Favorite Albums 2013: Special Edition

'Tis the season for "best of" lists, and reflecting on artists and events that impacted us in 2013. Our staff stepped aside this year, and asked three very special sisters to pick their ten favorite albums of 2013. After days of deliberation, Hailey, Morgan, and Casey, ages 9, 11, and 12, share their ten favorite albums of 2013:

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob

HAIM - Days are Gone

Lorde - Pure Heroine

Sara Bareilles - The Blessed Unrest

Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park

Katy Perry - Prism

Selena Gomez- Stars Dance

Danielle Bradbery - Danielle Bradbery

Demi Lovato - Demi

Ariana Grande - Yours Truly

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Erin McKeown Celebrates The Holiday Season With An Anti-Holiday Tour!

The very talented Erin McKeown embarks on a tour starting in the Philadelphia area, and traveling to the West Coast of the US this December. Erin shares a message to fans along her entire tour route, kicking off with Philadelphia...

hello philadelphia and surrounding environs!

it's the most wonderful time of the year! that's right, it's time for F*ck That, my annual Anti-Holiday Spectacular. join me and a chorus of cranky carolers as we express our grumpiness, grouchiness, crankiness, disdain and scorn for this most hollow of seasons. we'll be performing the entirety of my 2011 album of the same name, plus we'll throw in a few more surprises. bring your hymnal and come sing-a-long. you'll feel better!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013, Ardmore PA (just outside philly)
Ardmore Music Hall
23 East Lancaster Avenue
doors at 7p, support at 8p, Erin plays at 9p. $15.
TWO SETS, BE PROMPT. 1st set new + old faves. 2nd set Anti-Holiday Spectacular!!
click here for tickets and join the Facebook Page for this event.

WARNING: this show is not suitable for children. on purpose.

want to sing in the cranky chorus? we'd love to have you! there is no musical talent or rehearsal required. you'll get two tickets to the show, a copy of the CD, the handmade hymnal, and the esteem of the rest of the audience. the only catch is you must wear your most awful holiday outfit. email me for a spot, include the show you want to attend in the subject line. i recommend you be quick about it, the chorus will fill up fast (ask these folks how they liked being in the chorus, and these folks too).

start a new anti-holiday tradition or join us again to celebrate the world’s first anti-capitalist, pro-queer, suspicious of christmas-as-patriotism, sex-positive, not safe for work, multi-ethnic, radical leftist Anti-Holiday Spectacular!
x erin

purchase SMALL DEVIANT THINGS, Vol. 2 + 3

COMPLETE TOURDATES! click here for more info.

12/4- Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore PA (just outside philly!) tickets
12/5- Littlefield, Brooklyn NY tickets
12/6- Club Passim, Cambridge MA 7PM tickets
12/6- Club Passim, Cambridge MA 930PM tickets
12/8- McCabe's, Santa Monica CA tickets
12/10- Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco CA tickets
12/12- Bunkbar, Portland OR tickets
12/13- Barboza, Seattle WA tickets
12/15- The Hideout, Chicago IL tickets
12/21- The Dream Away Lodge, Becket MA

click here for more info. 

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Most Buzz Worthy of 2013: Halfway

From Vincent:

"Wish the Wind Would Blow Me"- Bob Schneider, Burden of Proof

I'm always in awe of Schneider's ability to write both incredibly crass and tremendously heartfelt songs. This one is of the latter persuasion, and he nails the sentiment of longing so well here.

"Man"- Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You
I've been waiting for a new Neko Case album since the day after her most recent one was released, and this single to support her upcoming record makes me think the wait will be worth it. She sounds like she's having so much fun here.

"The Jailer"- Erin McKeown, Manifestra
A song with a strictly political agenda—and an important one at that!—that doesn't once feel forced is an accomplishment in and of itself, but that guitar lick? Good lord, McKeown. What can't you do?

"That Kind of Lonely"- Patty Griffin, American Kid
My favorite song on Griffin's flawless record. Reminds me of the Living With Ghosts days, AKA the best days of any days.

"My Love Follows You Where You Go"- Lori McKenna, Massachusetts
Again: my favorite song on a flawless record. This one gets my toe tapping and my heart breaking at the same time. Lori is a master of all things.

From Kim:

Jay Nash, "Sailor" from Letters of the Lost: About the defiant stubbornness of self-belief, refusing to be beaten by anything or anyone. I appreciate that kind of obstinacy, and it's also emblematic of the album as a whole, as well as Jay as an artist who makes his music his way.

Joy Kills Sorrow, "Was It You" from Wide Awake (EP): I just really cannot get enough of this song. Hands down, my favorite on the EP and a solid opening track.

Laurence Fox, "Gunfight" from Sorry for My Words (EP): Haunting vocals and arrangements on this track (and the remainder of the EP) prove Fox is as good as music as he is at acting. Fans of Ben Howard will hear and appreciate similarities in Fox's sound.

Boy, "Oh Boy (Acoustic)" from Mutual Friends: This track is an extra on the physical copy of Mutual Friends, and while I like fuller version as well, the stripped down version of it is even better. I was lucky enough to catch Boy while they were on their first short US tour and can say Mutual Friends is as enjoyable stripped to just Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass with guitarist Deniz Erarslan. You'll want a physical copy of this album; trust me.

From Holly:

"This Hell Where We Belong" by Humming House

"This Hell Where We Belong" featuring Kristen Rogers on vocals (a new song recorded for Justified) aired on FX Networks Justified on February 26th.
Humming House will be on the 2014 Cayamo Cruise (www.cayamo.com).


Shovels and Rope's Cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Johnny 99"

They can do no wrong in my book. See them opening for Dawes this summer!


"Wild Old Dog" - Patty Griffin

This song really struck a chord with me. She's a brilliant songwriter. Seeing her perform this live was mind-blowing.


From Ben:

Bosnian Rainbows, "Torn Maps"

Alternative rock from Texas, yes. Teri Gender Bender's vocals are superb. Know her from Le Butcherettes, yes!
She lends her talents to an incredible band, who are a must hear live!
The band: Teri Gender Bender (on vocals), Deantoni Parks (drums, keyboard), Nicci Kasper (synths, keyboards), and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar, backing vocals, keyboard).
Wow, people! Listen:

On tour, find dates here: http://rodriguezlopezproductions.com/Bosnian_Rainbows

James Blake, "Retrograde"

It is James Blake at his best, in his zone, and pulling our ears in a wonderful Blake-ian direction. Give him about a minute to tickle your ears, and wait for his lyrics/vocals.
This Brit was amazing at Coachella. You can watch his appearance on Letterman here:

Tegan & Sara, "Closer"

You have got to give it to team Quin on this track. Catapulting them into mainstream, I read. Tegan and Sara have always been favorites. I suppose the radio play, print media, television appearances, and Katy Perry tweeting emojis help spread the word to those who love firework based costuming.
 Tegan and Sara need no fireworks, instead, pop and indie crashed, and in the wreckage, we find "Closer." My favorite song of the year, so far.

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Though the faithful readers of The Buzz About know us primarily as an arena wherein we rave (and occasionally rant) about the latest records we’ve encountered, I’m trying something a bit different. I think it’s a fair assumption that many of you listeners and lovers and makers of music out there are also equally passionate about books. Novels, memoirs, poetry, short stories—I imagine so many of you have bookshelves as overcrowded and threatening to capsize as mine. So after receiving (ever so luckily) an advanced copy of Laura van den Berg’s forthcoming collection of stories, The Isle of Youth, I felt compelled to sing the book’s praises here, in the hopes that you’ll pre-order this fantastic collection this instant, or else eagerly anticipate its release in November.

I first came across Laura van den Berg’s writing by way of the Best American Nonrequired Reading collection, which featured, several years ago, her terrific story “Where We Must Be,” which remains one of my favorite stories—tender, clever, funny, and confident. Soon after, van den Berg released her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us. The title is a mouthful—which does not even remotely bother this Fiona Apple megafan—and it should be: that collection is packed front to back with stellar prose, masterfully-created characters, and a style all her own. Stories with hearts as big as the ones collected in her debut can’t be contained by a title any briefer.

It was my great privilege, then, to get my hands on The Isle of Youth, and after reading the collection twice over—I’ve read some stories three or four times at this point; LvdB’s stories are so worth studying—I’m in awe of how much Laura van den Berg has raised the bar in the four years since her first book. Each and every story is a gem, and that’s such a rarity when it comes to the short story collections. Even with my favorite collections from writers I love like Amy Hempel, Joy Williams, and Ann Beattie, you’re bound to find a dud here and there. I think this goes for most of my favorite albums, too. So it’s a testament to Laura’s brilliance to say that each and every story in this book is mandatory reading.

Throughout my first read and my subsequent revisits, I was reminded of a line from Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) that I keep tacked above my desk. It’s from an interview she did the year after she got sober, and in discussing her various addictions, she says, “Everybody needs to get out of somewhere. Lots of people don’t.” I think this is a sentiment shared by so many of the narrators in The Isle of Youth, a collection that orbits themes of escape and disappearance; vanishings and materializations. Be they literal escapes—like the missing father in “Opa-Locka” and the mother-daughter magic duo in “The Greatest Escape”—or figurative, the characters in this book all need to get out somewhere. And, per Chan Marshall’s observation, a lot of them don’t. There are places and positions that these characters find inescapable, and what van den Berg does with that frustrated stagnancy is often what’s most moving about the stories. There even comes a character, in the title story, who says, so painfully, so honestly, “I just wanted to get out of my life.”

This is why Laura van den Berg is as revered as she is, and why I know this book will only bring her more praise and acclaim, all of it so hard-earned and so deserved. Due out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on November 5th, and available for pre-order now.

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This Buzz for You: Joy Kills Sorrow, Wide Awake (EP)

The first time I saw Joy Kills Sorrow, in October of last year, my friend Jenne and I were actually sat amongst them in a bar in Philadelphia. While my initial comment (to Jenne) was that I loved Emma Beaton's hair because there was no way mine could achieve such height, I quickly came to appreciate both Beaton's, whose voice you simply do not forget, and the band's sound.

Comprised of classically trained musicians Beaton (lead vocalist), Matthew Arcara (guitar), Wes Corbett (banjo, vocals), Jacob Jolliff (mandolin), and recent addition Zoe Guigueno (bass, vocals), the Boston-based string band presents a fuller, lush sound on its recently released EP Wide Awake.

The title comes from the first verse of the EP's opening track, "Was It You": "Was it you there slipping out the backdoor / When you thought I wasn't home / Could you leave me in good conscience / So you wander all alone / Wide awake and searching in the shadows / All the places where we been / But the walls aren't giving any answers / And the silence never ends." A song about being haunted by the memory of a person once dear, "Was It You" showcases Joy Kills Sorrow's biggest strengths: songwriting craftsmanship coupled with big sound from both excellent, incredibly skilled playing and the strength of Beaton's vocals. It's also emblematic of what listening to Joy Kills Sorrow does: their sound sticks with you. "Get Along" infuses a jazz sound to their bluegrass stylings, while "Gold in the Deep" perhaps most reflects their traditional string sound.

I've talked many times in this column about my love of percussion, but, I must say, I don't miss it on Wide Awake in the least. That's in large part to the band's newest member, bassist Zoe Guigueno. I don't have the words to describe how much I adore both her playing as well as her vocal harmonies (I mean, let's be honest, she and Beaton totally kill it at 2:55 in "Was It You" and that never fails to make me smile, every single time, and my play count is quite high having only had the EP since June 4th).

And if you don't think an acoustic string band is capable of a mighty sound, listen to Joy Kills Sorrow's cover of The Postal Service's electro-pop "Such Great Heights", which is included on Wide Awake and is also a (quite excellent) feature of their live shows...

Joy Kills Sorrow is currently touring in support of Wide Awake, and I'm really hoping, quite selfishly, they make it back to Philadelphia in addition to the dates posted. Tour dates can be found here, via their website.

Wide Awake is available now.

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