Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of 2013: Justin's Favorites

In 2013, I developed more new tastes than I have in recent years. Artists like William Tyler, Alexander Turnquist and Steve Gunn opened my ears to American primitive guitar music that pushes the boundries of the instrument can do. This opened the doors for a fascination with experimental and ambient music like William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops and Tim Hecker’s Virgins.

While my horizons broaden, my love for rock and folk deepened thanks to some incredible records. Two stand out above all: Scout Niblett’s It’s Up To Emma and Jason Isbell’s Southeastern. Both are similar in that they approach their topics with unflinching honesty.

At times, both can be difficult to listen to. Niblett’s raw lyrics will open up old wounds and Isbell has stories that will open up your tear ducts and force you to confront your own failings. 

In the end, both albums are invigorating on record and in person. Niblett played the most intesnse set I’ve ever seen at Hopscotch and Isbell was spectacular at Lincoln Theatre in July.

2013 is a year I feel like I could gush about 30 or 40 different records. It was an incredible year, especially in North Carolina, and one I won’t soon forget. Luckily — to borrow a phrase from a friend — music exists beyond the year it was created so we’ll be able to enjoy 2013’s output into 2014 and beyond.

Favorite Albums
1. It's Up To Emma by Scout Niblett
2. Southeastern by Jason Isbell
3. Desert by The Dead Tongues
4. This Side of Jordan by Mandolin Orange
5. MC II by Mikal Cronin
6. The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You by Neko Case
7. Debris by Roman Candle
8. Chronicles of Maria by Marnie Stern
9. Blood Oaths of the New Blues by Wooden Wand
10. Virgins by Tim Hecker

Honorable Mentions: Impossible Truth by William Tyler,  Haw by Hiss Golden Messenger, Time Stamp by Annuals, Miracle Temple by Mount Moriah, Public Housing by Gross Ghost, Electric Lady by Janelle Monáe

Favorite Reissues
1. The Disintegration Loops by William Basinski
2. Magnolia Electric Co. by Songs: Ohia
3. All Hail West Texas by The Mountain Goats

Favorite Songs
1. "Depression" by The Dead Tongues
2. "Telling the Hour" by Mount Moriah
3. "Hey Mami" by Sylvan Esso
4. "Cover Me Up" by Jason Isbell
5. "Cavalry" by Mandolin Orange
6. "We Rise" by Rhiannon Giddens
7. "Shout It Out" by Mikal Cronin
8. "Q.U.E.E.N. [feat. Erykah Badu]" by Janelle Monáe
9. "Southern Colorado Song" by Wooden Wand
10. "Me & You & Jackie Mittoo" by Superchunk

Favorite Performances
1. Scout Niblett @ Kennedy Theater, Hopscotch, 9/7/13
2. Janelle Monáe @ The Ritz, 11/19/13
3. Jason Isbell @ Lincoln Theatre, 7/2/13
4. Alexander Turnquist @ Kennedy Theater, Hopscotch, 9/6/13
5. Mac DeMarco @ The Pinhook, 3/6/13

2014 Watch List
These bands and labels had breakout years in 2013 and I can't wait to see what they do next year
1. Sylvan Esso
2. Negative Fun Records
3. Alpha Cop
4. Some Army
5. Loamlands


aburtch said...

I would add Aoife O'Donovan's "Fossils" album to the list of great 2013 albums. Such a fully formed debut album from an incredible singer.

Anonymous said...

Also Sarah Jarosz's stellar album, Build Me Up From Bones