Top Austin Albums of 2013: 50-41


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.

50. Matthew Squires & the Learning Disorders – You Are Everything

Matthew Squires draws from the Elephant 6 team for inspiration across his third LP of 2013. Playful lyrics venture into an confessional forest on standouts like “A Song For A Future Phoenix” and “Lovesick Lullaby.” The Learning Disorders sing along and wonderfully complement Matt’s songwriting. You Are Everything plainly illustrates the incredible growth the group has undergone in just this year alone, and suggests nothing but good things from Matt and the gang in 2014. – Antonio Delgado

49. Dreamboat – Dreamboat EP

This nuanced jazz folk trio just moved to town from Waco and is already impressive. Tessa Gaston is the gem of the group, with her pitch-perfect, elegant voice. In “Lantana Avenue,” Gaston’s voice recalls Regina Spektor, while in “Riverside” it draws from Joanna Newsom. Dreamboat’s sound bounced from being comparable to She and Him in “Dear Child (Optical Sunrise)” to First Aid Kit in “Father’s Mend.” They are trying out so many sounds, but each of the four songs on the EP flow eloquently into one another, creating a beautifully realized whole. – Bailey Cool

48. Borrisokane – Murdering Teeth EP

Borrisokane don’t have the best hooks or the most insightful lyrics or even the most original sound of any of the bands on this list. But Murdering Teeth stays with you. It grows on you. These songs are patient and well-constructed and they can rope you in without even realizing it. Lengthy album closer “Indoor/Outdoor Paleontologist Blues” grows hypnotically while “Thank You For Being so Nice and Cooperative” repeatedly head-butts you, but the result is the same: a set of songs so thoughtfully rendered that every listen is a fresh one. – Carter Delloro

47. Mother Merey & the Black Dirt – Down to the River

Hardly any of Austin’s numerous folk bands commit to their traditional roots as thoroughly as Mother Merey & the Black Dirt do. Down to the River plays like an O Brother, Where Art Thou? companion record, with a dirty harmonica coloring every track amid Merey Kimbrough’s earthy voice. On the late track “Whistlin’ Up the Road,” the group shows that they could do the modern folk sound impeccably if they wanted to. But following it up with the traditional “John Henry” reiterates that their interest is in breathing new life into the dusty fields of our collective cultural past. – Carter Delloro

46. Grape St. – A Date With You

In April, Grape St. finally followed up their terrific 2012 single, “A Date With You,” with full-length of the same name. For fans of Austin’s Literature or (the sadly now-defunct) Whitman, A Date With You delivers more of the punky jangle pop that Austin is starting to develop in spades. Yet, Grape St. stretch their legs on tracks like “Double Golds,” an epic mid-tempo number with horns, and “Kawnee,” which would sound at home in almost any era of rock history. It’s the kind of immediately accessible rock record that still reveals new elements after repeated listens, too. – Carter Delloro

45. P-Tek + EGON – DPS | LP2

P-Tek + EGON described DPS|LP2 as “a hip-hop variety hour,” meaning it’s as much about its wide array of guests as their own presence, an open audio letter of sorts that celebrates Austin’s hip-hop scene while being frank about its deficits. P-Tek more than holds his own alongside vets like Tee Double, while also going out of his way to showcase the skills of peers like Secret Levels. DPS | LP2 ably proved that P-Tek and Egon were more than willing to work overtime to prove themselves and the scene they’re a part of. – Nick Hanover

44. Friendly Savages – O, Joshua!

O, Joshua has a familiar sound that flows from a Head and the Heart indie folk/rock feel to a more sophisticated vibe at times, reminiscent of late Wilco. The most interesting part, however, isn’t Friendly Savages’ sound – though the random track will have an unexpected danceable rhythm such as “I Have Your Ghost” or the eerily solemn “Joshua Plays the Pipes” that completely takes you by surprise. The hook is the album’s quirky, fatalistic narrative arc, which makes this band of witty, creative young men so different from all the other good indie-folk bands out there. – Bailey Cool

43. The Please Please Me – Shake a Little Harder EP

Jessie Torrisi and company play indie rock with an edge. There are moments of vulnerability, to be sure, and plenty of bouncy rhythms (“All Danced Out”) and epic melodies (“Dreamin'”). Yet Torrisi’s swagger helps an already-good group stand out even more. Torrisi’s songs portray a world that is equal parts tough and tender, and makes it sound like the only world you’d ever want to live in. – Carter Delloro

42. Growl – Gallery EP

There used to be one dividing line in indie, and it was the Atlantic Ocean. SST and Touch and Go were home to the American stars, while Rough Trade and Factory put out the Brits. Growl’s Gallery EP is an enchanting blend of those seemingly disparate worlds. “Halfway Home” marries the pounding, propulsive drums of an SST act with the chiming guitars and sweet melodies of a Rough Trade pin-up. The EP closer “Said and Done” is a rawer affair, full of anthemic guitars and drum rolls and a pogo punk vocal. Though Gallery is a quick EP, it’s stuffed full of ideas and sounds that hint at a bigger future for Growl. – Nick Hanover

41. SIP SIP – Party Record

Take your high school marching band, teach them some cool jazz, dress them up in gold chains, and give them a bunch of forties, and you’ve got something like SiP SiP’s Party Record. They’re really pulling no punches naming their first proper LP; with group-shouted chants, a brass section that doubles as a clapping-and-dancing section, and synths gestated somewhere deep in the club, these guys clearly come to party. And for party music, it’s deceivingly complex, chameleonic, orchestrated – but your ass will shake all the same. – Kevin Allen