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
Buy it Stream It

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
Buy It Stream It
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
Buy It Stream it
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
Buy It Stream it
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
Buy It Stream it
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
Buy It Stream it
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
Buy It Stream it
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
Buy It Stream it
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

Top 10 of ’10

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Allow me to preface this list by saying that this year has been a hella good year for new music. I have a Top 10, 5 Honorable Mentions, and a Top 5 EPs. And there was a huge amount of music I left out. Please feel free to discuss my choices and let me know if you agree, disagree, like, dislike, etc.

Top 5 EPs

#5


Lauris VidalBetter Part
P Is For Panda Records

#4


StatesLine ’em Up
Unsigned

#3


Andy ShaufWaiting For The Sun To Leave
P Is For Panda Records

#2


Brandon Clark & The American StandardHonestly
P Is For Panda Records

#1


SatelliteRing The Bells
ADM Records

Honorable Mentions (In alphabetical order)

Brett DetarBird In The Tangle
Ravensong Records

Favorite Tracks: Empty House on a Famous Hill, Road to Ruin Woman


HellogoodbyeWould It Kill You?
Rocket Science Records

Favorite Tracks: Finding Something To Do, When We First Met


Jakob DylanWomen & Country
Columbia Records

Favorite Tracks: Nothing But The Whole Wide World, Everybody’s Hurting


Jimmy Eat WorldInvented
Interscope Records

Favorite Tracks: Movielike, Coffee and Cigarettes


Sky SailingAn Airplane Carried Me To Bed
Sky Sailing/Republic Records

Favorite Tracks: Alaska, A Little Opera Goes A Long Way

And now for the Top 10.

#10


Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Mojo
Reprise Records

I’ve always had a soft spot for TP. It’s my Dad’s favorite artist, so I grew up listening to him and loving his stuff because my Dad loved it. Then as I got older and learned to appreciate music, it helped me realize why Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers are as good as they are. With Mojo, they went back to their influences and created an album that was less pop based then all of their other stuff and created a straight up blues/rock album. With catchy tunes like I Should Have Known It and Jefferson Jericho Blues, they show they still have that pop sound. However, they aren’t afraid to just hit record and jam. With 4 tunes clocking in at 4:59 or longer, The Heartbreakers show off their amazing talent and just play to their heart’s content.

#9


AnberlinDark Is The Way, Light Is A Place
Universal Records

I have been a fan of Anberlin since I bought their album Cities a few months after it released. However, I was not a big fan of New Surrender. When I heard they had a new album coming out, I was slightly anxious because I feared they would continue down the road they had gone with the last album. I’m glad they didn’t. When I listen to this album, I hear catchy tune after catchy tune. Whether it’s Closer, You Belong Here, Pray Tell or Down I just think of how well they have done with this record.

#8

Sara BareillesKaleidoscope Heart
Epic Records

My love for Sara Bareilles started this summer when I saw her play for free in downtown St. Louis. Nicole had told me she was playing, and I was slightly hesitant to go. Thankfully, we decided to go out and see her. When we saw her, she had yet to release her new album, but she played several tunes from it. Every song she played from the new album was infinitely better than any song she had ever written before. When I finally got a copy of the album several months later, I fell even more in love with her songs. Uncharted just has that piano hook and lyrical hook that takes days to get out of your head. Let The Rain is one of her few guitar based songs, and it’s my personal favorite. I love the quirky clapping pattern and the following lyric:

Wish I were pretty, wish I were brave
If I owned this city, I’d make it behave
If I were fearless, I’d speak my truth
The world would hear this
That’s what I wish I’d do

#7


Zach StroutLuggage Rack
Blackroom Records

My freshman year at Greenville College, a band called Ellery Grange was created. It was such a different band than I was used to seeing; it consisted of two acoustic guitar players, a viola player, and a drummer. I had always wanted to start a folk band with a lineup and song collection similar to theirs, so I chose instead to fall in love with their music. After just a few short months together, the group called it quits and 2 of the members left Greenville College to pursue other opportunities. However, Zach Strout continued to create music and was signed as Blackroom Records’ first artist in over 5 years. His low key, guitar strummed style of folk music instantly drew me in. I quickly grew to love the amazing harmonies in Mary Lou, the stomp-clap part in La de Dah, and the poignant lyrics of Since I’ve Been Home.

Side note: When Zach played his CD release show, I was lucky enough to meet a very attractive string bass player, and well… the rest is history.

#6


Andrew BelleThe Ladder
1L Music Inc.

Even thought I only downloaded this just a week or so ago, this album has quickly immersed itself as one of my favorites of the year. I love the way the album starts out with the track The Ladder, with the lyric “Woe is me/faithless you and selfish me/I will leave a key for you outside my doorway” and the song quickly picks up with kick drum and a haunting banjo riff. Song after song hits you hard, with poignant lyrics and music that matches the tone of the words so perfectly. My personal favorite on this album is Oh My Stars. The 2nd verse is so beautiful:

Tell me all about your foreign wars
And all about the photographs that line your drawers
‘Cause I know a lot about closing doors
But not enough about what opens up yours

#5


Tokyo Police ClubChamp
Mom & Pop Music

One afternoon I was driving home from my summer internship. I was sitting in hardcore traffic on I-64 and decided to turn on the NPR station out of St. Louis. Just as I turned it on, they had just started giving a review on the new release from Tokyo Police Club. Just a few days later, Nicole went to see Passion Pit, whose opening act was Tokyo Police Club. She told me how good they were live, and I knew it was a sign that I needed to download the album. The opening song Favorite Food immediately sets the mood for the album, with its interesting synth intro, its slow guitar riff, and its flowing lyrics. Whether it’s a synth heavy song like Bambi or a guitar driven song like Gone, their style never wavers. The lyrics and Dave Monks’ baritone voice is always the centerpiece of the song, and is surrounded by a wave of instrumentation.

#4


JónsiGo
XL Recording

It’s a little hard to pinpoint what it is about this album that makes it so good. Is it the quirky synths and orchestral-eque arrangements? Is it Jónsi’s ever-constant falsetto voice? Is it his unique accent and diction? Is it the penetrating lyrics? Yes, to all of the above. What was supposed to start out as a simple acoustic side project turned into an explosive masterpiece. Whether it’s the hyper and upbeat tune Animal Arithmetic or the slow and steady song Grow Til Tall, it’s easy to see why Jónsi’s debut album was so well received.

#3


The NationalHigh Violet
4ad Records

I did everything in my power not to like this album. I tried to convince myself that I hated Matt Berninger’s voice. I tried to convince myself that the songs were awful. But I couldn’t do it. I downloaded the album, listened to it all the way through once, and couldn’t stop thinking about how good it truly was. In a very airy, sad tone, each song cuts right through you and tells a story. In the lyrics, the songs seem so simple with often repetitive phrases, but that makes the songs so much more penetrating. My personal favorites off this record are Bloodbuzz Ohio, England, and Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.

#2


Mumford & SonsSigh No More
Glass Note Records

The first time I heard Little Lion Man this summer, I fell in love with Mumford & Sons. I loved that I heard a song filled with banjo, acoustic guitar, and rich harmonies immediately after hearing Dynamite by Taio Cruz on the same station. After I heard that song, I went home and looked up the album and listened to the whole thing. It was just a few days later I got the full album. While it was technically released in 2009 in the UK, it wasn’t released until February of 2010 in the US. My question was “How did I not hear about these guys for nearly 5 months?!” The rich harmonies, the ever present banjo, and the brutal lyrics are just a few of my favorite things about this band. It’s hard not to love a band with lyrics like this:

How can you say that your truth is better than ours?
Shoulder to shoulder, now brother, we carry no arms
The blind man sleeps in the doorway, his home
If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won

#1


MenomenaMines
Barsuk Records

I heard about Menomena this summer while spending my summer in St. Louis. The first time I listened to their album, it didn’t really click for me. I liked a few of the songs, but I wasn’t really feeling the flow of the album. And then one day it hit me.

I listened to their song Tithe. The intro, the piano riff, the guitar riff, and the first verse:

Spending the best years of a childhood horizontal on the floor
Like a bobsled minus the teamwork and the televised support

From that day on, I understood the flow of the album. Each song was so intuitive with the song before it, and each song was so unique. I had the opportunity to see them live when they came to St. Louis, and seeing them perform these intricate songs live just made the album come to life even more. The song Five Little Rooms add lots of variety to the album by putting an emphasis on the baritone saxophone played by bass player Justin Harris. Overall, this album is outstanding and definitely worth a listen.

Thanks for reading along and checking out my choices. Hope you’ve enjoyed!

-matthew
1:40 pm