Rob Duguay - Music@990wbob.com
Woah, 2013. It was a year that will be (and should be) one of the best years ever for music in Providence and beyond. So many albums and so much quality from so many bands, it showed that independent music is again on the rise and it's here to stay. Now enter my Top 20 Albums of the year, Daft Punk didn’t make it and neither did Miley Cyrus. There are bands that most people don’t even know that made the cut, because their music completely changed the game. No crappy demos and no half-ass production, great songs that gravitated through my ears unlike anyone else. I could have made a Top 50 from the amount of awesome albums I dived into this year. Unfortunately that is not the case, Why? Because these are my Top 20 Albums of 2013, because 15 was obviously not enough.
20.) Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana (Carpark)
This extraordinary alt-noise pop act from Northampton, MA are an amazing example of the brilliance that has been going on in the western Massachusetts music scene lately. A style similar to The Pixies with tracks being silent and then unexpectedly being very loud, Speedy Ortiz put out a spectacular album this past July in Major Arcana and the consistency in each song from beginning to end shows why. Give “Tiger Tank”, “Cash Cab”, and “Pioneer Spine” and listen to get a taste of how uniquely talented this band is.
19.) Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk (Flying Buddha/Sony Music) Cool jazzy rhythms and the velvety soulful voice from Nai Palm, Melbourne future soul act Hiatus Kaiyote put out a soothingly beautiful album in Tawk Tomahawk this year. Hiatus Kaiyote’s sound captures the rhythms of Miles Davis-esque jazz and fuses it with Marvin Gaye's sexy brand of R & B along with a little bit of trip-hop. When it comes together it’s some of the best music that will put your ears and mind in a state of absolute bliss. “Nakamarra”, “The World It Softly Lulls” and “Ocelot" are my favorite tracks off of this one, a must have for any artistic enthusiast who likes to explore.
18.)J. Roddy Walston & The Business - Essential Tremors (ATO) The mid-atlantic kings of rock & roll, J. Roddy Walston & The Business took things to a whole new level with Essential Tremors in 2013. Staying true to their roots by being loud and reckless while at the same time progressing in immense fashion, there are a few ballads in the new album but it achieves the ultimate goal of blowing your eardrums to a new stratosphere. I love “Heavy Bells”, “Tear Jerk” and "Nobody Knows", “Same Days”, once you give Essential Tremors a listen I guarantee you’ll enjoy those tracks along with everything else.
15.) Dead Gaze - Brain Holiday (Palmist/FatCat) When Dead Gaze’s Brain Holiday came out this October, it blew my mind once I gave it a listen and it has become a staple in what I listen to everyday. This psychedelic weirdo fuzz pop act from Oxford, MS (yea, Mississippi) lead by Cole Furlow has a sound that will have you loving every minute once you press play. Mix the shoegazing of My Bloody Valentine, the lo-fi of Guided By Voices and the grunginess of Nirvana and what you have is groundbreaking music courtesy of Dead Gaze. “You’ll Carry On Real Nice”, “Runnin’ On The Moon”, “Rowdy Jungle” and “Yuppies Are Flowers” will wow you, listen to the whole album and there's a safe bet you’ll have a spaz attack.
14.) Arcade Fire - Reflektor (Merge) Dress codes or not, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor made the Montreal act progress from being a trendy baroque pop band with violins into an art rock act that can make you dance. According to Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, there were a lot of Haitian influences incorporated into the album after a trip to the island they took together, but I sense a lot of Roxy Music in Reflektor. Vintage style grooves and rhythms that are very similar to what Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry did in their heyday, Reflektor shows an extremely popular band willing to take a direction that gives them more musical freedom. “We Exist”, “Joan Of Arc”, “Normal Person” and “Here Comes The Night Time” express the artistry of the album, as if they were a part of a mural in a rock & roll cathedral.
13.)The Bronx - The Bronx IV (White Drugs/ATO)
The fourth self-titled album from L.A. hardcore punks The Bronx proves they can do no wrong and are willing to take chances. With a few tracks being electric versions in the style of their side project Mariachi El Bronx, it shows that this band of lunatics are not afraid to form a bridge between their two endeavors. Another album that promises to shred your ears into little itty bitty pieces, “The Unholy Hand”, “Too Many Devils”, “Style Over Everything” and “Youth Wasted” are four tracks that are a must to flow through your speakers.
12.) Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note)
A perfect union in musical harmony, when rock legend Elvis Costello got together with a fantastic hip-hop band in The Roots it was a thing of pure excellence. What came out of that wonderful collaboration was Wise Up Ghost, a jazzy r&b album that had Costello even spitting rhymes in a few songs that absolutely deserves to be on the list. Boogie down with “Walk Us Uptown”, “Refuse To Be Saved” and “Come The Meantimes”, beats galore with Costello’s trademark croon makes the album something truly special.
11.) Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave (Vagrant) When Black Joe Lewis’ Electric Slave came out this past September, it was as if a monster was unleashed on the world to wreak havoc and raise hell. He got louder, bluesier and a whole lot more fuzzy to create one of the best rock & roll albums of 2013. Still not being afraid to tell it like it is, Black Joe Lewis has the grit and guts to back it up. “Skulldiggin’”, “The Hipster”, “Mammas Queen” and “Guilty” highlight a spectacular piece of music, just make sure you put the kids to bed before cranking it up.
10.) Vudu Sister - Household Items (Columbus Recording Company) Nowadays Keith McCurdy has Vudu Sister back to their folk roots, but it was earlier this year where this beast was a raging garage rock tornado to be reckoned with. With The Low Anthem’s Ben Knox Miller on production as well as former Vudu Sister drummer Alex Garzone helping out on songwriting duties, Household Items is one of the best albums to come out of Providence this year. The Sister abides, and with “Kid Heroine”, “Got No Time”, “Sober Driver”, "Revival" and “Buffalo, NY” the album shows McCurdy’s complete musical being in the best way possible.
9.) Lucius - Wildewoman (Mom + Pop) I still find it unbelievable that I got to see Lucius twice this past summer before they put out their debut album Wildewoman this past October. The album does them justice by combining folky guitars, pop aesthetics along with Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig’s booming voices in unison, setting themselves apart from the rest. For being a debut, I’m excited to see what the future holds for this indie-pop act from Brooklyn. “Tempest”, “Go Home”, “Turn It Around” and “How Loud Your Heart Gets” are bound to impress, just another reason to get your hands on this fantastic piece of music.
8.) Tapestries (Minder) When it comes to albums that were released in Providence in 2013, not many can touch the originality and vision of Tapestries’ self-titled second album that came out this past September. It shows Mike DeCosta maturing as a songwriter along with a warm production quality that gives the ears a euphoric feeling. The album cements the band as a staple for music in The Creative Capital and they've already played the biggest shows in their career thus far. Tracks like “The Fear”, “Gardenvision Pt. 2” and “Eye Contact” exude emotion at the highest and most earnest level, a diamond in the rough that will surely be DeCosta’s magnum opus.
5.) Queens Of The Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork (Matador) Queens Of The Stone Age’s sixth album has been on a lot of people’s Best Of 2013 lists, and it’s very much deserved. Striving for progress and creativity, Josh Homme gathered an ensemble cast of musicians in Elton John, Jon Theodore (who became the permanent drummer after the recording sessions), Trent Reznor, former bassist Nick Oliveri, Dave Grohl, Mark Lanegan, Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner and many others to create an album that still kept the hard sound that we’ve all grown to love & enjoy while adding new elements to mix it up. “If I Had A Tail”, “Smooth Sailing”, “My God Is The Sun” and “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” really make ...Like Clockwork another magnificent album in the band’s extensive catalog.
4.) White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown) Austin, TX psychedelic blues rockers White Denim put out the second album on this list that was produced by a legend, which was Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy on their sixth release in Corsicana Lemonade. A huge 70’s sound that’ll remind you of bands like ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers and Thin Lizzy will put you under a spell, Corsicana Lemonade is bound to sweeten up your musical taste. Numbers like “At Night In Dreams”, “Pretty Green”, “Limited By Stature” and “Come Back” are the ideal tracks to start off with while taking a rhythmic sip of this pristine album.
3.) Deer Tick - Negativity (Partisan) One of the hardest-hitting, deep-cutting, genuinely real albums that has come out so far this decade, Deer Tick’s Negativity shows John McCauley putting out his heart on a silver platter while the rest of the fearsome foursome gets better and better effortlessly. One thing about this album that I like a lot is the versatility of each track. One track can be an old-school horn-tinged classic rock influenced anthem, another can be a pop hit that invades the radio station rotation and another is an intimate acoustic song that gives you peace of mind. “The Rock”, “Big House”, “The Dream’s In The Ditch” and “Mirror Walls” are dead on examples of how wide-ranging Negativity is, a main reason why the album is in The Top 5 of this list.
2.) The Young Leaves - Alive & Well (Baldy Longhair)
To think earlier this year this Holliston, MA sludge-punk act was a few words away from being no more and now having a kickass record out in Alive & Well speaks volumes on how resilient The Young Leaves are. Their third album that came out this past October snuck up on me as well as a lot of other people and simply blew me away. It speaks to the inner 80s/90s alternative rock junkie in all of us while staying contemporary with Christopher Chaisson’s meaningful lyrics. “Drowning Pool”, “That One Tree”, “Hammered” and “In The Morning” will make your jaw drop and have you going absolutely crazy. Simply put, it’s a musical gem that should never be overlooked.
1.) Mark Mulcahy - Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You (Mezzotint) Topping this year's list is one of the most under-appreciated songwriters in rock & roll history, and that’s Mark Mulcahy. From Miracle Legion & Polaris (the latter doing the soundtrack for the classic Nickelodeon TV show The Adventures Of Pete & Pete), Mark has been going through quite a personal solo renaissance lately. Sounding very similar to The Velvet Underground’s Loaded, Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You is an album that will stand the test of time and it should be viewed as a classic in the years to come. “I Taketh Away”, “Let The Fireflies Fly Away”, “My Rose Colored Friend” and “Where’s The Indifference Now?” are fantastic, Mark Mulcahy’s new album is a complete dynamo that is definitely worthy of being the best album of 2013.
There you go, my Top 20 Albums Of 2013. Since I started writing this piece of music journalism I’ve come to realize that my best of the year list affects people in one of two ways, they love it or they absolutely hate it while telling me how little they think I know about music. There’s no in between, but if your favorite album that came out this year didn’t make my Top 20 please sympathize with me. Like I mentioned at the beginning, 2013 was such a good year for music I could have easily made a Top 50. Making a Top 20 out of this year was extremely difficult and it even broke my heart to leave a few others out. Looking into next year, 2014 might give 2013 a run for it’s money. We can only sit back and listen to the tunes, have a happy & safe new year!!!