As I usually do, here is some of the music released in 2013 that I liked best. Overall, 2013 was not as great a comeback year as 2012 but I think my tastes broadened a bit from last year’s list. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it:
- 2013 by Black Sabbath – Ozzy’s return was magisterial and I really loved the new album cover to cover including the great bonus tracks like Pariah. I reviewed the concert from this band here. Unfortunately, that was the ONLY concert I got to this year, but I sincerely enjoyed it.
- Bootleg Series vol. 10 Another Self-Portrait by Bob Dylan – this was one of the strongest of the Bootleg Series and a true work of art. Gorgeous versions of some of the my favorites parts of his catalog (Alberta #3, Only a Hobo, etc) and of course the concert at the Isle of Wight which is astounding. An absolute must for Dylan fans everywhere.
- Amok by Atoms for Peace – the Flea-Thom Yorke joint venture was highly touted but totally delivers. Apparently the fruit of smoking lots of ganja together, these guys listened to some Fela Kuti and started jamming and we got this wonderful set out of it. I missed the concert but a friend of mine (and fellow NSFCCDP member) went and told me it was incredible. Hopefully, they’ll cut something else but I think that Radiohead will do something first.
- Wake Up Ghost by Elvis Costello and The Roots – I really loved this album. The Roots has never been a favorite and yet I recognised their talents but hearing the beautiful crooner voice of Elvis Costello over the lovely beats and funky grooves laid down here was so fun to listen to. I especially loved Cinco Minutos Con Vos. Check this low-burner out, it is a great and under-rated disc IMHO.
- Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies by Volbeat – I had never heard of Volbeat until a soon-to-be-relative mentioned them to me this year and I am hooked. This – their 5th album – is also their most complete and mature. It is consistent and has some great rock-n-roll tunes (Ecotone, Doc Holliday, Black Bart, Dead But Rising, Pearl Hart…) actually they are all really good and all have this great thrash metal cowboy sound that is addictive. Perhaps this should be higher on the list but it is hard to compete with Dylan, Ozzy, Flea, and Elvis!
- Silence Yourself by Savages – The debut album from this new grrls group from the UK rocks and surprises. I won’t give any spoilers here – I’d just suggest you check this one out and let me know what you think. That being said, just the titles should get you interested – Shut Up, No Face, She Will…great disc
- Double Cup by DJ Rashad – This D-Town DJ has laid down a great mix of industrial house and drum and bass with some choice voiceovers and catchy rhythms and back beats. Good late night groove music.
- Yeezus by Kanye West – This is not his strongest disc (I’d reserve that for Late Registration and My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy) but Yeezus is infectious, dark, unholy and occasionally groovy. Every track packs a ton of POWER and over-the-top bravado as one would expect from a guy worth 100s of millions of dollars. Guilt Trip does have a bit of 808s and Heartbreak and Bound 2 has a bit of Late Registration, but this album is far more influenced by modern industrial house than his previous work. It is certainly a much more solid album than big brother Jay-Z’s Magna Carta…Holy Grail at least I thought so.
- Still Fighting the War by Slaid Cleaves – I love Slaid’s voice and found that this – his 10th album – showed lots of maturity in songwriting and some great songs. My favorite was probably the nostalgic Welding Burns.
- So tough to name #10. Should it go to Joan Jett’s return? Paul McCartney’s? Bowie’s? Or that of Eminem? Eric Clapton? Or someone new and crazy like Deafheaven or The Knife? I think I need to go with Random Access Memories by Daft Punk. This is an incredibly strong album as eagerly awaited as the ones I just mentioned and it is the one that I actually listened to end-to-end several times. All the others sounded a little tired after a listen, maybe two. Daft Punk keeps me coming back for Lose Yourself to Dance, Give Life Back to Music, Doin’ It Right, and of course, Get Lucky. A classic from these two crazy French guys.
And so there is my Top 10 for 2013. Honorable mentions: Get Up! by Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, Electric Slave by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song by Amos Lee, Magpie and the Dandelion by The Avett Brothers, Nine Lives by Von Hertzen Brothers, Say This to That by Trombone Shorty, Comedown Machine by The Strokes, Lickety Split by Robert Randolph and the Family Band, The 20th Anniversary Edition of In Utero by Nirvana, Through the Never by Metallica, Unvarnished by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Old by Danny Brown, Beyoncé by Beyoncé, Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange.
I was disappointed with several disc this year: Marshall Mathers LP2 was OK but sounds like more of the same from the white Detroit rap superstar. There were some decent moments here, but some idiotic ones too. I still can’t stand Arcade Fire (sorry to my friends in Montreal!) so did not enjoy Reflektor. Mega disappointed by AM by the Arctic Monkeys and well as by The Terror by The Flaming Lips. I think I keep expecting the former to do another and the latter to do another Yoshimi and that is perhaps unfair. Even bigger on disappointments was Tha Carter IV by Lil Wayne which was such a far cry from Tha Carter III and ever so disappointing. When Ye does his billionaire rap, there is some self-deprecation here and we sense the struggle inside him as an artist. With Lil Wayne, we just see the thug – self-assured and over-confident and now quite compromising in his music. Oh well.
Of course there was more music but that’s the stuff that got me thinking and listening and reacting the most this year.
Let me know your lists in the comments!