A few things.
Just realized that last time I did top release list was 2011. Yikes!
And being that I, Juan, am the main dog here posting, may as well keep it going for the few of you who do follow and read this blog. All two of you.
So here’s my list of records of that WOW’ed me this year in some shape or another. Whether it was music or packaging or pretty colors. I will more than likely keep it close to my end of year list from he music site I formally write for. Just cuz I am lazy.
So here goes…the records that blew my socks off on 2013. In no particular order, of course.
Deafheaven – Sunbather 2xLP – Is it any surprised that this would be the first mention? I mean. It’s a record that as perfect as it gets? Not only from the deceivingly pink cover art (and there’s a reason for that. Look it up!) to the music contained within, Sunbather is an album that contains all this is best about this band. The release that took people outside of the aggressive music underground by surprise. It wasn’t a surprise to me. This album epitomizes what a balance of seemingly disparate styles and genres of music should be. All the best elements of black metal and shoegaze and ambient rolled into one mammoth of a beautiful masterpiece.
Black God – III – The Louisville hardcore punk machine that is Black Good keep at their promise of an EP each year with song no more than three minutes apiece. Fast and furious music for the jaded hardcore punks. Especially those who grew up with and love all the previous bands each member was in. And let’s not forget that in typical No Idea effort, multiple colors were at hand and some random surprises too. Awesome to see the label and band keep people on their toes.
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park – Never surprised to find a non-metal/hardcore/punk album that I got hooked into. In this case, Musgraves may be a singer-songwriter in country and borderline Americana and bluegrass, but lyrically (and attitude) she is all punk rock. Weaving stories denouncing the hypocrisy of small-town America and celebrating doing what you want, when you want, this album may as well be honky-tonk punk rock.
Shai Hulud – Reach Beyond The Sun – Each time these metalcore giants release an album it’s a celebration. Sure enough they beefed things up in their sound and with former vocalist Chad Gilbert handling production and vocals, it was a complete throwback to their rawer sound and style. So glad they’re still at it. I didn’t get a good pic of the white vinyl but can imagine the packaging. Pretty standard.
Youth Code – Youth Code – Some bands get written off simply because they may sound too much like another band. I initially made that mistake with Youth Code. On first listen I weighed in too much on them being a carbon copy of Skinny Puppy. What I later realized was that although YC are deeply-rooted in the industrial sound, theirs is more with a punk attitude. And that’s what then clicked and I got hooked.
Whirr – Around – The EP may have been short, but for the San Francisco newgaze band, this was a much noisier and heavier affair than previous outings. Their expanded sound lent to larger ambient landscapes of music that pushed Whirr into something new.
Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks – It is now clear that with each new NIN album, you don’t know what to expect. Reznor threw everyone for a loop in not only announcing the return of NIN as a touring entity but also releasing a new album. A new album that was a culmination of the typical NIN sound and style borrowing from all previous records. May as well say that Hesitation Marks is the new classic NIN sound.
Pity Sex – Feast of Love – The fuzz-pop group polished up their sound a bit on this new album. Taking their established elements of shoegaze, pop, and fuzzed-out distortion, and adding a little bit of clarity, Feast of Love was a pretty album to listen to.
Oathbreaker – Eros/Anteros – Criminally underrated album released this year on Deathwish’s roster. To call this album a monstrous beast of heaviness would be scraping the surface. A heavy metallic exploration of love and hate and life and death, this was Oathbreaker’s mot complex and involved release to date.
The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars – After announcing putting the band on hiatus, the tension between Joy Williams and John Paul White was palpable in this album. The songs are heavy on emotion and thematically give a glimpse on the internal discord that led to the split of the group. This album is the sound of hearts breaking and souls being worn down. It’s a sad affair and felt very much human and a fragility that anyone can relate to.
Now. There were plenty of reissues and represses and whatnot this year. As always.
A few were noteworthy. I will have to admit that The Postal Service – Give Up 3xLP deluxe reissue was the clear winner. From the gatefold packaging to the ‘Loser Edition’ version and additional tracks and whatnot, it killed.
Having forced its way to be noted though is the repress of Brand New‘s The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me 2xLP. Forget the fact that it was a mess from the sticker on jacket craziness to the import-only insanity, this was a hell of a reissue. Heavy-weight vinyl all around across all colors available, but also more affordable than finding an OG press copy on eBay.