Music Of the Year 2013

I’ve bought a lot of music this year, and I thought I’d briefly highlight some of my favorite purchases. It was a very good year, with some truly wonderful releases.

Sunshine day dream bluray 1200 exclusiveOne of the best releases was the Grateful Dead’s Sunshine Daydream (, Amazon UK, iTunes Store), a three-disc and one DVD set of the epic 8/27/72 concert in the scorching sun at Veneta, Oregon. Long a staple of tape traders, this concert has great sound, and some of the wonderful footage filmed during the concert – including the complete Dark Star – make this an essential Grateful Dead release.

The first recording of Dennis Johnson’s astounding minimalist work for piano, November, is one of the revelations of the year. This 1959 work had never been released on disc, and is a unique piece of slow, gradual, Feldmanesque minimal piano music.

Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series continued with the release of volume 10, Another Self Portrait, dedicated to the period around the albums Self Portrait, Nashville Skyline and New Morning. While this wasn’t Dylan’s best period, this album shows that the songs of that time weren’t so bad after all.

This was followed up by Bob Dylan’s Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1. What can I say? A box set of all of Dylan’s albums? It’s a no-brainer.

I very much like Bach’s sacred cantatas, and one of my favorite series is that by John Eliot Gardiner, recorded during his “Bach cantata pilgrimage” of 2000. These recordings have finally been released in a box set, but it’s a limited edition, so if you want it, hurry up.

My son’s a big fan of electronic music, and he turned me on to two great bands this year. The first was Dawn of Midi, whose Dysnomia (, Amazon UK, iTunes Store), is surprising, because it’s not electronic at all. It’s the work of a jazz piano quartet, and it sounds like electro-minimalism. The second new band is Darkside, whose Psychic (, Amazon UK, iTunes Store) has been spinning a lot here. My son is obsessed with this band, which is a mixture of Pink Floyd-ish guitar and electro-dance, yet without the too-fast beat that much electronic music has. One of my faves of the year.

51jtWkeNZAL._AA160_.jpgHilary Hahn’s In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores(, Amazon UK, iTunes Store) is a wonderful collection of short works that Hahn commissioned from contemporary composers. She plays these as encores, and the album gives an interesting overview of the many composers writing music today. The iTunes Store version has an extra track.

The Clash’s Sound System (, Amazon UK) is the ultimate collection of music by this seminal punk/post-punk band. The Clash was part of my soundtrack in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and these new remasters are just great.

And don’t forget an overview of classical box sets for this holiday season.