December 19, 2013

Clicky Clicky Music Blog's Top Albums Of 2013: Dillon Edition

Clicky Clicky Music Blog Top Albums Of 2013 -- Dillon Edition

And here it is, our last year-end list for 2013, this one top albums selections courtesy of our intrepid Staff Writer Dillon Riley. There is noticeable overlap between this list and our own, which we published earlier this week. However, we embrace the differences between the lists even more, as they allow the publication to recognize yet more very worthy acts that didn't rate a slot on Jay's tally. Yet even Mr. Riley didn't have room in the manger for all he hoped to recognize; he extends honorable mention kudos to Medicine (To The Happy Few, released on Captured Tracks), Grooms (Infinity Caller, on Western Vinyl), Radiator Hospital (see Jay's list), Swearin' (Surfing Strange, Salinas Records) and Waxahatchee (Cerulean Salt, Don Giovanni). If you'll allow a brief aside, we're grateful not only to our readers for lending their attention to the publication each day, but also to the rock solid partners we've conned into helping further the mission of Clicky Clicky. So to Michael Piantigini, Edward Charlton and Mr. Riley, this blog's executive editor offers his sincerest, unreserved thanks. We hope you all enjoy their writing half as much as we do. Clicky Clicky will publish little or not at all for the remainder of the year, but rest assured we'll be out here listening to and weighing the relative merits of the new now sounds, and resting up for what is sure to be an exciting and indie-rock filled 2014. We thank you for your continued patronage. Now on to Dillon's Top Albums Of 2013.
1. Krill -- Lucky Leaves -- Self-Released

It physically hurt, having to choose between these jams and those of the equally impressive collection listed just below Lucky Leaves. No other records were more obsessively spun, streamed, talked and/or posted on Facebook/Twitter about, and air drummed along to in class by me than these two beauties. So, the question remains, why place Krill over Speedy Ortiz at the top of the heap? Well, concerned reader, it's simple: while Speedy most definitely delivered an (all-but) unbeatable collection of ass-kicking rock tunes, Krill invented their own sonic world with Lucky Leaves. So, out of pure journalistic obligation, I just gotta side with them. Plus, what other band on this planet or otherwise would release their highly anticipated sophomore LP in a ball of mozzarella for an obscenely high price? Or, for that matter, any price? I thought so. Buy it here.

2. Speedy Ortiz -- Major Arcana -- Carpark

What more can be said about this record that hasn't been dished already? The culmination of 1,001 basement gigs, a couple incredible singles and a legend-forging EP, Speedy Ortiz's meteoric rise, and the parallel ascension of the scene that birthed them, has been one of 2013's greatest success stories. Another release as good as this (and I'm expecting their forthcoming EP to slay based on the single), and we may have to declare Massachusetts the new indie rock mecca. Buy it here.

3. My Bloody Valentine -- mbv -- Self-Released

C'mon, like this one wasn't gonna make it... I, like many reading this, stayed up half the night on that fateful February evening waiting for the My Bloody Valentine website to gain its footing so I could get my metaphorical hands on these sweet, sweet digital goods. And, uh, no disappointments here. A basically flawless album from one of the most influential bands/sonic auteurs/musical masterminds of all time, mbv picked up right where the final flickering beats of "Soon" left off, despite the two-decade-plus gap. I was there at the House Of Blues gig, too, and in some ways I'm still recovering from it as I type these words -- emotionally at least. "Wonder 2" still induces vertigo when I slap it on the turntable. Buy mbv here.

4. Joanna Gruesome -- Weird Sister -- Slumberland

Complete with a mythic origin story (click and control-f for "anger"), a record bursting at the grooves with energy, and a deliriously bad name, Joanna Gruesome had me captivated long before they blew up at CMJ this fall. An arresting concoction of power-twee hooks and searing, noise-pop guitars, this Cardiff quintet's music presents a perfect yin-yang of indie rock goodness. Sure, they come off a little bookish at the onset with "Sugarcrush," but by "Secret Surprise" frontwoman Alanna Gruesome -- yeah they adopted band surnames a la The Ramones, as well as a certain other Cardiff-based indie pop sensation -- apparently bins her anger management training and embraces some good ol' fashioned violence as she dreams of pulling teeth from an ex's mouth. Joanna Gruesome is another band you can file under Dill-core for sure. Buy Weird Sister here.

5. Ovlov -- am -- Exploding In Sound

am, the debut LP from these Newtown, CT fuzz-rockers, was a near-revelation upon its mid-summer release. Delivering on the promise of their early EPs, Ovlov's current all-Hartlett lineup -- brothers Steve, Theo, and Jon -- is easily their best to date, one that takes frontdude Steve's compositions to dizzying heights. And yet, on an album filled with such intense, unrelentingly overdriven guitar anthems, it's the record's most restrained track, the lumbering "Where’s My Dini?," that shines brightest. At least to me. Whatever, the stratospheric launch around the 1:07 mark during "Blue Baby" stands as my favorite musical moment of the year, too, so what do I know? Buy am here.

6. Deerhunter -- Monomania -- 4AD

Here's why I will always love this band: fresh off their biggest release yet, 2011's gorgeously atmospheric Halcyon Digest, one would expect Deerhunter -- seemingly on the cusp of widespread adoration -- to drop another set of articulate dream-pop tunes. Instead we got Monomania, a haphazard collection of brittle, lo-fi, junkyard-rock, and a bizarre-even-by-Bradford Cox-standards appearance on Jimmy Fallon's late-night gabber. These songs are all splintering guitars and jagged-edge vocal squawks about motorbikes and obsession, a perfect backdrop for Deerhunter's most American-sounding effort yet. The kicker is the record's best song, Lockett Pundt's turn at the mic for "The Missing," is far more Lotus Plaza than Deerhunter: a perfect exception to the rules set forth by the Monomania's skewed aesthetic. Buy it here.

7. Smith Westerns -- Soft Will -- Mom + Pop Music

Speaking of smart, well-crafted indie music, these Chicago dudes kick up a pristine blend of guitar-pop, trading in angular guitars and restrained rhythms for Day-Glo keyboard melodies and glam-rock bombast. How the first single from Soft Will, the deliciously juvenile "Varsity," hasn’t appeared on more (read: any) best song lists for 2013 is beyond me. I guess people don't put as much of a premium on clean-cut pop melodies as they used to. No matter, I get the feeling this band will continue to quietly release 10-song batches of exacting, sugary-sweet angst like this one well into the future. After all, they're barely out of high school. Buy Soft Will here.

8. Bent Shapes -- Feels Weird -- Father/Daughter

Allston basement heroes done good, a classic story archetype you'll find with some regularity within this list. With their debut LP Feels Weird, indie-pop heroes Bent Shapes compiled and cleaned up a proverbial murderer's row of tracks they'd released in various formats (and production fidelities) to create a collection for the ages. A pre-release P-Fork album stream helped build buzz and landed them favorable reviews across the board, and their release show at Great Scott was one our favorites of the year. Not a bad year for the artists formerly known as Girlfriends, I'd say. Buy Feels Weird here.

9. Youth Lagoon -- Wondrous Bughouse -- Fat Possum

You wouldn't know it from the sound of his early singles, but Trevor Powers is quite the arranger. Where his debut under the Youth Lagoon moniker, The Year of Hibernation, exuded hushed tones and reverb-heavy keys, Powers went HD on this affair, trading up for expansive, panoramic production and hard-hitting live drums. This was far and away the best pure psych-rock album released in 2013; not bad considering this year also saw The Flaming Lips release a 24-hour-long song inside of a gummy skull head [total Krill wannabes -- Ed.] and a full-album tribute to The Stone Roses. A sparsely attended afternoon set at the first Boston Calling didn't do Powers justice, 'cause he brings the proverbial it live, too. Buy Wondrous Bughouse here.

10. Pity Sex -- Feast of Love -- Run For Cover

This record had all the trappings of what my friends call a "typical Dillon album:" Blown-out guitar production? Check. Boy/girl call-and-response vocals? Check. A mash-up of two classically "indie" sounds? Check. And last, but not least, a groan-inducingly un-Googleable name? Why, of course. Suffice to say, I fell hard for this Ann Arbor quartet's razor-sharp emo-gaze, and early album highlight "Keep" is still a go-to for my own version of the Seth Cohen starter kit. Buy Feast Of Love here.

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