My Top Ten Albums of 2013

2013-06-20 21.12.10A friend of mine always has a top ten album challenge on Facebook around this time of the year. My own rule for this challenge is that I had to have purchased the album for it to appear on my list. I tend not to rank the albums as I post them, but this year I went ahead and did that too. On the Facebook challenge, I am told that the best format is to countdown — Casey Kasem style. For this, however, I am leading off with the best. That way, I know if people get tired and lose interest halfway through, they at least get my absolute favorites. It has been a good year for music, and many of the albums below have shown up on this blog as I have gotten to know them. If you haven’t experienced some of these, I would truly endorse!


1. Neko Case – The Worse things Get, the harder I fight, the harder I fight, the more I love you

It was a tough choice, but when it came down to making my choice for the number 1, I had to go with my girl, Neko. Like Southeastern, I love this album more every time I hear a song from it. This is one that I seek out videos of live performances because she and her band just appear to have so much delight in performing with each other – including a Tiny Desk Concert where they showed up to play in Halloween costumes. Almost half of the songs begin with her amazing voice and no musical intro. Her voice is a gift. She tells stories that have fantastical elements and heart.

Favorite song of the moment: Calling Cards

jason2.  Jason Isbell – Southeastern

This summer, the night before we left on our roadtrip, we went to see Jason Isbell at Crossroads in Kansas City. We didn’t get to as much music this year as I wanted to, but this one one where I needed to be. I fell in love with Jason Isbell a few years ago when we saw him – again playing solo – at Knuckleheads. I knew his voice from Drive By Truckers, but didn’t really know his solo work. Between those two concerts, the man changed his life. He quit drinking and he found Amanda. He is happy. Southeastern is an album that reflects the journey – heavier on the hard times than the good, but you can hear the regret move to hope. One of the more delightful people that I follow on Twitter and Instagram is Jason Isbell. I don’t know if he would appreciate this description, but he is so smitten with his wife it is darling.

Favorite song of the moment: Stockholm.


3.  Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

I knew that this was going to be a good album when, on April 27, 2013, Sam posted this on his Facebook page: i didn’t think i could like vampire weekend but this is in early song of year running. Sam had not previously been a fan. He came on board for a reason.It is a pretty fantastic song, and the album keeps the pace with this one. Ezra Koenig, the band’s lyricist is smart and it shows in the songs he writes. There are more references than you can shake a stick at, but they tied into catchy beats and creative instrumentation.

Favorite song of the moment: Step


4. Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come for You

Steve Martin gets top billing on this album, but Edie owns it. As I have written before, her voice is the best. Combining that voice with Americana style is a winning combination.

Favorite song of the moment:  King of Boys


5. Laura Viers – Warp and Weft

If you don’t know Laura Viers and you like a girl who can kill on guitar, you need to check her out. Many of Laura’s songs are quiet singer/ songwriter pieces, but she can bring on the noisy guitars every now and then. I enjoy both sides.

Favorite song: That Alice (a tribute to John Coltrane’s wife, Alice)


6. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

I had to remind myself (ie I needed to look it up on the Internet) that cerulean is one of the crayon colors that you will find in the big box. While I was doing that research, I also “reminded myself” that Waxahatchee is the name of a creek in Alabama. Waxahatcee the music maker is Katie Crutchfield. Katie is a wonderful guitar player and songwriter, and this is a wonderful listen.

Favorite song of the moment: Tangled Envisioning

courtney7. Courtney Barnett – Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas

I have written about Courtney Barnet recently. I am not entirely sure that  it is within the rules to include this one due to its format (double EP) and the fact that some of it was released a previous year. I don’t care. She is one of my favorite music finds this year and if I can get some more listeners for her by including her on my list, I will do so.

Favorite song of the moment: Avant Gardener

sallie8. Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside – Untamed Beast

Sallie and her band were the surprise find of the year when she opened for Thao and the Get Down Stay Down at the Record Bar this year. Girl put on an energy riot show. She kind of reminds me of one of my last year favorites, the Alabama Shakes.

Favorite song of the moment: Bad Boys


9. Bombadil – Metrics of Affection

Again, I have written about my new found love of Bombadil before. If you just need one nice, kind of mushy song to share with someone you love, you would be hard pressed to find one better than:

Favorite Song of the moment: Thank You.

boy10. Boy – Mutual Friends

Only two of my top ten are male performances. While a person may think otherwise, this is not one of them. These two women write good songs and perform them well. I am glad to have found them this year!

Favorite song of the moment: Boris

I would love it if anyone reading this would just tell me one musical highlight of the year for you. I know I missed  many!

Music 2013 – I Hear Women

Female vocal leads are strong this year – stronger than I have noticed them to be for awhile. Overall, 2013 has been a good year for music that I like. The fact that much of it is led by a woman is a happy surprise. I thank NPR for introducing me to a number of my new finds, and I am happy that some artists that I have enjoyed in the past have resurfaced with new music over the last 9 months.

I will take a few posts to go over some of my listens – provide you a brief intro, give you some sample lyrics, and link to a performance. I hope that you might find something that you enjoy too

Boy – Mutual Friends

Naturally, the group Boy is composed of two women. One is German; one is Swiss. There is nothing amazing about this album, but it fun to listen to. The lead singer has a good voice with a lovely hint of accent in it. The two harmonize well and sing songs about love, relationships, happiness and disappointment. It is easy to like.   boy

        The trunk is filled with records

        And books and tears and clothes

        I’m smiling on the surface

        I’m scared as hell below

        And the rear view could picture

        What we leave behind

        Drive darling, drive darling,

        Drive darling, drive darling, drive

                  Drive Darling – Boy 


Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

It has been four years since the band Camera Obscura has released an album.Desire Lines again shows the dreamy, lavish, rich sounds of this Scottish band, led by the vocals of Tracyanne Campbell. The arrangements are wonderful, and her voice swayingly pulls you along with each song.  Desire_Lines_(Camera_Obscura_album)

New year’s resolution – to kiss you like I mean it

With cheeks the colour of Rhubarb we’ll be fine

Everybody’s rushing around like they got a meeting

I just want to be here with a friend of mine

We decided to brave the elements of Spain

Because The Seven Year Itch was on telly again

New Year’s Resolution – Camera Obscura


Giant Drag – Waking Up is Hard to Do

Giant Drag is Annie Hardy – a thirty something Californian who has been performing for several years, but is releasing only her second full album. By accounts, Annie has had a pretty crazy existence over the last few years, but she has her stuff together now and is feeling okay. She says, however, that this will be her last album as Giant Drag. She is a fun lyricist and her voice is a mix of punk rock singer/50s girl group. If you can imagine it, “Garbage Heart” a take-off on “You’re just too good to be true.” “Heart Carl” is lovely. giant

Still got your trash in my car

        Minus that old garbage heart

        Make no mistake when I say

        That I prefer it that way

                Garbage Heart – Giant Drag


Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come for You

This is a treasure of an album. Edie Brickell has been a favorite of mine since her New Bohemian days. Here she is teaming with Steve Martin on a collection of songs that they have written together. The style is bluegrassy, but there is much contemporary about them. Edie still has that raspy voice that has drawn me to all of her  albums, and Steve Martin plays a mean banjo. love

When you get to Asheville

        Send me an email

        Tell me how you’re doing

        How its treating you

        Did you find a new job

        Did you find a new love

        Is it everything that

        You were dreaming of

– When You Get to Asheville


I hope you take a listen to a few. Let me know what you think.