Staff Picks- Best music of 2013

Below are some of the music releases of 2013 that the staff at The Urbana Free Library enjoyed the most. A few of these titles are re-releases of older obscure artists, others are the debut records of brand new artists, still others reflect the current state of artists that have been making music for some time.

Black Angels- Indigo Meadows

Awesome sinister psychedelia from Austin, Texas.

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.

Neko Case makes some of the most introspective and cathartic music of her career with her latest release.

Camera Obscura- Desire Lines

Warm pop from cold Scotland.

Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

Working with actual physical musicians (including the incomparable Niles Rodgers), Daft Punk upped the ante and delivered the party in 2013.

Death- For the whole World to See.

‘Re-discovered’ in 2008, these Detroit based punk precursors only ever released singles during their initial 1971-1977 run. For the Whole World to See was released as a compilation of these singles as well as never before released material by Drag City in 2009. Spiritual Mental Physical was released in 2011. The documentary A band called Death was released in 2013.

El-P and Killer Mike- Run the Jewels.

El-P and Killer Mike take a breather from the more politically minded material on this old school hip hop brag release.

Foxygen-We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.

This record sounds like a group of goofy kids rummaging through their parents (well appointed) record collection, and emulating what they love about each record in that collection. Somehow, this comes across as sincere without sounding horribly derivative, and fun without seeming so tongue in cheek that it loses its sincerity

Laurel Halo- Chance of Rain.

Electronic music that can either be great late night background music, or if considered more deliberately, a dark hard-to-pin-down and slightly aggressive work of real depth.

Julia Holter- Loud City Song

A meditation on the 1958 film MGM musical Gigi, Loud City Song is as accessible as it is a scholarly exercise.  Loud City Song is contemplative, intimate, and uncomplicatedly beautiful.  

Sarah Jarosz-Build Me Up From Bones

Sarah Jarosz has been described as “a contemporary bluegrass prodigy”. Indeed, the depth of her writing, her mature voice, and accomplished playing are qualities usually found in a musician much later in their lives and careers. Build me up from Bones is her second full length record and is highly recommended.

Kacey Musgraves- Same Trailer Different Park

Critical darling Kacey Musgraves delivered her debut full length record in 2013. Refreshingly free of Nashville cliché, Same trailer Different Park spends more time with the reality of living in the (rural) United States  than the “Trucks, Boats, and Parties” image we’ve seen taking over the country charts. 

My Bloody Valentine-MBV

Brian Eno once said of the track Soon from the 1991 album Loveless that it had “Set a new standard for pop. It's the vaguest music ever to have been a hit.” Various other musicians and critics have praised Loveless as a watershed moment in the shoegaze movement, in music of the 1990’s, and in pop music generally. Personally, I think Loveless might be the most beautiful record I’ve ever heard. MBV is the sequel to Loveless, released 22 years later. It is astounding.

Gregory Porter-Liquid Spirit

Gregory Porter has been called “America’s next great Jazz singer” and “THE brilliant voice of Jazz”, and “The Jazz poet”. He has also been nominated for two Grammy’s for Liquid Spirit.

Queens Of The Stone Age- Like Clockwork

Josh Homme and company deliver the darkest pop of the year.

Savages-Silence Yourself

“The closest thing to art that "post-punk"... has offered in a while"-The Observer.

Swamp Dogg- Total Destruction to your mind/Rat On re-releases.

70’s soul wizard Swamp Dogg had two records re-released in 2013, and they are both great.

The Sword-Apocryphon

Another Austin, Texas based band, The Sword have been making Black Sabbath influenced rock for years. This is one of their most artistically successful yet.

As always, let us know if you have suggestions for new purchases. Happy New Year and Enjoy!