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There are only a few things in this world I love more than seeing live music.  I’ve actually kept a list of every artist I’ve ever seen (the first entry is for Dino), along with a grade for the performance and a few words about the show.  While I don’t get to as many shows as I’d like, I was able to see 48 different sets by 46 different artists in 2013.  So I thought I’d give a Top 5 live performances for this year.

Before getting into the Top 5, though, here are some other performances that I want to highlight:

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On January 24, 2005, Minnesota Public Radio launched 89.3 The Current with the playing of Atmosphere’s hidden track off the Seven’s Travels album, “Shhh”.  “Shhh” is an ode to Minnesota and being proud of where you’re from regardless of what others think of your hometown.  It was an incredibly appropriate first track to air on a station who’s mission is to bring its listeners the best new local and national music alongside the music that inspired it.

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2011 has been another good year for music, with a deep list of very good albums released.  This depth has allowed me to extend my usual Top Ten list to a Top Twenty that could easily have gone to 25 or 30 without me breaking a sweat.  That said, ordering the below albums was a little harder than usual because for me there weren’t any truly mind blowing albums released this year.  Ordinarily there is at least one album, if not two or three, that stand head and shoulders above the rest and demand the top spot(s), but that did not happen for me in 2011.  In fact, had this year’s #1 album been released in 2010 it would have been at most #5 on that list (behind Titus Andronicus, Kanye West, Owen Pallett, and Dessa).

I think a big part of my not seeing a true #1 album this year is simply a matter of taste.  A whole lot of lists are putting Bon Iver, Bon Iver at the top but that album simply does not work for me.  While I loved For Emma, its follow-up feels like it is trying too hard (although it would appear successfully) to cross over into the pop realm and sanded off the rough edges that made For Emma so fantastic.  I was even more disappointed in Watch the Throne, which comes off as nothing more than self-indulgent ego stroking.  Add to these disappointments the fact that I’ve never been a fan of Fleet Foxes or My Morning Jacket and some of the years best reviewed albums are off the table for me.

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