Top Ten of 2013: CHVRCHES.

8. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

Do you have this ridiculously catchy song stuck in your head yet? Good.

I like embracing music that’s a little weird. I realize that much of my list this year is pretty straight forward rock/acoustic stuff, but electro influences are absolutely delicious to me. In fact, just missing the cut this year was Foals’ Holy Fire (spoiler alert), so if you like them but haven’t yet checked out CHVRCHES, please do. This is one of the later releases on my list, but I’ve found it addicting. These songs pop into my head in the middle of the day, and I feel no reason to exorcise them. They’ve gained proper buzz, and rightfully so. This is a band I want to see everywhere in 2014.

Lauren Mayberry of this band has endured a lot of misogyny online, and she penned a really great article fighting back against the abuse she receives just for daring to be a woman who makes music. I’d only heard “Recover” when I cam across her writing on The Guardian’s website, and that was when I knew that I had to give this band much more of my attention. I’m grateful for her words and, of course, the tunes.

Top Ten of 2013: Gabrielle Aplin.

9. Gabrielle Aplin – English Rain

My friend Suz introduced me to Gabrielle’s music in the middle of last year, back when she was known as more of a YouTube artist whose talent, dedication, and lovely EPs had secured her a record deal with Parlophone. Sometimes her music can be a bit soft and safe for my tastes, but here are a few reasons why she is totally badass:

a) She has a giant tattoo on her arm with a quote from “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.

b) She has a label to put out other artists’ music now that she’s signed to a major.

c) She loves animals, particularly her pet ferret.

d) She’s supported Ed Sheeran (something of a taste maker) and John Mayer (kind of a big deal) as well as headlined her own tours.

e) Her lyrics can be a hell of a lot darker than her beautiful voice lets on.

So give her a listen. English Rain will be released properly in America next year, and hopefully that will mean that we get to check her out live as well. I’d love to see the grit that follows after singing and playing for over an hour live. Somehow I think she’ll only triumph and become even more endearing.

Top Ten of 2013: The Strypes.

Hello, all. We’ve nearly reached the end of another year, which means that after scrambling to write a novel in November (I did it! I did!), I must now throw the fiction aside and pretend it doesn’t exist until I can critique it. Fortunately December is all about compiling lists, so I can distract myself accordingly.

2013 was a year that brought a lot of albums, a lot of great albums, but not a ton of them rocked me to my bones. I assume most of my blog readers are people who know me and my tastes pretty well, so you may be surprised that some established favorites did not make it on my list this year. That’s right, guys: work harder.

First, my simple standards. All of the albums I include are LPs, not singles or EPs. They were released in 2013, not pushed out at the end of 2012 and thus left off other people’s lists (as I was very much anti-year end list last year, but oh well, people change/get bored)/feel entitled to opinions). And that’s it. Ready?

10. The Strypes – Snapshot

You know that scene in Back to the Future at the dance when Marty takes the guitar and shreds the hell out of “Johnny B. Goode,” startling the entire audience into a thoroughly rocked stupor? That’s how I feel about The Strypes. They’re old-fashioned, blues infused rock…which is pretty impressive since I have about a decade on the band members. They have addictive guitar solos. They have catchy, fun lyrics. This is true talent surging forward without pretension or hype, and I hope these lads go far. Is this even out in America? I have no clue. Get an import if not, because these guys are destined to blow up.