Albums and songs of 2013

Here is my yearly round-up of music that did it for me. It was a great year, especially for the more left-of-centre stuff. I spent many hours trawling BANDCAMP, helped fund a few projects on PLEDGE MUSIC and hung out at my usual hunting grounds: eMusic, Beatport and iTunes.

There are only ten albums, but they are ones I spent a lot of time with. I’ve included my stand-out track to check out with links to preview. In no particular order:

Marnie – Crystal World

Marnie - Crystal World

Marnie – Crystal World

Lead singer of Ladytron’s solo crowd-funded album. Perfect electro-pop. Try The Hunter

Agnes Obel – Aventine

Agnes Obel - Aventine

Agnes Obel – Aventine

Mostly voice and piano. Folky but nudging classical. Delicate, dark and contemplative. Try Dorian

Best Coast – Fade away

Best Coast - Fade away

Best Coast – Fade away

For some reason the critics didn’t like this album. Don’t know why…I thought it was even better than the last. Quirky indie-surf. Try Fade Away.

Frown – Teenage swim

Frown - Teenage swim

Frown – Teenage swim

South African electro. Confident, moody and ethereal with some classic electronic influences. Try Harm

His Clancyness – Vicious

His Clancyness - Vicious

His Clancyness – Vicious

Stumbled on this randomly. Dude played in various punk bands and then released psych-pop gems from his bedroom which led to a Fatcat signing. Sometimes Arcade Fire lite with strong 80s new wave pull (in a good way). Try Crystal Clear

The Julie Ruin – Run fast

The Julie Ruin - Run fast

The Julie Ruin – Run fast

Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill and Le Tigre) releases new album by her side project The Julie Ruin. Guitar-driven, raw and very shouty. Try Oh Come On.

Julianna Barwick – Pacing

Julianna Barwick- Pacing

Julianna Barwick- Pacing

Classical with experimental electronic loopy undercurrent. Very slow, expressive and sad in a sad soundtrack kinda way. She also released and album called Nepenthe which I downloaded and somehow lost…Try Call.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the sky away

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the sky away

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the sky away

I’ve been very critical of Mr. Cave recently because the albums, well,  haven’t been particularly good. Don’t even mention that Grinderman rubbish. This though, is a true return to form and the only CD I purchased this year. Try Jubilee Street.

Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is beauty

Chelsea Wolf - Pain is beauty

Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is beauty

Folk music for goths and ex-goths alike. Works equally as well for those leaning to the darker side of country, murder ballads and such. Try Feral Love

Bleached – Ride your heart

Bleached - Ride your heart

Bleached – Ride your heart

Imagine The Shangri-Las through a fuzz-box. Try Next Stop.

This compilation gets a special mention:

Bonobo – Late night tales (Compilation)

Bonobo - Late night tales

Bonobo – Late night tales

The latest in this amazing range sees Bonobo pick an introspective and influential selection of classical, jazz, folk, soul, ambient, electro and indie soundscapes.

So then…no place for Arcade Fire, The National, Foals, Weeknd or the new Knife as far as albums go, but there you go. Perhaps they’ll grow on me over the years.

There were so many songs to choose from this year. None of the songs here are from any of the above albums list. Either the album as a whole didn’t stand up for me or it was all I heard from the band. I pull music from so many places and it’s difficult to check out everything. So as not to get too carried away, I’ve limited the lists to a Top 10 in each category:

Top 10 INDIE/POP tracks of 2013

Blouse – Eyesight

Joy Formidable – This ladder is ours

National – Sea of love

Dum Dum Girls – Lost boys and girls club

Chvrches – Lies

Angel Olsen – Forgiven/Forgotten

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Sacrilege

Colleen Green – Heavy shit

Holy Ghost! – Okay

No Joy – Heedless

Top 10 COMEDOWN tracks of 2013

Blurred City Lights – Circles (the male half of Curve’s new project)

Ampersand – The hoarder (Off JHB based Warren Cohen’s new EP)

Boards of Canada – Reach for the dead

Billie Joe & Norah Jones – Down in the willow garden (Greenday dude and Norah Jones. Surprisingly good too!)

Chloe Howl – How proud (So much better than Lorde)

Daughter – Get Lucky (This Daft Punk cover is my song of the year)

London Grammar – Wasting my young years (Just loved this song…and their cover of Nightcall)

Lower Plenty – Strange beast (Doomy Sinatra/Hazelwood type of thing)

Sarah Neufeld – Hero brother (Violinist from Arcade Fire’s solo expedition)

Valerie June – Twined and twisted (quirky little track from her country/gospel/Appalachian/bluegrass inspired album)

Lookout for two 2013 mixes I’ll be posting on my MIXCLOUD page featuring the above tracks and more: Indie2013 and Comedown2013.

Last year, for a bit of fun, I did an all-dance mix which proved popular. I’m busy with an ULTIMIX@6 mix for 5FM which will feature all my top 2013  dance tracks that will be aired sometime in January. Once it’s played, I’ll add it to Mixcloud. It’s already in the planning stages and so far Yo Grapes, Hello Phones, Factory Floor, Baio, Connan Mockasin, Rory Philips and Daughter have all got the nod.