Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Best of 2013

It is once again that time of year where Larry and I go through all the music that we have collected and enjoyed throughout this year and give you our choices for both songs and albums that we think are the best. Once again Larry and I thank you so much for reading our blog. We love having the opportunity to share with you our musical tastes and really appreciate your support of this blog. It makes it all worthwhile when we get notes from people telling us just how much they enjoyed a particular album or band that we have featured. That is exactly why we share our love for music with you. We encourage you to leave us a comment as to what albums or songs did we leave out that you think need to be included.

Fletcher’s Best of 2013 picks
I know I say this every year, but this year brought some amazing new music from not only bands I love, but many new bands that have hit the scene. Usually I only have 5 top albums, but this year I couldn’t do that so I struggled to whittle it down to nine. I have put links for two songs from each album so I hope you spend some time listening, enjoying, and hopefully hearing some new music!!!!

Top Albums of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

Dawes. Stories Don’t End- This band continually puts out great music. Taylor Goldsmith may be the strongest and most consistent writer of music the past few years. There is not one weak moment on this album. Enjoy “From a Window Seat” and "Just Beneath the Surface".
Ha Ha Tonka. Lessons- Another strong album from this band from Missouri. Love this band. This new album is very sonic and shows real growth as they move forward. Have worked the table for these guys many times. Great musicians and even better people. Enjoy the harmonies and sonic boom of "Lessons"
and "Rewrite our Lives". 
Ivan and Alyosha. All the Times We Had. What a joy it was listening to this bands debut album on Dualtone. This is the same label that gave us The Lumineers last year. This album doesn’t disappoint either. Check out “Running for Cover” and “Be Your Man”.
Kopecky Family Band. Kids Raising Kids- I wrote a post about this band earlier and I stand by the post. One of the most exciting bands to breakthrough on a year where a lot of bands had success. Love these folks both musically and personally. Enjoy  "Heartbeat"   and; "Wandering Eyes".  
Little Green Cars. Absolute Zero- This Irish band is making waves on the other side of the ocean, but it won’t be long before they taste success here in the States. Killer male-female harmonies and they write really catchy pop tunes with brains. Here is “Harper Lee” and “The John Wayne
The Lone Bellow. The Lone Bellow- I also wrote about this band earlier this year. Got a chance to see them open for Brandi Carlile at Red Rocks in Denver. They killed it there like they have everywhere they go. Lot of press about this band. They deserve it. Listen to "Bleeding Out"   and  "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold"
The National. Trouble Will Find Me- I knew when I wrote about them, that they would be on my top albums list. I continue to listen to this album over and over and I discover new things with each listen. Take pleasure in "I Should Live in Salt" and "Graceless".
Portugal. The Man Evil Friends- I have championed this band from the early days of our blog. every year they put an album out, it made my best of list. This year is no different. I don’t champion them because I like too, I champion them because every album they put out is amazing. This new one is dark but incredible. Listen to “Atomic Man” and “Purple, Yellow, Red and Blue
Wild Feathers. The Wild Feathers. A ton of buzz about this band especially their live show. I had the privilege to work two of their shows this year. I want to add to the buzz. Great album. Killer live show.  Enjoy “The Ceiling” and "Backwoods Company".

Top Songs of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)
Birds and Arrows. Safety- My favorite song from my favorite band from North Carolina. Andrea’s voice is amazing. Such clarity.
Black Joe Lewis. Come to My Party- Wonderful new single from this Austin rock-funk band. I want to be at his party.
Eleanor Friedberger. Stare at the Sun- Had the pleasure of working the merch table from this former Fiery Furnaces frontwoman. She still has it!!
Kodaline. All I Want- Another Irish band who deserves a larger audience. Love this video also along with the song.
Local Natives. Heavy Feet- A great song from this LA band. The song has a lot of richness and beautiful harmonies. Lot of depth in their music.
Love Language. Calm Down. My favorite song of the year. Love that the title is opposite of the music.
Mount Moriah. Bright Light- I don’t know what they drink in North Carolina but whatever it is everyone should drink it. Amazing song, amazing band.
Pure Bathing Culture. Pendulum- Really like this West Coast band. Love her voice and his guitar work is very intricate.
Thao and the Get Down, Stay Down. We the Common- Thao has this very cool sound and style of music. Listen and you will become a fan also.
Vampire Weekend. Diane Young- another very strong album from this NYC band. Always moving forward with hummable tunes. You will listen to this a few times.

Best Musical Moments- Two shows stand out above the rest. The first was seeing Dawes live. Incredible. Never seen a band pace and build not only a show, but every song so well. Bands are afraid to build songs so slowly except for Dawes. Saw them in July and am still amazed by what I witnessed.
            The other was seeing Wild Feathers twice. I had heard how much energy they put into their live shows. People weren't lying. Amazing show. Amazing harmonies. Amazing songwriting. Really nice guys. See them soon.
            I had the honor and privilege this year of working two of my favorite all time bands. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Brett Dennen. Had such a great time. They are both very humble and down to earth despite their huge successes. It was an honor to meet and work with both!!!

Looking Forward to in 2014- The DAMNWELLS!!! Am so excited they have new music coming out. Also Clap your Hands Say Yeah. Heard some of new songs and it sounds great. My buddies Wye Oak are back in the studio and should have a new album dropping in the Spring. Cool new sound and they are set for a long tour also. I am also very happy to hear that Nicole Atkins is putting out new music in February. Always excited to hear new songs from her.

Larry’s Best Of Picks

Like Fletcher, I found this year to be an amazing year for great music.  I found myself continually playing the following 6 albums. The top 5 songs that I picked are all special.  Please check them out and share your comments with us.

Top Albums of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

Catlin Rose. The Stand-In - Stalin Rose’s terrific songwriting and performing is starting to get the attention it deserves.  “Waitin’” was recently featured on ABC’s hit drama Nashville.  Pink Champagne is another favorite from this album.
David Bowie. The Next Day - A delightful treat for anyone who enjoyed David Bowie’s old music.  The songs on this album stand up to the best of DB’s old stuff.  They rock and continue to be edgy.  Enjoy The Next Day and The Stars Are Out Tonight.
Jason Isbell. Southeastern - A jewel of an album and a likely candidate for best of the decade. This album has made many top lists of the year. I reviewed this album earlier this year and I continue to love it.  Elephant and  Stockholm are two standouts.
The National. Trouble Will Find Me - One of the many things I cherish about blogging with Fletcher is learning about terrific artists I was not acquainted with.  The National are outstanding. I find myself enjoying the humor in their writing along with their tight, but not too tight, sound. Check out Fireproof and Don’t Swallow the Cap.
Neko Case. The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight the More I Love You -  This album, Neko Case’s 6th, has many things to love.  Neko’s voice is in top form, the guitar work is stellar, and the songs memorable.  Check out Man, and The Night Still Comes.
Vampire Weekend. Modern Vampires of the Modern City - This album marks a tangible maturity in the bands maturity as songwriters, both in their music and their lyrics.  The band’s hard work paid off as this album is both extremely well crafted. Both “Step” and “Ya Hey” are excellent examples of the music on this album.

Top Songs of the Year (listed alphabetically by band)

Aoife O Donovan. Beekeeper - What a lovely voice she has.
Billy Bragg.  Goodbye Goodbye - This tune is simply beautiful.
Kurt Vile. Wakin on a Pretty Day - If you enjoy nice psychedelic jams like I do, sit back and enjoy this one.  It’s pretty special.
The Lone Bellow. You Never Need Nobody -  The passion of these artists for their work can not be surpassed. Pay attention to how the harmonies develop over the course of this song. Thank you Fletcher for turning me on to this extremely talented group.
Parquet Courts. Stoned and Starving - This tune sits on top of a great simple riff.  It rocks, has passion, and I love the tone on each instrument.

Best Musical Moments - Highlights for me included seeing the Amazing Esperanza Spalding perform live.  I’ve been wanting to see her for years. As good as he is on her albums she’s even more amazing in person.  Another highlight was catching Dawes live.  They really know how to craft a show. Their show builds so gradually, subtly, and deftly that you barely realize it’s happening until they are going full bore.

Looking forward to in 2014 - I, like Fletcher, am very psyched that the Damnwells are releasing a new album. Further, Alex Denzen is reuniting all of the original band members from their first album, Bastards of The Beat.  A rising Canadian singer songwriter, Joe Nolan, has a new album, Tornado, coming out in January.  Also, Sharon Jones is releasing her first new album since she was diagnosed with Cancer.

As you can see 2014 promises to be another terrific year for new music.  Fletcher and I look forward listening to and sharing our thoughts about music with you, our readers, next year.  

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