DS Staff Picks – Best albums of 2013 (Ricky)

And 2013 has rolled on by, let’s cut the sap and get to the good stuff, shall we? Let’s talk about music in 2013.  Check out my list of the year’s best albums below. BEST EP’s OF 2013:

5 -Cerce / Stresscase – Split 4- Blacklisted – So, You Are A Magician? 3 -Witch of the Waste – All Other Voices 2- Title Fight – Spring Songs 1 – Loma Prieta / Raein – split

BEST ALBUMS OF 2013:

10 – TOUCHE AMORE – Is Survived By (Deathwish Inc.)

Is Survived By isn’t the release I expected from Touche Amore, and I’m glad for it. No longer struggling with the same old feelings from albums past, the band present us a refreshingly positive album that is at once incredibly confident and endearingly frail.  The running theme of betterment and what it means to leave a legacy suit the album well, as I’m sure Is Survived By will go down as a defining album in the band’s already prosperous discography.

9- OATHBREAKER – Eros | Anteros (Deathwish Inc.)

Belgium seems like a terrifying place to have birthed a band as haunting as Oathbreaker. While Maelstrom never really did it for me, Eros | Anteros is an entirely different creature. This album is cold, distant and absolutely restless; vibrating with an uncomfortable tremble even at its tamest. Written with the brutality of black metal and the precision of post-rock, it’s the aural equivalent of a possession scene.

8 – NATIVE – Orthodox (Sargent House / Topshelf Records)

Native is a hard band to pin point. Not “tough” enough to be hardcore, not pop enough to be marketed as indie, not acrobatic enough to be considered math rock. But whatever this amalgamation of genre is called, there isn’t a band that does it as well as Native on Orthodox. An album and band that stand aside from all the others, musically elegant and astutely brave.

7 – BAPTISTS – Bushcraft (Southern Lord Recordings)

You know, dark hardcore is getting kind of boring. Maybe I’m getting old or something, but more and more I find myself less interested in a genre I once invested myself almost entirely to. Not to say I don’t dig that shit anymore, but we really don’t need any other Cursed other than, you know, Cursed. Enter Baptists. While the similarities to the genre’s giants are more than apparent, Baptists bring a different kind of edge. Somewhere in the barrage of crazed, Koeller-esque drumming and cutting metallic guitar licks lies an unbridled, untamable punk energy more akin to Paint It Black and Negative Approach than anything on the Deathwish Inc. catalog. Fast, relentless and fucking dark: this album is one kick in the teeth after another.

6 – DRUG CHURCH – Paul Walker (No Sleep Records)

“Drug Church is the sound of “some college” and a delivery job. It’s what happens when you strip any pretense from music and are left with a room full of dudes with weird bodies and tenuous futures. Pulling liberally from Seaweed, Quicksand, and Kerosene 454, the band fully embraces its hardcore-dudes-trying-to-play-alt-rock influences. No heavy trips about how you should live. No white-guy slam poetry about love. Just music you can pushpit and stagedive to so you can forget for a moment that you have eczema and work at Pizza Hut. ACTUAL punk music for ACTUAL disaffected weirdos.” – Drug Church. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

5 – MODERN LIFE IS WAR – Fever Hunting (Deathwish Inc.)

For the most part, I hate when big or legendary bands reunite. The event always seems dishonest; one last flailing hand reaching out from the mire, feeling desperately for some sort of validation. But Modern Life Is War’s fame was different. It was quiet and internal; their reunion was warranted. And coming straight out of retirement with a new album? Well, it became pretty apparent that this wasn’t some nostalgia trip or a weak attempt to reclaim a throne denied to them before. Picking right off where they left off, Fever Hunting is everything I’d hope it’d be and more. Between the dizzying repetition of “Brothers In Arms Forever” to the turbulent punk energy of “Cracked Sidewalk Surfer”, Modern Life Is War took the sound they helped define and gave it a brand new set of wheels, quickly gaining and over taking their younger counterparts. Anyone who thinks this album didn’t live up to their resonant legacy never understood this band, and I feel very sorry for you.

4 – CAPTAIN WE’RE SINKING – The Future Is Cancelled (Run For Cover Records)

Every time I listen to this album I can feel the downpour of blood, sweat and tears that went into its creation. It is a bitter drink and a cold glimpse into the psyche of one of the best, and most aware, bands in punk rock. From absolute rippers like “Adultery” to the frail, shaky moments of “A Bitter Divorce”, this album will play your heart strings like the guitars it was written on.

3 – OCTAVES – Which Way The Wind Blows (Bridge Nine)

While they still stylistically gravitate around the same sun as most of their contemporaries, Octaves find themselves comfortably floating in the colder reaches of the system where things start to get a little weird. There’s an odd sort of honesty that oozes out of this album, the kind of honesty usually reserved for drunken phone calls and letters with no return address.

2 – COMADRE – Comadre (Vitriol Records)

I fucking love Comadre.  A Wolf Ticket is still one of my favourite albums in the history of ever. And while this album didn’t instantly hit me the way that album did, I found myself revisiting it again and again, craving its infectious take on hardcore/emo/whatever the fuck it is that Comadre wrote during their existence. It’s got the virulence of pop, the snarl of hardcore, the snot-nosed attitude of punk, the scuffs and bruises of emo. Not even the unfortunate news of their demise could stop me from singing along.

1- SELF DEFENSE FAMILY – Try Me (Deathwish Inc.)

Though this album isn’t technically out until 2014 (I got it as a pre-order), I was convinced by myself and a friend that it would be foolish to not included it on my “Best of” list this year, since it’s been on rotation almost daily since it arrived at my doorstep. Try Me is one of the truest representations of being an artist (band or otherwise) and what it means to create something. It’s music for music’s sake, no matter its audience or context. Conveying emotion beyond what is written or how it’s played and  presented so subjectively that it comes full circle and becomes completely relatable. Proof that sometimes the hardest listens are the most rewarding


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