Here it is! The final list of my 2013 music year in review!
After writing about so much new music, it’s safe to say 2013 was an odd year in music. A lot of artists I had never heard of until this year made a big impression with me this year.
After wading through the ridiculously pretentious waters of hipster indie/shoegaze rock, noise rock, even some radio-friendly albums, and some ghastly attempts at metal/metalcore, I found a few gems and diamonds in the rough to claim as this year’s top music.
I gotta give a big thanks to anyone who has stuck it out with me throughout this process this year. I am more than thankful for the chance to share massive amounts of music with you all and I hope something in these lists were appealing to you.
This was a very challenging year for me to do this sort of excursion into music, given that I made a move across the country, started graduate school, and have had many new responsibilities with my professional life.
Regardless, thank you again.
Enjoy the last 25 picks!
25. Stories from Elsewhere, Rhian Sheehan
Released: March 07, 2013
If you are in need of someone to write a soundtrack for your everyday life, enlist the help of Rhian Sheehan. Sheehan creates of the most stunning compositions of neo-classical tunes. He brandishes pianos, anything with strings, and music boxes and devises soft, soothing, and delightful tunes. He is a one-man multi-instrumentalist orchestra.
Released: June 17,2013
Earlier in the year, I laughingly stated that Sigur Rós might have released the heaviest album of the year. I sort of still stand by that statement because Kveikur (Icelandic for Candlewick) is remarkable change of pace for these post rock/atmospheric gods. The album takes many uncharacteristic mood swings and showcases a darker sound than past releases.
Play: Sigur Ros – Rafstraumur
23. Atlas: Darkness, Light, Space 1, Space 2 (All 4 EPs),
Sleeping at Last
Released: January 29, 2013; June 10, 2013; September 17, 2013; November 21, 2013
Yes, four EPs. But the 21 songs are startlingly consistent and beautifully written. Anyone unfamiliar with the music of Ryan O’Neal should know that he is incredibly tenacious in his work ethic. He constructs soft, chill, bright, comforting tunes that make any listener feel safe and composed.
22. The Albatross, Foxing
Released: November 12, 2013
Perhaps leading the way in the emo revival is Foxing. The Albatross is a necessary album for anyone who has felt heartbreak or loss of any kind. Foxing seeks to work through complex emotions with somewhat simplistic, yet, relatable lyrics and stories.
21. The Hurry and the Harm, City and Colour
Released: June 04, 2013
In my book, Dallas Green can do no wrong. While The Hurry and the Harm doesn't reach the level of his masterwork, Bring Me Your Love, Green proves he is still an incredible composer of indie folk tunes. Ever since he added the full band, the growth and experimentation has not slowed down. Dallas continues to mature with each release, showing his willingness to create enlivened music with a purpose.
Play: City and Colour – Thirst
20. Common Courtesy, A Day to Remember
Released: October 08, 2013
I don’t know how much more blood and sweat can be poured into an ADTR album before they run out. While I haven’t really appreciated their live shows in the past, I can always appreciate the efforts of their albums. Common Courtesy serves as a testament to the band’s devotion to their craft with many reflections to life on the road.
19. Illumination Ritual, Appleseed Cast
Released: April 23, 2013
I lost track of Appleseed Cast a few years ago. I was following them through high school and went a different path, but I’m glad I found this album. Illumination Ritual is a groovy, experimental atmospheric post rock release with sprinklings of vocals here and there, in typical Appleseed Cast fashion.
18. Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came, Jesu
Released: September 23, 2013
This album is as beautiful as it is creepy. Everyday... is a spacious and patient probing of musical meanderings and discomfort. Just when I think I understand how chill this album can be, I'm hit with a sweeping reminder that Jesu is built on darkness. Jesu is instrumental, neo classical, post rock, post metal, post sludge, post doom, post-EVERYTHING!
Play: Jesu – Comforter
17. Entities, Pomegranate Tiger
Released: January 31, 2013
Instrumental prog metal just found a new act to praise. Despite the terrible band name, Pomegranate Tiger makes impressive jazz-inspired djent metal tunes that take on many different genres throughout the drawn-out experiences the band creates. If the opening lick of “New Breed” doesn’t give you chills, something may be wrong with your heart.
Released: August 03, 2013
Least of These is a little-known Indie post hardcore act that reminds me of every phase of As Cities Burns’ evolution as a band. Change Will Come is a lesson in perseverance and striving for becoming a stronger person through its overtly confessional style lyrics. Much aggression and emotion is present throughout the album, as the band masterfully envelopes feelings of isolation and determination through guttural screams and impressive clean vocals.
15. Altered State, TesseracT
Released: May 28, 2013
I spent a lot of time with Altered State and I didn’t like it the first time I listened to it. However, I knew there was something here. And I was right. This UK prog metal act has constructed a ten-track album ripe with a sonically charged exploration of the human condition. “Of Matter—Resist” was one of my favorite tracks of 2013 because it includes so many layers that make this band so important to the metal scene.
14. Beyond Was All Around Me, Young Man
Released: April 09, 2013
Young Man is the illegitimate brainchild of symmetry/symmetry, Kenny Vasoli (personL-inspired) and Pink Floyd spawning some downright inspiring experimental rock tunes. I haven’t been explicitly impressed with an album like this in a long time.
Play: Young Man – In Time
13. Living Mirrors, Disperse
Released: February 19, 2013
This album is a great example of being on Spotify and seeing a friend listening to a random band I’d never heard of and then I end up loving that band. Disperse is one of those in between metal bands. This album shows many signs of prog and djent metal, yet lacks any harsh vocals—instead showcases a powerful lead vocalist who harps over dazzling guitar work and explosive drums.
[Note: This is where the list gets tight. Hardly any wiggle room between these choices.]
12. Mouthful of Swords, The Safety Fire
Released: June 05, 2013
I kept trying to deny this album but I kept coming back to it. I tried to resist its tasty licks and dominant vocals. But I was no match for the Safety Fire. Blending a mix of BTBAM and Animals as Leaders, Mouthful of Swords became a go-to album for any prog metal lover.
11. Migrant, The Dear Hunter
Released: April 2, 2013
In 2011, I snubbed Casey Crescenzo by not truly appreciating his Color Spectrum mega album—which in hindsight is an incredible album and should’ve been higher on my 2011 list. Migrant is a conglomeration of everything the Dear Hunter has been and is becoming. Crescenzo is a mastermind of all things rock, jazz, folk, strings, horns, everything. The man is a master of everything. Not to mention that voice is to die for. Give it a shot. Let Casey sing to your soul.
10. Repave, Volcano Choir
Released: September 03, 2013
It’s hard to get an eight-song LP perfect. One misstep and it can throw off the entire balance of an album. Luckily, Volcano Choir didn’t have that issue. The band, a conglomeration of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and post rock outfit, Collections of Colonies of Bees, enmeshed so many jaw-dropping moments within this 40-minute uplifting frolic through musical articulateness.
Play: Volcano Choir – Byegone
09. Yeezus, Kanye West
Released: June 18, 2013
Yep. Take this, haters. Kanye West in the top ten. For all the naysayers of King West, I have one message for you: Appreciate his music for what it is—a constantly evolving experience of avant garde hip hop. Yeezus very bluntly is a middle finger to the current state of hip hop—especially since King West, himself, said he didn’t want to create a song on this album that could be used as a marketable single. He challenges listeners and brings some of his strongest and daring material to date.
Play: Kanye West – New Slaves
08. Falling Bough Wisdom Teeth, Kiev
Released: October 22, 2013
Kiev is what would happen if Radiohead had an improvisational jazz horn section constructed into it. It’s incredible. Each track builds onto the next and for an up and coming act to have such a command on its style so early in the game, I am eager to see where this band goes from here. I only had 10 albums left to listen to before I was caught up with everything I had on my list from 2013. I figured my list was set. And then I got to this album. And it broke my list. I’m glad it did.
Play: Kiev – Ariah Being
07. Volition, Protest the Hero
Released: October 29, 2013
Protest the Hero has been around the metal core scene for a while now. I saw the band on its very first tour and my heart was stolen then and it is being stolen again with this new album. I was apprehensive to tackle Volition after the band put out a stinker a few years ago, Scurrilous. However, each track hits on all cylinders throughout this math metal masterpiece. The band has always been able to impressively
06. Sunbather, deafheaven
Released: June 11, 2013
This is one of the most important metal albums of the millennium. deafheaven took to create an experience with its whirling dynamo of black metal meets atmospheric instrumental post rock. Like Sigur Rós, vocals often take on a different role with this music—serving as an extra instrument, instead of a perfectly constructed element of lyrical expression. deafheaven gives listeners the opportunity to rest from the chaos in many scattered moments of bright beauty before dropping listeners right back into the pandemonium.
Play: deafheaven - Sunbather
05. White Lighter, Typhoon
Released: August 20, 2013
Top five starts off with an essential release from Oregon’s own, Typhoon. This 12-person Indie orchestra is one of the most impressive acts in music today. This album chronicles the struggles of reality and mortality of lead singer, NAME NAME, as he battled Lyme disease last year. The songs tell absolutely lively and inspiring stories. Each song is uniquely vibrant and beautiful. For fans of Sufjan Stevens, Decemberists, and Modest Mouse.
04. For Now I am Winter, Ólafur Arnalds
Released: April 02, 2013
Stop what you’re doing and click the song below and watch the video for “Old Skin.” I’ll wait. This album is worth a listen from everyone on the planet. Ólafur Arnalds has carefully created the most whimsically elegant album of 2013. He brings his piano to life in magnificent ways. The atmosphere and ambience are on point. Each track featuring vocals from friend and composer, Arnór Dan, stand out as delightfully dominant compositions.
03. Is Survived By, Touché Amoré
Released: September 24, 2013
Many know my devotion to Touché Amoré, and I stand confident in my belief that TA creates some of the most impassioned, honest, and unrelenting music in the post hardcore/hardcore scene. Jeremy Bolm spends this entire under 30-minute album pondering life, mortality, and the difficulties of devoting one’s life to the love of artistic expression. The band went for a more spaciously atmospheric/accessible approach with Is Survived By, yet this doesn’t slow its ability to create some of heaviest music on the scene today.
02. Owel, Owel
Released: April 02, 2013
Owel’s self-titled debut LP was probably the album I listened to the most in 2013. Owel makes solid experimental indie rock tunes that are comfortable, accessible, and ambitious. That’s the perfect word for this album—ambitious. For a debut album, it seems as though Owel already has it figured out. With no label, no major backing, they have a sound that should be on the radio, but isn’t. Again, I’m almost thankful for that. Regardless, Owel mixes styles of Copeland meets Explosions in the Sky and Dear Hunter. This album gives me hope for the future of music.
Play: Owel - Burning House
01. Winterwell, Mree
Released: August 06, 2013
I have tried to share this album with anyone and everyone who would listen. I am absolutely flabbergasted that this album and Mree have not become mainstream sensations yet. In a way, that makes me happy because I’d hate to see her artistic abilities limited in any way. The key factor in this album claiming number one is that I focus my attention on full albums, from beginning to end, and how the acts create a full experience. This album is a complete experience with no room to remove and element—for they are all necessary.
Mree (Marie Hsiao) is a 20-year old multi-instrumentalist who already had one LP under her belt before releasing this dazzling expression of life and love. Her airy voice is surprisingly strong when she belts out her choruses and beckons listeners to dig deeper within themselves to find the beauty in life. Watch her videos on Youtube, listen to this album, become one with these tracks. I am forever changed because of this album.
I’m thankful for those who read this…
This experience was incredible.
Catch up on the entire list: