Smile Politely

Top Ten C-U Albums of 2013

As you’ve seen throughout the week, we’ve been listing some of our favorites in the year of C-U music. The best live shows to happen throughout the year, as well as some of our favorite tracks that were released in 2013. There have been plenty of shows and individual songs, but what has been most impressive this year has been the depth of the pool of album releases to choose from. Without a doubt, one of the deepest in recent memory.

With the help of writers and readers alike, combined with our general opinions, we present to you our thoughts on C-U album releases in 2013.

All writeups by Patrick Singer and David Kierski.


The groggy attitude and tired composition of Could Care Less revives some of the same sentiments held by mid-90s bands (or even more recently, Mount Eerie or the Microphones in some sense), and is a slice of goodness. Listening to Single Player’s full length, it reminds me a lot of Easter’s Demonstration thematically and the delivery isn’t lazy—it’s mindful of what it is, and Could Care Less seeks that aesthetic. Overwhelming reader voting couldn’t be denied for Single Player’s release this year, but it is worthy of your attention. — PS


Stylistically, Light is unlike pretty much every release we’ve come across this year in C-U music. As if this collection of tracks was put together initially for an orchestral composition (which, from the mind of ringleader Joe Meland, was how the project originated), the grace and beauty of each track throughout Fauve’s debut EP. It doesn’t make this collection unusual sonically, per se, but a different approach with great results. The whole EP mixes that composers mindset, and combines that with pianos, saxophones, strings, guitars, splashing drums and a pretty terrific voice. Not to mention, it’s bookened by two monster tracks, the latter of which, “Still Breathing”, is phenomenal. — PS


In a year of stellar hip-hop releases all around (including a couple down the list a bit), The W8 stood out in a few ways. The production value of this collection of tracks from Klevah is nothing short of sensational, and considering the length, the tracks could come across as incoheisve. The W8 avoids this. The collection is tenacious throughout, and proves that Klevah is an emcee to be reckoned with here in C-U. Many of the tracks are remarkable, as she seemingly integrates stream-of-consciousness delivery with solid samples and beats (“84s” is really impressive), and her lyrical work comes off as straight up relentless. — PS


As an unapologetically country band, The Fights have been one of the most welcomed new acts into the C-U music scene ine 2013 as far as I’m concerned. Their debut EP is a sweet capsule of folk, country and Americana all lumped into one. The croon of Cole Rabenort drives these tracks, filled with love, longing, and heartbreak. The soulful and melodic EP conveys a sense of warmth and resolution. They really show their roots off here, as well as wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and ultimately, we’re rewarded at the expense of their heartache. — PS


In a year that a few local artists re-emerged from the darkness, it was pleasant to see Terminus Victor become one of those bands in 2013. The trio has aged well, while their struggles, insecurities, battles and grit remain. Most importantly, their intensity is still around, and within Prevention vs. Intervention, the strength of the signature Terminus Victor sound holds true. The fury of their brand of industrial rock mixed in with space rock and shoegaze at times can be fierce. We didn’t forget Terminus Victor was a force to be reckoned with — we just needed a reminder. — PS


One of the handful of C-U acts in the running to become a “thing” nationally, Elsinore dropped its highly-anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Yes Yes Yes to lots of speculation as to how recent lineup changes would affect their sound. The verdict: the new blood, greater production muscle, and “we ain’t goin’ nowhere” attitude of a band with something to prove ensures Elsinore may become a “thing” yet. And while we’ve already heard three of the ten songs on PUSH/PULL in different forms on their Life Inside an Elephant EP, the new and updated tracks show a band with increasing mastery of their craft. Many of the quieter tracks on the record can be underwhelming, but the bombastic power-pop numbers almost forgive them and make us hope Elsinore sticks around for a while. — DK


Veteran of the C-U music scene Larry Gates, Jr. does it all, from DJing parties to writing theme songs for podcasts, to releasing one of the tightest records of the year as Curb Service in Romeo Jive. Gates’ mellow Elliott Smith-reminiscent voice weaves around and above immaculately-produced beats with head-nodding, locked down beats that make Romeo Jive the perfect chill-out record. Gates seamlessly meshes digital and live-band production and shows all the hallmarks of an accomplished songwriter, with big hooks that’ll stick with you for a while. Aural meth it’s not, but if you’re looking for a platterful of nice mid-to-down tempo grooves with brains, Romeo Jive is exactly what the doctor ordered. — DK


When thinking about this write up for Hank.’s Pinched., the first word that came to mind was “spastic”, honestly. Thinking about that word, there are plenty of words that have a synonymous meaning to the word, but if you take a closer look, many of those words take on a higher meaning than “weird” or “deviant”. The words that stick out are “extraordinary”, “uncommon” or even “irregular”. Those words help define the feelings that are brought up when listening and attempting to describe Hank.’s incredible debut album. That’s what the entire LP entails: An expected joy ride amongst plenty of genres, emotions, messages and soundscapes. Just when that feeling of exhaustion comes, the album is reinvigorating and uplifting. Oftentimes, it is the unexpected feeling that feels best. — PS


Producer and rapper Shannon Swords’ new release sees him reaching for a more organic, live-band-and-real-musical-instruments sound that could have been an anachronism (hello, the 90s called and they want your mellow-groove-soul-hop band back) with a lesser emcee. But Depth presents Swords as a dark lord of hip-hop, spitting angry, ballsy rhymes over muscular beats and displaying plenty of the record’s namesake depth without coming off as too self-serious. Swords is just as comfortable rapping about beer and girls as he is politics and poetry, and does it with authority in his gravelly, nimble flow. Depth is equally at home on speakers at a party as it is over headphones at the gym when you need that extra ounce of adrenaline. — DK


For a long time, Grandkids seem like they have been on a mission to find what they truly are as a group of musicians. What Timeshare has proven is Grandkids have been honing in on their craft. This is about an identity. This is about the times I’ve spoken with the band, and have heard them say “This is what Grandkids have wanted to sound like for a while.” It’s growth.

That growth culimated with long hours in the studio (after a couple of stabs and some really good EPs under their belt), crafting Timeshare and making it their identity. All of it. This Grandkids’ debut could be described in a variety of ways, including delectible, powerful, versitile, graceful, and moreover, a treasure. From top to bottom, it’s a delight, and one that will remain for quite some time. — PS

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