’s so good. Josh Homme is one of my favorite song writers, and I’ve been a Queens of the Stone Age fan since Rated R. The supporting cast on …Like Clockwork is all-stars, and the Elton John inspiration is bizarrely amazing. Vampyre of Time and Memory, Smooth Sailing, Fairweather Friends, My God Is The Sun, well, every song on this record should be a single. It’s so good. Can’t say anything more about it.

3.) Deafheaven - Sunbather

This record is terrifyingly beautiful. I listened to it the day it came out before everyone started praising the hell out of it (though, to be fair, people that leaked it were praising it like crazy long before the release date). I was excited to check it out because I had never heard of them before. Blown away is an understatement.

This record sounds like the band I would want to be in if I was a drummer. The drumming on this record is phenomenal. It’s not the most technical or fast or whatever, but it is SO DAMN GOOD and so atmospheric and rhythmic that it makes me want to be drummer.

The guitars are epic. I love the way Kerry McCoy goes from some insanely black metal trill picking riff almost instantaneously into an epic thunderstorm of hanging chords and lush melodies.

George Clarke’s vocals are insane. More than just a voice, he adds an additional instrument to each song. You can feel every word and scream that he puts out, and the production makes it that much more impactful.

It’s such a damn good record. Do yourself a favor and just listen to it. Forget about genres, forget about preconceived notions of whatever you might think it is, just listen to it as a great piece of music and appreciate it for what it is. I can’t wait to see them when they come around.

2.) Purson - The Circle and The Blue Door

Never heard of these folks before this record dropped. Never heard much press. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

Rosalie Cunningham’s voice is beautiful, and every single one of these songs was stuck in my head after the first play through. They remind me of what would happen if Blue Oyster Cult, Janis Joplin, and Led Zeppelin all got in a room and decided to write an album together. There are so many beautiful moments on this record that you should just listen to it for yourself. The Contract, Spiderwood Farm, and Sapphire Ward really stood out for me, but the entire thing is a retro nod to the classics, and it’s awesome.

1.) Atoms for Peace - Amok

What do you get when you stuff Thom Yorke, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refosco into a studio? Apparently a great record.

Seriously, I don’t want to know how this was conceived. I don’t care how it was recorded. All I know is the finished product is, hands down, the best record I heard all year. Every single moment on this record feels like it is in the right place and naturally belongs EXACTLY where they put it. It blows my mind how many awesome musical moments they have crammed into one album.

I dare you to listen to any song on this album and not be humming it to yourself all day. Try it. You will fail.

I like Radiohead, but I think this blows everything they’ve done out of the water. Judge, Jury, and Executioner, Default, Stuck Together Pieces, and Dropped…oh man, DROPPED, that song is a monument all to itself. That song sinks the teeth in and just grooves me away.

I look forward to the next record they write, but until then, I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing this one a lot in the months / years to come. Album of the year, hands down.

Honorable Mentions

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