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

The Wynntown Marshals "Westerner"

Wynntown Marshals Westener

I get a real buzz when I get to listen to British band who’ve soaked up the influences of American roots music and formed into something that maintains that vibe but with a distinct UK side too, Westerner is the debut album from The Wynntown Marshals’ the first listen got me hooked into this one, given the style and the bands origin, formed in Edinburgh in 2007, it’s hard not to draw comparisons and this is another great album of Scottish Americana right up there with the excellent Buffalo Mansions – Southpaw and Attraction Versus Love – Endrick Brothers.

Westerner is a wonderful set of guitar rich, melodic numbers, blended with steel and keys to create a superb debut, ten originals and a stellar cover of L.A. Guns Ballad of Jayne – released as a single and getting radio play and plaudits from Bob Harris, the band have honed their skills playing support slots for Jason and the Scorchers, Chuck Prophet and Richmond Fontaine and pulled in an experienced hand to handle production, Graham Deas who’s previously worked for both KT Tunstall and Super Furry Animals.

Keith Benzie (lead vocals / guitar / harmonica) is the bands main songwriter and his words are brought to life by Keith Jones (drums, vocals, percussion), Iain Sloan (pedal steel, guitars, vocals), Iain Barbour (lead and baritone guitars), MurdoMacLeod (bass, vocals) with additional vocals from Leigh Benzie and keys by Ali Petrie. There are plenty of highlights on the album, whether it’s the opener which eases you in and sets the mood just right with a classic mid-tempo country rock sound You Can Have My Heart orSnowflakea contemplative number inspired by the world’s only albino gorilla, the biographical song Gil about American pin-up artist Gil Elvgren or the cover Ballad of Jayne which is already a firm favourite, the band are equally confident with the albums darker moments, Divine Compassion as they are with tracks like the pedal laden shuffle Nelly or the instrumental el Prado, a real sum of it’s parts this one, solid start to finish, essential listening – here’s closing track

Two’s Company

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