Top Austin Albums of 2013: 30-21

Published on December 25th, 2013

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Over the course of 2013, we’ve reviewed over 100 EPs, LPs and singles. We’ve covered dozens of live shows, premiered a handful of new videos and interviewed some of our favorite local artists. All in the name of making the Austin music scene accessible to as many of you as possible. Culled from hundreds of submissions over the course of the year, these are our 50 favorite Austin songs (limit: one per artist) of the last year.

Albums countdown: [31-40], [41-50]

30. Royal Forest - Spillway

Royal Forest’s debut EP was an excellent collection of songs, but still an attempt to find the group’s sonic footing. Their first LP, Spillway, sees the band forging ahead with a collection of songs that, though rooted in the same indie dream pop of former incarnation Loxly, isn’t afraid to cut loose in all new ways. While both easy to approach and listen to repeatedly, it’s Spillway’s subtleties that make this one of the year’s best albums, taking a well-worn style and a tried and true formula and finding enticing ways to tweak it. – Brian Audette

29. The Black Angels - Indigo Meadow

Swirling fuzzy guitars paint an acid-washed dream-like landscape, lifting up Alex Maas’ 1960′s-esque vocals, which sound like they are coming straight out of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. More direct and uptempo than their previous work, Indigo Meadow continues The Black Angels’ reign atop the throne of Austin’s psychedelic music scene, even if the songs tend to be less spacey and experimental than their earlier releases. For some, this made Indigo Meadow seem too poppy, but for others it was just what the doctor ordered: a collection of groovy psych tracks (like “Evil Things”) that keep the listener hooked without getting too repetitive. – Brittany Bartos

28. Feathers - If All Here Now

Much of the big electro-indie of 2013 focused on warmth, recalling 90s R&B. Feathers, though, went in the other direction. Anastasia Dimou drew from the cold, mechanical rhythms of 80s icons like Depeche Mode and managed to craft irresistible grooves. Tracks like “Fire in the Night,” “Dark Matter” and “Leaves Start Trembling” couldn’t help but get you moving, while “Land of the Innocent” and “Familiar So Strange” featured relentless beats supporting beautiful melodies. If All Now Here weaves a dark soundscape, but one you can’t help but enjoy. – Carter Delloro

27. A Giant Dog - Bone

Austin loves itself a good melody, and there are plenty of bands writing good power pop right now in the Capital City. A Giant Dog, though, puts more muscle behind their hooks than just about anyone else. The guitars across this album shred like classic punk, but Sabrina Ellis and Andrew Cachen keep these songs from getting bogged down in their own power. Songs like “Nutria” and “Teasin’ Ass Bitch” are immediately accessible and energetic. Any time you’re ready for a simultaneous singalong/head-banger, A Giant Dog has given you the quintessential record. – Carter Delloro

26. Wood & Wire - Wood & Wire

Wood & Wire builds on pristine bluegrass bedrock, preserving all the undeniable three-part harmonies and fretboard acrobatics you’d expect from a self-respecting string band, but what comes out is a decidedly Texas, decidedly Outlaw take on the genre. In a city overcrowded with bluegrass, they must be doing something right – this is only their debut, and they promoted it earlier this year via a tour opening for Yonder Mountain String Band. – Kevin Allen

Wood & Wire - 'Mexico'

25. Migrant Kids - Migrant Kids

Despite being armed with potentially headline-grabbing indie-pop songs, Migrant Kids confined their self-titled debut to grandiose downers, and in doing so created a beautiful concept album about lost love. “Act I” introduces the insane range of emotions and dynamics they’re dealing in, where ambient noise meditations like “Enterrar” sit comfortably alongside hooky masterpieces like “Canvas of Me.” Migrant Kids is a record that will break your heart in all of the most wonderful ways. – Carter Delloro

24. Churchwood - 2

Here on OVRLD, we don’t cover too many bands that are pushing 50, but Churchwood aren’t like anyone else. Featuring the mad poetry of St. Edward’s lit professor Joe Doerr, this group of Austin music scene veterans (they go back to the mid-80′s) filters the blues through the demented styles of Captain Beefhart and Tom Waits. The result stretches from the dirty funk of “You Be the Mountain (I’ll Be Mohammad)” to the grimy swing of “Duende.” There isn’t a dull moment on 2, as Churchwood paint the blues in a whole new light. – Carter Delloro

23. Knifight - Dark Voices

Knifight’s full length debut sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a spacey nightmare that takes place in a dimly lit dungeon-like danceclub in 1985. Knifight brings back the dark-wave sounds of bands such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, and Depeche Mode without making it too copy-cat or cliche. They sound genuine, and that’s why they will continue gain steam in the Austin music community. Don’t miss “Whisper Room” – a heavy yet danceable track that demands you press repeat. It includes some sexy saxophone playing as well as some back-beats reminiscent of The Cure. – Brittany Bartos

22. Mirror Travel - Mexico

Formerly Follow That Bird, Mirror Travel is a band with a distinctive, but not limiting, sound. Mexico is a remarkably cohesive album – a feat even more impressive when considering how much stylistic ground Mirror Travel covers. They can sound dreamy or mean, contemplative or energetic, and it all makes sense. On “Wooden Bones,” they show they can even do it all in one track. Based in classic Austin psych rock, Mexico becomes so much more than that. It’s easily the comeback of the year, and a truly rewarding experience. – Carter Delloro

21. Ichi Ni San Shi - Slow Truth

Bill Jeffery’s new band Ichi Ni San Shi blessed 2013 with their blissfully bizarre magnum opus Slow Truth, a nine track album that moves between Elephant 6 grandiosity (“Treasured Thoughts (In the Key of G)”), ramshackle hazy electro pop (“Almost Ready”) and shoegazey dream pop (“Further Out”). The album sounds unlike anything else out there, partially because of the inimitably reedy tones of Jeffery’s voice but mostly because Jeffery ignored what was en vogue and instead chased his own special muses. If you’re dedicated to keeping Austin weird, then it’s your duty to own Slow Truth. – Nick Hanover

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