This is my super bowl. The top 10 albums of the year for me represent a seemingly endless amount of hours sitting and listening to vinyl, my phone at work, on the computer while writing and CDs in my car. This will be amazingly my 4th year doing my personal top 10 list and I hope I get to do one every year before my hearing gives out. Here are the lists from the last few years if you are interested in further reading:
My list from 2010, headed up by Jason Collett’s Rat-A-Tat-Tat
My list from 2011, headed up by Tom Waits’ Bad As Me
The 2012 list belonged to The Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
Now for 2013 the top of the mountain belongs to Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
Read and enjoy my list. Also watch for my top 5 concerts of 2013 coming soon. Feel free to send me your top 10 albums list and I will post them for you. I’d love to see them. I should have lists up by professional music critic Danny R. Phillips, Todd Ward of The GasTown Lamps, Matthew Coman and several others.
Thank you – Clint @ VocalsOnTop (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
Queens of the Stone Age come back from a short hiatus with a beautifully dark hard rock masterpiece with …Like Clockwork. Josh Homme turns up the amps and cranks out more of his signature guitar with a very personal, dark tone. “My God Is The Sun” and “I Sat By The Ocean” have the powerful rock chops to make any skeptic take notice. Look for this album in many, many lists for years to come.
Key Track: “My God Is The Sun’”
2. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
Jason Isbell delves even further from the southern rock roots that began his career with his fourth solo album Southeastern. His slide guitar is replaced by acoustic strums but he brings his A game lyrically to the table. He tackles cancer in “Elephant” life on the road on “Traveling Alone” and even breaks out his electric guitar for “Super 8″ and makes likely his best album to date.
Key Track: “Elephant”
3. Dsoedean – Continue To Move
Dsoedean’s full length debut crushed it out of the park. The album was over a year in the making but turned out to be well worth the wait. From the experimentation of “When The Bankers Go To Lunch” right down to the irresistible hooks of “Shuffle Your Feet” and “Perfect World” it is clear that Continue To Move was a carefully scripted game-plan and had all the right players to execute to perfection.
Key Track: “Perfect World”
4. John Murry – The Graceless Age
This brutally honest album about the dark alleys addiction can take a person down may not be very uplifting but is sure to strike an emotional chord. Murry’s powerful baritone vocals coat the songs that vary between piano and guitars. You can hear the twang of a steel guitar and sometimes the ring of synths to make for a drawn out ride with a thick sound. The 10 plus minute “Little Colored Balloons” is the clear centerpiece of the album with its personal confessions but Murry also has his take on more poppy songs like wall of sound in “Southern Sky.”
Key Track: “Little Colored Balloons”
4. Missouri Homegrown – …You Asked For It
The energy of this rowdy debut didn’t really work inside the walls of a studio so Missouri Homegrown took to a live recording for …You Asked For It. The destructive group holds on task with super doses of twang on “Whiskey Again” and even deep guitar indulgence on “Please Don’t Take Me Jesus” but they also have a strong pop sensibility influenced by John Mellencamp and Tom Petty alike that can’t help but shine through.
Key Track: “Blame It”
6. Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Haunted Head
The former member of The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Bad Seeds take lead on this project and creates a group of songs that can really best be described as haunting. The murkiness of the music has strong grooves like on “Su Su” and also powerful jams like on “Killer Diller.” It seems as if it is a jam album set in the 1950s at a prom for monsters from horror movies, unique, to say the least.
Key Track: “Haunted Head”
7. Austin Miller – More Than One Way
It seems that almost every year a great album comes out of nowhere and emerges for you. For me it Austin Miller’s More Than One Way. You can call it americana if you like as it has the repertoire to be classified as such. The songs are dominantly optimistic and will put a little skip in your step except the standout track ironically. The spite and anger of “Moving Along” proves the sun sets on even the brightest of days.
Key Track: “Moving Along”
8. Tracy Huffman – Pieces
Lyrics are king in Tracy Huffman’s world and it’s a good thing because he is damn good at writing them. Paired with Chuck Berry inspired guitar licks, he always tends to strike a nerve with the listener with each song. From the clean production of “Jealous Boy” to the vulnerable “Dark Side of the Road” this effort has the words that feel like they were plucked right from your own mind.
Key Track: “Ain’t Got That Much To Say”
9. Cage The Elephant - Melophobia
Cage The Elephant continue to distance themselves from being just another White Stripes spin-off with their experimental third album. These are far from bare bones, straight forward rock tunes like on the playfulness of “Teeth” and “Black Widow” but they don’t avoid radio friendly episodes either like on ”Spiderhead” and the addictive “Come A Little Closer.”
Key Track: “Teeth”
10. Those Darlins – Blur The Line
These Darlins are building quite a sound with their third record. Each release has its different flavors but Blur The Line feels like the girl fronted group has hit their stride. They still have the Velvet Underground inspired garage rock on tunes like “In The Wilderness” but also dive into power pop with tracks like “Optimist” and prove that they are around to stay.
Key Track: “Optimist”
Every Year a few albums just barely miss the cut. This year those albums for Vocals On Top were Ed Anderson’s Lo-Fi Goodness, David Bazan’s great 2013 Spring Tour covers EP, Camper Van Beethoven’s La Costa Perdida and Vamprie Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City.