D.C. Music Download’s Best Albums of 2013


Our countdown of the best local music of 2013 rolls on. This time the D.C. Music Download staff reveals the best albums (and EPs) of 2013.

Young for a Moment by PLOY

Although electronic duo PLOY has been active in the city’s music scene for some time, it wasn’t until this year that the group really solidified its sound.  It seemed that nearly every song PLOY released in 2013 was better than the last, and all the hype surrounding its music came to a full climax when the band’s album Young For a Moment was released in August. The release is delicate and beautiful- an exotic album that stood out in the sea of other synthpop releases. -Stephanie Williams

Migration Vol. 2 by Mission South

Five simple songs. That’s it. That’s all Mission South needed to prove that sometimes, all you need is a good melody and some tasty guitar licks to put together a great record.

The swagger of lead single “Peaches” is undeniable, driven as it is by its robust main riff. Other songs, like “Free” and “Photographs and Fables” are infused with a mixture of down-home comfort and some serious swing.

“Thriller” ends the EP on a powerful note, or set of notes – guitarist Dan Miller saves his best solos for last, flicking of searing licks like nobody’s business. The fact that this is an EP and not a full-length only leaves you wanting more, making Vol. 3 an anticipated release in 2014.-Gregory Ayers

House of Woo by Maxmillion Dunbar

Electronic artist Maxmillion Dunbar (aka Andrew Field-Pickering) unveiled a mind-bending release this year with House of Woo. The album pushed some boundaries musically, but didn’t feel so far off the beaten path that it failed accomplish its goal of being a dance-worthy, feel-good record that’s contagious. -SW

Son by Beautiful Swimmers

While we’re already on the subject of Maxmillion Dunbar, this list wouldn’t be complete without the unorthodox sounds of Beautiful Swimmer’s latest release, Son. The album is in a class of its own among the throng of other electronic records. The duo always remains one step ahead of the competition with  Son. -SW

Bad Brother by Two Inch Astronaut

One of the most unforgettable albums of 2013 was Bad Brother, a heart-stopping record that was nothing short of a mindfuck the entire way through. Two Inch Astronaut brings to mind the punk forefathers of D.C.’s past without shedding its unique identity. -SW

Deathfix by Deathfix

Deathfix’s self-titled album presented a mix bag of psychedelic rock and funk that was beautifully amalgamated in songs like “Dali’s House”.  The release can be eccentric at times, but it’s easy to embrace the album for all its quirks. -SW

Morning in Glen Burnie by Tom McBride

This album is a mix of blues, bluegrass, and rock that rings true to Tom McBride (who now lives in Nashville). The title track to the album brings to life a sleepy suburb outside of Baltimore as McBride’s voice and energy bring a fun and excitement that is rare to Glen Burnie (c’mon, have you been there?). Other shining tracks include the soulful “Julia”, the biting and stomping “Do it For the Kids” and the rhythmic “Angel in My Head”. The album blends together well, without tracks offering a range of sounds and speeds. -Ilana Ostrin

Medusa by GEMS

For a band that had so much hype surrounding it this year, Medusa was a highly anticipated release from dream-pop duo GEMS. Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher had some of their biggest hits yet from this EP, including “Sinking Stone” and “Pegasus” that gave them some well-deserved attention both locally and nationally. -SW

Evil Spring by Greenland

Greenland made what could be considered one of the greatest comebacks of the year thanks to Evil Spring. After taking a hiatus from music, the quartet bounced back in May with a striking math rock record that was the band’s best work to date. The only unfortunate part about the release was that it largely remained under-the-radar for most of the year, barely getting any coverage. Evil Spring truly deserves credit and without-a-question a spot on this list. -SW

Oculus by Borracho

Borracho saw its best year yet as a band in 2013. The trio released a solid 7-inch record, Mob Gathering, in March followed by the hard-hitting Oculus in July. The five-track EP presents fuzzed-out guitars and well-crafted hooks that remain consistent across the record. Borracho appears much bigger and more powerful than just a trio on Oculus . -SW

Quadrants by Tereu Tereu

The indie-pop duo Tereu Tereu took a big risk with its latest album Quadrants. Songs like “Spanish Lynx” mark a far departure from the band’s previous pop-rock offerings, showing how far Tereu Tereu has grown since its last release nearly two years ago. Quadrants was an unpredictable album that had no creative restraint, and the finished product is something memorable. -SW

I Wanna Live by Paint Branch

Paint Branch was one of the best new music projects to come out of the woodworks this year, comprised of former Q and Not U members Chris Richards and John Davis. The superduo’s debut album, I Wanna Live, quietly went on Bandcamp in January without hardly any promotion behind it. But the contents of the release were anything but soft, with a rollicking, retro rock aesthetic that left a powerful impression.-SW

Waking Up to the Fire by Drop Electric

Waking Up the the Fire felt as if a foreign hovercraft descended upon the District. The basic parts of the album include elements of post-rock, electronic and even bits of pop tailored within the exotic, full-length release. Songs like the title track feel as if they are ahead of their time, serving as a window into what audiophiles will be listening to two decades down the road. -SW

The Man+The Machine by Andrew Grossman

Andrew Grossman has been largely associated as the frontman of Americana band The North Country. For his latest solo album, Grossman traded his roots ‘n’ rock music for a lurid, experimental project that tested his boundaries as an artist. The Man+The Machine is nothing short of a joy ride as you listen to it in its entirety-the question is, are you ready to immerse yourself into this unhinged rabbit hole?-SW

Cellar Door Compilation Vol. 1 by Cellar Door

Cellar Door is a new artist collective that formed this summer in D.C. The group’s debut compilation album encompasses a variety of styles and beats, from trance music that’s wonderful to heavier rap samples that are fun to blast on a car stereo. Not only did this album introduce to me to D.C.’s Cellar Door collective, it also brought to my attention the artists they sampled on the tracks, like Captain Murphy and Capital STEEZ. I can’t wait to see what else the artists on this album create.-Katie Bowles