Category Archives: music

best music of 2013, according to holly

it’s been a while, but the time has come again! here is the best of the best, according to me.

1. Peachtree Battle – Butch Walker






Did you really think my #1 would be anyone else? If so, you haven’t been paying attention. 😉

5 songs and 18 minutes of pure perfection, full of emotion. Every time I think I have a favorite picked out, one of the others taps me on the shoulder and shakes its head. I always know it’s time to turn it on when I am hearing the complete songs playing in my head over and over. IT’S A SIGN. One of my favorite parts, and it has been since the first time I listened to it, is the drums from BW and drummer extraordinaire Mark Stepro on Let It Go Where It’s Supposed To is the perfect, crisp drum sound I expect from a Butch Walker production, and what it should always sound like. I had the chance to hear these live in September in ATL a week after Butch’s father passed away, and that was clearly the musical highlight of my year, and definitely in the top 5 for all-time. Super emotional show, but so, so amazing. The Marvelous 3 encore was a nice bonus too, though that meant I yet again missed hearing “Hot Girls” live. NEXT TIME, WALKER.

2. Last of the Great Pretenders – Matt Nathanson






2013 was the year I discovered Matt Nathanson. How I had been living under a rock this long, I have no idea. In a way, I am glad though, because to me, this is clearly his best album yet, so I am starting at a good point. It is great pop/rock from start to finish, my favorite tune being Kinks Shirt. I also saw Matt live in Portland a few weeks after seeing Butch, just a short time after discovering this album, and that was a treat. His live show is definitely as good, if not better, than his recorded music, which isn’t always the case. Plus, he is funny as hell and is a total metalhead. How can I not like him?! I look forward to more great music from Matt.

3. The Winery Dogs – The Winery Dogs

winery dogs





I knew as soon as this supergroup was formed that I would be a huge fan. I predicted then that this would be one of my top albums of the year, and The Winery Dogs did not disappoint. Just a straightforward awesome rock album from Richie Kotzen (longtime highly underrated favorite), Billy Sheehan, and Mike Portnoy. All amazing musicians in their own right, but they melded together to make something even better. It may just be my bias showing, but this album felt most similar to a Richie Kotzen album, though you could definitely hear the others in the music. But a lot of the songs just felt like RK songs, which is totally okay by me, because he writes fantastic songs.  I rounded out the amazing month of live music this past October by seeing this band (see Butch, even they can come to Portland. WHY CAN’T YOU? no, I’m not bitter, not at all). It was so, so good, for many reasons: got to see them in a really cool new-to-me venue (The Star Theater), Portnoy was a beast (and kind of a primadonna and THE STAR), plus I finally got to see Richie Kotzen live, which was a total Bucket List event, and they played some of my all-time favorite RK songs. *swoon*

4. Save Rock and Roll – Fall Out Boy






Let me tell you, if you had ever told me a FOB album would show up on a best-of list of mine, I’d have laughedsnorted in your face. But then Butch Walker got ahold of them and spun them into gold. I love everything about this album (well, except for the Courtney Love. meh.). My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) is what hooked me, The Phoenix is my favorite pre-run (or pre-anything) motivation song, and Save Rock and Roll. oh, Save Rock and Roll – THIS SONG. If you hear reports of someone losing their voice from singing this song so loud in the car, it’s likely me. Put that one on repeat.

5. Gravel & Wine – Gin Wigmore






yeah, yeah, cementing my #ravingfangirl status by including another album with the Butch Walker touch. WHATEVS. Normally, a voice like Gin’s is a total turn-off for me, so it’s a testament to the BW touch (songs co-written and produced) that I even liked this album at all. The songs make all the difference. Black Sheep is the biggest earworm.

the best music of 2011, according to holly

So I thought I would throw together a little list of my “best of” for music for this year. If you are at all familiar with me and my music tastes, much of this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

1. Butch Walker and the Black Widows – The Spade I mean, come on. Who else would be #1? I didn’t think there was any way for Butch to top 2010’s “I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart”, but he managed to do it. There is flat-out not a bad song on this album. I thought about trying to list my favorites, but they all are, for different reasons. I honestly listen to this nearly every day. And Butch and the Widows live? unreal. They just blew me away.

Ashes & Fire by Ryan Adams2. Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire I picked up my first Ryan Adams album (Heartbreaker) a couple years back after seeing a librarian friend mention him a bunch. I liked it but never really listened to it a whole lot. I ran across Ashes and Fire and was totally hooked from the first listen. I’ve gone back to listen to more of his past work, and I don’t know how I never picked up on him before now. It’s all a matter of timing, I think. The whole album is great, but “Lucky Now” is the standout track, in my eyes. er, ears.

The King is Dead by the Decemberists3. The Decemberists – The King is Dead  To me, this is just straight-up Decemberists. Another album that doesn’t have a bad song on it. Like The Spade and Ashes & Fire, this is an album I can listen to on repeat with no qualms. I really need to get around to seeing them live at some point (she says, sort of embarrassed, since she lives in PDX where they are also from.).

21 by Adele4. Adele – 21  Some songs on this album got way overplayed this year, but with good reason – they are just some damn good songs. She’s got a great voice and most of the time it shines. Favorites: Rolling in the Deep and Rumour Has It. Skip It: Lovesong (I love covers, but this is meh) and Someone Like You (she hits this sour note near the end of the song that just ruins it for me; she seems to have corrected this during some live versions I’ve heard, but… ugh.)

Sweeter by Gavin DeGraw5. Gavin DeGraw – Sweeter I’d heard Gavin’s name mentioned here and there, but never his music. I’d heard about Sweeter because Butch produced a couple of the songs on it, so I listened to a few samples of some of the songs and was immediately hooked. I do appear to be in an indie singer-songwriter phase and this fits in there perfectly. My favorite (at least today) is probably the title track. Hook-y, soulful good stuff.

Honorable Mentions:

Panic! at the Disco – Vices and Virtues I can listen to “The Ballad of Mona Lisa” endlessly

Fran Capitanelli – Kave Talk  Fran is the guitarist in Butch’s band, and his solo stuff is fantastic too

Ponderosa – Moonlight Revival Just good Southern rock/country-ish stuff

This is was actually easier to come up with than i thought it would be. I spend so much time discovering new music that isn’t actually new that I had a much smaller pool to pick from.

I am an obsessive scrobbler, so feel free to follow me on and see what I listen to next year.