Happy New Years Eve, friends! We’ve come to the last hours of 2013 and out of all of the many lovely things there are to reflect on from this year… I’m of course choosing to reflect on the music! I honestly didn’t buy a lot of albums this year but I thought I’d share reviews of a few favorites. I also did discover some awesome bands that I wanted to share with you as well!
This is the second year I’ve done these lists, check out last years here! Also, I would love to know what your picks are for 2013!
Favorite Albums of 2013 -
The Civil Wars by The Civil Wars
Ah, the band that hasn’t officially been a band for a over a year now but I still love like crazy anyway. I’m nothing if not loyal. This album deserves the #1 spot because it is truly amazing from start to finish and because I honestly have listened to it almost everyday since its August release lol. Therefore I know every song by heart… well except for “Sacred Heart” which is sung all in French (though I do admit to mumbling along anyway as if I know what I’m saying.)
This is the second (& presumably final) album from the duo known as The Civil Wars (Joy Williams & John Paul White). You can’t help but get the sense that whatever tension they were going through personally spilled over into this album as it’s definitely a little darker and more intense than their debut “Barton Hollow”. Even opener, “The One That Got Away” starts with a confession of sorts, “I never meant to get us in this deep. I never meant for this to mean a thing. I wish you were the one, I wish you were the one that got away.” The term “southern gothic” definitely comes to mind while listening to these songs, especially on a track like “Devil’s Backbone”.
It’s also a departure from their usual sparse instrumentation. Throughout the songs we hear drums and electric guitars, though different for them, it works. Previously unrecorded tracks that had been long time live concert fan favorites such as “From This Valley” (my favorite & also Grammy nominated), “Oh Henry”, and Smashing Pumpkins cover “Disarm” also found a place on this recording. My only problem (& it’s a minor one) with this album is that I feel that John Paul’s vocals aren’t quite as prominent as they were on “Barton Hollow”. And I found myself missing his voice.
Whatever happened that broke up this beautiful musical union is a mystery but I cannot help but remain hopeful for reconciliation and more music from these two in the future.
Currents by Eisley
One of the main reasons I’ve been a longtime fan of the TX based family band known as Eisley is because their music has a way of transporting you to a different place and taking you on a magical journey. Each album like another chapter to some sort of fairytale. Their 4th album “Currents”, which released in May, is no exception.
Opener and title track “Currents” instantly captures you with haunting music and Stacy’s ethereal vocals. The growth and maturity of the band is apparent in every track. The instrumentation richer and the lyrics poetic. You also notice right away that there is a water theme to these songs, even the beautiful cover, which was designed by Sherri hints to it. And this time around not only do Stacy and Sherri share lead vocal duties but we finally get to hear Chauntelle’s beautiful voice on “Millstone”, which is without a doubt one of the loveliest moments on the album.
Kids Raising Kids by Kopecky Family Band
I suppose this band could also go into the “music discoveries” list as I just found out about them this past summer. After hearing their song “Heartbeat” and falling head over heels in love with it, I immediately bought the album. “Kids Raising Kids”, which has an indie rock vibe, became my go to cd through out the summer. For me it was one of those rare albums where I didn’t skip a track. Some of the songs having a sort of throwback back 60’s or 70’s sound to me.
Yes, their name implies they are family… but not in the biological sense. Kelsey Kopecky, Gabe Simon, Steven Holmes, David Krohn, Markus Midkiff, and Corey Oxendine are friends who came together in Nashville, TN to form this band. After singing together a few times they felt like they had been doing it all their lives, as if they had been a family band. So they tacked on Kelsey’s last name because they liked the way it sounded and the rest is history.
Favorite Music Discoveries of 2013 -
Sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana make up the LA based band, Haim (not pronounced like Corey Haim like I originally thought but it actually rhymes with “time”). Their music has a definite 80’s and 90’s sound. I mean, they would have fit in perfectly in that era. It’s pop music mixed with some r&b influences. I’ve been obsessed with this song lately: “Falling”.
I don’t normally listen to much instrumental music but I was completely mesmerized by the beautiful sounds of violinist, Lindsey Stirling! Dubbed the “dancing violinist” this girl rocks the violin! Yes, rocks! This is not tame classical music. It’s so fun to watch her dance and totally rock out in her videos, which are often very theatrical. Violin and Dubstep are two things I would never think would work together but somehow, Lindsey makes it work in what is my favorite track, “Crystallize”.
Another sister band! Johanna and Klara Söderberg make up the Swedish folk/country duo, First Aid Kit. Their songs are full of beautiful harmonies as well as pretty and often haunting melodies. The song that made me a fan is the sweet sounds of “Emmylou”. Can’t help but sing along when this track is on.
“Now so much I know that things just don’t grow if you don’t bless them with your patience.”
This 5 piece band from Brooklyn have a definite retro vibe to not only their sound but also their personal style. The two lead singers, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig even wear matching vintage outfits and jewelry. I know, I so want to be a part of this band! Right away I loved their vocal harmonies and catchy songs that made me want to sing along. To me it’s indie rock with kind of a throwback twist. My favorite track: “Turn It Around”.
I’m sure just about everyone by now has heard of New Zealand artist, Lorde. Whose real name is actually Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor. My cousin recently introduced me to her music. After hearing “Royals” I instantly became a fan. I know everyone keeps saying the same thing but it’s true, I can’t believe she’s only 16! Talent beyond her years and I think she’s winning people over by doing something different. Something that sounds unique. And that now a days is an impressive feat. My favorite track: “Bravado”.
Album I'm looking forward to in 2014 -
Been waiting for this album from my favorite band in the world for a while now. But luckily I won’t have to wait too much longer… “Fading West”, Switchfoot’s 9th studio album, releases on January 14th!!! Woot! From what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to rock!
Thanks to anyone who has visited my little corner of the world here through out 2013. It was fun! Here’s a toast to a hopefully beautiful 2014! Happy New Years, folks!