Before, during or after looking at my lists, check out What’s Good In 2013. I listened to a ton of music this year, and that’s more or less all of what stuck. Be sure to share what you liked or anything I might’ve missed in the comments!
There were a handful of breakups that really hurt this year, but A Rocket To The Moon’s was perhaps the most bittersweet. After the long delay on this fantastic follow-up to On Your Side and a mediocre push from Fueled By Ramen, it was sad to see a band completely nailing a stylistic shift fall apart. On the upside, it freed up Nick Santino to continue along the path explored here through his solo work. This record’s probably a bit too country for most of MEB’s readers, but it’s organic, heartfelt, and enjoyable throughout, and I love it entirely. Give it a shot, you might be surprised.
I don’t care what you think about Kanye West or his music; if you consider yourself to be creative at all, you should be paying attention to almost everything he’s done and said in 2013. If you don’t think you have the time to read, watch, and listen to all of his interviews (you do – make the time), this record is a more-than-sufficient stand-in. Avoiding almost everything you might’ve expected, this is a mish-mash of beats, hooks, and raw lyrics full of unfiltered thoughts on culture, race, and Kanye West. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was near-perfect; Yeezus is perfectly creative.
For our midyear favorites post, I listed this record as my most-anticipated release due in the second half of 2013, and that anticipation was well-placed. Taking what they accomplished last year on the impressive Ground Dweller and improving in nearly every aspect, the guys in Hands Like Houses have established themselves as the most exciting group in the melodic post-hardcore game. When I don’t take a record out of my CD player for more than a month, that band has to be doing something right. This band is doing everything right.
This is probably the year’s most underrated release. There’s so much happening on Vessel, and it all works perfectly, as improbable that outcome should be. I know that “Schizoid Pop” is a made-up genre, but it fits – and I want more of it. In all honesty, this record’s probably only my number two just because I’ve been listening to it for over a year at this point. I still don’t have anything bad to say about it, and it’s still crazy that songs like “Holding On To You,” “House Of Gold,” and “The Run And Go” didn’t top charts all year. Get with the program, people. This is what you should be listening to.
I kind of resisted putting this record at the top of my list, but ranking another album here would simply be kidding myself. No other band dominated my year quite the way that The 1975 did, first with their four fantastic EPs on repeat beginning in the summer, and later with their phenomenal self-titled debut from fall forth. Although it might take some time to catch your ear, any time spent on this release pays off tenfold in brilliant lyrics, undeniable melodies, and earnest emotion that simply can’t be faked.
11. A Lot Like Birds – No Place
12. Hellogoodbye – Everything Is Debatable
13. Farewell Fighter – Challenges
14. The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
15. Tallhart – We Are The Same
16. The Summer Set – Legendary
17. I The Mighty – Satori
18. Senses Fail – Renacer
19. William Beckett – Genuine & Counterfeit
20. Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
Top 5 EPs:
1. Stages & Stereos – Small Town Favorites
2. Matthew Vincent / Alexander Correia– Split
3. Nick Santino & The Northern Wind – The Ones You Meet Along The Way
4. Sleeping At Last – Atlas: Darkness
5. You, Me, And Everyone We Know – I Wish More People Gave A Shit
Also, Paper States‘s Be Alone came out last December, so I didn’t have enough time to rank it appropriately on my 2012 lists. It’s the best thing to come out in at least the past year. You’d be foolish to not download it for free on the band’s Bandcamp page.
Top 10 Songs:
1. “Holding On To You” – Twenty One Pilots, from Vessel
2. “New Slaves” – Kanye West, from Yeezus
3. “Neptune” – Sleeping At Last, from Atlas: Space 2
4. “Chocolate” – The 1975, from The 1975
5. “Cool To Be Vain” – Stages & Stereos, from Small Town Favorites
6. “Wisteria” – Hands Like Houses, from Unimagine
7. “Myth Of Lasting Sympathy” – A Lot Like Birds, from No Place
8. “12 Through 15” – Mayday Parade, from Monsters In The Closet
9. “If I’m Gonna Fall In Love” – A Rocket To The Moon, from Wild & Free
10. “Goodbye Stranger” – Blue Of Colors, from Small Little Pieces
I listened to over 4,200 songs this year, be sure to check out my top 25 in this convenient Spotify playlist:
Best Album Art: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars
I don’t think another piece of art nailed the aesthetic of its record better this year. It’s deceptively simple, delicately dark, and executed perfectly.
Favorite Live Show: City And Colour & Lucy Rose at The National in Richmond, VA, 9/22/13
The lights went out, there were people fainting, and I heard the most beautiful live music of the year. Yeah, it was that good.
Biggest Surprise: Senses Fail – Renacer
This record marks a pretty dramatic shift in the band’s sound, coming through even heavier and making you rethink exactly what Senses Fail is. Considering how consistent the band had been over its previous three records, this was a welcome change that did not sacrifice quality.
Biggest Disappointment: Panic! At The Disco – Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!
Teasing with “This Is Gospel” and “Miss Jackson” made me anticipate a contender for my album of the year. Unfortunately, the rest of the record fell far short of the quality level set by the singles, with only a few songs coming even close to that standard. This band can do better.
Best New Discoveries:
1. The 1975
2. Twenty One Pilots
3. Front Porch Step
5. Kacey Musgraves
1. Modest Mouse
2. La Dispute
3. Pierce The Veil
6. Nick Thomas
Oh, and if you’ve ever got a full day to kill, here’s almost everything I liked this year, in one handy playlist: