Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part One

18. The Courtneys
The Courtneys
(Hockey Dad)

The Courtneys' self-titled 12-inch may have been short, but it was most definitely sweet. Following their K.C. Reeves cassette, the Vancouver trio hit all the right musical sweet spots on their first "proper" release, doling out sing-along-worthy melodies, scuzzy '90s alt-rock grit and guitar hooks classic Flying Nun acts would kill for. And best of all, they did it in the most laid-back slacker fashionable possible.

Made up of singer/drummer Jen Twynn Payne, guitarist Courtney Loove and bass player Sydney Koke, the ocean-obsessed Courtneys radiated the West Coast's mandate of maxin' and relaxin', skipping out on grand-scheme rock'n'roll reinvention for something much more simple and down to earth. With childlike rhyme schemes, duelling harmonies and endearingly straightforward melodies, tracks like "Dead Dog" and "90210" would cycle, repeat and then repeat again, becoming punk rock mantras of sorts as the band drove into your skull lines like "Slow down / Chill out / Breathe in / Breathe out / Kick back / And have a rest / Don't forget / To take a breath."

But beneath the surface of it all, the Courtneys revealed a lot of depth, twisting up and mingling themes that were both light and dark, fun and angry, and everyday and far-out. It all became so much more than just another record of '90s-geared slacker pop, with the Courtneys giving you a little something more with each listen. (Brock Thiessen)