Insiders review the 2013 Alaska music scene - and look ahead too

Matt Sullivan

While 2013 made for another memorable year in local music, Play has decided to forgo the usual retrospective routine. Instead of recounting our favorite moments from the past 12 months, we've asked some of the people who made those moments happen to share their highlights. Below is the Anchorage music scene's thoughts on the Anchorage music scene, or at least a small part of it.


What was the best show you saw in Anchorage this past year?

Carlyle Watt, Super Saturated Sugar Strings: Devotchka, New Year's Eve at the Bear Tooth

Mark Nelson, The Sweeteners: Anchorage Community Works grand opening show

Brooklyn Baggett, Anchorage Community Works: Probably our grand opening with Historian, Ghost Hands, Young Fangs and Matt Hopper. Best show not at The Works... probably The Coup at Bear Tooth.

Spencer Shroyer, aka DJ Spencer Lee (and former Play editor): Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. The time those guys put into paying their dues showed with their stage presence. They owned that Egan crowd. Comedy: Bill Maher.

Sarah Pederson, Family Tree Presents: Killswitch Engage. It was actually my second time seeing them since Jesse (Leach, singer) rejoined the band. They were amazing live. Having Jesse back is a culmination for me as I became a fan at the beginning.

Evan Phillips, Whipsaws and Monolith Agency: Bobby Bare Jr. at the third annual Monolith Showcase

Mike McCormick, Whistling Swan Productions: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Dan Bern. Garland Jeffries at the Tap Root. Arlo Guthrie's tribute to his father, Woody.

Jenni May, The Modern Savage: Alaskan artists (now out of Austin, Texas) Steven Bacon and Kendra Kinsey at the Anchorage Museum; it was intimate and beautiful.

Best album from 2013 by an Alaska artist?

Watt: Chad Reynvaan -- "Think of Me Hill."

Nelson: Ghost Hands

Baggett: Sophia Street's album ("Life + Shift"). Addictive

Shroyer: Historian "Romance"

Pederson: Griffith's EP "Polarizer" is pretty damn good!

Phillips: Ghost Hands

McCormick: Anna Lynch

May: Ghost Hand's self-titled album. Especially "Aching Eyes" -- the whole album feels nostalgic and powerful, but that song I could play on repeat all day long.

Favorite album by a non-Alaskan artist?

Watt: "Circuital," My Morning Jacket

Nelson: "Random Access Memories," Daft Punk

Baggett: Lorde, "Pure Heroine"

Shroyer: Classixx, "Hanging Gardens"

Pederson: August Burns Red's "Rescue & Restore," Killswitch Engage's "Disarm The Descent" and Norma Jean's "Wrongdoers" are stellar albums and the best of 2013.

Phillips: Kurt Vile, "Wakin' on a Pretty Daze"

McCormick: "Truth Serum" by Garland Jeffreys, "American Ride" by Willie Nile, "Child Ballads" by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer

May: We mostly revisited old favorites this year: Early Bowie, Patti Smith and Joy Division, among others.

Favorite Alaska band/artist of 2013?

Watt: Young Fangs

Nelson: Young Fangs

Baggett: It's a tie. Historian and Young Fangs

Shroyer: SJ & Drums. Also, Brooke Faulk. Great voice.

Pederson: I have to go with 36 Crazyfists. I can't name a strictly local band.

Phillips: Historian

McCormick: High Lonesome Sound

May: Ghost Hands

What artist would you most want to see play Alaska in 2014?

Watt: Langhorn Slim

Nelson: Black Keys

Baggett: Allen Stone

Shroyer: Kanye West

Pederson: I would absolutely love to reschedule Lamb Of God, but I would also love to see Deftones up here!

Phillips: Wye Oak

McCormick: The Rascals or Ray Davies

May: Santigold (dare to dream)

If you could summarize the Anchorage music scene of 2013 in 10 words or fewer, what would it be?

Watt: Original music inspired by this weird and beautiful place.

Nelson: Growing and shrinking

Baggett: Expanding. Growing. Learning. Collaboration. Exciting.

Shroyer: Rusted Root sold-out. But so did Yelawolf and Dillon Francis

Pederson: For once, metal has taken a back seat to other genres here.

Phillips: The Anchorage music scene in 2013 tickled my fancy.

McCormick: An evolving web of weekly delights.

May: Musicians were expected to leave to become successful; everything's changed.


By Matt Sullivan
Daily News correspondent