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Shaneheader copy

 

Well, Kickers, it’s about that time again: the year’s end is drawing neigh, and we get to contemplate the greatness of the music that has made its way to our eager ears this year. Here are the albums that left me enrapt as we rap up 2013! Here’s hoping you enjoyed them as much as I did!!! If not, there’s always Scott’s list. hehe

 

HEAR THE PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY-
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        Toad copy1. Toad the Wet Sprocket – New Constellation

New Constellation is an absolutely stellar return to form for a band that defined the 90’s for me. The group’s first release since 1997’s Coil contains everything that I love about the band’s sound: vibrant vocal harmonies, abundant atmospheric instrumentation, lyrics that instantly imbed in your head and a record whose enjoyment grows with every subsequent listen. You cannot go wrong with this record, and was one of the few comeback records I’ve encountered that was well worth the wait.

https://www.facebook.com/toadthewetsprocketmusic

http://toadthewetsprocket.com/

 
 

Tegan copy2. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob

The quintessential synth-pop album, with Heartthrob, Tegan and Sara have made a record that not only lives up to their previous releases but refined their lyrical sincerity, effulgent hooks and harmonies to an absolute apex. This record is mature, conscious and effusively infectious, standing atop a wave of skillful songwriting the duo has unleashed over the course of their careers. Heartthrob is a true masterpiece.

https://www.facebook.com/TeganandSara

http://www.teganandsara.com
 
 

Coheed copy3. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Decension

As I proclaimed in my review, “this installment of the Amory Saga is profoundly moving. Descension, as a whole, is as engaging and provoking as any of their previous efforts.” I was absolutely blown away by how consistently addictive each track on this album is. The hooks are so prevalent throughout the record that your brain will scarcely contain them as they jockey for a position at the forefront of your focus. Taking nothing away from their last three albums (which were all glorious in my estimation), there is an urgency and vitality that surges from track to track on Decension that truly separates it from the pack. If you are a Coheed fan, The Afterman: Decension will absolutely ensnare your ear from the very first spin. The dynamic undulates wonderfully within each arrangement, making the listening a compelling and wholly satisfying experience. Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/coheedandcambria

http://www.coheedandcambria.com
 
 

Civil Wars copy4. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

There is something to be said for albums where genuine dissent is evident— and with The Civil Wars’ self-titled release, the tension is tangible in a way that is both painful and riveting. The songwriting is jilted, scarred and scorned, yet unnervingly stirring. The songs are awash in emotion, plaintive and piquant in their pain. The swelling storyline is irresistible, making repeat listens a must. An absolutely brilliant album.

http://thecivilwars.com/

https://www.facebook.com/thecivilwars
 
 

Doughty copy5. Mike Doughty – Circles Super Bon Bon …

For a record that repackaged many of my old favorites, it would seemingly be out of the running for ranking due to its being essentially a greatest hits record. However, the tunes are so masterfully re-imagined that I could not resist tipping my cap to Mr. Doughty for having the will to revisit the songs that both elevated and unraveled him personally. The playful spirit that uses dial tones and dog barks as back beats belies the gravity of pulling personal skeletons out of the closet and reconditioning them into triumphs of will… not to mention providing a new take on an old favorite that didn’t fall short of the previous efforts.

www.mikedoughty.com/‎

https://www.facebook.com/mikedoughty‎
 
 

City Color copy6. City and Colour – The Hurry and the Harm

In the business of baring one’s soul, there are few who can claim to eclipse Dallas Green. This record continues to illustrate the man’s innate ability to craft infectious phrases and memorable melodies, all while genuinely pouring his soul through your headphones. This record is an absolute masterpiece, and is a must have for fans of melodic indie-rock.

www.cityandcolour.com

https://www.facebook.com/cityandcolour‎
 
 

Sevendust copy7. Sevendust – Black Out the Sun

For my money, rock doesn’t get much heavier or heartier than Sevendust. With Black Out The Sun the band has reconvened with a renewed determination to return to its blistering, bludgeoning and chameleonic former glory. This record is the most driven, aggressive and punctuated effort from the group since the release of Animosity. There is vitality to the songwriting and performances that is above and beyond the quality of their past few albums. The compositions are dynamic— the choruses soar, the percussion and guitar-work are kinetic as ever, the bass booms and Lajon’s melodies stab through the mix like an ice pick. This is most-definitely the Sevendust of old. You should get re-acquainted if you haven’t already!

www.sevendust.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sevendust/25493613958‎
 
 

Bronx copy8. The Bronx – The Bronx

This L.A.-based punk juggernaut has been making a loud and powerful noise for quite some time, and I am not ashamed to say I am ten years late to the prom in embracing the group. With that said, I could not have wished for a better introduction to the band than their 2013 release, eponymously titled (as are all their full-lengths) The Bronx (IV). The album is a frenzied face-wash sonic speed-ball… or to put it differently, a pure punk powder keg. This record is packed with inexhaustible energy and the surest sense of melody I’ve heard from a band of their ilk in ages. If you fancy yourself a fan of punk or rock music in the slightest, this is a record that will certainly sit well within your headphones. The songs are dynamic, the lyrics adroitly penned, the energy effusive and the screams so primal that they will spike straight into your central nervous system causing involuntary spasms.  If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

 thebronxxx.com

https://www.facebook.com/thebronx
 
 

AIC copy9. Alice in Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

For a band that I have loved from the first moment I their sound assailed my eardrums, this effort was certainly not my favorite of theirs. This is absolutely not intended to detract from my enjoyment of the record, but mostly to explain their low placement on the list. I loved this record, as I love every note of Alice’s catalog. That said, the dynamics of this album track-to-track were not in keeping with my personal expectations of the release. I often felt the needle had gotten stuck on the record, with riffs being driven into the ground and little diversity between the bars. With that said, it’s most definitely an enjoyable listen- but you my find it a tad oppressive if you take it in more than measured doses.

www.aliceinchains.com

https://www.facebook.com/aliceinchains
 
 

Iron Wine copy10. Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost

Just when you think you’ve pinned down Sam Beam’s musical trajectory, he twists and turns his sound on its ear before it makes its way to yours. His style has almost imperceptibly shifted with every new release, and Ghost on Ghost certainly continues the trend. Orchestral arrangements, brass bits, sax stabs, piano pads and a touch of jaw harp all manage to diversify his sound while still conveying the same ornate simplicity his songwriting has always possessed. The release is more a soul record than a folk offering, and yet Beam’s mellifluous voice melds to the Motown sound easily, ensnaring your ear and refusing to relinquish its hold until the running time winds down. So just lay back and let the ghosts possess you… you’ll be happily haunted.

www.ironandwine.com

https://www.facebook.com/ironandwine‎
 
 

Honorable mentions:

Puscifer copy
Puscifer – Donkey Punch the Night

 

Frightened rabbit copy
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

 

Steve Wilson copy
Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing

 

  Weerd
Weerd Science – Red Light Juliet [Review]

 

Davenport

Davenport Cabinet – Our Machine [Interview, Review]

 

Stellar

Stellar Young – Everything at Once [Interview, Review]

 

HEAR THE PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY-
Spotify AMPKICKER.COM

 

Thanks for listening!

-Shane
 

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