2013 has been a fabulous year for music, but much like every year before, chances are that you probably missed out on some of the best artists.The sheer volume of new music and all the internet noise that surrounds the flavor of the month tends to drown out many of the diamonds in the rough. I have photographed more than 100 artists this year and have seen some truly mind-blowing shows, from the big ones such as Van Halen and Alice in Chains at major venues to the smaller ones that some pretty cool publicists turned me onto at tiny clubs.
Instead of pulling together a list of my top albums of 2013, I thought I would take it a step further. I have been lucky enough to see every artist on my top albums list live, so I pulled together some exclusive photos I have taken this year and paired them up with why I think they are the best of 2013 and what they sound like. These are the best of the best for me, and I think many of them will be having a breakout year in 2014.
1. Brick and Mortar
Why: Brick and Mortar take the top spot for both record of the year and live performance of the year. These guys are the real deal, the most original artists of 2013, and I predict they will be the breakout success story of 2014.
What they sound like: Hard to explain because it’s only two dudes. I would say Adele crossed with Hot Hot Heat, crossed with some type of new sound these guys have invented. I can’t say this enough: buy this f’n record now.
2. Beware of Darkness
Why: Vocalist/guitarist Kyle Nicolaides is wise beyond his years. This guy is a rock ‘n’ roll star in every sense and makes it look easy, and sooo cool. He’s bringing back the lost art of how to be a proper frontman.
3. Rival Sons
Why: It’s the closest thing to Zeppelin we will ever see again. These guys are bonafide rock starts in another dimension and slowly crossing over to earth.
4. The Joy Formidable
Why: They blew Passion Pit off the stage and had a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector proud.
5. Night Moves
Why: Brilliant songwriting and a mesmerizing live show. I might have a slight obsession with these guys.
Why: That band from the Corona commercial is so much better than that Corona commercial will ever give them credit for.
7. Local Natives
Why: One of the most unique live shows I have ever seen.
8. The Rouge
Why: Because they blew me away live and put out an incredibly good EP this year that went completely unnoticed. But take note, there’s something happening in Nashville, and I predict next year it will the year of the Nashville rock bands.
9. AM and Shawn Lee
Why: Clearly one of the most original sounds out there today.
10. Walking Papers
Why: Two reasons: they are bringing back storytelling, and they have grooves that can shake the earth. (Barrett Martin and Duff McKagen as the rhythm section will do that.)
11. The Veils
Why: Finn Andrews is one of the best songwriters of my generation. A modern day John Lennon if you will
12. The Mission UK
Why: Because they are still going.
13. The Winery Dogs
Why: Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy all on one incredibly diverse record.
Thanks for reading, and if you are looking for full galleries from any of the artists mentioned above please check out rocknrollcocktail.com. Here’s to an amazing 2014.