To continue our year end coverage, we’re now focusing on the Top Thirty Albums of 2013. At the beginning of the year we began our weekly installment of Friday’s Find with eMusic, which meant we covered more full-length albums this year than in the past. Beginning with a list of some albums that just couldn’t fit, we’ve put together this list to show your our favorite albums from the past year. From veterans like the Oblivians to newcomers like Summer Cannibals, you’re bound to fall in love with these albums. If you haven’t been able to, now is your chance to pick up the physical copies of these records before they’re gone for good!
Teenanger – Singles Don’t $ell LP (Southpaw/ Telephone Explosion Records)
Cough Cool – 29 LP (Bathetic Records)
Zulus – s/t LP (Aagoo Records)
Bad Indians – Are On the Other Side LP (CQ Records)
Wau y los Arrrghs!!! – Todo Roto LP (Slovenly Records)
Hot Lunch – s/t LP (Who Can You Trust? Records)
Party Bat – Real Drugs LP (Tic Tac Totally)
Some we missed:
The Frowning Clouds – Whereabouts LP (Anti Fade Records)
Pampers – s/t LP (In The Red Recordings)
The Zoltars – Walking Through the Dark LP (CQ Records)
Babes – s/t LP (Pizza Burglar Records)
Cheap Time – Exit Smiles LP (In The Red Recordings)
Protomartyr – All Passion No Technique LP (Urinal Cake Records)
Nightmare Boyzzz – Bad Patterns LP (Slovenly Records)
Bad Vision – s/t LP (Every Night Is A Saturday Night/ Adagio 830 Records)
Warm Toy Machine – Not Tired to Blow LP (P.Trash Records)
Fins – s/t LP (Obscure Me! Records)
Boardwalk – s/t LP (Stones Throw)
Kaviar Special – s/t LP (Howlin’ Banana Records)
Verma – Coltan LP
Label: Trouble In Mind Records
Coltan is like a forty minute drift through the cosmos where you encounter anything from seething psych to flaring noise rock. This Chicago-based band has forged a path for themselves with this monumental take on instrumental space rock. We’ll see where it lands them next.
Los Dos Hermanos – Bourbon, Blood and Seafoods LP
Label: Howlin’ Banana Records
Slowly but surely we’ve been hearing from many bands in France taking on this garage-y/ surf revival of sorts. Howlin’ Banana Records is a major player in that right now, leaving us with a few quality examples over the last year. This sloppily concentrated debut from Los Dos Hermanos is at the head of the pack, delivering us a lethally metallic batch of reverberating surf pop.
Sun Stone Revolvers – Spaceship X
Label: Optical Sounds
Sun Stone Revolvers followed up their debut album this year with Spaceship X. Their psychedelic rock is mesmerizing and propulsive, held together by rollicking beats and thick clouds of colorful vapor. They’re a perfect fit for the Optical Sounds label and we’re hoping to encounter more in 2014.
Tough Age – s/t LP
Label: Mint Records
Formed after the death of Korean Gut, Mint Records released the debut from this punk rock supergroup in Vancouver. Their songs are muscular, catchy and melodic, combining a healthy bit of pop and surf rock into the picture for a clean and wholesome sound. Their record hits like a ton of bricks and they do it as fun and effortlessly as possible.
UBT – Ego Orientation LP
Label: Psychic Handshake Recordings
After their 2010 s/t debut, the friendly duo in UBT (Uncle Bad Touch) came back with this ecstatic batch of psychedelic garage pop. These songs are undeniably fun and innocent, brimming with bubblegum hooks and breezy flute melodies with an occasional metal-tinged flare-up for good measure. The album even came released on hot pink wax, what more could you ask for?
Mind Spiders – Inhumanistic LP
Label: Dirtnap Records
Marked Men frontman Mark Ryan continues to deliver as Mind Spiders. Inhumanistic brings his punk in an arguably new direction, weaving a colorful, synth-driven punch into his already highly caffeinated pop. That’s three albums in as many years for Mark Ryan and Mind Spiders, so is it even fair to call this a side project anymore? We would say no.
Brown Brogues – Triflin’ LP
Label: Stolen Body Records
From across the pond in Manchester, the duo in Brown Brogues brought us an album all on its own in 2013. Triflin’ shows off a troubling blend of slow, shadowy psych rock and pummeling post-punk, flooring us with loads of shocking fuzz and excess grunge in the process. They’ve quietly released a handful of other records, but unfortunately this was our first real encounter.
Ausmuteants – Amusements LP
Label: Aarght! Records
This is probably the latest entry on our list, but it just goes to show (once again) that something good is happening down under in Australia. Aarght! Records in Melbourne had the pleasure of releasing this driving, 60s-inflected synth punk, boasting members from a plethora of local bands the Living Eyes, Hierophants and Frowning Clouds. Their punk is angular and disco-inspired and we’re still not really sure how they’re name is pronounced, but that’s no reason you shouldn’t be listening.
Ketamines – You Can’t Serve Two Masters LP
Label: Southpaw/ Mammoth Cave Records
Dating back to their debut 7″ on Hozac in 2011, the Ketamines have been promising and consistent since Day 1. When your album spends 11-straight weeks in the Top 10 albums for Canadian college radio stations, you must’ve done something right, right? No shit. Paul K. Lawton and James Leroy continue to freshen up their pop every chance they get, this time honing their twisted sound with heavy Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys.
Ancient Sky – All Get Out
Label: Wharf Cat Records
Ancient Sky continue to pioneer their own take on space rock by mixing in murky folk and other noisy elements for an ultimately vast and expansive psychedelic experience. In the end that’s the special quality in Ancient Sky’s music – you’re not just listening, you’re experiencing. As each track immerses you deeper and deeper into their realm their goal becomes clear.
Owen Temple Quartet – Rot in the Sun LP
Label: Casbah Records
Belligerent is but one way you can describe this wild record. Another band based in France, Owen Temple Quartet creates a strand of primitive punk rock that is all their own. Their sound is arguably sloppy and harsh, bringing to life a blunt and medieval concoction of punked-up snarls. We’re not entirely sure what they’re up to now, but we’re hoping they’ll be back.
Oblivians – Desperation LP
Label: In The Red Recordings
The Oblivians released their first proper album in 16 years in 2013, continuing their tear of blues-inspired fuzz punk. On top of that they put on a summer-long North American tour, making old fans ecstatic while simultaneously welcoming new fans aboard. Call it wishful thinking, but who knows if this is supposed to lead to anything else in the future.
The Hussy – Pagan Hiss LP
Label: Southpaw Records
Bobby and Heather Hussy led a busy 2013. This year they released Pagan Hiss, their third LP, along with a handful of 7″ (and one 10″) singles and cassettes. They’ve turned in just under a half hour of crafty, psych-inflected trash punk on their LP, resulting in this scorching grab bag of twisted and explosive guitar-driven stomps. It’s their wildest ride yet and there’s still bound to be more up their sleeves.
Thee Open Sex – s/t LP
Label: Magnetic South Recordings
Fronted by Rachel Weidner’s bold, shrieking howl, Thee Open Sex brought us an unmatched debut in 2013. Crafting their boisterous rock with a sweeping wave of psych, their sound is brooding and sinister but with a positively uplifting edge. As far as debuts in 2013 go, there’s is not to be overlooked. This was their first release on vinyl and hopefully it starts a new trend for the band.
Summer Cannibals – No Makeup LP
Label: New Moss Records
This grungy Portland crew has been on our radar since their beginning. After some initial early singles and a good bit of touring the band came back with their self-released debut on their own New Moss Recordings. We’ve heard they have plans to get back in the studio for a sophomore LP (they also just released an EP), giving them another chance to flex their muscles. It’s still early on for Summer Cannibals, but the future is looking up.
Catholic Spray – Earth Slime LP
Label: Born Bad Records
Again with the string of French bands, Catholic Spray also finds themselves leading the charge out of Paris. Their dark wave of surf rock is warbled, wonky and downright weird, led by cavernous vocals and exceptionally grungy guitars. In the end, Earth Slime compares to sitting out and melting under the sun until you’re a baked and disfigured mess. The cover art is a totally different story.
Missing Monuments – s/t LP
Label: Dirtnap Records
King Louie’s Missing Monuments turned in this monster LP for Dirtnap and then a 7″ EP on Slovenly Records this year. Their album is full of melodic guitar shredding and King Louie’s burly howling, penning one grandiose pop banger after another. This album still hasn’t surfaced on vinyl yet and our fingers are crossed for whenever that day comes. Reportedly, as Louie claims himself, that’s the only real way to credit this as an official release anyway.
Useless Eaters – Hypertension LP
Label: Jeffery Drag Records
The release of Hypertension was easily the biggest and best thing yet from Useless Eaters frontman Seth Sutton. Bringing to life twelve new tracks of this quirky and wiry pop-punk, Sutton continues to create his own path as an artist one record at a time. We have no idea what’s in store going forward but we’d be wrong not to expect more at this point. After this Sutton had a relatively quiet year, but now something currently appears to be in the works.
The Jons – In the Hole and Out of the Water LP
Label: Southpaw Records
Operating out of the backwoods of the Baltimore suburbs since 2000, the Jons released their first proper full-length this year on Southpaw Records. Combining an absolutely ecstatic blend of rock and roll and invigorating punk, the Jons do serious damage with their psych-infused slop attack. We haven’t been able to witness them live but you get the feeling it’s a wild experience.
Fuzz – s/t LP
Label: In The Red Recordings
There’s no denying that after their first three singles we were anticipating this monstrosity. After a massive amount of touring and selling out practically every copy of their record(s) this year, Fuzz became a regular name thanks to their authentic metal sound blended with a generous helping of modern techniques. The trio did their homework for this one and there’s evidence all over the record. Now who knows what comes next.
White Fence – Live in San Francisco LP
Label: Castle Face Records
Live in San Francisco is the only album on our list that we didn’t get to properly review this year. Even so, it’s such an accurate snapshot of White Fence performing in all of its 43 minute glory that it’s a staple to the year. The record fairly balances Presley’s four studio albums, pulling only a couple from 2013’s Cyclops Reap. This far in and it’s the obvious winner of Castle Face’s Live in San Francisco series.
Lantern – Rock ‘n’ Roll Rorschach LP
Label: Sophomore Lounge/ Cardinal Fuzz Records
Philadelphia’s friendly punk crew in Lantern had a huge 2013. They came out with their biggest and best record yet, which was appropriately released on labels in both the United States and Europe. As they continue to make a name for themselves with this soulful punk n’ roll, we’re sure this is only the beginning.
The Living Eyes – s/t LP
Label: Anti Fade Records
On top of leaving us with 7″ gold in 2013, the Living Eyes also put out one of the year’s most promising debut albums. Coming from Anti Fade Records, the album saw two short pressings that quickly sold out. The Living Eyes only appear to be getting started, and we’ve been told to expect a sophomore album at some point in 2014. Again as far as debuts go in 2013, this would be towards the top of the list.
Cool Ghouls – s/t LP
Label: Empty Cellar Records
San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls made a strong case for one of the most impressive debuts in 2013. Their brand of folk-inspired garage rock leaves you in a sunny, western state of mind, mixing in a generous helping of blues and soul for a twangin’ good time. After their initial release – their Alright cassette – we were looking forward to something, and we got even more.
Heavy Times – Fix It Alone LP
Label: Hozac Records
After some disheartening rumors that these Chicago punks had broken up, they quickly answered with their most complete album yet. It’s their second full-length for Hozac Records, cramming these short, sweet and melodic pop-punk nuggets down our throat one after another. Like their previous albums songs average about two minutes each, but they hit harder and harder each time. We’re not sure of the word on the street for Heavy Times these days, we’re just glad they’re still around.
Purling Hiss – Water On Mars LP
Label: Drag City Records
It was only a matter of time before something like Water On Mars came to be. When you see Mike Polizze and the gang performing live, you imagine their recordings and think something like, “Why don’t their albums sound like this?” With Water On Mars they’ve changed their typical approach to recording, leaving us with a clean and polished record that shows a different side of the band. If you’ve never been lucky enough to catch them live, you wouldn’t even know the difference, so this album was coming sooner or later. The fact that it’s this good, well, that’s a different story.
White Fence – Cyclops Reap LP
Label: Castle Face Records
Tim Presley’s strongest output yet came in the form of Cyclops Reap. The record capitalizes on all of the crucial elements that made his previous albums special, leaving us with 11 solid and cohesive tracks that actually feel like an album. There’s no second volume or lengthy tracklists, leaving us with the thought that less is more this time around. With this being the fourth full-length he’s turned in, we’re sure this is just the beginning.
The Everywheres – s/t LP
Label: Father/ Daughter Records
Again speaking of strong debut albums, the Everywheres stole the show and top the list of debuts with their self-titled LP for Father/ Daughter. Samuel T. Hill has mastered his own lysergic strand of psychedelic pop, decorating tracks with slithering guitars and a warming, technicolor atmosphere. This record is about all we’ve heard of Hill’s project, but we’re eagerly anticipating anything that comes down the line.
Strange Attractor – Back to the Cruel World LP
Label: FDH/ Resurrection/ Mammoth Cave Records
No other record was quite as absurd and disgraceful as this disheveled mess from Strange Attractor. Boasting 14 mangled tracks ranging anywhere from crusty speed punk to squealing noise rock, Strange Attractor’s plan is a little more complex than just shoving mindless racket down your throat. Weaved into their nasty songs are a slew and angry and disgusted messages about aliens and feeling utterly helpless, so why not join them on their downward spiral straight to hell?
Dead Ghosts – Can’t Get No LP
Label: Burger Records
Released three years after their debut LP, Can’t Get No is a perfect example of a band at the height of their powers. Their sophomore album has it all, ranging from swampy psych and hazy surf to bluesy and bubbly pop and everything in between. The Dead Ghosts have taken their time releasing a handful of quality records over the past five years, but by now it’s clear they have absorbed a thing or two on the way. If they continue their usual trend they’ll be silent for awhile, but if it means they come back like this again we’ll just have to wait patiently.
We were a little late on our LP list this year, but better late than never! We hope you enjoyed 2013 as much as we did, and we can only hope you’ll stick around for another year of fun as 2014 begins. We’ve got some big plans this year that were put on hold through 2013, so sit tight!
22 thoughts on “Top Thirty Albums of 2013”
Great list, but The Mallard’s ‘Finding Meaning in Deference’ (not Difference, people) is obviously the best album of 2013. 🙂 A perfect post-punk/psych/noise-rock fusion. Glad to see Dead Ghosts getting some love, though.
Swell list so much good stuff to check out, appreciate your efforts.
Protomartyr-All Passion No Technique is my favorite albums of the year. Wish it was on here, but great list anyways.
added to the missed list
Great site, great list. Maybe next year do a list of your favorite reissues? That could be pretty rad.
we’ll see! these lists are an awful lot of work for one guy!
Glad to see that you had Summer Cannibals on your list. I’ve seen them live, and they bring a lot of energy to the stage. We seem to have tastes that cross over at least in that realm of quirky independent rock. If you or any of your readers are interested, please check out my lists at Eclectic Grooves.