Best of 2013

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best of

This year’s End of the Year list will look a little different from previous lists. For 2013, I’ve asked a few folks to contribute their lists, including Billboard Magazine’s Bill Werde and music technology pundit Jason Herskowitz. Included on this list are some close friends of mine including Mike Caroleo and Andrew Bodenbach.

Bill Werde

10.
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
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9.
Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks
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8.
Kasey MusgravesSame Trailer, Different Park
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7.
DisclosureSettle
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6.
Pearl JamLightning Bolt
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5.
Ashley MonroeLike A Rose
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4.
Capital CitiesIn a Tidal Wave of Mystery
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3.
Kanye WestYeezus
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2.
Davie BowieThe Next Day
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1.
LordePure Heroine
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Jason Herskowitz
In No Particular Order

Portugal. The ManEvil Friend
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Half Moon RunDark Eyes
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HousesA Quiet Darkness
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DaughterIf You Leave
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The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
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Volcano ChoirRepave
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The Head & The HeartLet’s Be Still
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Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
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TyphoonWhite Lighter
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Lady Lamb the BeekeeperRipley Pine
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Mike Caroleo
These are in no particular order, with the exception of #1, which is listed last.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
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I didnʼt catch on to this release until later in the year, but wow, it is solid. Ezra Koenig has many interesting things to say about God and religion here, and the music does a notably fantastic job of enhancing his lyrics. Excellent release that should not be looked over.

HaimDays Are Gone
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These three sisters from California have written an album that wouldʼve made Fleetwood Mac proud. Itʼs fun, infectious, refreshing indie pop. Iʼve tried turning this album off before, but it never really works because it never stops playing in my head. Haim will definitely be one to watch develop over the next few years.

Twenty One PilotsVessel
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As someone that was so utterly blown away by the single, “Holding On To You,” I was at first extremely disappointed by the full LP. After later seeing Tyler Joseph & Josh Dun perform these songs live however, my disappointment turned to toleration, and eventually, enthusiasm. With time, Iʼve come to really, really like this album, even if that single still overshadows it.

The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
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This Brooklyn-based three-pieceʼs debut is overflowing and exploding with raw talent. Iʼm going to carry a copy with me everywhere I go in 2014, just in case someone asks me to define the term “good music.” Seriously, if you donʼt know what Iʼm talking about, you need to stop what youʼre doing and listen.

Frightened RabbitPedestrian Verse
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Iʼve been a big fan of these Scotts since The Midnight Organ Fight, and theyʼve outdone themselves with this one. Being a Christian, it hurts to listen to the strong current of anti-Christianity that runs through this album, but Scott Hutchisonʼs genuine honesty and the bandʼs musical prowess remind me I donʼt need to agree with the subject to appreciate the art.

The Wonder YearsThe Greatest Generation
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Listen, ever since I “grew up” and got married, I havenʼt paid much attention to “the scene” that The Wonder Years represent. That said, I couldnʼt ignore this album. Itʼs an emotional monster, from the first song to the finale. The finale, by the way, is one of my favorite songs of the year because….well youʼll just have to listen for yourself. (Tip: Listen to album straight through for full effect)

The Front BottomsTalon of the Hawk
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Started listening to these guys when I saw they were opening for Manchester Orchestra. You wonʼt find any grand production or fancy marketing surrounding the bandʼs two members, but you will find some unique, raw songwriting on an album that pleasantly surprised me from first listen.

LordePure Heroine
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Everyoneʼs heard her smash-hit single, “Royals.” Not as many have taken the time to listen to what is one of my favorite mainstream pop albums of the last 5 years. An album of this quality should never be written by someone so young. Itʼs not fair to everyone else.

The Get TogethersHome As In Houston
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Though theyʼve flown under the radar, The Get Togethers have gotten together 12 songs (one for each month) that really stand strong. And letʼs face it, not many girls that are in bands with their husband can come away with comparisons to Death Cab For Cutie after writing an album about the lesbian teacher-student affair they had in high school, am I right?

The 1975The 1975
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Iʼll say it: If I had to pick an album of the year, this is it. Iʼm not gonna lie to you and tell you I know what each songʼs about, or that I can even understand every word Matthew Healy sings, but wow. Every song is different from the next, while all still managing to entertain and provide a fresh combination of pop, R&B, 80ʼs rock, and nu gaze. Iʼve literally had to take this album out of my car so that I can listen to something else, but somehow it always finds its way back to my ears. Top to bottom, I absolutely love it.

Listen to Mike’s Favorite Songs of 2013 here.

Andrew Bodenbach

10.
Despicable Me 2
Because Minions.

9.
The Bling Ring
Because it’s beautifully shot (not to mention Emma Watson) and nails the moral and social depravity of this generation.

8.
The Place Beyond The Pines
Because for the first 2/3 it was what the perfect movie would look like.

7.
Frances Ha
Because it’s a great look at the anxiety of millenials and it’s very enjoyable to boot.

6.
Much Ado About Nothing
Because it’s Joss Whedon and Co. doing Shakespeare. What else do you need?

5.
The Counselor
Because it’s absurd and transcendent at once. And has the most unforgettable scene I’ve ever seen. (it’s not this one)

4.
All Is Lost
Because it’s Gravity, but on the ocean and it’s better.

3.
Gravity
Because I’m still in awe. It’s beyond comprehension. And also, Clooney’s voice.

2.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Because there is no one who is better at their craft than the Coen Brothers. And this might have been them at their best.

1.
Fast & Furious 6
Because how can it not be? But seriously, all the talk about movie in the films actually made you feel like you were a part of the family. Which makes the loss of Paul Walker feel like the loss of a real brother.

Matthew Moore
10.
The 1975The 1975
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9.
Andrew BelleBlack Bear
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8.
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Buy It Stream it

7.
Kacey MusgravesSame Trailer, Different Park
Buy It Stream it

6.
Kings of LeonMechanical Bull
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5.
Hillsong UnitedZion
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4.
The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars
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3.
The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
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2.
Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the Modern City
Buy it Stream It

1.
Little CometsLife is Elsewhere
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Album Review: Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

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Frightened RabbitPedestrian Verse
Canvasback Records/Atlantic Records
Release Date: February 5th, 2013

Recommended if you like: We Were Promised Jetpacks, Local Natives, Neutral Milk Hotel

Ten years ago, Frightened Rabbit made their entrance into the music world. Lead singer Scott Hutchison tells a story from his childhood that growing up in Scotland, he was an incredibly shy boy. His mother, perhaps in an attempt to tease him out of his shy state, referred to him as her “frightened rabbit.” Listening to the lyrics in the band’s previous two releases, you would have a hard time imagine the loud and brash singer being anything close to shy.

With the release of Midnight Organ Fight, Frightened Rabbit began to make quite a name for themselves in the indie scene, entering numerous “Top Albums of 2009” lists. Most impressively, this standout album came out just over a year after their debut release, Sing The Greys. Now on their fourth full length, and first since 2010, Frightened Rabbit comes back with a slightly new and improved sound with the same bellowing vocals and heartbroken lyrics.

The rolling piano chords and falsetto vocals of Hutchison welcome us to the album singing “I’m that dickhead in the kitchen giving wine to your best girl’s glass. I am the amateur pornographer, unpleasant publisher about hand. Not here, not here, heroic acts of man.” With lyrics as brash as these, it’s hard to imagine the shy man from which the band receives its namesake.

“Backyard Skulls” opens with a reverb-filled organ splashed with colors of quickly arpeggiating synth chords, a style previously unheard in songs. It’s certainly a welcome addition when mixed in with their signature drum-heavy, down-strumming guitar songs.

Another standout tune on the record is “Late March, Death March.” With the drums leading the march of the song, Hutchison wails about the loss of a loved one, which consequently has strengthened his disbelief in God. The combination of “Ooohs” behind the belting of the final drumbeat and the gang vocals of “March, death march” to build up the ending of the song leave you with chills.

The lead single for the album, and title of the EP prior to this release, is “State Hospital.” The slowly picked electric guitar line with atmospheric noise laid thickly behind it usher in the song while the saddening tale of the protagonist is laid out throughout the song. The song takes a strong turn of redemption at the finale, ending with a simple but powerful tagline: “All is not lost, all is not lost.

Fans of Frightened Rabbit’s previous releases will find joy in the new album, finding new things to love while still keeping the things they’ve already fallen that made them already fall in love. For new fans, this album has a similar accessibility level that Midnight Organ Fight offered the new larger fanbase.

Rating: 7.6/10

You can order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.