Mark Saleski’s Best of 2013 (Rock, Pop, Country, Whatever): Black Sabbath, Billy Joe + Norah, Moby

Somehow, I ended up with a fair amount of country-ish material on this year’s list. How did that happen? There was though, a ton of great music coming from all quarters, which is why I’ve also got electronic pop, straight ahead rock, psychedelia, and whatever the hell you want to call that Elvis Costello/The Roots thing.



Black Sabbath – 13

It what will likely be the last album from this crew, Black Sabbath came roaring back to life with 13. It was really great to hear (and feel) the ominous rumble of Iommi and Butler. I also loved the nice touch at the end, with the reappearance of the rain and bells that started off their first record.

Lindi Ortega – Tin Star

I fell in love with Lindi Ortega’s voice after hearing the first 30 seconds of the title track from last year’s Cigarettes and Truckstops. Tin Star picks up right where that record left off. Ortega has an angelic voice that can sometimes be used as a weapon. This is no suburban big hat “country.” No, it’s the real deal

Billie Joe + Norah – Foreverly

My initial reaction after I’d heard about this album was, “What?!” It’s not that I thought it would be bad (there was a lot of that out there), I just couldn’t grasp the concept. Well, these two did the Everly Brothers proud.

Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost

I’ve been a fan of Costello going all the way back to his big glasses/big attitude days. My love of The Roots was pushed even higher after reading Questlove’s fabulous musical memoir Mo’ Meta Blues. But can the pairing of these two artists shake off the black cloud that performs its magic on “supergroups”? Without a doubt, yes.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Good gawd, the grooves were almost criminal. And if you got “Get Lucky” stuck in your head? Oh yeah, it did not want to leave.

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Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon

Two old friends get back together and the results are, to use a reviewer-type word that I generally detest, luminous.

Brandy Clark – 12 Stories

Recommended to me by my farmer/neighbor, Brandy Clark writes the kind of country tunes that don’t often make it to the radio. OK, so I guess she’s had some success writing for stars such as Miranda Lambert and LeAnn Rimes, but the content of 12 Stories is generally a little darker than your average country/pop fare. With a beautiful, ringing voice (sometimes I’m reminded of Linda Ronstadt), she sings of pill-poppin’ moms, drunk-ass husbands, affairs, and other amusements.

Moby – Innocents

Like a lot of people, I became a fan of Moby in the wave that followed the release of Play. Since I’ve begun to follow him on Twitter, I’ve discovered this hole other side of him. Oh, I knew about the DJing and the veganism and all of that, but a blog about architecture in Los Angeles? Anyway, this is one of those rare pop albums that gives up new details each time you listen. Worth it alone for the Wayne Coyne-infused “The Perfect Life.”

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

There was a family emergency and this was one of the recordings I put on my phone, thinking of ways to deal with a cramped cross-country flight. With the exception of Vitalogy, I haven’t listened to a whole lot of Pearl Jam recently. This album made me remember the electricity of their early records.



*** Album of the Year ***

Cokeweed – Back To Soft

I’m not always in the habit of naming an album of the year. I mean, I can’t even bear to order these best-of lists because I can never decide if one record is “better” than the other. But sometimes numbers don’t lie. You can’t wear out bytes on an SD card in the same manner as grooves on an LP but hey, I gave it my best shot. Hmmmm…maybe I need this on vinyl. Christmas is coming!

Anyway, Coke Weed make some great psychedelic garage rock that deserves a wider audience. Check ‘em out.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.