The Best Native Music of 2013

ICTMN Staff
12/23/13

2013 was another good year for Native music. Established young talents Derek Miller and Samantha Crain put out excellent albums; Frank Waln, Leonard Sumner and Nataanii Nez Means embodied the bright future of Native hip hop; and DJ trio A Tribe Called Red continued to define their own genre of "pow wow step" dance music. But those are just a few of the reasons listeners had to celebrate. We asked several of the music cognoscenti to offer their selections for the best of the best. 

Janet Rogers' Picks for Best of 2013

Albums

1. Derek Miller, Blues, Vol. 1. Hot, rough, sexy blues (official site)
2. George Leach, Surrender. Twelve years in the making and every note was worth the wait. (official site)
3. A Tribe Called Red, Nation II Nation. They have created new territory just for dancing. (official site)
4. The Johnnys, Rock. A generous offering of the Thinking Man’s Metal Music (official site)
5. Patricia Cano, Songs from Tomson Highway’s The (Post) Mistress. Sultry vocals with perfect pitch. (indiepool)

On The Wrong Damn Side Of The Law by The Johnnys

Tracks

1. Wanbdi, "Bones" from Where the Fishes Go. Blues inspired female truth (bandcamp)
2. Ghostkeeper, "Horse Chief! War Thief" from Horse Chief! War Thief! Original! Metis nerd punk (bandcamp)
3. A Tribe Called Red ft. Northern Voices, "Different Heroes" from Nation II Nation. Inspired dance track, commands me like a puppet (official site)
4. Jasper, "Inglorious" from Inglorious (EP). Righteous political rock anthem of our times. (reverbnation)
5. Nick Sherman, "Drag Your Words Through," from Drag Your Words Through. Back-to-basics good music. (official site)

ICTMN contributor Janet Rogers is host of Native Waves Radio CFUV 101.9fm and Tribal Clefs CBC 90.5fm.

Frank Waln's Picks for Best of 2013

Albums

1. A Tribe Called Red, Nation II Nation. This record is powerful, political and spiritual. ATCR is legendary. (official site)
2. Leonard Sumner, Rez Poetry. These songs are so fresh with a unique blend of musical influence scatted all throughout. Leonard Sumner carves out his own genre with this classic album. (official site)
3. Samantha Crain, Kid Face.  Equal parts Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Danger Mouse, this album’s haunting melodies and introspective lyrics will pull you in and never let go. (official site)
4. Dark Water Rising, Grace & Grit: Chapter 1. Heartfelt and dynamic, this album shows Charly Lowry delivering flawless vocals backed by a talented band. DWR mixes southern charm with Indigenous sensibilities in an album that is sure to win your heart over. (official site)
5. Fawn Wood & Dallas Waskahat, Blessings. Powerful, feel good music from one of the best female vocalists out, regardless of genre or ethnicity. (Canyon Records)

Angel Haze - A Tribe Called Red (lyric video)

Tracks

1. Angel Haze, "A Tribe Called Red." An aggressive punch to the gut from two of the best Indigenous acts out right now. She honors her Indigenous heritage without exploiting it on this monster of a song. (official site)

2. Tall Paul, "Taurus the Bull." Channeling sound of classic Midwest MC’s, Tall Paul flexes smart lyrical commentary all over this grim track, proving why he is one of the best Indigenous MC’s to ever touch a microphone. (official site)
3. Scatter Their Own, "Taste the Time." A beautiful ode to protecting one of the pillars of life, water. Memorable riffs, smart lyrics and a concept that is uniquely Indigenous. The music video rocks too. (official site)
4. Nick Sherman, "Wrong Side of Town." Nick Sherman is one of the most talented Indigenous songwriters we’ve heard in a long time. This song is warm, relatable and beautiful on many different levels. (official site)
5. George Leach, "Carry Me." A larger than life sound and great vocal performance push this song into the realm of commercial cross over success. (official site)

Frank Waln is a NAMA-winning hip hop artist.

Wrong Side of Town

Vincent Schilling's Picks for Best of 2013

Albums

1. Frank Waln, Born Ready. Fearless story-telling, symphonic hip-hop from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. (official site)
2. Inez Jasper, Burn Me Down. A fun and enlightening mix of traditional sounds with contemporary dance music and uplifting vocals. (official site)
3. Nataanii Nez Means, 2 Worlds. Without holding back Nataanii attacks his hip hop tracks fearlessly and covers topics such as AIM, Rez issues and his own father Russell Means. (Bandcamp)
4. Samantha Crain, Kid Face. Amazing folk vocalist with a powerhouse of emotion for a young artist. Watch out for this one. (official site)
5. A Tribe Called Red, Nation II Nation. An immaculate blending of traditional drum song and electronic beats to include dubstep, electronica and even sirens. (official site)

SAMANTHA CRAIN "NEVER GOING BACK" [DIR. LAMAR+NIK]

Tracks

1. Nataanii Nez Means’, “The Radical” from 2 Worlds. A gorgeous hip-hop tribute featuring the words of Russell Means (Bandcamp)
2. Tara Williamson, "Come to Me" from Lie Low. Soft vocals, melodic tunes, #1 artist on Native trailblazers June Jamz (official site)
3. Frank Waln and Cody Blackbird, "Hear My Cry" from Born Ready. Traditional infused with Hip Hop with vocals from Both Waln and Blackbird.(official site)
4. Christa Couture, "You were here in Michigan" from The Living Record. Though the album released in 2012, this track, with a folky and catchy melody, had definite staying power long into 2013. A brilliant song. (official site)
5. The Johnnys, "On the Wrong Damn Side of the Law" from Rock. Fun rockabilly-ish gesture-invoking readily playable great music. (official site)

Vincent Schilling covers entertainment for ICTMN and his weekly Native Trailblazers radio show.

Jason Morgan Edwards's Picks for Best of 2013

Tracks

1. Saving Damsels, "Sweet Girl" from Find My Way. JJ Otero's signature soul-searching and poetic lyrics really shine through on this particular track from the band's 2012 release. (official site)
2. Twang Deluxe, "NWO- New Waylon Order." Pays homage to one of the Navajo trio's main musical influences, Waylon Jennings. Be sure to look for their debut album in 2014. (facebook)
3. Miracle Dolls, "NeverMind" from Guns n Thieves. The Miracle Dolls solidify their strong foot-hold as the leading Native presence on the alternative/indie rock stage. (official site)
4. Raye, "Drink Me Dry." This newcomer is lighting up both LA and NYC with her distinctive style and sound. It's hard not to feel the joys and pains of loves found and lost while listening to this poignant melody of giving all you have inside to that special someone. (reverbnation)
5. The Plateros, "A Motherless Child." The Plateros continue to lead the charge for classic rock and blues fans. Infusing time-honored riffs with their unique stylings, the Navajo cousins continue to push forward, breaking new musical ground with each performance. This song puts the band's singing, song-writing and playing on full display. (official site)

Jason Morgan Edwards is a photographer based in New Mexico who writes about music for ICTMN.

RPM.fm's Picks for Best of 2013

1. A Tribe Called Red, Nation II Nation (official site)
2. Samantha Crain, Kid Face (official site)
3. Leanne Simpson, Islands of Decolonial Love (official site)
4. Leonard Sumner, Rez Poetry (official site)
5. City Natives, 4 Kingz (facebook)

For RPM's full list of 10 picks, visit rpm.fm/news/the-best-indigenous-music-of-2013

 

 

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