Hey folks! Thought I was out for 2013? Not yet (or nooooooot yet as my sis Megan would say). I have a special post for everyone. Like really special. Because my husband David and his good friend Joe are total music snobs in the best possible way, they wanted to share their Top 10 albums of 2013 (5 from each of them). What a better place then here, right? Obviously there is no paid promotion going on or anything like that, but if you want some good listening for the next few months, you should buy these albums or download them or ask your friends to burn you a cd, or hey, just go check them out on You Tube or whatever. Because there was a lot of good music this year. And so lets get started–here’s their collective Top 10.
Last year, the two of us shared our favorite music from 2012 here and here, and we’re honored to do so again this year on Love Ya Bean It. 2013 was a great year for music, and choosing only 10 albums was a challenge, but we made it happen. So, here they are — 5 of Joe’s favorites and 5 of David’s favorites, plus a list of other albums we liked as well. Are your favorites below? Which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments section!
- Parquet Courts, “Light Up Gold” — A great, fun album full of short songs that made me wanting a lot more. Their music sounds like slacker rock, but its delivered in a musically disciplined and talented way. “Picture Of Health,” a great alt-rock anthem that wraps up the album, is one of my favorite songs of the year.
- Queens of the Stone Age, “…Like Clockwork” — Hard, dark rock that is a terrific release after a long hiatus. This album has a great balance of loud and quiet moments, and altogether it’s been a favorite to run to, do yard work to, listen to at top volume while driving (“I Appear Missing”), even go to sleep to (the title track, “…Like Clockwork”). A nice complement to go along with Joe’s Deafheaven pick.
- Kurt Vile, “Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze” — A strong candidate for album of the year and a terrific follow-up to the excellent “Smoke Ring For My Halo” from 2011. Many of these songs clock in at 6:00-plus, and not a single one drags or feels like it goes longer than it should. A great guitarist further developing his craft, and it was a real treat to see him do so live this summer in Asheville.
- Kristina Murray, “Unravelin'” — Strong debut by Kristina Murray, friend of the LYBI blog. These songs are extremely well-produced and show a skillful songwriter with a soulful voice reminiscent of Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Lydia Loveless, Patsy Cline, and (early) Neko Case. She’s surrounded herself with some great talent on this album with impressive work by guitarist James Davis and backing vocals Cat and Dot Brantley. A must.
- Jason Isbell, “Southeastern” — Since leaving the Drive-By Truckers, Isbell’s solo material, while good, has been inconsistent: some good stuff, some forgettable. This album, from beginning to end, is terrific. It’s getting a lot of accolades and plenty of “Southeastern” album reviews note his recent life changes (notably his recent sobriety and marrying Amanda Shires), so I’ll leave that for y’all to read elsewhere. Here, I’ll just offer that these songs find their mark with as much strength and clarity as a songwriter could hope for, and here’s hoping that he continues along this vein.
- Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In: I heard this album when it first came out, and was immediately taken aback. There isn’t one thing specifically that grabs your attention; Rose doesn’t have a voice that overpowers you. But everything works so well together that it is hard to stop listening. The songs move back and forth between country and jazz, and blend seamlessly into an album that is at once personal universal.
- Sturgill Simpson – High Top Mountain: If you hear Simpson’s voice without seeing him, you might think he is an aging veteran of the outlaw country scene. That he can record an album this steeped in the sounds of Waylon, Merle, and Hank without coming across as a rip-off is a testament to his own song writing prowess. That he has done so at a (relatively) young age should excite fans tired of the direction in which country music has moved.
- Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels: In the pantheon of Atlanta hip-hop, Killer Mike’s name is among the most revered. In New York, the same can be said of El-P. But while I have listened to both of their music for years, the idea that the two would record together never crossed my mind. The two styles blend into an album that is both aggressive and intelligent, highlighting both artists skills and creating a sound unmatched in the genre.
- Deafheaven – Sunbather: Up until the beginning of December, I hadn’t heard this album. I don’t listen to a ton of metal, but read a couple of reviews of “Sunbather” and had to give it a listen. I’m glad that I did. The album is unlike anything I’ve heard; it transcends typical metal, incorporating post-rock and shoegaze into a wall of sound that is beautiful, frankly. If Explosions In The Sky made a metal album, this would be it.
- The National – Trouble Will Find Me: In 2007, The National released “The Boxer” to wide acclaim. The album lived in my car for a while, and while I loved the style, I felt like the songs were too similar, that there wasn’t a distinctive moment. On “Trouble Will Find Me”, there was no risk of that. The opening track “I Should Live In Salt” may be my favorite song released this year. It takes the complex arrangements that are such a big part of what The National does and combines them with a vocal emotion that seemed to be lacking previously. The rest of the album builds from there, improving upon the band’s already excellent discography.
Bean again here, thanks guys for sharing! Let us know what the crowd favs are in the comments. Agree? Disagree? I personally love Caitlin Rose and Kristina Murray’s albums…what’s missing from the list? What were your favorites from 2013?