Slowcoustic Favourite Albums of 2013

On 8 December, 2013 by slowcoustic

Slowcoustic Favourite Albums of 2013

Let us not keep you waiting or have you click through a dozen or so “click for next album” links and yes I know I am a bit early as 2013 has not quite reached it’s end.  None the less, I have a gathered list of albums that I think are great, that are actually great, and are all worth your time should you so choose.

My favourite album of the year is probably no secret, but presented in all the glory it deserves….

Night Beds - Country Sleep

Night Beds – “Country Sleep”

The album, Country Sleep, from Winsten Yellen (& crew) released last year over on Dead Oceans was a more than pleasant surprise after hearing them by chance earlier in the year.  Apparently the album or most/some of the songs have been in the works for quite a while but releasing a full album was finally achieved in 2013…thank Christ.  This one checks all the boxes for me; sufficiently ‘indie’, more or less a singer/songwriter, has some killer slow burners, Yellen’s vocals are not your average vocalist and his delivery between upper and lower registers just does something for me.  The album also straddles some sort of live band vibe and solo tortured musician territory – good to get both in order to ensure a rounded album of range with cohesiveness.  I guess they teach that at ‘tracking albums, 101’ though…hey, I’m just a blogger here guys.

My favourite track is Cherry Blossoms because it kills me. I attempt to sing along and it still kills. It is that good.

BONUS: A cover song?  Yes, it is true, thought it wasn’t bad – of course she is dealing with great material here…I said it is my fav track, right?

There you have it, my favourite album of 2013 – Night Beds with their album Country Sleep!

Purchase | Support: HERE

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 Now the rest of this list.  It sounds bad but believe me it is not, these albums are all incredible – I am just listing them as such without real numbering as they do flex a bit as I listen or get in moods.  I only separated Night Beds as I picked it as my favourite because, well…it was.  The remainder of these albums all came close and hold a special place for me this year.  Dig in folks!

Gregory Alan Isakov - "The Weatherman"

Gregory Alan Isakov – “The Weatherman”

Always been a GAI fan and his latest album The Weatherman is another gem in his catalog.  The album has crushingly beautiful songs and is meant to only be listened to in headphones while watching epic vistas in slow motion.  It is that good.  While the only song officially steaming for the album is Saint Valentine (below), please dig into the entire album as there is much much better like ‘She Always Takes it Black’ or ‘Honey, It’s Alright’ among them.  A must have in your collection.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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Valley Maker - "Yes I Know I've Loved This World"

Valley Maker – “Yes I Know I’ve Loved This World”

This one is a bit of a coup around Slowcoustic HQ.  Introduced fairly late in the year and with no previous knowledge of this “Valley Maker” band, I dug into it on a recommendation for the album Yes I Know I’ve Loved This World, from my pal Terry and I haven’t stopped listening.  I have had this album more or less as number 3 on this page and that should show you how much it shot up my favourite list (I only started listening end of October).  The album is solid back to front, it is my version of ‘catchy’ because it carries both gravitas and indie hooks with wild abandon and interchanges both…and it works.  I compared Austin Crane’s vocals to Colin Meloy and I don’t know if that is doing him justice, other than the fact that Meloy is indie royalty.  I immediately went back to Meloy and The Decemberists from the Castaways and Cutouts days – not specifically for any other reason than that is my favourite Decemberists album.  So again, that must mean something, right?  Overall, there is just something about the album for me, it is fresh, timeless, catchy, rolled up into 10 tracks.  I love when an artist and album come out of nowhere for me – best new find of 2013, easily.  Get this album now.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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Kill County - "Dust In Wire"

Kill County – “Dust In Wire”

Now we are getting into my Country leanings here on the favourites list.  Kill County are what ‘Country Music’ should be on the album Dust In Wire – a bunch of people, friends, musicians, dedicated to just making real music…for the fun of it.  Hell, if great music comes of it, that so be it.  A great music comes from Kill County on a regular basis.  This one has been around all year for me, it has dug in it’s heels and found a home with slide guitar/pedal steel, acoustic guitar and Southern twang that hits the spot.  It is like trying to explain to somebody what ‘cool’ is and how it ends up being explained as “well, you just know…you know” – and that is how I feel about Kill County, they are just plain great Country, you know?

Purchase | Support: HERE

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Doc Feldman & the LD50 - "Sundowning at the Station"

Doc Feldman & the LD50 – “Sundowning at the Station”

Continuing on the Country vibe – we run into Doc Feldman (who is no stranger to Kill County) and his debut album Sundowning at the Station.  Doc Feldman (or Derek as I know him) has been on this album for a while and found a nice release via This Is American Music.  This album was originally a solo album called The Slow Knife Cuts Our Fair Share but Doc felt it needed a little something extra and the LD50 came into play and the great album Sundowning at the Station was formed.  It echoes of whisky nights and rough mornings.  Just like a good rootsy Country album should – with Feldman at the helm those nights seem timeless and those mornings aren’t half bad either.

Purchase | Support: HERE & HERE (iTunes)

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Huck Notari - "Huck Notari and the River"

Huck Notari – “Huck Notari and the River”

Huck Notari out of Portland had a Kickstarter for his new album Huck Notari and the River that was successfully funded and hence we have another album on this list.  Huck creates a more folky Country vibe than the above two albums and is more for a lazy day by the river (see what I did there) instead of drinkin’ till dawn.  His songs reach into you and tug at good sensibilities and good music.  Possibly an easier time where music wasn’t squeezed into lists. So there is that.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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Kanye West - "Yeezus"

Kanye West – “Yeezus”

Yup, token non-folk-country, rap(ish) album. ‘Nuff said.

You know where to purchase.

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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - "Bonnie 'Prince' Billy"

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy”

He is prolific I must say.  Not all BPB/Will Oldham stuff is on this level though.  Here, the self titled album effortlessly pulls a sparse album into not feeling like a collection of demos or extra tracks from a more full release.  This is the style that Oldham excels in my books, just him and a guitar – easy, at times dark and not out of his range.  Just a solid album all around and not so oddly self released by the man himself.  That Bad Man track is just fantastic and is the feature song on the album for me.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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Donovan Woods - "Don't Get Too Grand"

Donovan Woods – “Don’t Get Too Grand”

It seems weirdly comforting that Donovan Woods has an album nestled up next to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Kanye West.  I think he would appreciate the company at the very least.  One of the most talented “everymen” you could ever find, I think.  He has a disarmingly warm delivery that belies some of his tongue in cheek (or not so tongue in cheek) stories set to exclusively stunning folk backdrops.  I have always had a soft spot for Donovan and maybe I assume him to always do well at these sort of lists for me, but god damn it, I like it.  And we all know you do to.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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The National - "Trouble Will Find Me"

The National – “Trouble Will Find Me”

Am I getting soft in my old days?  I mean there are at least two ‘mainstream’ albums on this list – and you would argue neither are “Slowcoustic”.  Well, I am not shying away from something that got a fair share of hype because I like The National.  The album is not exactly folky but it is a fantastic listen.  Songs like Graceless, Hard to Find, Fireproof, Pink Rabbits…come on, those are damn fine tunes.  The songs from The National just seem bigger than they would from anybody else.  Nothing splashy or out of line and that is great – not broken, no need to fix.

Purchase | Support: HERE

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So that is a list of music that I truly enjoyed this year.  Sure there are more, some I missed, some I am simply forgetting to add in and some that just need more time to fill my ears.  Maybe if I continued to blog for the last part of 2013 I might have found something additional…and for this I apologize for my slacker blogging regimen over the last few months.  I promise to really sit down and think about what I am doing with Slowcoustic while on vacation next week.  That or getting a sunburn…

Thank you for taking the time to visit and hopefully you can agree/disagree/offer suggestions in the comments or twitter/facebook and such.

~Sandy

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