1) CRUSADES - Perhaps You Deliver This Judgement With Greather Fear Than I Receive It - [No Idea Records]
I had no doubt in my mind that Crusades, whose debut full-length was my favorite release of 2011 by such a large margin it felt weird even bothering with the rest of the list, would deliver with this new album. And, shocker, deliver they did. I will say, I didn't anticipate them dominating another year-end list, and yet here we are. Good for them. This sophmore triumph finds the group eschewing a bit of the familiar Samiam/Face to Face nostalgia that won them a place in my heart initially in favor of a darker, moodier sound that's more uniquely their own, though one that would still sound perfectly at home on a dusty VHS compilation of skateboarders falling down. "Perhaps You Deliver..." is a concept album about Giordano Bruno, a 15th century martyr whose torture/execution Crusades maintain constitutes a damning argument against the church. Pretty heady stuff, that, but hey, at least it's catchy!
2) NONA - Through the Head - [Mandible Records]
Let it not be said that 2013 didn't prove an exceptional extention of the recent 90's-revival trend (this very best-of list will handily prove as much). Personally, I couldn't be more for it. I spent the 90s in middle/high school exposing myself to as much of what was happening music-wise as possible. Those were my formative years. So, you know, this is a bit of a treat for me. And Nona is a standout band amidst the trend. Harkening back to sounds as vast as Superchunk and Veruca Salt while still retaining a vital and exciting originality that's kept this album playing on repeat for me througout the bulk of the year. Nona is one of the more exciting newer bands around, and this album is absolutely stellar.
3) RVIVR - The Beauty Between - [ Rumbletowne Records]
I love this band so much it's stupid. I had the great fortune to see them live twice this year and was shocked to see how little justice their recorded output does them, especially considering how much I absolutely adore their recorded output. Yeah, this is a sensationally talented band, urgent and passionate and important. One of the big things that attracted me to punk rock in the first place as a sheltered young suburban kid from Minnesota was its political leanings and its collective yearning for social justice. RVIVR carry on that crucial torch of punks who sing about giving a shit about shit that actually matters. God bless 'em for it.
4) THE COURTNEYS - s/t - [Hockey Dad Records]
It's like there's a party in my ears and I'm actually invited! Woohoo! A welcome throwback to the more pop-centric groups of the pacific northwest riot grrl scene (Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, etc). Straight outta Vancouver, B.C., singing songs about watching Beverly Hills 90210 and dating irritating boys, I don't really know what more you could possibly ask for from a band. This album is so full of win it's insane.
5) THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS - Nanobots - [Idlewild Recordings]
Fuck you, kid, these guys are the real deal. It always shocks the hell out of me when a band puts out something so strong a million years and a thousand LPs into their career, but here we go. This is probably TMBG's best album since Factory Showroom (or at least since Mink Car). If you were a fan once upon a time and lost track for whatever reason, it's time to come back. And if that song about Nikola Tesla doesn't make you cry, then I'm sorry, but that was a test, and it turns out you have no soul.
6) SWEARIN' - Surfing Strange - [Salinas/Wichita]
I didn't really think these kids could get better than on their debut LP, and yet here we are. Equal parts modern porch-punk and 90s-retro Pavement-esque dreamy pop. I wasn't quiet about the fact that P.S. Eliot was one of my favorite bands to come out of the past decade, and I was heartbroken when they broke up. I couldn't be more pleased that both the Crutchfield sisters have continued on with their own projects. And, as much as I dig Waxahatchee, I feel like Swearin' retains the edge for me if only for its sincere and passionate dedication to keeping things at least a bit on the pop punk side.
7) WRINGER - Bullfighter - [Smellhound Records]
Wringer is an all-male pop punk trio from Indiana that quite miraculously sounds nothing at all like Dillinger Four or the Copyrights. I didn't realize that was even still an option! This album is just killer, such great songwriting, super catchy, lots of fun.
8) RADIOACTIVITY - s/t - [Dirtnap Records]
Radioactivity is Mark and Jeff from the Marked Men reunited under a deceptively changed moniker. I say deceptively because this is basically just the Marked Men. They're back, and it's just as glorious as you think it's gonna be. Lightning fast powerpoppunk from the guys who perfected the sound years ago, back again to show all the kids how it's done. Fine by me, I never wanted them to leave in the first place.
9) BENNY THE JET RODRIGUEZ - Home. Run - [Recess Records]
Good tiiiiiimes, good times. This sounds like the kinda stuff you expect to hear playing over a montage of 8mm footage of punks running around having fun on a beach. If that makes any sense? I don't know, ten album descriptions is a lot for me, cut me some slack. What's important is Benny the Jet Rodriguez are badass and I love them and so will you.
10) DIRECT HIT! - Brainless God - [Red Scare Industries]
You know how they say, at the beginning of the Big Lebowski, that sometimes there's a person who just fully encapsulates the mood and spirit of the time and place in which they exist? Well, that's a regular phenomenon musically, too, and Direct Hit are fully the Dude for the 2013 punk scene. Encapsulating everything modern without being trite. Frenetic, spastic, anthemic, brilliant. It's only a matter of seconds before Direct Hit is the biggest band in all of punk music, mark my words.