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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Everyone and their grandmother has a "best albums of the year" list. Seriously, I saw your grandmother’s list. Had no idea she like Kanye that much. With that in mind, I wanted to do something more than just reel off my favorite albums of the year, so in addition to my usual list of my top ten albums of the past twelve months, I’ve added a video playlist of songs from those albums, a list of my favorite live performances, and run down of favorite interviews, to create a complete year in review. Let’s get into it!

Top Ten Albums of 2013


As usual, to be in my year end top ten an album has to be a full length release (no EPs. I love EPs, but they’re a completely different animal), and the majority of it has to be material that wasn’t on other albums (no Greatest Hits, and no using songs that were originally on mixtapes).

1) Nat Osborn Band - The King & The Clown

Soul band that makes truly incredible music found a way to match their live shows with this gorgeous sounding album. It’s obvious that live instrumentation was used, and it’s fantastic.

2) Gin Wigmore - Gravel & Wine

A voice that’s a cross between Amy Winehouse and Duffy, and an attitude that may top them both, Wigmore is a force to be reckoned with. (Note: This album was released in Wigmore’s native New Zealand in 2011, but didn’t hit stores the US until April of 2013)

3) Ariana Grande - Yours Truly

A 90s R&B album masquerading as a pop album for marketing purposes. Grande sounds like a young Mariah Carey, and has Babyface’s production to help her along the way.

4) The Summer Set - Legendary

Easily the feel good album of the year. Pop rockers The Summer Set wanted to inspire good times with Legendary, and succeeded. There’s no way you can listen to this album and not smile.

5) Dessa - Parts Of Speech

Dessa’s third appearance on my year end top ten lists (that’s a record!), this time around she’s singing a little more than rapping, as she takes a slower pace on this unbelievably beautiful, relationship based album.

6) Tonight Alive - The Other Side

Going from pop punk, to a more hard rock vibe, Tonight Alive sheds all Paramore comparisons, and kicks a ton of ass while doing so.

7) Jessie Ware - Devotion

I’m pretty sure listening to Jessie Ware can cause instant pregnancy, as on parts of Devotion she follows in the footsteps of Sade. Consider yourself warned. (Note: This album was released internationally in 2012, but didn’t hit stores in the US until April of 2013)

8) Dead Celebrity Status - The Throwaway Kids

With the ultimate pro-individualism hip-hop album of 2013, Dead Celebrity Status came back with a vengeance for all those who agree with the sentiment, “We are not commodities, we are bleeding hearts.”

9) Us3 - The Third Way

Jazz and hip-hop can make beautiful music together. We know this. We also know that Us3 have been creating that happy marriage for twenty years. The Third Way proves they’re just as dope as ever.

10) Skiggy Rapz - Satellites

When I first heard this album I searched the liner notes for which 80s songs Skiggy Rapz sampled. What I found was he didn’t sample any, he recreated the vibe, and in doing so made a hip-hop album that everyone can enjoy.


Top Ten Albums of 2013 Playlist


FYI, if you’ve never used a YouTube playlist before, you can skim through tracks using the drop down menu at the top left hand side of the video, or by viewing the playlist on YouTube.


Top Ten Live Performances of 2013


In 2013 I averaged more than one concert per week, and those concerts averaged three to four acts per show, so in total I saw somewhere between 150 and 200 acts perform live this year. The following ten shows (actually 14, but who’s counting?), arranged in date order, stood out the most.

March 28th - Lily & The Parlour Tricks, & Nat Osborn Band @ La Poisson Rouge, NYC

May 9th - Dessa @ FTC StageOne, Fairfield, CT

July 13th - Warped Tour @ Nassau Coliseum, Hempstead, NY

August 8th - Ceschi, Homeboy Sandman, Open Mike Eagle, & Random @ Cafe 9, New Haven, CT

October 10th - Tah Phrum Duh Bush @ Tammany Hall, NYC (CBGB Festival)

October 18th - Nova Rockafeller @ Tammany Hall, NYC (CMJ)

October 21st - Journeys Noise Tour: 3OH!3, The Summer Set, Wallpaper., & New Beat Fund @ Gramercy Theatre, NYC

November 1st - Blind Benny @ Mercury Lounge, NYC

November 2nd - The Other Side Tour: Tonight Alive, Echosmith, The Downtown Fiction, & For The Foxes @ Webster Hall, NYC

December 8th - Hayley Coupon @ Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1, NYC


Honorable Mentions

July 31st - Crash Kings, & Nico Vega @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

September 28th - Stroamata @ Park Side Lounge, NYC

November 9th - Rocket & The Ghost, & Lily & The Parlour Tricks @ Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, NYC

December 8th - Manicanparty @Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, NYC


Top Ten Interviews of 2013


Ceschi - It saddened me greatly when I learned Ceschi was going to jail (after a forced confession for a charge he didn’t even know the full extent of until he heard about it on the news), but I was honored he chose me as the person to tell his story to, just days before starting his sentence. (RapReviews.com)

Louis Logic - This was one of those rare interviews where the artist lets you see into his soul. I left it as a long read because I felt editing it down would have lessened its impact. (RapReviews.com)

Sky Blu - Although my interview with LMFAO’s Sky Blu started off a bit slow, when we go on the topic of tattoos a few truly crazy stories were told, one involving a Nickelodeon star, and one involving waking up in blood soaked sheets. (RapReviews.com)

Jess Bowen - While interviewing The Summer Set’s drummer for a Substream feature on bands that contribute positively to the lives their fans, a question I asked led to Bowen opening up about her sexuality. It was completely unexpected, and I don’t recall her talking about it in any other interview. (This one was only in print. Sorry!)

Avril Lavigne - One of my biggest “gets” of the year, I had a fun conversation with Avril that included a few laughs, and a few serious moments, as well. (Arena.com)

Tah Phrum Duh Bush - I’ve interviewed Tah quite a few times, but this particular feature was about the inspirations for his performances. We dove into his creativity, and what’s behind his desire to put on such incredibly multifaceted live shows. (Arena.com)

Homeboy Sandman - Another artist I’ve interviewed a number of times, Homeboy Sandman blew me away with a story involving bumping into Black Thought (of The Roots) while trying to figure out a performance situation by imagining, “What would Black Thought do?” (RapReviews.com)

Itch - London-based hip-hop artist Itch was extremely open about his homelessness as a youth in this eye opening interview that ran in Substream. I think everyone who read it had their views on homelessness changed (it was only in print, though, so hopefully you read it there!).

Nat Osborn - Any interview that involves stories of deportation is interesting to me, and Nat’s nomadic turn when he was barred from a country was a wild ride I’m glad he took me on. (Arena.com)

Afrika Bambaataa - In terms of hip-hop legends, it truly gets no bigger than Afrika Bambaataa, and to pick up the phone, and hear him on the other end of the line, was pretty amazing. (RapReviews.com)

OK, that’s my wrap up for 2013. If 2014 is even just half as amazing as this past year has been, I’ll be happy.

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