Best of 2013 -'s picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2013's picks (2013)

staff picks


Since 1999 has been the shameful secret hobby of a transient batch of volunteer contributors who eke out spare moments from their real lives to talk about angry music on the internet. We have no full time staff, no real editorial mandate, and no consensus on what bands we should even be writing about. If we've ignored, overlooked, or completely misjudged something you've loved this year, by all means tell us by submitting some news or writing a review.

No! All!

This overall list is calculated from the records chosen by our editors, staff and alumni on their individual lists. We provide those individuals with no real guidance as to how they format their lists, so long as they're based on a ranked list of the top albums of the year. Even that gets fuzzy, as sometimes when you squint hard enough January 2013 and December 2012 seems to all blur together. Punknews writers create their lists in private and with no guidance from any higher authority as to what should be on them. Granted, it's entirely possible that Toby from Red Scare buys certain writers speedboats to favour Direct Hit. We leave that for for the courts to determine, in any case.

With all the lists published we turn our everyone's secret boyfriend, math. The individual lists are weighted so that we can tally up the results (A person's #1 pick was worth 20 points, #2 was 19 points, and so on down to 1). The summation of those rankings determined the list you see below. No additional weighting was given to how many times a record appeared on those lists (except in the instance of ties, which we didn't have this year). Over 220 full-lengths were voted on overall. By all means, see for yourself: here's the spreadsheet.

While this list reveals at least what some of us here at Punknews agree upon, you're best to check out the individual lists to really see what an individual writer was into this year. Also, don't forget to check out YOUR list, the top 20 releases of the year as voted by the Punknews community. That list should be posted following this one. See you in 2014, punks.'s Top 20 of 2013


Crazy Arm: The Southern Wild

Xtra Mile Recordings

I make no secret of my love for this band. Both the previous and the new lineups have provided me with some of the most enjoyable live music experiences I've had in the past five years. The Southern Wild shows a band who can rock out with the best of them, deliver an acoustic long player influenced by a plethora of roots, country and folk artists yet one which still has Crazy Arm written all through it like a piece of rock. The messages are slightly more personal this time around, and Darren Johns' lyrics open a door into another part of his head/heart which adds to the depth that this record contains. –Rich Cocksedge


Allison Weiss: Say What You Mean

No Sleep

What a wonderfully, earnest album this is! I want to be friends with her. Choice track: "Making It Up" –Kira Wisniewski


The Front Bottoms: Talon of the Hawk

Bar/None Records

I didn't know what I was getting into when I got a copy of Talon of the Hawk. I couldn't decide if it was too whiny, nasally or if it told the perfect story of relatively mundane life events (with the obvious exception of "Lone Star"). Suddenly it was the only album I was listening to and the simplicity of the frank and vulnerable stories are a lullaby to the rough days we all experience. –Britt Reiser


The Bronx: The Bronx IV

ATO / White Drugs

I can always depend on the Bronx to release a heavy, eye-opening dose of reality and good lyricism. And while this latest album is a bit lighter than the rest, like all Bronx records, it gets my blood going every time I listen to it. After taking a brief (but glorious) hiatus to make some mariachi music, IV is a solid return to the rock and roll roots they started with. While most songs are more straight-up rock (and even borderline pop - gasp!) than hardcore, the snarl and grit and sentiment are still present throughout and I love every moment of it. Favourite tracks are "Ribcage," "Too Many Devils" and "Torches." –Gen Handley


Beastmilk: Climax


Ignore the ridiculous band name. Imagine Morrissey and Danzig had a lovechild that went on to front a band that listened to a lot of Ghost BC and you're halfway there. Beastmilk combine all these disparate influences into something uniquely their own, and ended up making one of the coolest, weirdest, most unclassifiable records in recent memory. –Tori Pederson


Red City Radio: Titles

Paper and Plastick

Loud, harsh and gruff pop-punk done right. That's what this is. The charisma, aggression and versatility no doubt play to the band's tout that they are fucking juggernauts. This album cannot emphasize that any more. Punk connoisseurs would have no problem absorbing Paul Pendley's commanding vocals and the band's take on politics, life and the overall disposition on why punk is something that'll never die or fade away. This is one of the year's most cutthroat records, in the best way possible. –Renaldo Matadeen


Defeater: Letters Home

Bridge Nine

I was completely addicted to Empty Days, Sleepless Nights so when they announced Letters Home, I couldn't wait to see what the band would be bringing to the table. Such a perfect follow-up to the story within their last two releases and I loved how they really went back to their roots for this release. –Amelia Cline


Off With Their Heads: Home


Off With Their Heads are one of my "staple" bands which in turn causes me to see them every time they're in town and purchase any release of theirs I come across. They have yet to disappoint me with a release and I will be requesting songs from this album at shows just as much as their previous releases. It was also oddly comforting in a way to hear "Janie." Granted, I still prefer the original but it's always nice to find something familiar in a new place. –Brittany Strummer


Nightmares for a Week: Civilian War

Broken English / Suburban Home

Nightmares For A Week wrote a very heartfelt album this year. Working off of their 2010 release Don't Die, Nightmares For A Week really gave a new dimension to their music with the inclusion of keys to the mix and lyrically, this album can be relatable to anyone. "Bloodshot Mondays" is the perfect jam for every weekend. –Samantha Barrett


Iron Chic: The Constant One

Bridge Nine

While The Constant One doesn't rise to the heights of Iron Chic's first record, Not Like This, it still does enough to merit inclusion on any list of top records of 2013. It's a testament to the quality of this band that even when they disappoint, they still manage to produce one of the better albums of the year. –Adam Eisenberg<


A Wilhelm Scream: Partycrasher

No Idea

I anticipated this release for too long and boy, am I glad it came out. A Wilhelm Scream did not disappoint with Partycrasher. Everything about this album is perfect. This batch of songs seems more effective due to the howling gritty nature of Nuno Pereira's vocals. Mike Supina and Trevor Reilly have outdone themselves this time by with all of the amazing shredding and dueling riffs in this album. –Samantha Barrett


The Flatliners: Dead Language

Fat Wreck Chords

Cavalcade was a revelation, so good that it (to me) overshadowed everything the Flatliners had done prior. It may as well have been a new band. Dead Language had a tougher job. Instead of the opportunity to delight unexpectedly, it had to shoulder expectations. In the end these songs had to work harder, they had to be smarter. They do, and they are. This record's hooks aren't as immediate, but they lie waiting. These songs don't wear anthem status as comfortably as "Monumental" or "Count Your Bruises," however there's a depth and robustness to Dead Language that, on subsequent listens, proves itself the better record. If only all melodic punk rock can be as well written and performed as "Birds of England." –Adam White


Comadre: Comadre

Vitriol Records

In the end, Comadre proved they were far weirder, more innovative and more willing to take chances than any of their hardcore contemporaries. This album–with its theremin parts, keyboards, and completely triumphant, instrumental untitled track–is so off-the-wall perfect that it's hard to imagine how the band would follow it up had they stayed together. –Bryne Yancey


Bad Religion: True North


The elder statesmen of classic California punk rock's sixteenth album finds them calling back to their classic Against the Grain-era records in places, kicking out speedier anthems than many would have thought them capable of at this point. Hit or miss-- that single, "Fuck You?" Come on, guys-- but when it hits, it feels just as exciting as when you were 15. –John Flynn


Balance and Composure: The Things We Think We're Missing

No Sleep Records

Following up Separation, eastern Pennsylvania band Balance And Composure's 2013 LP was probably the best example of an album that showed great maturation for a band. B&C didn't recreate Separation, but instead took it and layered what they learned over the past two years. There's a lot layered on this album, in terms of guitars both in the forefront and background, and if you don't pay full attention to it, there's probably more than a few nuances you miss.–Gregg Harrington


The National: Trouble Will Find Me


Since Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, no one does somber, sad jams like the National, and the band excels here. Singer Matt Berninger might not scream like he used to, but he doesn't need to. –John Flynn


Direct Hit!: Brainless God

Red Scare

I already wrote an extensive review for this album earlier in the year (which you can find here), so I suppose I better come up with something different to say, so here goes.

As I wrote in my introduction to last year's list, my best mate Lee died in November 2012, and his death set me to thinking about the value of the time I've got.

I made a decision after Lee died to live my life that little bit harder, that little bit fuller than before, and when you strip away all the storytelling (and it is great storytelling), that's the message of Brainless God too. That it's a layered, hyperactive, super-catchy, concept album about armageddon is a bonus.

Every last song on this record is a finely tuned blast of tooth-melting punk rock goodness. This is an album that examines death in some detail, but doesn't venerate it. On the contrary, this entire album is life-affirming in the extreme. The final song is about storming heaven and battering God himself (and his angels) for doing us in before we were finished partying. Punk rock songs about defying death, and kicking the arse of the heavenly host; what could be more life-affirming than that?

Brainless God is a truly great record, and it came along right when I needed it. Can't ask for more than that, really. –Andrew Waterfield


Night Birds: Born To Die In Suburbia

Grave Mistake Records

Fast, snotty punk rock with surf guitars and some garage tendencies. While this probably isn't very smart, original or artistically laudable it's absolutely what I want to hear ranging through my speakers. –Adam White


Deafheaven: Sunbather

June 11 on Deathwish Inc.

Deafheaven have staked out their place as the marquee name for the changing face of modern black metal, but it's likely because they don't really fit the template that cleanly. Pulling in elements of post-rock and screamo, Sunbather toys with the formula laid out on 2011's Roads to Judah just enough to deliver astounding moments of brightness and a greater abundance of climactic payoff for investing in their epic, sprawling compositions. Something about George Clarke's poetic screeds seem melodramatic, but when he delivers them in these cacophonous cackles while guitarist Kerry McCoy delivers a furiously rippling wave behind them, it's a wild, emotional punch.Brian Shultz


Restorations: LP2

Side One Dummy

The local boys done good in Restorations have been steadily dropping vinyl releases of various sizes for a few years now, and it's so dang awesome that they're getting a push from Side One Dummy now. LP2 finds the band continuing away from post-rock in favor of Springsteenian rock 'n' roll. That is totally cool with me. I don't really listen to music digitally when I'm at home, but my wife and I keep turntables upstairs and downstairs. No matter where I am in the house, my son and I listen to records. We spent a ton of time dancing to side one of LP2. The record gradually builds itself into a tizzy, especially "D." A fitting continuation of their anthemic 7-inch A/B from last year, LP2 rocks, straight up.

Baby Memory: Besides the story I already told? Restorations are the first band I went to see live after becoming a dad. –Joe Pelone