Following yesterday’s first half of my Top 20 Albums of 2013, I proudly present the best music I listened to this year. Hopefully, you find something you’ll like. Enjoy the second half of my Top 20 Album list.
It’s taken me longer than anticipated to put out my Top Albums of 2013. Part of the delay is how hard it was to narrow it down to ten albums (you’ll notice, my Top 10 ballooned to Top 20). The other reason for the delay is because I kept changing the list up as I remembered amazing albums I listened to in the earlier part of the year. With that in mind (and one additional change…sorry Vampire Weekend), I present Part One of my Top 20 Albums of 2013!
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Thirty-One:
Songs to Say Goodbye to the Month
Well, it’s time to wrap up another 31 Days series. While last year’s theme was a bit more thoughtful in nature, this year’s list really stimulated the music-loving side of my brain. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like in the 310 songs I featured this month. Thanks again for listening. See you next year! I leave you with a mixtape of goodbyes.
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Thirty:
As a kid who grew up about 45 minutes from Detroit, I always heard about Devil’s Night and the numerous arsons that would happen during the day. With the popularity of programs like Angel’s Night, it seems like the coverage has been minimal for years, but I’m sure fires do still happen. Since Devil’s Night just ended and it was raining, I thought this mix would be fun. Songs about fire. Song about the devil. A song from The Crow soundtrack about raining. The pieces aligned and this mix was born. It’s a very tongue in cheek mix, so don’t take it too seriously.
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Twenty-Nine:
The Songs of Tony Sly
I’m breaking my 31 Days of Digital Mixtapes rules for today’s mixtape. My main rule was that each mix would include ten songs. As you listen through today’s Tony Sly mixtape, you’ll notice there are actually 33 songs instead of 10. While I apologize for breaking the rules, it just had to happen. That’s because Fat Wreck Chords put out their 33-song tribute album to the late great Tony Sly. For the uninitiated, Tony was the lead singer of No Use For a Name, and also carved out a nice career for himself as a solo artist. Tragically, he died in 2012, leaving behind a loving family. I don’t know any of the Slys, but I do know how much Tony’s music meant to me; both in NUFAN and as a solo artist. More Betterness has safely cemented a place in my Top 10 albums of all time list. His music always spoke to me and had a way of making me feel better and inspiring me to be better. It’s weird thing when someone in the public eye who had a profound influence on you dies. I didn’t know the guy in real life, but through his music and live shows I attended, he spoke to me. That’s why I always felt weird talking about how his death affected me. It felt almost selfish in a sense because here I was only a guy who grew up listening to Tony’s music and not knowing him personally. Listening to his music will forever be bittersweet for me now, but I still listen to it with pride.
After he died, the first thing that jumped in my head was, “Fat needs to make a comp to help benefit his family.” A little over a year later, here it is. I’m honestly surprised at how in-depth it is. The album pays tribute to every aspect of Tony Sly’s career and is filled with some of the genre’s heaviest hitters – both bands that definitely influenced No Use For a Band and bands that have been influenced by No Use For a Name. It’s an eclectic mix to be sure, but it’s amazing. It’s a tough listen for a fan – especially the songs geared towards Tony’s daughter now that I’m a father myself.
None of the bands seem to be on auto-pilot. It’s a fitting tribute to an amazing songwriter, musician, and person. I think if Tony was still alive to here it, he’d be pretty damn proud of it. While I’m sad about the circumstances that happened to inspire this compilation, I’m happy that the proceeds of it will go to the Tony Sly Memorial Fund to help his family financially. Use my Spotify playlist to take a listen, then consider picking it up through Fat Wreck Chords to make sure the maximum amount gets donated to the family.
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Twenty-Eight:
My Introduction to Ska Music
My musical tastes have been through many incarnations – grunge, hard rock, heavy metal, punk, ska, reggae, hip hop, rap, gangster rap, g-funk – I think you get the point. The music I’ve loved the most in life is definitely ska music. I was a teenager during the third wave Orange County ska explosion, so while I knew of First Wave and 2-Tone bands, I stuck mostly with Third Wave. The picture at the bottom of this blog also does a pretty good job of showcasing how I dressed for the most part. I think my wife has successfully gotten me to donate all of my Hawaiian shirts though, Reel Big Fish be damned.
These days, while I still love lots of the ska punk I grew up with (and listen to the stapes regularly), I’m more likely to listen to bands like The Slackers, Hepcat, and the Green Room Rockers if given the choice. Call it a matured palate; call it being a snob; call it whatever you want to. I like what I like. Ska is my favorite genre, no matter what wave it comes from.
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Twenty-Seven:
Celebrity Pet Projects
Sometimes, it must be rough being a professional actor. They get paid ridiculous amounts of money to portray original characters as well as real-life counterparts. Once you get past the fame and fortune, that’s got to get a bit stifling creatively when they’re not given the appropriate avenues to work on side projects. Some celebrities have figured out a way to break the mold. They’ve done so by joining and/or creating bands. For every bad DogStar and 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, there a handful of decent bands that should get a fair shot. This mixtape will help you change your mind about which celebrities should hang it up and keeping acting or not!
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Twenty-Six:
Tony Hawk Pro Skater
As a kid, one of the video games that I played that really helped shape my musical tastes was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. Before discovering it, there was an arcade skateboarding simulator that played nothing but Pennywise and The Offspring, but weren’t as developed when that game was around. I started to listen to ska and punk in 1996, but didn’t really get into it heavily until ’97 or ’98. If I remember correctly, Pro Skater came out in 1999. To pay homage to that game, here’s a mixtape of the soundtrack to the original game, plus a few songs from the sequel. Enjoy.
31 Days of Digital Mixtapes, Day Twenty-Five:
I mentioned zombies being the spook du jour when I posted my werewolf mixtape, vaguely implying that I wasn’t going to make a mixtape of zombie songs during my 31 Day Challenge. I had every intention of keeping that internal promise until I realized it was probably the only chance I had to legitimately include a GWAR song on one of my mixes (don’t worry, it’s first on the list, so you can listen to it and get it over or skip). Zombies may be cliche these days, but they’re still pretty fun in their own played out way. I tried to stay away from songs like “Thriller” and “The Gonk” on this mix and stick with songs about zombies (although I take liberties on two occasions because I like the songs so much). Take a listen to my favorite zombie songs and let me know what I missed!