Top 10 LA Releases of 2013

This year the LAmb staff has come together to bring you our collective favorite hometown album releases of 2013. We love our locals. They’re the backbone of the site, and Los Angeles holds a certain romantic place in the eyes of the world; a promise of fame and success is not guaranteed, but being the central hub of record labels, talent agencies, management firms, and iconic venues certainly provides a step in the right direction.

This common knowledge has led to a flood of aspiring rockstars, and in a diluted market, the competition to be heard can be the fiercest, so the bands that stand out amongst the masses make us all the more proud to call them our favorites!

#10: Classixx – Hanging Gardens

Classixx

Running through the bevy of artists Classixx has remixed over the years, it’s hard to believe the DJ duo has only now gotten around to releasing their debut album. Was the wait worth it? Hell yes. Hanging Gardens is a polished collection of funky basslines, disco hooks, and indie deliciousness that would suit a dance party on the Standard’s rooftop and a mellow drive down PCH equally well. With regards to the latter, yes, Hanging Gardens does, in fact, make traffic more bearable. – Lesley Park

Listen: “Holding On

#9: FIDLAR – FIDLAR

FidlarAlbumCover

FUCK IT DOG, LIFE’S A RISK. No, that’s not me just saying that. It’s what FIDLAR stands for, and if you listen to this self-titled debut from the LA group, you will understand why. Diving into the lyrics, you realize these guys aren’t your typical modern day “punk” band. Instead of focusing on where they grew up or girls, FIDLAR is showing the raw side of what it means to be young, living in SoCal, and partying it up. The focus of the album seems to mainly be booze, drugs, and a lack of ambition, but with that said, this album is anything but unambitious. If you want to check out one of the best punk bands coming out of SoCal, I would say put this album at the top of your must-hear list for 2013. – Mikiel Houser

Listen: “Cocaine

#8: Capital Cities – In A Tidal Wave of Mystery

Capital Cities

Capital Cities’ Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant met here in LA on Craigslist, and the rest is pop star fairy tale history. Their debut album, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery, was recorded in LA for Capitol Records and features their smash single “Safe and Sound,” whose video takes place in the historic Los Angeles Theater. Sounds to me like these boys are LA through and through, as if that weren’t clear enough from the free-spirited California feel-good vibes that ooze from the album. – Megan Driscoll

Listen: “Kangaroo Court

#7: Hanni El Khatib – Head In The Dirt

hanni el khatib head in the dirt

If only all albums could grab the attention of an audience within the first fifteen seconds of listening the way Hanni El Khatib’s Head in the Dirt does. Kicking off this raucous album with the title track, El Khatib delivers a completely untamed and untempered West Coast rock sound that is quintessential to his style. “Nobody Move” shows off his California sentimentality with garage band drums and reggae-esque beats à la Sublime. “House on Fire” ends the album almost prematurely, and while everything good must unfortunately come to an end, thankfully there is always the option of hitting repeat. – Christine Perez

Listen: “Nobody Move

#6: Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

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Cold War Kids may hail from Long Beach, but the group transcends the narrow surface-level scope of the beach city. Their Southern California alt-rock sound can be attributed to their surroundings, but Dear Miss Lonelyhearts exemplifies their ability to draw from the deeper facets of the lives surrounding them, desperate and broken, open and hopeful. They reach an audience far beyond the pocket of Los Angeles, but do not remove themselves from the influence of LA. They bring the audience inward, past the veneer and into the depths of the city. – Christine Perez

Listen: “Loner Phase

#5: Foxygen – We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic

Foxygen-We-Are-The-21st-Century-Ambassadors-of-Peace-and-Magic

Although Westlake Village neo-psychedelic rock duo Foxygen released their 2013 album, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic, in the middle of winter, the group’s sunny, lo-fi sound warmed up any music fan’s season — yes, even for us weather-hating Californians who believe that anything under 65 is freezing. Their laidback yet energetic style mimics some of the best aspects of LA’s atmosphere. By putting a modern twist on a classic psych-rock sound, Foxygen creates music that is timeless yet with the times. No matter what season or where you are, whenever you listen to Foxygen, you will always feel that warm California glow. – Sarah Bellman

Listen – “No Destruction

#4: Touche Amore – Is Survived By

Touche Amore Is Survived By

There’s a pretty cool record store in Burbank called Backside Records that apparently boasts amongst its part-time staff a young man called Jeremy Bolm, better known to his adoring fans as the lead singer of the excellent post-hardcore outfit Touche Amore. On their third album, Is Survived By, the band stopped being the head of the pack in this particular genre and broke out completely.

The sharp songwriting draws as much from the LA hardcore scene of the past as it does from the more modern and horribly named “screamo” genre, but now on top of being a fine live band, the local boys have a minor classic to their name. I doubt they’ll need record store shifts for much longer if they keep this up. – Jay Chirinos

Listen: “Just Exist

#3: Baths – Obsidian

baths obsidian

There’s an element of surprise that every track on Baths’Obsidian contains. What is that surprise exactly? I’d want you to discover that on your own, but the way in which the electronic musician from Chatsworth, CA zips through hyperactive beats with a heightened sense of bashfulness makes his album simply fascinating to listen to from beginning to end. It plays like a dark electro-pop record made up of interesting melodies and classical piano, as if he worked more from his upstairs bedroom than from a studio booth. He speaks elegantly but distantly, careful to not interrupt the flow with which his compositions glide, but it’s in the moments when Baths does allow his vocals to have an impact and add to the album’s overcast tenor that Obsidian greatly succeeds, and those moments are bountiful. – David Fisch

Listen: “Miasma Sky

#2: Local Natives – Hummingbird

Hummingbird

Our ninth favorite album of the year charts locally at number two. Local Natives blew the roof off of the Echo Park/Silverlake scene a few years ago, and Hummingbird was the sophomore effort we were all waiting for. Just before its release, the group played a show at The Satellite where they had been discovered before their initial rise to fame, and when I saw them at The Greek Theatre after the album’s release, they were endlessly thankful for all the hometown support they received over the last few years. They are true local darlings, and Hummingbird ensures their place as such. – Gerry Doot

Listen: “Breakers

#1: Haim – Days Are Gone

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Sisters Danielle, Alana, and Este, the trio better known as Haim, spent years running the gauntlet of Los Angeles venues. These Valley born-and-bred girls perfected their sound and look for years, and when they exploded on the scene this year with their buzzed-about Days Are Gone, everyone couldn’t believe how unique they sounded or just how cool these strong, traditional rock women were. Haim’s impressive debut album is full of female-fronted power ballads ranging from the heavy, haunting “Let Me Go” to the Jenny Lewis-reminiscent “Honey & I.” As Haim continues to grow as indie rock’s favorite cool kids, their longtime LA fans will sit back and watch with pride as the rest of the world catches on to what we already knew. – Mary Bonney

Listen: “Don’t Save Me