Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Line Roots': Top 5 albums of 2013 (second half)

At the beginning of August I released a post on my favorite records I had heard in 2013 so far. Well, 2013 is almost at an end and I thought it only fair to pay homage to those records that I found in the latter half of the year (or really started to listen to more for the past 6 months) and was simply head over heels for. The operational idea here being records I FOUND rather than were released. So these were released in 2013, but could have been in say March, but I didn't really dig in deep until this second half of the year...Here is my Top 5 Records for the second half of 2013.

Aoife O' Donovan - 'Fossils': I have to admit, I am smitten with Aoife O' Donovan. The mark of a true songwriting master (aside from writing a great song) is taking an arrangement and making it seem simple, when in reality it is anything but. O' Donovan leaves that mark with this record, with her own songs and taking previously recorded works (see "Lay my Burden Down") and simply knocking them out of the park. Aoife has a wonderful voice, the arrangements are great, the vibe is fantastic. Some haunting parts, some a bit more upbeat, a really great variety. I just really loved this record and have become a full on supporter and lifelong fan of her solo efforts.

The Milk Carton Kids - 'The Ash and Clay': I've said this in the past and am sure I will continue to say it long into the future, but there is very few records that really, truly move me. Grab me, pull me in, and I just simply cannot let go out them for a long, long time. TMCK does that will all of their music, but their March release, The Ash and Clay has truly stuck with me since my first listen. They manage to meld their two guitars and voices into one beautiful sound that is simply perfect. I love these two and they cannot do any wrong in my book. Pure joy.

 Dan Baker- 'Pistol in my Pocket': Dan Baker sings with a sincerity and conviction unlike any other artist I have come across. Perhaps its his dry humored wit, self deprecating content, or straight faced delivery, but I just hang onto every word he sings and believe everything coming out of his mouth. This new record is gracefully arranged with all sorts of emotion engaging sonic qualities and has a really great diverse sound while still maintaining a common thread. It really just gets better with each additional spin I give it.

The Coloradas- 'Big Empty': I referred to this recording as "an Americana genre masterpiece" and I stand by the statement to this day. With a hard focus on songwriting in place of over the top production and arrangements, these gents harken back to a time when country music was country music that Hank Williams could be proud of and a songwriter was judged by the quality of their writing and not how their ass looks in blue jeans. Front to back this record's simple, sparse arrangements just do it for me. If I had a 5 star rating this record would be a 6.

Band of Heathens– 'Sunday Morning Record': With this new release the guys were really letting their jammy-ness shine through in a  light that works commercially. Great hooks, killer grooves, and just an all around awesome feel to this record. The Band influence and Levon in particular is very evident in this work, which is always a good thing. Sometimes I find myself walking down the street just singing "Caroline Williams don't live here anymore" to myself and think, "damn, those dudes got me with that one". A solid record all across the board.

Anyway, what are your favorites of 2013? Check out my first 5 over here Top 5 albums 2013 (first half)

Here's to a ton of great new Americana/Roots music in 2014!


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  2. Here are my five including two Greater Boston artists;

    Precious Little Things-Sarah Blacker. Great ear candy, superbly produced from a talented songwriter and engaging performer.

    Simply- Jay Psaros. Jay is just really good and these songs showcase her versatility well and also in a mature fashion. For good measure, one should add his newly released single, The Orphan.

    Electric-Richard Thompson. Wasn't it nice to see so much of Richard Thompson just everywhere this past Fall? One of our songwriting and musical treasures.

    Hello Cruel World-Gretchen Peters. If Matraca Berg threw down the gauntlet with her album last year, Gretchen dug deep to match and almost equal Matraca's effort with a remarkable collection of songs so deep that it's hard to pick a favorite.

    Privateering-Mark Knopfler. So far no one has listened to me and put Richard Thompson and Mark Knopfler on the same bill, but Mark is as vital and interesting and complex as Richard. This album was a welcome return for one of my guitar and songwriting heroes.

    I haven't caught up with Ian Fitzgerald's latest album but I hope to catch up with it soon. Thanks for your list and suggestions.

  3. Yeah Will! I swear Levon was behind the kit when I listen to a few of those tracks. Been following those guys for years but this record is a real standout for me!