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Schwindy's favorite albums of 2013

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Some folks will tell you that rock is dead. Don't let those folks sell you a lie. In fact, I agree with one of the albums on this list (14th & Nowhere) that declares, "small-town rock ain't dead." This list proves that rock - small-town, fuzz, or otherwise - is alive and well. As usual, I don't limit myself to a top 10 list. Here is a list of a baker's dozen of my favorite albums of the year.

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  • Clutch Earth Rocker - This should hardly come as a surprise to anyone that has ever read my stuff. Clutch has been one of my favorite bands since I was in college, and this album is a good example of why. Clutch has been doing it well for a long time, and this album is rock that hits as hard as a punch to the neck.
  • Two Cow Garage The Death of the Self-Preservation Society - Yeah, I know. Big surprise that Two Cow Garage makes my list of favorite albums of the year. But you know something? This band just keeps making really good albums. And as long as it does, I'll put it on my list of favorite albums of the year. Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney are two of the most insightful songwriters I've found. And frankly, I have not been able to get enough of this album this year.
  • Pokey LaFarge (self-titled) - when it comes to vintage sound, Pokey LaFarge is legit. He brings old-time sounds like swing, ragtime, and Dixieland to life. If there was ever an album to accompany sipping a beverage while sitting on a front porch on a lazy day, this is it.
  • Mike Stinson Hell and Half of Georgia - Mike Stinson is a great songwriter (Are you sensing a theme here?) and storyteller. He is kind of the voice of everyman - singing about love, home, regret, and lousy jobs. There is plenty of twang on this album, but Stinson also shows he can go beyond the pure honky-tonk sound he had on previous albums. This is a good mix of the honky-tonk sound he's mastered and a touch of rock and roll.
  • Left Lane Cruiser Rock them Back to Hell - The host of the Shout Bamalama podcast likes to introduce his show by saying it's time to get "gritty, greasy, lowdown, and sleasy." Well, this latest album from Left Lane Cruiser is all of those things...and thank goodness for that. I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of the lowdown punk blues this band produces. If the song "Neighborhood" in particular doesn't get you grooving, you probably just don't like music.
  • Five Horse Johnson The Taking of Black Heart - This album came out at the beginning of the year, but I wasn't about to forget it. Five Horse Johnson is back with all the stuff that makes the band so good. It's pretty hard for me to refuse heavy rock infused with slide guitar and harmonica.
  • Borracho Oculus - I discovered Borracho one day on Bandcamp and was hooked. I couldn't say for sure how many times I've listened to this album, but I know it was enough for me to know I should include it on my list. What's not to love about some wonderfully fuzzed-out rock with bass lines that rumble your gut. In The Big Lebowski, The Stranger narrates that "sometimes there's a man and he's the man for his time and place." Likewise, Oculus found its time and place in my life and collection this year.
  • Pinata Protest El Valiente - Call it Tex-Mex punk or Norteno punk. No matter what you call it, this is just a fun (if brief) album that is great for folks like me who are suckers for punk with an accordion.
  • Ten Foot Polecats Undertow - If ever a genre was in my wheelhouse, it's punk blues. With its dirty Mississippi hill-country blues sound infused with a healthy amount of punk, Ten Foot Polecats made an album that I revisited many times this year.
  • Pat Todd and the Rankoutsiders 14th & Nowhere - This album showed up unsolicited in my PO box one day and I didn't know what to expect. What I got was a healthy dose of raucous middle-American rock n roll that brings John Hiatt to mind.
  • Sasquatch IV - Sasquatch continues to make music that you want to blare out your windows regardless of what your neighbors think. This latest album is great for the car...and for getting you through another day of drudgery in your cubicle.
  • Trash Monsters There's a Rat in the Tunnel of Love - The great thing about this band is that it keeps things real simple. There is nothing terribly fancy about this band: just a lot of catchy rock n roll songs. Oh, and this album not only gets the seal of approval from my four-year-old son, it also contains one of my favorite songs of the year: "Headlock of Love".
  • The Wife Beaters The Beat Goes On! - Ron Burgundy likes to encourage people to "keep it classy." The Wife Beaters is a band that operates with quite a different motto: keep it trashy. This album had me hooked with song titles like "Scumbag Blues" and "Sleazy Places." Oh, and it also hooked my four-year-old son with its raucous, trashy sound.
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