Top 10 Albums of 2013

Pastor Bob O'Bannon

This list comes a little late, as we are already halfway through February, but take it for it’s worth — my favorite albums from 2013. These albums are not chosen necessarily based on any kind of spiritual or worship value. My assumption is that most and maybe all of these artists are not Christians, but by the grace of God they have made, in my opinion, some great music.

1. Jason Isbell, “Southeastern.” Impeccably written Americana tunes from a former member of Drive-By Truckers. Sample track: “Stockholm.”

2. Arcade Fire, “Reflektor.” Among all the currently active rock bands, I think Arcade Fire is most likely to go down in history as one of the greats, and as with all great bands, they are not afraid to explore new territory. Win Butler always offers some keen cultural commentary too: “We’re so connected, but are we even friends?” Sample track: “Afterlife.”

3. Vampire Weekend, “Modern Vampires of the City.” It’s nearly impossible not to hum these tunes all day once they get in your head. And lead singer Ezra Koenig deals frequently with spiritual questions: “If I’m born again I know that the world will disagree/Want a little grace but who’s gonna say a little grace for me?” Sample track: “Unbelievers.”

4. Speedy Ortiz, “Major Arcana.” Classic indie guitar pop with a 90s retro feel from a band who apparently has cut its teeth on Pavement and the Pixies. Sample track: “Hitch.”

5.Neko Case, “The Worse Things Get…” It’s that voice that sets Neko apart. Another consistently strong album. Sample track: “Wild Creatures.”

6. Caitlin Rose, “The Stand-In.” I guess you’d call this country, but more traditional rather than commercial. And I swear that opening track sounds like early Elvis Costello. Sample track: “Silver Sings.”

7. Richard Thompson, “Electric.” RT has been recording great British folk rock for more than 40 years. He’s the total package: great songwriting, strong vocal delivery, and stellar guitar playing, all in one person. Sample track: “Good Things Happen to Bad People.”

8. Superchunk, “I Hate Music.” Guitar-driven powerpop for all those who are suckers for good hooks. Sample track: “Trees of Barcelona.”

9. Nick Lowe, “Quality Street.” World magazine chose this as the best Christmas album of 2013. Not sure where Nick is spiritually, but maybe Jesus is on his mind. Sample track: “I Was Born in Bethlehem.”

10. Mutual Benefit, “Love’s Crushing Diamond.” Laid back melancholy for a rainy day. Jordan Lee sings, “Sometimes my heart and brain conspire to set everything on fire/Just to stop the tyranny of that minute hand on me/We woke for golden morning hours just to soak in all the power/We weren’t made to be this way, we weren’t made to be afraid.” Sample track: “Golden Wake.”