Zweitausenddreizehn — My Favorite Music of 2013

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Welcome to my ninth annual “Best of” CD. Following the trend, the title is the German word for “2013.” To native English speakers, it looks intimidating, but it breaks down as follows:

  • Zwei (2)- pronounced with an “s” sound, followed with “veye” (rhymes with eye), all packed into a single syllable
  • tausend (1000)- pronounced like the English word “thousand”, replacing the “th” sound with a straight “t” sound (there’s no “th” sound in German)
  • drei (3)- pronounced like the English word “dry” with a bit of a roll to the “d” if you can manage it
  • zehn (10)- pronounced like “czain”, with the “cz” from “czar.” German has a habit of switching the last two digits of their numbers- for example, “twenty-four” in English becomes “four-twenty” in German. Yes, it makes my head hurt too.

Enough with the language lesson. This CD contains my favorite music discovered this year. In 2013, I found myself coming back over and over again to three particular albums. Rather than agonizing over which track to include from those three albums, I decided to let this year’s collection reflect that, so you’ll see multiple tracks from the Dropkick Murphys, The Avett Brothers and Daft Punk. I’m not sure you could name three albums with more different styles than those three, but my music tastes have always trended schizophrenic anyway.

1. The 2nd Law: Unsustainable

Muse, The 2nd Law (2012)

This Muse album broke ranks from their rest, sounding more electronic, and less like Queen. I like the way this song builds up tension before finally breaking into a noisy electronic mess.

2. The Boys Are Back

Dropkick Murphys, Signed and Sealed in Blood (2013)

This Boston Irish punk band has appeared in these compilation discs before, with State of Massachusetts on the 2008 CD. Nevertheless, I never listened to them at length until this year. I still can’t believe I like this kind of hard-driving punk mixed with… accordions and bagpipes.

Fun Fact: The Boys Are Back is the walk-up song of Boston Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes.

3. Out of Our Heads

Dropkick Murphys, Signed and Sealed in Blood (2013)

The Dropkick Murphys are loud, fun, Irish punk. I think this is one of the more “Irish” sounding songs on the album.

4. Giorgio by Moroder

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (2013)

Generally, I can only listen to songs with spoken words a handful of times before I get bored of them. This is an exception to that rule. The narration serves to slowly build up tension, finally releasing it in a wave of synthesizers and guitar. Isn’t this disco? Yeah, probably. Just enjoy it. The mellow yet driving beats of this song helped make Random Access Memories my favorite album for listening to on transoceanic flights while trying to fall asleep.

5. Instant Crush (feat. Julian Casablancas)

Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (2013)

Julian Casablancas is the lead singer from the Strokes, although he also appeared in my 2010 CD for his solo work. One of the things I love about Random Access Memories is the variety of the styles of the songs. Although it was a very close contest, I’m designating Random Access Memories as my ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

6. One Woman Army

Kate Earl, Stronger (2012)

Lest you think everything I listened to in 2013 had synthesizers and/or bagpipes, this song is a little bit more straightforward.

7. I Never Knew You

The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter (2012)


When I gave this album as a gift earlier in the year, my parents automatically assumed that this was a find from my wife Dorinna. Nope. A little bit The Band, a little bit Mumford & Songs, and harmonies and jingling guitar that reminds me of The Eagles, this was one of my favorite albums of the year. (As I write this, the less-catchy follow-up album Magpie and the Dandelion is starting to soak in as well)

8. Grace for Saints and Ramblers

Iron & Wine, Ghost on Ghost (2013)

Dorinna’s objection to this song is the ungrammatical chorus “It all came down to you and I.” Sounds like a grade schooler who has been scolded one too many times about using “me” incorrectly. While I agree that it’s horrible grammar, I’m willing to overlook that in the interest of good music.

9. La Grange

Jamey Johnson, ZZ Top – A Tribute from Friends (2011)

One of rock’s all-time classic riffs with some nice extended jams. What more could you ask for in a cover?

10. I Will Wait

Mumford & Sons, Babel (2012)

Everybody’s favorite banjos. To me, most of Mumford & Son’s songs sound like all their other songs, but this one stands out.

11. Live And Die

The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter (2012)

Another gem from a band that could be The Eagles circa Peaceful, Easy Feeling- with banjos.

12. Leaving on a Jet Plane

My Morning Jacket, The Music is You (A Tribute to John Denver) (2013)

If this sad, beautiful, haunting cover doesn’t make you cry or give you chills at least once, you’re not really listening. For me, I do one or the other every single time.

13. Jimmy Collins’s Wake (Live Acoustic)

Dropkick Murphys, Rose Tattoo: For Boston Charity (2013)

The Dropkick Murphys are unmistakably a Boston band, and proud of it. This song is taken from a charity EP made after the tragic marathon bombings. My usual request to buy any music that you like on this collection counts double here.

They are also the unofficial band of the Boston Red Sox, and if I could of found a way to rip their rendition of the national anthem from Game 6 of the World Series, it would have made this collection. This song is about Jimmy Collins, the manager-ballplayer on the Red Sox team that won the first World Series in 1903.

14. Kill The DJ (explicit)

Green Day , ¡UNO! (2012)

Green Day still hasn’t made an album half as good as American Idiot. This time they took what could have been a fantastic release, added a bunch of filler, and sold it as three albums that shipped over a three month period. This is one of the gems mixed in with the loads of “meh”. Great catchy song, but don’t play it when the kids are around unless you want to teach them new words. If you like this, make yourself a playlist from Carpe Diem, Let Yourself Go, Oh Love (¡UNO!), Stop When the Red Lights Flash, Nightlife (¡DOS!), Dirty Rotten Bastards, and 99 Revolutions (¡TRÉ!)

15. Made Up Mind

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind (2013)

Regrettably, I have to agree with my friend Kevin: The forty-piece Tedeschi Trucks band, formed by combining the Susan Tedeschi band and the Derek Trucks band, has too little emphasis on arguably the best living guitar player in the world. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t good, but if half of the band died in a freak drumstick accident, it would only be a good thing. Also recommended: Whiskey Legs.

16. Been Away Too Long

Soundgarden, King Animal (2012)

I’ve concluded that I’m not really much of a Soundgarden fan. This great song snuck on anyway.

17. Fortunate Son (with Foo Fighters)

John Fogerty, Wrote a Song for Everyone (2013)

Wrote a Song for Everyone was a close #4 on my albums of the year list. The premise is that John Fogerty took a collection of songs spanning his career, from CCR to his solo work, and remade them with musical guests. This project could easily have turned into a boring retread, but he pulled it off with a good mix of covers spanning mellow country to energetic rock. Also recommended: Wrote a Song for Everyone (with Miranda Lambert and Tom Morello), Bad Moon Rising (with Zac Brown Band), Born on the Bayou (with Kid Rock), Who’ll Stop the Rain (with Bob Seger)

18. National Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten (2012)

The Gaslight Anthem is often compared to a punk version of Bruce Springsteen, and not just because they are from New Jersey. This song could have been on Nebraska. The rest of the album could not. Also recommended: “45”, Mulholland Drive, Too Much Blood.

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