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
Buy It Stream it

9.
Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks
Buy It Stream it

8.
Kasey MusgravesSame Trailer, Different Park
Buy It Stream it

7.
DisclosureSettle
Buy It Stream it

6.
Pearl JamLightning Bolt
Buy It Stream it

5.
Ashley MonroeLike A Rose
Buy It Stream it

4.
Capital CitiesIn a Tidal Wave of Mystery
Buy It Stream it

3.
Kanye WestYeezus
Buy It Stream it

2.
Davie BowieThe Next Day
Buy It Stream it

1.
LordePure Heroine
Buy It Stream it

Jason Herskowitz
In No Particular Order

Portugal. The ManEvil Friend
Buy It Stream It

Half Moon RunDark Eyes
Buy It Stream It

HousesA Quiet Darkness
Buy it Stream It

DaughterIf You Leave
Buy it Stream It

The NationalTrouble Will Find Me
Buy it Stream It

Volcano ChoirRepave
Buy it Stream It

The Head & The HeartLet’s Be Still
Buy it Stream It

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
Buy it Stream It

TyphoonWhite Lighter
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Lady Lamb the BeekeeperRipley Pine
Buy it Stream It

Mike Caroleo
These are in no particular order, with the exception of #1, which is listed last.

Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City
Buy it Stream It
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
Buy It Stream it

9.
Andrew BelleBlack Bear
Buy It Stream It

8.
Tegan and SaraHeartthrob
Buy It Stream it

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

6.
Kings of LeonMechanical Bull
Buy It Stream It

5.
Hillsong UnitedZion
Buy It Stream It

4.
The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars
Buy It Stream It

3.
The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
Buy It Stream it

2.
Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the Modern City
Buy it Stream It

1.
Little CometsLife is Elsewhere
Buy It Stream It

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Album Review: The Lone Bellow – The Lone Bellow

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The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow
Descendant Records
Release Date – January 22, 2012

Recommended if you like: The Civil Wars, The Lumineers, Dawes

Some of you may have heard from prior sources like Billboard and NPR, but The Lone Bellow has the potential to be the next breakout artist in 2013. What you may not heard about is the catastrophic road that lead to lead singer Zach Williams’ singing career. Several years ago, Williams’ wife was in a near-fatal horse riding accident which left her a quadriplegic. In a desperate attempt to cope with the situation, Williams began writing entries in his journal. After sharing his entries with some friends, they encouraged him to put music to these poignant entries and sing them at a local open mic. Shortly thereafter, his wife miraculously recovered and they decided to move New York City so he could try his hand at music. Now joined by mandolin player Kanene Pipkin and guitarist Brian Elmquist, The Lone Bellow are on their way to becoming the new indie darlings of the music world. With the help of legendary producer Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Jon Foreman), this is definitely an album that will be on countless “Top Albums of 2013” lists.

From the opening notes of “Green Eyes And A Heart Of Gold,” the three part harmonies hit you in a way most modern music cannot. When the first verse arrives, Williams’ voice breaks into the forefront and belts out the lyrics behind a bed of lap steel guitar, rolling bass notes, and the drum kit pounding like a roaring train. “Two Sides Of Lonely” is a heart wrenching song about betrayal and tragedy. The ebb and flow of the song makes the song so much more powerful, with the soft intro, the heavy middle, and the soft outro.

The first single from the album, “You Never Need Nobody,” is a great selection and arguably the most accessible song on the debut. A song about love and rejection, the chorus sings out “You never need nobody, you never been alone. And I try to get your affection, and all I ever do is wrong.” The song certainly reminds you of the country your grandparents listened to, with a modern spin put on it. The final chorus with the banjo, piano, and guitar ringing out chords while the trio cries out in perfect harmony with a sound that is sure to give you chills. The rest of the album is filled with one tremendous song after another, ranging from the next great country hit “You Don’t Love Me Like You Used To,” to the incredibly catchy “Bleeding Out,” to the rock and roll tune “The One You Should’ve Let Go.”

The story of The Lone Bellow is one that every aspiring independent artists is dying to have written about them, and it’s wonderful to see another great band seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We can only hope that many other great artists like The Lone Bellow will have their day in 2013.

Rating: 9.0/10

You can listen to the entire album streaming on NPR’s website and you can pre-order the album on Amazon and iTunes. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.