2013 in Music

Thought it would be fun to write a bit of a blog post about my favorite music of 2013.  This will be a bit different from most Best Music of the Year postings as not all the music on this list came out this year.  But 2013 was the year I first heard some of it, so I’ll write about it below.

Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby – Cluck Ol’ Hen
I have been a Bruce Hornsby fan since The Way It Is.  That was actually one of the first CDs my family owned, back when CDs were first invented.  I have followed his career ever since and dig about 99% of the music he makes.  I’m not a super huge fan of his jazz flavored music as that’s just not one of my favorite styles of music.  But you know what is one of my favorite sales of music?  Bluegrass.  When I heard that Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby were doing a live album I knew I’d be picking it up.  This CD is just fantastic from start to finish.  Ricky Skaggs is backed by the amazing Kentucky Thunder and Bruce is right there along with them proving there is a place in bluegrass for the piano.  The centerpiece of the disc is the over ten minute long version of The Way It Is which is just mind blowing.  Was lucky to see Bruce and Ricky on tour a month or so ago and their live show was even better than this CD.

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You
I heard the title track of this album while on tour with PuppetUp earlier this year.  It was so good it was on heavy repeat especially during one super long bus ride one night from Idaho to Montana.  I was never a huge fan of Edie Brickell but her work here has won me over.  I bought the whole CD when it came out and from top to bottom it is really great.  My favorite track is Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain Baby.  A classic fun, bluegrass story song.   I love the lines: A civil war vet went to see if he could get a bit of timber for a new barn/The number 4 sped from the train overhead came the itty bitty newborn.  Just great lyric writing there, in my opinion.  Got to see this show at the Hollywood Bowl this year as well.  A Steve Martin banjo show is just as funny as you’d expect.  Can’t leave out praise for the Steep Canyon Rangers here as well.  They support Steve (& Edie) and they were fantastic.

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
While I was in Toronto I blogged about Neko in my post about the music from that tour.  Neko gets mentioned here because since this album was released I’ve listened to it a lot.  Lots of great songs on here.  The rocking’ Man, the mellow (but rocking’) Ragtime, the awesome City Swans, the mournful Night Still Comes, each track is better than the next.  However my favorite is Calling Cards (below).  This is a great CD to put on while working, writing, just doing errands.  Good ‘soundtrack for life’ music.

This was an interesting year for me because it was a year in which my, all time favorite band, Barenaked Ladies released an album (which, as I type this I can’t even remember the name of) and the disc was immediately shadowed by the discovery of a new musician.  And an album from 2009.  Sorry, BNL, your latest just didn’t capture the magic of the past albums and, discovering Blue’s A Watched Pot at the same time was the death knell for your new disc.

Bleu – A Watched Pot
I HAD actually head of Bleu before, coincidentally enough, through Barenaked Ladies.  BNL were on a For The Kids album and one of the other stand out tracks on that album was a song called Snow Day.  It’s a great tune but I never really looked into Bleu further.  As you probably know, I’m a fan of the band Jellyfish.  On a Jellyfish discussion group someone posted that former Jellyfish-er, Andy Sturmer, sang on a song by an artist named Bleu.  I clicked through and found this video…

I was already downloading this album while the song played in the background.  A Watched Pot is one of those albums that I can play from start to finish, over and over.  All the songs are great.  Standouts are the track above, Boy Meets Girl, I Won’t F*ck You Over (This Time) and, my favorite, When The Lights Go Out.  Discovering Bleu I checked out all his other stuff and it’s all just as great.  Bleu did release an album this year, To Hell With You, but it is A Watched Pot that I listened to on heavy rotation this year.

Bleu did a pledgemusic.com campaign to fund To Hell With You, which I pledged to.  For the campaign, Blue made, what I think, is the single greatest pledge video ever.

To Hell With You is a great album as well.  The disc starts with a orchestrated overture!  Yes, Bleu arranged and recorded a classic, broadway style, overture for his whole album.  That’s worth the price of the disc along.  The rest of the album features great songs as well.  In My Own Little World, The Bottom of My Heart and It’s Not Over (‘Til It’s Over And Done) are all great, as is the rest of the disc.

And this song by Bleu, from an even earlier album, just rocks (the video is not for the squeamish though)…

I really urge you to check out Bleu if you like good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with brilliant songwriting.

In the comedy music realm, my favorite disc of the year is NOMAD by Boothby Graffoe.  Fun and funny from start to finish with a great version of one of my favorite songs of his, Baseball Playing Spider.

Finally, Jellyfish has a new album that just came out on December 10.  It’s a disc of live radio performances.  I’m sure it would have made this list but I haven’t heard it yet as it’ll, hopefully, be in a Christmas package from Santa.

So that’s the 2013 in music on my iPhone.  Varied for sure, but all of it fantastic and on repeat in this neck of the woods.

What have you been grooving to this year?  Let me know.

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