Lists, lists, lists. What kind of music internet webpage would we be if we didn’t listen to albums all year long and culminate that commitment into tidy lists for you to ridicule, argue about, and ultimately disregard? We aim to please. So here’s the SGH Best Of 2013 in Rock/Pop. These releases are in no particular order, they’re simply the sounds that moved our feet. Click to leave comments below, and enjoy!
The So So Glos- Blowout: Just when I thought punk was dead? Who am I kidding…I haven’t worried about the state of punk since college. But these NY’ers do it with the sort of passion and pomp that made me fall in love with all that chaos in the first place. It’s gasoline and a match from the minute you press play. Definitely a favorite find of this year.
Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City: Little Ezra and Co. are all growns up. Our favorite vamps stopped rewinding their favorite Paul Simon tapes and swung a right hook like a real boy on their latest effort. The songs are edgy and vulnerable, proof that NYC can eat you up and spit you out. This isn’t Vampire Weekend’s masterpiece, but trust that it’s a damn fine effort.
Arctic Monkeys- AM: This band is in full gallop, and they’re pulling away from the pack. They’re not writing songs about bar brawls and bronze faced lassies anymore. Instead, they’ve made a move to incorporate certain sounds that have shaped their craft, like creepy R&B and sad British pop, which somehow all fall into place on AM. If I was ranking, this one’s gunning for the #1 spot.
Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold: All hail the glorious slacker. They live on the couch. They eat crackers and never vacuum the floor. They get in a van and tour the country on the strength of one of the smartest, quirkiest records of the year. I haven’t had this much fun being bored since I discovered Pavement and decided not to cut my hair. This is my favorite new band of the year. “Stoned and Starving” is an anthem…trust me.
Haim- Days Are Gone: Days Are Gone is so shamelessly polished I wondered if I was missing the joke. Three sisters from LA who look pretty and write delicious pop songs? Is this a Disney show? All’s forgotten once “The Wire” is ringing in your head. It will haunt you, and make you take a risk on the rest of the album, which doesn’t relent for a second.
Deer Tick- Negativity: John McCauley and the boys sobered up long enough to crack another bottle of Jack and press record for the most serious and powerful album of their career. It’s not all doom and gloom, but it’s close; proving there is more than meets the eye for this gang of Rhode Island weirdos.
Queens Of The Stone Age- Like Clockwork: Play this while you’re doing bad things in the dark of night. If that sounds vague and ominous, now you’re getting it. Josh Homme is getting more slick and sleazy as the years tick past and finally seems comfortable that his little garage band can pack arenas. It’s drop-tuned and fuzzy, distorted and odd…a fitting next chapter for the Queens.
Signals Midwest- Light On The Lake: Cleveland’s Signals Midwest seem to elevate their game with each release. Records like Light On The Lake are the reason I read, listen, and write about new music. This album is honest and fragile without lacking the edge which comes from being raised on bands like The Clash and Fugazi. Easily a top five finisher for me this year.
Arcade Fire- Reflektor: A few weeks ago I dusted off Neon Bible and The Suburbs. When I finally got around to this one I was somewhat baffled. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy joined the party and with him came the shake and shimmy of modern disco. When you toss that into a blender with the already worldly eclecticism of Arcade Fire you’re left with a nearly perfect release. I need to see this band live in 2014.
The Avett Brothers- Magpie and the Dandelion: The Avett’s made the list strictly based on circumstance. A record sometimes hits you when you need to be hit. The Avett Brothers did that for me this December. Good music can bring families together in the most organic and genuine way. “Vanity” is a song that will stay with me forever, and it just so happens the rest of this album is just as striking.
The Strokes- Comedown Machine: Total homer call on this one. The Strokes have been one of my favorite bands for a decade, and I anticipated this release for months. It didn’t disappoint, yet somehow managed to barely blow me away. There’s not a ton of new ground covered, but when it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Strokes can still whip into a frenzy, and they hate each other on par with the mighty Rolling Stones. If Julian, Nick, Fab, Nikolai, and Albert are selling…I’m in line to buy. ———
You can check out these releases streaming on YouTube, or spend a few bucks at a local record shop or on iTunes. Support the arts. If you can’t afford music then download it for free. Just be sure to hold a door for an old lady or something…pay it forward.