Perfect Sound Forever

PSF's 2013 Writers' Poll
Our favorite things
(February 2014)

left to right: Motorhead, Bardo Pond, Burnt Books, Hanni El-Khatib, Harold Budd

Please enjoy our annual music poll where our 2013 writers and editors share with you their favorite albums. We asked them fora maximum of 20 albums and here's what they had to say...

Enjoy and we hope we find some things that you also like and discover some new music too.

Also, let us know some of your favorites from 2013 and we'll post some of the best lists in an upcoming issue.

Peter Crigler

John Dougan

Assuming I am asked I'm not planning on providing a "Best Of" list at this time next year. I will have just turned 60, not old the way that age once was, but old for a pop music critic (unless you're Robert Christgau). Since the early 90s, I have either been preparing for or engaged in a life in academia – albeit one that has primarily focused on popular music studies. I have not been an active critic in many years and while I still love music deeply and profoundly, I also recognize that my relationship with music has changed. First and foremost, I do not have long uninterrupted periods of time for focused listening. I'm not completely out of touch. I maintain a reasonable degree of fluency with current artists and sounds (helped greatly by my 17-year-old son and Spotify), but so much current pop/indie rock/hip-hop I appreciate theoretically but do not connect with emotionally. In fact, I enjoy reading about it (thank you Ann Powers, Carl Wilson, Jody Rosen, the aforementioned Christgau, and many others) more than listening to it.

I have a house full of music. Some of it I'll never listen to again. Such is the ridiculousness of living a life that, for decades, was defined by the acquisition of music in all of its myriad sonic configurations and genre manifestations. I don't have any regrets, and I will always be listening and writing, just on my terms – disinterested in what's trending but interested in why it's trending. As for my list, due to its age-specific predictability, it's potentially meaningless to a PSF reader half my age who will (and perhaps should) dismiss it with a snort of derision – something that I might have done 30 years ago.

Michael Freerix

Jack Gold-Molina

Kurt Gottschalk

Jason Gross


Billy Hell

Thalia Zedek goes first due to more emotional content than other music of similar excellence. Also honourable mention for two five song CD EPs "Last Days of Butterfly" by Stranger Son and "The Ghost List" by Girls Against Boys. I could almost be living in the 1990s.

Brent Jensen

left to right: Wonder Years, Pablo Ziegler, Charles Bradley, Sweet Felony, Fairport Convention

Zachary Kauz

Honorable Mentions:

Giovonni Lobato

George Light

Albums New



Wade Oberlin

Jack Partain

  • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
  • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
  • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
  • Did Dylan release an album this year?
  • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
  • The Thermals Desperate Ground
  • Elephant Revival These Changing Skies
  • Laurie Anderson's obituary for Lou Reed
  • Har Mar Superstar Bye Bye 17
  • Wooden Wand Blood Oaths Of The New Blues

    James Paton

    • Boards of Canada Tomorrows Harvest
    • Jacques Brel Brel
    • Jacques Brel Ne Me Quitte Pas
    • Serge Gainsbourg Aux Armes Et Caetera
    • John Coltrane A Love Supreme

    In truth, whilst Boards of Canda's Tomorrows Harvest is my favourite album of the year, it is actually the only new release that I have purchased throughout the entirety of 2013, but don't let that put you off, for this latest effort is quite possibly Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin's finest to date. Sumptuous, melodic and incredibly chilled out, the album feels like it was the score that Tron: Legacy should have had, it's simply immense. The remainder of my top albums go to Universal Music Group's High Definition Pure Audio releases, there are more than thirty albums available, but so far these are my only tastes of the new format thus far. Neil Young said last year that 2013 would be the year for bluray audio, and Universal have proved him right, and whilst the internet is full of disparaging comments for a new physical medium, the Pure Audio releases (which debuted in France in the summer) have already sold well over half a million units thus far, so if we're lucky, high resolution audio may yet be here to stay. I cannot recommend these enough, particularly the Brel albums which are warm, offer frightening clarity, and Mr Brel himself now sings with a voice as big as a house, I simply cannot wait to hear how Scott Walker will sound when his albums eventually come. Roll on 2014.

    Robert Pally

    • Lisa Mychols Above, beyond & in between
    • Michael Fennelly Love Can Change Everything: Demos 1967-1972 (Reissue)
    • Woodkid The Golden Age
    • Primal Scream More Light
    • Clutch Earth Rocker
    • Queens of the Stone Age ...Like Clockwork
    • Goldfrapp Tales of Us
    • Greek Theatre Lost Out At Sea
    • Earthbend Serenity
    • Jacco Gardner Cabinet Of Curiosities
    • Joel Sarakula The Golden Age
    • Jonathan Wilson Fanfare
    • Justin Currie Lower Reaches
    • Matthew E. White Big inner
    • Rue Royal Remedies ahead
    • The Spring Standards Yellow//Gold
    • The Winkies Same (Reissue)

    Danny R. Phillips

    Album of the Year- Savages Silence Yourself

    All others in no particular order of greatness:

    • Bad Religion True North
    • Black on Black Get On With It
    • Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork
    • Dsoedean Continue to Move
    • Nirvana In Utero- Steve Albini Remix (Record Store Day Black Friday Limited Release)
    • Tame Impala Lonerism
    • Velvet Underground White Light/ White Heat 45th Anniversary Edition
    • Grant Hart The Argument
    • The Bronx IV
    • Mudhoney Vanishing Point
    • Many Moods of Dad The Consequence of Trying
    • Big Star Nothing Can Hurt Me: The Story of Big Star Original Soundtrack
    • The Joy Formidable Wolf's Law
    • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Pushing the Sky Away
    • Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of New York
    • Superchunk I Hate Music
    • No Age An Object
    • Parquet Courts Light Up Gold
    • Arctic Monkeys AM
    • The Oblivians Desperation

    Marc Phillips

    • Robert Sarazin Blake Robt Sarazin Blake
    • Daniel Louis White Natural Consequences Vol. 1
    • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You
    • Daft Punk Random Access Memories
    • Janelle Monae The Electric Lady
    • Nirvana In Utero (20th Anniversary Edition)
    • Arcade Fire Reflektor
    • Sherman Baker Sherman Baker
    • David Bowie The Next Day
    • Jane Ira Bloom Sixteen Sunsets
    • Bone Cave Ballet Will of the Waves
    • George Glass Welcome Home
    • The Smoking Flowers 2 Guns
    • Sly and the Family Stone There's a Riot Goin' On (ORG resissue)
    • The Beta Band The Regal Years (1997-2004)
    • Kasey Musgraves Same Trailer Different Park
    • My Bloody Valentine m b v
    • Uranienborg Vokalensemble Song
    • Sweet Felony Split Ends Mend
    • White Orange Onawa

    Ethan Stanislawski

    • Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City (which, I should note, I consider the best album of the past 10 years)
    • Parquet Courts Light Up Gold
    • Those Darlins Blur The Line
    • Kanye West Yeezus
    • Pissed Jeans Honeys
    • Deap Vally Sistrionix
    • Marnie Stern Chronicles of Marnia
    • Heavy Times Fix It Alone
    • Quasi Mole City
    • Mannequin Pussy Gypsy Pervert
    • Bare Mutants The Affliction
    • Deer Tick Negativity
    • Chance The Rapper Acid Rap
    • Various Artists The World's End Soundtrack
    • Free Energy Love Sign
    • Radical Dads Rapid Reality
    • The Julie Ruin Run Fast
    • Hilly Eye Reasons To Live
    • Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP 2
    • Run The Jewels Run The Jewels

    Pat Thomas

    • Alex Chilton Electricity By Candlelight
    • Robert Wyatt '68
    • Linda Thompson It Won't Be Long Now
    • Fairport Convention Rising For The Moon (2 CD expanded edition)
    • Lal Waterson Teach Me to Be a Summer's Morning (book with a CD)
    • Bobby Whitlock Where There's A Will There's A Way: The ABC-Dunhill Recordings
    • King Crimson Road to Red (box set)
    • Bob Dylan Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10

    Mark S. Tucker

    After pissing off idiot editors at every national magazine and website on Planet Shithole - oops! I mean: Earth - that I've written for over 30 years (save for four gigs, this being one of 'em), I've purposely fallen out and have been freelancing. Good thing, actually, 'cause mainstream PR people suck Godzilla donkey choad. I want nothing to do with the bastards. Nonetheless, reviewing hundreds of discs per year as I do, I caught some damn good'uns that never made it into the media circus, so here they are…'n I'm making my list 21. I push things, it's what I do.

    Of course, the real world DOES make a few good choices, sure, so I've noted a coupla mainliners that were fetching as well. Another small deviation: Tom House's *Winding Down the Road* is a 2012 issuance, but, godammit!, it's perfect, and no one's paying attention, so I'm still lauding it a year later. And probably will next year too. It needs to be heard. Seriously. Like I say, I step on the rules. I'm kind of a prick.

    Okay then, alphabetically:

    • Rory Block Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt
    • Leo Brouwer Beatlerianas
    • Jeri Brown Echoes
    • Camel The Snow Goose (reissue - remaster)
    • Copernicus Worthless!
    • Pierre De Gaillande Bad Reputation: Pierre de Gaillande sings Georges Bressens, Vol. 2
    • Dream Theater Dream Theater
    • Jace Everett Terra Rose
    • Ayman Fanous / Jason Kao Hwang Zilzal
    • Tom House Winding Down the Road
    • Kevin Kastning / Sandor Szabo / Balazs Major Becoming
    • Peter Kerlin Octet Salamander
    • King Crimson Road to Red (reissue - deluxe ed.)
    • Lord Mouse And The Kalypso Katz Go Calypsonian
    • Melt-Banana Fetch
    • Van Morrison Moondance (reissue - deluxe ed.)
    • Meg Okura & The Pan-Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto
    • Scott Robinson / Frank Kimbrough Afar
    • Forrest Smithson Dreaming Time
    • Julien Temple (Director) Oil City Confidential: The Story of Dr. Feelgood (DVD)
    • Pablo Ziegler & Metropole Orkester Amsterdam Meets New Tango

    Daniel Varela

    • Dennis Johnson November
    • Philip Corner Piano Activities
    • Stephen Whittington Music for Airport Furniture
    • John Cage The Works for Organ
    • Harold Budd Jane 1 - 11
    • BJ Nilsen Eye of the Microphone
    • Bryn Harrison Vessels
    • Peter Streiff Vokal/ Instrumental
    • Joseph Byrd NYC 1960 - 1963
    • Various Artists The Art of David Tudor
    • Various Artists IPEM - Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music : 50 years of electronic and electroacoustic music at the Ghent University
    • Alvin Curran Shofar Rags
    • Nu Creative Methods Superstitions
    • François Bayle Les Couleurs De La Nuit
    • Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari & Luc Ferrari Contes Sentimentaux
    • Gamelan Semara Rati of Bali Returning Minimalism
    • Marginal Consort Instal, Glasgow 2008
    • Sound and Fury Pulsacion
    • Lars-Gunnar Bodin/Bengt Emil Johnson Semikolon
    • Neil Young Live at the Cellar Door

    Kurt Wildermuth

    • John Cale - Brooklyn Academy of Music, hosting a tribute to Nico on 1/16 and playing solo on 1/18: The sweet Nico tribute inspired me to buy all of her recordings with Cale. Cale's solo show was excellent, and his final encore, a cover of the VU's "Venus in Furs" with him singing and playing viola, was the kind of treat I go to concerts hoping for.
    • Dave Davies - Hudson Park Festival, 6/4: His voice was never strong, and now it's horrible; I hope to never hear him destroy "Tired of Waiting" again; and his guitar playing could never be called virtuosic. However, Dave made up for his shortcomings with spirit and good humor.
    • Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait: Another weird, beautiful dream from the master of them.
    • Led Zeppelin vs The Beatles - Whole Lotta Helter Skelter: Brilliant Soundhog mashup at YouTube (
    • Low - Ethical Culture Society, 3/20: The day after the release of their excellent CD The Invisible Way, this two-decade-old band played like their mission is to keep the music fresh at every moment.
    • Parliament Funkadelic - Beekman Beer Garden, 8/22: A blast. Yes, this funk band can most definitely still play rock.
    • John Prine - Beacon Theater, 9/6: A country-folk-rock blast by a grizzled veteran.
    • Los Straitjackets - Hudson Park Festival, 6/11: Hours of instrumental fun and stage antics by four guys in suits and wrestling masks. Like a dream directed by Quentin Tarantino.
    • Throwing Muses Purgatory/Paradise: Visionary return and recapitulation.
    • Laura Veirs Warp and Weft: Irresistible.
    • Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, et al. – Brooklyn Academy of Music, 6/23: "Kate's Kids" was a freewheeling tribute to the late, great Kate McGarrigle and a release party for the live McGarrigle tribute compilation Sing Me the Songs. Lovely stuff.

    left to right: Gunter Schickert, Jason Cady, Parquet Courts, Melt Yourself Down, John Coltrane

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