GIITTV’s Albums of 2013: #25-1

GIITTV’s Albums of 2013: #25-1

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So we reach the crescendo of our year, the run down of the top albums in the GIITTV writers poll for 2013. These 25 albums reflect the eclectic range of taste on show and reflect the passions of our writers that they display to great affect on these pages every day of the year, along with the enduring standard of work that has been released this year. Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds came out on top for their fabulous album ‘Push the Sky Away’. Have a Merry Christmas! If you haven’t been paying attention here are the first two parts: GIITTV’s albums of 2013 100-50 GIITTV’s albums of 2013 50-25

 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 'Push The Sky Away'

1 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away “Arguably Nick Cave and his miscreant troupes most mature, sophisticated and luxuriant suite yet, Push The Sky Away is a compelling deliberation, capturing the modern anxieties and travails of contemporary life in the Antipodean’s adopted home of Brighton & Hove – a psycho-geographic story first set out in the pages of Cave’s The Death Of Bunny Munro. Cave’s Rasputan bearded, grizzled foil, Warren Ellis once again adds a certain primal cry of wantonness and chaotic despair to the deep velvety, Cohen like, vocals, as the the Seeds provide a ponderous and often broody backing. Venting and questioning the philosophically challenging themes of our present digital age, Cave envisages a strange alter-world in which Miley Cryus (and this was written before the crude twerking and wrecking ball controversy) floats in a pool and exasperates at waiting in queues, as the Higgs Boson particle whizzes around, underneath the Swiss landscape. A dualism of trivial and the meaning of life crossing paths to prompt, irk or pose the anxious questions of the day.”(Dominic Valvona)

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2 The National – Trouble Will Find Me

”Trouble Will Find Me’ is very good indeed – a record that combines the DNA of their previous three records with a more sombre, contemplative manner; yet still delivering a swirling maelstrom of emotion when required. While the slow pace of many tracks (and especially the reflective second half) may alienate some long-term fans, there’s a true subtlety within the tracks that becomes clear with frequent listens and the haunting beauty of Matt Berninger’s baritone continues to loom above their music like a sun-framed raincloud and the whole thing sounds simply gorgeous. Though maybe not as immediately dumb-striking as High Violet was back in 2010, it’s a fascinating combination of textures and sounds that only a band with their unique abilities can conjure up. They’re certainly not going to drop the ball on their magnificently consistent record just yet, and in ‘Graceless’, they might just have the album track of 2013 on their hands already. Welcome back boys, we’ve sorely missed you.” (David Edwards) 3 Jon Hopkins – Immunity

“With Immunity, Jon Hopkins has succeeded in striking alchemical gold with an amalgam of electronic beats and analogue instrumentation. While there is nothing new in that, this cracker of a record does capture the essence of what this year has been about in the realm of electronic music, and this is what really makes it special. Immunity has an immediate impact, capturing the imagination from the first spin. Indeed, from the very first listen the album reveals depth, nuance and cohesion, and over repeat listening this becomes only more apparent. Like so much electronic music in 2013, the focus is as much on texture and an expansive soundscape as it is on dance floor inspired beats. By dropping into intimate piano led numbers, however, Hopkins delivers the most personable electronic record of the year and that seems to have won him a great many fans. (Michael Mcdonald)

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4 Arctic Monkeys- AM

“Eight years ago, Arctic Monkeys appeared, as if out of nowhere, and gatecrashed the singles and albums charts, never mind the media. And if at first I wrote them off as a bunch of Libertines rip-offs (and I still think ‘Fake Tales Of San Francisco’ sounds way too like ‘Riverboat Song’ by Ocean Dullard Scene for comfort), within a short space of time, I too was won over. The thing is, while so many bands burned out or faded away, Arctic Monkeys have – to paraphrase Blade Runner – burned twice as bright and twice as long. On this, their fifth album in a little over seven years, they show no sign of losing their edge. A song like current single ‘Why D’you Only Call Me When You’re High?’ is a case in point. Most indie bands who try to make out that they’ve been listening to ‘urban’ music usually fall flat on their faces. But what Alex Turner and his crew have managed to do is to take Hip-Hop influences and make another classic Arctic Monkeys song -and there’s not an embarrassing rap in earshot, either.”(Ed Jupp) Read More

5 Foals- Holy Fire

“‘Holy Fire’, is the third effort from Foals. Storming lead single ‘Inhaler’ and ‘My Number’, seemed to suggest that this new record was going to be something truly special. ‘Holy Fire’ doesn’t quite live up to that promise, but it’s a step forward into bigger things that delivers a number of essential moments. The aforementioned ‘Inhaler’ is undoubtedly one such highlight, hard swaggering funk and a prime example of the thicker, more muscular production provided by Alan Moulder and Flood. The stratospheric blast of the chorus elevates it to a thrillingly spectacular level that I was hoping could be matched by the rest of this LP. But there are some other superb examples of their craft here as well, like the instant hooks, chiming guitars and bright disco vibe of ‘My Number’. In places it reminds me of an Ibiza dance anthem combined with a hint of Fleetwood Mac. And it’s ace. So is the album’s centrepiece ‘Late Night’, a confessional, soul baring relative of the previous record’s ‘Spanish Sahara’ that slips into some smooth funk, building up brilliantly before rising into a pleading climax. The closing ‘Moon’ is another high point, a sparsely arranged lullaby blessed with a hazy, slow burning translucence. Elsewhere, with its pumped up danger and tricky rhythms, ‘Providence’ is the closest they come to the debut ‘Antidotes’. There’s not one bad song on ‘Holy Fire’, but as a whole it’s somewhat lacking in variety. Which is maybe why the second half’s ‘Stepson’ and ‘Black Spiders’ don’t really stand out compared to the infectious, vibrant ‘Everytime’ and the euphoric Cure-esque ‘Out Of The Woods’, which do the job a lot better. It’s a bigger, more confident record that retains the atmosphere of ‘Total Life Forever’, and moves further from their math-rock beginnings. Expect that army of fans to keep on growing.”(Ben P Scott)

 

6 Arcade Fire- Reflektor

“Is it their best record? Almost certainly not. Is it a truly great and definitive record? Likewise, probably not. Does it continue the trend of Arcade Fire proving chameleonic and unwilling to rest upon their laurels for long, dragging diverse strands of influence into the public consciousness? Yes it does. Much of the initial backlash against Reflektor can be laid squarely at the doors of the band and their management – a relentlessly tedious and drawn-out process of graffiti, billboards and pseudonyms; culminating in most of the media having one shot at drawing conclusions on an unwieldy, unpredictable sprawling beast of a record. As such, the original prevailing feeling (including this long-term fan) was one of intense disappointment and a longing for the immediacy of what made Arcade Fire special in the first place.

But scratch the surface and these initial doubts eventually multiplied into Reflektor’s greates strengths. It is unlike any of their other records: the sound of a band casting off preconceptions and embracing disco, white-boy funk and soul, Afrobeat and Haitian beats. Loosely based around the

Orpheus/Eurydice myth, the first half is a chaotic, often bewildering array of polyrhythms and sudden, jarring changes in tempo – the struggle. While in contrast, the second half unfolds with disarming emotional reveals – regret, loss, sorrow and ultimately a dizzying, breathless, ethereal closer in ‘Supersymmetry’, where you’re never quite sure what has been taken and what has been left. This feeling of gain and loss, hope and disappointment, belonging and alienation is what pervades Reflektor to the core. It’s not perfect (‘Porno’ and ‘You Already Know’ are disposable while ‘Joan of Arc’ gets stuck in clumsy lyrical furrows) but at its finest (‘Afterlife’, ‘Here Comes the Night Time’, ‘Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)’ and ‘Normal Person’) it simply soars with a unique and multi-coloured wingspan. Oh, and then there’s the seven-minute title track: swooping and folding in upon itself with arguably the most thrilling moment of the musical year when David Bowie turns up to offer his voice to the proceedings. In a year of albums that slowly grew upon you, Reflektor proved the perfect example of an album where uncovering the many layers allowed true appreciation of a piece of work far more than the sum of its constituent parts: the sound of a band with nothing left to prove, but continuing to explore beyond their boundaries with the horizon never far from their eye-line.”(David Edwards)

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7 Savages- Silence Yourself

“Twelve months ago, Savages’ single Husbands was the most exciting sound going. A gasping, tearing two and a half minute tornado that promised something almost too good to properly put into words: a snarling all-woman post-punk outfit able to make guitar music in the 21st century sound necessary again. Though it recalled Joy Division, Siouxsie Soux and others, with Husbands they really threw down a marker in that no one in the UK was making music quite like it. On their full length record, Savages made good on that promise: an 11-track debut whose whole was a greater sum of its bared bones and bared soul parts. The bitterness in the vocals and uneasy guitar lines produce a depth of feeling from contrasting frosty and vociferous atmospheres that jar, perhaps purposely, but in doing so they light up Silence Yourself with moments of unmarshalled emotion. Accentuated by swaggering bass lines and ferocious drumming, the songs disturb and linger, but most of all, leave the listener without doubt that Savages are here to be heard. Silence Yourself will, rightly, echo through British music for years to come.”(Tim Miller) sigurkveik

8 Sigur Ros – Kveikur

“Following last year’s fragile, understated Valtari, the Ros revived their long-dormant rhythm section and exploded back into life with their most immediate album since 2005’s Takk. Kveikur mixed their trademark glacial magnificence with bursts of industrial noise and glitchy electronica, as well as a few anthemic choruses to keep the nature doc soundtrackers happy. Truly a band at the height of their powers.”(Tim Russell)

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9 Queens Of The Stone Age- Like Clockwork

“Musically, ‘…Like Clockwork’ Itself references Radiohead‘s ‘Paranoid Android’ in it’s stately/pained march backward/forward, while an over-raching feeling of Guns n’ Roses with a political consciousness or any sense of time, place, or cultural context permeates through others. QOTSA and Gold Blade both bring out an incredibly dirty, powerful bass tone on simultaneous work, while the recent releases of The Flaming Lips, The Strokes, Nick Cave or David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ are only matched by the sheer ire of Bowie’s title track in consistent intent of purpose. In the same way that Siouxsie and the Banshees emitted a desperate howl of directed pain and pointlessness in the mid-eighties, Queens Of The Stone Age have levelled their stare for this decade. Josh Homme sat by the ocean, on the edge of a cliff, while deciding that the bullshit we had to pretend to stomach was too much to keep down. ‘…Like Clockwork’ wakes you up, raises the bar, then punches you in the face.”(Sean BW Parker)

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10 Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

“Kurt Vile returns two years after the release of the fabulous Smoke Ring For My Halo with his fifth album release Wakin On A Pretty Daze out on Matador Records this week. Layers of swooning guitar, soft steady drum rhythms and lazy vocals are poised to guide you on more lucid dreams or conjure memories of where you first connected with the translucent swirls and near psychedelic sounds of previous albums. There’s an individualistic youthful feel that is apparent throughout WOAPD, with many tracks sounding like they began in the bedroom of a teenage Kurt Vile, still full of exploration around the simplicity of a few chords and with lyrics that make sense only to the writer. Full of space yet filled with constant reverberations, KV’s style is unique and within this album, he shows more skilled song-writing capabilities from his previous releases. KV’s music seems to have a timeless purity and I hope it entices other listeners to bask in their own escapism and freedom of thought as it does with me. If Kurt Vile isn’t my spirit guide, then he has most definitely produced the soundtrack that plays whilst I’m journeying.”(Andy Davies)

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11 Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

“Out of all the British rock legends of our generation, the Manic Street Preachersare arguably the band who have stood the test of time most effectively. Through constant change and reinvention, with each record they have always come back as a slightly different group. All of their albums stand as particular snapshots of time that document the various points this band have arrived at during their long journey together, and now their 11th LP marks the dawn of another new era for the group. ‘Rewind The Film’ is an album that proves magic can occur when a band follows its instincts rather than pushing hard for calculated results. It seems a lot less concerned about commercial success previous outings. Mainstream fame? They’ve been there, done that. Now their reward is the freedom to stay true to themselves and concentrate on their own ambitions, surely more rewarding than any of those platinum discs. The people carrier-driving Absolute Radio brigade hankering for mammoth rock anthems will run a mile when they set ears on the likes of ‘Manorbier’. Don’t come here looking for another ‘Archives Of Pain’ either: ‘Anthem For A Lost Cause’ and ‘Show Me The Wonder’ are about as far away as you possibly get. Rather than attempting to recreate their past, the most important part their history has played in ‘Rewind The Film’ was bringing them to the point which they are now at. Those of us who have grown up with the music of the Manics should be glad that their music continues to grow with them. We should be also thankful that out of all the bands who have appeared over the last three decades, it’s this incredible group that have survived to tell the tale. Their battles have left them bruised and scarred, but its their experiences that have shaped them, installing a unique emotion into the heart of their music.” (Ben P Scott) Read More

12 Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

 

Bowie Month: Next Day LP cover

13 David Bowie- The Next Day

“It somehow bridges many styles that are completely at odds with each other, adding a new ingredient to gel them together. That new ingredient is the present day. Despite revisiting many eras of his past, he doesn’t ever fall into the trap of self-parody and certainly doesn’t sound like he’s running out of new ideas. He’s challenging himself again, not wishing to end his career with the comfort and steadiness of the previous three LPs. No one else could have made a record like this but Bowie, in fact it’s only now that he himself is capable of doing so. Just like no-one could have made an album like ’Station To Station’ except for the 1976 Bowie. His output is so wide ranging and diverse that none of his albums come close to defining him, because each era saw a different Bowie. But this is a case of looking back while moving forwards. He doesn’t ever sound like a “museum piece” over the course of these 14 tracks, in fact he sounds more hungry and more relevant than he has done for decades. To say it’s a pleasure to have him back would be an understatement.”(Ben P Scott) Read More CHVRCHES_-IMG_0130

14 Chvrches- The Bones Of You Believe

“Chvrches stand at that point where indie meets electronica, and musical forbears might be considered to be the likes of Depeche Mode, Dubstar and Saint Etienne, though they plough their own furrow enough that they are far from being derivative. They’ve spoken of their desire to make sure that their début would not just be anthems like the singles (but when they’re tunes as strong as ‘Recover’ and album opener ‘The Mother We Share’ that wouldn’t necessarily have been an awful record). Tracks like ‘We Sink’ and ‘Science/Vision’ show the different sides to the band, that they can do anthemic and upbeat, but also dark and brooding. It hangs together well as an album and whilst they’ve been hugely popular with taste-makers over the last few months, I would like to think that they could make the leap to mainstream success, because, quite frankly, they deserve to do so.”(Ed Jupp) 15 Hookworms – Pearl Mystic

“Excuse me a second whilst I blow my own cock. Back in 2012 I was asked to pick 3 acts I thought would go on to do big things in 2013, I plumped for Haim (Who), Fidlar (who?) and a band from Leeds I came across one night when I decided to check out the local talent, Hookworms. Before the band had even finished their first song I knew Leeds wouldn’t be able to keep the band their best kept secret much longer, and rightly so. 2013 has seen Hookworms play festivals such as Liverpool Psych Fest, Beacons Festival and the last ever ATP playing songs from their outstanding debut album ‘Pearl Mystic.’ Pearl Mystic has you reeling from the get go, with one of the greatest album openers, maybe, ever ‘Away/Towards’ merging into the psych delight ‘Form & Function’ and so on so forth, by the time the record finishes some 45 minutes later, you’re sweating and crying with delight.”(Aaron Lewins)

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16 Villagers – {Awayland}

“If Villagers first album possessed a sense of growing-up, wanting to take action and a search for freedom, {Awayland} explores where Villagers are now. Having been on the road for two years with the likes of Neil Young and Fleet Foxes they are now looking toward what’s next, and in order to do so are first re-discovering the past. In doing so Villagers have a created a more considered album filled with expansive soundscapes that encapsulates the imagery of home for O’Brien, thus exploring the past, whilst talking of natural and repetitive elements such as the ocean which represents the constant.”(Andy Davies)

17 Deafheaven- Sunbather

 

Teeth Of The Sea Master

18 Teeth Of The Sea- Master

“Sometimes the less written about a piece of musical work, the more likely it is that mere words don’t do justice in describing it. Teeth Of The Sea‘s astonishing third album is a record that’s impossible to categorise and truly stands on its own in a musical world overpopulated by conformism. Incorporating elements of krautrock, electro-prog, psychedelia, metal and even disco (amongst other things) into a puzzle of cosmic terror, it’s a terrific, boundary breaking fusion of sounds. I’ve been trying not to overplay it, however it continues to astound more and more after every listen, so another dose of this mighty brainfuck can be hard to resist. Utilising a range of otherworldly sounds and reaching deep into their boundless imaginations, the London-based outfit have put together something of a masterpiece (no pun intended).”(Ben P Scott) Read More 19 Disclosure- Settle

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20 Future Of The Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

“It’s odd still calling this the new Future Of The Left line-up considering that they’re perhaps now more prolific than the previous incarnation despite the little time they’ve been together. You get the feeling that Falkous is really hitting his stride as a songwriter, creating seethingly cynical music with an anthemic quality that keeps them relevant and makes each Future Of The Left release an exciting prospect. In a world where many musicians are struggling to make ends meet, becoming so disillusioned with their plight that they cease to carry on, I can only implore you to listen to and buy this music. It would be a tragedy indeed to see this golden age of creation cut short for avoidable reasons. In a year as spoiled for quality music as this one, I stand by the fact that this is a contender for the album of the year, if lists are what you need to validate quality and quantify opinion. The world needs more Future Of The Left, so just do as they say and give them your fucking money.”(Steven Morgan)

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21 Darkside- Psychic

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22 Kanye Westt – Yeezus

“Kanye West simply does not give a fuck. This is a man who followed up 2010’s masterpiece ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ by premiering the new, tough guy Kanye via blowing his face up on the side of 66 buildings worldwide, a man who sticks his middle finger up to consumerism and releases his album to 0 fanfare or advertising in a clear jewel case void of any artwork, A man who realising all eyes were on him, comes back into the public eye with an album so in-your-face and antagonistic it’s verging on punk rock, he even managed to piss off The Association of French Bakers in the process. The production on Yeezus is futuristic and forward thinking, and the new Kanye West 2.0 touches on subjects more serious than your average rapper with some of his wittiest and thought provoking lyrics yet. if this album didn’t affect you in any way this time around, play it back in 20 years time.”(Aaron Lewins)

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23 Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

‘Pedestrian Verse’ saw Scottish favourites Frightened Rabbit kickstart the early part of 2013 with a bang, receiving plaudits all-round and deservedly so. The song-writing is, and has always been, their strength and Pedestrian Verse doesn’t disappoint and still sounds as amazing as 2014 fast approaches. (Toni Spencer) daft-punk-random-access-memories

24 Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

“It’s an accessible record that still has a great deal of ambition. But is it a 10 out of 10 like the NME rated it to be this week, and does it deserve the 5 star reviews from Q and other sections of the music press? The answer is not quite. While it may breathe much-needed fresh life into modern dance music, it still has its flaws like most other albums. It’s often brilliant and is worthy of high praise but it’s not perfect and therefore doesn’t quite amount to 100% “couldn’t possibly be any better” full marks. Ignore the hype and avoid any disappointment by just listening to this album and enjoying it for what it is.”(Ben P Scott) Read More

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