Hart’s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
As the year begins to wind down and we look ahead on the work we have for 2014, all of us at TheBlueIndian.com want to extend our sincere thanks to each of you who have supported us in what marks our fifth year as “Georgia’s Indie Music Hub.” Some of us are newer than others, and we’ve expanded to not only have a close focus on music in Georgia, but to also expose our readers across the globe to the incredible music scenes throughout the Southeast. We asked each of our staff and team of writers to compile a list of their personal favorite releases from 2013 for our year-end features. Since each of us have different preferences, we felt individual lists would be the best way to give maximum exposure to the bands we’ve grown to love. We hope you’ll take the time to listen to these artists and appreciate your feedback. Happy New Year! – TheBlueIndian.com
Hart Robert‘s “Top 13 Albums of 2013”
13. Houndmouth – From the Hills Below the City
The Indiana folk/rock quartet have stirred up a militia of fans since unleashing their debut album From the Hills Below the City. It’s explosive, raspy, drug-laced, catchy and easy to harmonize to. Still relatively young to the scene, Houndmouth is strategically poised to run rampant on the upcoming 2014 festival circuit. One of the highlights from an impressive Newport Folk Festival lineup, help earn them a wild-card spot on “Best of 2013.”
Standout Tracks: “Penitentiary”, “On the Road”, “Ludlow”
12. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Since my 2012 Telluride Bluegrass Festival introduction to the beautiful rising star, I’ve been blown away by her consistency. Now, 23 years young and four albums deep, Laura Marling continues to propel herself into the Joni Mitchell-esque realms of the folk music scene. Once I Was An Eagle is a striking mishmash of confessional songwriting, dramatic guitar tempos, angelic vocals and heart-pounding percussions, told with such remarkable truthfulness and attention to detail. Mature beyond its years, Eagle is infectious from track-to-track and only promises soaring reviews and continuing success for this budding Brit.
Standout Tracks: “Master Hunter”, “Where Can I Go?”, “Once”
11. The Avett Brothers – Magpie and Dandelion
Non-traditional bluegrass albums are often overlooked on “Best of” lists, but there’s something special about Magpie and Dandelion’s complete arsenal of skillfully composed songs that continue to characterize Avett’s unique styles. It’s a musical spectrum of harsh and tender storytelling meshed with its ruthless and gentle tones. The Avett Brothers’ new album proves that their rowdy and captivating abilities continue to generate a wide range of faithful followers and eager listeners.
Standout Tracks: “Skin and Bones”, “Open Ended Life”
10. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
A breakout solo album for the former Drive-By Truckers member, Southeastern is an emotional work of art detailing the trials and tribulations of Jason Isbell’s country rock career. Parting ways with the bottle has only amplified his emotional storytelling and unabashed lyrical poetry, but the constant struggle remains – “So I pace/And I pray/And I repeat the mantra’s that might keep me clean for the day.” It’s a raw and straightforward depiction of traveling alone, conflicts with faith and falling in love…and Isbell ain’t afraid to put it all out on the line.
Standout Tracks: “Flying Over Water”, “Songs That She Sang in the Shower”, “New South Wales”
Fresh off an incredible year with their second full-length album Baba Yaga, psychedelic-country band Futurebirds’ unique sound is consistent, energetic and eclectic. A “blend of warmly catchy tunes, stirringly evocative lyrics, distinctive sonic textures and unexpected melodic twists,” the Athenians are proving they know how to drench your eardrums with good twangy indie rock n’ roll. Acoustic and pedal steel jams, electric mandolins and deep fried southern harmonies, this is what alternative country music should sound like. Put them on your list, it’s one of the best live shows you will catch in 2014 and beyond.
Standout Tracks: “Virginia Slims”, “Tan Lines”, “Serial Bowls”
8. Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
With sporadic changes, synthesized jingles, dark trances, wild on-stage antics and so much more, it’s hard to put a finger on what the psych-rock duo’s genre actually is. But that’s what makes Century Ambassadors so appealing, odd and addictive. I’ve yet to catch them in concert but with band tweets like: “Sam is OK – he might have broken his leg,” the theatrical possibilities are endless. It’ll be interesting to see where this young group takes us next.
Standout Tracks: “On Blue Mountain”, “Shuggie”, “Oh Yeah”
7. HAIM – Days are Gone
No doubt the sister indie/pop trio dropped one of the hottest and most distinctive albums of the year. It exhibits a striking resemblance to 80’s Miami Beach electronic-music muddled up with 90’s R&B – as if Fleetwood Mac, Amy Grant and Shania Twain were all wrapped up in a Vice City convertible montage. With its own drum heavy dance club vibe and flawless harmonies, the sisters Haim are currently igniting homage to some of the best relics of our past.
Standout Tracks: “The Wire”, “Falling”
6. White Denim – Corsicana Lemonade
Austin, TX rockers released their fifth album this year with a soulful blend of unconstrained southern rock and psychedelic sounds – it’s like The Black Keys slept with Tame Impala. Rapid chord progressions, commanding rhythmic beats and weighty jam sessions, White Denim without fail makes memorable tracks that are rapturous and euphoric. Whether it’s in concert or playing out your speakers, Corsicana Lemonade is vigorous and forceful from start to end.
Standout Tracks: “Pretty Green”, “Come Back”, “Cheer Up / Blues Ending”
5. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
Matthew Houck’s ability to slowly re-emit his bleak-but-profound emotions throughout Muchacho makes it one of the most complete albums in Phosphorescent’s repertoire. From intro to exit, it’s lyrically poignant and musically engaging. Backed by a plethora of pedal steel guitar, piano, big horns and string sections, the album executes a powerful impression that continues to blows minds and breaks hearts.
Standout Tracks: “Song for Zula”, “Ride On / Right On”, “Terror in the Canyons”
4. Dr. Dog – B Room
The Philly psychedelic rockers are pretty anti mainstream. So it’s no surprise when they recorded and self-produced their eighth album in the confines of their newly built, homemade studio. The “B Room” was actually genius for the dudes – allowing Dr. Dog to explore all their creative juices on their time in this handy sanctuary. B Room is full of pleasurable rock hits, likable harmonies and whole lot of guitar. P.s. They’re even better live.
Standout Tracks: “Broken Heart”, “The Truth”, “Rock & Roll”
3. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
A unique collaboration of sounds mopping up the past four decades, there’s no question Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories made a lasting impression on any and everyone. It quickly shattered records and played everywhere from family beach parties to Bachelor parties to the grocery store checkout line. Dig deeper past the viral “Get Lucky,” and you’ll discover so many more musical genres blending seamlessly from the past (Nile Rodgers), present (Pharrell), future (EDM), and beyond (Guy and Thomas). The real album winner: Niles Rodgers. His intricate rhythms and disco funk feel are pure genius throughout and solidifies that he’s one of most influential guitar players/producers of our time.
Standout Tracks: “Lose Yourself to Dance”, “Doin’ it Right”, “Instant Crush”
2. Arctic Monkeys – AM
With Beatles-like swoon and Strokes-like sound, AM is catapulting UK’s Arctic Monkeys into another rock ‘n roll universe. Massive guitar riffs that will stick in your head for days accompanied by the masterful lyrics of front man Alex Turner, the one-two punch is enough to send mobs of fans into a frenzy. With a Rock 101 armory – Elvis pompadour, leather jacket and on-stage hip thrusts – you can’t help but like Turner’s confidence and swagger. With the amount of attention this album is receiving worldwide, it’s safe to say we’re watching a modern day rock god unfold before our eyes.
Standout Tracks: “Do I Wanna Know?”, “R U Mine?”
1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City
Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City comes packed with heaps of critical praise, topping most “Best of” lists this year. And it backs up the hype. I think the most impressive part of Vampire Weekend has been their overall consistency. Each of their three albums, Vampire Weekend, Contra, and now Modern Vampires of the City, are consistently made up of remarkable songs that construct a remarkable album – they can be consumed individually or taken all together and it’s still just as powerful. Their simple-yet-eloquent melodies, captivating balance of pop and alternative, and overall joyful sounds make it an instant classic. If you’re an unbeliever, there’s even a track for that.
Standout Tracks: “Unbelievers”, “Diane Young”