Music » Music Feature

Our favorite music of 2013

Six Reader writers, 12 months, 30 picks—and not one list that just rearranges the same records you'll see everywhere else

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Chicago underground rock | Luca Cimarusti

The flow of music from Chicago's underground rock scene seems endless—the city constantly spawns fresh, productive projects, and in 2013 this process went into hyperdrive. New bands sprang up out of nowhere and released untouchable debuts, long-established acts unleashed their best music yet, and supergroups formed like Voltron and blew everyone away. It’d be impossible to say which local release was my absolute favorite, but these are the five that I loved most.

Disappears - COURTESY OF BILLIONS CORPORATION
  • Courtesy of Billions Corporation
  • Disappears

Disappears, Era (Kranky)

Disappears have always fused darkness and minimalism, but on their first three records they did so in a way that focused all the members' contributions into a single laserlike beam. On Era, they space out more than ever, sometimes playing next to nothing, and create a chilling, post­industrial soundscape. Propelled by the band's not-so-secret weapon, new drummer Noah Leger, this stark and eerie collection of songs is the best music yet from Chicago's best band.

Mines - LUCAS HERZOG
  • Lucas Herzog
  • Mines

Mines, Just Another Thing That Got Ruined (Lake Paradise)

Bill Satek is one of this town's true enigmas. A crass, hilarious character with experience in some outrageously harsh noise projects, he was also able to create Just Another Thing That Got Ruined, a sweepingly beautiful avant-pop masterpiece. Satek fronts the band, which on this recording consists of MT Coast mastermind Jeff Milam on drums and Tiger Hatchery bassist Andrew Scott Young, and the playing is just as mind-numbingly dexterous as it is pretty and catchy.

Oozing Wound - JOE MARTINEZ
  • Joe Martinez
  • Oozing Wound

Oozing Wound, Retrash (Thrill Jockey)

So much of the greatness of this year's best local rock is rooted in its headiness, but no record packs in as much simple fun as Retrash. Oozing Wound, a heavy-duty, streamlined thrash unit comprising current and former members of noise-rock bands Cacaw and Unmanned Ship, have reined in the weirdness of their past projects to go straight for muscular 80s Big Four thrash worship—and they do it flawlessly. Oozing Wound headlines the Empty Bottle on New Year's Eve with Magic Milk and Jimmy Whispers.

Earring - JESSICA DABSKI
  • Jessica Dabski
  • Earring

Earring, Nunn Ones (Manic Static)

Gothy, shoegazey two-piece Earring came out of nowhere to drop this tape, which truly blew my mind. Their lean, simple pop hooks, blasted through a tower of warm guitar amps and drenched in a droney, melancholy vibe, make for the year's prettiest, most irresistible collection of songs from a young local band. This stunning debut can only mean that great things are on the way.

Corrections House - MARZENA ABRAHAMIK
  • Marzena Abrahamik
  • Corrections House

Corrections House, Last City Zero (Neurot)

Only half the members of Corrections House are local—scene staples Bruce Lamont and Sanford Parker—but the other two dudes in the band are among the most revered names in extreme music: Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod and Scott Kelly of Neurosis. This experimental industrial supergroup has made a scary, oppressive record that covers a whole range of sounds: pensive spoken word, brooding atmospherics, and pummeling, dangerous Wax Trax!-style industrial metal. It's dark, intense, and overwhelmingly heavy—exactly what you'd want to hear from this crew of metal monsters.

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