Last year noise rock seemed to go by rather unnoticed in the musical community. It was easy to make a good top ten chart, and my chart ended up being accurate and noncontroversial. This year, though, noise rock seemed to garner quite a bit more attention, and sadly, the majority of acts to get the spotlight shined on them I found to be quite mediocre. Iceage, Pissed Jeans, Chelsea moving light, Ken Mode, and Future of the Left were all big disappointments to me.
After listening to around 45 noise rock albums from 2013, here is my list. Some may technically fit into other genres better, but it is my list, so if I want to put a post hardcore album on my noise rock chart, too bad. It was really hard to narrow it down to ten, but I did my best. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments section below.
I had Cellular Chaos here, and wrote up all the reasons why they were in my top, then, looked at what I wrote and said to myself, “who am I kidding, Bitches was really fun.”
That pretty much sums up their sound. Male/ female duo make a noisey pop rock that is perfect for preparing to go out and get drunk, getting drunk, or waking up after being drunk. If you have any friends who take Sleigh Bells serious (I’m sorry if you do), show them Bitches.
I’m not going to write more about this album, because knowing me I will just end up deleting it all and writing about a different album. Here, let the music speak for itself.
Listen to the album Here.
9) Melt Banana- Fetch
I was not a huge Melt Banana fan until Fetch. I had heard Cell Scape and really disliked the vocals. I got why other people liked it, as I have plenty of artists I like with high pitched female yelling, but Melt Banana just wasn't for me.
When Fetch came out I figured I'd give it a go, and was pleasantly surprised. The instrumentation was just as good as I remembered it being on Cell Scape, and I found the vocals much more manageable. I haven't gone back to their other albums yet, so I don't know if I changed or they did, but I was happy nonetheless.
Fetch is for those who like frantic. The guitar work is constantly going above and beyond the necessary, extra notes, squeals, and sounds become quite commonplace on the album. I can only imagine how much energy there is at a Melt Banana show, as Fetch is a rather exhausting listen.
Even if you have tried Melt Banana before, give them another go like I did. You may be pleasantly surprised.
8) Quttinirpaaq- Let's Hang Out
The second 2013 album from Matt Turner's Quttinirpaaq, Let's Hang Out does everything better than it's predecessor. This album is a great mix of noise rock riffs, industrial rhythms, and even some ambient moments.
I recently reviewed the album and don't want to repeat myself too much, so I will just paste a quote from that review and call it done.
Let’s Hang out feels like a giant step forward for Quittinirpaaq. The industrial aspects have been toned down, but when presented (“Man without a Body”) they are tight and well mixed with the other sounds.
Just click the quote if you want to read more about this album, but I suggest rather than reading about it you just visit Here and listen to it yourself.
7) Roomrunner- Ideal Cities
This album went by unnoticed by most people which is a shame. It feels like the perfect noise rock album for fans of Waaves, Foo Fighters, or Nirvana. Honestly, with songs like “Weird” I expect everyone at their shows to be in ripped, stone washed jeans and neon t-shirts.
Still, the sound Roomrunner has is nothing other than ‘cool’. No, they aren’t attempting anything original, but their throwback sound is easy to listen to and fun. If I still skateboarded, this probably would have been on quite a bit this summer.
The album can be both streamed and purchased Here.
6) The Rott Childs- Alleluia: A Brit Milah in G Melodic Minor
Yeah, Rott Childs compare themselves to Blood Brothers and Hella, but it is a great comparison, so I just steal it. I know, that means this is going to be a combo of post-hardcore and math rock, and that really isn’t noise rock.
Regardless of what genre you end up trying to pin The Rott Childs to, the album is great. The electric organs are really funky sounding. The drumming is top class, the songwriting is intricate, and the vocals are a real throwback for me.
Sure, even I will agree that noise rock is a bad tag for this album, but these guys cause a real ruckus, and in the end, that is what this list is all about.
5) Haunted Horses- Watcher
I had forgotten about these guys after hearing Pyramids of Glass back in 2011. I remember in 2012 googling them to see if I could find a proper album with no luck; then, one day out of the blue, someone suggested Watcher to me. And Watcher is great. It is exactly what I expected an LP from them to sound like.
Haunting, Liars-esque vocals, throbbing and primitive sounding drums, and a great continuation in sound from track to track. Seriously, Haunted Horses, Dreamdecay, Liars, and YVETTE should all just go on tour together. They all sound unique but have so many similarities within their sounds.
Watcher makes great use of electronic sounds to fill recordings. Tracks like “the Void” use a very simple hum of electronics, but do it so effectively. Additionally, the pacing of this album really is a strong point. Slower tracks feel more intense, and tracks like “White Eyes” add a dance-punk element to the sound
Overall, this may be the softest album on this chart, but it holds enough intensity within its tracks to easily make up for this.
Stream it and buy it Here.
4) Geurilla Toss- Gay Disco
Talk about a late entry. Last week’s outline of my top 10 didn’t have Guerilla Toss mentioned, and now they’re clocking in at number 4. To start off, their self-titled album from earlier this year was good. Tracks like “Judy Wants Sex in the News” reminded me of the 2012 release by Normal Love. But, in the end, I had it sitting at around #15 or so. Over the week, I have been streaming Gay Disco over and over though.
It is a funky, high-voltage ride that reminds me of Black Dice meets Aids Wolf. I didn’t even know they had a second album planned for the year, but, like Qutinirpaaq, Guerilla Toss showed us that their second album for the year built on their previous release in all the right ways.
Gay Disco just got reviewed from me today, so I’m not going to beat a dead horse. I’ll just end it saying that you owe it to yourself to check this album out if you like Coughs, Aids Wolf, Divorce, WaMu, or Pre; even if you were less than impressed with Guerilla Toss in the past
3) Oozing Wound- Retrash
I started a Twitter account this year to help promote my blog. Every twitter feed that mentioned Oozing Wound used the word ‘Brutal’. I kept putting this album aside until last week when I finally decided to give it a spin. Brutal.
I’ve gone back to the thrashy noise rock Retrash a few times now, and every time I find myself headbanging until my headphones almost fall off. I suggest you give this album to every metalhead you know, as I feel like it probably hasn’t been getting the love it really deserves by them.
I almost didn't put this on this list, because, in all honesty, it really is thrash metal, not noise rock. But the genres to overlap, and this album is just too good to ignore.
2) Dreamdecay- N V N V N V
Dreamdecay came out of nowhere this year with N V N V N V (I pronounce in ‘envy envy envy’, though I’m probably wrong), creating a bastard sound someplace between Liars and Shearing Pinx. Dreamdecay’s sound is powerful. The vocals remind me of Liars’ Angus at times, and the whole piece feels like a concept album the Liars would do, just much darker than any album they have done.
If there is a 2012 album I would compare it to it would be White Suns-Sinews; the sound has an air of anticipation and angst throughout both of these albums, and both vocalists are so explosive in their delivery.
N V N V N V keeps a uniform sound throughout, and this is a huge strength. Never is the album dull, and no tracks feel out of place. I expect the next album by this group to be getting a lot of publicity, so expect to hear them talked about only more in the future.
Stream it Here.
1) Sightings- Terribly Well
It’s easy to see why this is my top noise rock album of the year, because it is one of my top albums of the year. I have listened to Sightings since early high school, and Mark Morgan’s strange guitar style has always been mesmerizing to me. Terribly Well is a nice combination of new and familiar. “The Loafer” sounds like it was taken right off of Arrived in Gold, but tracks like “Mute’s Retreat” really sound like a progression in sound for the band.
Another strength of Sightings is how intensely they can push into the realm of noise while still being fairly accessible. Sure, your grandparents would probably scoff at this music and be appalled, and nobody is probably planning on having Sightings play at their wedding; but when you think about just how abstract the overall sound is, the overall music produced is surprisingly catchy.
I have been listening to Sightings for almost 10 years now and they have yet to disappoint. This album was easily my favorite noise rock album of 2013.