Best of 2013: Staff Picks

2013 was another outstanding and exciting year in new music. To wrap up the year, the staff at OpenAir highlights their picks for the very best in albums, songs, live shows, and CPR Performance Studio sessions. Check out the individual lists with slideshows below.

  • PHOX– "Clubs and Spades"
  • Hayden– "Motel"
  • Caroline Smith– "Magazine"
  • Cloudeater– "Hollow"
  • Lady Lamb the Beekeeper– "Rooftop"
  • Bibio– "A Tout a l’heure"
  • Miky Ekko– "Kids"
  • Vance Joy– "Riptide"
  • Au Revoire Simone– "The Lead is Galloping"
  • Phosphorescent– "Ride On/Right On"
  • Junip– "Line of Fire"
  • Kurt Vile– "Never Run Away"
  • Gregory Alan Isakov– "The Universe"
  • Har Mar Superstar– "Lady You Shot Me"
  • Damien Jurado– "Silver Timothy"
  • Typhoon– "Young Fathers"
  • Tristen– "No One’s Gonna Know"
  • John Grant– "I Hate This Town"
  • Vampire Weekend– "Diane Young"
  • Foxygen– "Where’s the Money"
  • Jake Bugg– "Seen it All"
  • A. Tom Collins– "Hospital"
  • Jim James– "A New Life"
  • Neko Case– "Local Girls"
  • Volcano Choir- "Comrade"
  • Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats- "Look It Here"
  • The Blue Rider– "Gunnerman"
  • Deerhunter– "Dream Captain"
  • The Step Kids– "Memoirs of a Grey"
  • Gauntlet Hair– "Bad Apple"

  1. Jim James- Regions of Light and Sound of God
  2. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City
  3. Lorde- Pure Heroine
  4. Har Mar Superstar- Bye Bye 17
  5. Kurt Vile- Wakin on a Pretty Daze
  6. Palma Violets- 180
  7. Queens of the Stone Age- ...Like Clockwork
  8. Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg
  9. Deer Tick- Negativity
  10. David Bowie- The Next Day
  11. Paul McCartney- New
  12. Neko Case- The Worse Things Get...
  13. The Black Angels- Indigo Meadow
  14. Foxygen- We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors
  15. The Stooges- Ready to Die

  1. Phosphorescent- Muchacho
  2. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper- Ripely Pine
  3. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City
  4. Foals- Holy Fire
  5. Frightened Rabbit- Pedestrian Verse
  6. Savages- Silence Yourself
  7. Kurt Vile- Wakin On A Pretty Daze
  8. Typhoon- White Lighter
  9. Speedy Ortiz- Major Arcana
  10. Arctic Monkeys- AM

  • Kishi Bashi @ Bluebird Theater (2.19)
  • Yo La Tengo @ Boulder Theater (5.21)
  • Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats @ UMS (7.21)
  • Kurt Vile @ Bluebird Theater (8.15)
  • My Bloody Valentine @ Ogden Theater (8.19)
  • Blue Rider/Dirty Few/Kitty Crimes @ Hi-Dive (8.30)
  • Deerhunter @ Bluebird Theater (9.7)
  • Animal Collective @ Ogden Theater (9.9)
  • King Khan & the Shrines @ Larimer Lounge (10.19)
  • Bill Callahan @ Oriental Theater (11.25)

  • Arcade Fire- Reflektor- They've called it their Exile On Main Street, without the drugs.
  • Best Coast- Fade Away- Patsy Cline meets My Bloody Valentine
  • Bombino- Nomad- Dan Aurbach produced Niger guitarist. Desert R&B.
  • Guy Clark- My Favorite Picture of You -He's the John Prine of Texas.
  • Kurt Vile- Wakin On a Pretty Daze- More mellow meditative sounds from the shame chamber.
  • Neko Case- The Worse Things Get...- Hot guitars, big voice, and great lyrics, from country rock firecracker.
  • Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold- Brooklyn via Texas post punk indie rock about being stoned and starving and realizing you might not be as smart as you thought you were.
  • Replacements- Songs for Slim- Benefit CD covering solo songs of 'Mats guitarist Slim Dunlap. His records (I luckily have 2) are hard to find, but worth the search, they sound like a 70's Keith Richards album.
  • Steve Earle & the Dukes- The Low Highway- Here's the real State Of the Union Address...
  • Valerie June- Pushin' Against a Stone- What Amy Winehouse would have sounded like if she grew up in Memphis.

  1. Majical Cloudz- Impersonator
  2. Phosphorescent- Muchacho
  3. Grant Hart- The Argument
  4. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City
  5. Gregory Alan Isakov- The Weatherman
  6. Parquet Courts- Light Up Gold/Tally All the Things that You Broke
  7. Blood Orange- Cupid Deluxe
  8. Arcade Fire- Reflektor
  9. Haim- Days are Gone
  10. Ezra Furman- Day of the Dog

Alisha Sweeney - Late Morning Host/Assistant Music Director

The way I feel about compiling my "Best of" list at the end of the year reminds me of childhood excitement when I would write Santa my wish list of presents. My list varied each year much like nowadays when I sit down to reflect on what album, song, or concert I connected with. And similar to being a kid, I always hoped I'd keep track of what I wanted so that when it came time to tell Santa (er, Grandma) I wouldn't forget, but I've never been good at that. I found 2013 to be the year I gravitated more towards singles, craving to hear my favorite songs over and over again alongside sharing them with you on-air. But it doesn't overshadow the fact that I bought a heck of a lot of albums and saw even more concerts.

Best National Records:

  • Kurt Vile- Wakin On A Pretty Daze
  • Thao And The Get Down Stay Down- We The Common
  • Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires Of The City
  • Har Mar Superstar- Bye Bye 17
  • James Blake- Overgrown
  • Goldfrapp- Tales Of Us
  • Nick Cave- Push The Sky Away

Best Colorado Records:

  • Gregory Alan Isakov- The Weatherman
  • Varlet- American Hymns
  • Josh Dillard- The Bright Light of Shipwreck
  • a tom collins- Stick and Poke
  • Rubedo- Love is the Answer
  • The Seven Hats- Scientific American
  • Covenhoven- S/T
  • Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir- We Believers

Best National Singles:

  • Phosphorescent- "Ride On / Right On"
  • Lorde- "Royals"
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra- "So Good At Being In Trouble"
  • Volcano Choir- "Comrade"
  • Har Mar Superstar- "Lady You Shot Me"
  • The National- "I Should Live in Salt"
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs- "Wedding Song"

Best Colorado Singles:

  • Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats- "Trying So Hard Not To Know"
  • Bad Weather California- "Keep It Together"
  • Josh Dillard- "Ever Since You've Been Gone"
  • a tom collins- "Hospital"
  • Tennis- "Mean Streets"
  • Shady Elders- "Schoolmate"
  • Paper Bird- "As I Am"

Best Debut Records:

  • Haim- Days Are Gone
  • King Krule- 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
  • Cayucas- Big Foot
  • Chvrches- The Bones Of What You Believe
  • Lucius- Wildewoman
  • Lorde- Pure Heroine
  • Savages- Silence Yourself

Dave Fender - Audio Producer

We’ve done almost a hundred OpenAir sessions in the CPR Performance Studio over the last year. There’s no way I can compile a Top 10 List without leaving out bands and sessions that I love, but here are 11 highlights from those hundred sessions, in no particular order (session links and videos are provided where available):

  • He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister: A band that includes a brother and sister lead team, a tap dancing drummer and a bass player who matches his hair to the color of his green upright bass all add up to a great show to watch as well as listen to.
  • Lucero: While watching “Treme” on HBO the other night, I was pleasantly surprised by a scene with Memphis-based Lucero playing in a club – followed by Ben Nichols taking an acting turn as Lucia Micarelli’s love interest. We had the pleasure of experiencing some of that charisma close-up last April as Ben & Rick Steff played a great stripped down set in our studio (video).
  • Paper Bird: It’s been a great pleasure to watch Paper Bird develop and grow as a band over these last few years. Their songwriting and arrangements have taken it to the next level on their latest tunes as they’ve really opened up their sound (video).
  • The Other Black: Wesley Watkin’s 14 piece soul/funk/hip-hop project is the most recent session on this list. It was a fun challenge to get everyone plugged in and recorded in our space – and once they got underway, they laid down some steamy tracks that easily could melt the ice in the negative temps outside.
  • Ark Life: Jesse Elliot and Denver seem to be a match made in heaven. He hasn’t even been in town for a full year yet and already he’s worked his way into the center of the music community as an invaluable resource and supporter of the entire scene. AND, he’s started this great new band. Unfortunately, Anna Morsett wasn’t able to join us for this session, but Chaz Prymek filled in quite nicely on bass and slinky dance moves (video).
  • The Raven and the Writing Desk: What’s not to love about these guys? They write some amazing tunes that are topped off by Julia LiBassi’s beautiful voice. Not to mention I got to record a marimba (video).
  • The Lonely Wild: One of the best things about this job is discovering new bands. I didn’t know anything about this outfit from LA until I was preparing for their arrival. After they got here, their tunes gave me goosebumps from beginning to end. I’m definitely a fan now.
  • Sawmill Joe: There’s nothing inauthentic about Sawmill Joe Cheves and his band. When you listen, you can tell the tunes he writes and the grit in his voice when he sings them were all earned the right way. Thankfully, with a little help from the Lumineers, the rest of the world is starting to discover him (as evidenced by the number of hits their videos have on our YouTube page)
  • Navy: This band may be the best-kept secret in Denver. They are certainly the least-rehearsed as schedules can be tight when your lead singer is a brain surgeon by day and your band is made up of the super busy (and super talented) Nate Meese, Tyler Rima, and Joe Richmond. But they certainly make great use of the time they do get to play together (video).
  • West Water Outlaws: We don’t get much straight up rock and roll in our studio – and these guys killed it when they came in. They write great original tunes that are firmly rooted in the classic rock tradition (video).
  • Steve Earle: I’ve been a huge Steve Earle fan since “Guitar Town” came out in 1986, so getting to meet Steve and record this session was a true bucket list item for me. It was also memorable because the wonderful folks at eTown let us record it at their beautiful new studio in Boulder.