MT Staff Top 10 Albums of 2013
Top 10 Albums of 2013 MT staffers offer up the year’s 10 best, plus our overall pick for Album of the Year.
Published: December 30, 2013
No. 07 | Monster Magnet Last Patrol (Limited Edition) (Napalm)
I’m showing my age with all of these bands that have been around for the better part of 15 years, but MM knows how to bring spaced-out, trippy rock ’n’ roll to the masses with a thermonuclear delivery system.
No. 06 | The Ruiners Motorcycle Lazarus and the Masters of Fire and Love (New Fortune)
This record from Detroit’s own Ruiners is a bit of a departure for them, as I can best describe it as if the Cramps and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult had a sexy, magic baby. Their signature crazy is still intact, as is the unrelenting energy.
No. 05 | Rob Zombie Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor (Universal Music Enterprises)
This is what happens when you stop being a pretentious jaggoff and just sling some heavy riffs and create straight-up monster rock ’n’ roll. Grand Canyon-deep grooves mixed with his signature swagger makes for a hard-driving record I couldn’t stop listening to.
No. 04 | Against the Grain Surrounded by Snakes (Self-released)
While we’re on the subject of hard-driving rock ’n’ roll, ATG’s latest is how it’s done if you require pit-gnashing heavy rock in your life. If I raced around the D in a murdered-out ’72 Nova, this would be permanently blasting from the stereo.
No. 03 | Clutch Earth Rocker (Weathermaker Music)
If you’re into hard rock (or whatever you’d officially call Clutch’s current incarnation), then I probably don’t need to tell you about this record. Probably their best and most-accessible record to date, in my opinion. It’s simply epic.
No. 02 | Jonny Halifax & the Howling Truth The Bestial Floor (Self-released)
Loud, distorted, foot-stompin’, experimental swamp-blues. If you like your blues, noisy, weird and full of soul, then this is for you. Kind of like early Black Keys, only they’re trying to hurt your eardrums as well as please them.
No. 01 | Kreeps Spirit Clinic (Exi-Tone)
This record is dark, moody and harrowing, but amazingly warm in presentation and rich with layers of sound. Retro-tinged, surf-based rock that’s most at home six-feet-under in an old pine box.
Top 10 Songs by Jeff Milo, contributing writer
No. 10 | Shigeto “Ringleader” (Ghostly)This song’s 6-minute blender of bliss is an album onto itself, with four (or five) transitions and countless instrumental elements mashing and melding gracefully together: uncannily blending the organic and electronic, fervent rhythms under a restful ambience.
No. 09 | Zoos Of Berlin “Movie On August Ray” (Time No Place)
These art-pop revivalists close out their best collection of recordings to date with a sneaky dance-jam; the chorus marches up with cinematic bluster and the guitars crash in with an electric roar under soft, wispy harmonies – but that disco-beat and that organ’s ratatat-hook keeps things kicking along.
No. 08 | Oscillating Fan Club “Gone Are The Faces” (Bellyache Records)
OFC are hot-rod of quirky indie-rock and Brit-pop sensibilities, spanning Kinks, Zombies, Thee Oh Sees, Pretty Things, and even Os Mutantes – They finally perfected their eclectic formula on this jam, which, despites its fun, wavy chorus and decorous space-rock bridge, requires seatbelts for its riffed-out verses.
No. 07 | Eddie Logix + Mister + Benjamin Miles “In The Meantime” (self-release)
Producer Eddie Logix reworks beats from Swedish songstress Lykke Li’s while two distinctive emcees trade bars ruminating on daily disenchantments and refueling personal motivations as this wicked speeds up to a techno-tempo; an ideal way to sample three nuanced stylists in our local hip-hop scene.
No. 06 | Duende “Bleed” (Bellyache Records)
This jam is a poignant, brooding breather towards the end a record that truly journeys through a library of disparate rock energies, with the kind of guitar line that really puts the hook in you, as ambient noise musters spookily at the sides and a roughly resolute singer softly seethes through his teeth.
No. 05 | Doc Illingsworth “#ORWLT” (self-release)
“Only rappers will like this…you don’t have to be polite, just tell the truth.” Simple synth hooks and a minimalist beat – there’s not much too this blunt little jam but it’s blend of honesty and self-parody is charming. When life saps Doc’s soul, “…the only way to fight back” is passionate prose.
No. 04 | Terrible Twos “Sickness Of The Swan” (Urinal Cake)
The Twos’ quarry conveyor tumbles through various forms of rock in just two minutes, from meaty metal riffs to weirdo-new-wave space-punk and back to classic jam-kicking garage. If these gnarly mosh mavens could ever release a proper palatable single, this might be it.
No. 03 | Saturday Looks Good To Me “Everpresent New-Times Condition” (Polyvinyl)
A distorted string sonata haunts the opening before the musical equivalent of Spring’s thawing sunshine bursts through with organs, twangy guitars and a steady kicking beat; quintessential chamber-pop from Michigan’s masters of the form, waxing wistful on cycles of friendships and cycles of a touring band’s life.
No. 02 | Frontier Ruckus “Black Holes” (Quite Scientific)
A cornucopia of evocative lyrical imagery (a poetic seizure of splendors and shocks spanning key Michigan landmarks) as a wicked melodic waves its buzzy purr amid the rich cluck of a banjo; an instant indie-Americana classic.
No. 01 | Bars Of Gold “Coffee With Pele” (Bellyache Records)
No other song consistently sent tremors through my whole body causing neck-ruining head-banging, no other song demanded I listen to it all the way through every time and no other song made me scream-along to its lyrics so heartily that I’d lose my voice for the rest of the day.
Top 10 Albums by Judy Adams, contributing writer
No. 10 | Wide Hive Players Turnstyle (Wide Hive)
The house band of the Bay area’s Wide Hive label grooves to a jazz sound tinged with dub, Latin, funk, hip hop and soul, spotlighting the talents of veteran guitarist Calvin Keys.
No. 09 | RJD2 More Is than Isn’t (Electrical Connections)
Classical, dance, and soul unite in a concept album based on three melodic instrumental pieces from Ramble John "RJ" Krohn, a gifted producer, and electronic composer out with a captivating fifth album.
No. 08 | Next Collective Cover Art (Concord)
As they rework the music of D’Angelo, Pearl Jam, Meshell Ndegeocello and others, this impressive, young group, which includes stellar pianist Gerald Clayton, intertwines styles and superb musicianship for an fresh, new jazz experience.
No. 07 | Pat Metheny Tap (Nonesuch/Tzadik)
Pat Metheny creatively interprets traditional Jewish inspired music from John Zorn’s Masada Book Two. With the exception of drummer Antonio Sanchez, Metheny more than competently plays all other instruments - guitars, sitar, orchestrionics, bandoneon and more, himself.
No. 06 | Booker T. Jones Sound the Alarm (Stax)
Original “soulster” Booker T. Jones of “Green Onions” fame, writes for a new generation of soul stars, e.g. Mayer Hawthorne, Estelle and others on his retro-flavored new release.
No. 05 | Keith Jarrett No End (ECM)
Jarrett unearths previously unreleased improvised material from a 1986 home studio recording, where he plays an array of instruments including electric guitar and bass, recorder, drums and a minimum of piano.
No. 04 | Jaga Jazzist Live with the Britton Sinfonia (Ninja Tune)
This live recording knocks out super-charged arrangements that blend rock, jazz and classical elements from this 20 year old, ten-piece Norwegian fusion band that gets orchestral reinforcement from the Britton Sinfonia. No two songs are alike.
No. 03 | Herbie Hancock The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988 (Columbia)
An extravagant 34-CD assemblage traces Hancock’s music as it evolved through some of the most successful and influential years of his career. The set includes a trove of previously unreleased material that further illustrates his genius.
No. 02 | Robert Glasper Experiment Black Radio 2 (Blue Note)
Black Radio 2 fuses instrumental jazz with hip-hop and R&B to support the modern vocal treatments of Dwele, Common, Emili Sande and others on the follow up to last year’s Grammy winner Black Radio.
No. 01 | Bombino Nomad (Nonesuch)
A Tuareg guitarist from West Africa, Bombino Moctar, accompanies geopolitical messages with trance-inducing Saharan folk music and guitar-driven blues on an impactful album, produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
Top 10 Albums by Jackie Smith, intern
No. 10| Lorde Pure Heroine (Lava Records)
No. 09 | Balance and Composure The Things We Think We’re Missing (No Sleep Records)
No. 08 | Title Fight Spring Songs (SideOneDummy Records)
No. 07 | Whirr Pipe Dreams (Graveface Records)
No. 06 | Pity Sex Feast Of Love (Run For Cover Records)
No. 05 | Brave Bird Maybe You, No One Else Worth It (Count Your Lucky Stars)
No. 04 | And So I Watch You From Afar All Hail Bright Futures (Sargent House)
No. 03 | RVIVR The Beauty Between (Rumbletowne Records)
No. 02 | The Wold Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die Whenever, If Ever (Topshelf Records)
No. 01 | TTNG 18.104.22.168.0 (Sargent House)
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