Sound Cave's 'Best of 2013'

Here are our picks for the best releases of 2013, chosen by the staff and crew at Sound Cave Productions!  

(the list is in no particular order)

COHEED AND CAMBRIA  - THE AFTERMAN: DESCENSION

COHEED AND CAMBRIA  - THE AFTERMAN: DESCENSION

The second half of Coheed and Cambria's new double-album (and 7th album overall), The Afterman: Descension, finds the band moving towards a new sound while reinvigorating old ground, as they welcome new bass player Zach Cooper and former Coheed drummer Josh Eppard into the mix.  Fittingly, The Afterman acts as a prequel to the band's previous albums, which all were part of an ongoing concept that continued throughout Coheed's discography.  Musically, tunes like 'Number City' and 'Gravity's Union' show a furthering in the band's progressive sound and songwriting structures while semi-acoustic tunes like 'Iron Fist' are more intimate and feature parts recorded on the road.  It's cool to see vocalist Claudio Sanchez's diversity as he sings on these different sounding tracks while maintaining the 'classic' Coheed sound.  Partly responsible for this sound as well are the album's producers, Michael Birnbaum & Chris Bittner, who produced the band's first three records and have returned to usher in this new era for Coheed.  The most exciting thing about Descension is that it is almost an in-between point for the band (not in a bad way), as they regain independence from their record label and tease more of their unique blend of progressive music that both old and new fans can enjoy.  - Brandon Consoli


JOEY BADA$$ - SUMMER KNIGHTS

JOEY BADA$$ - SUMMER KNIGHTS

Summer Knights is the second mixtape from New York rapper Joey Bada$$, member of the Pro Era hip-hop collective.  The more youthful hip-hop vibes of his debut mixtape '1999' are not really as present on this album, but the unique wordplay, witty lyricism and in-your-face flow (http://rapgenius.com/albums/Joey-bada/Summer-knights)  is always consistent on any Joey Bada$$ track.  However, Joey's delivery and presence is slightly different than before on this tape, a type of lower scowl is used on many verses and gives many tracks a grittier feel. With this release it seems like Joey is seeking to elevate his presence in the hip-hop game, going harder than ever and trying to innovate wherever possible in his verses.  The beats, produced by members of the Pro Era crew and a few known producers such as The Alchemist and MF Doom, are all fresh and original.  From the chill island vibes of 'My Yout' to the gangster sway of tracks like '47 Goonz', all producers brought something great to the table.  Perhaps most impressive is Kirk Knight's tribute to Capital Steez, #LongLiveSteelo.  Steez took his own life on December 24, 2012 and left the Pro Era crew and the hip-hop world in shock.  Perhaps the reason Joey has more focus and drive than ever, Steez's presence is definitely felt on this album.  Gone are dueling 'Survival Tactics'-type verses, but as Joey says in perhaps his realest verse, 

"Ayo I don't really cry, ask why
Cause inside, no one ever really dies
Your presence is still alive
Your voice I still hear it"

Powerful words from a now-powerful figure in the hip-hop game. Joey Bada$$ is one to look out for.  - Brandon Consoli


JANELLE MONAE - THE ELECTRIC LADY

JANELLE MONAE THE ELECTRIC LADY

The Electric Lady is the third instalment in Janelle Monae's "Metropolis" series of concept albums.  Janelle, as always, pushes the boundaries of pop/R&B music in a style that is completely her own.  The musicians behind her are extremely talented, creating incredible pop landscapes for Janelle to do her thing over.  Tracks like the Suite Overtures (instrumentals) really display the band's songwriting skill, while anthems like 'Q.U.E.E.N.' and 'Electric Lady' show Janelle's impressive vocal ability.  Janelle is always concerned with the issues in today's society (the media, education etc) but her lyrics are never too direct about this; she encourages the listener to think for themselves.  She urges you to dive deeper into the lyrics on songs like 'Dance Acocalyptic', which at first seems like a light poppy tune almost akin to any mainstream artist, but in reality is a protest to the form and the problems in popular music & culture.  Freedom is a theme throughout almost all of Janelle Monae's music, and helps me identify to the music on a deeper level.  Check it out (I also highly recommend Janelle's 'ArchAndroid' album).  - Brandon Consoli


QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - ...LIKE CLOCKWORK

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE ...LIKE CLOCKWORK

This was a perfect mid-year release for this great year of albums. Ever since Wasting Light by the Foo Fighters I've been itching for a good hard rock album, and LC delivers. The single 'My God is the Sun' was an excellent song to amp up the other tracks, being released a month in advance as a single. Dave Grohl had to fill in with this album; during the recording of it long time drummer Joey Castillo was fired by Josh Jomme, but that's totally cool with me. I feel like Dave Grohl is as much a part of QOTSA as he is with Foo Fighters. This album was hard-hitting and was definitely one of the top releases of 2013.  - Cole Pops


KODALINE - IN A PERFECT WORLD

KODALINE IN A PERFECT WORLD

From the love-child of Kings of Leon and Coldplay, this band comes right out of Dublin with a debut album. I came across this randomly and it really surprised me how well it was produced, and how much emotion was packed into every track. I definitely listened to it more times than I can count; it was an album that you can just listen to all the way through over and over. Check 'em out. - Cole Pops


THE SUPPLIERS - NOISE

THE SUPPLIERS NOISE

These guys are so under the radar and deserve to be one of the biggest rock bands on the scene today. This band is backed by one of the most killer female vocalists you'll ever hear. If you're a fan of classic rock these are definitely the band for you. The riffs and melodies just make you want to drink beer and rock out, seeing them at a concert would be great.  - Cole Pops


TESSERACT - ALTERED STATE

TESSERACT ALTERED STATE

After changing singers between their last 2 releases, Tesseract seemed as though they could have fallen apart due to their inconsistent line-up. Recruiting Ashe O’Hara proved to be an appropriate choice. His light yet powerful vocal characteristics complimented the new direction the UK-based group had been working towards. Altered State takes you through several stages in its conceptual layout, from ambient melodies to aggressive poly-rhythms to soaring vocal melodies to tasteful saxophone solos over a prog-metal rhythm section. Can't wait to hear more from them and their new frontman.  - Dillon Owens


EVAN BREWER - YOUR ITINERARY

EVAN BREWER - YOUR ITINERARY

Since Evan’s first album was completely a solo effort, it was a pleasant surprise when Evan said he would have collaborators writing and recording with him on his next album. One of them being his old friend and ex-Animals As Leaders drummer, Navene Koperweis. Navene programmed drum parts, contributed electronic sections, produced, and mastered the album. His involvement in the project along with the other special guests made this album a one-of-a-kind instrumental journey through the many eclectic influences that Evan has to express. Your Itinerary is a very engaging listen!  - Dillon Owens


PROTEST THE HERO - VOLITION

PROTEST THE HERO - VOLITION

Subsequently over-achieving their indiegogo campaign goal, Protest The Hero embarked on writing and recording possibly one of their most important releases to date. Setting an example for many other bands to follow in their footsteps, PTH released a fully crowd funded album and made it known that the album was for no-one but the fans. Lamb Of God’s Chris Adler proudly tracked the drums on the record after PTH’s long-time friend and original band member Moe Carlson left the band. Though missing a crucial part of an untouched line-up, Volition doesn't show a single sign of weakness. Vocal virtuoso Rody expressively belts out well-crafted lines over Luke and Tim’s intricate guitar work. I can see this album becoming a must-have classic for math-core and prog-metal enthusiasts alike.  - Dillon Owens


PORTUGAL. THE MAN - EVIL FRIENDS

PORTUGAL. THE MAN - EVIL FRIENDS

Evil Friends is the 7th album by  Portugal. The Man. The album is a unique blend of psychedelic and indie rock. My personal favourite thing about Evil Friends is the recurring riffs and lyrics throughout the songs. It keeps the theme of the album going and gives a completed feel when listened to from start to finish. - Brandon Collina


HOPSIN - KNOCK MADNESS

HOPSIN - KNOCK MADNESS

This is Hopsin's 3rd studio album. All production on this album was personally handled by Hopsin himself. Knock Madness has songs featuring label mates, as well as a song with Tech N9ne. The album has many different styles of rap; from aggressive songs that remind me of Eminem, to lighter, almost R&B style love songs. Hopsin calls out superstars like Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West on this bold and refreshing album.  - Brandon Collina


SNOOP LION - REINCARNATED

SNOOP LION - REINCARNATED

Reincarnated was released by former rapper Snoop Dogg under the alias Snoop Lion, along with a companion documentary by VICE films. This was Snoop's reggae genre debut, and his first album that was not strictly rap. Snoop received a Grammy nomination for this record. Production was handled mainly by Diplo/Major Lazer. This added an electronic sound to the album, giving it a "new reggae" feel. Reincarnated showed that Snoop is much more than just a rapper, and is a fantastic album to listen to when chilling out.  - Brandon Collina


CITIZEN - YOUTH

CITIZEN - YOUTH

After a number of splits and EPs Citizen finally released their full length album, Youth. In fact, I didn't enjoy this album one bit at first, but it grew very much on me as it blends extremely slow, relaxing songs such as 'How Does It Feel', along with heavier songs such as 'Roam the Room'. Overall, this album isn't for everybody and may take more than one listen to truly appreciate how diverse this album is, but it is one of the best albums of 2013. - Corbin Giroux


BALANCE & COMPOSURE - THE THINGS WE THINK WE'RE MISSING

BALANCE & COMPOSURE - THE THINGS WE THINK WE'RE MISSING

Balance & Composure released their first single off the album, 'Tiny Raindrop' a few months back and after listening to it, I knew the album was going to be gold. Not to sound conceited, but I was right. TTWTWM has not only been my go-to album for sleeping, but I really enjoy it because it seems like B&C has finally found a concrete sound that works for them, and clearly works for their fans.  - Corbin Giroux


REAL FRIENDS - PUT YOURSELF BACK TOGETHER

REAL FRIENDS PUT YOURSELF BACK TOGETHER

An honorable mention goes to Real Friends for releasing the EP Put Yourself Back Together. Once again, I was able to connect with a lot of the songs on this release, which tends to be very common when I listen to Real Friends. For those unfamiliar with any of these releases, I highly recommend listening to them now, and being on the watch for Real Friends' first full length in the summer of 2014.  - Corbin Giroux


PIXIES - EP1

PIXIES - EP1

It was great to hear from these dudes again, after being on somewhat of a hiatus for 20 years with some touring in between. Pixies pulled through with a killer EP (the first of many), releasing EP1 on September 2nd, 2013. The first track 'Andro Queen' is instantly an homage to Pixies' past work, and other songs have that nostalgic feel as well. The EP is an easy listen at just over 15 minutes. The EP also released with a video for the third track "Indie Cindy" and subsequently for the other songs. Looking forward to hearing more from Pixies in 2014!  -Mackenzie Coburn


KANYE WEST - YEEZUS

KANYE WEST - YEEZUS

On June 18, 2013 Yeezus was released with surprisingly dark, experimental, raw beats. The album is almost the opposite to his last, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'.  With very few guest features and less melodic beats it was a different album for Kanye, but his flow and lyrics remain as energetic and in-your-face as ever.  Raw, progressive rhythms and samples are demonstrated throughout the album.  Definitely a different release for hip-hop in 2013, a must-listen.  - MacKenzie Coburn


SAID THE WHALE - HAWAIII

SAID THE WHALE - HAWAIII

Said The Whale's Hawaiii is first on my picks, taking everything I enjoyed about Said The Whale's music and presenting it with the utmost quality. Sad songs, lullabies, ballads and sonnets, it's all here and it's all great. This album gets my top pick because of the raw emotion the band put into their tracks; 'Helpless Son' can easily bring a tear to my eye, and 'Willow' will always make me think of a girl I love. It's an album that anyone can personally connect with and that's why it's my top pick.  - Anthony Anacleto


HOLLERADO - WHITE PAINT

HOLLERADO - WHITE PAINT

Hollerado's White Paint would be a very close second in my top albums of the year and it's easy to see why. Not only is the album an improvement over previous instalments, but it's presented in a refined sound that you wouldn't expect from Hollerado. Hit after hit is packed into this baby and you'll be dancing all the way from start to finish. From the popular single 'Pick Me Up' to the more unknown songs like 'Pure Emotion', every song is meant to be enjoyed while up on your feet and with all your pals. Definitely worth a pick-up, and if Hollerado comes around to your town make sure you buy tickets because they put on a heck of a show.  - Anthony Anacleto


PRETTY LIGHTS - A COLOUR MAP OF THE SUN

PRETTY LIGHTS - A COLOUR MAP OF THE SUN

Grammy nominated and crafted to perfection, Derek Vincent Smith (Pretty Lights) takes us on a journey of the history of his musical roots. Combining award winning jazz musicians with powerful soul singers and the addition of over 50 instruments that you have never heard of, Smith crafts not only one of the best albums of the year but his personal best to date. The fact that this album was done all analog is one reason why I regard it as a top contender, but it's the fact that it sounds even better than anything Pretty Lights has put out in a while that makes it a top pick. Imagine having to write and conduct for an entire orchestra. Now imagine doing all that and only being halfway done. Because of Smith's sample method, recording two double sided vinyls wasn't enough to produce A Colour Map; he still had to add all his additional analog synths and chop the songs all to the way he heard it in his head. The fact that this album exists is simply a triumph; if you are a fan of Pretty Lights it is a must to listen to, and if you appreciate music in any way you will enjoy the love and crafting that was put into A Colour Map Of The Sun.  - Anthony Anacleto


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