For whatever reason, I decided to come up with a list of my favourite folk and rock videos of 2013.  I previewed a very large number of recordings and videos in order to make this list, so it is somewhat definitive, that is, as far as my own taste is concerned.

Arcade Fire’s new music is not on this list, and in case someone wonders why, as they are one of my favourites, it’s because I haven’t had time to fully process and understand their double CD since its late fall release.  So … next year.

Numbers 25 to 11.

#25. This one is a catchy novelty song by ‘Walk the Earth’.   You may have seen this group’s viral video cover of Gotye’s ‘Somebody that I used to know’ with the five individuals of the group cleverly playing one guitar.  This particular version was commissioned by Volkswagen, and I believe it’s the best of the various versions ‘Walk the Earth’ has on youtube.   You’ll notice three buttons on the screen; click on them at your peril.

#24. Tim Chaisson’s Beat this Heart, with Serena Ryder adding backup vocals.  I saw Tim Chaisson perform this summer at the Edmonton Folk Festival with Colin Linden on slide guitar.  Now, that performance would have been sweet to see on youtube.  However, as you’ll see later, I’m quite enamored with Serena Ryder’s singing so that makes up for the absence of Linden’s slide.

#23. Another Love by Tom Odell.  This was recorded at a Dutch pop festival, and for this list I’ve tried to find live or radio studio performances.  I don’t care for all the augmentation (dynamic compression, autotuning and echo), and superfluous instrumentation used on professional recordings.  Often listening to today’s pop songs is akin to eating too much fudge.  The excitement of a live performance usually makes up for the lack of polish, and that is certainly the case here.

#22. Inner Ninja by Classified with David Myles.  This is just a really fun bit of fluff, but very well executed.

#21. This is one of the few cases where I have used an ‘official video’ which does not show the performer at all.  In this case, the video works.  Here’s a bit of a clue in understanding what is going on, from one of the youtube comments.  “There is a syndrome where one loses their sight when it gets dark, that is, one becomes more blind than normal.  This explains why he was running after the sun. He didn’t want to lose the light, because without it he would be blind.”  I don’t know if this reflects what Mumford intended, but the explanation works for me.  Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons.

#20. It was tough to find a decent video of the following song.  The unadorned, unplugged videos of the band, ‘Toad and the Wet Sprocket’, do not show the band to advantage.  What makes this particular recording is the captivating and original lyric; and the melody is fine.  There’s a list of Catholic saints, I think that’s what they are, in the middle of the song.  I haven’t been able to figure out why.

#19. Haim, from England, made quite an impact in 2013 with several songs.  ‘Don’t Save Me’ was my favourite of their releases and this was the preferred performance.  The band’s appearance on the BBC’s ‘Later with Jools’ is also available on youtube, and has the virtue of much less grimacing by the bass player.  However, the ‘Later with Jools’ videos on youtube all have a chopped frequency range, so I’ve used this one, in spite of the grimaces.  The bass player does have a great singing voice, and it creates an effective contrast to the lead singer’s.

#18. ‘Tam Lin’ is a centuries old folk song.  Although this is an excellent performance with some very nice acoustic guitar work and harmony vocals, it is very low key and that may not be to everyone’s liking.  Do settle in and listen closely to the lyric. This Article on ‘Tam Lin’ from wiki. will help make sense of the song and its historicity.

#17. Robotic by Hannah Georgas.  This recording is very reminiscent of Blondie and Kraftwerk from the early 80s.  Now we are getting into some music with a little more gravitas.

#16. Bells of Cologne by Imaginary Cities.  Did I mention that I enjoy a live performance video like this so much more than those artfully contrived, over-produced official video releases?   Really applies in this case.

#15. Speaking of artfully contrived official video releases, this actually isn’t too bad.  Great song by Raine Maida from Montreal, no other suitable video available.

#14. The Doll Sisters are very young and have attracted a following in central Alberta.  ‘The Road’ is their first professionally produced video.   Just a great song, and I play it quite often.  The harmonies and the arrangement are exquisite although these young women should be cut a little slack on the production quality.  The look is very professional, but when they wade into the muddy stream with their lace dresses … I don’t know.

#13. This is a really straight-ahead rock song called ‘Temple’, played by Kings of Leon, a very tight crisp performance; lots of subtly interesting guitar work too.

#12. ‘Of Monsters and Men’ is very popular at the moment, part of a nouveau folk movement that includes Mumford, The Head and the Heart, and the Lumineers.  I have had one of their CDs for some time, so when I checked them out live, they looked surprisingly young.

#11. ‘The National’ doesn’t really knock you over the head, as many of the songs are understated.  This is music that grows on you, and the song ‘Pink Rabbits’ is a case in point.

Stay tuned for numbers 10 to 1, coming in the next few days.