2013 In Review Through Songs

I feel like I’m getting a little predictable. If you’d have told me at the beginning of 2013 that Josh Ritter, Arcade Fire, The National and The Head and the Heart would be releasing new albums in 2013, I’d have said, “Okay, well they’ll be the top 4 albums of the year for me.” As you can see, they make the list, but there were also some good surprises to mix in too. And for those keeping score at home, I’d have expected to put Pearl Jam,

Rather than hash through the albums in their entirety, I figured I’d keep it simple and focus on 10 songs from 10 albums in 2013 that I think stand out. If you really want to know, yes, Trouble Will Find Me was my favorite and most listened to album of 2013.

Here’s an 8Tracks mix of all the songs below, in case you want to give it all a listen.

2013 Review in Song from mkinmotion on 8tracks Radio.

 

10. Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Day”

(from Wakin on a Pretty Daze)

9. Phosphorescent – “Song for Zula”

(from Muchacho de Lujo)

8. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – “Man on Fire”

(from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros)
See also “Better Days” & “If I Were Free”

7. Arcade Fire – “Reflektor”

(from Reflektor)

6. Atoms for Peace – “Judge Jury and Executioner”

(from Amok)

5. Vampire Weekend – “Ya Hey”

(from Modern Vampires of the City)
See also “Step” & “Diane Young”

4. Josh Ritter – Hopeful

(from The Beast in its Tracks)
See also “New Lover” & “Joy to You Baby”

3. Volcano Choir – Byegone

(from Repave)
See also “Alaskans” and “Comrade”

2. The Head and the Heart – Shake

(from Let’s Be Still)
See also “Gone” and “My Friends”

1. The National – “Don’t Swallow the Cap”

(from Trouble Will Find Me)
See also “Demons” & “I Need My Girl”

Others songs I love from 2013 that don’t necessarily have a great album to go along with them:
Haim – “The Wire”

Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear – “Cut Me Some Slack”

Steve Earle – “Invisible”

Night Beds – “Ramona”

U2 – “Ordinary Love”

Junip – “Line of Fire”

San Fermin – “Renaissance”

My Ten Favorite Albums of 2010

2010 was a great year for music. While seven of these ten albums were previously featured in my Everyday Album series, I wanted to do an official top 10 list. These are my ten favorite albums from 2010.
I created an 8tracks mix of 10 songs from the 10 albums, so go ahead and press play now.

10. Best Coast, Crazy For You ($5 on Amazon)
When I heard that Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward were releasing a second album as She & Him, this is what I expected as a follow up to their first album. Sweet syrupy pop with an edge.
9. The Head and the Heart, The Head and the Heart ($7.99 on Amazon)
A wonderful group you probably haven’t heard of. I hadn’t until this year when their self-titled album started getting a lot of buzz.
8. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More ($7.99 on Amazon)
This album has a lot of great sounds on it and fits into a lot of genres. I heard it on the Adult Contemporary radio station in Portland, and streamed on the Adult Alternative radio station in San Francisco. Plenty to like and plenty to look forward to from Mumford & Sons in the future.
7. Kasey Anderson, Nowhere Nights ($8.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
6. Broken Bells, Broken Bells ($5 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
5. Mates of State, Crushes ($6.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
4. Arcade Fire, The Suburbs ($7.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
3. The Black Keys, Brothers ($9.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
2. The National, High Violet ($7.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)
1. Josh Ritter, So Runs the World Away ($8.99 on Amazon) (Everyday Album)

(Prices subject to change, of course)

Everyday Albums of 2010, Broken Bells, Broken Bells

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

Danger Mouse is dangerous. Over the last 5 years or so, he’s quickly become one of the hottest producers in the music business, but also a great collaborator. From mashing Jay-Z with the Beatles to Gnarls Barkley to creating Broken Bells with The Shins’ James Mercer, he’s certainly been busy. It’s also been announced that Danger Mouse will be producing the next U2 album which has a lot of potential.
When Broken Bells came out in March (on my birthday) I was impressed with the feel of the album. The first track and the first single, “The High Road”, was released in late 2009 before the album. It got plenty of buzz making the release of the album and shows the feel of the rest of the album.

Lots of sounds coming out in the production of Broken Bells like on “The Ghost Inside.” Normally I drop these videos into my posts just so that you can get a sample of the music, but with this one, you might enjoy some Christina Hendricks.

While the album is phenomenal, I can’t help walking away from it with more of a hunger for another Shins album. Check out “Citizen”, “October”, and “Sailing to Nowhere” for some other samples.
Right now Broken Bells is available at Amazon for just $5! And if you don’t trust my, why not ask these cute british kids?

Everyday Albums of 2010, The Black Keys, Brothers

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

While The Black Keys broke onto the scene years ago, their 2010 release Brothers is certainly a breakthrough on several levels. It’s hard to look anywhere these days without seeing The Black Keys. Unlike their previous music, Brothers went beyond the two-piece band for much of the album.
The album kicks off with “Everlasting Light” which sets the tone. It has a driving beat and impressive falsetto from Dan Auerbach.

“Next Girl” keeps the momentum going with more of a drums + fuzz feel that The Black Keys are known for…and a SINGING DINOSAUR!

“Tighten Up” has been heard in all sorts of things from TV shows to TV spots. It’s catchy, has some meat to it, and Patrick Carney gets his chance to beat those drums.

With songs like the swampy “Too Afraid to Love You” and the crunchy (and my favorite track on the album) “Sinister Kid” the album is full of gems and will be a staple of my iPod for years to come. It’s definitely worth picking up, and for you mainstreamers, The Black Keys were named Artist of the Year by Spin Magazine and Rolling Stone put Brothers as the #2 best album in 2010 (right behind Kanye West…). Buy it at Amazon it’s well worth it!

Everyday Albums of 2010, Kasey Anderson, Nowhere Nights

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

I hadn’t heard of Kasey Anderson until I was in Portland to see Matthew Ryan play in February of 2010. He was opening for Matthew Ryan. Earlier in the evening Matthew Ryan and Kasey Anderson played a brief set at Music Millennium. One of the photos I took was even grabbed and put on Kasey’s Facebook page
Nowhere Nights is a great collection of songs. There’s a tone to the songs that stitches them together into one cohesive work.
Being from the Pacific Northwest, I can identify with one of his themes. There are good things and bad about your hometown and sometimes it seems what you miss isn’t the right stuff. In the opening track “Bellingham Blues” and “Home” both have this sense.

“In a town this small, either play your hand a little closer to the vest or you don’t play at all.”

There’s a sea of singer-songwriters out in the industry these days, and as unique and genuine as Kasey Anderson’s music is, he’s largely ignored by the big business music world. With Anderson’s voice and the darker tone of his songs, Nowhere Nights reminds me of a Pacific Northwest version of a Drive-By Truckers album. Another must listen track is “Like Teenage Gravity.” With the piano and guitar working together it delivers the message.

“And all my friends told me, you don’t need laws to tell. If it feels like falling, boy, you probably already fell. The whole table saw your hand, you might as well just play it. You ain’t foolin’ no one, you might as well just say it…I guess I’m in love.”

The album has a great balance between Kasey just singing and playing guitar in the way that I saw him play in Portland and utilizing his band to fill in the mood. On “Real Gone” the electric guitar and drums help drive home the emotion of the chorus.
The album is brilliant and should be added to your collection. I’m already looking forward to hearing the next collection of songs from Kasey. You can find Nowhere Nights at Amazon or iTunes. Also, follow Kasey on Twitter for pithy observations, cultural criticism, and gigs from the Portland based artist.

Everyday Albums of 2010, Josh Ritter, So Runs The World Away

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.

If you’ve been paying attention to MKinMotion for anytime at all, this comes as no surprise: Josh Ritter is incredible…prepare for a string of superlatives. The last three albums he’s released The Animal Years in 2006, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter in 2007, and So Runs the World Away in 2010 make for a trilogy of stories that take you from the Old West, the world at war, and even ancient Egypt…plus his home state of Idaho.
The album kicks off with a quick little intro called “Curtains” and immediately introduces an amazing contribution to the ongoing catalog of amazing with “Change of Time.” Four chords repeated would suggest a simple song, but the imagery and tone take you through a string of emotions as the lyrics drift in and out of coherence.

“I was thirsty so I drank, and though it was salt water, there was something ’bout the way, it tasted so familiar.”

“The Curse” is a waltz ballad. The story of a mummy and a scientist. The only thing I can do to explain the beautiful tragedy is to force you to watch the video. Puppets!

If the waltzy soft nature of “The Curse” brought you down, you require a taste of “Lantern” and “The Remnant.” It’s impossible to not smile while listening to Lantern…impossible. And “The Remnant” shows that despite the dreamier tone to the opening tracks, Josh still has the ability to pound his foot on the wood floor. The images make me think of a John Hillcoat film…”The Road” or “The Proposition”, take your pick.

I love “Orbital.” There’s a lot going on in this one. Lots of music happening and lots of images of things running around each other. Ritter is good at drawing pictures through the words and music in a way that always garners comparisons to Springsteen and Dylan.

“The ghost around the thing it haunts, the want around the thing that wants, the way the mind just wanders off and then returns to the thought around the second thought. Love or gravity or law? Whatever name it’s got, it’s got me…circling around you.”

Buy So Runs the World Away, and if you haven’t yet, pick up the other two albums mentioned The Animal Years and The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. You will not regret it.

Everyday Albums of 2010, Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Everyday Albums is a series of album reviews wherein the album could be listened to everyday. This series will examine the best of those from 2010.
I’ve said before that I learned about Arcade Fire late enough to not be considered in-the-know, but early enough that I rode the wave in 2005 as they caught fire. Their debut album Funeral is still a favorite of mine and made my best of decade list. I liked their second album Neon Bible, but not as much as Funeral. Bands tend to struggle sometimes with making a third album. My first listen of The Suburbs was met with less than enthusiastic ideas. However, I didn’t give up. The more I listened the more I started to discover really great moments on the album. If a band can string together enough great moments onto one album it makes a huge difference.
The opening track “The Suburbs” has a great feel. There are lots of images that ring true to my upbringing in a suburban cul-de-sac.
Ready to Start makes me bob my head and tap my foot. It’s pretty powerful.

“All the kids have always known, that the emperor wears no clothes, but they bow down to him anyway, it’s better than being alone.”


The third track “Modern Man” makes me play air guitar. It’s got a great rhythm and feels the most like a pop single on the album.
“City With No Children” is another song that looks at the transition from childhood to adulthood and the turmoil that happens at those moments.
The whole album is chock full of great moments and energy. Definitely worth picking up and adding to your collection.