The Best Thing I Heard This Year: Portland Edition

WW's music staff picks its favorite local albums of 2013.

Blitzen Trapper,

A consistently suggestive blend of robust alt-country and catchy guitar-picking from Portland's resident kings of genre-roving Americana. (GS)

Epp, Chrome Plated Chronicles

For his solo debut, TxE rapper Epp made an album built for wintertime, brimming with thought-provoking lyrics and warm, static-drenched beats courtesy of producers Calvin Valentine and Lawz Spoken. (RJ)

Houndstooth, Ride Out the Dark

Twangy surf rock riddled with distortion, a touch of gritty Southern rock and breezy vocals come together on the Portland quintet's stellar debut. (GS)

Karmelloz, Bud Air 

One of the few local albums that made this dude say, "Whoa." Homeboy has mastered late-night, midtempo pop, and channels it all through luxury mall speakers. (ML)

Lord Dying, Summon the Faithless

Burly, teeth-gnashing, doomy thrash with enough shred skills to rip your head off and leave the riffs ringing in it for days. (CJ)

Natasha Kmeto, Crisis 

The perfect synthesis of soulful vocals and big beats, Crisis features singer-producer Kmeto at her career best and one of Portland's catchiest singles in "Idiot Proof." The only crisis she has is being way too big for Portland, so don't be surprised if she's on some national year-end lists in 2014. (ML)

Pure Bathing Culture, Moon Tides

Throw Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac underwater and you have Moon Tides. Fluid, bubbling and ever swaying, this record makes the stubborn genre of soft rock a spectacle to be savored. (MAS)

Quasi, Mole City

Shedding the political preoccupations (and expanded roster) of recent releases, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss celebrated 20 years of Quasi with a helter-skelter double album overstuffed with ideas and brimming with restless energy. (JH)

Red Fang, Whales and Leeches 

The most diverse album yet from the most deserving band of heavy-music fame. It's as brutal as it is catchy and impossible to get enough of. (CJ)

STRFKR, Miracle Mile

Dinky synths and massive dance beats remain an unbeaten formula for blogability these days, but the chromatic pulse of this electro-pop staple's fourth album guarantees STRFKR won't be pulling an MGMT and tanking before our gleaming eyes anytime soon. (PC)

Summer Cannibals, No Makeup

Not quite punk, not quite garage rock, this quartet put out a hybrid release Portland can be proud of. Clean guitars and simple drum patterns combine for one of the city's most listenable releases of the year. (GN)

Sun Angle, Diamond Junk

In the year's most transcendent bout of cabin fever, the local electro-chic tastemakers behind Copy, Panther and Paper/Upper/Cuts brought along a Menomena member to oversee Mount Hood recording sessions for Sun Angle's frenetic, free-flowing, fully realized post-punk psych tropicalia debut. (JH)

Tango Alpha Tango, Black Cloud

Dark and ominous as its title suggests, Black Cloud growls, slinks and grooves its way through 13 tracks, led by deliciously dirty electric-guitar riffs, Nathan Trueb's distinct growl and some seriously funky basslines. (KT)

Typhoon, White Lighter

The miniature orchestra's sophomore LP is grandiose and optimistic, if not overly twee. Therein lies the appeal, though: It resonates far bigger than any one member. (BW)

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II

A psych-pop record so analog it defies space and time. Listen with your eyes closed and tell me it doesn't feel like a priceless relic. (MAS)


The post-doom quartet unleashed a highly  original self-titled album of cosmic heaviness, lovingly packaged and priced cheap. (NC)

Wampire, Curiosity

After years dicking around the Portland basement-party scene in their underwear, these psych-pop underachievers yanked up their big-boy pants for the group's Polyvinyl debut, an album of shroomy surf guitars, stoney lyrical concepts, midnight-movie synths and totally hummable hooks, the smeary production making it all sound like a Strokes record left in the sun too long. (MPS)

The We Shared Milk, Lame Sunset

The second album in less than a year from these Alaskan expats adds keyboards, kraut punk and sax to its laid-back pop haze, along with a case of the hung-over blues—the kind of melancholy that won't cause you to slit your wrists, but will make you write a song about falling asleep on the bus and waking up in Gresham. (MPS)

Wild Ones, Keep It Safe

Wild Ones didn't rewrite the script with its debut, but it did manage to make a damn good pop record, full of dreamy melodies, catchy hooks and wistful lyrics sung by the tender-voiced Danielle Sullivan. (RJ)

Your Rival, Here's to Me


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