10. Norma Jean – Wrongdoers
This album changed me from a casual to devoted fan of these veteran hardcore rockers. Wrongdoers rocks hard, and yet it is the band’s most accessible album to date. There are many layers of instrumentation to look for here.
9. Leagues – You Belong Here
The new band is full of industry veterans and it shows. One of the most infectious albums of the year should be all over alternative radio, yet for some reason it is not. Thad Cockrell’s soulful vocals are a standout for sure.
8. Andrew Belle – Black Bear
Leave it to a humble songwriter to produce one of the most massive records of the year. Black Bear is brooding, catchy, pensive, and fun. Look for this guy to be everywhere next year.
7. Washed Out – Paracosm
The chillwave mainstays return with a record that, true to the band’s name, washes over you. The imagination of Washed Out brainiac Ernest Greene is incredible. Listen and you’ll hear something new each time.
6. Phoenix – Bankrupt!
The French alternative kings return with this album that, it turns out, was exactly the right step the band needed to take at this point in their career. The catchy tunes remain, but the ethereal melodies and experimentation rule this record.
5. Jimmy Eat World – Damage
With a gem like Invented, I could scarcely wait to get my hands on this release. The release, while not the band’s best, puts a fresh spin on what people have come to love and expect from the Arizona emo-rock quartet. But, “not their best” is still pretty darn good since it’s Jimmy Eat World we’re talking about.
4. Local Natives – Hummingbird
This was the best impulse buy of the year by far. “You and I” gave me a feeling I’ve never had when listening to alternative before – which is saying something. Hummingbird will take you someplace far away, with a lot of power behind it.
3. CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe
There is a reason this electronic trio has been one of the most hyped bands of 2013. Huge spacey tunes made me wonder where this band has been all my life. While not as unique as 2012’s release from Purity Ring, this is THE electronically tinged release of 2013.
2. Twenty One Pilots – Vessel
I’m from Columbus. I like unique, fresh music. I like rocking out. When you think about it, the inclusion of Vessel on this list is really inevitable. But seriously, props to Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun have crafted the catchiest record of the year. If you haven’t heard this band yet, take the cotton out of your ears and crawl out of that vast cavern you’ve been hiding in the past few years.
1. My Epic – Behold
This band moves like nearly no one else in music can. And they move me upward – toward the God I follow. Even if you don’t believe, you’d be doing yourself a great disservice to skip this record – the riffs, instrumentation and passion are almost unparalleled in the indie/progressive genre this year.