2013 was an exceptional year for music – not just for one or two genres, but for music, period. So many artists released so many great records that it became impossible to listen to everything, and what one listened to largely depended on one’s own personal tastes. I spent most of the year with indie-rock and -pop records while indulging a long-time passion for folk music and Americana. There are quite a few albums I know I missed, and while I feel some regret that I didn't get to them, well, that's what 2014 is for.
Federal Lights - We Were Found in the Fog
Josh Ritter - The Beast in Its Tracks
Los Campesinos! - No Blues
Nataly Dawn - How I Knew Her
Royal Canoe - Today We're Believers
24. Diane Birch - Speak a Little Louder
Diane Birch’s first album Bible Belt was widely acclaimed as not only one of the most assured debuts of 2009 but also for the way Birch incorporated influences from the ‘70s singer-songwriter pop of Carly Simon and Carole King into her own fully-formed aesthetic. Four years later, Birch has returned with Speak a Little Louder, a record still grounded in the music of her debut while owing more of a debt to Elton John and Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush. This stylistic shift, to her credit, doesn’t sound like selling out – rather, it feels like a natural evolution from one of this decade’s most promising young artists.
23. Brendan Canning – You Gots 2 Chill
The first word that comes to mind when I think of You Gots 2 Chill is ‘mesmerizing.’ Brendan Canning has constructed an intricate record that still feels organic, as the oddly danceable "However Long" and the quiet intimacy of "Late Night Stars" aptly demonstrate. Easy to dismiss as ‘bedroom music’, You Gots 2 Chill becomes more compelling with each listen.
22. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time
Thankfully, despite its lengthy and complex origin and development, Sky Ferreira’s debut was worth the wait. The best songs on Night Time, My Time are remarkably perceptive; they’re potent distillations of the messiness within the human mind and heart.
21. Laura Veirs – Warp and Weft
Singer-songwriter Laura Veirs is one of American folk music’s best-kept secrets. She’s been releasing consistently strong records over the past decade – her last two were the sublime July Flame (#7 on my 2010 best-of list) and the refreshingly unsentimental children’s record Tumble Bee – with increasing critical and commercial success. Warp and Weft, her eighth album, is one of her most eclectic releases yet, ranging from the Americana of “Sun Song” and “Shape Shifter” to the haunting, electric guitar-driven lamentation “Dorothy of the Island.” All in all, an excellent addition to Veirs’ already impressive discography.