Friday, August 9, 2013

Red Line Roots': Top 5 Albums of 2013 so far

I am a little late to the ball game on “first half of the year, favorite records thus far” lists, but one came out this week that really made me want to throw something together. This of course is not even a drop in the barrel of the great music I have heard so far, but a collection of 5 records that I listened to and really cannot seem to put down since that first, without further adieu, here is my list of 5 favorite (and most diverse) records of 2013 so far.

1)      Chris Thile’s Bach: Sonatas and Partitas Vol. 1
OK, my review wasn’t exactly a review, but the more and more I listen to music, the more and more I find it difficult to find music that really and truly excites the shit out of me. Chris Thile’s music is exciting. Even when taking what may be a standard classical piece, he somehow imposes new vivacity and soul into it. There is something so emotionally stimulating about his playing that even when it’s a recording, you can see how excited he is about the music. The translation of his own energy and enthusiasm shines through even when you cannot see him playing. I have said it once, and will said it over and over again…Chris Thile is the greatest and most exciting musician I think I will ever see in my lifetime. 

2)      Ian Fitzgerald: No Time To Be Tender
It could become awkward when one of your friend’s records becomes one of your favorites and they become one of your favorite songwriters…but (earmuff warning for anyone who may be offended) Ian’s songwriting is so fucking good that it’s just impossible to not love this record. He somehow manages to take an audible work and make it so visual and visceral with the imagery that he uses that you feel like you are in the room where the story is taking place. He has a dry sense of humor and wit that complements his storytelling and vocal so perfectly (and the harmonies ala Courtney Gallagher are gorgeous). Everything about this album is great, the songs are full of compassion, the musical performances are tight, it’s just excellent and I can’t stop listening to it.

3)      Jason Isbell : Southeastern
This record has everything. Rock n’ roll tunes, heartfelt songs that make me sob like a 4 year old girl, and everything in between. Isbell is a hell of a guitar player, and an even more convincing songwriter. I haven’t stopped playing this record at least daily since I got my hands on it. Bottom line: A flawless record.

4)      Sarah Borrello: Exit
This record has balls….which is funny because it’s from a female musician. I believe the term I used over and over again was….sexy. Yeah, it still is. Little Janis Joplin, a little Fiona Apple, a little Robert Johnson…well, she has an appreciation for the genre. Bluesy, soulful, and sultry…plus it just plain rocks. Sarah’s voice is one of the strongest I have heard in a long while, it cuts down deep and tears your heart out. This gal is going to break out in a big way after this release and into the rest of 2013, I just have a feeling. Be sure to keep her on your radar.

5)      Glenn Yoder and the Western States: Javelina
You never forget your first. Yoder’s record was catchy, the band was clean and prime, everything about this just screamed “guess what, I am going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the week”…and it still is. Plus, he is a hell of a guy and the band was giving it away for free. It has great balance between folky ballads and rocking, swampy tunes. Something for everyone, so if you haven’t, then go check that out right now.
After thought: Mr. Yoder, being the class act that he is, reminded me that this is a BAND record, not a Glenn Yoder solo show. These guys are pretty incredible live (the rest of the band being Cilla, Jeff, Brooks and Chris). Just needed to get that in there! Sorry G!

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