The Best of 2013
The past year in music was one filled with the arrival of fresh faces, bringing with them new sounds and a benchmark for quality in musicianship that will not soon be usurped, along with the return of familiar acts that have long commanded the airwaves with cunning brilliance that was not lost among fans in these new rock anthems.
While some shined in 2013, other artists seem to struggle to find a clear or conscious voice in their work. The year was further proof that a Top 40 ranking did not always reflect talent, or for that matter showmanship (thanks, Miley Cyrus).
Here is the Top 5 Best and Worst albums of 2013, as well as a sneak preview of what is to come in 2014.
The Best of 2013
5. Saves the Day
Saves the Day’s self-titled album, known affectionately as the Grapefruit album among fans, is a simple, yet poppy and feel good romp that reminds it’s okay just to “blow off” the mundane and enjoy the moment. Tracks “Remember” and “In the Between” are catchy snippets of an album, that while doesn’t bring anything new to the table with repetitive guitar rifts and elementary choruses, it has more than earned its place as a worthwhile listen in the band’s discography.
4. Day to Remember
The post-hardcore Florida rockers’ latest studio album, “Common Courtesy,” proves these road weary warriors have not lost their passion and energy.
Not since “Homesick” has the band packed such power hitting tracks into one disc. By blending in smooth and stifling guitar rifts, along with clean and harsh vocals, A Day to Remember continues to test its limits with self-reflective lyrics that also push the listener in the direction of introspection, while still rocking out to the fullest.
3. Senses Fail
Forget everything that you once knew about this emo-labeled band from New Jersey. Senses Fail turns over a new leaf in a metal-core debut, as lead singer Buddy Nielsen merges thrashing metal project “Bayonet” with the smooth well-produced quality that is Senses Fail.
By alternating between harsh metal and the uplifting choruses, which is a new side to band usually obsessed with the bleakness of life, Senses Fail has tapped into a progressive song structure that should produce a good foundation for future works.
2. Jimmy Eat World
Heartache and breakups are never easy and it doesn’t get easier as you grow older, but, luckily, Jimmy Eat World’s “Damage” gives these feelings of hopeless some insight. “Damage,” “Book of Love,” and “Steal you back” will more than get you through the hard times and is universal in its message.
There is also a poppy tone to the bittersweet trip down memory lane.
1. Jay Z
The king is back. Jay Z returns to reclaim rap’s throne with some well-known friends and contributors in Magna Carter Holy Grail. “Holy Grail” burned a hole through the most of coldest of hearts as Justin Timberlake actually shines in his role. For some reason, Jay almost makes you feel sorry for a man lamenting about the perils of fame, but his lyrics remind you why he is still the best.
Best of the rest: Also receiving nods of approval in 2013 were Imagine Dragons, Touché Amore, Fallout Boy, The Used and a bonus track compilation by My Chemical Romance (rest in peace).
Looking ahead: 2014 holds a lot of promise for bands that put out such stellar releases just a few years ago and even further back. Grammy winners, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Bayside and even Sunny Day Real Estate, which established an almost cultlike following during the early ’90s, seem poised to make a comeback.
The WORST of 2013
5. Rise Against
Although Rise Against are usually known as nonconformists who go against the grain of the mainstream media, these softened musical revolutionists appeared to have lost their way with the summer release of “Long Forgotten Songs.” The 20-some track album is a compilation of rarities and B-sides that stretch to the band’s early years. The only problem with this is these songs aren’t really that rare and have appeared in various compilations since then. It appears the band simply repackaged the tracks as a moneymaker, a true slap in the face to its diehard fan base.
4. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s “I Am Not a Human Being II” is a perfect example of how the Louisiana-born rapper needs to return to old form, rely less on name appearances, take a little more time off between productions and rediscover the free flowing form that ushered in his stardom.
3. Britney Spears
Britney Spears’ newest work, “Britney Jean,” is proof that some artists simply don’t know when to hang it up. A quick gloss over of this album begs the question, “Does she even write her own material?”
2. Justin Timberlake
The former Backstreet Boy should ask for more studio time with Jay Z, as he has proved once again why only small does of Timberlake’s long and drawn out song structure are bearable
1. Miley Cyrus
Do you remember her performance at the VMA awards? Enough said. Images of crying cats and wrecking balls will forever haunt this misled talent. Her fourth studio album, “Bangerz,” was intended to be a Dirty South Hip-Hop combo (whatever that is suppose to mean) with the intention of permanently separating her music and acting career. Apparently, her dramatics are far from over.