It's hard evidence of a vital music community when this local-release column only touches a fraction of what was released in 2013. Sins of omission aside, here's what caught my ear most this year: established bands hitting their stride, scene veterans trying new things and a few new faces making impressive introductions. --Christian Schaeffer, Senior Music Writer
See Also: The Top 20 St. Louis Concerts of 2013
In no particular order, these are the albums we found most noteworthy this year. Click on the band/album names to read our full reviews:
Beth Bombara: Raise Your Flag/Blind Eyes, World Record
These two EPs were released simultaneously with a summer show at Off Broadway, and both releases find these veteran acts at their comfortable best. Blind Eyes makes its recording debut as a quartet, and writing songs with Andy White's guitar leads in mind (as opposed to draping them atop existing songs) cuts a leaner figure for the band. Bombara has likewise tinkered with lineups and found has found a groove for her rootsy, evolving song craft.
Coming at a midpoint between releases by Danny Kathriner's Half Knots and Chris Grabau's Magnolia Summer (which will release a new LP in January), Cave States finds both singer-songwriters passing acoustic, hand-hewn songs back and forth while stripping these tunes down to their Americana core.
Kevin Buckley decided to overhaul his outfit Grace Basement for its third outing by unplugging and embracing the folk music that had colored his earlier work. With a crack band and his best batch of songs to date, Buckley started his own quiet revolution.
Hush Hush was the record that matched Jason Holler's gutter-beat tone poems with the noir/blues of his bandmates. David Beeman's production fills in the creases with the right mix of analog warmth and guitar-led swagger.
Continue for more of the best releases of the year.