Top 40 California Albums Released in 2013

Posted by Billy Gil, December 10, 2013 03:31pm | Post a Comment

Through my Weekly Roundup series every Thursday (returning in 2014), I listen to a lot of stuff from California-based artists. Here’s a list of 40 great albums that were made by artists based in this great state. There were lots more, so just consider this my own personal list, and let me know if there’s anything I missed!



Epically beautiful seafaring pop from the dude formerly of The Mallard.






39. Kisses Kids in LA

The cute electro-pop duo get dancier with freestyle sounds on their second album.






38. Tyler, the CreatorWolf

The Odd Future kingpin digs deeper into his defensive and strange world on Wolf.






37. Ty SegallSleeper

Ty made like Tyrannosaurus Rex on this stripped-down folk record.






36. Gap DreamShine Your Light

This guy lives at Burger Records and makes delightfully dingey roller-rink rock ‘n’ roll.





35. FuzzFuzz

Ty Segall takes the drums and spreads some Blue Cheer on this monolithic rock album.





34. I Need You Bad

i need you bad lp amoebaThere are countless wonderful garage bands in the great city of San Francisco and its surrounding areas. Luckily for us, Sonny Smith of Sonny & the Sunsets has done some of the legwork for us, compiling 15 tracks from artists in the area onto the I Need You Bad compilation. Being that it was constructed by someone who’s actually in the scene itself, this is one instance where a compilation of this sort actually lives up to its potential. And it’s a great way to discover new bands from the area. Like “Hot Summer” by Cool Ghouls? Check out their whole album. Love “Thine Eyes” by Pure Bliss? I sure do. Pick up this record for a great record start-to-finish and an easy way to brush up on a bustling scene.


33. Michael VidalDream Center

The Abe Vigoda frontman released a seven-song tape this year of exquisite dream pop.





32. Tera Melos X’ed Out

Awesomely mangled guitars intertwine like barbed wire on this album. Check out my interview with the band here.






31. IO EchoMinistry of Love

Asiatic-influenced synth pop with great hooks.






30. Crystal AntlersNothing Is Real

Crystal Antlers (somewhat) clean up nicely on ferocious rock record.







L.A.’s beloved garage band finally drops their debut; mayhem ensues everywhere they go. Check out my interview with the band here.





28. Medicine To the Happy Few

The legendary L.A. shoegazers return with an album as strong as any in the band’s catalog.





27. Wymond MilesCut Yourself Free

Wonderful, romantic synth pop influenced by David Bowie comes to us courtesy of The Fresh & Onlys’ guitarist.





26. BleachedRide Your Heart

The Clavin sisters (formerly of L.A. punk greats Mika Miko) make a 180 with this Bangles-inspired L.A. guitar pop. Check out my interview with them here.





25. Wax IdolsDiscipline & Desire

Oakland-based post-punkers Wax Idols put out a fierce debut in the proud vein of Siouxsie & the Banshees.





24. Upset She’s Gone

Ali Koehler, Jenn Prince and Patty Schemel kick out confessional power-pop rigged with tight riffs and heavy beats on their debut. See where they fit into the Vivian Girls Family Tree.





23. WavvesAfraid of Heights

Noise-poppers Wavves released a terrrifc album of ’90s KROQ-influenced pop-rock with Afraid of Heights.






22. The MantlesLong Enough to Leave

One of the best jangle-pop bands not from New Zealand are The Mantles.






21. Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin

The ever-prolific Bay Area band released another monster rock album with the rollicking Floating Coffin. Can these guys do no wrong?





20. Heavy HawaiiGoosebumps

heavy hawaiiSan Diego’s Heavy Hawaii make beautifully disorienting dreamy surf-rock on Goosebumps.





19. Jonathan RadoLaw and Order

Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado comes on like a modern-day Lee Hazlewood on this terrific lo-fi-pop solo debut.





18. Soft Metals - Lenses

We’re lucky to have some of the brightest starts of the burgeoning minimal-wave revivalist genre right here in L.A. Soft Lenses go even deeper, darker and sexier on their second album.





17. No AgeAn Object           

An Object finds the L.A. punk band aging gracefully, no longer going for full-on assault and instead wrangling their ample noise-making capabilities into thoughtful lo-fi compositions.




16. Local NativesHummingbird

Local Natives’ sound is, dare I say it, spiritually uplifting on their second album, full of morose, inward-looking lyrics and gorgeous harmonies.





15. Best CoastFade Away

Best Coast capture California sunlight in a bottle on this EP, splitting the difference between their scrappy, beloved debut and its polished follow-up.





14. ClassixxHanging Gardens

New disco can really go either way for me. L.A.’s Classixx nail it on their debut, jamming it full of dancefloor fillers and killer guest spots, especially from LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang on the awesome “All You’re Waiting For.”




13. Cass McCombsBig Wheel and Others

McCombs’ latest album takes us through various strains of Americana, from folk to country to indie rock, seamlessly over its double-album length. Check out my interview with him here.





12. Dream BoysDream Boys

We’re huge fans of jangle pop, the Flying Nun label and the L.A.’s Paisley Underground movement of the ’80s around these parts. L.A.’s Dream Boys take those sounds and make them their own, difficult to do among a crowded field, yet expertly done on their debut album. Check out my interview with them here.




11. HaimDays Are Gone

There seems to be a bit of a backlash about this sister trio lately. Why? Do you hate fun? Do you dislike great musicianship and hooky music? I sure don’t.





10. Mikal CroninMCII

Brilliant power-pop you couldn’t avoid singing along to if you wanted to.





9. Sonny & the SunsetsAntenna to the Afterworld

Their best album yet, a ramshackle space-rock opus.





8. Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty

On her best album yet, Chelsea Wolfe straps together industrial beats, dirgey rockers and piano ballads with ease.





7. Mazzy Star  - Seasons of Your Day

On one of the sweetest returns of the year, Mazzy Star released an immaculate collection of autumnal sounds.





6. Earl SweatshirtDoris

Earl Sweatshirt’s debut record was a long time coming, after his teenage years saw his early debut, only to get held back by boarding school. Thus he enters the game with wisdom beyond his years, releasing one of the best hip-hop albums of 2013 with Doris.




5. WeekendJinx

Anyone who enjoys shoegaze/dream pop music should get this album immediately. It’s damn near perfect.





4. KelelaCut 4 Me

The L.A.-based artist sings over productions by various L.A. underground producers on this brilliant debut mixtape, which serves as both an introduction to Kelela’s brooding R&B and an overview of brilliant up-and-coming producers.





3. DeafheavenSunbather

Black metal vocals and stunning guitar landscapes shouldn’t get long this well.






2. Julia HolterLoud City Song

A sound cycle influnced by the musical film Gigi, this album and its creator are one-of-a-kind, exploring new concepts of pop and maintaining both avant-garde and outward-reaching tendencies. Simply one of the best releases of the year.





1. Rhye - Woman

No one else is making music quite like Rhye. Mysterious and seductive, their sound takes cool jazz and soft-rock tropes and makes them completely cool, given a sophisticated electro-pop makeover. And singer Milosh’s heavenly pipes are one of the greatest discoveries of the year.





See my Top 50 Albums of the Year.

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La Music (74), Sf Music (66), California (15), Rhye (8), Best Coast (41), Julia Holter (22), Weekly Roundup (139), Best Of 2013 (24), Deafheaven (11), Kelela (11), Weekend (12), Earl Sweatshirt (20), Mazzy Star (13), Chelsea Wolfe (24), Sonny & The Sunsets (14), Mikal Cronin (17), Haim (15), Dream Boys (4)