2013: Tom's Top 10

by Tom Haugen

I think I could more easily make a list of the Top Ten Albums I Was Disappointed With this year than the ten I enjoyed. Of course, there was still truly great music released in 2013, but many of my most anticipated discs fell really short. With new albums from Banner Pilot, Against Me, Beck and a shelved Johnny Cash recording that is resurfacing, 2014 looks promising...


The Front Bottoms - Talon Of The Hawk

One of New Jersey's finest, the quirky, clever, and funny indie rock here is as adventurous as it is memorable. You'll see this one on many year-end lists from punk, folk rock and rock 'n' roll fans for good reason.


Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True

Their consistently best album since Crimson, the dark pop-punk legends return with plenty of energetic nods to their past as well as more sophisticated, sprawling tunes. Andriano's songs are stronger than ever, too.


Off With Their Heads - Home

Heroes to the underdogs, the self-loathing anthems from this searing punk rock band have never pleaded and buzzed so hard. Some slower tunes toward the end show them spreading their wings, but the first five tracks here are blistering.


Patty Griffin - American Kid

Lovely, stripped-back folk, country and blues songs that pay homage to her late father, Griffin adds to her already legendary status with a soothing, pensive work of warm brilliance.


Patrick Sweany - Close To The Floor

Sweany knows his way around a soulful tune, and his road-worn voice and timeless story telling shine brighter than ever on this country rock, blues, and classic rock influenced album.


Teen Girl Scientist Monthly - Modern Dances

One of the most exciting things going on in Brooklyn, TGSM take cues from their peers with a hefty amount of synth and apply it to indie pop, alt-rock and '90s college rock. Dual gender vocals (though mostly female), and light touches of violins, and acoustic guitars illustrate they've got a lot of tricks up their sleeves, too.


Save Ends - Warm Hearts, Cold Hands

These Boston darlings have been making waves around their town for awhile, but this LP should exist in everyone's collection. This is a solid example of punk-lite, or, if you prefer, gritty indie rock. The '90s guitar crunch and incredible female vocals here are a combination that's impossible not to adore.


Brianna Lea Pruett - Gypsy Bells

A warm, intimate and elegant listen from this rising folkie, Pruett's calm melodies and emotive storytelling occasionally sit on the cusp of country or Americana, and her songs are touching, universally relatable and heartfelt.



Steve Earle & The Dukes (& The Dutchesses) - The Low Highway

When Earle's rugged voice sings you listen, ‘cause this man has things to say that you want to hear. From pianos and violins to rowdy bar rockers, Earle and company cover a lot of ground here, essentially touching on all the sounds that Earle has explored in his lengthy and sometimes turbulent career.


David Ford - Charge

The English singer-songwriter bests himself here with playful anthems and revealing balladry, often sounding like an audio autobiography that addresses many of the obstacles he's had to overcome.




Best Comeback Release

Girls Against Boys - The Ghost List

Post-punk meets dance rock is all the rage now, but when Girls Against Boys started doing it in ‘92 people raised eyebrows. But they eventually won over everyone. After a lengthy hiatus, they return with five tracks of their best work to date.


Best EP

The Trouble Starts - East

This legendary Seattle band pack alt-rock, punk, indie, post-rock and grunge into a quick listen of sonically loud perfection.


Best Reissue

Dump - I Can Hear Music

Dump is the obscure one man band of James McNew of Yo La Tengo. This one came out in 1995 and took DIY to an entirely different level, with McNew even making instruments out of cardboard. Raw, primitive and with an odd selection of covers amid many originals, very few ears heard this when it first came out and this certainly warrants a larger audience.

Best Song

Superchunk - "Low F"

If this were a Top Eleven Albums Of 2013, Superchunk's I Hate Music would be on it. This is the best song from that album, and, in my mind at least, the best song of their career.


Best Various Artists Album

Various Artists - Songs For Slim: Rockin' Here Tonight - A Benefit Compilation For Slim Dunlap

A benefit compilation for Slim Dunlap's mounting medical bills after a life altering stroke, artists like Soul Asylum, Craig Finn, Lucero, Wilco and many other legends show their support for Dunlap by covering his work. Originally released as a series of 45s, they are all collected here plus many bonus songs that are just as essential.

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