Fester’s Lucky 13: 2013 Year-End Summary

Fast 'n' Bulbous Best of 2013 (Derek Riggs)

Top 100 Albums of 2013 | 2013 Breakdown: Genre Lists | Shows, Videos | Movies, Television, Books, Comics, Beer

Fester’s Favorite Things

Aged bourbon on rocks and blood thickened warm Glog
Oysters on crackers and cheese stinking of bog
Spine crushing Black Sludge and green alien beings
These are a few of my favorite things

Iggy’s leather skin and Norse men’s silky hair
Ozzy’s blackened soul and Doom filled with despair
Barrel aged stouts and the devil’s black wings
These are a few of my favorite things

Lemmy’s hairy warts and trolls under mountains
Toxic Yeti farts and porter filled fountains
Headhunting Savages with feasts fit for kings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the Gods smite
When Kanye sings
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

2013 has been disorientating. I spent much of my time enjoying my favorite genres of heavy stoner/doom/psych rock and metal and post-punk, and going to rock and metal shows in small clubs. So far so good. I was also inundated with tabloidesque music news via websites, blogs, magazines, social media and FUSE News about the latest attention-getting antics of Miley, Kanye, Gaga, Kanye, Ferreira, Kanye, etc. It’s entertaining, but also a sign that the corporate media/PR machines are better than ever at focusing attention on a small handful of artist brands at the expense of more varied, in depth coverage. It’s cynical and not a little soulless, but it enables the majors to keep making money. It’s better than the decade-plus of whining they’ve subjected us to about how they can no longer afford ridiculous expense accounts. In the meantime, we can choose not to be spoonfed our culture like babies and make our own choices. The world is our oyster, and nearly every note ever recorded is practically at our fingertips.

Once again I have failed to reign in the volume of albums I tackled, as my full list will again exceed 650 713 albums. Someday I’m sure I’ll scale back. Probably when the overpopulation problem has reached critical mass and the planet’s natural antiviral mechanisms have fully kicked in to rid itself of its parasites (that’s us) and we’re struggling just to survive. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the excessive amount of music as long as it remains available. Is that a little dark? Apologies, I spent the entire summer listening entirely to doom.

Comebacks of the Year

Schoenhofen Pyramid MausoleumOldies stations are playing 90s music, and when I listen to music I grew up with from the 70s, I try not to think about the fact that it’s just like my grandparents listening to swing jazz from the 30s when I was a kid. The 70s were also the last time Black Sabbath released an album with Ozzy Osbourne, until this year when they released 13 and it triumphantly debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. I’d love to say it boosted the popularity of doom, but probably at least 80% of the people who bought the album aren’t even aware that it’s an actual genre. It hasn’t done all that well in year-end lists either. Despite the band proving their continued greatness through a triumphant tour of sold-out shows, there is a gap between fans and critics. Critics, even those who are metal fans, can be real nitpicking motherfuckers, and there was a lot of bitching about the album. They all can suck it. 13 is flawed, but still great, making my top 40.

Long after everyone had given up on them, My Bloody Valentine quietly released m b v. One day they were a hazy memory, the next they had an album available for immediate download. It was so jarring that it took me months just to get used to the idea that the album existed at all. It was like listening to a ghost of the band, even more amorphous than before, difficult to get into, but ultimately rewarding, if not perhaps with the same impact as their classics. That’s a tall order for anyone. Original NWOBHM band Satan may be only known to diehard fans of the genre, especially for Court In The Act (1983). Life Sentence might actually be better! Also making a big impact in metal polls are Canadian death prog pioneers Gorguts with their first album in years, and Britain’s Carcass, also pioneers of both death metal and grindcore.

Debuts of the year

England’s Savages of course. With an enticing single and a few live cuts floating about last year, their debut album Silence Yourself was greatly anticipated and did not disappoint. Sealing the deal were their refreshingly intense, powerful live performances. Goatess, Vista Chino, Beastmilk, PINS, Purson and Anciients all made my top 20, so a strong year for debuts.

Overrated of the Year

Kanye West has always teetered on the line between great and ridiculous. From his many well publicized outbursts, he either suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, or he’s just faking it for the exposure.  Setting his mental health and/or coldly calculating business acumen aside, he’s made some pretty great music. But lately, he’s been inconsistent, and even the singles that critics claim are so great from Yeezus are pretty insufferable. “Bound 2″ has the honor of both being hard to watch and listen to,  and I much prefer the parody featuring Seth Rogan’s back hair. I found it literally torture to try to sit through the entire album, yet there it sits like a dumbass dinosaur atop many a critic’s poll. To hell with Kanye and those fooling themselves into thinking everything he shits is gold.

There’s plenty of other candidates, much worse albums than Yeezus, (*COUGHBangerzArtPopPRISM*) but they were not overhyped as being so much better than they are.

Disappointment of the Year

stooges-Sophie-HowarthConsidering The Stooges’ Fun House is my favorite rock album of all time, it’s hard not to have high expectations for them, even after the mostly terrible The Weirdness (2007). After reuniting with James Williamson and a brilliant tour focusing on Raw Power, it seemed there was some serious unfinished business left to do, especially since Iggy and Williamson had recorded well over an album’s worth of songs that can be heard on various bootleg demos and one EP. I didn’t have any illusions that they have another classic in them, but on the other hand, Iggy Pop has a lot of great songs scattered throughout his solo career. Best case scenario they’d do what Black Sabbath did and re-imagine what they might have sounded like circa 1975-76 without the distractions of drug addiction. Instead, we got Ready To Die, which wasn’t even as good as a below average Iggy solo album like Skull Ring (2003). I tried really hard to get into it. “Burn” is a pretty great start, and “Sex And Money” and “Job” are decent, but it’s all downhill from there, reaching a nadir with “DD’s.” Seriously Ig? Yes we know you luv dem big boobies, but it’s so beneath you. However, since they performed “The Passenger” at Riot Fest last year, all is just about forgiven.

Runner-up, David Bowie. While Bowie seemed gracefully retired, he’s often been seen lurking about shows around New York City. It’s no surprise he’d eventually get the itch to record again, but I was doubtful that he has anything that could possibly add to his basically perfect run up to 1980. Sure, he can easily better albums he did after, but what’s the point? It took me months to work up the desire to hear The Next Day, and once I did it was more of a chore than I feared. And yet it got consistently rave reviews. What are people thinking? Is there an alternate version where he’s vividly exciting that I didn’t get to hear? There were plenty of other overrated albums by bands like The Arcade Fire and Deafheaven, but since I like some aspects of them, I won’t pick on ‘em.

Underrated

99% of what I like could qualify as underrated, but I have realistic expectations of the commercial appeal of most of it. However, there’s a bunch of high profile artists that made very good albums, but were mostly ignored simply because they are not currently in fashion, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Tricky, Primal Scream, and The Strokes.

Fester’s Lucky 13 – The Best Albums of 2013

01. Spirits Of The Dead – Rumours Of A Presence (The End)Spirits Of The Dead - Rumours Of A Presence, #1 Album of Fester's Lucky 13 of 2013

Ever encounter a band that you just fall instantly in love with beyond all reason? I’m not saying you’re dead inside if you haven’t, but it’s an experience I recommend. I’m not saying Norwegian psych-prog band Spirits Of The Dead is going to do it for you. It can be a pretty unique personal process that establishes chemistry with a band that involve  a certain combination of tastes, history and timing. After digging deep into fairly obscure psych-prog and proto-metal from 1968-72 lately, I’d been hoping to find a band that combines those influences with more recent sounds of stoner-doom.
Spirits Of The Dead - Rumours Of A Presence (The End)While I wouldn’t expect this to dominate everyone’s year-end lists, it is disappointing that the album didn’t catch on at all. Despite signing to American The End records, they simply did not get heard by many people. I’m pretty certain a majority of those who both liked and were disappointed by Queens Of The Stone Age’s …Like Clockwork would give the nod to Rumours Of A Presence as the better album.  They don’t define any sort of zeitgeist for 2013 or represent any oppressed or displaced populations other than Norse deities and dead spirits. They just made the album that I enjoyed listening to most in 2013. | Review

Savages - Silence Yourself (Matador)

02. Savages – Silence Yourself (Matador)
I’m no prude, but the extent that the likes of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga are willing to get bare-assed not just on videos but utterly saturating cyberspace with photos reeks more of corporate-fueled focus group research rather than artistic expression. It’s 2013 yet somehow it’s refreshing to have artists like Savages who are simply too proud to put up with that bullshit. And yes, it’s called feminism, and it’s not a dirty word. It’s also nice to have a reminder that possibilities of post-punk have not been exhausted. While their sound obviously has precedents, they are not indebted to any one influence, and have their own singular, vividly intense style that can blow your face off live. | Review

White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown)03. White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown)
Through the years their chaotic, diverse albums might sound deceptively like sloppy, psychedelic garage punk. But they’re a actually virtuosically precise unit creating controlled chaos. Behind the psych haze pumps a superpowered prog heart. On their latest, smoothest album, they change up their styles to fit each song, and pull it off flawlessly while developing into one of the best live touring units in the world.  | Review

Goatess (Svart)04. Goatess – Goatess (Svart)
I understand intellectually while not everyone who likes heavy rock and metal wouldn’t like stoner doom, but it astounds me that any fans of Hawkwind, Sleep, Kyuss and Monster Magnet would sleep on Sweden’s Goatess. On their debut, their desert-space rock is actually a notch above the songwriting found on the current albums by Vista Chino and Monster Magnet, surpassing the masters. No surprise, as Christian ‘Chritus’ Linderson has been at this just as long as the others with Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma and Lord Vicar. Now if I could just see them live. Chances are slim they’ll make it to the U.S. where the distances are long and audiences are modest, whereas in Europe they can easily draw sell-out crowds of reverent fans. | Review | Buy

At Devil Dirt - Plan B: Sin Revolución No Hay Evolución (Bilocation)05. At Devil Dirt – Plan B: Sin Revolución No Hay Evolución (Bilocation)
There is no revolution without evolution. The politicized lyrical theme of At Devil Dirt’s third album in three years doubles as their m.o. Their debut album featured thick desert rock fuzz packaged in concisely catchy packages wrapped with Néstor “Gato” Ayala’s multi-tracked harmonies. While Chapter II “Vulgo gratissimus auctor” (2012) is darker and heavier, it sounds fairly lighthearted compared to Plan B’s intensity. They unleash their anger and doom out on the 13:28 “40 Years Ago” which revisits the tumultuous history of their native Chile. They are confident enough to tackle the Beatles on “Across The Universe,” and then get down and evil with the occult horror vibe of closer “There Is Not A God Or A Devil.” Stunning. | Buy

SubRosa - More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore)06. SubRosa – More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore)
Salt Lake City’s SubRosa has fulfilled their promise on their fourth album beyond all expectations. In the beginning they were a rough sounding sludge band with PJ Harvey style vocals. By their third album No Help For The Mighty Ones (2011), they introduced violins for a sort of progressive, avant-doom. The new album finds them at a powerful peak with four of the six sprawling songs running from 11 to 14 minutes each. It’s more psychedelic and experimental, heavier and more memorable than ever. A landmark metal release that’s slowly been gathering more and more appreciation towards the end of the year. | Buy

Vista Chino - Peace (Napalm)07. Vista Chino – Peace (Napalm)
he road to this album began at Roadburn 2010, the awesome music fest in the Netherlands which featured John Garcia Sings Kyuss. From all accounts fans were thrilled to hear Kyuss songs live, often for the first time. Eventually Garcia was joined by drummer Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri, and 3/4 of the original band were touring as Kyuss Lives! Talented Belgian musician Bruno Fevery (Arsenal) took over guitar. It seemed almost too good to be true, and it was, when album plans were delayed by a lawsuit from Josh Homme and Scott Reeder over the name, and Nick getting in some trouble with the law. Despite the turmoil, they regrouped as Vista Chino and completed the album, with Oliveri participating on most of it before leaving. The results are awesome, yet for some reason reactions were mixed. The album references Kyuss’ sound but moves past it. If you want to insist on comparing Vista Chino to Kyuss, the fact is that Peace beats the hell out of half of Kyuss’ four album catalog – Wretch(1991) and …And The Circus Leaves Town (1995). Kyuss were groundbreaking, great, and imperfect, but a more fair and appropriate comparison would be with the two albums Garcia did with Unida, his strongest work after Kyuss. Peace holds up well next to Coping With The Urban Coyote (1999) and The Great Divide (2001). It wanes just slightly on the second half, but is still surprisingly strong and consistent, with first single “Dargona Dragona” offering a pile of great riffs and Garcia’s turbocharged vocals. I saw them live the other night and they were tight and loud, delivering the sandblasted tones with passion and precision. | Buy

Brimstone Coven - II (STB)08. Brimstone Coven – II (STB)
Brimstone Coven are a fairly new band to the scene, formed in Wheeling, WV in 2011. Their self-titled debut last year didn’t make a lot of waves, as some may have been tempted to write-off this dark occult rock band as second tier in a subgenre populated by higher profile releases by the likes of The Devil’s Blood, Ghost and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats. On II, they have already surpassed those bands. Obviously dedicated students of both their lyrical subjects and obscure 70s psych and proto-metal, the band displays mastery of musicianship and range on the level of Witchcraft. The arrangements, flow and mood of this album perfectly match the songwriting. Fans of the aforementioned bands and Purson and Blood Ceremony won’t be disappointed. | Buy

Motorpsycho - Still Life With Eggplant (Rune Grammafon)09. Motorpsycho – Still Life With Eggplant (Rune Grammafon)
With Heavy Metal Fruit (2010) and The Death Defying Unicorn (2012) and now this, their 18th album, Norway’s psych prog titans Motorpsycho are officially on a roll. While Still Life is more low key than their ambitiously experimental double album from last year, it’s also one of their most enjoyable. Of course, low key is subjective, given they made a video for “Ratcatcher” that’s over seventeen minutes long!

Beastmilk - Climax (Svart/Magic Bullet)10. Beastmilk – Climax (Svart)
Finnish label Svart has been putting out some pretty quality avant folk and stoner-doom-psych-occult rock. Beastmilk is their first excursion into post-punk. Inheriting the apocalyptic dread of early Killing Joke and some vocal similarities with Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and Paul Banks ofInterpol, they stay on the heavy side of The Chameleons, The Soundand Echo & The Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here. The gallows humor nestled within the morbid lyrics of “Death Reflects Us,” “Genocidal Crush,” “Nuclear Winter” and “Surf The Apocalypse” should attract fans of both doom metal and dark wave. Indifferent parties will complain of similarities to some of the above bands, while fans who have been missing this kind of sound lately will welcome this with extended fangs. | Buy

All Them Witches - Lightning At The Door (All Them Witches)11. All Them Witches – Lightning At The Door (All Them Witches)
After self-releasing their music on Bandcamp, Elektrohasch remastered and issued Our Mother Electricity last year. The Nashville, TN based band is the only American band to have made the roster of the German label run by Stefan Koglek of Colour Haze. Their style of stoner desert blues is distinctly American, and their own. There’s no direct comparisons for sound, with only vague associations with Giant Sand that probably are in my own head and not the band’s, and a touch of menacing folk-Americana of Wovenhand. Much of their sound comes down to their secret weapon, drummer Robby Staebler. His deceptively laid back, lurching rhythms allow for a lot of space in the music while enhancing it with drama such as the middle section of “Swallowed By The Sea.” This recording really captures the full range of his heavy toms and singer Michael Parks, Jr.’s bass where the first album didn’t. Imagine if John Bonham had listened to Captain Beefheart and wore an electro-shock collar that enabled him to reign in the bombast. All Them Witches is that and much more. The blues is well over a century old, and it’s still being creatively reimagined. | Buy

PINS- Girls Like Us (Bella Union)12. PINS- Girls Like Us (Bella Union)
Along with Savages‘ single and live tracks last year, I also became enamored by another all-female post-punk band called PINS, based on their very promising Luvu4lyf EP (Bella Union, 2012). This band from Lancashire, England has a couple similarities with Savages beyond gender, such as a fairly hard, menacing sound. But their influences and ultimate sound diverges with PINS unique combination of early Hole-via-New York noise of Swans and Sonic Youth, and subversion of catchy girl group pop choruses and hooks. Nothing so accessible that you’ll see it on the pop charts, but definitely a sweet topping to their serrated, noisy edge. It remains to be seen if singer/guitarist Faith Holgate can muster up similar levels of intensity as Jehnny Beth in performance, but it need not be an either/or competition. There’s plenty of room for both bands and more in this relatively barren post-punk, pre-apocalyptic landscape.

Purson - The Circle And The Blue Door (Rise Above)13. Purson – The Circle And The Blue Door (Rise Above)
Between Lee Dorrian’s background with Cathedral, his tastes in psych progand the flawless roster on his label Rise Above (Electric Wizard, Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, Ghost, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats), there was no doubt Purson were going to be something special when it was announced they signed to the label last year. With occult (through personal experiences) themes and a heavy psych/proto-metal sound enough like The Devil’s Blood and Blood Ceremony to suggest a movement, but a fully developed identity to stand on their own, they measured up to the anticipation with a cauldron of an album bubbling over with great songs.

2013-cds-1The rest of the top 20 and beyond
#s 14-20 consist of Arctic Monkeys (UK indie band with their fifth and best album of smoky late night break-up songs), The Crystal Caravan (Swedish psych-prog band is inspired by countryment Troubled Horse on their third album), Wooden Shjips (Portland via San Francisco motorik psych rockers with their fourth and most colorful album), Naam (underrated New York heavy psych are even heavier live), Weekend (gauzy New York via San Francisco post-punkers get sleeker and darker on their second album), Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats (celebrated, mysterious UK occult psych proto-metallers up the fidelity just a bit on third album, don’t quite match the Lennonesque hooks of previous album, toured with Sabbath but not in the US), Anciients (new generation prog/sludge metal inspired by Mastodon, Baroness, Opeth and  High On Fire promise great things). Click here and select 2013 for the entire list of 650+ albums. Hear many of the songs on my Spotify playlist:

2013-cds-2

  1. Arctic Monkeys – AM (Domino)
  2. The Crystal Caravan – With Them You Walk Alone (Transubstans)
  3. Wooden Shjips – Back To Land (Thrill Jockey)
  4. Naam – Vow (Tee Pee)
  5. Weekend – Jinx (Slumberland)
  6. Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats – Mind Control (Rise Above)
  7. Anciients – Heart Of Oak (Season Of Mist) | Bandcamp
  8. Avatarium – Avatarium (Nuclear Blast)
  9. Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  10. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise (I Hate Records) | Bandcamp
  11. Causa Sui – Euporie Tide (El Paraiso)
  12. Sahg – Delusions Of Grandeur (Indie)
  13. Gozu – The Fury Of A Patient Man (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  14. Twilight Of The Gods – Fire On The Mountain (Season Of Myst)
  15. Wounded Giant – Lightning Medicine (Wounded Giant) | Bandcamp
  16. John Wizards – John Wizards (Planet Mu)
  17. Shooting Guns – Brotherhood Of The Ram (Pre-Rock/Easy Rider) | Bandcamp
  18. Fuzz – Fuzz (In The Red)
  19. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture) | Bandcamp
  20. Magic Circle – Magic Circle (Magic Circle) | Buy
  21. Queens Of The Stone Age – Like Clockwork (Matador)
  22. Noctum – Final Sacrifice (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  23. Black Sabbath – 13 (Vertigo)
  24. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito (Interscope)
  25. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin (Castle Face)
  26. Epidemics – Epidemics (Transubstans)
  27. Palma Violets – 180 (Rough Trade)
  28. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino)
  29. Black Capricorn – Born Under The Capricorn (Stone Stallion Rex/Voice of Azram)
  30. Monster Magnet – Last Patrol (Napalm)
  31. Cave – Threace (Drag City)
  32. Earthless – From The Ages (Tee Pee)
  33. Horisont – Time Warriors (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  34. Argus – Beyond The Martyrs (Cruz Del Sur)
  35. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City (XL)
  36. Mammatus – Heady Mental (Spiritual Pajamas)
  37. Brutus – Behind The Mountains (Svart)
  38. Mountain Witch – Cold River (This Charming Man) | Bandcamp
  39. Aqua Nebula Oscillator – Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee)
  40. Samsara Blues Experiment – Waiting For The Flood (Electric Magic/World In Sound) |Bandcamp
  41. Seremonia – Ihminen (Svart)
  42. The Entrance Band – Face The Sun (Beyond Beyond Beyond)
  43. Dead Meadow – Warble Womb (Xemu)
  44. Obelyskkh – Hymn To Pan (Exile On Mainstream)
  45. Russian Circles – Memorial (Sargent House)
  46. Kadavar – Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast)
  47. Årabrot – Årabrot (Fysisk Format)
  48. Lumbar – The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  49. Windhand – Soma (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  50. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu (20 Buck Spin)
  51. Mansion – We Shall Live EP (Mansion) | Bandcamp
  52. Jess and the Ancient Ones – Astral Sabbat EP (Svart)
  53. Hexvessel – Iron Marsh EP (Svart)
  54. Moonbow – The End Of Time (Moonbow) | Bandcamp
  55. Seidr – Ginnungagap (Bidrune)
  56. The Flying Eyes – Lowlands (Nois-O-Lution) | Bandcamp
  57. In Solitude – Sister (Metal Blade)
  58. Jupiter & Okwess International – Hotel Univers (Out Here)
  59. Zodiac – A Hiding Place (Prosthetic)
  60. Doublestone – Wingmakers (Levitation) | Bandcamp
  61. Uzala – Tales Of Blood & Fire (King Of The Monsters) | Bandcamp
  62. Elevators To The Grateful Sky – Cloud Eye (Transubstans) | Bandcamp
  63. Gaytheist – Hold Me…But Not So Tight (Good To Die) | Bandcamp
  64. Funeral Circle – Funeral Circle (Shadow Kingdom) | Buy
  65. Weedpecker – Weedpecker (Weedpecker) | Bandcamp
  66. Melt Yourself Down – Melt Yourself Down (Leaf)
  67. Blues Pills – Devil Man EP (Nuclear Blast)
  68. Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children Of The Knight – Underground EP (Superhot) |Bandcamp
  69. Wall – Wall (This Chaming Man) | Bandcamp
  70. American Sharks – American Sharks (American Sharks) | Bandcamp
  71. Pinkish Black – Razed To The Ground (Century Media)
  72. Iron Man – South Of The Earth (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  73. Witchburn – Bathed In Blood (Witchburn) | Buy
  74. Diesto – For Water Or Blood (Eolian Empire) | Bandcamp
  75. Byzantine – Byzantine (Byzantine) | Bandcamp
  76. Nero Di Marte – Nero Di Marte (Prosthetic) | Bandcamp
  77. Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – In-Graved (Veritas) | Bandcamp
  78. Earthen Grave – Earthen Grave (Ripple Music) | Bandcamp
  79. Author & Punisher – Women & Children (Seventh Rule)
  80. Jesu – Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came ()
  81. Wardruna – Yggdrasil (Indie)
  82. Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam (Loma Vista)
  83. Kvelertak – Meir (The End)
  84. These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds (AIS)
  85. Sigur Rós – Kveikur (XL)
  86. Alice Russell – To Dust (Tru Thoughts)
  87. Polvo – Siberia (Merge)

2013 Breakdown

Stoner Rock
The Crystal Caravan - With Them You Walk Alone (2013, Transubstan)Last year was hard to beat, with landmark albums from Colour Haze, Graveyard, and Witchcraft. This year was slightly lower profile, with a more underground band, Chile’s At Devil Dirt stepping up their game even more on their third album. Then of course there’s Vista Chino. While a lawsuit caused them to change their name from Kyuss Lives!, it was a good move to focus on evolving. While it may not measure up with two of the classic Kyuss albums, it’s better than …And The Circus Leaves Town (1995), and good enough for my overall top 13. Beyond that, Swedish rockers The Crystal Caravan seemed to take inspiration from Troubled Horse on their third album and really improved their songwriting. After several exploratory, sometimes jazzy albums as The Summer and Pewt’r Sessions (2009-2011), Danish stoner-psych rockers Causa Sui returned to a more forcused set of songs, showing they’ve emerged from the shadow of Colour Haze and become a creative juggernaut in their own right. | Spotify

  1. The Crystal Caravan – With Them You Walk Alone (Transubstans)
  2. Causa Sui – Euporie Tide (El Paraiso)
  3. Wounded Giant – Lightning Medicine (Wounded Giant) | Bandcamp
  4. Shooting Guns – Brotherhood Of The Ram (Pre-Rock/Easy Rider) | Bandcamp
  5. Fuzz – Fuzz (In The Red)
  6. Mountain Witch – Cold River (This Charming Man) | Bandcamp
  7. Tombstoned – Tombstoned (Svart)
  8. Monster Magnet – Last Patrol (Napalm)
  9. Earthless – From The Ages (Tee Pee)
  10. Horisont – Time Warriors (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  11. Kadavar – Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast)
  12. Brutus – Behind The Mountains (Svart)
  13. Samsara Blues Experiment – Waiting For The Flood (Electric Magic/World In Sound) | Bandcamp
  14. Elevators To The Grateful Sky – Cloud Eye (Transubstans) | Bandcamp
  15. Weedpecker – Weedpecker (Weedpecker) | Bandcamp
  16. Trippy Wicked & The Cosmic Children Of The Knight – Underground EP (Superhot) | Bandcamp
  17. Egypt – Become The Sun (Totem Cat) | Bandcamp
  18. Sun Of Man – I (Sun Of Man) | Bandcamp
  19. Carousel – Jeweler’s Daughter (Tee Pee)
  20. Endless Boogie – Long Island (No Quarter)
  21. Sandrider – Godhead (Good To Die)
  22. Doomriders – Grand Blood (Deathwish Inc)
  23. Monkey3 – The 5th Sun (Napalm)
  24. Ziz – Ever (Ziz) | Bandcamp
  25. Monolith Cult – Run From The Light (Future Noise) | Buy
  26. Monomyth – Monomyth (Burning World) | Bandcamp
  27. Toner Low – III (Bilocation)
  28. Supervoid – Filaments (Record Union) | Bandcamp
  29. Miss Lava – Red Supergiant (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  30. Nocturnal – Nocturnal (Gaphals) | Bandcamp
  31. Borracho – Oculus (No Balls) | Bandcamp
  32. Mystery Ship – EP II (Mystery Ship) | Bandcamp
  33. Sgt. Sunshine – Sgt. Sunshine III (Elektrohasch)
  34. Sasquatch – IV (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  35. Groan – Ride The Snake EP (Superhot) | Bandcamp
  36. Valley Of The Sun – Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk (Valley Of The Sun) | Bandcamp
  37. Tumbleweed Dealer – Tumbleweed Dealer (Tumbleweed Dealer) | Bandcamp
  38. Witches Of God – The Blood Of Others (Witches Of God) | Bandcamp
  39. Bloody Hammers – Spiritual Relics (Bloody Hammers) | Bandcamp
  40. Chinaski – Resiliencia (Chinaski) | Bandcamp
  41. Vidunder – Vidunder (Crusher)
  42. Nymf – From The Dark (Transubstans)
  43. Weed Is Weed – Blunt Force Trauma (Weed Is Weed)

Doom
Avatarium - Avatarium (Nuclear Blast, 2013)Inspired by some new doom friendly headphones and Black Sabbath’s anticipated reunion album with Ozzy and its subsequent commercial success, reaching #1 in album charts on both sides of the Atlantic, 2013 became my summer of doom. I dug deep into Wino’s discography, discovered new favorite bands in Goatess, Brimstone Coven and Magic Circle, and was blown away by SubRosa’s best album so far. While Leif Edling’s claims that Swedish doom legends Candlemass released their final album last year with Psalms For The Dead may or may not stick, he no doubt sounds creatively rejuvenated with new project Avatarium, featuring great vocals from Jennie-Ann Smith, who has a background in jazz and blues, and mixing in some psych, prog, folk and proto-metal influences with the doom. Nearly as great are the long-awaited sophomore albums from Jex Thoth and Noctum and Windhand. Windhand of course have gotten by far the most attention, leaving some doom fans to wonder why other stellar albums are ignored. Black Capricorn, for example, are no chopped liver. Also on their second album, the doomsters from Sardinia, Italy have incorporated more occult and psychedelic influences to gripping effect. | Spotify

  1. Avatarium – Avatarium (Nuclear Blast)
  2. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise (I Hate Records) | Bandcamp
  3. Magic Circle – Magic Circle (Magic Circle) | Buy
  4. Noctum – Final Sacrifice (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  5. Black Sabbath – 13 (Vertigo)
  6. Black Capricorn – Born Under The Capricorn (Stone Stallion Rex/Voice of Azram)
  7. Lumbar – The First and Last Days of Unwelcome (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  8. Windhand – Soma (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  9. Seidr – Ginnungagap (Bidrune)
  10. Uzala – Tales Of Blood & Fire (King Of The Monsters) | Bandcamp
  11. Funeral Circle – Funeral Circle (Shadow Kingdom) | Buy
  12. Iron Man – South Of The Earth (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  13. Witchburn – Bathed In Blood (Witchburn) | Buy
  14. Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – In-Graved (Veritas) | Bandcamp
  15. Earthen Grave – Earthen Grave (Ripple Music) | Bandcamp
  16. Age Of Taurus – Desperate Souls Of Tortured Times (Rise Above)
  17. Blackout – We Are Here (Blackout) | Bandcamp
  18. Spiral Shades – Hypnosis Sessions (Spiral Shades) | Bandcamp
  19. Cauchemar – Tenebrario (Nuclear War Now!) | Bandcamp
  20. High Priest Of Saturn – High Priest Of Saturn (Svart) | Bandcamp
  21. Rote Mare – The Kingdom (Rote Mare) | Bandcamp
  22. Black Pyramid – Adversarial (Hydro-Phonic)
  23. In The Company Of Serpents – Of The Flock (In The Company Of Serpents) | Bandcamp
  24. Orchid – The Mouths Of Madness (Nuclear Blast)
  25. Cardinals Folly – Strange Conflicts Of The Past (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  26. Solstice – Death’s Crown Is Victory EP (Solstice) | Bandcamp
  27. Queen Elephantine – Scarab (Heart And Crossbones) | Bandcamp
  28. Cathedral – The Last Spire (Rise Above)
  29. Domovoyd – Oh, Sensibility (Domovoyd) | Bandcamp
  30. Space Witch – The Alchemy Paradox EP (Space Witch) | Bandcamp
  31. Deep – Vol. 1 (Transubstans)
  32. Mount Salem – Endless EP (Metal Blade)
  33. Church Of Void – Dead Rising (Svart)
  34. Space God Ritual – Eldritch Tales (Space God Ritual) | Bandcamp
  35. Rote Mare – The Invocation (Rote Mare) | Bandcamp
  36. Yidhra – Hexed (Yidhra) | Bandcamp
  37. Morne – Shadows (Profound Lore) | Bandcamp
  38. Northless – World Keeps Sinking (Halo Of Flies) | Bandcamp
  39. Lycus – Tempest (20 Buck Spin)
  40. Kröwnn – Hyborian Age (Kröwnn) | Bandcamp

Post-Punk/Dark Wave/Goth
Weekend - Jinx (Slumberland, 2013)While there is less quantity of post-punk albums compared to last year, the quality has blown the roof off with Savages, Beastmilk and PINS all making the top 13 overall. Not far behind are Weekend. Formed in San Francisco and since relocated to New York, they released their debut album Sports in 2010, a prickly union of post-punk and shoegaze, favoring the noisy side. Their new album Jinx is both darker and sleeker, suggesting they might have been listening to influential proto-dark wave bands like The Chameleons, Breathless, Modern Eon, and For Against. As far as I know, they may have never even heard of some of those bands, but absorbed those influences along with the usual Joy Division, The Cure and My Bloody Valentine via more contemporary bands. However they got there, Weekend stands out with a striking mix of moody atmospherics and driving tempos. The tunes don’t jump out and dance for you like Franz Ferdinand’s but reluctantly reveal their pleasures over close repeated listens. Most bands like this tend to bloom and fade quickly, like The Blue States and Sennen, perhaps because of the limited commercial appeal, despite the fact that their sounds are like crack to people like me. The KVB were a late find, though they’ve been snaking out limited tape releases since 2010. These UK bedroom recordings sound magnificent compared to anything in the genre, a mix of post-punk, dark wave and post-Jesus & Mary Chain shoegaze. Their entire catalog is recommended. Pop. 1280 are gothy and insane, making them a love/hate proposition. Sweden’s The Exploding Boy is a new discovery even though they’re on their fourth album. Their previous one, The Black Album (2011) is probably more successful, but anyone craving the sleek sounds of early Interpol or Editors may like it. | Spotify

  1. Beastmilk – Climax (Svart) | Bandcamp
  2. PINS- Girls Like Us (Bella Union)
  3. Weekend – Jinx (Slumberland)
  4. Makthaverskan – Makthaverskan II (Luxury) | Bandcamp
  5. Shopping – Consumer Complaints (Milk)
  6. Desperate Journalist – Cristina EP (Fandango) | Bandcamp
  7. Holograms – Forever (Captured Tracks)
  8. The KVB – Immaterial Visions (Cititrax) | Bandcamp
  9. INVSN – INVSN (Razor & Tie)
  10. Girls Names – The New Life (Slumberland)
  11. Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire (Slumberland)
  12. Neon Lights – LA✝E (ACNL) | Bandcamp
  13. Blanche Blanche Blanche – Breaking Mirrors (Wharf Cat)
  14. Pop. 1280 – Imps Of Perversion (Sacred Bones)
  15. Tropic Of Cancer – Restless Idylls (Blackest Ever Black)
  16. The Exploding Boy – Four (Drakkar)
  17. Black Swan Lane – The Last Time in Your Light (Eden)
  18. Flaamingos – Flaamingos (Felte) | Bandcamp
  19. Suuns – Images du futur (Secretly Canadian)
  20. Vår – No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers (Sacred Bones)
  21. Merchandise – Totale Night EP (Night People)
  22. Still Corners – Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop)
  23. Iceage – You’re Nothing (Matador)
  24. The Julie Ruin – Run Fast (Julie Ruin)
  25. Wire – Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag) | Buy
  26. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty (Sargent House)
  27. Esben And The Witch – Wash The Sins Not Only The Face (Matador)
  28. New Model Army – Between Dog & Wolf (Eagle Rock)
  29. Gauntlet Hair – Stills (Dead Oceans)
  30. Sisu – Blood Tears (Mono Prism)
  31. TV Ghost – Disconnect (In The Red)
  32. 17 Pygmies – The Book Of Isabel, Part I (Trakwerkz)The Fall – Re-Mit (Cherry Red)
  33. Ruby Pins – Ruby Pins (M’Lady’s)

Psych Rock
Wooden Shjips - Back To Land (Thrill Jockey, 2013)Ripley Johnson’s been busy. After releasing the best Moon Duo album so far last year, he moved to Portland and then recorded Wooden Shjips’ fourth and best album. After Naam’s great The Ballad Of The Starchild EP last year and Nirvana covers, their second full-length Vow delivered some great Pink Floyd influenced psych, but felt slightly short. I totally slept on Wolf People most of the year and missed their show. This British band digs deep into obscure Scandinavian psych-prog-folk, Mighty Baby, Dark, The Groundhogs and more recently Dungen. Spirits Of The Dead tread some similar waters. Indie garage psych rockers Thee Oh Sees reach new heights on their 11th or 13th album, channeling Neu!, The Fall and the Wipers. I have to say it’s a bummer to see Paz Lenchantin abandon The Entrance Band just as their put out their best album to join The Pixies, who are truly in a rut. | Spotify

  1. Hidden Masters – Of This & Other Worlds (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  2. Wolf People – Fain (Jagjaguwar)
  3. Wooden Shjips – Back To Land (Thrill Jockey)
  4. Naam – Vow (Tee Pee)
  5. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin (Castle Face)
  6. Cave – Threace (Drag City)
  7. Föllakzoid – II (Piccadilly) | Bandcamp
  8. Pinkunoizu – The Drop (Full Time Hobby)
  9. Mammatus – Heady Mental (Spiritual Pajamas)
  10. Aqua Nebula Oscillator – Spiritus Mundi (Tee Pee)
  11. The Entrance Band – Face The Sun (Beyond Beyond Beyond)
  12. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU (Suicide Squeeze)
  13. Psychic Ills – One Track Mind (Sacred Bones)
  14. Hookworms – Pearl Mystic (Redeye) | Bandcamp
  15. Eat Lights Become Lights – Modular Living (Eat Lights Become Lights) | Bandcamp
  16. Papir – Papir III (El Paraiso)
  17. Death Hawks – Death Hawks (Gaea)
  18. Dead Meadow – Warble Womb (Xemu)
  19. The Flying Eyes – Lowlands (Nois-O-Lution) | Bandcamp
  20. Rose Windows – The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop)
  21. Crumbling Ghost – II (Withered Hands)
  22. Space Debris – She’s A Temple (Breitklang)
  23. The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow (Blue Horizon)
  24. Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West (Important)
  25. Eidetic Seeing – Against Nature (Eidetic Seeing) | Bandcamp
  26. Movements – Like Elephants 1 (Cleopatra)
  27. The Asteroid No. 4 – The Asteroid No. 4 (Asteroid #4) | Bandcamp
  28. The Cult Of Dom Keller – The Cult Of Dom Keller (Mannequin/Reverberation Appreciation)
  29. The Cosmic Dead – Inner Sanctum (Evil Hoodoo) | Bandcamp
  30. The Lucid Dream – Songs Of Lies And Deceit (Holy Are You) | Bandcamp
  31. The Limiñanas – Costa Blanca (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  32. Sungod – Contakt (Holodeck) | Bandcamp
  33. EYE – Second Sight (Eye) | Bandcamp
  34. Vision Fortune – Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune (Faux Discx)
  35. Kosmischer Läufer – The Secret Cosmic Music Of The East German Olympic Program | Bandcamp
  36. Schnauser – Where Business Meets Fashion (Bitter Buttons) | Bandcamp
  37. Neils Chidren – Dimly Lit (Boudoir Moderne)
  38. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II (Jagjaguwar)
  39. Jacco Gardner – Cabinet Of Curiosities (Trouble In Mind)
  40. Luder – Adelphophoagia (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  41. Ride Into The Sun – Ride Into The Sun EP (Ride Into The Sun) | Bandcamp
  42. Buried Feather – Buried Feather (Buried Feather) | Bandcamp
  43. Ice Dragon – Born A Heavy Morning (Navalorama) | Bandcamp
  44. The Warlocks – Skull Worship (Zap Banana)
  45. Carlton Melton – Always Even (Agitated)
  46. Barn Owl – V (Thrill Jockey)
  47. Retribution Gospel Choir – 3 (Chaperone)
  48. Bardo Pond – Peace On Venus (Fire)
  49. Pond – Hobo Rocket (Modular)
  50. White Manna – Dune Worship (Holy Mountain)
  51. Huge Rat Attacks – Organic Babies (Huge Rat Attacks) | Bandcamp
  52. Mikal Cronin – MCII (Merge)
  53. TOY – Join The Dots (Heavenly)
  54. Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. – In Search of the Lost Divine Arc (Important)
  55. Destruction Unit – Death Trip (Sacred Bones)
  56. The Flaming Lips – The Terror (WB)
  57. Mars Red Sky – Be My Guide EP (Mars Red Sky)
  58. White Hills – So You Are…So You’ll Be (Thrill Jockey)
  59. The Hedgehogs – The Heights (Hedgehogs) | Bandcamp
  60. Dean Allen Foyd – Road To Atlas EP (Crusher)
  61. Mind Spiders – Inhumanistic (Dirtnap)
  62. The Bevis Frond – White Numbers (Woronzow)
  63. MGMT – MGMT (Columbia)
  64. Spaceking – In The Court Of The Spaceking (Spaceking) | Bandcamp
  65. Deerhunter – Monomania (4AD)
  66. Julian Cope – Revolutionary Suicide (Head Heritage/Redeye)

Occult Rock, Neo-Prog, Post-Metal
Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats - Mind Control (Rise Above)It’s an odd combination that may not make sense together, but the occult rockers, neo-proggers and post-metallers are like the stoners, goths and computer geeks all eating at the same high school lunch table with the common element of my own bad self who can appreciate all of them. In the overall top 13 are Norwegian psychedelic neo-proggers Motorpsycho, kicking ass with their millionth album, and the newborn Purson with a stunning debut. Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats made a valiant effort following up their much buzzed about second album, but not quite surpassing it. Blood Ceremony third album of occult flute psych/doom is definitely their best, and Finnish occult garage psych rockers Seremonia got even weirder and rawer on their second album. Russian Circles showed that the seemingly tired post-Neurosis brand of post-metal still has ideas worth pursuing, while Finnish-led occult rockers Mansion showed some immense promise that rivals Jess And The Ancient Ones, who were no slouches with their own amazing EP to follow up their debut album last year, featuring the jaw-dropping 14:47 long psych-prog opus “More Than Living.” This must be a Finnish invasion (four in the top ten), as Hexvessel also maintained high quality on their EP of occult folk and psych-prog. Pinkish Black defies all categories anymore and just has to be heard. Jesu’s post-metal shoegaze should be creatively spent and boring, but it’s just simply great. Ghost B.C. got lots of media attention, had to add to their name, and disappointed some fans by abandoning metal for sleek Blue Oyster Cult inspired hard rock. Wasting no time after dissolving The Devil’s Blood, Selim Lamouchi has a new album that continues his path of heavy occult psych and proto-metal. This is looser, less polished with longer songs. | Spotify

  1. Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats – Mind Control (Rise Above)
  2. Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
  3. Survival – Survival (Thrill Jockey)
  4. Seremonia – Ihminen (Svart)
  5. Russian Circles – Memorial (Sargent House)
  6. Mansion – We Shall Live EP (Mansion) | Bandcamp
  7. Jess and the Ancient Ones – Astral Sabbat EP (Svart)
  8. Hexvessel – Iron Marsh EP (Svart)
  9. Pinkish Black – Razed To The Ground (Century Media)
  10. Jesu – Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came (Avalanche)
  11. Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam (Loma Vista)
  12. Selim Lamouchi & His Enemies – Earth Air Spirit Water Fire (Van)
  13. Pelican – Forever Becoming (Southern Lord)
  14. Postures – Postures (Postures) | Bandcamp
  15. Pyramidal – Frozen Galaxies (Krauted Mind) | Bandcamp
  16. Palms – Palms (Ingrooves)
  17. Corrections House – Last City Zero (Neurot)
  18. Vaura – The Missing (Profound Lore)
  19. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) (Kscope)
  20. A Storm Of Light – Nations To Flames (Southern Lord)

Hard Rock, Heavy Blues, Hardcore
Gozu - The Fury Of A Patient Man (Small Stone)These sub-genres are tricky given how many bands touch on so many types. Case in point is the band behind the album of the year, Spirits Of The Dead, who mix psych, prog doom and and even some folk influences with their hard rock.   Also in the top 13 are All Them Witches, a really compelling mix of spare, heavy blues along with stoner-psych influences. Their debut was issued on Elektrohasch last year, and they seem to be waiting it out for a domestic label for their incredible second album. It was great to see Queens Of Stone Age shoot to the number one position with their latest album. There’s some strong songwriting on it, with just a couple dips in consistency. Fans frustrated that they have mostly abandoned their early fuzzy stoner sound should appreciate Gozu’s second album, which pushes all the right buttons, and has some great songs. There’s actually several several hard rock bands that sound like they should already be swanning through arenas, or in today’s adjusted economy at least headlining and packing medium size clubs. I look forward to seeing the likes of Moonbow, Zodiac and Doublestone live in 2014. | Spotify

  1. Gozu – The Fury Of A Patient Man (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  2. Queens Of The Stone Age – Like Clockwork (Matador)
  3. Årabrot – Årabrot (Fysisk Format)
  4. Moonbow – The End Of Time (Moonbow) | Bandcamp
  5. Zodiac – A Hiding Place (Prosthetic)
  6. Doublestone – Wingmakers (Levitation) | Bandcamp
  7. Gaytheist – Hold Me…But Not So Tight (Good To Die) | Bandcamp
  8. Blues Pills – Devil Man EP (Nuclear Blast)
  9. Wall – Wall (This Chaming Man) | Bandcamp
  10. American Sharks – American Sharks (American Sharks) | Bandcamp
  11. Diesto – For Water Or Blood (Eolian Empire) | Bandcamp
  12. Sheavy – Moons In Penumbra (Fred’s)
  13. Iron Tongue – The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown (Neurot) | Buy
  14. Motörhead – Aftershock (UDR)
  15. Big Business – Battlefields Forever (Gold Metal) | Bandcamp
  16. Melvins – Tres Cabrones (Ipecac)
  17. Coliseum – Sister Faith (Temporary Residence) | Bandcamp
  18. Nails – Abandon All Life (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  19. The Body – Master, We Perish (At A Loss)
  20. Scorpion Child – Scorpion Child (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  21. Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
  22. ASG – Blood Drive (Relapse)
  23. Larman Clamor – Alligator Heart (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  24. Mothership – Mothership (Ripple Music)
  25. Falcon (Ex-Circle) – Frontier (Ektro)
  26. Secrets – Fragile Figures (Rise)
  27. Skogen Brinner – 1st (Subliminal Sounds)
  28. The Brimstone Days – The Healer (Transubstans)
  29. True Widow – Circumambulation (Relapse)
  30. Mojo Waves – Lo And Behold! (Mojo Waves)
  31. La Chinga – La Chinga (La Chinga)
  32. Free Fall – Power & Volume (Nuclear Blast)
  33. Ape Skull – Ape Skull (Heavy Psych Sounds)
  34. Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausages (Ipecac)
  35. The Quill – Tiger Blood (Metalville)
  36. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Virgin)
  37. Spiritual Beggars – Earth Blues (Inside Out)

Metal (Black, Death, Death-Prog, Grindcore, NRWOTHM, Power, Sludge, Thrash)
Anciients - Heart Of Oak (Season Of Mist, 2013)Despite the fact that nearly half of my listening time and 90% of my live shows are spent with metal, I’m kind of particular about what I listen to. The reunion albums of Canadian death metallers Gorguts and UK death/grindcore pioneers Carcass have completely dominated year-end metal lists this year. I appreciate both to varying extent, along with some of the more challenging black metal and sludge albums, but my tastes lie more with doom, obviously, which gets its own list, traditional metal and proggy metal. Anciients have absorbed influences from four of my all-time favorites — Opeth, Mastodon, High On Fire and Baroness. How could I not love them? Their debut is really strong, and they certainly have their own voice. Even more exciting is the anticipation for what they may accomplish on their next couple albums. Norway’s Sahg has explored stoner, doom and traditional metal on their first three albums and excelled at all of it. Now they too are tackling more prog metal just as successfully. Supergroup Twilight Of The Gods switched their Bathory worship to Priest, Maiden and DIO. Hails! Argus add more traditional elements to their doom on their third album, and while Bavarians Obelyskkh are mostly associated with psychedelic stoner/doom, sludge is now the main ingredient in their sound on their third album. Finnish psychedelic black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu have finally begun to catch on with a well-deserved audience on their third album, and In Solitude switched things up big time on their third album from Mercyful Fate influence to 80s goth and post-punk. | Spotify

  1. Anciients – Heart Of Oak (Season Of Mist) | Bandcamp
  2. Sahg – Delusions Of Grandeur (Indie)
  3. Twilight Of The Gods – Fire On The Mountain (Season Of Myst)
  4. Argus – Beyond The Martyrs (Cruz Del Sur)
  5. Obelyskkh – Hymn To Pan (Exile On Mainstream)
  6. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu (20 Buck Spin)
  7. In Solitude – Sister (Metal Blade)
  8. Byzantine – Byzantine (Byzantine) | Bandcamp
  9. Nero Di Marte – Nero Di Marte (Prosthetic) | Bandcamp
  10. Kvelertak – Meir (The End)
  11. Shining – One One One (Prosthetic)
  12. Satan – Life Sentence (Listenable)
  13. Realmbuilder – Blue Flame Cavalry (I Hate Records) | Bandcamp
  14. Gorguts – Colored Sands (Season Of Mist)
  15. Holy Grail – Ride The Void (Nuclear Blast)
  16. Sinister Realm – World Of Evil (Shadow Kingdom)
  17. Kylesa – Ultraviolet (Season Of Mist)
  18. Atlantean Codex – The White Goddess (Cruz Del Sur/20 Buck Spin)
  19. White Wizzard – The Devil’s Cut (Earache)
  20. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance (Peaceville)
  21. Usenea – Usenea (Orca Wolf) | Bandcamp
  22. Beastwars – Blood Becomes Fire (Beastwars)
  23. Magister Templi – Lucifer Leviathan Logos (Cruz Del Sur) | Bandcamp
  24. Vhöl – Vhöl (Profound Lore)
  25. Hacride – Back To Where You’ve Never Been (Indie)
  26. Devil – Gather The Sinners (Soulseller) | Bandcamp
  27. Hollow Leg – Abysmal (Last Anthem) | Bandcamp
  28. Jucifer – Beyond The Volga There Is No Land (Nomadic Fortress)
  29. oVo – Abisso (Supernatural Cat)
  30. Voivod – Target Earth (Century Media)
  31. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
  32. Manilla Road – Mysterium (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  33. Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (Century Media)
  34. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)
  35. Havok – Unnatural Selection (Candlelight)
  36. Finntroll – Blodsvept (Century Media)
  37. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum (Profound Lore)
  38. Hell – Curse & Chapter (Nuclear Blast)
  39. Rivers Of Nihil – The Conscious Seed Of Light (Metal Blade)
  40. Ward – Ward LP (Tuska) | Bandcamp
  41. Black Skies – Circadian Meditations (Black Skies) | Bandcamp
  42. Circle – Incarnation (Ektro)
  43. Celeste – Animale(s) (Denovali)
  44. Summoner – Atlantian (Magnetic Eye) | Bandcamp
  45. Cult Of Fire – मृत्युकावीभत्सनृत्य (Iron Bonehead)
  46. Cult Of Luna – Vertikal (Workhorse)
  47. The Ocean – Pelagial (Metal Blade)
  48. Agrimonia – Rites Of Separation (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  49. Ulver – Messe I.X-VI.X (Kscope)
  50. Altar Of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury (Profound Lore)
  51. Sacred Steel – The Bloodshed Summoning (Cruz Del Sur)
  52. Wolvserpent – Perigaea Antahkarana (Relapse)
  53. Moss – Horrible Night (Rise Above)
  54. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic)
  55. Pyres – Year Of Sleep (Granite House) | Bandcamp
  56. Dark Design – Prey For The Future (Heaven and Hell) | Bandcamp
  57. Primitive Man – Scorn (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  58. Amon Amarth – Deceiver Of The Gods (Metal Blade)
  59. Adoran – Adoran (Consouling Sounds) | BAndcamp
  60. Ulcerate – Vermis (Relapse)
  61. Cultes Des Ghoules – Henbane (Hells Headbangers)
  62. Church Of Misery – Thy Kingdom Scum (Rise Above)
  63. Secrets Of The Sky – To Sail Black Waters (Kolony)
  64. Tribulation – Formulas Of Death (12th Street)
  65. Bombus – The Poet And The Parrot (Century Media)
  66. Reptilian Death – The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence (OSM)
  67. Hessian – Manegarmr (Southern Lord)
  68. Coven – Destiny Of The Gods (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  69. Vattnet Viskar – Sky Swallower (Century Media)
  70. Onslaught – VI (AFM)
  71. East Of The Wall – Redaction Artifacts (Translation Loss)
  72. Theologian – Some Things Have To Be Endured (Crucial Blast) | Bandcamp
  73. Black Tusk – Tend No Wounds EP (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  74. Demon Lung – The Hundredth Name (Candlelight) | Bandcamp
  75. Running Wild – Resilient (SPV)
  76. Lesbian – Forestelevision (Translation Loss)
  77. Peste Noire – Peste Noire (La Mesnie Herlequin)
  78. Stara Rzeka – Cień chmury nad ukrytym polem (Instant Classic)
  79. Red Fang – Whales And Leeches (Relapse)
  80. Ancient Myth – Akashic (Black-Listed)
  81. Dream Death – Somnium Excessum (Dream Death)

Rock & Pop
Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino, 2013)White Denim
deservedly resides near the top of the overall list. I’ve had a rocky start with Arctic Monkeys, as the hectic garage rock of their debut seemed unexceptional while being hugely overrated.  However, their subsequent albums have all been really good, and I’ve followed them closely since. After falling out of favor with the fickle press, it was a pleasant surprise that their latest is a pretty big hit, with no less than five tracks with killer single potential. While Parquet Courts was self-released last year, I didn’t get on board until it was reissued this year. While originally seeming too derivative of Pavement, its charms reveal themselves over time. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the unfortunate problem of not quite being able to top their stellar It’s Blitz (2009), and suddenly seem to be left out in the cold on the year-end lists. I was disappointed at first, but after hearing what else was on the table from pop bands in 2013, it started sounding better and better. YYYs kick the living shit out of nearly all of them, and hopefully they retain some fans as loyal as metal fans. Remember the awesome stoner/garage psych debut from Sweden’s Spiders last year? Along those lines, also from Swedish with a female lead singer are Epidemics. They aren’t quite as great, but are great fun with more of a punk influence. Palma Violets apparently got some hype in the UK, but not so much in the U.S. I guess there was some backlash, but I found myself returning to the album and enjoying it all year. Like YYYs, Franz Ferdinand are unfairly dismissed, despite making possibly their best album since their debut. I love the shit out of Vampire Weekend, and am happy to see them topping many polls. However, I had to dock it a few places for being just a bit too self-consciously mature and tasteful. I guess when guys turn 30 they like to obsess about how to be proper grown-ups. Give them another decade and they’ll loosen up and be ready have some stupid fun again. | Spotify

  1. Arctic Monkeys – AM (Domino)
  2. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold (What’s Your Rupture) | Bandcamp
  3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito (Interscope)
  4. Epidemics – Epidemics (Transubstans)
  5. Palma Violets – 180 (Rough Trade)
  6. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino)
  7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City (XL)
  8. Polvo – Siberia (Merge)
  9. Kelley Stoltz – Double Exposure (Third Man)
  10. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt (Don Giovanni)
  11. Crocodiles – Crimes Of Passion (Frenchkiss)
  12. Marnie Stern – The Chronicles Of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars)
  13. Primal Scream – More Light (1st International)
  14. Upset – She’s Gone (Don Giovanni)
  15. The Strokes – Comedown Machine (RCA)
  16. The Men – New Moon (Sacred Bones)
  17. Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister (Slumberland) | Bandcamp
  18. Warm Soda – Someone For You (Castle Face) | Bandcamp
  19. Ooga Boogas – Ooga Boogas (Aarght) | Bandcamp
  20. Swearin’ – Surfing Strange (Wichita)
  21. Protomartyr – No Passion All Technique (Urinal Cake)
  22. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs – Under The Covers, Vol. 3 (Shout Factory!)
  23. The Mantles – Long Enough To Leave (Slumberland)
  24. Drenge – Drenge (Infectious)
  25. Future Of The Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident (Prescriptions)
  26. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana (Carpark)
  27. The So So Glows – Blowout (So So Glows)
  28. Fat White Family – Champagne Holocaust (Trashmouth) | Bandcamp
  29. Pink Frost – Sundowning (Smart Like Virus)
  30. Woodkid – The Golden Age (Island)
  31. Popstrangers – Antipodes (Carpark)
  32. Deap Vally – Sistronix (Island)
  33. Haim – Days Are Gone (Polydor)
  34. The Chills – Somewhere Beautiful (Fire)
  35. Spectrals – Sob Story (Slumberland)
  36. Superchunk – I Hate Music (Merge)
  37. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkeybirds – Haunted Head (In The Red)
  38. Man Man – On Oni Pond (Anti)
  39. Mudhoney – Vanishing Point (Sub Pop)
  40. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd.)
  41. Paramore – Paramore (Atlantic)
  42. Eels – Wonderful, Glorious (Vagrant)
  43. Ty Segall – Gemini (Drag City)
  44. Los Campesinos! – No Blues (Wichita/Turnstile)
  45. Throwing Muses – Purgatory/Paradise (Throwing Music)
  46. Jagwar Ma – Howlin (Future Classic)
  47. Grant Hart – The Argument (Domino)
  48. Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows (Sargent House)
  49. The Arcade Fire – Reflektor (Merge)
  50. Peace – In Love (Columbia)
  51. Gary Numan – Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) (Machine Music)
  52. La Luz – It’s Alive (Hardly Art)
  53. The Bitter Springs – Everyone’s Cup Of Tea (Harvey)
  54. Frankie & the Heartstrings – The Days Run Away (1-2-3-4 Go!)
  55. Editors – Weight Of Our Love (Pias)
  56. The National – Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
  57. The Woolen Men – The Woolen Men (Woodsist)
  58. Surfer Blood – Pythons (WB)
  59. The Postelles – …And It Shook Me (+1 Records)
  60. Smith Westerns – Soft Will (Mom & Pop)
  61. Hausu – Total (Hardly Art)
  62. Pity Sex – Feast Of Love (Run For Cover)
  63. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are (Columbia)
  64. Eleanor Friedburger – Personal Record (Merge)
  65. Bleached – Ride Your Heart (Dead Oceans)
  66. Younghusband – Dromes (Sonnic Cathedral)
  67. No Age – An Object (Sub Pop)
  68. Low – The Invisible Way (Sub Pop)
  69. Cayucas – Bigfoot (Secretly Canadian)
  70. Tropical Popsicle – Dawn Of Delight (Volar)
  71. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter At The Feast (Vagrant)
  72. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt (Monkeywrench/Republic)
  73. The 1975 – The 1975 (Interscope)
  74. The Dismemberment Plan – The Uncanney Valley (Partisan)
  75. Bent Shapes – Feels Weird (Father/Daughter)
  76. Biffy Clyro – Opposites (14th Floor)
  77. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob (Vapor/WB)
  78. Luscious Jackson – Magic Hour (City Song)

Global
John Wizards - John Wizards (Planet Mu, 2013)John Wizards
isn’t your average NPR-ready world music. Based in South Africa with a white guitarist and a vocalist from Rwanda, they mix Kwaito, dub and electronic beats that, while sometimes a chaotic mess, is pretty strikingly unique. Jupiter Bokondji comes from the Congo’s Kinshasa music scene and was filmed six years ago (Jupiter’s Dance) by the same French filmmakers who documented Staff Benda Bilili. Acoustic Ladyland saxophonist Pete Wareham assembled Melt Yourself Down with members of Sons Of Kemet and Mulatu Astatke and Rokia Traore’s bands. Taking the name from an obscure James Chance album, they sound like the no wave Afro funk you might imagine, but more. Tal National and Bombino both hail from Niger. The first was formed by Almeida in 2000, and recorded their third album with the help of Chicago engineer Jamie Carter, who also traveled to Niger to record their second album, and features bubbly highlight and hypnotic rhythms. Bombino traveled to Nashville to record with Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach, mixing his Tuareg rhythms with American blues and psych. | Spotify

  1. John Wizards – John Wizards (Planet Mu) – South Africa
  2. Jupiter & Okwess International – Hotel Univers (Out Here) – Congo
  3. Melt Yourself Down – Melt Yourself Down (Leaf) – UK
  4. Tal National – Kaani (FatCat) – Niger
  5. Bombino – Nomad (Nonesuch) – Niger
  6. Rachid Taha – Zoom (Wrasse) – Algeria
  7. Tamikrest – Chatma (Glitterbeat) – Mali
  8. Rokia Traoré – Beautiful Africa (Nonesuch) – Mali
  9. Tom Zé – Tribunal Do Feicebuqui EP (Tom Ze) | Free! – Brazil
  10. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu (Sublime Frequencies) – Syria
  11. Juana Molina – Wed 21 (Crammed) – Argentina
  12. Etran Finatawa – The Sahara Sessions (Riverboat) – Mali
  13. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoniba – Jama Ko (Out Here) – Mali

Electro/Dream Pop, Shoegaze
San Fermin - San Fermin (Downtown, 2013)An ambitious project by recent Yale grad Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin’s orchestral pop fits here as well as anywhere, with ornate arrangements creating a dreamlike atmosphere. The side project of Zombi’s A.E. Paterra, Majeure takes their name from a Tangerine Dream album and draws influences from Jean Michel Jarre, Steve Reich and Can. The short EP leaves me wanting more. Seven years after their last full length, Paper Television (2006), The Blow finally have a new album of fabulous wimpy electro pop.  | Spotify

  1. San Fermin – San Fermin (Downtown)
  2. Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen (Slumberland)
  3. Majeure – Romance Language EP (Temporary Residence)
  4. The Blow – The Blow (Kanine)
  5. My Bloody Valentine – m b v (My Bloody Valentine) | Buy
  6. Outfit – Performance (Double Denim)
  7. Heavenly Beat – Prominence (Captured Tracks)
  8. Black Hearted Brother – Stars Are Our Home (Slumberland)
  9. Exit Calm – The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be (Club)
  10. Vondelpark – Seabed (R&S)
  11. No Joy – Wait To Pleasure (Mexican Summer)
  12. Minks – Tides End (Captured Tracks)
  13. La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin (Born Bad)
  14. Blouse – Imperium (Captured Tracks)
  15. Samaris – Samaris (One Little Indian)
  16. The Bomber Jackets – The Lister (Alter)
  17. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe (Glass Note)
  18. Washed Out – Paracosm (Sub Pop)
  19. Beach Fossils – Clash The Truth (Captured Tracks)
  20. Widowspeak – The Dark Age (Captured Tracks)
  21. Pet Shop Boys – Electric (x2)
  22. Section 25 – Dark Light (Factory Benelux)
  23. Mazzy Star – Seasons Of Your Day (Rhymes Of An Hour)
  24. The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (Atlantic)
  25. Forest Swords – Engravings (Tri Angle)
  26. Glasser – Interiors (True Panther/XL)
  27. Everything Everything – Arc (Sony)
  28. Goldfrapp – Tales Of Us (Mute)
  29. Phoenix – Bankrupt (Glass Note)
  30. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind (Loma Vista/Republic)
  31. OMD – English Electric (Bright Antenna)
  32. Austra – Olympia (Domino)
  33. Fists – Phantasm (Gringo)

Electronica, Techno & Dance
These New Puritans - Field Of Reeds (AIS, 2013)UK Indie rock band These New Puritans demonstrated their ambition on Hidden (2010) enough to not fully surprise with their fairly radical 180 turn in direction to electronica fueled avant jazz and classical. Not as immediately engaging as similar turns by Talk Talk and Radiohead, it’s a slow grower. There’s plenty of solid electronic music this year, enough that one of my old favorites Four Test just missed the top 13, along with critical faves The Haxan Cloak, Schneider TM< The Field and PANTyRAiD, Factory Floor, Machinedrum, Sally Shapiro, Holden, John Hopkins and Karen Gwyer. I first heard about “Footwork” a couple years ago but didn’t really get what it was despite the fact that it’s a homegrown Chicago offshoot of House and Juke until I heard the full albums from DJ Rashad and RP Boo. I love how spare it is and that it leaves behind House’s four-four straightjacket for more complex riddims. | Spotify

  1. These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds (AIS)
  2. Darkside – Psychic (Matador)
  3. Burial – Rival Dealer EP (Hyperdub)
  4. Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory – Elements Of Sound (Rough Trade)
  5. DJ Rashad – Double Cup (Hyperdub)
  6. Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest (Warp)
  7. Atoms For Peace – Amok (Atoms For Peace) | Buy
  8. Mountains – Centralia (Thrill Jockey)
  9. Young Echo – Nexus (Ramp)
  10. Tim Hecker – Virgins (Kranky)
  11. Stellar OM Source – Joy One Mile (Rvng)
  12. RP Boo – Legacy! (Planet Mu)
  13. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven (Warp)
  14. Autechre – Exai (Warp)
  15. Schneider TM – Guitar Sounds (Bureau B)
  16. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind (Text)
  17. The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (Tri Angle)
  18. The Field – Cupid’s Head (Kompakt)
  19. PANTyRAiD – PillowTalk (Glass Air)
  20. Factory Floor – Factory Floor (DFA)
  21. Thundercat – Apocalypse (Brainfeeder)
  22. The Focus Group – The Elektrik Karousel (Ghost Box)
  23. Moon Wiring Club – A Fondness For Fancy Hats (Geophonic)
  24. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)
  25. Machinedrum – Vapor City (Ninja Tune)
  26. Sally Shapiro – Somewhere Else (Paper Bag)
  27. Holden – The Inheritors (Border)
  28. Jon Hopkins – Immunity (Domino)
  29. Karen Gwyer – Continuum (No Pain In Pop)
  30. Disclosure – Settle (Interscope)

Avant Rock & Pop
Author & Punisher - Women & Children (Seventh Rule, 2013)While in school in New York and then working as an engineer in Boston, Tristan Shone moonlighted as a metal musician at night. Unable to keep up with that schedule, tinkering with a headbanging robot gave him the idea that he could merge his two passions more efficiently. After building his first machine, Throttles in 2006, he’s been off and running as one-man/machine analog band Author & Punisher, creating highly original avant rock and industrial music. Last year’s Ursus Americanus, seemed to garner more attention for some reason than Women & Children, which is just as great.  Sigur Rós perked my interest with their heaviest album, subtly incorporating some metal influence. Teeth Of The Sea consistently make my lists with their fascinating avant post-rock. Tricky’s curse is that his debut was the best album of the 90s, yet inspired some pretty shitty trip hop. Who can follow that? His latest is a great effort, unjustly ignored. Deveykus I can only describe as doom jazz. Definitely worth hearing! I witnessed a joyously chaotic set by the Japanese experimental rockers Melt-Banana opening for Shellac at a comedy club way back in 1994. They’re still at it with one of their most interesting albums. | Spotify

  1. Author & Punisher – Women & Children (Seventh Rule)
  2. Sigur Rós – Kveikur (XL)
  3. Secret Chiefs 3 – Book Of Souls: Folio A (Mimicry)
  4. Teeth Of The Sea – Master (Rocket)
  5. Ian Crause – The Vertical Axis (Ian Crause) | Bandcamp
  6. Tricky – False Idols (!K7)
  7. Deveykus – Pillar Without Mercy (Tzadik)
  8. Melt-Banana – Fetch (A-Zap)
  9. Julia Holter – Loud City Song (Domino)
  10. Last Days – Satellite (n5MD) | Bandcamp
  11. Pere Ubu – Lady From Shanghai (Fire)
  12. Grumbling Fur – Glynnaestra (Thrill Jockey)
  13. Grouper – The Man Who Died in His Boat (Kranky)
  14. Dirty Beaches – Drifters/Love Is The Devil (Zoo)
  15. Anna Calvi – One Breath (Domino)
  16. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus (ATP)
  17. Kayo Dot – Hubardo (Ice Level) | Bandcamp
  18. 65daysofstatic – Wild Light (Century Media)
  19. Disappears – Era (Kranky)
  20. Jack Mazzenga’s Space-Time Trio – Had To Say (CD Baby)
  21. Chris Forsyth – Solar Motel (Paradise Of Bachelors)
  22. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual (Rabid/Mute)
  23. Land Of Kush – The Big Mango (Constellation)
  24. Tera Melos – X’ed Out (Sargent House)
  25. Emiliana Torrini – Tookah (Rough Trade)
  26. Kandodo – K2O (Thrill Jockey)
  27. Theologian – Some Things Have To Be Endured (Crucial Blast)
  28. Richard Dawson – The Glass Trunk (Wipe Out)
  29. Wolf Eyes – No Answer: Lower Floors (De Stijl)
  30. Gnaw – Horrible Chamber (Seventh Rule)

Experimental, Modern Classical, Jazz & Ambient
Nils Frahm - Spaces (Erased Tapes, 2013)Germany’s Nils Frahm is a pianist with a modern classical background. He’s made a dozen albums since 2005, and I honestly have no idea if Spaces is his best. I no longer subscribe to The Wire and don’t have a lot of time or patience for most modern classical, experimental, avant garde, musique concrete, etc.  But every now and then an album spreads by word of mouth that’s actually quite enjoyable to listen to. Spaces is such a case.  Laurel Halo’s Quarantine topped this list last year, and she continues to do fascinating work on her third album. | Spotify

  1. Nils Frahm – Spaces (Erased Tapes)
  2. Laurel Halo – Chance Of Rain (Hyperdub)
  3. Ólafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter (Mercury Classic)
  4. Eluvium – Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence)
  5. Ensemble Pearl – Ensemble Pearl (Drag City)
  6. Sons Of Kemet – Burn (Naim)
  7. Fire! Orchestra – Exit! (Rune Grammofon)
  8. The Necks – Open (Fish Of Milk)
  9. Bill Orcutt – A History Of Every One (Mego)
  10. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe (Dead Oceans)
  11. Locrian – Return To Annihilation (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  12. Hedvig Mollestad Trio – All Of Them Witches (Rune Grammofon)
  13. The Dead C – Armed Courage (Ba Da Bing)

R&B, Soul, Funk & Dancepop
Alice Russell - To Dust (Tru Thoughts, 2013)In a low key year for R&B/Soul and dancepop, it’s too bad the massive talents of the UK’s Alice Russell continue to go unnoticed. Her fourth album maintains her stellar quality and is a great entry point to her catalog, and her work with Quantic Soul Orchestra. M.I.A. could just as easily go in lists for Avant Pop and Electronica, but she seems to aim to really be a dance pop star, but without compromising her adventurous urges. For the first time, she’s been fairly underrated, as Matangi is just as good as her early albums that dominated all the polls.  When so many R&B/dance stars are literally selling their asses, it’s refreshing when an artist like Janelle Monáe draws zero attention to her body. Yes, she’s beautiful and wears cool outfits in her art and videos, but does so without humiliating herself, and is clearly on another conceptual level as she unfolds her ambitious, multi-part sci-fi story. Charles Bradley was originally a James Brown impersonator, and late in his life finally came into his own with No Time For Dreaming (2011) and now his new album. | Spotify

  1. Alice Russell – To Dust (Tru Thoughts)
  2. M.I.A. – Matangi (XL/Interscope)
  3. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady (Bad Boy)
  4. Charles Bradley – Victim Of Love (Dunham)
  5. James Blake – Overgrown (Atlas)
  6. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe (Domino)
  7. Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon (Columbia)
  8. Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)
  9. Alice Smith – She (Rainwater)
  10. The Internet – Feel Good (Odd Future)
  11. Bilal – A Love Surreal (eOne)
  12. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety (Software)
  13. Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit (Blue Note)

Country, Folk & Americana
Wardruna - Yggdrasil (Indie, 2013)Wardruna rose from the ashes of Norwegian black metal outfit Gorgoroth, founded in 2003 by Einar ‘Kvitrafn’ Selvik (multi-instrumentalist/builder), Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal (vocals, clothing design, former jailbird who used to shock with talk of blood rituals, then came out as gay in 2008) and singer Lindy-Fay Hella. They sound nothing like black metal, nor like any of the pagan folk metal bands littering Scandinavia (many who are totally great). Inspired by Kvitrafn’s study of the 24 runes known as the Elder Futhark, he builds and plays all the instruments like the Kraviklyra, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn, lur and more. The sounds of some of these instruments had not been heard for hundreds of years. They sing in Norwegian, Old Norse and even Proto-Norse tongue, often recording outdoors and in the forest. Yggdrasil is the second of their planned Runaljod trilogy, with the final one to be called Ragnarok. Metal is no stranger to folk, with plenty of Norwegian and Finnish folk metal bands. However like Wardruna, Austin, Texas’ Ancient VVisdom are actually acoustic, and do not lack power for it, especially on their second album, Deathlike. There ought to be a lot more wizened country geezers putting out tough, heartbreaking, beautiful albums than Guy Clark, but he’s the one who grabbed the most attention this year. I need to look into this more, where are the country versions of Tom Waits and Nick Cave? I haven’t been listening to these genres as much, but just outside the top 13 there’s some decent albums by Man’s Gin, Bill Callahan, Cate Le Bon, Kurt Vile, The Sadies, Handsome Family, Midlake, Foals, Jason Isbell, Volcano Choir, The Mavericks, Caitlin Rose, The Baptist Generals, Trixie Whitley and others. Not sure I can get onboard with Kacey Musgraves. | Spotify

  1. Wardruna – Yggdrasil (Indie)
  2. Ancient VVisdom – Deathlike (Prosthetic)
  3. Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You (Dualtone)
  4. Matt Elliott – Only Myocardial Infraction Can Break Your Heart (Ici D’ailleurs)
  5. Alasdair Roberts & Friends – A Wonder Working Stone (Drag City)
  6. Ed Harcourt – Back Into The Woods (Ccclx)
  7. Richard Youngs – Summer Through My Mind (Ba Da Bing)
  8. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Ribbon)
  9. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You (Anti)
  10. Richard Thompson – Electric (New West)
  11. Ty Segall – Imitations (Vagrant)
  12. Howe Gelb – The Coincidentalist (New West)
  13. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone (Sunday Best)

Hip Hop & Rap
Deltron 3030 - The Event 2 (Universal, 2013)Despite my continued and increasing hatred of cocaine rap, there was actually some decent hip hop albums this year. Deltron 3030 is a welcome return of Del the Funky Homosapien, DJ Kid Koala and producer Dan the Automator after thirteen years with his ambitious sci-fi epics. It’s like a reunion of superheroes, and a reminder how they influenced underground hip hop for the better. Chance The Rapper topped a lot of lists, and he’s good for sure, but so is his fellow Chicago (via Evanston) mate ProbCause. Death Grips is as harrowing and gripping as ever, yet got less attention this year. Maybe because he didn’t feature a photo of his dick this time? Paavoharju are Finnish avant folk, but now feature rapper Paperi T of the Helsinki group Ruger Hauer. To be honest the rapping detracts from the band, but is ultimately more interesting that a lot of other rap. Hip hop is so embedded in culture worldwide, it’s kind of creepy that there are so few female stars. Spain’s Mala Rodriguez is an exception, and at least has gotten respect in European press if not U.S. And yes, I rate Childish Gambino over Eminem (though it’s close), Earl Sweatshirt, Drake and Kanye West (not close). | Spotify

  1. Deltron 3030 – Event 2 (Universal)
  2. ProbCause – The Recipe Volume 2 (Bonafyde) | Bandcamp
  3. Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap (Chance The Rapper)
  4. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels (Fool’s Gold)
  5. Death Grips – Government Plates (Third Worlds)
  6. Paavoharju – Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne (Svart)
  7. Black Milk – No Poison No Paradise (Fat Beats)
  8. Quasimoto – Yessir, Whatever (Stones Throw)
  9. Mala Rodríguez – Bruja (Universal)
  10. Thundercat – Apocalypse (Brainfeeder)
  11. Ka – The Night’s Gambit (Iron Works)
  12. Danny Brown – Old (Fool’s Gold)
  13. Childish Gambino – Because The Internet (Glass Note)

Albums I missed before I first published on December 17
Hidden Masters - Of This & Other Worlds (Rise Above/Metal Blade, 2013)I’ve been trying to finish the lists before the holidays so I can relax, but inevitably that means individual lists continue to trickle out that reveal many more albums I’ve missed. This year I was particularly slow in catching up on many of the good psych albums. I’m particularly kicking myself for dropping the ball big time on Hidden Masters. Back in November 2009, Rise Above label owner Lee Dorrian wrote a guest article for the “150 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die” issue of Classic Rock Magazine, called “Prog Psych: The Great Lost Albums of British Rock, 1968-72.” He wrote about 20 albums that inhabited what was special about the transition from 60s psychedelic rock to 70s progressive. I’d heard less than a third of them at the time and many have become all-time favorites, like High Tide, T2 and Tractor. Definitely a strong reason to pay close attention to everything he puts out on Rise Above. Sure enough, new albums from Troubled Horse, Horisont, Ghost, Blood Ceremony, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Purson and Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats are all favorites. So how the fucking fuck did I miss Hidden Masters? I don’t know. I read an article on them, would mean to check them out, then get distracted by wondering when my copy of a Hidden Hand album was gonna arrive via eBay, and forget about it. You’d think by my tastes I was a total stoner but I’m not. My brain is just naturally developing sieve-like holes via old age. The first time I heard “She Broke The Clock Of The Long Now” I had a stupid grin on my face. I’ve always loved the more psychedelic tracks off Revolver, Are You Experienced, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and S.F. Sorrow growing up, and liked stuff like the Dukes Of Stratosphere that heavily referenced obscure singles collected on Nuggets, Pebbles, Rubble and more recently Chocolate Soup For Diabetics, Real Life Permanent Dreams, The Perfumed Garden and the amazing comps on the Arf Arf label and those curated by Nick Saloman of The Bevis Frond for Psychic Circle label. Hidden Masters attacks that style with the jaw-dropping instrumental prowess on the level of Cream with touches of prog and proto-metal while writing really great originals. Oh yes.

Similarly, fellow Brits Wolf People mine vintage psych prog territory, with their influences more rooted in obscure Finnish psych, Mighty Baby (another Lee Dorrian fave), Dark, Groundhogs and The Trees. While their songwriting and musicianship is just a notch below Hidden Masters, they have a great heavy sound. Some of these other bands I totally have an excuse in that they came out in December with almost zero fanfare, such as legendary stoner/doomsters Sheavy, almost as if they didn’t want anyone to find out about the new album. Also albums by avant proggers Survival, The Asteroid No. 4, The Cult Of Dom Keller, The Lucid Dream, The Limiñanas (all psych), uber dreampop Veronica Falls, Vision Fortune, Sun Of Man, Eye, Wax Idols, Neon Lights, Blanche Blanche Blanche, Kosmischer Läufer, Schnauser, Neils Chidren, Jacco Gardner, Ian Crause, Guy Clark and Tropic Of Cancer.

  1. Hidden Masters – Of This & Other Worlds (Rise Above/Metal Blade) – UK Psych Prog
  2. Wolf People – Fain (Jagjaguwar) – UK Psych Prog
  3. Föllakzoid – II (Sacred Bones) – Chilean Psych
  4. Makthaverskan – Makthaverskan II (Luxury) – Swedish Post-Punk/Indie
  5. Shopping – Consumer Complaints (Milk) – UK Post-Punk
  6. Desperate Journalist – Cristina EP (Fandango) – UK Post-Punk – | Bandcamp
  7. Holograms – Forever (Captured Tracks) – Swedish Post-Punk
  8. The KVB – Immaterial Visions (Cititrax) – UK Post-Punk/Shoegaze
  9. Pinkunoizu – The Drop (Full Time Hobby) – Danish Psych/Art Pop
  10. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – UZU (Suicide Squeeze) – Canadian Asian Psych Prog
  11. Psychic Ills – One Track Mind (Sacred Bones) – US Psych
  12. INVSN – INVSN (Razor & Tie) – Swedish Post-Punk
  13. Girls Names – The New Life (Slumberland) – UK Post-Punk/Dream Pop
  14. Sheavy – Moons In Penumbra (Fred’s) – Canadian Stoner/Doom
  15. Papir – Papir III (El Paraiso) – Danish Kosmische/Psych/Space Rock
  16. Eat Lights Become Lights – Modular Living (Eat Lights Become Lights) – UK Psych/Kosmische | Bandcamp
  17. Death Hawks - Death Hawks (Gaea) – Finnish Psych/Folk/Kosmische
  18. Secret Chiefs 3 – Book Of Souls: Folio A (Mimicry) – US Avant/Experimental/Global
  19. Rose Windows – The Sun Dogs (Sub Pop) – US Psych
  20. Eidetic Seeing – Against Nature (Eidetic Seeing) – US Psych

Reissues
The Obsessed - The Church Within (Hellhound/Columbia, 1994)I laid off reissues for the most part this year, as I got tired of buying albums for the second or third time, and paying way too much. There’s certain all-time classic favorites with enough enticing bonus features that will still grab me, but it’s happening less often. The Obsessed’s The Church Within was a no-brainer, as it’s been out of print, and it includes “Mental Kingdom” and “Melancholy Grey.” And it was cheap! I have to say that the great job they did with Van Morrison’s Moondance has me wondering if there are similarly enticing extras for Astral Weeks. I’m not holding my breath though.

  1. The Obsessed – The Church Within (Columbia/Real Gone, 1994)
  2. Saint Vitus – Die Healing (Hellbound/Season Of Mist, 1995)
  3. Van Morrison – Moondance (Rhino, 1970)
  4. Hawkwind – Warrior On The Edge Of Time [3CD] (Cleopatra, 1975)
  5. Marianne Faithfull – Broken English [2CD] (Island, 1979)
  6. Martha and the Muffins – Trance And Dance (Dindisc/Cherry Red, 1980)
  7. Ramesses – Misanthropic Alchemy (Ritual Productions, 2007)
  8. Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning [2CD] (Universal/Mercury, 1983)
  9. Saint Vitus – C.O.D. (Hellbound/Seasond Of Mist, 1992)
  10. Nektar – Journey To The Centre Of The Eye [2CD] (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra, 1971)
  11. Nektar – A Tab In The Ocean (Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra, 1972)
  12. Thin Lizzy – Renegade (Universal/Mercury, 1981)
  13. The Cult – Electric/Peace (Beggars Banquet, 1987)

Shows

graveyard-lincolnI slowed down a little this year in the number of shows I’ve gone to. Seeing Graveyard for the first time since 2008 was definitely the highlight of the year. I really need to make it to Desertfest next year to see more bands that never come to the U.S. Unfortunately, Colour Haze and Ufomammut don’t seem to be scheduled to play there this year either. Baroness’s triumphant return to the stage was amazing. After suffering from a horrific bus accident, sadly two of the members left the band in the aftermath. However the remaining members seemed fully recovered and rejuvenated, with the new members fitting in well. Unlike most Scandinavian bands, Truckfighters are touring machines, regularly coming to the U.S. nearly every year. Probably the best band in the world indeed, I pre-ordered their upcoming album, Universe. White Denim are the best live non-metal band this year, and The Replacements played the greatest reunion show this year. Their humor and energy probably blew away most of their inconsistent performances since 1986. It doesn’t hurt that they played a lot of songs from their punky first album for the first time in forever.

  1. GRAVEYARD, Lincoln Hall, 2/16
  2. BARONESS, Subterranean, 8/3
  3. TRUCKFIGHTERS, Sleestak, Reggies, 8/24
  4. WHITE DENIM Reggie’s, 10/23
  5. THE REPLACEMENTS, Rocket From the Crypt, Riot Fest, 9/15
  6. NAAM, Deepspacepilots Reggie’s Rock Club, 7/14
  7. SAVAGES, Metro, 9/16
  8. VISTA CHINO ,Metro, 9/19
  9. BORIS, Lincoln Hall, 5/10
  10. TORCHE, Do Division/EB, 5/31
  11. ALEHORN OF POWER VII: MANILLA ROAD, High Spirits, Reggie’s, 11/2
  12. MONSTER MAGNET, ROYAL THUNDER, Bottom Lounge, 11/16
  13. ORANGE GOBLIN, HOLY GRAIL, Oakland Metro Opera House, 10/9

Videos
I keep meaning to keep a running list of favorite videos throughout the year, but inevitably I end up compiling it last minute. While I was assembling my list and Spotify playlist, I spent extra time sorting through YouTube videos, since some people apparently use it as primary means of listening to music. The top video was Queens Of The Stoneage’s “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.” I love a great conceptual video with lush, but unsettling and creepy visuals. Not everyone has the budget to tackle something on this scale of course, so I made sure to include some great low budget videos in this list too.

  1. Queens of the Stone Age, “The Vampyre of Time and Memory” by Kii Arens & Jason Trucco
  2. Arctic Monkeys, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”
    by Nabil
  3. These New Puritans, “Fragment Two” by Daniel Askill
  4. Kadavar, “Come Back Life” by Nathini van der Meer & Annikki Heinemann
  5. Matt Elliott, “Reap What You Sow” by Marina Sabio
  6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Despair” by Patrick Daughters
  7. Savages, “Shut Up” by Giorgio Testi
  8. The Entrance Band, “Spider” by Paz Lenchantin
  9. Kvelertak, “Evig Vandrar”
  10. M.I.A., “Bring The Noize”
  11. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Sacrilege” by Megaforce
  12. Avatarium, “Boneflower” by Eat the Danger
  13. Alice Russell, “For A While” by Steve Glashier
  14. Bombino, “Nomad” by Reid Long
  15. Vampire Weekend, “Diane Young” by Primo Kahn
  16. ProbCause, “LSD” Ft. Chance the Rapper by Elijah Alvarado
  17. Beastmilk, “Death Reflects Us” by Ville Hakonen
  18. Tal National, “Kaani”
  19. Föllakzoid, “Trees”
  20. Franz Ferdinand, “Evil Eye”
  21. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Crawler
  22. Spirits Of The Dead, “Golden Sun”
  23. Mansion, “Slumber Sermon”
  24. Cave, “Shikaakwa” by Nick Ciontea
  25. PINS, “Girls Like Us”
  26. Jess and the Ancient Ones, “Astral Sabbat”
  27. Monster Magnet, “Mindless Ones” by Tom Scharpling
  28. Janelle Monáe, “Q.U.E.E.N.” feat. Erykah Badu by Alan Ferguson
  29. Melt Yourself Down, “Fix My Life” by Morgan Beringer
  30. Alice Russell, “To Dust”
  31. Moonbow, “The End Of Time”
  32. Franz Ferdinand, “Love Illumination” by Tim Saccenti
  33. Ancient VVisdom, “Deathlike” by Sikander Khan
  34. Shining, “I Won’t Forget” by Kyrre H. Larsen
  35. Zodiac, “Downtown” by Hans Fischer
  36. The Flying Eyes, “Under Iron Feet” by Elena DeBold and Jeffrey Rettberg
  37. Franz Ferdinand, “Right Thoughts” by Jonas Odell
  38. Wall, “Wasteland” by Arne Ebner
  39. Queens Of The Stone Age, “My God Is The Sun”
  40. Alice Russell, “Heartbreaker” by Steve Glashier
  41. Julia Holter, “World” by Rick Bahto
  42. Janelle Monáe, “Dance Apocalyptic” by Wendy Morgan
  43. Marnie Stern, “Immortals” by Bang
  44. San Fermin, “Sonsick” by Benjamin Kutsko
  45. Hexvessel, “Masks Of The Universe” by Marja
  46. Polvo, “Light, Raking” by Jason Sievers
  47. Arctic Monkeys, “Do I Wanna Know?”
  48. Parquet Courts – “Light Up Gold Road Trip” by Andy Capper
  49. Motorpsycho, “Ratcatcher”
  50. Purson, “The Contract” by William Cunningham
  51. Blood Ceremony, “Goodbye Gemini”
  52. White Denim, “Pretty Green” by Michael Hammett, Aaron Weiss, and James Petralli
  53. John Wizards, “Lusaka by Night” by Sebastian Borckenhagen
  54. Weekend, “Rosaries”
  55. Kelley Stoltz, “Kim Chee Taco Man”
  56. Sahg, “Slip Off The Edge Of The Universe”
  57. Palma Violets, “Last of the Summer Wine” by Gina Birch
  58. Causa Sui, “The Juice” by Jakob Skøtt
  59. Ghost B.C., “Monstrance Clock” by Rob Semmer
  60. Iron Man, “Hail To The Haze”
  61. The Exploding Boy, “Dark City (Pt. II)” by Johan Edlund & Ioanna Lampropoulou
  62. Janelle Monáe, “PrimeTime” ft. Miguel by Alan Ferguson
  63. Arctic Monkeys, “One For The Road”
  64. Black Sabbath, “End Of The Beginning”
  65. American Sharks, “Overdrive”
  66. Shooting Guns, “Go Blind”
  67. Gozu, “Bald Bull”
  68. The Strokes, “80′s Comedown Machine”
  69. Waxahatchee, “Coast To Coast” by Ryan Russell
  70. Byzantine, “Soul Eraser” by Matt Maloney
  71. Nero Di Marte, “Time Dissolves”
  72. Survival, “Tragedy Of The Mind” by Eric Wrenn
  73. Kvelertak, “Månelyst”
  74. My Bloody Valentine, “New You”
  75. Diesto, “The Edge Of The World” by Adam Cornelius
  76. Upset, “You And I” by Sean O’Connor
  77. Jesu, “Homesick”
  78. Melt-Banana, “The Hive” by Iroha
  79. Witchburn, “Warning To The Weak”
  80. Epidemics, “Born In The 80s” by Martin Jonsson


Movies
the-heat-2013As usual, the best movies seem to be released late in the year so they’re fresh in peoples’ minds come the Oscars. However, comedies don’t have to worry about that, since the Academy apparently hates to laugh. The Heat was the funniest movie I’ve seen in a few years, with Melissa McCarthy making here previous work in the overrated Bridesmaids (2011) look ice cold.

  1. The Heat
  2. A Band Called Death
  3. Sound City
  4. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
  5. The Way Way Back
  6. Pacific Rim
  7. Epic
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Star Trek: Into Darkness
  10. This Is The End
  11. CBGBs
  12. The Croods
  13. Before Midnight

Haven’t seen yet: 20 Feet From Stardom, American Hustle, Anchorman 2, Byzantium, Cutie And The Boxer, Enough Said, The Europa Report, Frozen, Gravity, Her, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, Inside Llewyn Davis, Muscle Shoals, Thor: The Dark World, Upstream Color, The World’s End.

Decent: Lovelace, The Kings Of Summer, On The Road, Stories We Tell. Guilty pleasure: The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones.

Television
mindy-projectWhile I prefer comedies, I couldn’t not finish the Breaking Bad series. Amazing stuff. However, I’ve totally fallen in love with The Mindy Project in its second season, which deserves the top spot. It’s threatening to become my all-time favorite comedy series. Whitney Cummings may have lost her self-titled show, but she’s still got 2 Broke Girls, which may be stronger from her focusing on that one. It’s one of the most reliably consistent show for laughs. Fresh from SNL, Andy Samberg is doing great on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which has been funnier recently than fellow SNL alum Amy Poehler’s Parks & Recreation, which seems like it might be ending. That show had a great run but I won’t be too sad if it’s the last season. Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23 and Happy Endings had untimely demises. How could those shows be cancelled but Two And A Half Men continue to lumber along? It’s a cruel world, which is why we gotta take our laughs where we can get ‘em. How I Met Your Mother is finally ending, about three years too late, and New Girl and Raising Hope are struggling, though I’m still watching. Bunheads is coming back, right? I’m watching Game Of Thrones but am behind, and I’m really liking Sleepy Hollow. Dracula and The Returned are both promisingly creepy, but also have too much soap drama going on, leaving me to hit the fastforward button often. Honorable mention goes to The Michael J. Fox Show. Not great, but could get better, and it’s awesome to see Michael J. Fox working.

  1. The Mindy Project
  2. Breaking Bad
  3. 2 Broke Girls
  4. Californication
  5. Modern Family
  6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  7. Sleepy Hollow
  8. Parks & Recreation
  9. Sean Saves The World
  10. The Big Bang Theory
  11. Dracula
  12. The Returned
  13. Saturday Night Live

Books
I know I read more than these, but I’m not as good at keeping track of what I read, but below are some that I have record of buying on the Kindle.

  1. Mark Lewisohn – Tune In: The Beatles, All These Years (2013)
  2. Thomas Pynchon – Bleeding Edge (2013)
  3. Jonathan Lethem – Dissident Gardens (2013)
  4. Gillian Summers – The Scions Of Shadow Trilogy (2010-12)
  5. Warren Ellis – Gun Machine (2013)
  6. Michael E. Veal – Tony Allen: An Autobiography of the Master Drummer of Afrobeat (2013)
  7. Jonathan Tropper – One Last Thing Before I Go (2012)
  8. Zoe Street Howe – Typical Girls? The Story of the Slits (2012)
  9. Ra’anan Chelled – Demons, Fairies & Wailing Guitars – The Best 100 Obscure Rock Acts 1968-1976 (2012)
  10. Marc Spitz – Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the ’90s (2013)
  11. Rob Sheffield – Turn Around Bright Eyes: The Rituals of Love and Karaoke (2013)
  12. Richard Hell – I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography (2013)
  13. Mindy Kaling – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns (2011)

Also read: Alfred Bester – The Stars My Destination (1956), John L. Parker Jr. – Once A Runner (1976), Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments trilogy, Joe Hill – Horns (2010), Garry Bushell – Iron Maiden Running Free, Wiederhorn, Jon, Turman, Katherine – Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal (2013), Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013). The last two were disappointing, and I read another 15-20 books this year better than those, but won’t bother listing them.

Comics
saga-banner
Brian K. Vaughan is responsible for not one, not two, but three of the top 20 best comic series ever with Y: Last Man, Ex Machina and now Saga. Yes, it’s that good. I don’t understand when I see it lingering under the top 10 of other lists.  Get hip people and hop on board before it’s too late to backpedal.  Love and war, violence and non-violence, interracial love, how to raise children as fugitives, space ghosts, in-laws, it’s practically friggin’ Dostoyevsky but with jokes!

  1. Saga – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
  2. Chew – John Layman & Rob Guillory
  3. Unwritten – Mike Carey & Peter Gross
  4. Fables & Fairest – Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham
  5. Before Watchmen
  6. Fatale – Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
  7. Young Avengers – Gillen, McKelvie, Thompson, Norton, Wilson
  8. Morning Glories – Nick Spencer, Little, Eisma, Lowe, Daniel, Meylikhov
  9. Ghosted – Joshua Williamson, Goran Sudzuka, Moroslav Mrva
  10. Killjoys – Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan
  11. Secret Service – Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons [Completed]
  12. Saucer Country – Paul Cornell & Jimmy Broxton [Completed]
  13. Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child – Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Denys Cowan, John Floyd [Completed]

Beer

While last year I talked about bourbons, I sort of got tired of them. Plus, I gave myself a blind taste test between Woodfield Reserve, Elmer T. Lee and then a couple cheap ones, and Old Heaven Hill ($10 a bottle) won. I’ve been drinking Citadel gin martinis lately. The beer geek thing is getting totally out of hand to the point where I can’t seem to get anything. For example, last Thursday, my local Binny’s liquor store got in some Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. 200 people were lined up outside before the store opened, and it sold out in an hour. There’s some great bars that offer good beers on tap which I keep track of with Beer Menus, but I don’t make it out to bars very often. I’ve been enjoying Philip Montoro’s Beer and Metal column, mostly about things that I always miss, like the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer. Here’s my shortlist.

  1. Three Floyds – Dark Lord Imperial Russian Stourt
  2. Revolution Deth’s Tar Imperial Stout
  3. Founders – Backwoods Bastard
  4. DeSchutes- The Abyss
  5. Mikeller – Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
  6. Evil Twin – Imperial Biscotti Break
  7. Founders – Rubeaus
  8. Maine Beer Company – King Titus Porter
  9. Hinterland – Bourbon Barrel Stout
  10. Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
  11. Two Brothers/Solemn Oath – Brotherhood of the Barrel Batch 1 of 2
  12. Anderson Valley – Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout
  13. Three Floyds – Immutable Dusk Black IPA
  14. Three Floyds – Zombie Dust IPA

Seasonal greetings to those on this blue-green ball
As our homes and lands are laid to waste
Know that while God still hates us all
Dr. Fester loves all MFers with good taste


Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2012
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2011
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2010
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2009
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2008
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2007
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2006
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2005
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2004
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2003
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2002
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2001
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2000
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1999
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1998
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1997

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