Music News

Backbeat writers look back on national favorites from 2013

Page 7 of 7

Wayne Shorter Quartet, Without a Net (Blue Note). On his albums over the last decade, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who turned eighty this year, has shown that he's still a vital force in jazz, both as a performer and a composer. The daring live disc Without a Net finds Shorter and his long-running quartet in superior form as they run through six new original compositions as well as fresh renderings of older songs like "Orbits" and "Plaza Real." — JS

Weekend Nachos, Still (Relapse). Still would be a grindcore/punk gem even if it was released the first week of January. Fans who were kicked in the teeth by this album are still recovering from its release last month. — BL

Kanye West, Yeezus (Def Jam). As abrasive and polarizing as Kanye West himself, Yeezus has been praised and criticized relentlessly since its release before finally settling as the consensus rap album of the year. A far cry from the soulful and thoughtful Kanye we were introduced to originally, Yeezus seeks to frustrate its listeners to the degree that Kanye has been frustrated by his hate-love relationship with America. — NH

White Denim, Corsicana Lemonade (Downtown). Southern psych-rock never sounded so good. White Denim has created its best album yet. Heavier on the Southern than the psych this go-around, Corsicana Lemonade lets singer James Petralli shine as he belts in true soulful R&B style. Of course, the guitar is still front and center, with guitarist Austin Jenkins screaming out melodic riffs and creating all kinds of general mayhem. — LS

Widowspeak, The Swamps (Captured Tracks). Singer Molly Hamilton undoubtedly evokes the hazy, ghostly draw of bands like Mazzy Star, a sound that forms the solid base of Widowspeak's preceding albums. The Swamps, however, was inspired by the band's Southern touring routes, and it seems that Widowspeak found the perfect home in the Delta blues and swamp landscapes of its muse. — SA

Winds of Plague, Resistance (Century Media). Most metal reviewers won't even consider an album from this band in their top twenty, let alone top ten, because it is politically correct for metal fans to hate Winds of Plague. Ultimately, Resistance compares to the intensity of the act's 2008 debut and loses the jock factor found in its last release. — BL

Chelsea Wolfe, Pain Is Beauty (Sargent House). Equally embracing acoustic and electronic elements while crafting these deeply haunting and evocative songs, Chelsea Wolfe brings together neo-folk with the brooding menace of late-era Swans. Her voice has a stirring resonance to it that, when coupled with the music, sounds a bit like Julee Cruise fronting an adventurous black-metal band. — TM

YC the Cynic, GNK (Self-released). If there was any question that hip-hop could still produce cohesive, high-minded albums, GNK is a convincing response, meditating on the nature of man with regard to racism, unlimited power and more. YC may be a cynic, but he's an engaging one, and although his album is easy to listen to, it's difficult, but rewarding, to digest. — NH

Yo La Tengo, Fade (Matador). Yo La Tengo shows it hasn't forgotten the power of brevity and simplicity on Fade. The album is a mere ten tracks, which is short by the band's standards. The music itself is dynamic and straightforward, a quality that comes, in no small part, from producer John McEntire. That starkness can be heard in compelling tunes like "Ohm" and "Two Trains." — AG

Frank Zappa, Road Tapes, Venue #2 (Vaulternative Records). The second installment of the Road Tapes series is a live treat for any fan of Frank Zappa's band lineup from the early '70s. That band included the impressive keyboard work of George Duke, as well as the dizzying vibe-playing of Ruth Underwood and the impossibly dense drum lines of Ralph Humphrey. — AG

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.