10. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
9. I The Mighty – Satori
8. HRVRD – From The Bird’s Cage
7. Touché Amoré – …Is Survived By
6. Balance And Composure – The Things We Think We’re Missing
Casey Crescenzo did the unthinkable: he took the art of the concept record, which was crucial to The Dear Hunter’s beginning, and put it aside for straightforward songwriting…and it worked. Having put his core story aside, Crescenzo ventured into his 36-song thematic opus The Color Spectrum back in 2011 (my AOTY of ’11), something fans were skeptical about until they actually heard it. Jumping to 2013, some of Crescenzo’s most superior musicianship has shone through on Migrant and, while we patiently twiddle our thumbs for Act IV, it’s good enough to hold us over for the time being.
The Future Is Cancelled caught me by surprise. That’s a surprise in itself because I absolutely loved Captain We’re Sinking’s previous EP It’s A Trap! so much. The band decided to take a different approach with their full-length, trading out the grisly shouts for the soaring punk vocals they really needed. Upon first hearing lead single “Montreal”, I knew I was in for a great record and it really lived up to its potential. Being a sucker for lyrical themes (“Things just have to change/My brother, are you okay?”) really helped me fall in love with this record so easily and I’m more than okay with that.
I gave A Lot Like Birds vast amounts of praise in my review of their third full-length No Place and they have very much earned it. They have evolved their talents in a way that I never thought they even could, after falling in love with their previous record Conversation Piece. Cory Lockwood’s poetic lyrics have actually turned into spoken word poetry, Kurt Travis’ vocals have reached a career high, guitarists Mikey Franzino and Ben Wiacek have expanded their craft beautifully, and bassist Michael Littlefield and drummer Joe Arrington have solidified a superb underlying tone throughout. As said in my review of their single “Kuroi Ledge”, this is an example of teamwork within a band at its finest, but after having the album mull around in my noggin, it’s also a prime example of a band’s evolution. This is career-defining-worthy, now people just have to listen up.
2013 was a heavy hitting year for emo bands, but while everyone was focused on releases from Topshelf and No Sleep Records (don’t worry, I was too), I was exposed to some lesser known labels and the bands therein, thanks to friends in the local scene. This year, I found out about a little band called Tiny Moving Parts, based out of Minnesota. They signed to the killer Kind Of Like Records, released an amazing debut album, and toured for a combined total of 132 days…all just this past year. The aforementioned record, titled This Couch Is Long And Full of Friendship, contains some of the greatest guitar work I’ve heard in recent memory. The band has effectively mixed the “mathy” tendencies of TTNG with the post-rock delivery of La Dispute while clutching to screamo vocals, thus creating a ridiculously catchy and impressive piece of art. Whenever I attempt to push this band onto people, I let them know a simple fact: that I literally play this album, in full, at least once a day. It’s that good.
My torrid love affair with The Front Bottoms began in April of 2012, when I first heard the insanely catchy single “Maps”, off their “debut self-titled record.” I use the term loosely because the record is simply a combination of two EPs, one known by older fans and one that was previously shelved. Fast forward to this year and The Front Bottoms have released an appropriately fashioned full-length record, and boy is it divine. Every single song is considered, to me, a high point in the band’s career. There’s just something special surrounding each of the twelve tracks on Talon Of The Hawk. “Au Revoir (Adios)” has the perfect amount of humor and sincerity in its below-two minute lifespan, “Santa Monica” is the band’s ode to simply being emo, and “Lone Star” effectively makes you smile until you realize you really shouldn’t (that darn happy tune tricks ya!). The album’s highlight comes in the form of lead single “Twin Size Mattress”, my song of the year. Everything about the track solidifies what The Front Bottoms are all about: superb acoustic tone, excellent lyrics, and ambient naivety, with the bonus of a killer last minute. The song was the perfect setup for my favorite record of the year, one that nobody should sleep on.
11. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
12. Paramore – Paramore
13. A Great Big Pile Of Leaves – You’re Always On My Mind
14. Saves The Day – Saves The Day
15. The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
16. Pity Sex – Feast Of Love
17. Deafheaven – Sunbather
18. The Venetia Fair – Every Sick, Disgusting Thought We’ve Got In Our Brain
19. Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
20. Stolas – Living Creatures
Top 5 EPs/Splits:
Top 10 Songs:
1. “Twin Size Mattress” – The Front Bottoms
2. “The Love” – The Dear Hunter
3. “Hiding” – Pianos Become The Teeth
4. “Reflection” – Balance And Composure
5. “Entertainment” – Phoenix
6. “Two Of A Crime” – Perma
7. “Car Radio” – Twenty One Pilots
8. “Borderlines And Aliens” – Grouplove
9. “Kuroi Ledge” – A Lot Like Birds
10. “The Church Of The Technochrist” – Closure In Moscow
Best Album Art: A Lot Like Birds – No Place
1. Fall Out Boy @ The Studio at Webster Hall
2. The Chariot, Glass Cloud, Birds In Row, To The Wind, Rebuker @ The Trocadero
3. The Front Bottoms, Hop Along, Roz & The Rice Cakes, Steady Hands @ Flux (Drexel U)
Best Comeback: The Fratellis
Biggest Disappointment: Transit – Young New England
Biggest Surprise: Paramore – Paramore
1. Closure In Moscow
2. Brand New
3. Against Me!
4. Motion City Soundtrack
5. You Blew It!