The 10 best Minnesota albums of 2013

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Photo by Mark N. Kartarik
It was especially difficult to narrow down to ten entries for the best albums created by locals this year out of the hundreds that crossed our desk. These records, however, always came up in conversation, kept creeping into our heads while we were in the shower, and created lives of their own to live on for years to come.

These are the ten records by Minnesota-based musicians we couldn't shake this year.

See Also: Twin Cities Music Yearbook 2013
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Actual Wolf -- Actual Wolf
Eric Pollard currently has the best glasses in the Twin Cities music scene. They're red and vibrant, and they hit at the core of Actual Wolf -- because they indicate a fierce attention to detail. Similar accoutrements emerge on his self-titled album, which flits satisfyingly between roaring alt-country and mellow rock inspired by the greats. The stories embody hard work, hard time, and harder hearts, and are finely tuned. --Reed Fischer

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The Cloak Ox -- Shoot the Dog
The Cloak Ox won our 2011 Picked to Click poll on the strength of their inventive debut EP, Prisen, then promptly shifted their focus to other creative outlets. Thankfully, the quartet of music-scene veterans found the time to record together again, and the raucous results of those endeavors fill their untamed full-length debut, Shoot the Dog. The sprawl of "Yesterday's Me" sits fitfully alongside the more straightforward rock churn of "Talking Big," while "Pigeon Lung" is a modern twist on New Wave. TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe, Dark Dark Dark's Nona Marie Invie, and Justin Vernon all lend their vocals to the group's dynamic, untethered sound. --Erik Thompson

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Hollow Boys -- It's True
Just like all those French art films that kill off their protagonists, Hollow Boys aren't in the business of pick-me-up jams on It's True. In both cases, it's a beautiful way to meet a tragic end. Just try to find a lovelier rock song expressing enmity than "Hater." As the proprietor of Ecstattic Studio, frontman Ali Jaafar has hit his stride as a producer and an artist. If tortured pop songwriters from the '50s had access to such rude distortion pedals, they'd punch 'em just like this. --Reed Fischer

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Kitten Forever -- Pressure
Twin Cities college radio favorites Kitten Forever finally made their defining statement of purpose with their second album, Pressure. Still a three-piece, but now more flexible in their instrumentation, all of the women in Kitten Forever now take turns on vocals. Another awesome release from Ecstattic Studios, the LP finally nails the propulsive minimalism of the band's live show while still sounding presentable for airplay. Fans of local faves like Babes in Toyland and feminist punk definitely need to give this one a listen. --Zach McCormick

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Lizzo -- Lizzobangers
If it wasn't already blatantly clear that 2013 is Lizzo's year, go take another listen to Lizzobangers. Twice topping Picked to Click, the international tours, the spots on big local shows -- it all makes immediate sense when you pop in her debut record and hear her powerful voice pack a punch equal to Lazerbeak's giant horn stabs and drum pounds that quake underneath every track. She's adept at hard-as-hell fast rapping and gorgeously melodic singing, and has the songwriting chops to know what belongs where. Everyone who has seen her perform is a convert already, and she's proven herself to be exactly the spark our scene needed. An unbelievably strong statement that warrants multiple listens, Lizzobangers isn't just one of the best of the year; it's one of the strongest records from any Minneapolis musician, period. --Jack Spencer

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29 comments
JimTesta
JimTesta

No love for BNLX or Patches & Gretchen?

Janet Deane
Janet Deane

Don't know how you can omit Dessa's Parts of Speech. Have you listed to Call Off Your Ghost???? Talk about a song that will haunt you. There will be days you long to hear it. Dessa's voice is uniquely beautiful, not to be missed, and once heard, never forgotten. The Suburbs may not be as young as the musicians on your list, but they're wiser and hipper than most and certainly know their way around a treble clef, a fret, a high hat and mixing board. Si' Sauvage is excellent and shows the boys haven't lost any of their chops since they ruled the Twin Towns music scene in the late 70s & the 80's. They can still touch that raw emotion and bring the fun. Sena Ehrhardt's All In has received critical acclaim in the blues community. Unfortunately, blues artists often don't get the recognition that other artists do. Listen to Sena's voice and to the songs she wrote with her dad Ed Ehrhardt, who is also a guitarist in her band. Sena's powerful voice can purr like a kitten or roar like a freight train.

Dtj Mc'Real
Dtj Mc'Real

i seen him live a few times and always does new songs and never backs up on cd like all the other posers in this state

Dtj Mc'Real
Dtj Mc'Real

DTJ- DTJ~ReAL*MC (LP) best hiphop ever heard for sure

Hatcham Ries
Hatcham Ries

first communion afterparty "earth heat sound"

patrickdentinger
patrickdentinger

Enemy Planes - "The Beta Lowdown" is an amazing post-emo album.

Berek Awend
Berek Awend

there is still time to release albums in 2013 right! The Fattenin' Frogs have a new one coming out on Sat! Crankshaft + Fattenin Frogs + Kevin "KP" James - Triple SlabTown release party!

Matt Widing
Matt Widing

That GUY SODA " I'm pretty sure that all these artist you've picked are all friends

Jeff Morin
Jeff Morin

No "Love" by Cloud Cult? Dismissed!

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