A Geek’s Guide to Music in 2013


Another year gone by too quickly. Nothing left to do but try and recount all the great music releases of 2013. We saw the return of David Bowie, (3) new Mark Kozelek records, band reunions, and high-profile hip-hop releases. We also saw people upset with Miley Cyrus quite a bit and while I don’t enjoy her music I thought that the controversies were overblown. I was really looking forward to the new Eminem record but ended up liking only a few songs. Kanye West’s new record didn’t really do anything for me and I couldn’t get into the long-awaited My Bloody Valentine. My list is lacking some of those albums that are on other sites – some of them I didn’t dig all that much and some of them I just didn’t replay very much.What can I say? I march to my own beat. On the flip side, I loved every Mark Kozelek related album, discovered a few gems, and rocked out to Black Sabbath. So here’s a look at 50 music releases from 2013 that I played over and over again. I’ll see you in about a week with the 1st article of 2014.

—-> Amy HillPlace of Mind – a folk tinged debut from this Brighton based singer / songwriter; it reminded me of early Jewel.

—-> Arctic MonkeysA.M. – it’s a long ways from “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”, the new record grooved with a sinister metallic edge. No filler on this one.

—-> Billie Joe + NorahForeverly – an unexpectedly great record that covers The Everly Brothers record Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.

—-> Black Hearted BrotherStars Are Our Home – another year, another appearance by Neil Halstead. A return to the sound of Slowdive, sort of. The best shoegazing scene related record of the year, bar none.

—-> Black ReindeerAll Is Good – Stephen Jones continues to deliver new film soundtrack type records post Babybird at a ridiculous clip. I like them all, but this one was my favorite.

—-> Black Sabbath13 – After Ronnie James Dio passed away, a reunion with Ozzy seemed like the logical next step. Fits well within the original band’s catalogue, a shame Ozzy won’t sing Dio’s Black Sabbath songs in concert. A strong follow-up to Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know.

—-> Black Swan LaneThe Last Time in Your Light – Each record from Black Swan Lane is better than the last and this is no exception.

—-> Bottomless PitShade Perennial – Life after Silkworm continues with this post punk masterpiece – their finest record yet.

—-> CultsStatic – a little less immediate than the debut, this sophomore effort delivered a girl-group vibe drenched in…static. Perfection.

—-> David BowieThe Next Day I thought this was a nice return after 10 years away; the press seemed to forget that Bowie was putting out great albums before his “Retirement” which was strange.

—-> Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ BillyWhat The Brothers Sang – Another covers record of songs by The Everly Brothers, this one came out 6 months before Norah + Billy Joe’s and features harmony vocals with the added bonus of a world-weary Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy.

—-> Dot DashHalf-Remembered Dream – A quick follow-up, this record is the finest offering from Dot Dash to date. Named after a Wire song, they do well by their mentors.

—-> EelsWonderful, Glorious – Mark Everett delivered a very strong Eels record with a mix of heartfelt pleas and outright rockers.

—-> Elvis Costello and The RootsWake Up Ghost – an unlikely collaboration that played to both artists strengths. Elvis hasn’t sounded this great in a while and The Roots musical backing adds a swing to his step.

—-> Euros ChildsSituation Comedy – Piano pop from the former singer of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

—-> Heyward HowkinsBe Frank, Furness – a quick follow-up from this Philadelphia, PA based artist, it built on the strengths of his debut to deliver another winner.

—-> Johnny MarrThe Messenger  – A bit of The Smiths, a bit of The Buzzcocks, I loved Johnny Marr’s solo record (not really his debut like the promotional materials said).

—-> Kitchens of DistinctionFollyanother reunion record, the 1st KOD release in about 19 years. Post punk masterpiece full of noise & beauty.

—-> Luscious JacksonMagic Hour – an unlikely reunion record that was catchy, memorable, and reminded listeners why they liked Luscious Jackson. It worked for me.

—-> Mark KozelekLike Rats – any covers record that features songs by Danzig, Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and Sonny & Cher will always make my lists. The Misfits cover was an unsettling acoustic masterpiece.

—-> Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LavallePerils From the Sea – Kozelek’s 2nd record of the year was a collaboration with The Album Leaf’s Jimmy Lavalle. Deeply poetic lyrics with electronic backing, it is like no other record that Mark Kozelek has been involved with.

—-> Mark Kozelek & DesertshoreS/T – Mark Kozelek‘s 3rd record of the year was a collaboration with Desertshore, who feature members of Kozelek bands Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon. Sounding like a lost Red House Painters record, this was another wonderful record. Catch your breath, the new Sun Kil Moon record is out soon.

—-> Mishkin FitzgeraldPresent Company – Mishkin steps out from her band Birdeatsbaby and delivers a Tori Amos styled gothic mini masterpiece.

—-> Motorhead Aftershock – a worthy addition to the punk-metal Gods canon

—-> Mudhoney – Vanishing Point – Mudhoney changed my life at a youthful mid 30’s age over the summer at the Sub Pop Festival. I was blown away by the noise, the musicianship, and the stage presence the band carried. Their latest record is a Garage Rock delight. What’s Grunge?

—-> Neon NeonPraxis Makes Perfect – Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip’s sophomore record was another Welsh electronic masterpiece.

—-> New OrderLost Sirens – released early in 2013, this EP was recorded several years ago. Had some classic New Order songs and marks the last appearance of Peter Hook on a NO record.

—-> Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsPush the Sky Away – Album cover of the year. The music was fantastic as well.

—-> Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks – Well that hiatus was about the same length that it used to take to deliver new NIN records. Funny guy, that Trent Reznor. Melodies, white noise, and catchy beats Oh My.

—-> Patrick DuffVisions of the Underworld – the lead singer of Britpop favorites Strangelove returns with his 3rd solo record and it is my favorite one so far. Acoustic and spiritual in nature, I hit repeat a few dozen times with this one.

—-> Paul McCartneyNEW – Macca follows up his collaborations with Nirvana and The Bloody Beetroot with an album that has inspiration from his past whilst keeping an eye on the future. New, in other words.

—-> Pet Shop BoysElectric – Cutting edge beats, witty lyrics, and a Bruce Springsteen cover. Neil & Chris deliver yet again.

—-> Secretary EP – A masterful debut, 3 perfect tracks. Indie in Seattle? Looking forward to the full length.

—-> She & HimVolume 3 – Not sure if this is a guilty pleasure, but if you separate your feelings about music from a movie / TV star you just might discover a classic 60’s influenced record.

—-> Sigur RosKveikur – a raw record from Sigur Ros, it was my favorite one from them in about 10 years.

—-> SuedeBloodsports – Everything a reunion record should be, it focused on the strengths of early to mid-period Suede and ignored the Electronica flourishes of the later period of the band’s original run. It was a pain to collect all the bonus tracks, but it was worth it.

—-> SupaJamma Hope & Pray (single) – Might be my single of the year – ominous bass and reggae styled toasting, what’s not to love?

—-> SuperchunkI Hate Music – a slightly slower, more reflective Superchunk. Growing older is a bitch.

—-> The Cornelius CraneEP – What happens when English folk merges with Americana? The Cornelius Crane.

—-> The Dead GoodThirteen Polaroids – Punk rock aggression, male & female vox – The Dead Good’s debut got multiple plays from me.

—-> The FallRe-Mit – it is such a cliché to say “always different, always the same” when talking about The Fall. It’s true though. Another strong record.

—-> The Flaming LipsThe Terror – The sound of a nervous breakdown, this record was…well…terrifying.

—-> The Ocean BlueUltramarine – the 1st full length from The Ocean Blue since 1999 and 1st release of any kind since 2004, this record played to the band’s dream pop strengths and might be one of their best albums. Another band makes Pennsylvania proud.

—-> The Phantom LightSky Lanterns EP – a debut EP out of Swansea, Wales that looks to the ocean for its inspiration. What’s that sound like? Magazine, early Genesis, with a bit of Slowdive for good measure.

—-> The WeekndKiss Land – it rips off Portishead’s “Machine Gun” on a track, but I was willing to forgive once I heard the entire record. A dark electronic soul record, this is a must have.

—-> These New PuritansFields of Reeds – hard to follow a masterpiece, but that’s no problem for These New Puritans – they’ve delivered their 2nd masterpiece in a row. Sparse compared to 2010’s militant Hidden, it allows the beauty of the songs to flourish.

—-> Various ArtistsDistant Drums (Tribute to Simon Worrall of the Paris Angels) – so much music on this tribute album and it came at an amazing price. Manchester centric, it featured a nice mix of old and new music.

—-> WeekendJinx – I already liked Weekend based on their debut record, but I think I’m falling in love with them after the release of their sophomore record. A progression in every way, this is a modern post punk masterpiece.

—-> WireChange Becomes Us – Wire Phase 3 continues with the release of this record and it’s another stunner. Remakes of tunes that date from the late 70’s / early 80’s that never saw a proper release, this is a masterpiece. Only Wire could tackle such an ambitious project and succeed so wonderfully.

—-> Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono BandTake Me To the Land of Hell – An octogenarian who puts some musicians half her age to shame, Yoko delivered another challenging and engaging record.

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