Critic’s Picks: Best 2013 Louisiana Albums

22 01 2014

download (1)Since I last updated this site, I’ve started writing for OffBeat, the monthly music magazine of the Crescent City. Although my album reviews have so far remained limited to DownBeat, I’m slowly starting to join some of my favorite local music writers in the reviews section.

At the end of 2013, we put together a quickie draft of 2013 albums we think any fan of Louisiana music must add to their collections. Being talky and opinionated writer types, we also shared something about why each album got our nod. Visit OffBeat.com for lists from Geraldine Wyckoff, David Kunian, John Swenson, Frank Etheridge, Elsa Hahne, Brett Milano and Dan Willging. My list is below. Should you become as obsessed with the Pres Hall title track as I am, check out Ben Jaffe’s explanation of its inspiration on Gwen Thompkins’ “Music Inside Out.” And I rarely get to write about rock these days, but “Codebreaker” is some straight-up brilliant shit. OffBeat ran an edited version of a conversation Ryan Scully and I had about music over a few drinks at the Joint one evening. At some point I’ll post the full transcript.

My Picks:

  1. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: That’s It (Sony Legacy)
  2. R. Scully & the Rough 7: Codebreaker (Upperninth)
  3. Gillet Singleton Duo: Ferdinand(Independent)
  4. Terence Blanchard: Magnetic(Blue Note)
  5. Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet:In a World

Preservation Hall’s first recording of all original material isn’t just a milestone in the band’s 53-year history; it’s an energetic and downright fun salute to the creative output of Charlie Gabriel, one of the most important musical voices in the city. The Rough 7’s Codebreaker wraps great stories and more than a few moments of lyrical profundity in emotive, gospel-steeped rock. (Lagniappe: It also contains the best morning-after, BJs-wallet-search story ever set to music.) Jason Marsalis explores new terrain, adding a little extra quirkiness to his cerebral grooves. The sonic symbiosis between Helen Gillet and James Singleton on Ferdinand leads to the kind of brain-popping innovation that defines New Orleans’ improvised music scene. Gorgeous writing and shimmering textures abound on Terence Blanchard’s Magnetic. Drummer Kendrick Scott’s performance alone makes it one of the year’s strongest releases.

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