Best Albums of 2013: David Knowles, Senior Editor

Posted by David Knowles

Milk Carton Kids
The Ash & Clay 
Yes, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have taken their songwriting cues from famous duos Simon & Garfunkel and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, but let’s face it, those groups would have killed to have a lead guitar player like Pattengale. The flawless guitar interplay on The Ash & Clay is worth the price of admission alone. (Anti-)

Mazzy Star
Seasons of Your Day 
It has been seventeen years since Mazzy Star released Among My Swan, and David Roback and Hope Sandoval made sure Seasons of Your Day was worth the wait. Few guitarists can match the purity of sound that Roback captures in the studio, and Sandoval’s vocals are as ethereal and moving as ever. (Rhymes of an Hour)

Kacey Musgraves
Same Trailer Different Park
It’s refreshing to find country music that’s so unabashedly unafraid of marijuana and homosexuality, but even better is Musgraves' singing and guitar playing. She’s a songwriter who doesn’t rely on the same old Nashville lyrical tropes, and manages to make even simple riffs sound fresh. (Mercury)

Jamestown Revival
The California EP
When Texas natives Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance moved west and set up shop in a Los Angeles garage something clicked. The resulting songs for The California EP are a refreshing mix of back porch country and west coast introspection. Nothing feels out of place on this record, and the duo’s vocal harmonies hook you from the first bars of the album’s first track. (Wild Bunch)

Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones
Perhaps the most unexpected side-project of the year, this unlikely duo have turned out a stellar reworking of the 1957 Everly Brothers album Songs our Daddy Taught Us. Like Phil and Don, both Armstrong and Jones play guitar on the record, and strike a vocal chemistry that will have fans hoping for follow-up records. (Reprise)

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