Saturday, 28 December 2013

Albums of the year: My 10 of 2013

2013 was quite the year for music, wasn’t it?

Indie land’s big album comebacks, for the most part, hit the mark; numerous cherubic acts cracked the mainstream; and glitch-riddled electronica seemed to percolate every crevasse of popular culture.

For me, the most notable trend in my listening was around just how many female voices I made time for. Julianna Barwick and Julia Holter, in particular, made good with their equally ethereal and mesmerizing longplayers. While the poppier side of my tune-chomping was fed by Charli XcX, Lorde and, yes, even the omnipotent Haim.

I was probably most surprised by the quality of the new Vampire Weekend record. I’ve never been impressed by their preppy pseudo-Graceland schtick, but Modern Vampires of the City moved them into a weightier songwriting sphere that combined their ear for a ditty with a touching sense of emotional depth.

 For a long time, MOVTC was my album of the year. Then Spencer Krug turned up with Julia with Blue Jeans On. One man and his piano does not sound that earth shattering, but this evocative, brittle and downright sumptuous recording dragged me through one of the most draining periods of my life. It is, quite simply, beautiful.

So that’s been my 2013 in music. I’ve listened to a lot, old and new. And even now – at the tailend of December – I’m discovering sounds and sonics that would surely have made my final list had I a few more weeks to let them gestate.

But, time waits for no man, beast or last minute top ten contender. So… as it stands, below are my top 10 records of 2013:

1. Moonface – Julia with Blue Jeans
In one sentence: Beatific ivory tinkling majesty from an artist who finally strips out the metaphor to reveal his ear for startlingly naked songwriting.


2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City 
In one sentence: A developed, fully formed masterpiece that measures melody against compositional depth.


3. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
In one sentence: Submerged in haunting string-bound atmosphere, this is ethereal and comatose elegance at its most sublime.


4. Deptford Goth – Life after Defo 
In one sentence: Tranquilised narco-induced dub-step with a sideline in haunting, heart-melting ballads.


5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
In one sentence: Dark, luscious and brooding with menace; as consistent as Cave and co have been in years.


6. Darkside – Psychic
In one sentence: A bottomless, funk-fuelled opus of astronautic effects and textures.

7. Jon Hopkins – Immunity 
In one sentence: A twitching, high brow collection of sharp electronic clusters, visceral beats and jarring bleeps.


8. Villagers - {Awayland}
In one sentence: A true testament to the art of songwriting, {Awayland} was a complex album that managed to sound ever so simple.


9. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
In one sentence: A James Murphy-inspired regeneration, that’s brash, bold and – at times – funky as hell.


10. Factory Floor – Factory Floor 
In one sentence: Furious, impenetrable and completely deranged, Factory Floor’s debut LP is one of the year’s most barbaric sounds.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Came across your blog via your wife's. I like your list - listening to Vampire Weekend right now. From Kate from Melbourne (Nick Cave's home town)