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Nialler9’s top 50 albums of 2013

Nialler9’s top 50 albums of 2013


Artwork by Fatti Burke.

Here it is. My top 50 favourite albums of the year counting down. There’s a Spotify playlist available for it all but click down to get some context for each album from 21 to 1. Top 100 songs of the year tomorrow.

Spotify Best Albums of 2013 playlist

50. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu
49. Danny Brown – Old
48. Ghostpoet – Some Say I So I Say Light
47. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
46. Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return
45. Little Green Cars – Absolute Zero
44. Forest Swords – Forest Swords
43. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety
42. Ikonika – Aerotropolis
41. Gold Panda – Half Of Where You Live
40. Daughter – If You Leave
39. Gramme – Fascination
38. And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures
37. Austra – Olympia
36. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
35. Julia Holter – Loud City Song
34. Blondes – Swisher
33. Local Natives – Hummingbird
32. Space Dimension Controller – Welcome to Mikrosector-50
31. Holy Ghost! – Dynamics
30. Rhye – Woman
29. Dancing Suns – Goldmine
28. Solar Bears – Supermigration
27. Lisa O’Neill – Same Cloth Or Not
26. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
25. Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
24. James Blake – Overgrown
23. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
22. Lasertom – Drift
21. Arctic Monkeys – AM

20. FaltyDL – Hardcourage

FaltyDLA gentle emotive house and techno album informed by jazz and soul music and inspired by love.

“Its 10 tracks have a refreshing directness to them for a dude who previously liked to coat his beats in a glossy gauze.

No longer is FaltyDL’s music “soaked in muggy, sweaty tropical tourism,” Hardcourage is instead, by osmosis, soaked in the sounds of the best of electronic music today. The brave mix of genres and influences produces a release entirely his own though. Lustman has stepped out of the haze.”

19. Come On Live Long – Everything Fall

COLLExtra impressive debut album from Irish alt-indie band.

“They have that assured dynamic, that confidence that comes only from a band who know who they are and what they’re at. Their debut album Everything Fall confirms that.

“Over ten songs, there’s not a big let up in the quality which means Come On Live Long’s debut is an admirable one. Opener ‘Wasteland’ is a microcosm of the band’s defining characteristics; crashing snapping drums by Steven Battle (which sound wonderfully post-treated by Conor Gaffney), bright guitar tones underpinned by electronic, keyboard and percussive sounds match singers Robert Ardiff and Gaffney’s dual vocal counterpoints and are heightened by cavernous crescendos.”

18. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon

King KruleArchy Marshall’s debut is messy business but his talent shines through..

“The album is sprawling, too long and messy yes, but Marshall keeps it close to his throat, devouring the plentiful space that his minimal meandering jazzy guitar and piano arrangements attempt to occupy.

“Marshall spits, screams, sneers, gobs, phlegms, shouts and mangles his words. His heavily-accented voice has a low-range versatility that is full of cutting craggy expression. On ‘Has This Hit?’, Marshall is searing and seething, sounding like a true uncouth teenager with confident gait about to lob a stone at a stranger for the laugh.”

17. Villagers – {Awayland}

VillagersConor O’Brien and band’s first record made completely together makes for a rich and dynamic second Villagers album.

“As ever though with O’Brien, it’s those simply constructed lines that repeat with the listener of which ‘Earthly Pleasure’ is perhaps the richest on the album. A story that starts with the protagonist ‘naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth / when he suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of doubt,’ before being whisked away to the early 19th century to rant in front of a queen: ‘Lucifer is in our court; Beelzebub is in our banks.’

“Throughout, simple wordy treasures are largely matched with worldly textures. {ayland} is a trove of confident and carefully crafted music and lyrics.”

16. Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

JanelleThe Archandroid’s second album is busier, deeper but an overall better record.

“Monae remains in unique in retro-futurist territory, she dances and prances around her influences. ‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’ is a pure slowed-down Motown ballad, the ’80s reggae softness of the Lionel Richie meets UB40 ‘What An Experience’, ‘Ghetto Woman’ channels Stevie Wonder, ‘Look Into My Eyes’ is a pure Bond theme song, ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ does the ‘Hey Ya!” ’50s jittery pop thing and throughout the album’s 19 songs, there’s Parliament-esque psychedelic funk, nods to Outkast, cinematic classical strings, disco, R&B, jazz, soul and radio skits. Yet, Monae’s ability to display her these touchstones while putting her own timeless stamp over it all is one of the reasons why she’s such a magnetising artist.

The Electric Lady is a celebration of equality and self-acceptance, a LGBT-friendly, sensually-charged all-dancing queenly bacchanalia. And Monae has the big electric personality to make it work on a grand scale.”

15. Factory Floor – Factory Floor

Factory FloorLong-awaited analogue monochrome dystopian disco debut.

“On this self-titled album, Factory Floor have ditched the punk guitar tones that likened them to Joy Division for some and have delved further into the dancefloor: albeit an avant garde sinister one now more closely resembling ’80s electro than post-punk.

The 10 tracks here brim with a metronomic pulse. Minimal is its modus operandi, even more than on previous releases. Arpeggiated synthesizers collide with automated machine-like human percussion and disembodied vocals provide the colour. That’s the monochrome template here in rising degrees of intensity.”

14. Kelela – CUT 4 ME

KelelaThe LA singer with the Aaliyah voice enlists Girl Unit, Nguzunguzu, Jam City and more to make the case for the future of R&B electronic music.

“These days singers are drafted in to suit the song’s production tapestry. On her new mixtape Cut 4 Me, Kelela teams up with producers like Girl Unit, Bok Bok and Jam City and the collaboration is mutually beneficial rather than a one-sided one. The 10 producers listed primarily serve the singer and the song. Kelela is the star, as the title hints. As a result, the tendency to go full force into head-tilting production is reigned in by Kelela’s significant R&B melodic sensibilities.

Cut 4 Me is engrossing for its 50 minute duration and feels more like a debut album than a mixtape per se. It’s a collection of tracks that sounds like a future, if not the future, of bass/electronic/R&B/pop music.

13. Girls Names – The New Life

GIrls NamesBelfast band’s second record loses the jangle-pop and maker deeper connections in alternative guitar music.

“If you think in terms of colours (no synaesthesia required), then the discography of Girls Names would evoke austere tones; drab greys, pale blues and dark browns. The New Life is much more detailed: pitch blues, powder greys and mahogany browns. I know it’s journalistically pretentious to compare sound to colours but the point is, those nuances have been amplified, expanded and made distinctive.

“Emphasis is on creating a mood over its tracklisting than singling out individual songs. It’s rather languid compared to previous releases but the bleakness is more evocative than anything they’ve done.

“But it’s not all doom, gloom and looking at your shoes. There are many moments of captivating sonics; whether it’s the burst of angular guitar in ‘Drawing Lines’, the psychedelic swathes that envelope ‘Occultation’, the restrained energetic tones of ‘Notion’ or hypnotic arrangement of ‘The New Life’ to name several.”

12. Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe

BarwickChoral sumptuousness produced with Icelandic epic know-how.

“Julianna Barwick’s 2011 second album The Magic Place used her looped vocal lines to create sumptuous choral noise that has more in common with synthetic ambient music then community choirs. A ghostly gorgeous imprint was the outcome. Nepethene feels much more alive.

With the compositions becoming less loop-based and drawn from one mind, the arrangements don’t rely on sustained layering as much as before. Instead, the album exudes a rich glow of noise that is concocted of more substantial source material. The result is a calming collection of choral-assisted music that has a more multi-faceted panoramic sound.”

11. Disclosure – Settle

DisclosureA super fun solid debut from the young Lawrence Brothers who use their guest vocalists wisely.

“It’s an album that is well constructed, an engaging listen, good for dancing and fun to experience. For those seeking an album for the summer; we haven’t had a lot of those despite hopes but this a perfect album for sticking on at a party or a gathering of friends. There’s no messing or interludes into experimental lo-fi jams, this is all about keeping the tempo up, which seems to be a rare thing at the moment for albums.”

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