Honorable Mention Albums of 2013

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honorable mention 2013
Let’s face it – not every album can end up in our year end Blazing Top 50. Sometimes there are records that almost do make the cut and honestly probably could have replaced another record in the 40-49 range.

Realizing that, you will find 12 of those such records below that came so close to making the Top 50 but still deserve a highlight, so they are now included in The Fire Note Honorable Mention Albums of 2013.


william-tyler-impossible-truth-cover William Tyler
Impossible Truth
Merge Records [2013]

This was a tough one to review at first because Impossible Truth is an instrumental guitar record. That being said William Tyler was able to create a mysterious mood on these 8 tracks which evoked darkness, solitude, and the feeling of traveling back roads at night. It is an album to just sit and listen to which is why it is first in our Honorable Mention category.

William Tyler: Impossible Truth [Fire Note Review 4/22/13]


medicine-to-the-happy-few-cover Medicine
To The Happy Few
Captured Tracks [2013]

All that made Medicine such a great band in the 90’s is to be found within Happy Few’s ten tracks. The record has the hazy, narcotic feel of shoegaze but is injected with enough good old California sunshine to make it sound damned near jubilant. To The Happy Few sounds exactly like a Medicine album should. It sounds like 1993. And oddly enough, it sounds exactly like 2013 as well.

Medicine: To The Happy Few [Fire Note Review 8/16/13]


j-roddy-walston-business-cover J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Essential Tremors
ATO Records [2013]

There is something about the raw sounding J. Roddy Walston that we just enjoyed. His relaxed style bar rock has many ingredients that include southern rock, Led Zep grooves, power pop shine and a touch of Motown soul. All of these components mix together for the most consistent J. Roddy Walston & The Business release yet with Essential Tremors.

J. Roddy Walston & The Business [Fire Note Review 9/10/13]


man-or-astro-man-defcon-cover Man Or Astro-Man?
Defcon 5…4…3…2…1
Com. Vessels/Chunklet Ind. [2013]

It had been nearly 12 years since Man Or Astro-Man? visited earth with a batch of indie surf rock, so the landing of their new long player Defcon 5…4…3…2…1 was greeted here with open ears. Defcon 5…4…3…2…1 is one of the hardest hitting albums the band has ever released and found the song structures tight, the vocals intense and the drums thundering as loud as the dominate guitar.

Man Or Astro-Man?: Defcon 5…4…3…2…1 [Fire Note Review 5/23/13]


phosphorescent-muchacho-cover-art Phosphorescent
Dead Oceans Records [2013]

Muchacho was such a dense and layered record. On the one hand, it has a stunning production; one can easily listen to it just on the surface level and be impressed with it. However, with repeated listens, it becomes more and more apparent that this is a deeply personal and heartbreaking record. This one is well worth your time, but be prepared, it’s going to take you a few listens for it all to sink in.

Phosphorescent: Muchacho [Fire Note Review 4/3/13]


knife-shaking-habitual-cover The Knife
Shaking The Habitual
Mute Records [2013]

Despite its length, Shaking the Habitual is well paced and is sequenced in such a way that despite clocking in at over 90 minutes, is easy to digest in one sitting. Shaking the Habitual, is a record that will challenge you. It is mysterious, gorgeous, difficult, and rewarding, often on the same track. Shaking the Habitual was a jaw dropping psychedelic record dressed up in electronic clothing.

The Knife: Shaking The Habitual [Fire Note Review 4/17/13]


gregory-alan-isakov-cover-the-weatherman Gregory Alan Isakov
The Weatherman
Suitcase Town Music [2013]

Sometimes there is just nothing better than a softly played indie-folk record like The Weatherman, the third full-length album from Gregory Alan Isakov. The album is full of his confident smooth vocals that allow him to just sing. The Weatherman finds Gregory Alan Isakov becoming a stronger force on the neo-folk scene and we only expect his name to grow after this excellent record.

Gregory Alan Isakov: The Weatherman [Fire Note Review 7/17/13]


shocked-minds-cover Shocked Minds
Shocked Minds
HoZac Records [2013]

Shocked Minds play the kind of scuzzy punk rock that was spawned in NYC in the mid 70’s. These guys are the bastard sons of The Heartbreakers and The Dead Boys and this record flies by quick. The whole album sounds like it was recorded in some seedy back alley studio, and that is exactly what it should sound like! This was just another quality release from HoZac Records that is currently one of the best indie labels out there.

Shocked Minds: Shocked Minds [Fire Note Review 7/12/13]


bill-callahan-dream-river Bill Callahan
Dream River
Drag City Records [2013]

Bill Callahan is still best known from his work with Smog but his solo outings have been consistently good. Dream River was no different as its soundscapes walled you in with Callahan’s current world view. Dream River is one of most accomplished albums from Callahan that just sounds like everything is in place. It is a record that is not immediate and that is why it worked.

Bill Callahan: Dream River [Fire Note Review 9/23/13]


marnie-stern-chronicles-marnia Marnie Stern
The Chronicles Of Marnia
Kill Rock Stars [2013]

Chronicles is an album that pushed Marnie closer to a “mainstream” indie sound while remaining true to herself and faithfully still bringing forward the complex swagger of her three previous records. Her voice was clearer here and the album had fewer guitar parts which showed us what most fans already knew – Marnie is the full package. Chronicles did not suffer as her guitar supported her vocals this time around and made for another entertaining listen.

Marnie Stern: The Chronicles Of Marnia [Fire Note Review 3/20/13]


joy-formidable-wolfs-law-cover-art The Joy Formidable
Wolf’s Law
Atlantic Records [2013]

We may have hyped this one a bit too much back in January but it is still a good record. The guitars are loud, the drumming is spectacular, and the bass is more prominent than it was before, while at the center of it all is the voice of Ritzy Bryan. The Joy Formidable stand alone in the female fronted rock world and Wolf’s Law only finds the band getter better!

The Joy Formidable: Wolf’s Law [Fire Note Review 1/22/13]


morningbell-boa-noite-cover Morningbell
Bôa Noite
Self-Released [2013]

Bôa Noite is an album that is written like a full musical score raising the curtain off life itself. The band made the listening experience especially comfortable with the album’s lucid and electronic cooing familiarity that brought to mind the sweeter side of Radiohead’s OK Computer and the spacey echoes of a Soft Bulletin era Flaming Lips. Morningbell is a humble band with a mission to make beautiful music here. Mission accomplished.

Morningbell: Bôa Noite [Fire Note Review 8/5/13]

Fire Note Staff

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