Saturday, January 24, 2015

Best Folk Songs of 2014

MMXIV: Year of the horse

A deal's a deal!

I didn't expect to make this playlist, but I received so many requests for it that I was ultimately quite happy to put it together. Thank you so much for all the comments and emails you've sent over the past few weeks. I can say that I feel more appreciated than I've ever felt working on this site. To be clear—despite the lite retirement announcement—I have no plans to kill off No Words completely. I will continue to post albeit sporadically much like it has been over the past year or more. So really, not that much is changing. (I mainly made the announcement to absolve myself of any pressure I might feel to post regularly.)

That said—like any other media platform—No Words needs an engaged, vocal audience to justify its being. So please know that emailing, tweeting, commenting, and/or linking to No Words content elsewhere can greatly motivate me to keep this boat on the water.

And in case you didn't know, all No Words mixes are currently available on Mixcloud.



MMXIV: Best Folksongs of 2014 (in no particular order):

1) Myriam Gendron • "Solace" • Feeding Tube
2) Padang Food Tigers • "Crabbing King Sappling" • Scissor Tail
3) Sam Amidon • "Your Lone Journey" • Nonesuch
4) Lisa Knapp • "Fine Horseman" • Second Language
5) Sir Richard Bishop • "Frontier" • Drag City
6) Jessica Pratt • "Back, Baby" • Drag City
7) Julie Byrne • "Young Wife" • Ordinal
8) Robin Allender • "M. Laurelle" • Scissor Tail
9) Luluc • "Small Window" • Sub Pop
10) Nathan Bowles • "Chuckatuck" • Paradise of Bachelors
11) Vashti Bunyan • "Across the Water" • Fat Cat
12) Grouper • "Lighthouse" • Kranky
13) Tiny Ruins • "Jamie Blue" • Flying Nun
14) Angel Olsen • "Enemy" • Jagjaguwar
15) Arch Garrison • "Reprise" • The Household Mark
16) RM Hubbert • "Pb" • Chemikal Underground
17) José González • "Every Age" • Mute
18) Magpahi • "Dissolve" • Bird
19) Alasdair Roberts • "Artless One" • Drag City
20) Emma Tricca • "The Painter" • Bird
21) Marissa Nadler • "Dead City Emily" • Sacred Bones
22) Whatever, Dad • "Wean" • self-released

Reissued Material:
23) Smoke Dawson • "The Minotaur" • Tompkins Square
24) Bruce Langhorne • "Ending" • Scissor Tail
25) Bessie Jones • "That Suits Me" • Tompkins Square
26) Sproatly Smith • "Changes" • Folk Police

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best Folk Albums of 2014 / Best Folk Reissues of 2014

Best Folk Albums of 2013


It's your cousin Ursell. It's been a while. Let's talk.

If you've followed No Words this past year, then you know there wasn't much to follow. 2014 was the least active year in the site's seven-and-a-half-year history. So let me take this moment to formally announce that No Words is essentially dormant at this time. I may continue to post relevant songs on occasion, and perhaps I'll even create a mix here and there. But I have no plans to become active with the site again. (Never say never, but I just don't see it as likely.)

The reason for this is partly to do with adulthood busyness and partly to do with the state of things with this lovely acoustic stuff I call "folk music." The great folk records are becoming fewer and farther between, so spending hours on end looking for that great tune or album is a chore that feels less and less rewarding with each passing year. Perhaps this will change in a few years or even in 2015, but until then, it makes sense to scale things down and not force content.

I salute the modern icons of this music who have released work consistently and kept my interest peaked throughout the duration of No Words: Marissa Nadler, James Blackshaw, Jessica Pratt, Josephine Foster, Alasdair Roberts, and many more.

If you have shared a kind word with me or linked to No Words at any point over the years, I want to say THANK YOU!!! This has been a small operation from the get-go, so to those of you who have taken a moment to show your appreciation, please know that it has not gone unnoticed.

In any case, I was very close to not compiling this list at all. But I reluctantly decided to play catch-up and spend time with folk music released in the year that was. This list isn't as robust as I usually make them, but it was important to me to get it out there in some form.

LET'S MAKE A DEAL: If I get five or more comments (from different users) on this post, I will compile and post MMXIV, which would be a mix of the the past year's best folksongs.

In closing, I want to invite you to email me any thoughts about No Words and what it's meant to you over the years. Hearing from some of you would mean so much to me.

All yours,


Top Folk Albums of 2014: Year of the horse (in no particular order)

Luluc • Passerby • Sub Pop
Julie Byrne • Rooms With Walls and Windows • Ordinal
Emma Tricca • Self-Titled • Bird
Vashti Bunyan • Heartleap • DiCristina Stair Builders
Sproatly Smith • Thomas Traherne • self-released
Crying Lion • The Golden Boat • Honest Jon's
Myriam Gendron w/ Dorothy Parker • Not So Deep As a Well • Mama Bird
Arch Garrison • I Will Be a Pilgrim • The Household Mark
Marissa Nadler • July • Sacred Bones
Linda Perhacs • The Soul of All Natural Things • Asthmatic Kitty
Oliver Cherer • Sir Ollife Leigh and Other Ghosts • Second Language
RM Hubbert • Ampersand Extras • Chemikal Underground
Grouper • Ruins • Kranky
Nathan Bowles • Nansemond • Paradise of Bachelors
Robin Allender • Foxes in the Foyer • Scissor Tail
Wes Tirey / Andrew Weathers • Split • Scissor Tail

Honourable Mentions: Electric albums, EPs, etc. (in no particular order)

Jane Weaver • The Silver Globe • Bird
Various Artists • Crystal Plumage • Bird
Melodía • Diario de Viaje • Home Normal
Angel Olsen • Burn Your Fire for No Witness • Jagjaguar
James Blackshaw • Fantômas: Le Faux Magistrat • Tompkins Square
Wooden Wand • Farmer's Corner • Fire
Sam Amidon • Lily-O • Nonesuch
Alela Diane • About Farewell: B-Sides & Scenic Burrows Sessions • Rusted Blue

Reissues (in no particular order)

Smoke Dawson • Fiddle • Tompkins Square
Michael Yonkers • Michael Lee Yonkers • Drag City
Jim Woehrle & Michael Yonkers • Borders of My Mind • Drag City
Aquariana • Self-Titled • Drag City
Bruce Langhorne • The Hired Hand • Scissor Tail
Sproatly Smith • Greatest Hits, Volume 1 • Folk Police