Another December, another realization that I hadn't the vaguest notion as to what was hot and/or well-regarded this year, despite consuming what for me felt like a lot of newly released music. And so the countdown below once again is my favorites of the year -- not necessarily the best.
For me, 2013 challenged expectations as new albums from artists I'd only recently came to know had me reassessing on the fly. Frank Turner and Brett Dennen each made good records in 2013 but I'm not sure if either artist really evolved to my satisfaction. There are fewer artists from my youth cracking the 2013 list than in 2012; but the sounds of the old days remain well-represented.
And so, on with the Dad-Rock Top Ten. Thanks to the youtubers out there!
Ron Sexsmith: FOREVER ENDEAVOR
The gentle Canadian folkie eschewed the big rock production of his last LP and did a delicate thing loaded with french horns and strings, and in the case of the below song -- a classic soul knockout punch I never see coming.
Jonathan Wilson: FANFARE
I'd never even heard of this guy until a few months ago, but he did a terrific sounding, evocative double-album recalling 70s artists ranging from John Lennon to Dennis Wilson to CSNY to Steely Dan in the below cut:
The Candles: LA CANDELARIA
This is Norah Jones' backup band doing an easy country rock groove, reminiscent of Ben Kweller's recent work. Goes down easy.
The Virgins: STRIKE GENTLY
In the year that Lou Reed died, here's a very New York City-sounding band whose intimate vocals and relaxed coolness might remind you. (Don't get too attached, as I just read this band has already broken up).
The Fratellis: WE NEED MEDICINE
And here's a band that got back together in 2013: Gallops out of the gate with five straight rip-roaring, beer-chugging anthems. They don't hold much back.
Jake Bugg: SHANGRI-LA
I have seen the future of skiffle .... and it's name is Jake Bugg.
Johnny Marr: THE MESSENGER
I never cared for the Smiths, Johnny's not much of a singer, and the production is too loud, but the man can rock.
Josh Ritter: THE BEAST IN ITS TRACKS
Folkie explores unraveling relationships and grief with maturity and eloquence. This song about collateral damage just knocks me out even though (because?) it reminds me of Paul Simon's "Under African Skies." Beautifully done.
Valley Lodge: USE YOUR WEAPONS
Power-pop band led by comedian Dave Hill delivers on the power and comedy. Not too serious but serious fun: Put your restless heart in my restless hands.
John Paul Keith: MEMPHIS CIRCA 3AM
Sun Records style roots rocker recalls Elvis, Johnny, Roy, Marshall Crenshaw and Chris Isaak. Sizzling!
But there's more! I culled these 10 from an an ongoing list of songs I liked as I streamed them at Rdio. The playlist probably works best as a shuffle.