Welcome to day two of the countdown of my favourite fifty albums of the year. If you haven’t yet read yesterday’s, please do so now! If you’ve already acquainted yourself with numbers 41 to 50, then please read on…
40. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
This is my first venture into Jason Isbell’s solo work, after being a fan of his old band, Drive By Truckers, for some years, so I was struck by the difference in the music and also how much his writing has evolved over the years. Listening to it carefully, it is quite apparent that Jason has been through a lot to be able to write as personal and powerfully honest an album as “Southeastern” is and a little bit of research revealed a battle with alcoholism and a history of relationship difficulties, the understanding of which gives the album a greater context. This work doesn’t specifically document these points in his life, it more sees Isbell attempting to live his life after beating addiction and coming to terms with his mistakes and frailties. It has a very introspective, personal feel to the album, but it stops short of being gloomy; it’s not the kind of record that is going to make you want to turn to the bottle yourself.
There are many highlights to be enjoyed here (although I’m not sure if enjoyed is an appropriate term). The album begins with one of the best tracks, with “Cover Me Up” and Isbell’s clear, southern-tinged voice expressing his vulnerability beautifully. The appealing “Stockholm” has the air of one of Ryan Adams’ more mainstream compositions and the gentle country tones of “Travelling Alone” suit the weariness of the lyrics perfectly. “Elephant” is, for me, undoubtedly the greatest song on the album, written about a friend who was dying of cancer and the sheer humanity expressed is enough to bring a lump to the throat and so “Flying Over Water”, a superior country-rock piece, is a welcome musically uplifting punch in the gut, albeit with rather melancholy lyrics. “Yvette”, the heartbreaking story of a classmate going through sexual abuse at home, is my last pick of this release and the detail and emotion invested into this track means that it is truly superb; it rivals “Elephant” as the album’s greatest accomplishment.
This album isn’t a revolutionary piece, but it’s definitely very good indeed. There isn’t anything thematically on “Southeastern” that hasn’t been said elsewhere previously and the music doesn’t take this listener to any places he hasn’t been before either, but there is something rather wonderful about Isbell’s latest that makes it undeniably brilliant; it is so well written, especially the lyrical content, and so very beautifully performed that it is impossible to listen to and not be anything other then both impressed and moved. In fact, as accomplished as the music is, without the brilliance of the lyrics, “Southeastern” could easily have been a much lesser album. I’m not sure it’s quite the classic album, overall, that I’ve read other reviewers say it is, but its excellence is without question and there are a handful of songs on this album that make it a worthy addition to any serious music lover’s collection.
39. The Fratellis – We Need Medicine
After a five year hiatus, The Fratellis are back and sounding as irresistible as ever. For those of us who kept up to date with Jon’s solo album and the Codeine Velvet Club album (both of which are excellent), it almost feels as if they haven’t been away, but it’s certainly good to have the original band back together and their third album is a continuation of their upbeat, feel-good, high-energy indie rock, which still contains more hooks than you can shake the proverbial stick at. The opening track, “Halloween Blues” gets the album off to a decent start, but it is when the immensely catchy second track, “This Old Ghost Town” kicks in does “We Need Medicine” really start to show its brilliance. “She’s Not Gone But She’s Leaving” has a fantastic minor key groove and is one of those instantly likeable compositions that you’re singing along to before the end of the song on the first listen. “Jeannie Nitro” is another one of my favourites from the album, as is the title track which, despite the simplicity of the melody and chord sequence, is just an absolute joy to listen to.
“We Need Medicine” doesn’t re-invent the band and certainly doesn’t feature any massive change in direction or sound, but neither is it tired nor clichéd. It’s certainly not a more “mature sound” either. Simply put, it is another album’s worth of well-written, uncomplicated, highly enjoyable songs which makes it a third successive terrific Fratellis album… and releasing three very good albums in a row, including a world-beating début, is an achievement not to be downplayed or sneezed at. It almost goes without saying that this isn’t a better album than “Costello Music”, but that was an album that captured something special at that time and nothing they release is probably ever going to recapture that, but there are a few truly excellent songs on “We Need Medicine” which could have slotted comfortably onto their first album and, thankfully, the rest of the album isn’t half bad either. All-in-all there’s plenty here to make this a more than worthy purchase and to remind the world that the Fratellis are a lot more than just a couple of great singles from a few years ago, they’re actually a rather great band, period.
38. Ron Sexsmith – Forever Endeavour
I’m a big admirer of Ron Sexsmith. I discovered his music years ago after one of my musical heroes, Elvis Costello, enthused about him to a music magazine. Costello is usually a man of impeccable taste (I have discovered quite a few artists through his covers and recommendations) and he didn’t steer me wrong in this case; my collection of Ron’s albums grew very quickly until there was nothing left to buy. The vast majority of Sexsmith albums are excellent and are generally slow-burners which get better with every listen. “Forever Endeavour” is no exception to this rule. In fact, I have to admit that I was vaguely disappointed when I heard it for the first time, but after quite a few listens, it is now one of my favourite releases of the year. This is quite a familiar experience when it comes to Ron Sexsmith’s music – the songs get you in the end.
“Forever Endeavour”, Ron’s thirteenth studio album, is a collection of predominantly gentle, subtly melodic songs, ably and tastefully produced by Mitchell Froom, someone Ron has worked with many times before. It sees a return to a more familiar carefully-crafted sound after 2011’s brilliant but slightly more polished “Long Player Late Bloomer” produced by Bob Rock, a name more associated with acts such as Metallica and Bon Jovi rather than a singer-songwriter such as Ron. This album feels more organic than the last (Ron’s superb, characteristic voice was unnecessarily tampered with on “Long Player” which, to me, was the major fault of the whole album) and I suspect that long-time fans will also appreciate hearing a record that has the same kind of ambience as those earlier albums which made us fall deeply in love with his music.
There are plenty of notable tracks on “Forever Endeavour” and the album’s first few songs, in particular, are superb. “Nowhere To Go” has a delicately beautiful melodic theme, “Nowhere Is” and “If Only Avenue” are simply gorgeous pieces with Ron’s expressive voice augmented by sublime arrangements, featuring strings that tastefully enhance and compliment his vocals perfectly. The catchy, bluesy “Snake Road” sees Ron revisiting regrettable episodes in his past and hoping that he doesn’t make the same mistakes again, “Sneak Out The Back Door” is a charming little ditty which betrays Sexsmith’s discomfort with social situations, “Me, Myself and Wine” has an immensely likeable New Orleans, swing-jazz character and “Autumn Light”, the final track, is almost painfully sad and yet quietly magnificent.
Although “Forever Endeavour” isn’t quite enough of a masterpiece for me to declare it my new favourite Ron Sexsmith album, it certainly sits comfortably amongst his best work and doesn’t contain one dull or even average track and is a thoroughly lovely, mature, accomplished piece of work which is a credit to Ron, the band (featuring two of Elvis Costello’s Imposters, Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher) and Mitchell Froom, the talented producer who always seems to get the very best out of the underrated Canadian songsmith. Just don’t make the mistake of dismissing this wonderful album after one listen, because one listen of this album simply isn’t enough to really appreciate it.
37. Ed Harcourt – Back Into The Woods
I’ve been an Ed Harcourt fan since his wonderful “Maplewood” mini-album at the turn of the century and have followed his career and enjoyed his music immensely since then. His last album, “Lustre” was as ambitious, full and grand as anything Ed has ever released (and was very good indeed), but, in contrast, “Back To The Woods” is an understated, humble album, largely performed with only piano and vocals, which allows the beautifully written and performed songs to stand or fall on their own compositional merits. It is, therefore, a credit to Harcourt’s song-writing ability that this album is a genuinely arresting listen, as Ed’s truly gorgeous, honeyed voice and the lovely chord progressions and melody politely demand the listener’s full attention. This release really is a welcome and perfectly timed change of pace for the East Sussex-based musician.
Much of the publicity for this album has been centred around its recording within a six hour session at Abbey Road. Whilst this approach has been economical in terms of instrumentation, the songs have the feeling of being fully realised, rehearsed and planned meticulously before the recording sessions. It’s not exactly Wings’ ramshackle “Wild Life”, put it that way. My personal favourites are the album opener, “The Cusp & The Wane” which references great artists who were under-appreciated in their time, the lyrically-dark “Wandering Eye”, the twisted love song, “Murmur In My Heart” and the remarkable “Brothers & Sisters”. There is literally nothing on “Back To The Woods” which disappoints and I take forward the impression that listening to the album several times more will reveal some hidden delights. Ed’s albums always have a good mix of songs which are instantly recognisable as being gems and others which are slow burners but often end up as firm favourites. I’m very sure this album will be no different and repeated listens of this beautiful, accomplished piece of work certainly won’t be a chore.
36. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail To The King
I’m actually a little shocked that, being someone who values originality so highly, I like this album so much. There are so many obvious “influences” on this album that they absolutely smash the line between homage and plagiarism, however, they do it with such style and have made such a listenable, enjoyable, well crafted album that I have forgiven them for it. My appreciation of Avenged Sevenfold comes courtesy of my Stepson who has often referred to them as his favourite band, so it’s fair to say that I’ve heard a lot of their material over the past few years and genuinely like them myself (my particular favourites are “Nightmare” and “City Of Evil”). This album, however, harks back to one of my favourite periods in metal history, the eighties and early nineties, with ideas, arrangements, riffs and lyrics lifted, lock, stock and barrel from acts such as Iron Maiden (“Hail To The King”), Metallica (“This Means War”), Guns ‘n’ Roses (“Doing Time”) and, if you know these bands well, you will be left open-mouthed in amazement at the cheek Avenged have shown with some of the tracks. Having got that out of the way, I cannot help but give respect to Sevenfold for obviously loving the kind of metal I’ve loved over the years and replicating the appeal that era of music had so convincingly, even adapting their playing style and vocal delivery to suit the particular band they are, ahem, paying tribute to.
Although I enjoy this album in its entirety, there are a few stand-out tracks for me; yes, it’s basically a re-written “Sad But True”, but “This Means War” still manages to be one of my favourite cuts from this release. The classically influenced, dramatic “Requiem” is also a highlight and the guitar solo on “Crimson Day” is nothing short of spine-tingling gorgeousness, making what could be a slightly ordinary song something special. In fact, Synyster Gates’ impressive guitar work throughout the album is almost a masterclass in a wide range of metal guitar styles and he has surely earned the title of one of the true greats of heavy rock. My last pick from the album would be the final track, “Acid Rain” which has a bit of an Extreme feel to it and is an ambitious, string-filled ballad; M. Shadows gives a performance Gary Cherone would be proud to call his own.
If you get your reservations out of the way, this is an entirely enjoyable album with impressive musicianship from the band being demonstrated throughout. Of course, some people may not be able to get past hearing Avenged being the ultimate tribute act for their musical heroes, but I think they have made what could easily be described as a classic rock album and also probably the most accessible record in their catalogue to date. For Avenged fans who particularly love their early material, that may not be a good thing, but for someone like me who has been a fan from “Nightmare” onwards and hasn’t particularly enjoyed all of the earlier output, it’s a huge positive. You can tell that there has been intricate attention to detail on this album and it is a classy piece of work from start to finish, brilliantly produced and mixed too. My love of metal has definitely faded over the years, but “Hail To The King” has re-ignited something in me that I thought had been lost and I cannot think of an album from this genre that I have enjoyed so much for quite a long time.
35. Cold Crows Dead – I Fear A New World
Cold Crows Dead were a band I’d never heard of, prior to 23rd October, 2013. It was on that date that I went to a truly brilliant gig by Electric Soft Parade at Bush Hall and saw Cold Crows Dead support them. From the very first song, they had hooked me in with their sumptuously melodic writing, full, lush (but powerful) sound and the charismatic delivery from frontman Murray Macleod. Like a heady mix of Grandaddy, Guillemots and Eels but with their own sound, an eclectic mix of instruments and a very contemporary feel, they left me feeling like Electric Soft Parade had a rather tough job on their hands to follow such a genuinely impressive set (a job they more than managed, by the way). I spoke to the band afterwards, eager to get my hands on the album, but they told me that it hadn’t yet been released. Well, now it has and I’m still very impressed with Cold Crows Dead – “I Fear A New World” is an excellent album, a richly textured début that has so much packed into the eleven tracks, it’s almost an overwhelming experience by the time you get to the end of it. All tracks are written and performed Murray Macleod and producer Paul Steel, with the addition of poet and Beach Boys collaborator Steven John Kalinich on “Man In Bleak”. There are Beach Boys comparisons you could draw from this début, certainly in the attention to structure and harmony, but the album doesn’t at all feel like a backwards-looking retro project, so it also feels a million miles away from that kind of sound.
Resplendent with chiming bells, haunting Theremin and vocals that softly float over the track, “Ghost That Burned Your House Down” is an immaculate start to the album. It has to be said that I wondered if putting that song as track number one was wise, whether the rest of the album could live up to such a bold, beautiful opener but, thankfully, it can. The irresistible “Killer Party” is a beautiful mish-mash of whimsical pop and dirty rock guitars (not sure about the metal vocals pastiche at the end, but it doesn’t ruin it), “Loves In, Loves Out” is dreamy, ethereal balladry with an edge and “Deadheads” has an almost childlike simplicity to the chorus that ingrains the melody firmly in your mind and then ups the ante with a perfectly timed key-change. “”Man In Bleak” is an arresting track, with Kalinich’s spoken words being utilised to great effect, My Shovel” is quite a remarkable piece, sounding like what would happen if you inserted a death metal chorus into a Snow Patrol song and the album closer, “Devil’s Won” is a shimmering, waltz-time beauty, finishing the album as brilliantly as it started.
To surmise, although not exactly everything on this album is excellent, the vast majority of it is and every single track has at least something to offer in terms of creativity and originality. Macleod’s voice is one of the many strengths on this project, as is Steel’s enviable production skills. All throughout the album, the attention to detail is superb and this seriously crafted record sounds truly amazing. “I Fear A New World” is a powerful, dramatic collection of songs, using the full dynamics of sound, expertly, together with a really interesting, appealing mixture of instrumentation and influences. Simply put, it not only gets your mind buzzing, it moves you and my appreciation for it increases with every single listen. Without a doubt, Cold Crows Dead have released one of the very best albums I’ve heard all year and, very probably, the best début. Although this may not be to everybody’s taste (I imagine they could be quite polarising), if you like their sound, you’re likely to love it – just as I do. Enthusiastically recommended.
34. Walter Trout & His Band – Luther’s Blues: A Tribute To Luther Allison
Walter Trout’s latest album is a tribute to his dear friend Luther Allison, a bluesman and supremely talented guitarist, who died in 1997 at the age of 57. All of the tracks on this album are Luther’s songs, with the exception of the final track, “When Luther Played The Blues”, a genuinely touching which Walter wrote about Luther and his passion for music and performance. Luther Allison, for anyone who, like myself, wasn’t overly familiar with his music prior to this album, was part of the Chicago blues scene, was discovered by Howlin’ Wolf in 1957 and subsequently mentored by Freddie King, building up a massive loyal fan-base over the years. His live shows were legendary and according to James Solberg, who played with him off and on for 25 years and co-wrote much of his music, they could go on for up to four hours or sometimes even more. There’s a lovely quote by Allison on the album that Walter has specifically highlighted on the track he composed – “Leave your ego, play the music, love the people” – which is a fine and admirable motto for any musician.
I’m approaching this album as a Walter Trout fan who knows little about Luther’s music, so nearly all of these tracks are new to me and therefore cannot compare them against the originals, but one of the great things about this album and certainly all of the accolades printed on the insert from his friends and family, is that it makes me want to seek out the source material and discover more of Allison’s music. I imagine that, given the mutual respect between the two men, these covers are faithful to Luther’s compositions and his style of playing. Certainly, the music offered here is nothing less than excellent, recorded with Walter’s superb band with no rehearsals as such, to create a spontaneous and urgent atmosphere.
Powerful opener “I’m Back” rolls into town like a speeding freight train, with Walter cutting loose with a couple of sizzling solos, the blistering “Cherry Red Wine” is a particularly fine passionate blues track, so I can certainly see why it was one of Luther’s most popular compositions. “Move From The Hood” is a good, upbeat track, “Bad Love” is a solid gold album highlight, with some absolutely scintillating lead guitar and beautifully tortured vocals, “Big City” is a big, laid-back number, leaving plenty of space for those trademark Trout licks and lightning quick guitar fireworks and “Chicago” is a funky track with a groovy bass and drum performance holding it all together fantastically.
The gorgeous soul ballad, “Just As I Am” is a nice change of pace and is a truly exquisitely performed track, with Walter coaxing every bit of genuine emotion out of the composition. “Low Down and Dirty”, with its strong rock beat, appealing riff and walking bass-line is a real treat, especially as Luther’s son, Bernard, joins him on slide guitar and vocals. The stripped-down, emotive blues of “Pain In The Streets” puts the guitar firmly in the fore and the riffs deliver as much meaning as the lyrics, whereas the mean and moody “All The Kings Horses” provides a fuller, dirtier band sound, grinding out the full hurt and anger of the words. “Freedom” is another masterclass in blues, with Trout’s solo building up to a thrilling climax, before taking it back down again with the last verse and chorus. Walter’s only composition on this album, “When Luther Played The Blues” is a superb accolade to this friend and an outstanding way to conclude a top-notch collection of songs and performances.
Throughout, Walter Trout is in absolutely magnificent form. Playing with a master’s knowledge of the genre, forever mixing the solos up, switching from tearing every last piece of emotion out of sustained single notes to smoking hot explorations of the fret board and yet never becoming predictable or clichéd. If I am representative of the person that he was reaching out to, hoping to introduce Luther’s music to, then he has succeeded, because this is simply incredible music, performed by one of the greatest blues bands on the planet, certainly one of the greatest, most accomplished and most exciting guitar players I have ever seen in my life. I strongly recommend “Luther’s Blues” to all lovers of blues/blues rock. You don’t have to know anything about Luther Allison to appreciate this album, but you will certainly appreciate him after you listen to it. I guess that was the whole point of this project.
33. Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
I was a big fan of Laura Marling’s début album, “Alas I Cannot Swim”, but hadn’t quite swallowed the hype that followed the subsequent couple of releases and neither matched up to her early potential, to my ears. I hadn’t actually intended to buy any more of Laura’s albums, but fortunately, I was won over by the sheer weight of the positive reviews and the constant appearances of the album in end-of-year lists. Although I remained sceptical about how good it could possibly be, my scepticism slowly dissolved as I listened to the album for the first time. This is a truly classic folk album, a fully realised, mature collection of songs that, had Joni Mitchell released it, would be considered one of her greatest achievements. Although there are sixteen tracks on “Once I Was An Eagle”, there are a couple of suites, which see several consecutive songs being written around the same musical and lyrical themes, my favourite of which being the powerful Dylan-esque “Master Hunter” sequence (there is even a lyrical nod to Bob, just to confirm what we were all thinking). The Indian flavour of the “I Was An Eagle” sequence is spellbinding and the dynamics ebb and flow wonderfully, matching the intensity of the lyrics skilfully. In fact, it is a beautifully recorded album overall and Ethan Johns’ production is one of its many strengths.
This is a deeply artistic piece of work, it radiates musical intelligence, and takes quite a few listening sessions to really get to know and appreciate. It is quite clear, early on, that this is an album that it would be quite easy to dislike unless this is (one of) your favoured genre(s) of music and would probably more suit connoisseurs of folk rather than somebody who simply enjoys more popular singer-songwriters. Having said that, this album could also be a gateway for people to discover a taste for and a deeper love for folk artists they hadn’t considered before. There are occasional bursts of powerful rhythms on “Once I Was An Eagle” that underpin the sharp thoughts and observations which point towards weariness and cynicism, sometimes towards others, often about herself. This is an album of two halves and, after the interlude, the individual songs flow perfectly. One of my favourite tracks, “Where Can I Go”, is a beautifully charming piece augmented by a gently trilling organ that sounds as if it has always been in existence; I cannot imagine that anybody sceptical about this album could fail to be won over by that song and performance alone. The best is almost saved for last with “Saved These Words”, which revisits the earlier musical theme from the opening suite, only with a more uplifting and positive feel; it’s a triumphant end to a brilliantly accomplished album and surely Marling’s greatest achievement to date.
32. Brendan Benson – You Were Right
I was quite surprised to see a new album from Brendan Benson, so soon after 2012’s “What Kind Of World”, an album that I thought was decent, but certainly not one of his best. I then read that it was the product of compiling the results from an acclaimed monthly singles project and became very interested to hear it. When it finally rattled through my letter box and I listened to it for the first time, I thought it was pretty good, but nothing that special. A few listens later and the songs have really leaped out at me, it’s an excellent album! Many people, when speaking about Benson, speak about the Raconteurs, but I’d already bought a few albums of his before he got together with Jack White for a couple of superb albums and my favourites so far are “Lapalco” (2002) and “My Old, Familiar Friend” (2009), but, seeing as the other two are pretty great too, there’s no such thing as a bad album by Brendan. He has this innate melodic indie-pop sensibility that shines through on any project he works on, including co-writing a few songs with Jake Bugg on his rather fantastic latest album, “Shangri La”.
There are plenty of brilliant songs on this indie/powerpop gem. The album kicks off brightly with the catchy “It’s Your Choice”, which features a bagpipe-like sound to good effect, “I Don’t Wanna See You Anymore” oozes class, with bursts of brass, organ and a beautifully pained vocal from Brendan and “I’ll Never Tell” is a melodic beauty with a supremely memorable chorus. “She’s Trying To Poison Me” is another classic composition, a slightly dark, humorous tale where the music alternates between jaunty and dreamy and which sees Benson slightly bemused about why he’s putting up with this woman trying to kill him: “She’s not exactly the girl of my dreams”. “Purely Automatic” is a corker of a song and the sweet, waltz-time “Oh My Love” is one of those songs that sounds like you’ve known it for years. The two tracks that finish the album off, the gorgeously melancholy “Swimming” and the aptly named blues-influenced “Red White and Blues” ensure that “You Were Right” finishes the album as strongly as it began.
As you may expect, as this is the result of a series of singles released in quick succession (an idea that Ash also successfully realised with the excellent, but perhaps slightly overstretched, “A-Z” project in 2009-2010), the music is immediate, laden with hooks and is of a consistently high quality all of the way through. Although this isn’t my favourite release by Brendan, it has probably taken number three spot of his solo albums, behind my two existing favourites. I could, of course, go on about how much he is under-appreciated and how he should be a household name, but for anyone who knows Brendan and loves his music, that really is a given. I doubt that this low-key release will do the trick, but if there was any justice in the world, it would sell by the bucket load.
31. Kathryn Williams – Crown Electric
I’d been aware of folk singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams for a few years, but only became particularly interested in her music when I saw her perform as part of a charity concert in East Sussex last year. Directly after that excellent performance, I bought a handful of her most critically well-received albums and enjoyed them enough to buy her new album when it was released this year. After giving “Crown Electric”, her tenth studio album, a few listens, I wasn’t disappointed at all, although it does probably have more of a commercial feel to it than anything I’ve heard from her back catalogue. That’s not necessarily a criticism and I’m mindful that I haven’t heard everything that she has released, but one of the things I particularly like about Williams’ material is her edge, which is a little more disguised on this release. If this is a conscious attempt to release something which will receive more radio play then I think it is likely to succeed, but it does sometimes walk a fine line between delicate, crafted, gentle arrangements and simply being a bit overly pretty and twee. That is my one and only negative opinion about this impressive, masterful collection of songs which many consider to be her best yet. I also believe it to be her finest album, but that is based on comparing it to four other releases, rather than her entire back catalogue.
The first absolutely brilliant track on “Crown Electric” (named after the place that Elvis Presley worked before hitting the big time) for me is “Count”, a superb, richly melodic piece and “Monday Morning” which is also a very catchy, toe-tapping and enjoyable song. “Darkness Light” is a beautiful composition with a delicate vocal performance from Kathryn and a lovely arrangement for strings; it’s one that I’ve played over and over again, although I’m not sure that the bit where she virtually shouts the word “shadows” really works. The gorgeous “Morning Twilight”, co-written with Ed Harcourt, is a sublime performance of a beauteous composition and “Tequila” has an absolutely irresistible fragile melancholy. “Sequins”, also co-written with Ed Harcourt, is my last pick of the album, the piano motif and general feel of the track reminding me a little of Costello & Bacharach’s “Painted From Memory”, albeit a little more understated. It’s all very aurally picturesque, certainly very easy on the ear and is a beautifully recorded and performed piece of work. The strings, arranged by Ben Trigg, that adorn the album augment the songs well and the intelligent lyrics make you think more than most, in order to decipher their meaning. If this album packed full of enjoyable, accessible songs doesn’t catapult her into the big time, then nothing else probably ever will.
Join me tomorrow (or possibly the day after… tomorrow is Christmas Day, after all) for numbers 21 to 30 in my countdown of the best albums of 2013.