Six months ago, nearly to the day, I posted my Top 20 of 2013. Maybe I remember it so well because it took so damn long to put together. Well, now it’s time to basically look back and tear my own picks a new one. To see who’s stood up six months after the fact and which albums have been forgotten.
You know the drill. This is always an enjoyable, if somewhat humbling experience, but if a fierce numerical inventory is what needs to be made, then I’m on board. Here’s how it shakes out:
20. All Them Witches, Lightning at the Door
If I was putting this list together today, this would be a top 10 album. It was pretty recently released when I first did the top 20, but the more I’ve gotten to know it, the more I’ve dug it.
19. Queens of the Stone Age, …Like Clockwork
I went back and revisited this a couple weeks back, as I’ll probably do once or twice a year into perpetuity, but yeah, I’m still way more inclined to reach for an earlier Queens of the Stone Age album.
18. I are Droid, The Winter Ward
Spent a lot of time with I are Droid‘s second outing this long winter, has held up well. A clean, full, professional sound and excellent songwriting. Poppy at times, but that’s the idea.
17. Magic Circle, Magic Circle
This was some of 2013’s best doom. I haven’t gone back to the album a million times, but I do keep trying to track down a Magic Circle gig to see them live again. Hoping for new stuff from them soon.
16. Iron Man, South of the Earth
I felt like when Iron Man got signed to Rise Above, it was a victory for every underrated doom band ever. At very least all the ones floating around in Maryland. This deserved to be on the list.
15. Sasquatch, IV
So good. Sasquatch write hooks so catchy it’s supernatural. IV was a vision of what hard rock should’ve become after grunge died out in the ’90s. Haven’t gone back to it every day, but it remains a killer record.
14. Black Pyramid, Adversarial
This was going to be in my top 20 one way or another. With the breakup of the band owing to members leaving the Boston area, it’s become kind of a sad swansong in my mind, though the songs still make their victory plain to hear.
13. Across Tundras, Electric Relics
Every now and again, I check Tanner Olson‘s Bandcamp page to see if he’s put out anything new. He’s due at this point, but this Across Tundras record has enough staying power to hold me over either way. “Gravel Roads,” man.
12. Borracho, Oculus
I feel like I listened to this record so much I know it front to back, so I don’t even need to put it on. I just press play in my brain and the songs start. Riffs riffs riffs. Borracho proved they could thrive as a three-piece and Oculus blew their first one out of the water.
11. Ice Dragon, Born a Heavy Morning
Fucking hell, I wish Ice Dragon played shows. They’ve got four new CD reissues out since Born a Heavy Morning that haunt my dreams. If I had any money, I’d be telling them to shut up and take it from me.
10. Devil to Pay, Fate is Your Muse
It was a long album, but a good one. I was happy I could fit this into the top 10, and I still am. Charm goes a long way, and Devil to Pay have plenty.
9. Beast in the Field, The Sacred Above, the Sacred Below
I played this in the car the other day and The Patient Mrs. goes, “Can we listen to something less… abrasive?” It seemed to me she immediately understood the appeal of Beast in the Field. This record continues to crush everything in its path.
8. Beelzefuzz, Beelzefuzz
Kind of a similar deal to Borracho. Truth be told, at this point, I’m just glad to even talk about Beelzefuzz‘s self-titled. Seriously. I saw it on the other list and was like, “Yay!” One of the most inventive and individual albums I heard last year. Can’t wait to find out how they follow it.
7. Samsara Blues Experiment, Waiting for the Flood
I had kind of put this one down for a while, but I recently picked it back up and have been listening again. Excellent heavy psych. Put Samsara Blues Experiment in another class of bands as far as I’m concerned.
6. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Mind Control
Probably haven’t listened to it all the way through since I made the Top 20 in December. Some of its hooks continue to resonate though, and I hope Uncle Acid continue to get weirder and more spaced out.
5. Lumbar, The First and Last Days of Unwelcome
I remember making the list and then pushing everything back by one to fit this in the top five. One of those one-time-only records that you’re going to hear people talk about a decade from now, myself included.
4. Vista Chino, Peace
No regrets for having this on the list, but there are records behind it in number that I’ve listened to more since. I hope at some point they do a second one, and I hope Mike Dean plays bass on it.
3. Gozu, The Fury of a Patient Man
Absolutely, yes. I haven’t seen any single band play as much as Gozu since I moved to Massachusetts about a year ago, and I am 100 percent okay with that. These dudes kill it, and these songs have only become tighter and more lethal on stage. Whatever they do next, it’s going to be very, very heavy.
2. Monster Magnet, Last Patrol
Hasn’t quite had the staying power I thought it would, to be honest. I have the vinyl but never got it on CD and I’m sure I would listen to it more often if I had that version. The LP is killer, but there are like two songs per side and that’s an awful lot of flipping for an album that just demands you chill the fuck out and let it take over your mind.
1. Clutch, Earth Rocker
Pretty satisfying to know that if I had to make a Top 20 of 2013 today, this would still be my number one pick. It felt glaringly obvious to me — it was the top of the Readers Poll as well — but some things you just can’t ignore. Clutch added a few classics to their catalog with Earth Rocker, and it felt like even the record’s B-grade material was top notch.
The Top 20 last year actually went to 30 — I think this year I’ll probably cut out the middle-man and just do a Top 30 — but here were the other 10 picks:
21. Blaak Heat Shujaa, The Edge of an Era
22. The Freeks, Full On
23. Luder, Adelphophagia
24. The Flying Eyes, Lowlands
25. Black Skies, Circadian Meditations
26. At Devil Dirt, Plan B: Sin Revolucion No Hay Evolucion
27. Kadavar, Abra Kadavar
28. Naam, Vow
29. Mühr, Messiah
30. Uzala, Tales of Blood and Fire
Most of those look about right. If I was making the list now, I’d put Mühr and Naam in the Top 20, in place of Queens of the Stone Age and I don’t know what else, and just seeing the name of the album there now makes me want to put on that Luder. I still feel like I don’t know the Uzala as well as I’d like to, and I bought that on CD and tape when I saw them last fall.
There you have it. Seems like the original list actually held up better than I expected, so right on. Overall it was a fairly stellar year for new music, though I doubt I’ll be saying anything different in another six months when the end of 2014 rolls around.
Anything you forgot about or anything that dropped off from your favorites last year? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks for reading.