Sarah’s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
Sarah Weitman’s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
I came late to the Haim party, and only really found them because of their cover of “Wrecking Ball” on BBC1 Radio. I love female fronted bands, so an all female band gets an automatic point from me. Their songs are catchy, thought not too complicated. I appreciate all the influences of other artists that make themselves apparent, adding to the quality of the music and the musicians. I do look forward to them finding their own voices.
Standouts: “The Wire,” “My Song 5,” “Running If You Call My Name”
I think I’m more impressed that John Fogerty released a new album than I am by it, but it’s John Fogerty. Of Creedence Clearwater Revival. And he’s included two new songs (Train of Fools, Mystic Highway)!! In all honesty though, I am impressed by his choices of partners on his songs and how well they compliment (Bob Seger, Dawes, Jennifer Hudson, My Morning Jacket, Foo Fighters, Miranda Lambert…). All in all, it is an album to listen to for a good time and to reminisce about the good old days of CCR.
Standouts: “Mystic River,” Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Hot Rod Heart”
I will never get over Joy Williams and John Paul White’s voices and how beautiful and seamless they sound together. Alas, I do not hold my breath to hear them together again. At least, I have this, though. It’s occasionally aggressive and darker than their first album, but still evokes the similar feelings from me.
Standouts: “I Had Me a Girl,” “Dust To Dust,” “From This Valley”
A sense of maturity is the sound at the heart of Let’s Be Still. I had planned for the chipper sound of the first album, and on my first listen was disappointed that it seemed more serious. The more I listened though, the more it grew on me. As I said in my review though, it wasn’t the album that I expected or wanted, but it was the album I needed.
Standouts: “Shake,” “Gone,” “Another Story”
This album was self-released in 2012, but re-released in April when they signed with ATO, so hopefully I’m not pushing my luck. At live shows, Kopecky Family Band invites you to be a part of their family, but they make you feel like you already are with their music. They also seem to support their family title, though not actually related, but the collaboration that happens not only on stage, but in their songs as well through vocal and instrumental harmonies. They are a hard band for me to describe other than they are soothing, but still with a rock edge.
Standouts: “Heartbeat,” “Are You Listening,” “Wandering Eyes”
Allison Weiss is a carryover from my UGA days. I fell in love with her songs when it was just her and her acoustic guitar. Now though, she has upgraded to an electric guitar and occasional backing band; however, her songs are still beautifully simple and heart touching. Say What You Mean is Weiss’ first foray with her amplified sound and new label.
Standouts: “Wait for Me,” “I Was an Island,” “Making it Up”
The greatest accidental show I’ve wandered into was seeing Sirsy in downtown Savannah. They’ve been hailed as a little band with a big sound and there’s not a better description to do them justice. Made up of only two members, Melanie and Rich have songs that are just made to be played loud. And it doesn’t hurt that the lead singer is female, and also the drummer.
Standouts: “Lionheart,” “Red Letter Days,” “Lot of Love”
The largest band on my list (seven members), The Last Bison is a self-described chamber-pop folk band. The members are all either family or close friends, thus creating a dynamic of cohesion that comes across clearly in their music. Inheritance ushers you to a simpler time in the past with a chorus of instruments and voices that blend seamlessly together.
Standouts: “Switzerland,” “Take All the Time,” “Distance”
I never would have heard of The Musgraves if I had not been given their album to review. I’m so happy that didn’t happen. Made up of eleven catchy little love stories, there is no way to listen and not have a smile on your face or a spring in your step. It may be pop-tastic and overly sweet, but sometimes that’s just what you need.
Standouts: “It’s You,” “The Way You Make Me Want You,” “Last of Me”
Probably the wild card on my list, since anything without a standard band setup usually makes me pause. I had seen Yip Deceiver a number of times, but always in passing until Savannah Stopover this year. I don’t ever really dance (if you can call it that), unless there’s a special occasion, but something in their music causes my toes to tap and my hands to go in the air. This is their first full length album, but includes the songs from the Get Strict EP. Any of Yip Deceiver’s songs can brighten a dismal day, or even make a good day better.
Standouts: “Get Strict,” “Double Future,” “Obnoxia”
I’m surprised that I liked this album as much as I did, based on my first encounters with “Royals.” I determined that that song was boring, until it got stuck in my head. The more it stayed stuck in my head, the more I thought about it, until I finally broke down and bought the album. I had the complete opposite response to the album which I loved immediately, have left it in my car, and like many others, have listened to an embarrassing number of times. Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor’s first release is brilliant. It gives a voice to those of us that don’t fall into the other songs in mainstream media and what a voice it is.
Standouts: “White Teeth Teens,” “Ribs,” “Glory + Gore”
I’ve raved about this album already in May (has it really been that long?) and it still deserves more. False Cities is Stelling’s sophomore album, takes everything that was great about the first one and raises the bar. My favorite thing about this album is that no matter where I am, it always reminds me of home in the south.
Standouts: “Brick x Brick,” “The Waiting Swamp,” “Homesick Tributaries”
Much like Cameron and his #1, I also might be a bit biased for my top pick. Josh Ritter uses his regular positive outlook and upbeat approach to tackle heartbreak, loss and moving on. Written to help him work through his feelings after his divorce, it has had an impact on helping others with their feelings, as can be witnessed to the number of cheers after the closing lines of “New Lover” (I hope you’ve got a lover now…/But if you’re sad and you are lonesome and you’ve got nobody true/I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me happy too) at any live show.
Standouts: “Joy to You Baby,” “New Lover,” “A Certain Light”