Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best Music of 2013

In the past, I've compiled numbered lists of my favorite albums of that year. I've decided not to do that this time around. Quite simply, I'm not sure how to rank and compare albums from genres as divergent as prog, indie rock, jazz, blues, folk, electronica, pop, world music and classic rock. Nor is there much point to such an exercise. This year, I've decided to limit myself to noting my 21 favorite albums of the past 12 months. They aren't listed in order of preference, though I will say that my absolute favorite record of the year was Steven Wilson's The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories). I've hyperlinked to the albums I've reviewed or written about.

The video of the top of this post is for Vertical Horizon's "Instamatic," featuring Rush's Neil Peart on drums. (Look carefully and you'll spot me lurking in the background of the video.) It was my great pleasure to write the sleeve notes for Vertical Horizon's Echoes from the Underground this year. Matt Scannell, the band's singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer, created the best Vertical Horizon album to date, full of fresh stylistic departures in the band's pop sound. It's one of the year's most consistently strong records.

Best Studio Albums

The Besnard LakesIn Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Boards of Canada—Tomorrow's Harvest 
David BowieThe Next Day
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds—Push the Sky Away 
Elvis Costello and The Roots—Wise Up Ghost
Francis Dunnery—Frankenstein Monster 
Nils Frahm—Spaces
John GrantPale Green Ghosts 
Patty GriffinAmerican Kid
Laura MarlingOnce I Was an Eagle
Queens Of the Stone Age—…Like Clockwork
Rovo and System 7 (feat. Steve Hillage)—Phoenix Rising
Otis TaylorMy World is Gone
Richard Thompson—Electric
Emiliana Torrini—Tookah
Rokia TraorĂ©—Beautiful Africa
Jonathan Wilson—Fanfare
Steven Wilson—The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
Laura Veirs—Warp and Weft
Vertical Horizon—Echoes from the Underground 
Anna Von Hausswolff—Ceremony

Best Live Album
Portico Quartet—Live/Remix

Best Soundtrack album
Boss, Original Soundtrack—Brian Reitzell

Best Covers album
ShearwaterFellow Travelers

Best Reissue
Yes—Studio albums box set, 1969-1987

And, finally, my Song of the Year (at least, one that wasn't penned by Steven Wilson), may just be Amplifier's "Matmos." (The parent album, Echo Street, is good, but a little uneven.) Here, below, is the video.

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