Beat Surrender : Best of 2013

It’s that time of year again to try and break down this years favourites into some kind of order, truth be told the #1 choice was the easiest I’ve had to make in recent years, separating #2 through #5 was a little more difficult – they are all great albums, stylistically very different but all have outstanding songs, from #6 onwards the degree of separation reduces and to be honest if I sat down with the final list next week the order could shift significantly, in the tradition of never doing it exactly the same way year-on-year this time around I’ve gone for a more straight forward chart and the number 33 seemed an appropriate choice given the top ten all found their way into my collection on vinyl (no doubt this influenced the final choices). Having already seen a number of fellow bloggers best of’s it evident there are some big name Americana acts missing from the Beat Surrender run down, as ever too much music and not enough time.

1. Jason Isbell – Southeastern

2. Camera Obscura – Desire Lines

3. Danny & The Champions of the World – Stay True

4. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

5. Caitlin Rose – The Stand In

6. Lindi Ortega – Tin Star

7. Holly Williams – The Highway

8. Sturgill Simpson = High Top Mountain

9. My Darling Clementine – The Reconciliation

10. Austin Lucas – Stay Reckless

11. Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart

12. Chris T-T & The Hoodrats – The Bear

13. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

14. John Moreland – In the Throes

15. Frankie & The Heartstrings – The Days Run Away

16. Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo – Dear River

17. Star Anna – Go To Hell

“For Anyone” by Star Anna (official music video) from Coalter Digital on Vimeo.

18. Thee Spivs – The Crowds & The Sounds

19. Doc Feldman & the LD50 – Sundowning At The Station

20. Israel Nash Gripka – Rain Plans

21. Shona Tucker – A Tell All

22. The Lucky Strikes – The Exile & The Sea

23. Laura Cantrell – No Way Here From There

24. Possessed by Paul James -There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely

25. Amanda Shires – Down Fell The Doves

26. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

27. MG Boulter – The Water Or The Wave

28 Annie Keating – For Keeps

Annie Keating – All Gone

29. The Handsome Family – Wilderness

30. Paper Aeroplanes – Little Letters

31. Wynntown Marshalls – The Long Haul

32. Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting The War

33. Lloyd Cole – Standards

Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting the War – UK / Euro Tour 2013

Slaid Cleaves - 'Still Fighting The War' - cover (300dpi)

Updated tour info for Slaid’s UK / Euro tour this year, check out the BS post on the album here.

12th Den Haag, Netherlands Musemix Concert Series @ Soc. Engels
14th Westwoud, Netherlands De Schalm
15th Vlierden, Deurne, Netherlands
16th Cantù, Italy All’Una e Trentacinque Circa
21st Piombino, Italy Gattarossa
24th Kelvedon, Essex, The Institute
25th Basingstoke The Forge @ The Anvil
26th Portstewart, N. Ireland Flowerfield Arts Centre
27th Belfast The Errigle Inn
28th Dalkey, Co. Dublin The Vico Suite, The Queen’s
29th Nottingham The Maze
30th London The Slaughtered Lamb
1st Sheffield The Greystones
2nd Leek, Staffs Foxlowe Arts Centre
3rd Glasgow CCA Glasgow Americana Festival
4th Newcastle The Cluny
5th Preston The Continental
6th Hitchin Folk Club @ The Sun Hotel
7th Brighton The Greys
8th Bristol St. Bonaventure’s
9th London The Slaughtered Lamb

Slaid Cleaves – Still Fighting the War

Slaid Cleaves - 'Still Fighting The War' - cover (300dpi)

Slaid cleaves is a storyteller of rare talent and he’s bringing his twenty years of music making experience to the UK in September for a tour in support of his upcoming album Still Fighting the War that’s released in the UK on July 1st.

The album opens with the title track that drew inspiration from a heart wrenching photo essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning Denver Post photographer Craig F. Walker that documents the struggles of Iraq veteran Brian Scott Ostrom to cope with PTSD, proceeds from the single sales on this track go to Operation Homefront to help fund emergency financial and other assistance to military personnel and their families – donate here.

The album also contains a version on the wonderful Welding Burns one of several co-writes with Rod Picott who’s excellent album of the same name we featured a couple of years ago on Beat Surrender, another highlight Rust Belt Fields is grim ode to the economic realities of a modern-day US manufacturing economy – one that is equally relevant to the UK.

It’s not all about the sociopolitical though, there are tracks about love lost, small-town disappointments, relationships good and bad plus a tribute to a Texas yodeller Don Walser, the common theme is the quality of the writing which never lets up, like all great songwriters Slaid has the ability to tell a story in a brief few minutes knowing just what to leave in to tell the tale and just what to leave out to stimulate the mind of the listener to complete the picture whatever the subject matter.

As well as the collaborations with Picott there are guest appearances on the album from Jimmy LaFave, Kelly McCarty, Eliza Gilkyson and Terri Hendrix, together making it just about Slaid’s best album to date – highly recommended.

Slaid Cleaves

Tuesday 24 Kelvedon, Essex The Institute *Solo
Wednesday 25 Basingstoke The Forge @ The Anvil
Sunday 29 Nottingham The Maze
Monday 30 London The Slaughtered Lamb
Tuesday 1 Sheffield The Greystones
Wednesday 2 Leek, Staffs. Foxlowe Arts Centre
Thursday 3 Glasgow CCA Glasgow Americana Festival
Friday 4 Newcastle The Cluny
Saturday 5 Clayton-le-Woods, nr. Chorley, Lancs. St. Bedes
Sunday 6 Hitchin, Herts. Hitchin Folk Club @ The Sun Hotel
Monday 7 Brighton The Greys
Tuesday 8 Bristol St. Bonaventure’s
Wednesday 9 London The Slaughtered Lamb

Slaid Cleaves (2013) (Photo by Karen Cleaves)

Slaid Cleaves – Sorrow and Smoke


With an back catalogue of the quality possessed by Slaid Cleaves the only problem envisaged with a live release would be which tracks to include, a problem partly alleviated by making the release a double disc affair and ensuring the fans favourites make the cut, the album is a true reflection of the artist in his element, rather than pick and choose tracks from historical live shows the album was recorded at the Horseshoe Lounge Austin TX, a warts-and-all release with audience banter and clinking glasses it’s as authentic as the songs themselves.

The album fittingly takes it’s title Sorrow & Smoke from the closing words of a Slaid favourite Horseshoe Lounge, the album is released twenty years on from when Cleaves moved from Portland, Maine to Austin. Album highlights include the award winning title track to Slaid’s break out album Broke Down co-written with childhood friend Rod Picott whose recent release Welding Burns I’ve been enjoying of late.

Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge, is released on Music Road Records on September 6, 2011, and features support from Michael O’Connor on acoustic lead guitar and Oliver Steck on accordion, harmonica and trumpet.

If you’re unfamiliar with the man’s work you’re missing out and this album will give you a taste Slaid’s song craft and if live albums are not your thing I’d recommend kicking of your Slaid collection with Broke Down or Wishbones, use the links below.

Better still the man himself is in the UK later this year, here are the dates you need for your diaries.


21st Up In Arms, BIDULPH

22nd Henry Boons, WAKEFIELD

23rd Village Hall, ELFORD

24th Radcliffe Centre, BUCKINGHAM

25th The Kitchen Gate, BIRMINGHAM

26th The Slaughtered Lamb, LONDON

27th St Bons, BRISTOL

28th The Musician, LEICESTER

29th Old Town Hall, GATESHEAD

30th The Pleasance, EDINBURGH


1st St Bede’s, CHORLEY

2nd The Maze, NOTTINGHAM

4th The Green Note, LONDON

For fans the full track-listing is:

Hard To Believe
Slaid Cleaves – Horseshoe Lounge
Drinkin’ Days
Black T-Shirt
No Angel Knows
Tumbleweed Stew
The Sinner’s Prayer
Broke Down
New Year’s Day
Green Mountains and Me
Texas Top Hand
Rolling Stone From Texas
Breakfast in Hell
Key Chain
Slaid Cleaves – One Good Year
Go For The Gold


Buy @ Amazon

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