It’s that wonderful time of year, where every blog on the internet tries to out hipster the others by sharing their uber-subjective end-of-the-year lists that are much more reactionary and attention seeking than they are honest. Well, we’re throwing our hat in the ring by slamming together the ideas of Kiel and Kyle to hash out what the best sounds of 2013 were.
There was fighting, clawing, hair pulling and mean words said aloud. They then had a good laugh and decided it wasn’t all that big of a deal and threw together their own extremely subjective list. Make no mistake – these albums are all fantastic and worthy of praise, but their ranking is up for debate.
We hope you enjoy our list and then chime in with your own lists and albums that impacted you in 2013. Enjoy!
Burials is a brooding beast of an album that just didn’t get the recognition it deserved. AFI are known to reinvent their sound with each consecutive album, but Burials is the result of combining the lessons of the last decade into one distinct sound. The guitar licks (“The Conductor”, “Greater Than 84”) are the things that most bands hope to one day write and manages to blend the goth-punk of Sing The Sorrow into the expert pop of Crash Love in a sinister romance that only AFI are capable of crafting. Burials is a testament to not only how relevant AFI are to the scene as it stands, but why bands should strive to push themselves with each release. – Kyle Schultz
Bring Me the Horizon – Sempiternal
Who would have thought just a few years ago that Bring Me the Horizon would transform from a generic scene band and an example of what was wrong with the metalcore genre into a band breaking new post-hardcore ground? That’s indeed what has happened with the release of Sempiternal. Like them or not, Bring Me the Horizon is worthy of your attention and has stepped up their game in every way imaginable. Sempiternal picks up where Underoath left off with Disambiguation and forges ahead with ferocity. These sounds are anything but cookie cutter – lead vocalist Oli Sykes sounds like a man on the brink as his voice croons, cries, cracks and shouts. Nearly gone are the boring breakdowns and in their place lie much more thoughtful parts, creating a heavy soundscape without as much of the “chugga-chugga” tuning to deter your attention. Let’s hope that this is just the beginning of a new era for the band. – Kiel Hauck
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
While Camp was surely a fine debut effort, it lacked in cohesiveness and purpose. How seriously are we supposed to take Donald Glover? The answer is clear with Because the Internet – very seriously. This new album is an absolute force, shifting gears relentlessly as Glover taps into a multitude of styles and deliveries, each custom fitted to the topic at hand. Where Camp excelled in its immaturity, Because the Internet grows in all of the right places and shows an incredible amount of growth for Glover as a songwriter. Childish Gambino has surprised us all and dropped one of the most unexpectedly great hip hop albums of the year. – KH
Saves The Day’s self-titled album is an instant classic to any fan of STD. After the incredibly dark and dreary Sound The Alarm trilogy, Saves The Day is not only refreshingly warm and poppy, but throws several nods to the style of music from Stay What You Are. Although Saves The Day have always been known for darker lyrics, the warmth of these lyrics play as a counter balance to most everything the band has put out while retaining the charm that has earned the band praise for over a decade. With some of the best songs written since the band’s inception (I’m looking at you, “In the In Between”), Saves The Day not only partially reinvents the band in the most positive light they’ve ever been in, but proves that there’s just nothing quite as amazing as a new release from one of the classic bands in the scene. – KS
Is Survived By essentially encompasses everything that we all knew Touché Amoré was capable of. The spacey, off-kilter post-hardcore sound, accompanied by the desperate vocals of Jeremy Bolm create the most unique and genuine sound the scene has heard since mewithoutYou. The band’s previous album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me hinted at what was to come, but Is Survived By is much more patient in its movements and builds as a crescendo. There’s breathing room within these 12 frantic tracks, giving the listener time to digest what Bolm is saying, even if the reaction is a painful one. Touché Amoré has truly made their mark on the post-hardcore scene. – KH
Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
Save Rock and Roll is perhaps the biggest surprise of 2013. One of the year’s biggest singles, “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” was released on the day the album was announced – not to mention that the band announced that they were back together on the same day. This record sees Fall Out Boy reinvent their sound to be poppier than ever and nixes the pop punk sound the band has been known for almost entirely. Despite this, the group sound like they’re not only having fun together again, but it launched their careers to heights that they’d never known before. This is hands-down one of the most beautifully crafted records of the year, and a highlight for a band known for putting out near perfect records. Save Rock and Roll is Fall Out Boy at the top of their game with an album that sounds like every song should be a lead single. – KS
CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
The great thing about Scottish synthpop newcomers CHVRCHES, is how much fun they’re having. Sure, they’ve managed to flip pop music on its head with their fresh debut album The Bones of What You Believe, but they’ve done it with wit and intelligence all while having a good time. Their debut is full of bounce and meaning, thanks in part to lead singer Lauren Mayberry, whose innocent and darling delivery is marked by words of anger, hope and wonder. Whether it’s the dance-worthy pop tracks like “The Mother We Share” and “Gun” or the more dreamy “Night Sky”, The Bones of What You Believe delivers on every front and is a sure sign of great things to come. – KH
After the loss of founding members Josh and Zac Farro in 2010, there may have been some suspicion of the remaining members’ ability to not only move forward, but to deliver another classic album. Not only did Paramore return to the scene in 2013, they unleashed the best album the band has created thus far. Their self-titled release departs from the innocent pop-punk of past endeavors and delves into new territory, combining a plethora of sounds and genres into a project that flows effortlessly. Whether it’s the stripped down interludes, the powerful ballad “Ain’t it Fun” or the frenzied pop sound of “Still Into You”, Paramore has shown themselves to be far more than a one trick pony. Hayley Williams sounds better than ever, officially transforming from pop star to near-diva status with her powerful vocal work. – KH
The Wonder Years – The Greatest Generation
The Greatest Generation is arguably one of the most in depth and telling albums released in decades. The record is filled with songs with the right hooks and lyrics to stay with you for years to come, the way that any legendary pop punk song of yesteryear will. The Greatest Generation is a battle cry against using excuses to not succeed and a call to believe and trust in yourself, no matter what. Like any Wonder Years record, this is heavy, loud music with a drive, a story and an anthem that spans three records, only to tie everything together in one of the best closing songs of all time. The Greatest Generation will be remembered for years as one of the pinnacle moments for the genre as a whole. – KS
letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful
The Blackest Beautiful is the album that post hardcore – hell, rock and roll needed. From “Banshee (Ghost Fame)” to “27 Club”, the album never relents, never compromises its purpose. Not only is The Blackest Beautiful an ambitious sonic endeavor, with all of its twists and turns, unique guitar riffs and the most controlled form of chaos you can imagine, but it has a point. Whether Jason Aalon Butler is taking on topics like race, faith or the American healthcare system, the album itself is a document dedicated to bringing issues to light while taking a moment to reflect on our own self-worth and purpose. It’s furious, it’s fragile, it’s focal and it’s just the wake-up call that rock music needed. – KH
Haim – Days are Gone
Eisley – Currents
Hands Like Houses – Unimagine
Blessthefall – Hollow Bodies
Deafheaven – Sunbather
Kiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.