Top Ten of Twenty Twelve: Dave Hartley (Nightlands)

Dave Hartley

Prolific sideman Dave Hartley has paid his dues, putting in considerable hours as the bassist for The War on Drugs, and playing bass on Sharon Van Etten’s The Silver Ages.  Finally at the helm of his own enterprise, Nightlands, Hartley conveys a surprising boldness and scope to his own artistic vision.  His sophomore album, Oak Island, is set to drop on January 22 via Secretly Canadian, and offers a melodious pop nod to the sounds of ‘70s AM gold.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t be off base to suggest that he’s on an a upward trajectory to the top of 2013 “best of” lists.
Ghettoblaster asked Hartley what his favorite albums of 2013 and he was kind enough to provide us a list to share with you dear readership.  And, as a bonus, check out the Nightlands track he’s shared, as well as his new hoops-related column for XPN’s The Key (below).
My favorite records this year (that didn’t necessarily come out this year):
1) Jorge Ben – A Tåbua de Esmeralda (1974)
Easily my favorite album this year. Strange, rhythmically complex and endlessly catchy. Made me rethink a lot about singing and melodic sense–I might emigrate to Brazil soon.
2) The Clientele – Suburban Light (2000)
This is actually a collection of singles from The Clientele, but you’d never know it–it sounds like a proper album. It’s very simple and unified, and the vocals just float over the vibrating guitars like a humming bird. Recommended listening the morning after a late night while the skillet gets hot.
3) Jorge Ben – Africa Brasil (1976)
Totally different than A Tåbua de Esmeralda–dirtier, more live sounding, way more electric. There is phaser on the guitar and gang backing vocals, and big washes of percussion. Inspiring. 
4) John Maus – We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves (2011)
Hey Moon was on repeat for weeks, as well as a couple other tracks here. He’s doing stuff that seems pretty independent of anything else going on, like it was created in a vacuum. 
5) John Maus – A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material (2012)
A really nice companion to We Must Become… It sounds so very current, or even ahead, and a lot of the tracks are from almost a decade ago. Dark and so very strange. Mr. Bennington could not be improved upon in any world. I will complain, though, that the vinyl mastering sounds pretty terrible, in my opinion. The digital release is much more pleasant to the ear. 
6) Broadcast – Tender Buttons (2005)
Stone cold classic record. Aesthetically perfect with a backbone of great songs. Anytime I play this I either get knowing nods or questions about who it is.
7) Art Garfunkel – Breakaway (1975)
Artie’s first and best solo record. A great selection of covers, especially ’99 Miles From LA’ (Albert Hammond), ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ (The Flamingoes, duh) and ‘Disney Girls’ (The Beach Boys/Bruce Johnston). Crack band and smooth as shit production.
8) Randy Newman – Little Criminals (1977)
The Randy Newman catalog is sort of a nebulous beast, but Little Criminals is a good entry point. It showcases his sense of humor, his restraint, his crushing lyrics (‘Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father’ and ‘In Germany Before the War’ — keep a hanky handy), and his excellent taste in backing musicians (Jim Keltner, Lee Sklar and most of The Eagles on this record). ‘Jolly Coppers on Parade’ is an entire song made from a single, fleeting image. 
9) Longmont Potion Castle – Volume 9 (2012)
If you don’t know what this is, well, I don’t think I could possibly explain it to you. PHONE JAZZ.
10) Brinsley Schwarz (1970)
A side of Nick Lowe most people don’t know about. The seminal Pub Rock band, Brinsley Schwarz are due for a rediscovery. Think of a less-druggy Grateful Dead or The Band singing more love songs and less about The Civil War. Side 1 Track 1 should do the trick. 
(As promised:
Nightlands’ “I Fell In Love With A Feeling”:
Nightlands’ “So Far So Long”:
Top of the Key (Dave Hartley’s basketball column on XPN’s The Key):