Top 10 of 2013 – Torrey Proto

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For me, 2013 was a solid year for music. Nothing really completely blew me away, but there were a lot of strong releases. I decided to split into top 5 LPs and top 5 short releases because it kept things concise and there were really only a few records in each of the two categories that were great for me. All things considered, this was a difficult list to write. Enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Top 5 LPs:

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1.      Calculator – This Will Come to Pass

The California-based post-hardcore quintet released the most dynamic punk record this year with This Will Come to Pass.It’s the kind of record that takes a few listens to understand, as it ends almost as quickly as it starts. The band noticeably combines elements of other styles such as post-punk and shoegaze which creates a uniquely ambient soundscape that might go over your head on first listen. The record rips with searing intensity with guitars jangling and vocalist Jeff Day’s distinctive not-quite-scream at the head of the mix, but Calculator know when to dial it back on standout tracks like the post-rock inspired build-up of “Becoming//Whispering in Sleep” and the haunting acoustic interlude “Come Closer, Go Unto”. The wide variety of sounds and strong musicianship and songwriting made this record hit home the hardest for me this year.

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2.      Porches. – Slow Dance in the Cosmos

Binghamton, New York songwriter Aaron Maine made great strides with his project Porches. with the Slow Dance in the Cosmos LP by making the shift from a lo-fi bedroom project to a full band. The widely varied instrumentation, including acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers, and acoustic drums as well as drum machines, provide a beautifully mellow indie folk backdrop to Maine’s superbly witty (as well as depressing) storytelling and make for a deeply personal and memorable listening experience.

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3.      Tera Melos – X’ed Out

Lovable weirdo indie rockers Tera Melos have succeeded in pushing the creative envelope and leaving those that are quick to categorize scratching their heads. Though X’ed Out might seem tame compared to their previous works, that’s not saying much for these guys. They continue to tweak their sound with even more breezy hooks and melodic vocals that wouldn’t be out of place on The Blue Album, with all of the effects pedal fueled time signature weirdness we’ve come to know and love. Tera Melos are as weird as they’ve ever been.

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4.      Crash of Rhinos – Knots

Emotive indie rockers Crash of Rhinos’ second full-length, Knots, soars to grandiose heights and makes good on the promise that their debut Distal showed. The five-piece show off a full and bright sound with two guitarists, two bassists, and a drummer, with all of them contributing vocals. They show off their songwriting chops with well-constructed song structures and buildups of tension and a subsequent release. While it’s a lengthy listen, Knots pays off dividends with its unshakable passion and energy.

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5.      Caravels – Lacuna

After several solid EPs and splits, Caravels finally deliver on their potential with their first full-length Lacuna. Their decidedly mellow brand of post-hardcore waxes and wanes from cover to cover, highlighted by the beautifully hypnotic dual guitar interplay of Dillon Shines and Matt Frantom. Lacuna is extremely cohesive, with one track effortlessly flowing into the next. Though it sometimes makes it hard to tell where one ends and another begins, it feels more natural to get lost in the haze.

 

Top 5 Short Releases:

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1.      Duck. Little Brother, Duck! – No Spitting on Cats During Plague Time

DLBD’s knotty math rock takes a darker turn on their latest two-song 7”, almost completely forsaking the melodies found on their past records. They continue to experiment and confuse listeners as they’ve done from the beginning. This release hits so hard in such a short span of time.

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2.      Sirs – Sirs EP

Sirs’ final release was a good one. The quick six song EP showed the band’s tight chemistry and introduced a more stripped down sound than their past efforts. The quartet breeze through the six tracks and it ends almost before you can savor it. They manage to show surprising diversity in a short amount of time with their characteristically diverse vocals that are equal parts sung, shouted, and screamed ; creating an interesting dynamic with their upbeat power pop sound. Sirs ended their brief career on a high note with this EP.

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3.      No Tongue – Body + Mind

No Tongue feature members of the California screamo scene such as Calculator, Matsuri, and Ten Thousand Leagues, but go in a more art-punk direction than you would expect. Their sound differs from the members’ other bands but is no less flooring. Much like many of the other releases on this list, the band show off their incredible range of sounds in such a short run time ranging from strangely catchy to dark and abrasive before gently fading out.  This 7” didn’t get much attention, but deserved much more.

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4.      Loma Prieta/ Raein Split

Loma’s sound moves even further from their screamo roots and into chaotic hardcore territory than last year’s I.V.did. Their four songs on the split blister with abrasive intensity, forsaking most of the melody/chaos dynamic that they displayed on earlier works. The tracks range from thirty seconds to two minutes and almost equal Raein’s only song on the split in length. After Loma’s quick burst of chaos, Italian scream veterans Raein end the split on a beautifully melodic piece of emotive hardcore, characteristic of their well-developed sound, making for an interesting pairing that works in a strange way.

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5.      Carrion Spring – Indiscretions//v.1

Portland, Oregon scream band Carrion Spring’s quietly released new EP just plain floored. The band has a well-balanced sound complete with pummeling, intense aggression and introspective, melodic fretwork. The top-notch musicianship, layered arrangements, and intensely serrated vocals really drive this EP home and is one of the better screamo releases this year. It’s a wonder they’re not more well-known within the genre.

 



One response to “Top 10 of 2013 – Torrey Proto”

  1. […] Calculator put out a stellar proper debut in 2013, This Will Come to Pass, which was at the top of my Top 10 Albums of 2013 list. Guitarist Nikolas Soelter discusses some of the challenges in writing the record, the meaning […]

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