Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The top 5 rock albums of 2013

Rock music, contrary to popular belief, is not dead.  The world is changing and that extends to music as well.  Old rock conventions and standards that have been rehashed since the 90s will not be so interesting in this era.  Rock music--especially rock--has to change and adapt with the times. 

That is why mainstream is out, out in my opinion.  Though some mainstream acts have pushed out solid releases this year, it is the underground scene that has really stolen the show.  Our five best albums span between shoegaze (the best being considered nu-gaze), post-rock, and alternative/indie. 

Thankfully, 2013 has given us quite a few good to great albums from those subgenres.  So, without further ado, I present to you our list of the five best rock albums from 2013.

1. The Joy Formidable-Wolf's Law
This Welsh rock group has only released two full-length albums.  Their first was impressive in its own right.  With Wolf's Law, the band takes their sound to new heights and, by so doing, blow the doors off everything they have done in the past.  This is a rock album chock-full of catchy choruses and bridges tinged with deep echoes.  There is literally so much to this album that posting one track can hardly do it justice.  Check out a couple of great tracks below.

2. The History of Colour TV- Emerald Cures Chic Ills
Pure shoegaze is an art that dates back to the early 1990s.  Over time, bands have adapted that concept.  In addition to electronic and guitar loops, this German band incorporates dark, spaced-out melodies and a certain metal-like flair for noise.  This may sound like a lot to handle, but the package is masterfully put together.  This is a great album and every track has its place.  Check out the first single from Emerald Cures Chic Ills here.

3. Sigur Ros-Kveikur
Sigur Ros is one of those post rock bands that can't put out a sub-par release.  They have been doing it a long time and remain one of the best in the genre.  Kveikur represents a somewhat darker approach, which is more akin to what post-rock is believed to be: stretched out, apocalyptic song structures with dreary melodies and no vocals.  Although Sigur Ros does use vocals, the music remains very much post-rock.  This album is being hailed by many publications as one of the best albums of the year and it is no mystery why.  They are perhaps the best band in Iceland. Check out a great track below.

4. Spc-Eco-Sirens and Satellites
Nu-gaze music blended successfully with electronic sounds and crystal-clear vocals is a rare treat.  This British group puts it all together on Sirens and Satellites.  The band's signature sound of looped, reverb-laden guitars melded with electronic grooves is on full display here.  The best element may be the vocals.  Spc-Eco have certainly stepped up their game in that department.  Check out an outstanding track from their latest album here.

5. Monochromie-Enlighten Yourself While You Sleep
Ambient post-rock with crunching waves of static seem to the be the theme on French band Monochromie's new album.  This is a slight departure from their excellent debut.  Everything the debut album presented remains present on this album, while the quality is kicked up yet another notch.  This is outstanding production occasionally disguised as lo-fi buzz rock.  The most important qualifier I can mention is ambient.  Though the album is very much a post-rock release, its ambient grace elevates it above the crowd.  Check out a track below.

The list of great rock releases goes far beyond the top 5.  In no particular order, here are our 2013 honorable mentions:
Apricot Rail-Quarrels
David Bowie-The Next Day
The Cherry Wave-Blush
Edweena-Solar Days and Lunar Nights
Elara-Soundtrack for a Quiet Place
Funeral for a Friend-Conduit
Gargle & Bosques de mi Miente-Absence
Gespenst-The Bloodline
Kigo-So Lost Now, Chance, Closer (Hear My Voice), Guilt, and Some Other Place
Russian Circles-Memorial
Sleeping Bear-Sleeping Bear
Sleepstream-A Waltz with the Seventh Crane
Syahmi Rawi-Odyssey
Venera 4-Deaf Hearts
Whatfunlifewas-Stumbling Towards Purgatory

As always, thanks for listening and Enjoy!