The Best Rock Albums of 2013
(Also, make sure you check out our Best Rock Songs of 2013)
Lots of strong music again this year across the rock music landscape, but truthfully, there were only a handful of superb albums from start to finish. I’m not sure that’s really a bad thing, as in today’s digital download world, an album is less important as the delivery mechanism for excellent music.
My list is a lot different than all of those at the big time websites. That’s because they’re smarter, and I have better taste in music. Check out the list and let us know what we missed; and if you’re new to RARA’s Farm, we are Rock And Roll Animals, and this is where we hang out, and we’d love to have you join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or right here in the Comments section.
Just like our list of the Best Songs of 2013, each album is linked to iTunes if you want to check it out or purchase it.
Here’s our Top two dozen:
Bonus Selection: Where the Kids Are – EP – Blondfire – Not technically an album, but every one of these four songs is superb. Hopefully we’ll see a full-length soon from this dynamic brother-sister combo who mix good old American rock with Brazilian influences. Best tracks: Waves, Where The Kids Are, Hide And Seek. (Read the RARA’s review here)
24. Damage – Jimmy Eat World – There’s something to be said for consistency. These four Arizona lads have been together for eight albums and twenty years. Their sound has softened and sweetened a bit, but it’s still good stuff. Best tracks: Lean, Book Of Love, I Will Steal You Back.
23. The 1975 – The 1975 – It’s not perfect, in fact, I feel the music is a little slicker and less raw than I’d prefer from these lads from Manchester, but there’s some creative artistry for sure from Matthew Healy and the band. Best Tracks: Chocolate, Sex, Girls.
22. Paramore – Paramore – The band’s first Farro-free effort, as brothers Zac and Josh left the band after their third album. The music revolves around Hayley Williams’ vocals, but it also offers a refreshingly rougher sound at times (as well as some fluffy stuff I typically skip over). Best tracks: Fast In My Car, Now, Anklebiters.
21. The Next Day – David Bowie – Bowie is back with his 24th studio album. It’s a nice offering, hearkening back to some of his earlier sounds. Pop rock songs, with meaningful lyrics about our world today. Best tracks: Day, You Will Set The World On Fire, The Next Day.
20. By the Lamplight – Larry and His Flask – Hillbilly, Cajun punk at its finest. These guys have a unique raucous sound and are an absolute blast, a different kind of blast for sure, but that’s what we love about rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Pandemonium, Home of The Slave, Out Of Print. (Read the RARA’s review here)
19. The Bones of What You Believe – CHVRCHES – Just love Lauren Mayberry’s vulnerable vocals, but there’s a lot more to this trio from Scotland. One of the best new Alt-Rocks on the scene this year. Best tracks: The Mother We Share, Lies, Under The Tide.
18. Revolution – Jupiter Falls – The album highlights the band’s diversity; at times they sound like 70′s or 80′s classic rock, current era Alt-hardcore, or turn of the century metal. Fantastic guitar work, memorable licks and powerful vocals throughout. Best tracks: Forgiven, To The Point, Story Of A Liar. (Read the RARA’s review here)
17. AM – Arctic Monkeys – This, their fifth album is a showcase for guitarist Jamie Cook and continues to show their evolution as a band. Not their best effort ever, but still excellent Alr-rock with a snarl. Best tracks: Do I Wanna Know? R U Mine? Mad Sounds.
16. Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies – Volbeat – Heavy metal with a rockability twist from these Danish rockers. Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano makes a great first impression for this band that is rocketing up the heavy metal scene. Best tracks: My Body (Young The Giant cover), Lola Montez, Pearl Heart
15. Reflektor – Arcade Fire – Without a doubt, my most anticipated release of the year. It’s a bit pretentios, and not as good as their previous offerings, but there’s plenty to like on this one as the Montreal rockers continue to push their limits. Best tracks: Normal Person, Flashbulb Eyes, Afterlife.
14. Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold – One of America’s best metal bands continues to evolve. A bit more commercial than their earlier stuff, but they don’t sacrifice any of their core values. Best tracks: Acid Rain, Hail To The King, This Means War.
13. Night Visions – Imagine Dragons – This is actually a late 2012 release, but we didn’t listen until this year when it became the most successful new Alt-rock offering in years. Best tracks: Hear Me, It’s Time, Demons.
And, our Top Dozen:
12. Signed and Sealed in Blood – Dropkick Murphys – These blue collar Irish punk rockers continue to defy expectations. In this, their seventeenth year, they release their most main stream offering. A few big hits on a very deep album. Best tracks: : The Boys Are Back, Rose Tattoo, Burn.
11. The Sticks – Mother Mother – From the stark opening notes of the ethereal “The Omen,” this album grabs your attention and locks you in for a forty-eight minute journey through genre-defining rock ‘n roll. Best tracks: Bit By Bit, Let’s Fall In Love, Dread In My Heart. (Read the RARA’s review here)
10. Shangri La – Jake Bugg – Bugg’s distinctive voice is not for everyone, but I love it, and the way the 19 year-old churns out poppy punk-infused ditties. Best tracks: Slumville Sunrise, What Doesn’t Kill You, Me An d You.
9. Bigfoot – Cayucas – The album, the brainchild of singer Zach Yudin, has an absolutely distinctive Alt-Rock sound highlighted by a cool sixties surf vibe that dominates their intriguing ethereal debut. Best tracks: Cayucos, High School Lover, Will The Thrill. (Read the RARA’s review here)
8. Vessel – twenty one pilots – This duo has a sound all to themselves. A little ukulele, killer drums, sweet keyboards and Tyler Joseph’s infectiously unique vocals power the band’s first major label release. Best tracks: Migraine, House of Gold, Holding On To You.
7. Twistification – The Last Royals – It’s an absolute blast to listen to as this duo just churns out fun, catchy rock tunes. Still cannot fathom why this one did not explode on the music scene, with a half-dozen potential hits on the album. Best tracks: Friday Night, All Over Again, I Hate California. (Read the RARA’s review here)
6. I Love You. – The Neighbourhood – No album this year starts off as strongly as this one. The first three songs are all stellar tracks. The rest of the album is pretty damn good. A slinky dirty and absolutely addictive debut. Best tracks: Sweater Weather, Female Robbery, Afraid.
5. Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend – In general, it’s a bit more stripped down than their excellent first two albums, but there are exceptions, like the rollicking Diane Young that make every song a sonic surprise. Best tracks: Diane Young, Unbelievers, Everlasting Arms.
4. Waiting For the Dawn – The Mowgli’s – This album is a masterpiece. It’s a cool summer groove just overflowing with sweet rock ‘n roll gems and in a refreshing change from much of the music dominating today’s airwaves, The Mowgli’s offer up a host of tracks about love, hope and unity. Best tracks: San Francisco, Time, Emily. (Read the RARA’s review here)
3. Melophobia – Cage the Elephant – The term melophobia means fear of music, but there’s nothing to fear on this release. On this, their third album, Cage The Elephant continues to evolve as one of this country’s premier rock bands. Their 2011 release, Thank You, Happy Birthday was our album of the year, this one was close… Best tracks: Spiderhead, Telescope, It’s Just Forever. (Read the RARA’s review here)
2. Blunderstone Rookery – Stephen Kellogg – I used to be annoyed reading through these lists and finding an author who spotlighted a little known artist near the top of their list. Now, I’ve done it myself, but this album from an uber-talented singer-songwriter is absolutely deserving of its lofty ranking. The collection of songs is as creative as it is supremely enjoyable. It’s a rambling tour through Kellogg’s memories and a great listen. Best tracks: Thanksgiving, Good Ol’ Days, Forgive You Forgive Me. (Read the RARA’s review here)
1. Tape Deck Heart – Frank Turner – This was almost pre-ordained. Turner is a former punk front man turned rock ‘n roll troubadour. He’s a talented vocalist, guitar player and maybe the best lyricist in the business. Tape Deck Heart is a rare marriage of stirring song-writing and creative passionate music. Turner is a talented poet, sincere story-teller and tremendous musician and this album is the first time he’s put it all together. Fabulously diverse stuff that demands attention. Best tracks: Four Simple Words, Recovery, Good & Gone, Oh Brother, and many more… (Read the RARA’s review here)
So, there you have it, the best rock albums of 2013. Let us know what you think. What did we nail? Where did we fail? And, make sure you check out our Best Songs of 2013, too.