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Nialler9’s top 50 albums of 2013

Nialler9’s top 50 albums of 2013


10.Run the Jewels – Run The Jewels

EL-P and Killer Mike’s no-nonsense rap album.

Two heavyweights go hard at their best. 10 tracks, 33 minutes. Run The Jewels doesn’t let up in its mission to be the best pure rap mixtape or album of the year and pretty much owns the competition.

9.Inc. – no world

inc. no worldBrothers in sound and blood create a great R&B mood record…

no world, the debut album from Los Angeles’ Andrew and Daniel Aged aka inc. is another positive example of the current movement’s activity. Formerly known as Teen Inc, the brothers have created a restrained album of atmospheric R&B music by limiting everything to the setting marked ‘gentle’.

“Where most R&B singers soar for big notes and high highs, inc. go for atmosphere and hushed vocals. It’d be tempting to conclude that the duo recorded the vocals in their hushed state so as not to wake their parents up but the gentle delivery is conscious and appealing part of the album. The Aged brothers are no amateurs anyway, they have played as session musicians for names that include Beck, Pharrell and Raphael Saadiq.

That experience is evident over the course of the album’s eleven tracks. Textural live band arrangements that unfurl in a smokey haze, matched by pitter-patter percussion, fingersnaps and hi-hats. The vocals follow a similar pattern of melody throughout creating a mood consistent across the 42 minute running time.”

8.Darkside – Psychic

DARKSIDEA glowing minimal groove record from Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington.

“In album format, Darkside’s music takes its time. The songs often take a stretch of Space Is Only Noise-style ambient flourishes to get going. Opener ‘Golden Arrow’, at over 11 minutes long takes it time warming up with strings, subtle bass, flickering synths before shuddering into a rhythm at the five minute mark.

“Psychic wanders around somewhat aimlessly, always beautifully. It takes blues guitars and ’70s space-rock and puts it into a new template of psychedelic electronic classic rock, minimal and lumbering in a glowing capacity.”

7.The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

KnifeThe Knife’s long-awaited fourth album is terrific, tough, too long but still quite brilliant…

Shaking Of The Habitual is like a haunted house art project filled with terrific music that excites, terrible bits that annoy and not much in between apart from long walks of tension or dissonance, of waiting for something, anything, of significance to happen. The Knife heighten your senses, and dull them again. They get in your face only to disappear into the darkness. It’s this dichotomy, that makes Shaking Of The Habitual such a maddening essential listen.

“This album feels like a statement and that’s increasingly rare in music today. For all its indulgences, the album is never unlistenable but it does test your patience and knock itself to the ground all too frequently.

“That’s because for all its flaws, The Knife create their own world of sound and it’s hard not to be drawn in warts, screeches and 20 minute long ambient pieces and all.”

6.Kanye West – Yeezus

YeezusKanye’s most explicit, most sonically-produced manifesto of a flawed man with flawed ambitions.

“Listening to Yeezus is like watching a really good TV show. You root for the characters you like but are still drawn to the bad ones when they appear. The only difference is that Kanye is letting us see all aspects of himself. He is all the characters here, a multi-faceteted, living breathing contradiction, a simultaneous two-headed beast of good and evil. A god, a man: flawed but who likes to think he’s flawless.

“On ‘Bound 2′ Yeezus ends with Kanye less a tortured immortal but a man admitting his imperfections to his partner: ‘hey, you know ain’t nobody perfect.’ As visceral, vital and as alluring as Yeezus is at its best, it is also flawed, just like its creator.”

5.Mano Le Tough – Changing Days

ManoIrish Berlin-based producer delivers well-crafted electronic album of substance…

“The vernacular of the album’s framework is, of course, dance music, particularly house, informed by Mannion’s spending years of week-in week-out DJing controlling and experiencing parties in Berlin so there’s a natural tilt to proceedings. The shift downwards is a suitable one in terms of allowing room for the unfurling of hypnotic melodies, atmosphere and Mano’s own sung vocals; the first time they are to the forefront.”

“That Changing Days is released on Permanent Vacation, the home to John Talabot’s own brand of contemplative house music, is fitting. Mannion veers closest to sounding like him on the title track ‘Changing Days’, a track which conjures cinematic vistas. Changing Days, the album, serves as an astute companion to Talabot’s own debut from last year ƒIN and puts Mano Le Tough up to the top in terms of electronic albums made by producers in the last few years. No guests vocalists or gimmicks required.”

4.Daniel Avery – Drone Logic

Daniel AveryA jumbo-sized old-fashioned dance debut from the UK producer.

“The debut album from London’s Daniel Avery is delightfully out-of-step with what’s going on in the world of electronic music. You’ll find no twisted R&B, no house vocal samples, no rap source material, no drops, no trap and no jazz sounds. Drone Logic is beautifully old-fashioned in execution: straight-up synths with house/techno beats of the late ’90s Underworld persuasion.”

3.HAIM – Days Are Gone

HAIMAll-killer from the Californian sisters on their superbly crafted debut.

“A sparkling mix of ’80s AM radio rock, classic ’70s pop, ’90s R&B and something intangibly modern. By and large, the 11 songs on the record are traditional in arrangement and tone but it’s the craft of the songwriting, production and nuances that make this debut such a winner and take it beyond any retro tag.”

“The album is formed by a bond that makes this substantial, well-crafted, intricate collection of songs so effortlessly fun. In a way, the debut expectations of most bands don’t apply here, The Haim sisters had years on the competition and it really shows.”

2.I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome

comsoMoody synth pop disco music inspired by a single source song makes for a fruitful album aesthetic.

“The idea for the band came from a single song. ‘Shinzo No Tobira’ by Mariah an early ’80s Japanese band, Turner told Noisey. That song’s motorik bass and resigned gentle synths are the template for much of Monochrome.

“Seeped in analogue equipment, the nine tracks here explore a similar aesthetic pinpointed by the Mariah song: the influences range from ambient Brian Eno records to Italo disco to the moodier side of ’80s synth pop, “tears on the dancefloor” as Murphy called it. Turner doesn’t so much sing as sulk in reverb over eight of the album’s nine tracks which reins in the persistent ryhthm of the instrumentation and injects it with languid melanchola.”

1. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

mk2An expansive and engrossing record that perfectly encapsulates the best of the cross section between alternative, experimental and electronic music right now.

The post-dubstep duo Dominic Maker and Kai Campos’s second record expands on the lo-fi experimental and guitar tones of their debut with a harder-to-define record that takes in slow-burning synths, organ sounds, dreamy arpeggios, indie-guitar band passages, nods to techno and bass music with live drums. King Krule guests on two tracks made for his raspy throat. In ‘Made To Stray’, they made an anthemic dance tune to rival Spastikman that also features a noise that sounds like a buzzing bee.

Spotify Best Albums of 2013 playlist

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