Top Austin Albums of 2013: 20-11


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: [21-30], [31-40], [41-50]

20. Possessed By Paul James - There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely

One-man band Konrad Wert established himself as a student of the blues with 2010’s Feed the Family, a rowdy, unhinged affair that showcased his raw intensity on guitar, banjo, and fiddle. On his new joint, songs culminate as soaring pop anthems rather than down-low blues numbers, yet Leadbelly and Woody shine through just as brightly; you might call it Mumford folk that (miraculously) doesn’t suck. – Kevin Allen

19. Phranchyze - 3

3 is Phranchyze’s graduation party. The deluge of mixtures and LPs leading up until now were all leading us to this moment. On 3, Phranchyze finally has production worthy of his technical abilities, giving us endlessly replayable bangers (see: “I Got” and “Doper”). Simultaneously, he began to bare his soul and embrace his position as an outsider from the traditional rapper archetype (see: “Oreo,” “Can’t Change” and “Weirdo”). Lyrically and musically, this is far and away Phran’s best work. The gauntlet has been thrown, the bar has been raised, and Austin has a new standard-bearer for hip-hop. – Carter Delloro

18. Black Joe Lewis - Electric Slave

Shedding the “Honeybears” moniker for his third full-length, Black Joe Lewis hones and amplifies the blues and rock strain in his oft-funky style, trading tight arrangements for a torrent of plugged-in sound. Electric Slave sounds like a sky full of lightning: fuzzy guitar and warm horns paint a stark picture that’s colossal in scale. – Kevin Allen

17. Scorpion Child - Scorpion Child

Filled with bluesy guitar riffs, heavy rolling bass guitar, thunderous drum beats, and Dio and Plant-esque vocals, this self titled album is dynamic, dirty, and very, very “Texas.” Seeing the fellows in the band play live is like being transported back to the 1970’s – everyone is wearing tight, ripped blue jeans, everyone’s hair is long, flowing and curly, and leather cowboy boots are being stomped by everyone on stage as well as in the audience. Chock full of rumbling Southern-rock style anthems, genuine ballads, and rock-and-roll stadium-style pieces, this LP is not one to miss. – Brittany Bartos

16. White Denim - Corsicana Lemonade

Once you hit play, it’s easy to just lay back and enjoy White Denim’s sixth album, Corsicana Lemonade. The songs are groovy, the guitar licks are bluesy, and the vocals sound friendly. One can easily imagine hanging out with the guys in White Denim, drinking moonshine out of mason jars, swinging from a grassy ledge into a crystal-clear river via a rope-and-tire swing, sitting on a plantation style wrap-around front porch during sunset. Don’t miss “Pretty Green,” a nifty little track that embodies the sounds of the whole album. It’s fun, east to digest, and instills the listener with a positive, upbeat vibe. – Brittany Bartos

15. Sweet Talk - Flash of Light

A leading light on Gerard Cosloy’s uber-hip 12XU label, Sweet Talk came into their own this year with Flash of Light, an impeccable slice of gritty power pop closer to the Nerves than Big Star but with melodies that Fountains of Wayne would kill for. Though Flash of Light‘s greatest moment comes early in the perfection of “Never Alone,” the drone attack of “Microphones” shows Sweet Talk are just as notable when they’re keeping things simple. The bratty assault of “Viewing Party” likewise showed the band’s ability to turn snottiness into a virtue. Some albums are meant to be dissected and analyzed, pored over for countless hours. But Flash of Light is an album that’s meant to be lived, preferably at full volume while shotgunning a tallboy. – Nick Hanover

14. Good Field - Good Field

Paul Price, lead singer and songwriter for Good Field, has crafted a beautiful but easygoing record for his group’s self-titled debut. Everything is easy here. The hooks flow out effortlessly, the drums sway with no particular place to go, the bass meanders around the track. No one’s in any rush, and Good Field build lush soundscapes that fit in with the Kurt Vile/Real Estate guitar rock aesthetic. On tracks like “Something’s Different” and “Our Roofless Home” all the pieces come together to make perfectly laid-back contemporary rock music. – Carter Delloro

13. Gorgeous Hands - Tender

When Gorgeous Hands released “Generator” and “Swear to Me” as singles last year, we didn’t have any idea that they had a full album’s worth of these gems in the wings. Gorgeous Hands’ debut this year is packed end to end with power pop gems. “Desperate Mainstream” and “Pieces” are the purest power pop singles you could imagine, and late in the album there’s a three-song suite that adds an artsy flair while keeping your ears happy. Endlessly re-listenable, it’s a nearly perfect pop-rock album. – Carter Delloro

12. Mother Falcon - You Knew

Mother Falcon are not just a mini orchestra playing pop music, their music is an evocative and penetrating fusion of symphonic intricacy with pop rock hooks. You Knew is both a continuation and an evolution of Mother Falcon’s already breath-taking sound. While overall less bombastic than their previous LP, You Knew maintains a certain symphonic grandeur, while eschewing chamber pop for quieter, more progressive musings. When Mother Falcon wants to rock, however, they do so in grand fashion and You Knew has as much toe tapping as it does introspection. – Brian Audette

11. Bill Callahan - Dream River

Washed-out, dreamy electric guitar passages flow one to the next sans resistance, meandering and hypnotic as a ride down a river. Keep on that river long enough, and you’ll find yourself fully seduced, immersed in a strange soundscape with only Callahan’s contemplative baritone as your guide. Dream River is surreal and incomparable, a mescaline trip of an album. – Kevin Allen