Albums of the Year – My personal favourites of 2013
Before the new year really kicks off with some of the highly anticipated records of 2014 (new Mastodon album, Machine Head, new Tool album?), I wanted to spend a few minutes recapping my personal highlights of 2013. Musically it was a particular great year with lots of amazing concerts, new exciting bands and fantastic new records. There were a few albums from long-time favourites while most of them were completely new discoveries for me. This is my personal 2013 album of the year list. Here we go.
10) The Bronx – IV
I know that they have been around for a while but this is one of my new band discoveries this year. The Bronx IV was my spring/summer record of 2013 which was especially great for getting the extra bit of energy when cycling to work in the sun. Good, honest, straight forward punk rock.
9) Palms – Palms
Chino from the deftones together with the Isis crew – what not to like about this? With only six songs it almost feels like an EP but with songs like Mission Sunset going into the 10min and a total running time of 47 minutes, this is a brilliant debut album that manages to get the best of both worlds of some absolutely fantastic moments full of atmospheric post-metal combined with the typical Moreno melancholy.
8) Vista Chino – Peace
As a massive Kyuss, Brant Bjork and everything stoner fan (I saw Kyuss Lives two years ago and was completely blown away), this was probably my most anticipated album of the year. To be honest, on the first listen I was slightly disappointed about Peace but it gets better with every run through and Barcelonian was among my top 3 favourite tracks of 2013. Stoner rock at it’s best.
7) Kvelertak – Meir
More of everything on the second album from this crazy Norwegian crew which was my new band discovery of the year. It’s just amazing to see what can happen when seemingly established ingredients get mixed up in a completely fresh way. Bruane Brenn was the song of 2013 and the Electric Ballroom gig in Camden was probably my best Live experience last year. It has been a while since I was in that mosh pit. Just great fun.
6) John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
Another new discovery purchased from my favourite London record store Rough Trade in Shoreditch (where it was selected as album of the year) and turned out to be an amazing record somewhere between danceable electronica and singer/songwriter material with such beautiful song titles like GMF. Brilliant.
5) Steve Mason – Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time
A really versatile all-over-the-place record of a single artist covering so many different genres that it’s actually quite hard to describe. The most impressive thing is that despite the diversity and with 20 songs (incl. many interludes), it still feels like a cohesive record that just doesn’t get boring. Really really good stuff.
4) Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
Some things just get better with age. Next to all those new discoveries this year, some of the all time favourites still know how to deliver. I absolutely love the new NIN album. It’s the most electronic/least metal album so far and with so many good songs, Reznor shows that he still is the man. Not an all time low at all.
3) Carcass – Surgical Steel
Without a doubt this was by far the comeback and of course the best album title of the year. Of course some might ask why the world needs another Carcass album after 17 years, but that questions answers itself once you listen to Surgical Steel. As soon as I heard ‘Captive Bolt Pistol’ I couldn’t wait for the album to come out. This is the record that should have been released between Heartwork (1994) and Swansong (1996). It’s as timeless as the old stuff. Bang your head to some good old school Grindcore from 2013.
2) Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork
Just wow. To complain about this album not being heavy enough completely misses the point. Like with his buddy Trent Reznor, Josh Homme brings all the best parts of the past together on this record. QOFTSA never sounded more emotional. It’s a fantastic album from the first to the last second. I don’t know how many times I listened through ‘Like Clockwork’ in 2013 but it will be many more times in future.
1) Deafheaven – Sunbather
Tada! And the album of the year is: Sunbather. The main reason for me is that this album just surprises on so many levels. The first impression is almost unbearable to listen to. It just seems like chaos and noise. I am also not necessarily a fan of each of the many genres and styles combined here (ranging from black metal to shoegaze) but the combination really works for me. Once you really listen to Sunbather, the album starts to unfold all its beauty. This is one of those rare albums that need to grow on you. With dedicated listening something magic happens. Deafheaven was another of those bands I never heard of before. I am happy that I discovered them and added them to my library in 2013.
Well that’s it. These were my top 10 albums of 2013. Of course there were many other notable releases: New material from the Arctic Monkeys, Black Sabbath, Bring Me the Horizon, Clutch, Crossfaith, Daft Punk, Darkside, Device, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Frank Turner, God is an Astronaut, Hatebreed, How To Destroy Angels, Jon Hopkins, Korn, Kylesa, Mark Lanegan, Mastodon Live at Brixton, Moderat, Nails, Orchid, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Red Fang, Satellites, Scar the Martyr, Sepultura, Sigur Ros, Steven Wilson, Trentemoller, Volbeat and Dave Grohl’s Sound City are were all great new releases in 2013. But there have to be personal favourites and I am very pleased with my top 10 list as I will cherish these albums in the future. Let me know what yours were. I am always interested in what other people are listening to and curious about which other jewels I have missed in 2013. Now let’s see what 2014 has to offer.