Albums of the year 2013 part 2

By SHEA VAN HOY

You can find “best-of” lists everywhere — for movies, music, TV, fashion. This is not a best-of list. Trying to name the top 10 albums of any year is a fool’s game. There’s just too much music being produced today to hear even 10 percent of it.

So, these are the favorite albums I’ve heard this year.

Big Deal “June Gloom”

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My favorite album of 2013 comes from the London male-female duo of Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe.

Big Deal embraces the 1990s on its second release, with layered guitars and vocals and huge choruses. It’s an album about being in love — or wanting to be — and the warm, fuzzy guitars and huge drums bring the listener in on the act.

Recommended for fans of: Sonic Youth, Rilo Kiley, Veruca Salt

Smith Westerns “Soft Will”

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With the main members in their early 20s and three albums under their belt, the sound for Chicago’s Smith Westerns has certainly evolved — going from low-fi garage rock to intricate, nuanced pop rock.

The strength in the band remains is songwriting — with hooks that reveal themselves on repeated listens. Another plus for the band is the guitar work of Max Kakacek.

Recommended for fans of: Oasis, T. Rex

Kacey Musgraves “Same Trailer, Different Park”

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Kacey Musgraves, 25, took off in 2013, winning a the Country Music Award for New Artist of the Year and seeing her album nominated for Best Country Album for the 2014 Grammy Awards, along with three other Grammy nods.

It’s deserved, as “Same Trailer, Different Park” is a fantastic country album, with spunk and acceptance not normally shown on a mainstream country record (she urges her female fans to “kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into.”)

The songwriting is top notch, and that makes sense, as Musgraves has penned tunes for Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride.

Musgraves, a Texas native, played a free show at Fourth Street Live! last summer, and based on the success of this album, the next time she comes to town, fans will have to pay for seats — at a much larger venue.

Recommended for fans of: Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson

The Black Angels “Indigo Meadow”

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Another Texas act — Austin’s The Black Angels — continued its string of fine albums with “Indigo Meadow,” which matches its 2006 debut, “Passover,” as its strongest to date.

The band excels at creating atmospheres — it’s psych rock, for sure, but with a heavy 1960s pop influence. The Black Angels pared its act to four members with the new album, and it gave them more room to breathe and experiment.

It may be labeled “stoner rock,” but it’s also rock that makes you want to get up off the couch and move at times.

Recommended for fans of: Spacemen 3, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Camera Obscura “Desire Lines”

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If Scotland’s Camera Obscura put out an album every year, that album would probably land on each of my year-end lists.

Simply put, the band writes fantastic, breezy pop gems, delivered by the uniquely amazing voice of Tracyanne Campbell. You have to try really hard not to like a Camera Obscura song, and there are a batch of 12 more fine ones on this release.

Recommended for fans of: The Sundays, Shout Out Louds

Albums of the year 2013

By BRADEN LAMMERS

1. The National  “Trouble Will Find Me”

The National are at the peak of their popularity and commercial acclaim. Thankfully, the Brooklyn band has not followed the trend that many groups fall into with it’s sixth full-length album, churning out vapid albums to capitalize on their good fortune. The National continue to stay true to themselves, using layers of melodies to create an orchestral rock sound to matched with lead singer Matt Berninger’s vulnerable baritone. The formula has resulted in another stellar album, showcasing their growth as musicians and individuals, while maintaining their distinctive sound without becoming stale.

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Best tracks: “I Should Live in Salt” and “Sea of Love”

2. Arcade Fire  “Reflektor”

Arcade Fire is one group that could claim the crown as a best indie rock band from The National. The group’s latest release, “Reflektor,” is an extremely solid album from start to finish with cohesive songs that work together, but can also stand on their own.

The one knock on the Arcade Fire has been that they carry an air of pretension because of their status as a critical darling and overly artistic presentation. But at their core, the band continues to produce quality songs that are easy to listen to over and over again. This album could have easily been slotted in to the top spot as the best of the year.

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Best tracks: “Joan of Arc” and “It’s Never Over”

3. Queens of the Stone Age “…Like Clockwork”

No claims of pretension can be made for Queens of the Stone Age. The alternative rockers again have put out a straightforward rock album that has roots in some gritty, unsavory place. Superior musicianship makes the album an easy listen to a wide audience, but there is something a little dark and dangerous that always permeates the band and it’s songs. The way it should be for good rock-and-roll.

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Best songs: “I Sat by the Ocean” and “If I Had a Tail”

4. Houndmouth “From the Hills Below the City”

New Albany’s own Houndmouth has soared in popularity following the release of their debut album. Mixing the country-alt rock, folk and blues, the four-piece has produced a series of songs focused on a host of wayward souls lost in a world of crime and drugs— a throwback to old-world bluesmen and country artists.

In their initial effort the album is an eclectic, but accessible mix of tracks. The question for Houndmouth moving forward will be can they repeat the success? They do have something in their favor; the band is even better live.

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Best tracks: “Penitentiary” and “Casino”

5. Sky Ferreira “Night Time, My Time”

Sky Ferreira created a lot of buzz with the release of her first EP, but it has been a long wait for her debut album. A bit of a departure from the others on this list, the pop-synth taps into your inner love of the 1980s. Unabashedly ripping off elements from Blondie, Ferreira takes you through “her night” —on the verge of a manic bender.

At times the album can flit into the realm of teen-angst pop, but that’s to be expected with a 21-year-old at the helm. However, this is no pop princess. Like Fiona Apple’s 1996 debut release, you feel like this is something you should not be watching or listening to, but can’t turn away. Ferreira presents the dichotomy of an artist that wants desperately to be heard, and once you listen tells you to get lost.

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Best tracks: “You’re Not the One” and “24 hours”

Mercury Ballroom set to open in April; artists’ schedule slated to roll out in January

LOUISVILLE— The area’s newest music venue has a name and at least one act set to play the new venue.

Mercury Ballroom is the name for House of Blues Entertainment division’s new 900-seat music venue located in the historic Wright-Taylor Building at Fourth and Chestnut streets in Louisville, according to a press release from the House of Blues Entertainment.

“Mercury Ballroom is going to be all about being true to Louisville,” said House of Blues Entertainment President Ron Bension in the release. “We’re excited to bring the best artists and shows into this great new club and to the best music fans in the country. We’re really proud to be coming to Louisville and honored to be working with Bill Weyland and his great team at City Properties Group to bring this historic building to life.”

The renovated building is set to open in April and will feature state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. The 16,000 square foot, two-story venue will feature space for both live music and private events, a VIP lounge, unique packages, tiered balcony seating and exclusive concert experiences.

Mercury Ballroom will showcase many of the world’s big name acts, according to the release, as well as up-and-coming bands in a more intimate venue, designed to compliment the larger 2,800 seat Louisville Palace across Fourth Street.

House of Blues Entertainment is a division of Live Nation, which owns and operates the Louisville Palace.

Among the first names planned to play the Mercury Ballroom is Christina Perri, who is scheduled to perform Friday, April 25.

For more information visit mercuryballroom.com.

Forecastle Festival presale set for Friday

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LOUISVILLE— Despite the cold temperatures and snow covering the ground, the area’s largest summer music festival is gearing up.

Forecastle Festival announced it will offer a limited number of specially-priced weekend passes starting at noon Friday, Dec. 13, exclusively through forecastlefest.com.

Tickets for Louisville’s three-day music, art and environmental activism festival will be available for $119.50, plus applicable fees and service charges. The festival will be held Friday, July 18 through Sunday, July 20 in Louisville’s Waterfront Park.

Full ticketing options, including VIP, travel packages and single day passes, as well as the festival lineup, will be revealed in early 2014, according to a press release from the Forecastle Festival. Special Forecastle weekend hotel room rates are currently available through forecastlefest.com.

This year’s dates will commemorate the birthday of Kentucky’s native son, Hunter S. Thompson, who was born in Louisville on July 18, 1937. The event will be in its 12th year and in previous years has featured musical guests The Black Keys, My Morning Jacket, The Flaming Lips and many more.

Arcade Fire launching tour at KFC Yum! Center

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Grammy Award winning indie rock band Arcade Fire has announced that it will kick off its “Reflektor” tour at the KFC Yum! Center Thursday, March 6.

Arcade Fire is the latest in a series of bands that have launched their national tours starting in Louisville.

The band’s North American tour is slated to go through 27 cities in support of its most recent album “Reflektor,” which was released on Oct. 29 and was the band’s second album to debut at No. 1.

Tickets for the show range from $60.50 for general admission floor seats and $30.50 for reserve seats. Tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22 at Livenation.com, Ticketmaster.com, the KFC Yum! Center box office and all Ticketmaster outlets or charge by phone 1-800-745-3000.

Folk artist returns genre to its social justice roots

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By BRADEN LAMMERS

When Vikesh Kapoor performs, it’s a trip back in time. And when the audience hears his lyrics, they are transported further back in time.

Singer-songwriter Kapoor will be playing his classic brand of folk Monday, Nov. 18, at Zanzabar, with Saintseneca.

In his debut album Kapoor presents “The Ballad of Willy Robbins,” which was released on Oct. 15 via Mama Bird Recording Co.

Kapoor’s tale of the ill-fated Willy Robbins follows the socially insightful folk of Woody Guthrie in theme and sound. “The Ballad of Willy Robbins” hearkens back to a day of struggling Depression-era immigrant workers highlighted in an Upton Sinclair novel, but still finds a connection to today.

The album was loosely based on a newspaper article and chronicles the brutal, but hopeful, story of a working-class man who slowly loses everything: ambitions, health, family and shelter, according to a description by Crash Avenue, Kapoor’s management agency.

Sticking to the traditionalist style of folk music, Kapoor doesn’t adopt the rock/pop influences that infiltrated other folk acts, like Avett Brothers.

Inspired after Kapoor’s brief stint as a mason’s apprentice, the album is a tale of blue-collar heartbreak and lost love. A performance at Historian Howard Zinn’s memorial service in Boston, who fought a lifelong battle against class/race injustice, prompted Kapoor to spend the next two years in Portland, Oregon working on his full-length debut record, according to Crash Avenue.

Kapoor is touring on the back of that album and will land in Louisville Monday.

Bluegrass prodigy Sierra Hull to play at IUS

Photo provided by SierraHull.com

Photo provided by SierraHull.com

A young Bluegrass musician already has her share of experience on the stage. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut at 11 years old, and 10 years later she will be bringing her talents to Indiana University Southeast.

At 22-years-old, the bluegrass singer, songwriter and mandolin player Sierra Hull has continued to grow and evolve in her musicianship and song writing. She has already been nominated for mandolin player of the year six times by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The first time she was nominated for the award, she was 16.

A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Hull was also given the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, which was a first for a bluegrass musician.

She will be performing at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, in The Richard K. Stem Concert Hall at Indiana University Southeast.

Tickets are $26.50 and $10 for IUS students.

For more information or to buy tickets call 812-941-2526 or visit www.ius.edu/oglecenter/events/SierraHull.html

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