Looking back on 2013, there have been innumerable musical memories I could retell. Traveling to 4 different cities for  SXSW, Coachella, Music Midtown, and CMJ festivals, meeting some of my favorite musicians, attending Live on Letterman, and hosting over 25 “Rocker Stalker presents” shows, to name a few,  all in all, these 5 releases (singles, EP’s, records) made the most impact on my 2013 music experience.

Like-Clockwork-Cover

1) Queens of the Stone Age- …Like Clockwork: Queens of the Stone Age don’t need another itty bitty blog telling cyberspace how great they are, but I’m going to do it any way. Their sixth studio album …Like Clockwork is a masterpiece that represents everything that is wonderful about the band and modern rock for that matter: depth, darkness, charm, sass, and ingenious melodies, lyrics, and instrumentation. And, did I mention the incredible album artwork by Boneface? It was also fashioned into animated videos to accompany track teasers and concert backdrops, a badass collaboration to say the least.  According to sources, and to make a long story short, lead vocalist/guitarist Josh Homme was pulled out of a deep depression and encouraged to write the album  by bandmates, after being bed ridden for four months due to a surgery complication. In a way, I think the album pulled me out of a lot of hard times, and returned the pep in my step, not to get TOO personal.  From the ominous “Keep Your Eyes Peeled,” bubbly yet thematically heavy “I Sat By the Ocean,” anthemic and balladic “The Vampyre of Time and Memory,” dancy “If I Had a Tail,” sultry and bluesy “Smooth Sailing,” and hearfelt and poignant title track, QOTSA nailed it with this record. Seeing the band perform the album in its entirety on Live on Letterman in June, meeting Homme and newly adopted drummer Jon Theodore, aka “Mr. Handsome,” at Music Midtown, and catching the band live in Boston and Brooklyn, drove the point home about the greatness behind the tunes.  Get yourself a copy of …Like Clockwork and check out the interactive video for “The Vampyre of Time and Memory.”  The album is up for three Grammy’s (not shocking)…fingers are crossed!

areyousatisfied

2) Reignwolf- Two-way tie between “Are You Satisfied?”/ “In the Dark:” OK, so if you’ve met me, you know what a diehard fan I am of Saskatoon-born, Seattle-based blues rock band Reignwolf. I fell in love with this act last year at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC and experienced their jaw-dropping performances and Jordan Cook’s epic guitar shredding (think Stevie Ray Vaughan meets Jimi Hendrix meets Eddie Van Halen) about a dozen times since, rain or shine. Just in this past year or so, the trio’s notoriety has grown exponentially, and deservingly so. Hitting every major festival on the circuit and flooring every person they’ve played to in their path, the only thing that was missing was music people could actually own. When I got the news that “Are You Satisfied?” was available in August (during Lollapalooza), it was like hearing that Guns ‘n Roses’ Chinese Democracy was FINALLY here, but this time, with a better and more, well, satisfying outcome. The anticipation for released music continued, made stronger by their insane September shows in support of the Pixies, and my prayers were answered a few months later when Reignwolf premiered “In The Dark” on Rolling Stone. This is blues and rock ‘n roll at its finest. Reignwolf gives hope that rock still has a heartbeat; they are reinvigorating the appreciation for the genre and I, along with thousands of others, cannot wait for the full-length to arrive!  Check out “Are You Satisfied?” and “In the Dark,” and be on the lookout as Reignwolf takes over the world. Next stop: spring tour with Black Sabbath. 

arctic-monkeys-am-cover3) Arctic Monkeys, AMAlbum number five from these Englishmen is totally unexpected, but in a superb way.  Not abandoning their spunky and punky Brit-pop/rock roots, Arctic Monkeys take a different turn on their 2013 release AM.  I’ve been a fan since their debut record Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not and sophomore album Favourite Worst Nightmare. Though I lost touch with the band’s goings-on for a few years (sorry), I’m glad I caught wind of AM.  Showcasing their sultry and sexy side, Arctic Monkeys channel blues, R&B, and hip hop, while weaving their signature bounciness in with aching, seductive lyrics. From pulsating “Do I Wanna Know?” yearning rock track “R U Mine?,” smooth, hip-sway-inducing “One for the Road,” Motown-esque “Fireside,” “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”(my personal favorite), grooving “Knee Socks,” and clever, slinky closer “I Wanna Be Yours,” AM is the burlesque dancer of records fraught with enticing tunes. I missed my opportunity to see the band live in Atlanta, but I hope I get a second chance when they rock Madison Square Garden in February.   Get romantic with AM.  Peep the official video for “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”

black-sabbath-13-13702857354) Black Sabbath, 13:   Appropriately named for its June 2013 release, 13 demonstrates Black Sabbath’s relevance, even after 40+ years of existence, multiple line-up changes, and now, 19 studio albums. Combining the best of both Ozzy Osbourne’s style, ranging from mania to sentimental ballads, Tony Iommi’s heavy, driving, and penetrating guitar riffs, and grave topics, 13 gets down to serious rock business from the first power chord of “End of the Beginning.” Followed by highlight tracks,  doomy “God is Dead?,” super-Sabbathy “Loner,” creeping “Zeitgeist,” epic “Age of Reason,” stealthy “Damaged Soul,” pounding “Dear Father,” and dynamic “Methademic,” 13  is a head banger’s delight.  I’m thrilled these heavy metal pioneers are still going, and I’m looking forward to seeing them for the first time in March at Barclays! 13 is up for three Grammy’s too, so get listening!

blacktaxi_chiaroscurocover5) Black Taxi, ChiaroscuroBrooklyn-based band Black Taxi, who has been in my top favorites for over half a decade, have made leaps and bounds since first I first lay ears on them. This past September, they released their ultra-dancy EP Chiaroscuro, follow up to their 2012 album We Don’t Know Any Better, showing off the band’s knack for “dance music without laptops.”   Though you wouldn’t peg the quartet as a typical “rock” act, they definitely ROCK at what they do and hold true to real guitar solos and contagious drum beats that can whip both rock ‘n rollers and club goers into a frenzy.  Ever-so-energetic and charismatic on stage, Black Taxi continue to impress with their live shows and grooveable tracks.  Chiaroscuro showcases those ‘electro’-buildups, that break into danceable choruses that we all know and love, maintaining the band’s reputation as one of the top NY acts and most fun performances!  Check out Chiaroscuro here, and if you’re in the neighborhood for New Year’s Eve (that’s tonight!), come dance the night away with Black Taxi at Mercury Lounge!

Runners up:  Compass EP by Brandon Boyd, “Satisfied,” single by The Wans, “Tell Me Why” video by Butcher Knives, “Rosemary” video by Deftones, self-titled EP by Isle of Rhodes, and Reflector by Arcade Fire.

Happy new year! See you on January 3 at Bar Matchless and January 17 at Bowery Electric!

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