Our music critics liked Kanye’s record, yeah, but there were even better, lesser-known artists — and ample live shows — to choose from.
Kanye and Miley made the headlines nationally, Prince and the Replacements locally. But headlines don’t necessarily help in trying to make a list of the best of the year in popular music.
Coming up with the top concerts was easy. Well, at least there was an abundance of exciting shows to choose from. And we’re counting only shows in Minnesota, not any of the standout out-of-town gigs we witnessed by the Rolling Stones, the Replacements or the Stone Roses. Too bad Kanye West canceled Minneapolis. Or is it? At least, we finally got to see Drake and Jay Z and say hello to Gary Clark Jr., adios to George Strait and welcome back to My Bloody Valentine.
As for best albums, we both were smitten by various strains of Americana, Kanye’s sonically compelling and lyrically bold “Yeezus,” creative genre blenders, and a little bit country and a little bit rock of both new and old schools.
Bream’s top concerts
High-wire acrobatics, sensational soul moves, harmonizing good vibrations and a mixture of intimacy and audacity. That begins to cover my four favorite concerts of 2013. Throw in ambitious visions, top-notch musicianship, beloved veterans exceeding expectations and just plain ol’ heart and soul — and it was a year of many performances that truly deserved standing ovations.
1. Pink, March 19, Xcel Energy Center
2. Janelle Monáe, Oct. 22, Skyway Theater
3. Brian Wilson, July 27, Minnesota Zoo
4. Prince, Jan. 16-18, Dakota Jazz Club
5. Jimmy Cliff, Sept. 19, First Avenue
6. Taylor Swift, Sept. 7-8, Xcel Energy Center
7. The Mavericks, April 3, Pantages Theatre
8. Trampled by Turtles, Aug. 30, State Fair
9. The Band Perry, Nov. 2, Treasure Island Casino
10. (tie) Gary Clark Jr., Nov. 20, First Avenue and Diana Ross, Aug. 28, Orpheum Theatre
Riemenschneider’s top concerts
Surprising that two of my favorite shows were at the worst venue in town. The National actually put the cavernous Wilkins space to good use with a lofty light show and crowd interaction, while My Bloody Valentine could’ve played in an airplane hangar and outpowered the airplanes. Southern rocker J Roddy Walston’s gig was the sweatiest and rowdiest of the year.
1. The National, Aug. 6, Roy Wilkins Auditorium
2. J Roddy Walston & the Business, Sept. 9, 7th Street Entry
3. Americanarama with Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Richard Thompson, July 9, Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth
4. My Bloody Valentine, Nov. 1, Roy Wilkins Auditorium
5. Laura Marling, Aug. 14, Woman’s Club Theatre
6. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, June 24, First Avenue
7. Gary Clark Jr., Nov. 20, First Ave
8. Janelle Monáe, Oct. 22, Skyway Theater
9. Soundgarden, Feb 2, Orpheum Theatre
10. Savages, Sept. 17, First Ave
Riemenschneider’s top albums
My two favorites were born out of healing. Alabama twang-rocker Jason Isbell handled the double whammy of addiction and divorce with uncanny resolve, while the participants of “Rockin’ Here Tonight” (from Lucinda Williams to Frank Black) rallied around bedridden Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlap with love and good cheer. The strength of both efforts came down to stellar songwriting, also apparent on the Phosphorescent, Vile and Bowie records, although the sonic punch and visceral energy of Kanye, FIDLAR and El-P/Killer Mike also proved essential this year.
1. Jason Isbell, “Southeastern”
2. Various, “Rockin’ Here Tonight (Songs for Slim)”
3. Kanye West, “Yeezus”
4. Phosphorescent, “Muchacho”
5. Patty Griffin, “American Kid”
6. Kurt Vile, “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze”
7. FIDLAR, “FIDLAR”
8. El-P & Killer Mike, “Run the Jewels”
9. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Mosquito”
10. David Bowie, “The Next Day”
Bream’s top albums
There were defining performers and pivotal singles but no truly defining or dominant album in 2013. These 10 albums stood out for their artistic vision, consistency and superior songcraft — whether the lyrics were smart, clever or provocative. Ask me next week and I may change the order of this top 10 — or maybe even list “Beyoncé.”
1. José James, “No Beginning No End”
2. Patty Griffin, “American Kid”
3. Kanye West, “Yeezus”
4. Pistol Annies, “Annie Up”
5. Patricia Barber, “Smash”
6. Laura Marling, “Once I Was an Eagle”
7. The Mavericks, “In Time”
8. Jason Isbell, “Southeastern”
9. David Bowie, “The Next Day”
10. Ashley Monroe, “Like a Rose”
Twitter: @JonBream • 612-673-1719
Twitter: @ChrisRstrib • 612-673-4658
BEST IN LOCAL MUSIC
See our annual Twin Cities Critics Poll covering the best Minnesota albums of the year at startribune.com/music.