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by Justin Farrar

February 7, 2013

Top 20 Rock Albums, February 2013

by Justin Farrar  |  February 7, 2013

Packed with reissues and greatest-hits packages, the first Rock Roundup of 2013 will certainly appeal to the historian lurking in each of us, but especially those who are either Fleetwood Mac fanatics or Velvet Underground freaks -- or, hell, both. In celebration of the 35th anniversary of Rumours, one of the biggest-selling albums in the history of pop and a sonic soap opera if there ever were one, the former unleashed a Super Deluxe edition, one boasting three additional discs of demos, outtakes and live material. V.U., meanwhile, honor the 45th anniversary of their iconic debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico, with their own Super Deluxe version. This thing is a total beast. It contains the Scepter Studios acetate, both the stereo and mono mixes, lovely Nico's equally lovely Chelsea Girl album (released two months later), plus live recordings from (get this) 1966 -- these are just flat-out impossible to come by.

But wait. There's more!

Cult heroes and stoner-rock pioneers Masters of Reality unveiled an expanded edition of their self-titled debut from 1989. If you're into Queens of the Stone Age and The Obsessed and Fu Manchu, and you for some reason have never immersed yourself in this lost gem, do so like right now: hands-down one of the best records of the last four decades, no kidding. A bigger-picture take: It's one of the first albums to be self-consciously steeped in nostalgia for hard rock's '70s glory days. Of course, both The Cult and The Black Crowes were late-'80s innovators of the retro thing as well, but neither one explored full-blown dark art rock quite like the Masters. Born from the rusted-out industrial malaise and white-out blizzards of Syracuse, New York, the record possesses a foreboding mood utterly its own.

Now as for new music, Rhapsody has plenty of that, too. Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown's Wild Child is a rootsy rave-up that sounds like a mix of Jack White, Paisley Underground alumni The Long Ryders (remember them?) and, uh, Heartbreak Station-era Cinderella. It's an odd blend, I know, but all that matters is if it works -- and it definitely does. Also wandering the rootsy zone is Wooden Wand's Blood Oaths of the New Blues, which is way less Crazy Horse than 2011's Briarwood, yet no less excellent. With its ambient-like atmospherics and deep sense of self-reflection, it really is a perfect Sunday morning come-down listen.

Lastly, for all you post-grunge fiends, don't sleep on either Trapt's Reborn or RED's Release the Panic. Both are Helmet-inspired deluges of aggro vibes, monsters riffs and thunderous breakdowns. So yeah, time to throw down.

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