Monday 2 December 2013

My Top 20 Favourite Albums of 2013

The year is coming to an end and its time to have a look back at 2013's greatest albums. Here are 20 of my personal favourites.

20 – 10

20. Incitare – Volto!

Prog rock/jazz fusion album, featuring Danny Carey - the drummer from Prog metal band, Tool. Its pretentious, instrumental show-offery but I love it nonetheless.

Favourite tracks: 'Drumbeaux', 'Tocino'

19. The Marshall Mathers LP 2 – Eminem

Shady’s back, bringing with him hyper-speed flows and brilliantly entertaining wordplay. The legend reaffirms his position as king of rap - or should I say, 'rap god'.

Favourite tracks: 'Love Game' (ft. Kendrick Lamar), 'Evil Twin'

18. Drenge – Drenge

This is angst-ridden, moody, British grunge. I like my rock n roll to be rock n roll and this holds back no punches, teeming with raw riffs to smash up your bedroom to and utterly unromantic track titles like 'People in Love Make me Feel Yuck' and 'I Want to Break you in Half'.

Favourite tracks: 'Bloodsports', 'Let’s Pretend'

17. Abandon All Life – Nails

Only 17 minutes in length, Abandon All Life makes up for its brevity by cramming its 17 minutes with some of the heaviest, loudest, most brutal grindcore ever created. A face-melting, bone-crushing thrill ride that will probably just sound like plain, old noise to most sane people.

Favourite tracks: 'God’s Cold Hands', 'Suum Cuique'

16. The Night’s Gambit – Ka

Thinking man’s hip hop. Ka delivers some truly poetic wordplay over dark yet subtle beats. Definitely give the last track, 'Off the Record', a gander if you’re a hip hop fan. It’s an entire song made up of famous rap album titles.

Favourite tracks: 'Jungle', 'Off the Record'

15. Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

If you haven’t heard of Daft Punk, WHO ARE YOU??? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN HIDING??? The French house music giants have been dominating the radio airwaves this year, reviving disco music. A great album to chill and unwind to and a fantastic tribute to the roots of electronic music.

Favourite tracks: 'Doin it right' (ft. Panda Bear), 'Contact'

14. Anything in Return – Toro y Moi

Toro y Moi continues to push forward his signature chillwave style, incorporate more of a house sound. The production is bright and soothing with enough of a groove to get the head bobbing. His wistful voice is gorgeous as ever. 

Favourite tracks: 'Harm in Change', 'Say That'

13. Target Earth – Voivod

Prog/thrash metal band Voivod deliver a barrage of dissonant chords and riffs that will make you want to scrunch up your face like you're eating sour sweets. Despite losing lead guitarist, Piggy, the band have managed to maintain their identifiable sound and honour his memory.

Favourite tracks: 'Target Earth', 'Mechanical Mind'

12. Overgrown – James Blake

Ethereal, soft, electronic r&b with some beautifully tortured vocals from James Blake, drenched in ghostly reverb. There's nothing out there like it. 

Favourite tracks: 'Overgrown', 'Retrograde'

11. Government Plates – Death Grips

As forward-thinking as ever, Death Grips continue to pump out their brand of experimental, hyper-aggressive hip hop, this time making the instrumentation the emphasis. The beats are more 'noided' than ever.

Favourite tracks: 'Anne Bonny', 'Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)'

10 – 1

10. Like Clockwork… - Queens of the Stone Age

Stoner rock band, QOTSA, get a little gloomier and less aggressive, delivering what might be their best album yet in my opinion. No track feels redundant and Josh Homme really plays with his vocal range.

Favourite tracks: 'The Vampyre of Time and Memory', 'Kalopsia', 'I Appear Missing'

9. The Next Day – David Bowie

Whoever said getting older makes you less creative was wrong. At 66, Bowie shows he’s still full of musical ideas. He merges together every style he’s ever experimented with, topping it off with newly edgy lyrics and a uniquely hazy production style. Ignore the silly album cover.

Favourite tracks: 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)', 'If You Can See Me', 'Heat'

8. Wolf – Tyler the Creator

The Odd Future, cockroach-eating rapper is still as obnoxious as ever but I think you’d be equally obnoxious to ignore his talent. Two of the tracks see him really getting fairly emotional and there’s none of the OTT 'Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School' shock value of Goblin. His jazzy, melancholy beats are brilliant too. I'm slowly becoming a Tyler fanboy.

Favourite tracks: 'Jamba', 'Answer', 'Tamale'

7. Nostalgic 64 – Denzel Curry

Floridian up-and-coming rapper Denzel Curry plays with hard-hitting trap and cloud-rap beats, spitting some truly gritty bars. 'Your mama ain’t shit, your daddy ain’t shit, and then you realise that life is a bitch'. Pretty dismal but a refreshing break from all the glorified gangsta arrogance of other current hip hop artists.

Favourite tracks: 'Parents', 'N64', 'Denny Cascade'

6. MBV – My Bloody Valentine

This is the shoegaze rock band’s first album in 21 years (that’s my entire lifetime!). Loud and distorted guitars play beautiful melodies creating a dreamlike state that no other band can imitate. Listening to this, I imagine myself stood on a clifftop, the music echoing at me across the sea from God’s 300ft speakers. These dudes overwhelm me.

Favourite tracks: 'Only Tomorrow', 'Who Sees You', 'Wonder 2'

5. The Terror – The Flaming Lips

Hands down, the trippiest, goddamn thing I’ve ever heard! The album lives up to its name, The Terror, playing out like a nightmare. Psychedelic rock group, The Flaming Lips, are known for their avantgarde tendencies, but this is on a separate plain of reality.

Favourite tracks: 'Look… the Sun is Rising', 'Be Free, a Way', 'You Lust'

4. Altered State – Tesseract

Tesseract take the dissonant prog metal style of “djent” and manage to make it so melodic, that at times it feels almost ambient. The band do away with cookie monster vocals, employing new vocalist Ashe O’Hara. His clean, high register vocals expertly contrast the bassy, highly distorted guitar riffage. Metal album of the year.

Favourite tracks: 'Nocturne', 'Eclipse', 'Singularity'

3. Settle – Disclosure

Disclosure revive the feelgood factor of 90s house and garage music, giving it modern production, to create some awesome, summery, glossy, energetic, babymaking music. The synth chords are smooth and sweet as hot chocolate and the vocal contributions are all flawless.

Favourite tracks: 'When a Fire Starts to Burn', 'White Noise' (ft. AlunaGeorge), 'Voices' (ft. Sasha Keable)'

2. The Electric Lady – Janelle Monae

Dizzying in its sheer variety, Janelle has managed to make an r&b odyssey that plays out like a movie, interspersed with orchestral interludes, comical robot radio station skits, epic guitar solos, rapped verses and whatever else she can throw at the listener. It’s a truly impressive record, due to Janelle’s divine ability to replicate pretty much every r&b vocal style out there, and it’s so fast paced that it never grows dull.
Favourite tracks: “Electric Lady”, “Dance Apocalyptic”, “Ghetto Woman”

1. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (MY ALBUM OF THE YEAR!)

This hip hop masterpiece is the work of El-P and Killer Mike, two veteran underground rappers who have decided to team up for double-awesomeness. The flows on this thing are insane, the lyrics are witty and the beats are massive. They're able to get political without getting preachy, while countering this with wholly fun diss tracks. The duo have already suggested doing more albums together in the future under the same name. I’m psyched at the prospect of more Run the Jewels!

Favourite tracks: 'Banana Clipper feat. Big Boi', 'Ddfn', 'Sea Legs'



13 - Black Sabbath
Comedown Machine - The Strokes
Doris - Earl Sweatshirt
Acid Rap - Chance the Rapper
Vexovoid - Portal
Vapor City - Machinedrum
Ed Rec, Vol. X - EdBanger Records (Various Artists)