If I were to characterize the general theme of the Favorite Edition 2013 list thus far, it would be “chill”.
The albums I’ve been drawn to the most are very quiet, not the usual blast of sturm und drang I usually indulge. But just because they’re quiet doesn’t mean they aren’t unsettling.
Perhaps more telling is the number of new releases I’ve listened to so far this year: 15. Not a big pool from which to draw a list of 10 favorites, which is why there are only seven.
Compare that with the total number releases I’ve bought, including catalog: 61. Yes, I get deeper into catalog the more I age.
- Sam Amidon, Bright Sunny South. The electronics on Sam Amidon’s previous album, I See the Sign, was a dead end that he thankfully did not explore further with his Nonesuch debut. Although no Nico Muhly can be found on Bright Sunny South, the affinity he shares with Amidon comes through in other ways.
- James Blake, Overgrown. There are some artists from which you listen to one album, and you’re done. I wondered if James Blake would such an artist for me, and as it turns out, he is not. In fact, Overgrown expands on the ideas he forged on his self-titled debut, getting simultaneously weirder and catchier.
- Sigur Rós, Kveikur. This album is the sound of Sigur Rós inverting its introspection to turn the amps up to 11 and make up for the lack of character that was Valtari.
- Hem, Departure and Farewell. Hem seemed to flounder a bit with its last two albums, but this one feels a lot closer to spirit in Rabbit Songs.
- Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon. Brian Ahrens produced this duet album, which means he knows how to pair the right material with Harris and Crowell.
- TV Mania, Bored with Prozac and the Internet? I wondered what happened to this project. Something as mundane as misplaced source material accounts for its 16-year delay. This album was recorded around the same time as Medazzaland, which remains the most forward-thinking album in Duran Duran’s output. I think it’s still going to take another decade before people realize this.
- Camper Van Beethoven, La Costa Perdida. I saw Camper Van Beethoven live in February, and I was humming along with the tracks on this album when the band played them. It’s really that good.