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My Top 12 Albums of 2013

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

I don’t think I did this for 2012, and this seems like as good of a topic as any for the inaugural “blog post” of my music-only refocus of Woopop.com. Having to limit the list to ten always seemed so arbitrary, so you’re getting 12. It’s also in alphabetical order, because I’m not about to try and say one album was “better” than another, this is simply what I was spinning heavily this year.

Alter Bridge – Fortress

Continuing the strong, straight up hard rock that they’ve been known for since the first album, Alter Bridge brought it yet again on Fortress. I’ve written it before, but Myles Kennedy could sing over my cat’s screeching and I’d love it, and Mark Tremonti and crew are a damn sight better than that. I’d probably put this a shade ahead of ABIII, but just behind Blackbird. “Addicted to Pain” rips hard, “Lover” is probably as close as they’ve ever gotten to sounding like the Mayfield Four (Myles’ old band), and “Cry A River” is probably my favorite track on the album.

Chimaira – Crown of Phantoms

Everyone wondered if Chimaira could come back and be Chimaira after turning over the entire lineup, save for lead singer Mark Hunter. The answer was a resounding YES. To me, the first 30 seconds of the first song (The Machine) told me everything I needed to know. After that, “No Mercy”, “Plastic Wonderland” and “Wrapped in Violence” are highlights.

Eye Empire – Evolve

One of the hardest working bands in rock today rewarded their die-hards this year with Evolve, which amplified everything that made Impact great. The heavy got a little heavier, the melodies a bit sweeter, BC’s solo’s even tastier. Check out “War Isn’t Over Yet”, “Beyond The Stars”, “Bleed” (which you can absolutely tell Corey Lowery had a hand in, hello Stereomud vibe!), and “Live Loud”.

Fall Out Boy – Save Rock And Roll

#MUPS have been lit. Wow. I’ve always liked FOB, have all the albums, and I always thought From Under The Cork Tree was their best complete album. This is stealing the title. Given all that, I was (and still am) genuinely surprised at how much I’ve ended up listening to this album, and how much I like it. A truly solid pop-rock album from top to bottom with no duds. No highlights because I’d just have to list the entire tracklist.

Filter – The Sun Comes Out Tonight

Picking up where they left off with 2010’s The Trouble With Angels, Filter delivered a great follow-up with this one. The heavier tracks have some great riffs (We Hate It…, What Do You Say, It’s Got To Be Right Now, This Finger’s For You), and the slower tunes / ballads are very well done (Surprise, It’s My Time). My personal favorite is definitely “Self Inflicted”.

Hatebreed – The Divinity Of Purpose

Frontman Jamey Jasta described the album as “All pit, no shit.” Can’t argue with that assessment much. 38 minutes of good old-fashioned Hatebreed metalcore. It kicks off with “Put It To The Torch” and goes from there. Besides that, “Honor Never Dies”, “Before The Fight Ends You” and the title track are my standouts.

Hey Monea – Cheap Souvenirs

We found out about Canton, Ohio’s Hey Monea through our Buffalo boys The Doyle Brothers (although I swear I’d heard of Hooked on Tonics previously, but can’t substantiate that), and really enjoyed their first Hey Monea disc “Wine, Women, and Song“. Cheap Souvenirs continues their pop/light-rock sound with more polish, tighter songs, and if it’s possible, more fun. WW&S’s “Ballad of Moonbeam Swiner” gets a little tune up and turns into “Stay” on this one, and beyond that, “Pollyanna”, “Never Gonna Take You Back”, and “Ohio Lullaby” are my faves.

Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

A four-year break, plus Jesse Leach re-joining as lead singer, equals one hell of an album. Talk about a new energy! This is another one where I can’t really list highlights, the whole album is fantastic, but I’ll single out “A New Awakening”, “In Due Time”, and “A Tribute To The Fallen” as my favorites.

Matthew Good – Arrows of Desire

A bit more upbeat than the last couple of MG solo records, it’s no less solid than everything that came before it. I like practically everything he puts out, so this is kind of a no-brainer for the list. “Arrows of Desire”, “Had It Coming”, “Garden of Knives” and “Guns of Carolina” are my highlights.

Mike Doughty – Circles, Super Bon Bon…

After swearing for years that he’d never revisit Soul Coughing tunes as a solo act, Doughty had a change of heart, and recorded a bunch of tunes as he’d originally conceived them before they got put through the Soul Coughing wringer. The album was crowdfunded through PledgeMusic (I helped!). It’s pretty cool to hear how stripped down most of these songs ended up, and I’m partial to the fact that “Unmarked Helicopters” and “St. Louise Is Listening” made the cut.

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Pretty much anything Pearl Jam put out would have made the list, but Lightning Bolt really is a great album. “Sirens” is one of my early favorites, while “My Father’s Son”, “Infallible” and “Future Days” are catching up.

Sevendust – Black Out The Sun

This one actually had to grow on me a little. I’m as big of a Sevendust fan as you’ll find, but I did not get into this album on the first listen. In fact, I think I called it “Call Me No One Part 2″ at first. After running through it a couple more times, however, it started to make sense to me, and I’ve grown to really appreciate the album. The title track is fantastic, “Decay” is the lead single for a reason, and “Faithless” and “Dark AM” are favorites.


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