The Best Local Albums of 2013

10. Johnny Polygon — The Nothing

2013 belonged to the introspective rappers — the ones who found their strength in going soft and whose heads, hearts and souls lay open for listeners to poke around in. Tulsa emcee Johnny Polygon tips open his brain like a cap on The Nothing, baring weed-soaked nuggets of self-truths that are as sonically immersive (“Purple Mess”) as disarmingly honest (“Love Sick (Super Nintendo)”). — Joshua Boydston

9. John Moreland ― In the Throes

If Oklahoma’s vast plains of wheat fields could sing, they’d sound a lot like John Moreland, whose impassioned bellow, deeply embedded rasp and head for Southern poetry must have been forged through the same cast that gave us Woody Guthrie and Bruce Springsteen. In the Throes stands as a humble collection of songs (highlighted by “Gospel”) that might belong to the past but still echo true today. — JB

8. Depth & Current — Transient

Few terms are as cringe-worthy as “dark wave.” Yet while you probably spent way too much time figuring out what labels you want to slap on them, Norman’s Depth & Current were busy chugging out hypnotically abrasive sound collages, just as they did on Transient. No matter what you settled on — darkwave, no wave, post-industrial, shoegaze, whatever — Depth & Current remain as studious as any when it comes to their craft, and Transient is a fine example. — Zach Hale

7. Poolboy — Soda Kids

Frenetic is a most apt descriptor for Norman punk trio Poolboy’s debut EP, Soda Kids, a blink-and-you’ll-miss it, four-song, six-minute snot rocket that takes off like a Mountain Dew bottle fresh out of a paint shaker. Beneath the face-shredding whip of fuzz lies an impressive propensity for sweet-as-spiked-lemonade melodies that hold up well against Thee Oh Sees or Wavves, best heard in “The Thing About It Is” and “Explode.” — JB

6. Power Pyramid — The God Drums

Like so many albums before it, The God Drums owes more than a debt of gratitude to My Bloody Valentine. Yet where other shoegaze acts might shy away from the comparison, OKC’s Power Pyramid revels in it. You would too if you could craft soundscapes this immersive, melodies this haunting or songs this mesmerizing. In this sense, The God Drums is one of the year’s most confident and riveting debuts, one that offers potential as vast as the sonic terrain the album inhabits. — ZH

5. Samantha Crain — Kid Face

Had she been born 40 years earlier, Shawnee’s Samantha Crain would have been a household name. Her music ubiquitously recalls those from decades past — from Joan Baez to Grateful Dead — with songwriting so crisp you’d think it had been baking in the Woodstock sun all afternoon. With Kid Face, Crain won the hearts of critics and fans alike through refined songcraft and her uniquely saccharine singing voice. It’s music that, no matter how far it reaches, will always belong to Oklahoma. — ZH

4. Skating Polly ― Lost Wonderfuls

You’d find no shortage of aspiring rock stars roaming through the halls of your local high school, but Skating Polly is about the only pair who make songs catchy and clever enough that make veteran musicians take notice. Lost Wonderfuls ― anchored by “Placer,” “Carrots” and “Mr. Proper English Man” ― chugs along with a Pixies-esque veracity, viciousness and potency to each passing track, and this sophomore release is accelerating Skating Polly’s departure from novelty amusement to star attraction. — JB

3. The Flaming Lips — The Terror

You could probably count on one hand the bands that rejected creative stagnation three decades and fourteen albums in, but The Flaming Lips would be one of them. The Terror is unlike anything the Oklahoma mainstays have released in a career defined by capricious evolution and reinvention. While drawing on the harrowing drones and clankity-clanks of 2009’s Embryonic, The Terror completes the transformation from radio-friendly poptimists to finger-giving sound experimentalists. And why the hell not? They’ve earned that right. — ZH

2. Husbands — Singles

While OKC natives Wil Norton and Danny Davis have yet to put out an album, EP or cohesive release of any sort, this list would be remiss to not include their bedroom beach-pop project Husbands. The duo eschewed a traditional release model by posting a song a week to their Bandcamp page, which now features 16 of the most alluring and enveloping pop songs put out by anyone — local or otherwise — this year, leaving those fortunate enough to have followed them awash in reverb-doused melody. — ZH

1. Tallows ― Memory Marrow

There’s little in this world as refreshing as the wide-eyed, childlike wonder bottled up and sprinkled into the nine songs that make up Tallows’ Memory Marrow, a debut album that sprints across musical borders ― freak folk, indie rock, twee pop, electronic ― like its life depended on it. By the record’s end, the four-piece has returned with the most beautiful piece of each territory, both captivating (“Soft Water,” “Flat Bones”) and soothing (“1414″) us in near-transcendental fashion along the way — no small feat for a first expedition. — JB

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