I've absolutely loved 2013 for music. I've been to loads of amazing gigs and festivals, interviewed and reviewed some ace bands, hung out at XFM with one of my favourite bands and discovered loads of new stuff, alongside some of my old favourites bringing out awesome new releases. I decided for New Year, as my year has been so music-heavy, I wanted to share some of my favourite albums of the year - so here goes! Do let me know what you think in the comments!
8. A Day To Remember - Common Courtesy
The much-anticipated new album from A Day To Remember was released a little unconventionally due to a legal dispute with Victory Records, and the band ended up releasing the digital download themselves (with a physical copy following later). Following the trademark style of mixing bouncy pop-punk choruses and hardcore-inspired breakdowns, Common Courtesy features quite a bit of what ADTR do best. There are still surprises though, with the acoustic, folksy I'm Already Gone, and End Of Me is rather the dramatic, epic track.
Standout Tracks: Right Back At It Again, I Surrender, Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way
7. Jimmy Eat World - Damage
I've always thought of Jimmy Eat World as one of the 'story of my life' type bands, and no matter my mood, there's always a JEW song that just 'gets it' perfectly. Having said that, I found Damage to be quite a slow burner album - on first listen, I wasn't overwhelmed by much other than lead single I Will Steal You Back. But after a few listens, it really did grow a lot on me, and there are some beautiful moments on the album.
Standout Tracks: Please Say No, I Will Steal You Back, How'd You Have Me
6. letlive. - The Blackest BeautifulAn album that's had heavy praise this year, The Blackest Beautiful is quite the hardcore masterpiece. Mixing brutal heaviness with catchy melodies, the instrumental complexities combined with Jason Butler's frenetic vocal delivery creates a unique and exciting sound. Lyrically, the album also poses some interesting questions regarding the current state of America and musically, it's just stunning. I was lucky enough to see the band play an intimate set at London's Old Blue Last this year, and the songs translated perfectly to a live setting, creating an electric energy stronger than I think I've ever seen.
Standout Tracks: White America's Blackest Beautiful, Pheremone Cvlt, The Dope Beat
7. Deaf Havana - Old Souls
Full review here.I've been a fan of Deaf Havana since they were a local band with a very different sound - since the departure of their former 'screamo' vocalist, their output has changed immensely - and I'd say for the better. Old Souls has a distinct Americana feel to it, with jangly guitars and a Springsteen edge. Songwriting and lyrics are a particular selling point, with a really personal, storytelling vibe that paints a great picture of the struggles of growing up.
Standout Tracks: Everybody's Dancing And I Want To Die, Saved, Night Drives
4. Panic! at the Disco - Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die
Panic! at the Disco's first album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, was staple listening for any teenager with a floppy fringe - but truth be told, since listening to that album religiously, I'd sort of lost touch with the band (after this came out though, I did backtrack and was surprised at what I'd been missing out on!). Leading with single release Miss Jackson, Too Weird... has a great mixture of tracks, with quite a heavy focus on synth-led melodies and a bit of an 80s reworked feel.
Standout Tracks: Far Too Young To Die, Casual Affair, This Is Gospel
3. Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal
One of my earliest memories of BMTH existing was seeing them support...someone...around the time their first album was released, and it being absolutely awful. They went on to become the band that a lot of metal and rock communities loved to hate. But 2013's Sempiternal is hitting top ten lists all over the web and print, with critical and fan acclaim. Thanks to the band cleaning up their act, they're now being played on commercial radio, with their take on the generic metalcore sound; adding electronic elements without making it gimmicky and creating some soaring, catchy choruses.
Standout Tracks: Can You Feel My Heart, The House Of Wolves, Deathbeds (on the deluxe version)
2. The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation
I actually found it quite tough deciding between first and second - as this album has been played pretty regularly since it came out earlier this year. Seeing TWY live for the first time at Warped Tour was a pretty emotional experience too! I feel like The Greatest Generation perfectly encapsulates life in your mid-twenties, and has some pretty powerful and moving moments for me personally.
Standout Tracks: The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves; The Devil In My Bloodstream, Passing Through A Screen Door
1. Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll
Yep, an unsurprising win. One of my most memorable 'music moments' of 2013 was hearing the news that Fall Out Boy, a band I grew up and grew along with, were returning from hiatus to play some shows and release new music. I basically did a little squeak in the middle of my office like the cool, calm and collected professional that I am. I did a full review here, but basically, Save Rock And Roll manages to mix the old school Fall Out Boy sound with a much poppier sensibility. There are some great special guests on the album including the one and only Sir Elton John for the title track - a suprising combination, but it REALLY works. Catchy songs with their trademark brilliant lyrics and experimentation with different music styles made sure Fall Out Boy returned with a bang this year.
Standout Tracks: Just One Yesterday (feat. Foxes), Miss Missing You, Alone Together
Honourable Mentions: Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing; Touché Amoré - Is Survived By; Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True; Mallory Knox - Signals; Mixtapes - Ordinary Silence; Citizen - Youth; James Arthur - James Arthur; Funeral For A Friend - Conduit; Vices - Between My Mind And The World.
What were your favourite releases of 2013? Any recommendations for 2014 you wanna send to my ears?