By Jordan Reisman
1. Family Room – This Old Ghost
Peekskill, NY’s This Old Ghost released this gem in January of this year just barely making the cut for 2013. Featuring this band on Discovery Corner was a true joy because interviewing them in-person was getting a glimpse of the band’s dynamic, a close knit family. The title of the record fits the feel as TOG makes you feel at home with lush harmonies between singers Karri Diomede and Ian McGuinness over beautifully orchestrated “folk ‘n roll”. They did not get the kind of praise they deserved perhaps due to their location and sparse touring schedule and now, a possible hiatus, but this record made the year a little more comfortable to be in.
2. Bootie Noir – Nnamdi Ogbonnaya
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is one of those rare but necessary creatures. He plays drums in just about every Chicago DIY band and almost obsessively releases solo albums on Bandcamp. ’Prolific’ doesn’t scratch the surface of describing this young artist’s output. Bootie Noir, released on Bandcamp in May, is a caustic, smooth, and slightly schizophrenic affair as it jumps from R. Kelly-ish hip-hop and R&B, to comedy sketches, to noodley emo riffs. From just the sheer amount of music he puts out as one of Chicago’s heavy hitters, this might have gotten lost in the shuffle but for me it was on constant repeat.
3. Bigfoot – Cayucas
Cayucas is both a very new and very promising band from Santa Monica, though their sound pays a deep homage to the great Southern Californian musical legacy. Released back in April, Bigfoot takes its listeners to a slightly dilapidated surf town where singer Zach Yudin fawns over past high school lovers and longs for the summer. Though you can hear its title track on Michael Kors and Bose commercials, the record in totality didn’t seem to get enough love. Some wrote it off as just another product of a band riding the surf-rock wave but with its unique mode of storytelling and vintage feel, I was happy to ride along.
4. Change Machine – American Pinup
Westchester County’s American Pinup did it again in September 2013 with a more finely tuned and bigger sounding full length from 2011’s Strange Creatures. The shift in sound from between the two may be subtle but like all great sophomore releases, Change Machine didn’t lose any of the vital energy that made you love the band in the first place. They jumped from ska-influenced parts, straight up pop-punk jammers, new wave dance breaks and anthemic sing alongs all in one record. I deem it underrated as it just didn’t get the exposure it needed to break out but Change Machine was truly a fun listen.
5. am – Ovlov
Newtown, Conn.’s Ovlov (after Volvo, spelled backwards) came out with am in July of this year with a Discovery Artist feature the next month. This band has been getting some serious attention in the emo (re: NOT emo “revival”) circles due to the endorsement from The World Is a Beautiful Place… guitarist Greg Horbal. But the accolades don’t come without good reason. am really just rocks in a heavy and drone-y way as the band of Hartlett brothers from Conn. makes you feel their desperation. Though they’ve broken out in one scene, this record needs to be noticed by the music community writ large.
6.California X – California X
Amherst, Mass.’s California X snook this short record in to 2013 in January with Don Giovanni Records backing it. They took a page from Dinosaur Jr’s playbook, as the two hail from the same Western Mass locale. I described this album and band as “big” and no one should be surprised by that designation when they hear the guitars on “Sucker”. This one is for those looking for volume in their music, Cali X turns the main up to Nigel Tufnel’s favorite number in this debut. It’s hard to say where it can go from there but you pretty much already know that it will be loud.
7. Dreamviolence – Bambara
This is the perfect album for those looking to get weird. These Athens, Ga. natives-now-Brooklyn boys created an entire album in April out of one strange reoccurring dream guitarist Reid Bateh had involving a woman in a white dress and receiving teeth. Arrowhawk Records put the thing out but they essentially recorded the entire recod in their Bushwick home. This post-punk/noise record flew under the radar as it was a little “out there” but it’s the progressives who win in the end anyway.
8. Amour, t’es la? – Magda Giannikou
Released in July, Amour, t’es la? is definitely a must-listen for the Francophiles out there, as frontwoman Magda Giannikou is one herself. The Greek-born accordion player tried her hand at creating some beautiful French pop music and succeeded. This record takes you to a time and place of your choosing, as long as it’s wherever you’re not and it involves a chic cafe. The language barrier may have isolated it a bit from the Anglo-centric music world but if you value sound over everything, this romantic offering might be for you.
9. Walk in the Sun – Blame One & J57
Walk In The Sun was put out in late-August as beatmaker J57 was moving to a new place with his wife in Brooklyn. Discovery Corner’s first true hip-hop feature was a pleasure on the ears with his collaboration California rapper Blame One, with J providing the beats. The Long Islander with an insatiable work ethic for producing contributed prominently on this record though it was an underground effort to the mainstream hip-hop world. To those in the know, specifically with Fat Beats Records, this release did not go unnoticed.
10. 3Against2 – Appomattox
I had to throw one EP in there because this one just can’t be denied. 3Against2 hit the internet in July with five serious bangers and the Brooklyn dance-punks came in to speak with me about the “break-up party” that spawned the single “Radiator” in a completely candid fashion. It’s easy to ignore a Brooklyn band just because there’s so many but Appomattox’s sexually frustrated dance cuts deserve a spot on the list.