Peterson’s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
As the year begins to wind down and we look ahead on the work we have for 2014, all of us at TheBlueIndian.com want to extend our sincere thanks to each of you who have supported us in what marks our fifth year as “Georgia’s Indie Music Hub.” Some of us are newer than others, and we’ve expanded to not only have a close focus on music in Georgia, but to also expose our readers across the globe to the incredible music scenes throughout the Southeast. We asked each of our staff and team of writers to compile a list of their personal favorite releases from 2013 for our year-end features. Since each of us have different preferences, we felt individual lists would be the best way to give maximum exposure to the bands we’ve grown to love. We hope you’ll take the time to listen to these artists and appreciate your feedback. Happy New Year! – TheBlueIndian.com
Peterson Worrell‘s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
13. Los Campesinos! – No Blues
Los Campesinos! have been in pretty heavy flux over the past few years as they’ve been working to define their sound. At the band’s inception, they drew heavily from pop and twee influences to craft a synth laden sound that begged to be danced to even though the lyrics had a seriously dark undertone to them. After losing a couple of members and having to abandon the dual male/female vocals that were so popular from their debut album, Los Campesinos! seem to be settling into a sound that they can call their own with No Blues. Gone are the overpowering synths (for the most part) which have been replaced with a more traditional, guitar focused indie/twee pop sound which has worked out superbly with their continued dark lyrics that focus on struggling to maintain relationships
Standout Tracks: “What Death Leaves Behind”, “Cemetery Gaits”, “Avocado, Baby”
12. Broadcaster – A Million Miles
When it came to picking out my favorite pop-punk album to go on this list, the choice definitely wasn’t an easy one. It seems that there were a slew of awesome bands that put out great albums this year, but when it came down to it, Broadcaster had to be included on my list. Filled to the brim with catchy hooks, Broadcaster’s A Million Hours is imbued with all the heir mixture of pop-punk and Americana rock may seem like an odd combination, but they pull it off with perfection.
Standout Tracks: “The Current”, “Petrified”, “Tomorrow”
11. Great Apes – Thread
If you haven’t heard of Great Apes, don’t worry, odds are you’re in the majority of people. If you’re a fan of early 90’s punk, then this band is likely up your alley and should definitely be one you check out soon. If you’re like me and feel the need to check out any band that draws a comparison to Jawbreaker, then you should pick up this album as soon as possible. On their debut album, Thread, Great Apes combine pop-punk and a bit of hardcore resulting in a sound that sounds like it’d fit comfortably in any 90’s punk playlist.
Standout Tracks: “Seventeen Years”, “The Fine Art of Holtzing”, “Thread”
10. Pity Sex – Feast of Love
With their fuzzed out brand of garage rock, Pity Sex was sure to be a break out hit since their self-titled debut album last year. Although they took a bit of time to take off, once audiences were introduced to them, it seemed like the band hit the ground running and never looked back. Their 2013 follow-up to their debut, Feast of Love, follows in much the same vein as their debut offering up more of what people want: distortion heavy rock with slightly dreamy vocals.
Standout Tracks: “Wind Up”, “Keep”, “Smoke Screen”
9. Screaming Females – Chalk Tape
While 2013 didn’t see a full length follow up to Screaming Females’ 2012 release, Ugly, the indie rock trio did release a slightly lengthy EP much to the pleasure of their fans. While the band is known for roaring vocals and ripping guitar solos of vocalist/guitarist Marissa Paternoster, Chalk Tape offers up a slightly different showcase of the band’s capabilities. Certainly, tracks like “Crushing the Kingdom” and “Poison Arrow” relate heavily to the band’s older releases, tracks such as “Sick Bed” and “Bad Men” display a slowed down and slightly subdued side of the band that isn’t often seen and is worth checking out.
Standout Tracks: “Sick Bed”, “Bad Men”, “Poison Arrow”
8. Superchunk – I Hate Music
In a year that seemed to be filled with lackluster reunions from older bands, it’s good to know that there is a shining ray of light among those dark clouds. Superchunk’s been around since the late 80’s and they’re still cranking out indie rock classics that sound as fresh and enthusiastic as the day they started. Their newest release, I Hate Music, shows that time doesn’t slow down all bands by displaying powerful guitar riffs supporting McCaughan’s signature vocals. I Hate Music is sure to draw in new fans for Superchunk as well as giving experienced fans more of what they’ve come to know and love.
Standout Tracks: “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo”, “Void”, “FOH”
7. The Bronx – Bronx (IV)
The aptly named fourth album from LA hardcore outfit The Bronx was certainly a sleeper hit on my list. I hadn’t heard much hype for the album, and admittedly, my major exposure with The Bronx prior to the album was actually with their Latin themed alter ego, Mariachi El Bronx. After listening to a few tracks off of their 2013 release, Bronx (IV), I was hooked. Favoring a somewhat cleaner, hard rock sound fused with their hardcore roots, the album is a definite pleaser.
Standout Tracks: “The Unholy Hand”, “Along for the Ride”, “Youth Wasted”
6. Places to Hide – Almost Nothing
After seeing them live back in July while opening for another band on this list, I knew that Places to hide was one of the hidden gems of Atlanta that I’d somehow missed during my time living there. Combing a melodic/pop driven alternative rock style laced with hyper emotional lyrics, Places to Hide created an album that is as infectiously fun to listen to as it is disheartening. The album teems with pessimism and a longing for days gone by that grips the listener while being cloaked by a full frontal rock assault. Almost Nothing is certainly an album that any twentysomething year old who feels out of place in their own skin and unsure about their direction in life can relate to. And honestly, who hasn’t been there at least once in their life?
Standout Tracks: “Michael Jordan”, “Michael Amenta”, “Self Preservation”
5. Night Birds – Born to Die in Suburbia
At times it seems that even the youngest of punks have become jaded about the genre’s future. Night Birds are a band determined to give the genre a much needed jab in the arm by offering up a speedy, catchy, brand of surf-punk that is as easy to dance to as it is to mosh to. After their debut album, Neon Grey, the band had a lot of expectations to live up to and their sophomore album, Born to Die in Suburbia, certainly delivers. Furious, fast, and (most importantly) fun, Night Birds conjure up a sound that both young and old punks can appreciate.
Standout Tracks: “Born to Die in Suburbia”, “Modern Morons”, “Silver Alert”
4. Lemuria – The Distance is So Big
Coming from a roots that are heavily based in indie/punk rock, Buffalo based trio Lemuria have come a long way in defining their sound over the years. Favoring a more indie-rock sound these days while still letting their punk roots shimmer through, the band’s 2013 release, The Distance is So Big, offers up yet another album filled with catchy guitar riffs, driving bass lines, furious drumming, and (most importantly to me) their signature lyrics that are filled with just as much imagery and allusion as ever.
Standout Tracks: “Brilliant Dancer”, “Scienceless”, “Bluffing Statistics”
3. Laura Stevenson – Wheel
Two years after the release of her much praised sophomore album, Sit, Resist, Laura Stevenson delivered a new album this year entitled Wheel which showed several signs of evolution. The first change listeners might notice is that Stevenson decided to drop part of her old band name, embracing the simplicity of just Laura Stevenson over her previous project title Laura Stevenson and the Cans. In addition to the cosmetic name change, Stevenson’s music has also developed quite a bit over the last two years. Combining influences from pop, indie rock, and folk as well, Stevenson and her band crafted an exception album by weaving vocal harmonies (all performed by Stevenson) on top of rich instrumentation to stellar effect.
Standout Tracks: “Triangle”, “Runner”, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”
2. The Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
New Jersey’s indie rock group, The Front Bottoms, are honestly one of the hardest working bands around currently. Formed by two childhood friends who shared a passion for sharing music, the two have incorporated a number of other musicians in order to produce a sound that is equal parts indie-rock, punk, and pop. Their 2013 release, Talon of the Hawk, is a hook filled, anthem for the youth. It’s brimming with well-crafted lyrics dealing with insecurities and self-consciousness behind a wall of crashing drums, synths, and dual acoustic and electric guitars.
Standout Tracks: “Au Revoir”, “Twin Sized Mattress”, “Funny You Should Ask”
1. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt
I’ve always been a sucker for any project put out by one of the Crutchfield sisters, from their first project The Ackleys to some of their lesser known projects like Dear Marje and Bad Banana. Following the breakup of their last joint project, the two sisters went on to form two separate projects. Allison formed the pop-punk/rock geared Swearin’, while Katie decided to craft a solo project under the moniker Waxahatchee. Her first album as Waxahatchee, American Weekend, was a lo-fi, acoustic gem that let the listener peer into some of the bleakest moments and memories of Katie’s life much in the vein of the earlier works of The Mountain Goats. For her second album, Cerulean Salt, Katie kept the dark and melancholy lyrical content of American Weekend, but this time employed the help of her sister’s band Swearin’ to craft a fuller sound that still has the same emotional bite as her debut.
Standout Tracks: “Dixie Cups and Jars”, “Brother Bryan”, “Swan Dive”
**Also be sure and check out Peterson’s Year in Review over at the Savannah blog, Hissing Lawns!