December 30, 2013 Leave a comment
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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