Thursday, January 02, 2014

Albums of 2013


2013 was the best year for new music in a long time. The general quality of records released was at a level not seen for many a year, so much so that just picking 20 albums proved quite difficult, and picking a top 5 almost imposssible (and the order of my top 3 changes depending on what time of day you ask me). This year I discoverd the music of John Grant, Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark, Speedy Ortiz, Chvrches and Laura Mvula, and saw the return of two greats after a long absesne - Bowie and Sabbath.

The Bowie album was, of course, the most unexpected. It is still amazing (considering the world we live in) that he managed to keep not only the album a secret but also the fact that he was even MAKING an album secret. That, when it arrived, it was also very good was a bonus. It is the album I have listened to most in 2013 - which is why it eventually won out over Musgraves and Grant. It plays like a best of album, taking as it does elements of 70s, 80s and 90s bowie in its arrangement and writing, but never feeling like self pastiche. It is a record of 2013. In the post 1980 cut off from Bowie at his faultless best it stands alongside Heathen, Outside, Tin Machine, and Let's Dance as essential Bowie.

Whilst I knew of the Czars and heard a few tracks, and I was also aware of the very positive critical reception that his bebut solo album Queen of Denmark had recieved, I had never really sat down and listen to John Grant until Pale Green Ghosts came out. To say I was hooked immediatley is an understatement. It's quirky blend of electronica and brilliant lyrics had me from the opening track. There is hurt and humour in his songs and a truthfulness that I really love. A beaqutiful songwriter.

Also winning me over with her storytelling was the quite delightful Kacey Musgraves. Modern country music at its best. Taking the essence of the music, placing one foot in the pop pool (although I hope she doesn't do a Taylor Swift and just become a pop act) and wring some wry and well observed lyrics. As for the other 17, all really great records. I hope 2014 can be as good.


1. David Bowie – The Next Day 2. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts 3. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different Park 4. Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana 5=. Summer Camp – Summer Camp 5=. Chvrches – The Bones of What you Believe 7. The Leisure Society – Alone Board the Ark 8. The Joy Formidable – Wolfs Law 9. Brandy Clark – 12 Stories 10. Duckworth Lewis Method – Sticky Wicket 11. Daft Punk – RAM 12. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push Away the Sky 13. Haim – Days are Gone 14. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars 15. Steve Earle & The Dukes and the Duchesses – The Low Highway 16. Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire – RH&LF 17. QOTSA - …Like Clockwork 18. Arctic Monkeys - AM 19. Laura Mvula – Sing to the Moon 20. Black Sabbath - 13

1 comment:

jim marquis said...

It's funny, I always seem to go through the same process every year. Mild depression the first couple months after Christmas and an illogical fear it's going to be a bad year for new music. But then by December my stocking is full and I decide it's been a great year!