MICHAEL CHAPMAN ‘WRECKED AGAIN’
FOUR TET ‘BEAUTIFUL REWIND’
“It’s impossible to overstate how vital Wrecked Again still sounds.” – 5/5 RECORD COLLECTOR
“Kieran Hebden gets straight down to the nitty gritty, distilling his complex melodies and rhythms into their most potent form.” – PICCADILLY RECORDS
(LIGHT IN THE ATTIC) LP/CD
FUCK BUTTONS ‘SLOW FOCUS’
CHARLES BRADLEY ‘VICTIM OF LOVE’
“There are few albums this year that oﬀer this much space to get lost in.” – 8.7 PITCHFORK
“Late-owering soul man continues to blossom.” – LEAD 4/5 REVIEW IN MOJO
(ATP RECORDINGS) 2LP/CD
DENT MAY ‘WARM BLANKET’
MELT YOURSELF DOWN ‘MELT YOURSELF DOWN’
“Warm Blanket is a joy to listen to. His sound is wrapped up in a fusion of seventies singer-songwriter grandeur and MOR easy listening pop.” – THIS IS FAKE DIY
“A pulsating, itchy funky brew, pitched somewhere between Pigbag and Can.” – 8/10 UNCUT
(PAW TRACKS) LP/CD
(THE LEAF LABEL) LP/CD
SPEEDY ORTIZ ‘MAJOR ARCANA’
“The guitars and bass sound incredible, like the last Deerhunter album without the Yankee Doodle Dandy.” – 9/10 NME
"A fuzzpunkpopgrungeguitar act that specializes in updating that early 90s indierock sound for the cool kids of today (think Superchunk, Nada Surf, Seam.” – THIS IS FAKE DIY
L. PIERRE ‘THE ISLAND COME TRUE’
YOUNG FATHERS ‘TAPE TWO’
“Texture and the human touch abound in the form of amplied static and hiss on a confounding, canorous set of aural sculptures that get curiouser and curiouser with every turn.” – 4/5 MOJO
“Exhilaratingly baﬄing production and refreshingly sharp and passionate lyrics.” – 9/10 CLASH
MATIAS AGUAYO ‘THE VISITOR’
“Veering wildly between Beach Boys-like melodiousness, starkly monochromatic shadings and Satie-esque minimalism, Obsidian is sometimes baﬄing, always brilliant.” – SUNDAY TIMES
“Hypnotic, raw and sometimes dark. An hour of absorbing rhythmic transport, The Visitor fully satises the brief.” – 4 STAR LEAD REVIEW IN MOJO
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This is a special end of year edition of Deluxe looking back at our favourite albums that have been released over the last year. We drew up a long list of just over 400 albums and all the shop staff re-listened, reassessed and voted on our favourites. Over the next 40 pages you’ll be able to read about those top 100 albums (and a few extra for good measure). They were all released between January and November 2013 (we needed time to vote and put this together so we had to try and impose some sort of cut off mark). We had no direct criteria; essentially, it’s a list of albums that we really dig and have enjoyed playing over the shop stereo. There were quite a few releases by staff this year, so these have been banned from voting to keep things fair! Just as we were compiling this issue there was a sudden batch of
great records on release that we were unable to fit in. This is in many ways why we enjoy being a record shop, there is always so much brilliant new music to listen to and further more, there is the knowledge that there is always something just around the corner. It’s an amazing time to be an independent outlet and we’re really privileged to be able to do what we do. So without getting too gushy at this sentimental time of year, thanks for supporting us. A couple of those honourable mentions that we couldn’t quite include but highly recommend are: Wooden Shjips’ new album is exactly the sort of album you’d be wanting them to make, sunburned sonic jams; Cate Le Bon’s ‘Mug Museum’ is, like all good Welsh psychedelic folk, expertly judged and very addictive listening; all hype aside, Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’ is brilliantly produced and a great listen right across its 75-plus
Compiled and Produced by The Drift Record Shop. Deluxe is printed by Newspaper Club and distributed by Forte Music Distribution Thanks to Jude Rogers, Ruben Nielsen, Tom Wironen, Mike Holdsworth, Nils Frahm, Sofia Ilyas, M.C.Taylor and our friends Flatspot. www.thedriftrecordshop.com www.deluxe.so
minutes; lastly, TOY’s second album ‘Join The Dots’ is honestly superb. It’s a massive step forward for a young band whose debut we raved about last year. If it had been released six weeks earlier we’d have had to rethink the whole list. Even without the other 300-plus records we didn’t have space to tell you about, this has been another stunning year for new music and we hope you really enjoy reading about our highlights. Feel free to come and check them out, you know we’ll be playing them all.
100 Jackson Scott Melbourne A refined bedroom pop record which pitches Jackson somewhere amidst the otherworldly stargazing of Sparklehorse and the determined singularity of Neutral Milk Hotel and Mellow Gold-era Beck. A college dropout with a 4-track and a one-track mind. “what initially sounds like oddball 1960s pop gradually reveals itself to be something else. Though Scott lathers his songs in tape hiss and disembodied noise, but the songs themselves are straight-forward and hooky guitar jams.” - Pitchfork
99 Majical Cloudz Impersonator
present and correct but this time around they’re playing things a little differently. Darker undertones thanks in part to the inclusion of Aaron Dessner of The National who coproduced their second album. “current frontrunners for unexpectedly brilliant comeback of 2013” - NME
97 Bill Ryder-Jones A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart This is undoubtedly one of the most important singer songwriter records that will emerge this year. Last year Ryder-Jones (formally of The Coral) explored this side of his creative talent in full with the orchestral album ‘If…’, which was a grand imaginary soundtrack to Italo Calvino’s post modernist novel ‘If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller’. His new album marries his masterful capacities as arranger and composer with his first firm steps as a singer songwriter.
Majical Cloudz is the voice of Montreal songwriter Devon Welsh, exploring the negative space within electronic music, using his powerful vocals to say “no” to the infinite possibilities Public Service Broadcasting digital instruments provide and instead choosing to focus his attention Inform - Educate - Entertain inwardly. The mood moves between Taking in archive material from the empowering and chilling across the BFI and StudioCanal along with albums ten tracks. A pretty special classic American public information listen. films (such as the brutal driving-safety messages found on single ‘Signal 30’), the album sees PBS seeking to fulfil their mission statement over a wide range of subject matter and styles. What emerges is, by turns, thrilling, moving, funny and powerful; or, if you will, informative, educational and Local Natives most of all – entertaining. “They blend the voices of the past with the music of the Hummingbird present to astounding effect” Local Natives are back! The hotly - The Independent anticipated sophomore album ‘Hummingbird’ sees the band return to form with melodic guitars and soaring harmonies. The LA quartet’s airy, heart-jolting harmonies are still
Seams Quarters Debut album from British-born, Berlin-based James Welch aka Seams. Recorded across four different areas of Berlin, the city’s influence is apparent in ‘Quarters’ minimal beats and focus on rhythm over melody. An impressively unique outlook on electronic production, one that emphasizes miniature details and patient musical movement over unstoppable force and eager hooks.
94 Bonobo The North Borders The North Borders’ is Bonobo’s eagerly anticipated fifth studio album and features appearances from Erykah Badu, Grey Reverend, Szjerdene and Cornelia. Three years on from his breakthrough album ‘Black Sands’, ‘The North Borders’ has kept to a similar widescreen electro-acoustic soundscape, providing us with another selection of upbeat downbeat gems. It has the melancholy and post-dubstep clicks and blips of James Blake and conversely lush strings and organic percussion. It’s brilliantly crafted.
93 Young Fathers Tape Two The range these young men span from song to song is heroic. They are masters of emotion, experts with texture, incredible with rhythms, and fierce wielders of noise. But they are also capable of being all of these things at once and coming out the other end with an odd masterpiece like “Way Down in the Hole,” which begins like
a warm Miguel demo before inhabiting rumble, it’s a far crisper listen, but no less a bombed-out horror score apparently seductive” - Spin Magazine performed by the ghostly inhabitants of the crumpled space between two terraced houses shortly after an air raid. Young Fathers can do this because they have been making music together since they were 14 years old.
92 Föllakzoid II Föllakzoid began in Santiago, Chile from what they describe as the result of, “a product of a trance experience between friends, sort of a soul abduction in which they’ve been living since 2008.” They take their time recording albums, generally allowing two years in between perfecting their songs with their goal being to make something organic, that breaths on it’s own. Throughout these five songs, Föllakzoid craft one of the finest kraut-rock records in years. Let them take you on a serpentine journey through their mystical Chilean land. The Sacred Bones label never puts a foot wrong and we’ve been bopping heads to this left-field gem all year.
91 Psychic Ills One Track Mind When it comes to following the beat of their own drum, New York’s Psychic Ills have exemplified the phrase since their beginnings in 2003. Initially spawned from electronic-centered home recording experiments, they progressed into all-night full-band exploration in a neighbourhood where noise wasn’t a problem. They soon after evolved into a live band, seemingly at home within the extended jams. This is perhaps the most straightforward rock record the Ills have ever made. “Another serpentine set of psychedelic
with special guests including Colm O’Ciosoig (My Bloody Valentine) and a special appearance by the late, legendary Bert Jansch. “The best moments come when the palette expands: the perfectly judged and unexpected harpsichord on Sparrow, the beautiful organ of Into the Kingdom.” - The Guardian
Shigeto No Better Time Than Now Despite its origins in change and unrest, No Better Time Than Now is ultimately a positive work. Fans of Shigeto’s previous work will find all the hallmarks of his sound here - the warm, inviting washes of liquid synth sounds, the intricate production, the jazz-influenced arrangements. Now, however, they’re imbued with a subtle energy, punchier kickdrums and a driving mood that keeps up the tempo.
89 Cave Threace ‘Threace’ is a real ‘back to the lab’ kind of album for Cave. They have spent more time on these new sounds than they had before. All Cave music grabs at your ears and the soft tissue within, and yet this time it’s just so much more crystalline, bottom-booting and all-consuming than ever before. Cave are known for playing with rolling funk minimalism; they’ve accessed new depths of meditative stasis here. Somewhere between jazz, funk and afro rock... it’s all about the jams.
88 Mazzy Star Seasons of Your Day Features performances by all the original members of Mazzy Star along
87 Torres Torres Torres, aka Mackenzie Scott is a 22-year-old singer and songwriter from Nashville, who, with her self titled debut album has produced a compelling, deeply personal record which is one of the most accomplished debut albums of 2013. With mature songwriting abilities that belie her relatively young age, Scott’s songs live between the extremes of heartbreak, regret, passion and revenge with an intrinsic understanding of the potency that stems from these emotions. As debut albums come, they rarely get more heartbreaking, intimate and compelling as ‘Torres’.
86 Drenge Drenge The visceral, opening one-two punch of “Bloodsports” and “Backwaters” announced Drenge as one of the best and most exciting new bands on the UK music scene right now. Even though only comprising of sibling duo Rory and Eoin Loveless, they play with enough raw enthusiasm and velocity, enough no holds barred energy and contagiousness that their music never becomes anything less than wholly and compulsively thrilling. A vicious serotonin rush of a record that permeates every particle of your being.
Fat P o s s u m i n 2 0 1 3
Jackson scott - Melbourne
"Charming and sophisticated" - The Independent
YoutH lagoon - Wondrous bugHouse
"Wondrous Bughouse looks inward and discovers the endless possibilities of imagination and introspection.â€? - Pitchfork, Best New Music
al green - greatest Hits
"Nobody else had Green's virtuosity or interpretive gifts ... an astonishing sense of timing, of pitch, of emphasis, of drama." - Pitchfork
Frankie rose - Herein Wild
"Rose's cloud-borne wisp of a voice tells of dreams and heaven" - MOJO
iggY & tHe stooges - readY to die
"Pop is one of the last remaining totems of authentic, inclusive punk-mania in our don't-touch-the-talent culture, the last great rock'n'roll wildman" - The Guardian
toWnes Van Zandt - in tHe beginning
"Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that." - Steve Earle
85 Marnie Stern The Chronicles of Marnia There’s little doubt that Marnie Stern lives up to her reputation as “the lady who shreds,” but for Marnie, shredding is just not enough. As anyone who has given her last few albums a good listen can tell, Marnie is not one to stand still. Instead she attacks her musical evolution with full frontal bravado, revelling in musical risk instead of relaxing in the comforts of the known. There is new room amongst the dense song structures to craft a sound that is both familiar and wholly original, cascading hooks and transcendental guitar riffs. But fear not, she still shreds, after all, she’s the best in the world at it.
84 Daughter If You Leave Recorded over a period of months at home and in various spaces around London. Less of a statement of intent, these songs are more a snapshot of a year in Daughter’s short life. Lyrically, Elena plumbs the depths of her psyche to reveal her innermost thoughts, finding catharsis in expounding those internal demons. There may be little light relief here, but the personal themes have universal appeal; tales of doubt, insecurity, fear, anger and loneliness all take centre stage. A bold first record for an act still in its infancy, and yet the songwriting displays a maturity that belies their youth.
Laura Veirs Warp & Weft One of the most inimitable songwriters of the past decade. Beautiful, lush, and at times deeply dark, ‘Warp And Weft’ captures the intensity of motherhood, love and violence. Primarily electricguitar driven, it is a fever dream of an album and could well be Veirs’ best work to date. Drift hold her craft in such high regards that her impeccable discography means she has to really work each time out to impress us. Again, she has. “expansive and illuminating, creating a rich tapestry of ideas and idioms.” - The Independent
82 The Black Twig Pickers Rough Carpenters Black Twig Pickers are a group defined by their forward thinking approach to a type of music most often associated with times gone by. Over the course of eight full-length records, including collaborative releases with Jack Rose and Charlie Parr and a split LP with Glenn Jones, the group has established itself as a collection of dedicated practitioners of old time music re-cast and shaped by their appreciation of modern improvisation, drone, and punk. “they swing like motherfuckers” - Uncut
81 Anna Calvi One Breath Following on from her self titled, critically acclaimed, Top 40 debut, ‘One Breath’ is a bold, confident progression in terms of textures and emotion. “With a voice as fabulously
stentorian as hers, it would be so easy for Calvi’s gothic pop bombast to balloon into melodrama. But she’s too smart and stylish for that, and there’s nothing hammy about this, her exquisitely sweet and savage second record. Each song is coloured with a knowing intelligence and it all comes from her voice” - The Guardian
80 Jagwar Ma Howlin Jagwar Ma, the duo Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield, first bonded in Sydney, Australia over a mutual passion of melody and experimental beats. Across its eleven tracks, Howlin twists addictive hooks around often dirty and clanking breakdowns. Pop songwriting is buried in layers of crunching synths and pedal effects, from 60’s beat to the strobe-lit warehouses of acid house via the techniques and sonic feel of dub and the touchstones of anthemic British guitar music, reveling in the vibrant tension between the discovery of something classic and futurelooking experiments.
79 Splashh Comfort Twisting breezy, sugar-coated riffs around singer Sasha Carlson’s daydreams of lazy days and better times, it’s as idyllic and paradisiacal as it is heavy-hearted and forlorn. “By the time reflective closer ‘Lost Your Cool’ brings Comfort to a close the only feasible option is to return to the beginning and repeat the listening process all over again. Now how many records can you honestly say that about in recent years? Exactly. A hidden gem in a murky quagmire of landfill non-entities.” - Drowned In Sound.
78 Julianna Barwick Nepenthe Julianna Barwick’s new album ‘Nepenthe’ was record in Reykjavik and features performances from members of Múm and Amiina. Her music is equal parts force and beauty, finding its motor in significant events in her own life but they are abstracted into a sense of sonic wonderment, a radiance that you could say is her signature sound. It’s strangely intimate considering how cinematic the production is. “It is an enormously moving, beautifully textured piece of music, and one that takes on further ballast set against the elegiac album closer” - The Quietus
77 Speedy Ortiz Major Arcana On their debut full-length, Western Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz manages a bit of magic by conjuring the spirits of classic American indie rock, while twisting those ghosts into new shapes. Sweet vocal harmonies run up against gnarly distortion, aided by basic, chunky bass parts and heavy, fillladen drums.The end result is a band able to distill their influences and creative impulses into something at once dissonant and melodic, noisy yet undeniably pop. “Major Arcana finds Speedy Ortiz joining a depressingly small club of young indie rock bands writing lyrics that are actually worth poring over.” - Pitchfork
76 Laurel Halo Chance of Rain
In a few short years Laurel Halo has demonstrated an unnerving ability to question established idioms in electronic music. Halo’s evolution as a live performer has directed her music’s development in part, as the tracks on ‘Chance Of Rain’ are fleshed out versions of live hardware improvisations. Again Halo’s knack for illusory detail and sound design shines, and another duality feeling emerges, this time one of unearthly joy. it’s a cerebral exploration of the intersection between rhythmic and ambient music, drawing together moments of movement and stillness, psychedelia and presence of mind. “sounds like the ghost of Detroit techno chasing you through an abandoned catacomb” - Stereogum
75 Poliça Shulamith Founded by vocalist Channy Leaneagh and producer Ryan Olson out of the ashes of Minneapolis collective Gayngs (also guest vocals from Bon Iver). From the flurry of warped metallic electronica and razorsharp groove of opener ‘Chain My Name’, with its stark and rushing refrain, the angular R&B-pop futurism of ‘I Need $’, its sweetly earworm hook belying lyrics of alternately helplessness and defiance, to the gliding, bird’s eye meditation of closer ‘So Leave’, ‘Shulamith’ reaffirms Poliça as one of the most fascinating and vital groups in forward-thinking pop.
74 Lanterns On The Lake Until The Colours Run Following the success of their critically acclaimed debut , Lanterns On The Lake return with the sublime ‘Until The Colours Run’. The source of the
music remains the same - an exquisitely crafted blend of symphonic rock, folk and electronics - but much has changed in the interim. The album was recorded during a time of financial and personal adversity, and as a result is more soulful and dynamic than its predecessor, starker also. An emotionally and politically charged experience. “It’s in a familiar lineage [of meditative alt-rock]-shoegaze, Sigur Ros--but very much at the quality end of the spectrum.” - Mojo
73 Houndstooth Ride Out The Dark Houndstooth are a 5 piece rock & roll band from Portland (two Southerners, two Detroiters and a Canadian), informed, decidedly, by the grand history of rock acts, but it may be more helpful to think about a William Eggleston photo or an Alice Munro short story to get the feel of the band. Sit with it for a while - it’s the kind of record that makes you homesick for an un-nameable place and puts you in its own sort of darkness on the edge of town, where things are raw and alive and unchained.
72 Braids Flourish // Perish We saw these guys as teenagers back in 2011 and were utterly blown away, so we’re psyched to have them back with their new LP on Full Time Hobby. The album demonstrates the band’s exploration of dance music, and a more introspective, electronic approach to songwriting. Sonically, the songs are delicate and tight, yet they thoughtfully open up to the rich lushness reminiscent of their older material. “overall this is a masterclass in restrained beauty.” - NME
Agnes Obel Aventine
Pissed Jeans Honeys
The new album was written, arranged, and produced by the Berlin-based Danish phenomenon Agnes, who provides piano and vocals. The album features a small ensemble including cellist Anne Müller, who has also played with Nils Frahm, along with Mika Posen of Timber Timbre playing the violin and viola on ‘The Curse’, ‘Pass Them By’ and ‘Fivefold’. Robert Kondorossi of Budzillus plays guitar on ‘Pass Them By’. Building on the sonic template of her debut, ‘Aventine’ is a deeper and darker (though none the less elegantly sublime) affair, with songs of genuine heart stopping beauty.
Four full-lengths haven’t mellowed Pissed Jeans - they can still unleash a blare that will exfoliate your cochlea. Formed in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the band relocated to Philadelphia seven years ago, and Sub Pop released ‘Hope For Men’ in 2007, and then ‘King Of Jeans’ in 2009. The latter was recorded by Grammy nominee Alex Newport, who also recorded ‘Honeys’. ‘Honeys’ stews on the kind of mundane, niggling things that keep you up late at night. ‘Honeys’ is an ode to the misery and shackles of being a responsible adult, and the shame of one’s own narcissism. “It’s just a kickass rock record that presents Korvette in a way most of us can relate to, a guy trying to blow off steam after another exhausting, barely successful attempt to not be an asshole one day at a time.” - Pitchfork
Sam Walton is a 22 year old producer from Manchester He’s honed and developed his music into ‘Beyond’, finding a really fresh and subtle intersection between music that doesn’t seem to naturally fit together, old eski grime, funky Detroit house and techno but with smudged edges and a colourful industrial sound palette that gives a real richness to his productions. Walton’s music is never sombre or angry, but is about subtle combinations; there is an appealing, soulful sensuality to his beautifully crafted and joyous music. Walton’s young enough to hear older elements of dance music with fresh ears - a recent Hacienda reunion was an ear opener, hearing the stripped back power of acid house for the first time influenced some of the music on ‘Beyond’, in the way that a handful of contrasting elements can be placed together to create an exciting whole.
70 Volcano Choir Repave It’s been four years since the first Volcano Choir album Unmap provided a glimpse into the collaborative mind set between a singer and the band that inspired him. Repave brings Volcano Choir into sharp focus. The glitch-laden, cautious presentation of the band’s previous work serves as points of both reference and departure across these eight songs, the product of growing conviction and trust, of a fully-operational band, gifted in shading and nuance, and rumbling with power. Repave focuses on the love and bond between the members of Volcano Choir, how their friendships were fortified over the years-long process of writing and recording these songs. Oh yeah, one of them is Bon Iver. “it’s a layered, lush and lovely eight-track affair” - NME
68 White Fence Cyclops Reap New from Tim Presley’s White Fence. Even more earworms this time around, shoe-strung together and laced with adenoidal whimsy as only Mr. Presley can pull off. The melodic whizz kid’s latest collection brings more hooks, more psyche and enough California sunshine to bring a kaleidoscope summer to any grey landscape. “While gathering up old stuff for Cyclops Reap, Presley’s prolific instincts kicked in: “there were more coming. a better crop,” he wrote in a press release. He wrote more songs, recorded them to the four-track in his bedroom, and scrapped the compilation altogether. The album ends up being a testament to what Presley has learned in terms of home recording: It’s his best-sounding and most easily accessible album to date.” - Pitchfork
66 Landshapes Rambutan The band have learned and grown together - four distinctive personalities jostling and pulling, each with their own set of influences and sensibilities, an unlikely alchemy which comes together and makes sense. Landshapes is the sound of four people in a dingy practice room, building on accidents, listening over and reworking obsessively until every band member is satisfied. An unconventional and serendipitous process it might be, but it’s crucial to Landshapes’ overall sound. Stunning production makes this one of the years best pop records.
65 Holden The Inheritors The Inheritors’ is the eagerly awaited follow-up to James Holden’s rightfully acclaimed ‘The Idiots Are Winning’ milestone of 2006: a whole new world and complete mythology in album form, which stretches way beyond the traditional confines of ‘dance’ music. Holden has woven a rich aural tapestry that treads a singular path. Bold, epic and psychedelic, striking a delicate balance between weighty tome and transformative trip, and with a production aesthetic that is all his own, Holden is certain that this is the album he has always wanted to make. ‘The Inheritors’ is an album that fully immerses you in a timeless space with abundant hidden depths.
64 Matt Berry Kill The Wolf As with his debut, ‘Kill The Wolf ’ was recorded predominantly at Matt’s home studio with Matt himself playing the majority of the instruments. The Album features a host of guest performances, most notably from James Robert Shaw of Everything Everything, Eric Johnson of The Shins, and Mark Morris of The Bluetones. Funny guy though he is, this album is no joke. A really warm and nostalgic sounding record, utterly English, full of Autumnal sounding folk. Lovely.
Laura Marling Once I Was An Eagle How can Laura Marling still be only 23 years old? ‘Once I Was An Eagle’ is her fourth studio album in five years and on it we discover that not only is she an incredible lyricist, but also, a genuinely, great, guitar player. Her open folk tunings, reminiscent of both Burt Jansch and (deep breath) Jimmy Page on ‘Led Zep III’, lend the songs a beautifully, bleak drama. And what songs she writes, continually dissecting the minuate of her relationships with such poetic vitriol that surely only the bravest of men could love her, but then, how could anyone deny such a precocious talent?
62 Ty Segall Sleeper Ty was the only artist to feature twice in last years best of list... will he repeat that feat? Read on I guess.... Five short years into the Ty Segall expedition and we’re farther and farther out with each and every record. Between two minds, between two places, beyond previous album ‘Twins’, ‘Sleeper’ envisions a world of haves and have-nots, but the currency that separates them is psychic. “It’s his most focused album, with every song’s tone easily flowing into the next, and it’s also one of his best.” - Pitchfork.
61 Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse Trevor Powers’ sophomore album, was spawned from what he describes as “becoming more fascinated with the human psyche and where the spiritual meets the physical world.” During the time he wrote, Powers became intrigued with
the metaphysical universe and blending those ideas with pop music. It’s naïve outlook is, deliberately I feel, totally disarming as this is one of the best pop psych records in years and successfully pulls you into it’s own world and articulates some heavy shit. “It’s often scary stuff, more reminiscent of Syd Barrett’s bad-trip fairy tales.” - Pitchfork
60 British Sea Power Machineries Of Joy Written in the Berwyn mountains in north Wales and recorded in Brighton with Dan Smith and mixer Ken Thomas (David Bowie, Sigur Ros). “We’d like to think the album is warm and restorative,” says singer Yan. “Various things are touched on in the words - Franciscan monks, ketamine, French female bodybuilders turned erotic movie stars. The world often seems a mad, hysterical place at the moment. You can’t really be oblivious to that, but we’d like the record to be an antidote - a nice game of cards in pleasant company.” They mature with each record, god knows where they will end up... We will sure be excited to listen though.
59 The Knife Shaking The Habitual It took the Knife seven years to follow up ‘Silent Shout’, but man alive was it worth the wait. Clocking in at over 100 minutes, it’s hugely audacious and much weirder than before. Karin’s voice is more distorted and mangled than ever but they still mange to create songs at the heart of the madness. A record that you’ll keep going back to. “The Knife’s most political, ambitious, accomplished album, but in a strange way it also feels like its most personal: It provides a glimpse into the desires, intellectual enthusiasms and reading list guiding one of music’s most shadowy duos.” - Pitchfork
58 Julia Holter Loud City Song New album of avant-pop experimentation from the LA based singer / composer that blends influence ranging from Joni Mitchell to Arthur Russell and the poetry of Frank O’Hara into a daringly unique work as conceptually strong as it is immediately affecting. If you catch this record at the wrong moment you could easily miss it as a gentle passing though. If you give it time, you will be richly rewarded by an incendiary piece of pure imagination. “Julia Holter’s made a timeless people-watching soundtrack: an acutely felt ode to the mysteries of a million passersby, all the stars of their own silent musicals.” - Pitchfork
Omar Souleyman Wenu Wenu Omar Souleyman - the Syrian artist who not only changed the vibe of weddings throughout the Middle East with his Shaabi street sound but also brought it to the West through his notorious late night festival slots - has finally recorded an album. After three compilations and a live release, Wenu Wenu is his first album to be recorded in a studio. Produced by Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), Wenu Wenu combines aspects of Middle Eastern dabke dance music and traditional songs with his own contemporary style. Often described as “Syrian techno”, Wenu Wenu distils Omar’s enthralling live performances into a fury of ascending and descending techno scales punctuated by his iconic voice.
55 Darkside Psychic
Darkside is the collaborative duo of guitarist Dave Harrington and electronic producer Nicolas Jaar. The two musicians have vastly different backgrounds, but over the course of As a lifelong resident of the windswept, several years of touring together they bleakly beautiful Wirral Peninsula in found common ground: Darkside. the north of England, Forest Swords’ They aren’t dancefloor producers surroundings have always tended to taking a stab at rock music; nor are be his biggest inspiration, and that they a rock band paying homage love affair continues to flourish on to their new favourite techno 12”s. ‘Engravings’, with Barnes even opting They’re deep listeners and creators of to mix the entire record on the beaches both who see little need for distinction of this battered coastline on his laptop. between their favourite sounds. The results are heavy and triumphant, The result is ‘Psychic’, an album of euphoric and yet touched by a distinct uncompromising creative vision from world-weariness. ‘Engravings’ is an two artists working at the peak of their expansive and truly original fusion of powers. rattling dub rhythms, chiming guitar, blunted hip hop beats, and vocals that sound as if they’re emanating from decades old gospel recordings.
Forest Swords Engravings
Yo La Tengo Fade ‘Fade’ is the most direct, personal
and cohesive album of Yo La Tengo’s career. Recorded with John McEntire at Soma Studios in Chicago, it recalls the sonic innovation and lush cohesion of the bands career high points. ‘Fade’ is a tapestry of fine melody and elegant noise, rhythmic shadow play and shyeyed orchestral beauty, songfulness and experimentation. “the relaxed pacing and pleasing melodies belie just how much action is really going on beneath the serene surfaces. Truth is, Fade can be every bit as adventurous as the band’s most eclectic albums, but applies its myriad layers in more subtle fashion” - Pitchfork
53 White Denim Corsicana Lemonade They say the human body is DNAprogrammed to renew itself every seven years. In which case, White Denim’s now legendary, heart-attack musical timing has accelerated their own development - and then some. Five years on from their twisted translation of the garage-rock aesthetic via ‘Workout Holiday’, thier new album announces itself less noisily and demandingly, while commanding just as much attention. “White Denim’s trademark swampy garage rock now comes gift-wrapped with more direct songwriting and catchy choruses. There’s much more classic rock as well: chugging boogie grooves, guitar solos and musicianship that could have come straight from a 1975 episode of the Old Grey Whistle Test featuring the Allman Brothers and Alex Harvey.” - The Guardian
52 Baths Obsidian Three years ago, Baths dropped his startlingly beautiful debut, Cerulean, blurring the line between post-modern pop and the LA beat scene with devastating emotional clarity.
His sophomore album, Obsidian finds him emerging as one of the most complete artists of his generation. As you might expect, the name hints at darker overtones. The mood is shimmering and pitch-black, the lovely blood flow has turned into lava.
51 The National Trouble Will Find Me This is the sixth studio album for the Brooklyn band, and follows 2010’s critical and commercial success High Violet. The album is the most selfassured collection of songs produced by The National in its 14-year career. In an interview with Uncut, front man Matt Berninger described the songs as more “immediate and visceral” than their previous work. Trouble Will Find Me possesses a directness, a coherency and an approachability that suggests The National are at their most confident.
50 Fuzz Fuzz Fuzz is Ty Segall, Charlie Moothart and Roland Cosio. They’re heavy rock lifers - three Californiabred dudes who have been refining their riffs and getting weird together since high school (which wasn’t that long ago, actually). Yep, double Ty Segall for two years running, and rightfully so, this second inclusion is a fuzz(y), warm slab of garage rock. The selftitled debut LP, which was recorded by Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees), dives deep, drawing inspiration from the more esoteric reaches of heavy metal pre-history. There are Sabbath and Hendrix nods, obviously, but on “Sleigh Bells” you might also catch a whiff of UK progressive blues business like The Groundhogs.
49 FIDLAR FIDLAR “Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk”... Listening to them, you can tell that the band did their homework on punk rock. Any given song could include a Germs influenced guitar solo, the catchy “Ooo’s” and “Ah’s” of The Misfits and lyrics in the same family as Black Flag. It all comes across entirely their own: surfier, faster, more fuzzed out, more personal and a lot more drunk. Recorded and produced by the band in LA, this is 14 slices of insanely catchy and tuneful punk rock.
48 Congo Natty Jungle Revolution Congo Natty is one man, a family, a movement. Mikail Tafari aka Rebel MC stands at the core, but as Jungle Revolution shows, he’s the lens that brings the whole into focus. A re-boot of roots reggae for a new century. Full of blood and fire, the sternum-buzz of sub-bass, rapid fire drum breaks, sweet hooks, righteous anger and professions of love, it’s the kind of passionate, committed, raw and spiritual, beautiful record that doesn’t come along that often. “The message of reggae is Ras Tafari and Ras Tafari is love,” he explains. “They sang about love but they was also prophesying and talking about the system, talking about things that were going on in the world. I saw Jungle as being that same music, where we were going to spread a message.”
47 Endless Boogie Long Island
Certainly the onomatopoeic band of the year, a monstrous epic of an album.... an endless boogie. The band’s sound is a meltdown of metal, psychedelic and classic rock with a heavy dose of riffage, a kick-ass beat and super-cryptic lyrics. It’s thunderous and mellow at once. Joined by Matt Sweeny who is also credited as producer. Golden hands him! “This is fine American blue collar slackness, a paean to the continuing vibe of real boogie” - The Quietus
46 Daughn Gibson Me Moan He first entered the daydreams of the general public in 2012 with his acclaimed debut, All Hell. Armed with modern technology and a pile of thrift-store records, Daughn shook the ghosts out of scratchy Christian folk records and baptized them as fierce Americana with his booming baritone voice. It’s on Daughn’s second album that he truly reveals himself to the world. While the roots of All Hell’s sample-based music remain, these songs are performed live, lushly detailed and richly orchestrated. “might well become a touchstone of modernday Americana.” - Uncut.
45 Midlake Antiphon We have ranked this LP in our top one hundred based on barely a couple of listens. The proof of just how good this new album is will perhaps only be coming to clarification post Christmas. An antiphon is a call-and-response style of singing, from Gregorian chants to sea shanties. In the case of Denton, Texas’ favourite sons Midlake, it’s the perfect title for a bold response to a new phase in the band’s illustrious career, with a re-jigged
line-up and a newly honed sound as rich and symphonic as it is dynamic and kaleidoscopic. It’s rich and woozy, arguably more focused and certainly heavier than last time out. The sound is simultaneously familiar and changed.
work of a songwriter skilled enough to make introspection seem not self-centered, but generous” - Pitchfork
42 Chvrches The Bones Of What You Believe
Ghostpoet Some Say I So I Say Light
Pop music, by its very nature has inbuilt disposability, a fleeting chance to shine in the here and now before everyone wants the next New Thing. Ghostpoet’s creativity has blossomed. Electro-pop feels all the more welded On his second album, he pushes even further in all directions than on ‘Peanut to a time and place, with the preset ‘sounds’ within synths dating quicker Butter Blues’, mixing the abstract than the leg circumference of a pair and the concrete with uncanny skill. of jeans. Scottish outfit Chvrches Industrial beats, sonorous piano lines (pronounced as “churches”) get round and hyper-detailed ornamentation the former by adding a darker edge to provide a backdrop for an artist who their well-crafted, hook-heavy songs, sounds ever more like a man old giving them a less robotic, more human before his time. The lyrics that come feel. On the technology front, they through are as rooted in everyday combine a classic 1980s synthpop sound life, from unopened mail to takeaway with current EDM touches. “Very much meals, Ghostpoet is never less than the sound of now” - The Guardian. completely identifiable. It’s an album that positions Ghostpoet in the tradition of modern British auteurs as interested in pushing the boundaries sonically as expressing cathartic feelings.
Daft Punk Random Access Memories
The massive and eagerly awaited new album from Daft Punk does not Waxahatchee disappoint. For RAM, Daft Punk Cerulean Salt recorded in the best studios, they used the best musicians, they added choirs The strength of ‘Cerulean Salt’ and orchestras when they felt like it, lies in the simplicity and purity and they almost completely avoided of its songs, with melodies that samples, which had been central to immediately penetrate, alongside Katie most of their biggest songs. Most of Crutchfield’s frank vocal delivering all, they wanted to create an albumdevastating, straight-from-the-heart album, a series of songs that could lyrics backed with lacerating guitars take the listener on a trip, the way and slouchy basslines. Sounding like an LPs were supposedly experienced instant classic from the get go, it recalls in another time. Daft Punk, in other the rawness of early Cat Power, the words, have an argument to make: that introspective lyrics of Rilo Kiley and something special in music has been the indie fuzz of The Breeders. “Katie lost. A groundbreaking disco album, Crutchfield has a way of delivering a line so this is a modern masterpiece of concept casually that it takes a half-dozen listens records. That concept... Music should to fully realise how devastating it is… the be crafted.
40 Low The Invisible Way Their 10th album, The Invisible Way is, while recognisably the work of Low, noticeably different in that drummer/ singer Mimi Parker assumes more lead vocals than ever before. The fact that Parker sings five of 11 tracks (as opposed to the usual one or two) is The Invisible Way’s other obvious point of departure, and one of its great strengths. Produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, The Invisible Way is warm and organic, melodic and fragile. Twenty years into their career, and Low have created one of their best albums yet. They needn’t ever change.
39 King Krule 6 Feet Beneath the Moon As King Krule, teenage south-east London based singer/ producer/ songwriter Archy Marshall has quietly and stealthily crafted a reputation for himself as one of the most raw and startling voices of a new generation. With his unexpectedly deep and mournful baritone tracing fissures of disappointment and social disorientation to devastating effect, Marshall has harnessed the inchoate frustration and fury of youth and translated it into a series of brilliant singles. Taken as a whole, “6 Feet Beneath the Moon” is the sound of a young man growing up – not for nothing was this album released, unconventionally enough, on a Saturday, which also marked Marshall’s 19th birthday – and attempting to grapple with the realities of the world he inhabits, an unsparing dissection of the social decay that has begun to set in around him - and a fascinating, brutal journey it is too.
Foals Holy Fire
In the two years since his debut album as Thundercat, the virtuoso bass player Stephen Bruner has added ever more impressive names to his list of admirers and collaborators. Just one listen to this album reveals why. On ‘Apocalypse’, Thundercat again pairs up with executive producer Flying Lotus, as well as Brainfeeder labelmate Mono / Poly, to pull the veil back and reveal the simple truths of the cycle of life, for all its beauty and destruction. ‘Apocalypse’ is an album about loss and rebuilding, trying to gain something back, and capturing that moment of clarity where one finally finds feet back on the ground again. The 12-track effort pits his dynamic vocals at the forefront of nearly every song, showcasing a musical talent far beyond what’s exemplified through his famed fingers. “the kind of music you could imagine yourself listening to for ever.” The Guardian
There is no doubt that this is Foals tipping-point moment. Their most recent, third album ‘Holy Fire’ recently reached gold status in the UK just ten weeks after release, a certified indication of how much this British guitar band has grown. Nominated for the Mercury Prize, they even sold out the Royal Albert Hall in less than 15 minutes and stands as a career-defining moment for the band. Never before has seen such a frenzied mosh-pit, with fans dancing on their seats and in the aisles. They’ve earned the reputation as the one of the most exciting guitar bands in the country. “Foals’ third album is a record that bursts out of the speakers and demands to be loved” - NME
37 Melt Yourself Down Melt Yourself Down Melt Yourself Down is the brainchild of Pete Wareham (Acoustic Ladyland, Polar Bear), who’s roped in a distinguished crew of brilliant musicians, including Kushal Gaya (Zun Zun Egui), Shabaka Hutchings (Heliocentrics), Tom Skinner (Mulatu Astatke), Ruth Goller (Acoustic Ladyland, Rokia Traoré), and Satin Singh (Fela!). One of the most exciting records you’re likely to hear all year long, whirling and changing shape before your very eyes. “A lurching machine rhythm and lashings of synth squiggles and white noise, re-framing all that modal skronk in electro-industrial terms: it’s Addis Ababa meets Detroit in the year 3013” - Spin
35 Mount Kimbie Cold Spring Fault Less Youth Second album from pioneering electronic duo Mount Kimbie, and their first for Warp. The South London duo, comprised of Dom Maker and Kai Campos, have created a deeper and more complex album than their 2010 debut ‘Crooks And Lovers’, featuring vocals from both the band themselves and guest vocals from King Krule, alongside crisp beats and production, brooding melodies and electronic soundscapes. “The mood is what is rendered most effectively: delicate synth tones are set to echoing percussion and low-key distortion, and the melodies are melancholy.” - The Guardian
London Grammar If You Wait It’s no understatement that London Grammar’s debut album was one of the most highly anticipated debuts this year. The album is a result of 18 painstaking months spent writing and recording. Each of the 11 tracks is testament to the trio’s innate understanding of the roles that subtlety, contrast and restraint have played in the creation of memorable, timeless and transcendent music. “That’s how this all started,” says Dan, “and it’s always been our primary goal, to keep space in the music. The way that, say, the guitar and vocal interact is massively important to us.” More than delivering on their promise, London Grammar’s electrifying debut solidifies them as being one of the most exciting and innovative bands to emerge in 2013.“Killer melodies magicked into greatness by Reid’s soulful, yearning vocals” – The Sunday Times
33 Arctic Monkeys AM Such was the impact the band made ten years ago with their debut album, Arctic Monkeys seem to be universally eagerly received with each new album regardless of title, artwork or content. Perhaps it is this blanket ‘willingness” that has encouraged the band to step further with their new, sort of self-titled, album. They return with their triumphant fifth album. ‘AM’ (featuring guest appearances from Bill Ryder-Jones and the words of John Cooper Clarke, on the track ‘I Wanna Be Yours’.) Stinging riffs, bottle-rocket solos and sharp melodies combine with an ear for a groove that just as readily manifests itself in a motown swing (‘Snap Out of it’) or glam strut (‘I Want it all’) as in the creeping G-funk of ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’. Not for the first time they sound like the best band this country has to offer.
C O M P I L AT I O N S Soul Jazz
- Deutsche Electronische Musik - Punk 45 - Acid Following on from one of our favourite records from a couple of years back, Soul Jazz Records’ ‘Deutsche Electronische Musik 2’ is their second voyage into the world of Krautrock and German electronic music from the 1970s and early 1980s. The label also this year put out ‘Punk 45’ (a double album and coffee table book) charting the rise of underground punk across the United States in the years 1973- 1980 and ‘Acid : Mysterons Invade The Jackin’ Zone Chicago Acid and Experimental House’, over two hours of Chicago’s finest full-length, full-strength, original heavyweight Chicago classic and rare acid house.
Let Me Play This for You
Rare Cajun Recordings (1929-1930)
Released on Tompkins Square features some of the rarest, most compelling tunes and heart-breaking songs from South-West Louisiana. Most of the performances on this collection have not been heard since they were originally recorded on 78 rpm disc
Various After Dark II After Dark II on Italians Do It Better features exclusive and brand new tracks from several artists affiliated with Johnny Jewel: Chromatics, Symmetry, Glass Candy, Desire, Mirage, and more. If you dug Chromatics or the Drive sound track, theres a lot for you here.
Various Artists Good God! Apocryphal Hymns Good God! Apocryphal Hymns is just one of the many stunning albums out this year on the Numero Group label, a series of otherworldly gospel-robed funk, and spiritual soul.
Kenya Special Selected East African Recordings From The 1970s & 80s Soundway Records present ‘Kenya Special - Selected East African Recordings From The 1970s & 80s’ - a treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings from East Africa. Spread out over two CDs and one triple LP, Kenya Special is accompanied by detailed liner notes, original artwork and photographs. It follows on from Soundway’s much acclaimed African ‘Special’ series that to date has focused on the highlife and afrobeat output from 1970s Nigeria and Ghana. ‘Kenya Special’ is a collection of 32 recordings (most of which were only ever released on small-run 45rpm 7” singles) that stand out as being different or unique as well as some classic genre standards. From Kikuyu language ‘liquid soul’, Luo benga and Swahili afro-beat to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi, Kenya Special sees Soundway yet again taking the less trodden path. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time.
Rodion G.A. The Lost Tapes Strut brought us the first ever retrospective of fabled band Rodion
GA, one of Romanias best kept musical secrets of the last 30 years. As a band, Rodion G.A. were a unique phenomenon in their homeland at the time, operating in their own universe during a prolific period of recording from 1978 to 1984 at a time of significant political repression under the Ceausescu regime. Recorded at Rodion’s studio in his hometown of Cluj between 1978-1984, these ‘lost tapes’ combine post-punk’s aural assault, the melodic and motorik sensibilities of Kosmische, heavy classic rock riffing with prog’s lead line explorations, and spaced-out psychedelic sounds to create a captivating and rapturous sonic brew. One of our favorite moments of the year came back in July when Rodion Ladislau Rosca emailed the shop. He said he liked the look of us and thanked us for carrying his album. Our kind of guy! “This is some of the raddest music you’re likely to hear this year.” - The Quietus
Lena Hughes Queen of the Flat Top Guitar Impossibly rare recordings by Missouri’s Lena Hughes, recorded in the early 60’s in Arkansas. A musical “amateur” that best exemplified true artistry, Lena Hughes was born in Grape Grove Township, Missouri, in 1904. Though she never recorded any 78s and only one LP, Hughes was most influential through her steady performances at various fiddler conventions and folk festivals throughout the Ozarks. She was an excellent fiddler, banjoist and guitar picker who retained the largely extinct repertoire of parlor pieces and the variety of specialized tunings that were necessary to play them. She lived most of her life in Ludlow, Missouri and passed away in 1998. Features liner notes from John Renbourn. It’s just an utter joy this record.
I Am The Center Private Issue New Age In America, 1950-1990 Light in the Attic always feature heavy in the reissues section, but they put out a compilation late in the year that is really something worth shouting about. Forget everything you know, or think you know, about new age, a genre that has become one of the defining musical-archaeological explorations of the past decade. ‘I Am the Center: Private Issue New Age Music in America 1950-1990’ is a collection of 20 tracks spanning 40 years, most of which were selfpublished and self-distributed, it’s the first major anthology to survey the golden age of new age. It features music from new age icons such as Iasos and Laraaji, also Gail Laughton’s “Pompeii 76 A.D.” that was featured in Blade Runner. Two of the tracks were unreleased and seven were only ever released on cassette. Lovingly conceived and lavishly presented, ‘I Am The Center’ features stunning paintings by the legendary visual artist Gilbert Williams, and liner notes by
producer Douglas Mcgowan, who weaves the words and images of the wizards and sorceresses of new age into a prismatic portrait of music that can finally be recognized for what it is: great American folk art.
sound used for meditation and personal enlightenment. Hypnotic ragas, cosmic synth bliss and far-out sonic explorations. Includes fully illustrated 24-page booklet that tells Laraaji’s fascinating life story in his own words.
Mutazione Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground
Various Artists London Is The Place For Me parts 5 & 6
Kompakt artist Alessio Natalizia from Walls brings together ‘Mutazione’, a collection of reactionary underground electronic and new wave rarities from Italy, recorded during the tail end of a period of unprecedented political turmoil between the late ‘60s and early ‘80s across the country. Based around a hotbed of activism in Tuscany and the Emilio Romagna region, bands emerged from squats and both right and left wing militant groups, feeding off the national paranoia and angst to create a unique sound, rooted in punk but touching on new wave, electronic, experimental and industrial styles. Much of the music was released on limited cassettes. Fanzines sprang up, both from political groups and the bands themselves, in turn spawning new artists – Suicide Dada, featured on this album, emerged from a collective running the VM fanzine in Turin and the Traxxtra collective of underground musicians also published a regular lo-fi magazine of their own. Beautifully packed, eloquently explained in the liner notes and highly addictive listening.
At last, fresh instalments in Honest Jon’s acclaimed, much-loved ‘London Is The Place For Me’ series: openhearted, bitter-sweet, mash-up postcards to the here and now, from young black London. Spread over two volumes (5 and 6), as with previous offerings in the series, calypso carries the swing. There are four more Lord Kitchener songs - in consideration of his wife leaving him for a GI, cricket umpires, a fling onboard an ocean-liner and West Indian poultry - besides a hot mambo cash-in, cross-bred under his supervision, and an uproarious, teasing Ghanaian tribute to him in Fanti by London visitors The Quavers. Other calypsos range compellingly from the devaluation of the pound through jiu jitsu, big rubbery instruments, football fans, heavyweight champ Joe Louis and the sexual allure of English women police. The Mighty Terror contributes the woe-begotten, cautionary tale of his beloved Patricia’s change of heart: ‘I cannot believe, not for one moment / She gone with Millicent... / You may think I am jocular / But this really happened in Manchester / I felt so ashamed, my friends laughed at me / I had to take a train for London city.’ Expert jazz idioms course sophisticatedly through all the selections, which include a straight-up, South London version of Duke Jordan’s Jordhu, something from Dizzy Reece’s soundtrack - brokered by Kenneth Tynan - to the British crime film Nowhere To Go, and a trio of magnificently hybrid, hardswinging instrumentals led in turn by master-guitarist Fitzroy Coleman, Kitch’s innovative arranger Rupert Nurse, and trumpeter Shake Keane named after Shakespeare because of his love of poetry - from St. Vincent.
Laraaji Celestial Music 1978 - 2011 First ever, and a long overdue, careerspanning collection of legendary electronic and spiritual music by Edward Larry Gordon aka Laraaji. Double disc collection featuring rarities from private press cassette releases and classic collaborations with Brian Eno, Bill Laswell and Blues Control. Inspired by Eastern Mysticism and played on an electronically modified zither, Laraaji’s music is a spiritually transcendent
Beta Band The Regal Years Formed in 1996, The Beta Band signed to Parlophone Records imprint Regal and released their hugely acclaimed Champion Versions E.P, followed by two more critically lauded E.P.’s: The Patty Patty Sound and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos (later collected together as The Three E.P.’s). Now renowned for their ability to mix together a truly eclectic range of genres and influences – folk, reggae, rap, rockabilly, electronica, rock, Disney soundtracks all filtered through the band’s experimental jamming - the band’s eponymously titled debut album was
released in 1999. Over six discs, The Regal Years is an extensive collection featuring all the aforementioned releases - The Three E.P.’s and the albums The Beta Band, Hot Shots II and Heroes To Zeros - as well as previously unreleased bonus material, including live recording, remixes and demos. “The Regal Years does a thorough job of not just compiling the Beta Band’s recorded legacy, but underscoring the real reason why they’re missed—it’s not just for the music they left behind, but for the infinite possibilities within it that had yet to be explored.” - Pitchfork
“Talked to Luaka Bop about details of the William Onyeabor comp they are working on... Gonna blow minds” ~ Four Tet
William Onyeabor Who Is William Onyeabor? Through its World Psychedelic Classics series, Luaka Bop has succeeded in introducing long-forgotten artists including Os Mutantes, Shuggie Otis and Tim Maia to the world at large. William Onyeabor is as obscure as these other artists were before their Luaka Bop releases, although his recordings from the ‘70s and ‘80s are beloved by die-hard record collectors and artists such as Damon Albarn, Devendra Banhart, Four Tet and Caribou, to name a few. The music ranges from synth-heavy electronic dance music to Afrosoul with saxophones and female backup singers, to psychedelic funk with wah-wah guitar and fuzzy keyboards - and often combines all of these elements. In spite of Onyeabor’s cult following, Luaka Bop is the first label to successfully license his catalog. “People are really going to freak out!” - Caribou Who Is William Onyeabor? may be the most complicated, if also one of the richest, undertakings in Luaka Bop’s (rarely straightforward) 25-year history. Following the eight albums Onyeabor self-released between 1978 and 1985, he became a Born-Again Christian, refusing ever to speak about himself or his music again. Various biographies can be found online. Some say he studied cinematography in the Soviet Union and returned to Nigeria in the mid-70s to start his own film company, Wilfilms. Some say he was a lawyer with a degree from a university in Great Britain. Others portray him as a businessman who for years worked on government contracts in Enugu, Nigeria. By attempting to speak with Onyeabor himself, and by talking to people who seem to have firsthand knowledge, Luaka Bop has been trying to construct an accurate biography of him for the past 18 months...without success. One thing that’s undisputable is that Onyeabor’s music is utterly unique and ahead of its time.
NILS FR AHM Tonight Nils Frahm is playing live in the Belgian city of Borgerhout. He is touring his new album ‘Spaces’, an album that itself has been assembled from two years of live recordings. We phoned him ahead of his soundcheck to talk about playing live, electronic music and his notorious thumb. “Let me just get out of the room here... it’s like the start of the concert basically... Just give me a second”. A myriad of synthesiser noises rumble as Nils walks through an auditorium, his footsteps and a squeaking door making the whole affair sound like a radio play. “Thats better” he exhales as he’s found quiet refuge, presumably in a hallway.
where people gather and share an experience. I think interesting concerts encourage people to come to more shows, making them an event, a theatrical event. I always like being on stage, the whole travelling bit... well, all the bits around it can become a little exhausting but when it comes time to play, it’s just beautiful, I really love it.
Nils: The electronic side of my music has been there for a very long time, I started collecting synthesisers when I was thirteen and it is fair to say that I have an electronic music background... I was...one second.
Nils: Yeah, it’s a give and take. In the end I had two last minute recordings right before I had to hand in the master, it all worked out.
“sorry...” he apologies as I can hear him walking further again up the corridor.
The door clatters opening again and rich woozy analogue noises fill the space, warm even over the crapy Deluxe: So specifically with this record, speaker on my office phone as Nils the audience are part of it, you respond explains something in his calm German pace. to how they respond to your music?
Nils: (continuing ) ... I was a big fan of early Roni Size and then I discovered people like Matthew Herbert and I was really inspired by him. It’s also where my piano ideas come Deluxe: Congratulations on your new from, I mean there is of course Classical and album ‘Spaces’, too late officially, but Nils: Yes, I was worried, I wasn’t really sure Jazz and Experimental music that has it’s one of our records of the year. until I was mixing it wether it would work. influenced me, but I feel like I could never have done any of my records without listening Nils: Thank you, thanks for talking about it. The different instruments, and different rooms, and different recording equipment. It to electronic music. Deluxe: ‘Spaces’ was in effect recorded felt like a huge collage or puzzle. I knew there Deluxe: We’ve just had the Chantel Acto as live album, do you enjoy playing was a way to make it all work and it was record into the shop, how did you find live? my ambition to make it all sit together. It the challenge of recording her work? was an enjoyable process. Selecting the parts Nils: Very much so, I think playing live is was quite exhausting, listening back to thirty Nils: Oh it was not a challenge at all. It was the most direct and beautiful way of sharing shows... it is definitely boring (laughing )... really smooth sailing from start to finish. music in someway. I really appreciate that certain things don’t work out. so many people still come to concerts, it seems Thats a good advert for your to be the one destination in the musical map Deluxe: You’re kind of bored of your production skills? This is sounding like that has never really changed. Even though album now? an advert? we are facing a lot of issue of change in ways people distribute, listen to music, record Nils: Ah man, i’m glad that no one has to Nils: (Laughing ) Yes... if everything goes music... the concert is a wonderful tradition listen to the thirty hour version. I did that part, it was like cherry picking. I don’t claim well! I can be very fast, it sounds odd but to be good enough to just record one live show it is because I am kind of old fashioned and and put that on one tape. There are too many keep to my old equipment. I only have a accidents happening in each show that I don’t certain number of channels, I don’t have so many parameters to tweak. It makes it quite like. straight forward and most of the records I really love from the past are recorded in Deluxe: If felt in many ways that a couple of days. It was always my idea this was your most electronic record, to be as efficient as all the technicians and have you always been interested in producers from back in the day where they electronic music? could tape a whole record in one session. It’s all due to good preparation! Chantel prepared Nils: No, I am just doing it because I love wonderful songs, so I didn’t really have to the fame and want a lot of money! do much work on them. I just had to capture Deluxe: (laughing) – Yep, thats the fast them, I really enjoyed working with her on it. track, right next to running a record Deluxe: This time last year we had your shop... Deluxe: I read that you recorded it over two years, did you worry that you might loose some of it’s cohesion?
‘Screws’ album released, it felt like a very introspective album, perfect for Christmas. Did you feel introspective when you were making it? Nils: very much so, it was two weeks of me being at home and I had to cancel all of my schedule as I had broken my finger. It was a little to quiet and a little too slow for me, so even thought the doctor had suggested something different I still played at the piano with my nine remaining fingers. I wanted to make nine songs with those nine fingers so I played for maybe thirty minutes a day. I am proud of the record as it is so slow and reduced, but it still manages to transport an atmosphere that i’ve never managed to achieve in any of my other records. Deluxe: I told a lot of my customers about your broke thumb, and we’ve had loads of request from people for more from “the guy with the broken
Nils: I still love the new Gonzales record, he’s a good guy. I also like the Tame Impala record which came out last year, I like the Nils: Thats okay! It’s quite a hilarious story. production a lot. Then there is a lot of classical music I am catching up on, some I was worried that it could end up sounding too much like a marketing gimmick when you harpsichord pieces. I am a big Jazz collector, a talk too much about it, but this was the whole lot of the music I am buying I suppose is from story and the whole point of the album. I had the past. I think that it can be a good thing to tell people as I had to cancel shows and the to not always look too much to the recent stuff because it’s nice to find inspiration in reaction was pretty massive. I felt that as places that are forgotten or lost. Don’t just so many people had ‘felt’ with me, I thought that the most encouraging news I could spread copy people ideas. For example, James Blake comes out with a great record that I actually was some new music coming out it it. really enjoyed, but all of a sudden there are a million bands all sounding like James Blake. Deluxe: Tonight you’re playing with So I try to not go there. all ten fingers? thumb”... are you okay with this new moniker?
Nils: Yes, exactly. Like nothing has ever happened. Deluxe: Looking back at your year, which records have you really been into?
Deluxe: Nils, we don’t think anyone else sounds too much like you at the moment. Nils: Thank you!
REISSUES Bob Dylan The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series (Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait 1969-1971) was, as you’d expect, a reason for the completionists to rejoice. It features work Dylan did surrounding the release of 1970’s ‘Self Portrait’ and ‘New Morning’. The deluxe edition features unheard collaborations between Dylan and George Harrison and also includes his entire 1969 Isle of Wight concert with the Band. They are lovingly put together with a really rich collection of photos, paintings and notes. “This two-CD set of previously unissued demos, alternate takes, scrapped arrangements and discarded songs from more than 40 years ago is one of the most important, coherent and fulfilling Bob Dylan albums ever released.” - David Fricke, Rolling Stone.
Nirvana In Utero Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ turned 20 years old this september and the album got a really superb re-package (on CD and LP) featuring the original album remastered at Abbey Road Studios on 2LPs, plus all the remastered
B- sides, never-before-heard mixes and bonus tracks from the original album release “Fittingly, for an album that starkly contrasts Nirvana’s melodic and maniacal extremes, In Utero: 20th Anniversary Edition highlights another inherent contradiction: much like the Beatles’ Let It Be, what was originally intended to be a raw, back-to-basics reaction to past excesses has, ironically, been subjected to so much over-thinking and console-board tinkering. But all these mutations reflect the restless, irrepressible nature of these songs, which-whether in the form of crude demos or modern-day remasters-- still sting and ooze like a flesh wound that refuses to heal. And yet In Utero is the sort of painful shock that, paradoxicalaly, reinstills the empowering sensation of feeling alive.” - Pitchfork
Vangelis Blade Runner The Blade Runner Soundtrack has taken on a legendary status. The soundtrack was composed by Vangelis for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, one of the finest sci-fi movies ever made. The official soundtrack was not released until 1994 (An orchestral rendition of part of the soundtrack was released in 1982 by the New American Orchestra) and since then has been in and out of
print. This year we were delighted to get a 180gm vinyl pressing (in translucent red) with a beautifully designed gatefold cover. Kevin Gray, who mastered the album, is raving about the sound quality. The sound, the look and the history are spectacular.
J Dilla Donuts on 45 It’s been a bumper year for any fans of J Dilla with ‘Rebirth Of Detroit’ (Overseen by J Dilla’s mother Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, featuring previously unheard music from the late producer) and represses of ‘Ruff Draft’ and ‘The Shinning’ pressed on wax. Our favourite however was the lovingly produced ‘Donuts’ 7” Box Set, arguably one of the seminal hip hop albums ever produced, lavishly spread across eight 7” records, (also containing ‘Signs’ from the long out-of-print ‘Donuts Fan Club 45’). When first announced late in 2005, the concept of a “rap album without rappers” struck some critics as either a novelty, or a minor break beat album, but ‘Donuts’ would prove to transcend the rigid definitions of what a hip hop album could be. It plays partly like a DJ mix, and partly like a hip hop beat-maker at work, sounding like a producer turning the dial on an imaginary radio station.
Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order
Volumes One, Two & Three Jack White’s Third Man records can seemingly do whatever they like. Amongst the amazing represses on spiral coloured vinyl, wooden boxsets, a refurbished 1947 Voice-o-Graph machine, the famous rolling record bus and live-to-acetate albums this year
from Shins, Seasick Steve, The Kills, King Tuff and The Melvins - it’s like the guy is trying to find ways to spend money. What they are doing is always fantastic and perhaps never better then with the amazing ‘Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order’ series from Blind Willie McTell, Charley Patton and The Mississippi Sheiks. A reissue anthology that covers the very building blocks and DNA of American culture. Blues, R&B, Elvis, teenagerism, punk rock... it all goes back to these vital, breathtaking recordings. In conjunction with Document Records with brand new, jaw-dropping artwork by Rob Jones and new insightful liner notes, on vinyl for the first time in decades, every record collection should have ample room for these highly important and endlessly listenable albums.
Hailu Mergia And His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye Hailu Mergia is a one-man band. In 1985 master accordionist and veteran Walias Band leader / arranger / keyboardist released the Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument ‘Shemonmuanaye’ cassette. The tape is a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth. Hailu was already celebrated for his work with the industry-shifting Addis Ababa ethio-jazz and funk outfit the Walias Band, and he pressed forward using new tools to reshape the popular sounds of the past. Adding a Moog synthesizer, Rhodes electric piano and rhythm machine to the harmonic layering of his accordion, he creates hauntingly psychedelic instrumentals. These songs draw from famous traditional and modern Ethiopian songs, as Hailu matches Amhara, Tigrinya and Oromo melodies to otherworldly flavors soaked in jazz and blues. The result is a lush, futuristic landscape, balancing Ethiopian music’s signature pentatonic modes and melodic shape with beautiful analog synth flair. “It’s introverted in a way very little other music from the country is. It’s also not quite like anything else you’ve ever heard.” - Pitchfork
Songs: Ohia Magnolia Electic Co
in line with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’, The Magnolia Electric Co lies at the crossroads of working class rock, white soul, swamp rock and outlaw country. Recorded live, in its entirety, at the hands of Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio Studio, this is the record where the Songs: Ohia fan demographics make a radical shift from the dominant bedroom universe of the world’s lonely, sensitive, overqualified young white dudes, and finds refuge in the masses by being embraced by the world’s truck drivers, sorority chicks, and hockey players, alike.
The hallmark of Jason Molina’s career, ‘Magnolia Electric Co.’, is both a confluence of all he would create and a line in the sand to mark a shift in his songwriting approach. It was the last statement under his iconic Songs: Ohia moniker, and the moment before he began making new legends as Magnolia Electric Co. for the next 10 years. Now, here at the end of that decade, with Molina gone, his work gathers more weight and meaning. This The Postal Service expanded 10-year anniversary edition of ‘Magnolia Electric Co.’ features one Give Up never-before-released track plus many rarities. Late in 2001, The Postal Service’s two members – Ben Gibbard of Death This edition also gathers Molina’s Cab for Cutie and electronic music gutting demos for the record, artist Jimmy Tamborello - decided to including those two outtakes. Nearly record a full length album together, each begins with audible sound of the sending one another CD-R’s across ‘Record’ button being pressed down the United States in the post… The on the tape player. They are so close Postal Service. As of January this year, and intimate, it’s hard to look them ‘Give Up’ had sold over one million right in the eye. With the wailing lap copies and ranks as one of Sub Pop’s steel of the album opener ‘Farewell most successful ever titles. This 2013 Transmission’, Jason Molina and co reissue is beautifully put together on usher in a new day, playing the sort CD and LP including the remastered of rock that your cool uncle rolled to original 10-track album along with 15 back in the 70s. Landing somewhere bonus tracks, two of which are new on the radar sonically between Bob and exclusive to this edition and cover Dylan’s Desire and Bob Seger’s versions of Postal Service classics by ‘Beautiful Loser’, though thematically The Shins and Iron & Wine.
We mentioned Light in The Attic in the compilation section, but reissuing works of wonder is their calling card (look no further than the Rodriguez story). In 2013 the Seattle based label have brought us treats from National Wake (their full body of work as ‘Walk In Africa 1979-81’), two Michael Hurley albums, three Roky Erickson albums, four Marcos Valle albums and plenty more from Lee Hazlewood and his LHI label (Honey Ltd being a particular favourite).
Michael Chapman Wrecked Again Like other artists in the Harvest stable, Chapman’s music contains a druggedout feel, sublime guitar playing and intense lyrics, yet Chapman’s career was not a pet project. Buried in EMI’s release schedule and afforded no promotional budget,Wrecked Again is his lost classic.
Dark Round The Edges Also this year was Dark’s ‘Round the Edges’, originally issued in an edition of around 50 copies, mostly for friends, family, and the odd record company. Its reputation has since blossomed into something resembling a redwood, or perhaps an original Van Gogh. This album is the holy grail for lovers of fuzz-driven hard rock, and has been the most sought-after privately pressed LP on the planet.
Recorded at the noted Rockfield Studio, a residential complex-cumworking farm in Wales, Wrecked Again explores orchestration via Paul Buckmaster (Miles Davis, David Bowie) and The London Symphony Orchestra and production courtesy of Gus Dudgeon (Elton John, Bonzo Digable Planets Dog Band), but also explores a new sound influenced by Memphis soul. Blowout Comb With a blend of electric and acoustic Another essential purchase was Digable instruments, Chapman is found where Planets ‘Blowout Comb’, the 1994 second album by cult, Brooklyn-based “I bought the album and had to hip hop trio Digable Planets. This is wait four days before I was home intelligent, alternative hip hop that to listen to it. It’s a truly great sounded like party music. Its lyrics are record... one that will get better dense with wit, social commentary and politics. and better the more I lose myself Amongst all this amazing music there was one album however that we just kept going back to on the LITA roster, our 2013 reissue of the year...
in it... and yes, it does sound even better when you are wrecked.” - James Endeacott
he feels most comfortable: in-between folk and rock, contrasting soft with edgy. Wrecked Again was made at a turbulent time in Chapman’s life. Still struggling for money despite being four albums into his career, the sessions were marred by arguments over his pay. Unloved as it was by his label, the album did little to rectify the situation. Afterwards, Chapman and bassist Rick Kemp – later of Steeleye Span – set off on their first tour of the USA. Chapman was stoney broke – initially refused a visa as a result – and received no money. And that was the least of his troubles. By the third week, manager Andrew King had quit the country, and Kemp had run off with a woman in a green Mustang. Audiences couldn’t understand Chapman’s thick Yorkshire accent or British phrases, not least when he coughed on stage and told them, “these French fags are killing my throat”. After being mugged in New York, Chapman gave up – before even reaching the West Coast. There had been highs, such as being asked to perform at King Curtis’s funeral alongside the likes of Ray Charles, but the experience scarred the singer-songwriter. Back in the UK, he told his partner, Andru Chapman, “If that’s the big time then fuck it – I don’t want it.” Chapman did, of course, go on to record more than 30 albums and tour extensively, but Wrecked Again was a pivotal moment in his career; the tipping point between his earlier, folkier material and his later, rockier output on Deram. We spoke to Michael back in the Summer for issue four of Deluxe. We asked him about his take on the future of music. “Downloads have fucked it for people like me, they’re only for people who don’t care. I’m not techno and don’t wish to be.” He’s our kind of guy.
32 James Blake Overgrown The 2013 Mercury Music Prize Winner. Two years after his debut album took UK bass culture down previously unimagined roads of introspection, James Blake returns with the epic ‘Overgrown’, an incredible album that sees James growing as a singer and songwriter while at the same time returning to the brain melting electronic perfection of his early releases on Hemlock and Hessle, moving way beyond any post-dubstep pigeonholes to include stunning reinterpretations of both hip-hop and house. “Blake is a modern master of emotional speculation.” - Pitchfork
31 William Tyler Impossible Truth Impossible Truth is William Tyler’s debut album on Merge Records. Rooted in apocalyptic expectation and bittersweet nostalgia, Tyler describes the record as “my ‘70s singer-songwriter record; it just doesn’t have any words.” 2010’s Behold the Spirit, William Tyler’s first album under his own name, was celebrated by Pitchfork as “the most vital, energized album by an American solo guitarist in a decade or more” and established him as a critical favorite. Impossible Truth will challenge your ideas of what an instrumental guitar record can and should be. As his friend and tour mate M.C. Taylor from Hiss Golden Messenger puts it, “William will worry a phrase—some tangled chordal wormhole—until you are certain it’s all that exists. He’ll take you over the stiles, he’ll love you up and down, and then he’ll make you cry for the world and what we’ve done to it.” Impossible Truth is virtuso like
solo guitars weaving utter black magic, waves and layers of harmonics crashing against you. Thrilling stuff.
30 Savages Silence Yourself The highly anticipated debut from London’s Savages, an all-female four-piece who play music with scything energy and brutal power. Recorded with Rodaidh McDonald (The xx), the album is an 11-track, 38-minute masterpiece. Limned in black and white but containing a swell of different emotions within its selfimposed strictures, the songs cover masochism, urban dread, materialism, possessivenes and the experience of being a woman. Every one is delivered with fierce conviction and concision. In the words of the band: “Savages are a self-affirming voice to help experience our girlfriends differently, our husbands, our jobs, our erotic life, and the place music occupies into our lives. Savages’ songs aim to remind us that human beings havent evolved so much, that music can still be straight to the point, efficient and exciting.” - For us, it would have been an excellent Mercury Prize winner (they were nominated) but perhaps the four girls playing live on TV was enough to bring the power that they behold to a new audience.
29 Phosphorescent Muchacho Matthew Houck, for he is Phosphorescent, likes to work. The Alabama native, now resident in Brooklyn has delivered five albums as Phosphorescent since his 2003 debut. Houck has a highly distinctive artistic voice, but also a refreshing, rolled-up sleeves approach to his expression, and
if he had his way, he’d have twice as many albums under his belt by now. “In the ‘60s and ‘70s, they were making artists crank out records every six months. With guys like Waylon Jennings, John Prine and even Dylan, I don’t think those records would have gotten made in today’s climate, because now you’re allowed – or even required – to make a grand statement. I have this ideal – and I know it’s not possible, because of the way the industry works – of making a record every year.” Grand, ornate, rough, ready... it really has it all. Anyone interested in writing music should own this album. “It’s a place where well-worn sounds are the most beloved, where ideas and poses are settled into like old chairs. On Muchacho, Houck invests this world with new beauty and profundity.” - Pitchfork
28 Nathan Salsburg Hard For To Win And Can’t Be Won Nathan Salsburg’s 2011 debut was a beautiful ode to racehorses (a point of pride for any resident of Kentucky) comprised of seven acoustic guitar instrumentals and one vocal track. His second album, ‘Hard For To Win And Can’t Be Won’, is a grander effort. Although still primarily composed of acoustic guitar, the songs sound bigger. They bounce along, weaving through unexpected twists and turns, with the occasional piano melody or fiddle line. Though he’d learned to play at the age of 11, Nathan Salsburg did not know he was an acoustic guitar player. In fact, before he wrote his first tune in 2006, he hadn’t seriously picked guitar for the better part of a decade. He’d quit making his own music with a folk-rock band to focus instead on preserving, archiving and broadcasting the collection of Alan Lomax. That was his dayjob, his passion, “the greatest blessing of my life,” he says. ‘Hard For To Win And Can’t Be Won’ is the type of record you hear, love, tell everyone about and still have joy playing years down the line.
27 Foxygen We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic In May 2011, Foxygen’s Sam France and Jonathan Rado nervously handed off a CD-R of their homemade miniopus ‘Take The Kids Off Broadway’ to producer and visionary Richard Swift after his performance in a Lower East Side club. The duo, who had just mixed and burned the disc that very night, had been devotees of Swift’s outsiderpop oeuvre since high school, when they first began recording their own pubescent forays into oddball rock ‘n’ roll (at least a dozen records were finished before they graduated high school). Foxygen left the venue that night unsure whether Swift would truly listen or sling the disc into a dumpster on his way out. In fact, Swift flipped for Foxygen’s bugged out, esoteric majesty and called upon them immediately to say as much. Eight months later, Foxygen were holed up for a week-long recording session at Swift’s neo-legendary National Freedom studio, creating what has become ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic’, a precocious and cocksure joyride across California psychedelia with a burning, bursting punk rock engine. We cant help but feel that Foxygen might end up going on to produce one of the best records of our generation... that is if they didn’t seem hell bent and destined to implode in a horrible mess of band loathing and petty squabbles. We do however have “... Peace & Magic”, nine absolute post flower power pop gems. Hope it’s not the end of the line.
26 Jonathan Wilson Fanfare
With 2011’s critically-lauded ‘Gentle Spirit’, audiences worldwide were introduced to the prodigious talents of singer, songwriter, multiinstrumentalist, record producer and unrivalled guitar hero Jonathan Wilson. The eagerly-awaited follow-up, ‘Fanfare’, is an even more ambitious production, roping in guests such as David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne and Roy Harper. Happily, the North Carolina modern hippie’s second album is too ambitious, too fluently surprising and too lovely to appeal to 1970s retro-heads alone. “Wilson emerges as less copycat, more kindred spirit to the explorers who came before him.” - The Independent
25 Factory Floor Factory Floor There’s no more time to wait. It’s time for the weight. An arpeggio starts. Bass thunder rolls in from the sea, across beaches and over cliff tops, it ripples across fields and through the suburbs. As city streets narrow and scrape the sky, the noise is intensified into a beam. The modified Roland SH101 creates the jugular pulse. On the temporal axis the drums hammer in as a contradiction, played by a human as if he’s a machine. They are repetitive and metronomic in tempo and signature yet ever shifting, ever surprising, ever ear-boggling. A battered drum kit, Jomox Xbase drum machine and Roland SPDS sample pad create the tools for deep and effective hypnosis. This is music to dance to. This is music to march to. It is a rhythm that comes rushing up mine shafts, up bore holes, through volcanic vents, up via tectonic cracks, until it pierces the surface tension. Then great ragged chunks of guitar noise fall like flaming rock from the sky. A symbolic Fender Telecaster is brutalised with fists and fraying violin bow, an assault complimented by Roland SP555 sampler. And the voice... what is the voice saying? What is the voice doing? Have they painted you a picture? Hard, relentless, industrial dance music from start to finish. Utterly thrilling and deeply addictive,
once you’ve heard this you’ll feel like you need it.
24 Zomby With Love With Love is Zomby’s third album. An astonishing 33 tracks that collectively trace an arc through dance music’s history, revealing an artist in his most creative phase yet. Touching upon rave, jungle, house, techno, and grime, Zomby once again marks himself as a genre savant free of the cosy nostalgia that weighs down many of his peers. Across two volumes that move invariably between a dancefloor focus and darkened emotional introspection, Zomby points to a different future. A sonic palimpsest written of true experience, With Love is the work of a producer who has absorbed the shifting textures and plains of electronic music first hand, and reconfigured them into a definitive, sprawling love letter to the soulful dance music of his past.
23 Fuck Buttons Slow Focus Once again abiding by their fundamental rule that “we must always be in the same room when writing,” what Fuck Buttons have created on Slow Focus is something that feels more close-up than ever before, a firstperson view through winding pathways set against a frequently aggressive and constantly evolving terrain. It’s an ominously shimmering mirage that could only have come from their own volition. “Slow Focus seemed like a very apt title when considering the sentiment of the music,” comments Benjamin John Power, “It almost feels like the moment your eyes take to readjust when waking, and realising you’re in a very unusual and not a
particularly welcoming place. We like to think that we create our own new landscapes, and with this it’s a very alien one.” Between them, Fuck Buttons have been busy behind the scenes in the intermediate four years since Tarot Sport, but they were flung out into the perception of the global public last year when Danny Boyle opted to use their music in his breathtaking Olympics opening ceremony in London. One of the most arresting electronic acts in the world today.
22 Goldfrapp Tales Of Us ‘Tales Of US’ is Goldfrapp’s sixth studio album, and is strikingly cinematic in its aural feel. The songs’ narrative form makes sense given they were born out of a rediscovered love of cinema and the written word for singer Alison. All the songs bar one are named in the first person with a cast list of evocative character sketches, the contrary love affairs, the suspense, hallucinations, fairy tales and modern folklores documented and the traces of redemption they find in song take the poetry of Goldfrapp’s delicately considered music somewhere brand new. It’s an intimate collection of fireside confessionals which weave their spell on you with a slow-burning intensity. “Few artists possess the chutzpah and imagination to perennially reinvent themselves as successfully as Goldfrapp have done in a career encompassing baroque torch song balladry, Schaffel-beat glam, pastoral folk and Moroder-influenced electro-pop.” - The Quietus
21 Queens Of The Stone Age
... Like Clockwork
Described by Queens principal Joshua Homme as “an audio documentary of a manic year,” ... Like Clockwork is the band’s first full length collection of all new material since 2007’s Era Vulgaris, as well as the band’s debut release on new label partner Matador. ...Like Clockwork finds drummer Dave Grohl pummelling away for the first time since 2002’s Songs for the Deaf. Significant cameos include previously ousted, now-forgiven bassist Nick Oliveri (on backing vocals), Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys and Elton John, who told Homme the Queens needed an actual queen, and reduced Homme to the second biggest party animal in the room. “Homme initially chose his band name to subvert the machismo inherent to hard rock and, more than any of their records before it, ...Like Clockwork feels like the ultimate realization of that mission. To invoke the old glam proverb, ‘it kicks like a mule even when it dresses like a queen’.” - Pitchfork
20 Hiss Golden Messenger Haw Haw, herein, is an album of eleven songs about family, faith, and an illprophesied future, an artifact almost as archaic, lovely and seldom heard today as directional commands for beasts of burden. M.C. Taylor, who wrote these songs, once lived hard by the Haw with his wife Abigail and their son Elijah - Well I come from the bottom of the river Haw, he sings - but he doesn’t live there anymore. Having followed the slipstream to the relative bustle of nearby Durham, North Carolina, he has composed a new clutch of tunes that conjure the half-remembered dreams of peace promised by our pasts. Taylor’s writing and singing here achieve a tenebrous clarity, invoking - and occasionally challenging - a intermingling cast of prophetic characters both sacred and profane: Daniel, Elijah, the Apostles, and the Son of Man, sure, but also the Peacock Fiddle Band, Mississippi John Hurt, and by implication, Lew
Welch, Waylon Jennings, Michael Hurley, and our friend Jefferson Currie II. Say whatever prayer you want: to Jehovah or Yahowah, or Red Rose Nantahala.More than ever before, the supporting players of Hiss Golden Messenger feature as tellers of the tale. Each episode earns a meticulously turned ensemble statement. Lyrically and musically multifarious and freshly urgent, Haw represents Hiss Golden Messenger’s most ambitious and challenging work yet.
“I’ve probably listened to William Tyler’s Impossible Truth more than any other new album this year. William is a close friend; he played on Hiss Golden Messenger’s Haw and we’ve spent a lot of time on the road together. I feel connected to him, and I understand the emotions - his, as well as my own - that he’s conjuring. As a session guy, William is a chameleon on the guitar; if you ask him to play like Waylon Jennings, he can do that, easily. If you ask him to play like Michael Karoli, he can do that too. But Impossible Truth is William being - and playing for - himself. Which are some really high stakes.” ~ M.C. Taylor
19 Ducktails The Flower Lane The Flower Lane’ is the fourth album from Ducktails. It was recorded and mixed over the Summer of 2012 with Al Carlson (Peaking Lights, Oneohtrix Point Never), as Ducktails aka Matt Mondanile’s hectic schedule as a concurrent member of Real Estate began to wind down. The ten songs on ‘The Flower Lane’ move across a range of expressive pop songs that are bright and expansive, with arrangements that would have been at home on the early records of sophisticated guitar pop icons such as Aztec Camera and Prefab Sprout. “Mondanile’s fourth album as Ducktails and first for Domino, finds him emerging as a proper songwriter in his own right.” - The Quietus
18 Matthew E White Big Inner Moving, redemptive and powerfully soulful, ‘Big Inner’ is a timeless record told in seven songs that mingle memory with the rawness of any given human moment. The references from the lyrics that echo the common conditions of love, death, seeking, and finding, to open tributes to artists like Washington Phillips, Allen Toussaint, Jorge Ben, Jimmy Cliff, and Randy Newman - are their own scavenger hunt through music history and through Matthew E. White’s place in it. ‘Big Inner’, his first album, was universally lauded by critics. Compared to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Beta Band, Cat Power, Spiritualized, and Lambchop, it blends vintage soul-pop with blues, funk and gospel to create a soulful masterpiece soaked in a bygone age. “A dramatic pop-gospel record that
hits extremes of the mood spectrum: very easygoing and very obsessive” - NY Times
16 My Bloody Valentine MBV
On the evening of Saturday February second, at just after Midnight, www. mybloodyvalentine.org crashed. Epically. Earlier that afternoon, Kevin Sheilds had written on the bands official Boards Of Canada, one of the most facebook page that “We are preparing respected and influential electronic to go live with the new album/ artists of recent times, return with website this evening. We will make their first album in eight years. What an announcement as soon as its up.”... with pre-release puzzles, desert That was as far as the hype went, but it parties, mysterious videos, and limited damn near broke the internet. Twenty Record Store Day offerings, the hype two years after the release of the now surrounding ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ has legendary ‘loveless’ came the perfectly been building to a fever pitch. You’ll be titled ‘mbv’, and talk about eagerly pleased to know that the album holds anticipated. They haven’t re-written up against this weight of expectation, the rule book here (they did that delivering another seductively over two decades ago), but they are widescreen, sci-fi cinematic selection still possibly one of the most unique of electronica tracks that could only sounding bands in history. ‘mbv’ is come from the studios of Sandison nine stunning tracks in just under forty and Eoin. With accompanying sleeve seven minutes and completely worth / inner sleeve artwork featuring blurry the wait. Slow distorted burns and images of secret American landscapes submerged melodies, wonky guitars, of atom bomb tests, peyote trips, bent necks, epic delays, waves of religious sects and Area 51, the album shadows... everything that you’d want is opens with a short electronica piece there. Nobody does it better. that references the pair’s fondness for the BBC Radiophonic workshop, or perhaps the incidental music from early “Still, after an absence of more 70s sci-fi films like The Andromeda than 20 years it’s the most Strain. Spidery arpeggiated synths and aggressively amniotic stuff going. abstract choral washes lift tracks like ‘Reach For The Dead’ and ‘White The lead track, She Found Cyclosa’, which recall the horror Now, picks up more or less where movies of John Carpenter and Dario Loveless left off, with guitarist Argento. The woozy detuned analogue Bilinda Butcher cooing shapeless keyboards that have become BOC’s trademark arrive on the stumbling, nothings, Valentine-in-chief stuttering ‘Jacquard Causeway’, while Kevin Shields crooning back, the beat-driven lushness of ‘Cold guitars flanging, and an urgent Earth’ could be seen as being a classic aortic throb underpinning all the of the braindance era. This eerie and unsettling first half makes way for a gauziness. You can imagine fans more uplifting ‘part 2’, with tracks like punching the air at this point, in ‘Palace Posy’ and especially ‘Nothing the blessed relief that this long, Is Real’ providing warm synths, while titles like ‘New Seeds’ suggest rebirth long, long-awaited album doesn’t and hope in this lifeless landscape. induce a desire to kick the cat in Perhaps the soundtrack to a film that disappointment.” only exists in Boards Of Canada’s minds, ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ is an intense and rewarding listen. ~ The Guardian
Boards of Canada Tomorrow’s Harvest
Girls Names The New Life
Belfast-based four-piece Girls Names are a singular proposition, both geographically and psychically John Grant removed from their contemporaries at home and abroad. Their second Pale Green Ghosts album The New Life is the sound of a band on the fringes striving to It’s been an extraordinary journey for forge their own path, purposefully John Grant, from a point where he out of step - and time - with their thought he would never make music surroundings. Weighed heavy with the again or escape a life of substance grey landscapes of their hometown, abuse to winning awards and accolades, The New Life is isolation laid bare, collaborating with Sinead O’Connor, shot through with an undeterred Rumer and Hercules & Love Affair. It’s sense of purpose and individuality. also been a journey from The Czars’ The expansion to a four piece means folk/country noir to the lush ‘70s FM the garage-clatter of the spritely alchemy of Queen Of Denmark to the pop songs of their debut have been astonishing fusion of sounds that lifts replaced by a deeper, shadowy exercise Pale Green Ghosts to even giddier in catharsis, driven by repetition, heights. Sinead’s ( O’Connor) presence psychedelia and Dionysian crisis. And is a surprise on Pale Green Ghosts, but the record was born of a weighty not compared to the album’s portion concept too, as Cully explains: “The of synthesisers and beats – unless you New Life is not an over night change for already know Grant’s enduring love Girls Names - just over two years in fact. of vintage synth-pop and industrial Dead to Me literally was dead to us by the dance, and more current electronic time it was committed to wax. But it’s a acts such as Trentemøller and Mock learning curve. We started moving on as & Toof. “Electronica is a huge part of my artists the moment we finished that recording personality and my influences, though I don’t session, maybe even before. Not to dwell on think many people see that fitting in to the the past, The New Life is what happens John Grant image, whatever that is,” he when you reset everything back to zero and says. One of those prime influences has start again, but try to perfect. It starts back even produced Pale Green Ghosts with at zero the minute the needle hits the groove Grant: Birgir Þórarinsson, a.k.a. Biggi but we’re also starting back from zero once Veira, of Iceland’s electronic pioneers the needle lifts at the end of the record. Ad Gus Gus. Queen of Denmark had been infinitum. The New Life is what follows recorded in Texas with fellow Bella now.” The album’s title track is an ideal Union mates Midlake as his backing entry point. Just shy of 8 minutes long, band, and Grant intended to return it rotates around a hypnotic bass line, there to record again with the band’s and in Cully’s evocation of renaissance, rhythm section of McKenzie Smith and offers a perfect metaphor for the album Paul Alexander. But a trip beforehand as a whole. The New Life, stands as a to see more of Iceland led to meeting brave statement; the mark of the band Biggi, who invited Grant to his studio untying themselves from the past and in Reykjavik. The two tracks the pair easing forth into the unknown. recorded – ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ and ‘Black Belt’ – convinced Grant he had to make the entire record there. “A genuinely remarkable album: self-obsessed but completely compelling, profoundly discomforting but beautiful, lost in its own fathomless personal misery, but warm, funny and wise. It shouldn’t work, but it does.” The Guardian David Bowie
The Next Day
One of Britains most celebrated, much cherished, original and iconic figures,
David Bowie returns after a 10 year absence, with this brilliant new album on RCA Records. The Next Day’, his 30th studio recording, was produced by Tony Visconti and written by Bowie in New York. When David Bowie chose to break a decade’s silence by releasing a single, Where Are We Now?, on his 66th birthday, dissenting voices were hard to find amid the clamour made by people eager to welcome him back. His timig, as ever, was immaculate, hijacking his own V&A exhibition and all its accompanying media hoopla, ensuring that his new music would arrive on a wave of nostalgia for the invisible hero. Without giving a single interview or live performance, Bowie was suddenly everywhere at once, a reminder that he has never really gone away.
12 Kanye West Yeezus “hurry up with my damn croissant!!” Aggressive, sexy, hilarious - the new Kanye west album is all these things and more. In a year of surprise returns (David Bowie, MBV), hugely hyped releases campaigns (Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, Arcade Fire) and celebrity gold (Miley Cyrus rubbing her arse against some guy, fellating a sledge hammer and smoking a doob on stage), Kanye has remained at the very top of the news pile; he’s been omnipresent in 2013... perhaps his words not ours! Ironically this sits against a lot of what he has said, criticizing commercial partnerships, marketing, journalism content, paparazzi oppression... He has become master of this world, he really is Yeezus. On release it received unanimous wild critical praise, Pitchfork in particular stamping the record with a 9.5 rating and heralding it as a contemporary masterpiece. As far as Drift is concerned, Kanye is wry, funny and shockingly frank in his lyrics. The bravado is a delivery mechanism and that is a fascinating technique to use in a genre so
synonymous with a one dimensional misogynistic approach. The production is brilliant (Def Jam founder Rick Rubin is in the executive producer’s chair), the guest spots add to the mix and it makes for a gripping listen. That is why it is good... the whole god complex seems a little boring, for Kanye if nothing else. “Noisy, gripping, maddening, potent, audibly the product of, as he put it “giving no fucks at all”, Yeezus is the sound of a man just doing his job properly.” - The Guardian
11 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Push The Sky Away
At the heart of Push the Sky Away is a naturalism and warmth that makes it the most subtly beautiful of all the Bad Seeds albums. The contemporary settings of myths, and the cultural references that have time-stamped Nick’s songs of the twenty-first century mist lightly through details drawn from the life he observed around his seaside home, through the tall windows on the album’s mysterious and ambiguous cover. The songs on this album took form in a modest notebook with shellac covers over the course of almost a year. The notebook is a treasured analogue artefact but the internet is equally important to Nick: Googling curiosities, being entranced by exotic Wikipedia entries “whether they’re true or not”. These songs convey how on the internet profoundly significant events, momentary fads and mystically-tinged absurdities sit side-by-side and question how we might recognise and assign weight to what’s genuinely important. The album has a clarity and sweet strangeness that’s built upon the refusal to accept limitations, whether they be the traditional uses and sounds of musical instruments, lyric styles, or diminished spiritual horizons. It’s not always apparent what instruments the band is playing: they may be traditional musical instruments but other sounds are clearly generated by objects
unrelated to musical instruments. What’s being created is a collective musical language that is rich and complex.
“Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren’s loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat.” ~ Nick Cave
10 Four Tet Beautiful Rewind With the minimum of fuss, one of the UK’s (perhaps the World’s) foremost electronic musicians releases his tenth LP. No press agency, no media campaign, just a casual tweet and it’s here. This immediacy is carried through into the music on offer. The track lengths are shorter than we’ve become used to, with Hebden getting straight down to the nitty gritty and distilling his complex melodies and rhythms into their most potent form; no ambient preamble or sprawling kosmiche on this one. Instead, Four Tet continues the journey through club music he began on “There Is Love In You” and “Pink”, now taking the fire escape out the main room into a strip lit car park. “Beautiful Rewind” acts as part pirate radio jungle assault and part post club come down bliss. Hebden feeds the jungle chatter, polyrhythms and bass wobble through his own experimental and dense production, to create an immersive yet raw experience like listening to Rooms 1 and 2 at the same time from the depths of a K-Hole. Album opener “Gong” and recent single “Kool FM” and the murderous “Aerial” and “Buchla” are bold and aggresive, while “Unicorn”, “Your Body Feels” and “Ba Teaches Yoga” could sit comfortably with the
fragility and beauty found on “There Is Love In You”. Always wishing to push forward, Hebden has delivered some of the old, alongside a generous helping of new, casting his net wider and pulling varied influences together to form a complete and unique LP. “Beautiful Rewind, however, actually strikes a refreshingly non-nostalgic note, due largely to his treatment of his source material. At its end, the whole piece slowly tapers off in volume to a close, vanishing over the horizon as if we’re being driven out of radio transmitter range.” - The Quietus
9 Gold Panda Half Of Where You Live Half Of Where You Live’ is the follow up to Gold Panda’s debut album ‘Lucky Shiner’ - a release that garnered widespread acclaim and won the Guardian First Album Award on its release in 2010. In the three years that has passed since that album’s release Gold Panda has toured extensively worldwide, and his experiences can be seen as an influence on this record, with track titles like ‘Brazil’ and ‘Enoshima’, and the oriental sounding textures of ‘My Father In Hong Kong 1961’ and ‘We Work Nights’ capturing his nomadic existence. As regular readers of our Deluxe paper will already know, ‘Gold’ took us on a tour of Berlin back in January, visiting the cities best vinyl buying hot spots. Further to that, as part of this years Record Store Day festivities in April he travelled down to Totnes and played a live set in the shop for us. A former record shop employee himself, ‘Gold’ is real. He makes music because it just comes out of him and that is why his music has such depth. Growing as an artist, the real trick that he’s pulled with this new album is simply not playing tricks. His debut was such a rich tapestry of hooks and nostalgia, he’s moved on with a repertoire of new sounds and timbres, making a very cosmopolitan album, each track possessing a different aesthetic and environment. ‘Half Of Where You Live’ is beautiful electronic music.
Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven
Steve Gunn Time Off
The album contains many familiar sonic touchstones for listeners who have followed the acclaimed electronic music composer’s development over the last half-decade, his Warp Records debut is a major departure from his previous work. Lopatin’s experimental inclinations lurk behind the scenes - in the concepts and procedures he adopted to create the tracks - while the music itself comes as close as he has ever come to anything resembling traditional song structure, which, for the producer, is only so close: The work is full of overlapping, abstract musical through-lines, puzzle-like pieces that, taken together, might allow you to glimpse an overarching tableau. The Brooklyn-based artist has always deftly balanced the experimental with the accessible: He has released several albums under his Oneohtrix Point Never moniker on various independent labels. His most recent disc, 2011’s ‘Replica’, was built around samples of television commercials. OPN has built live soundscapes at the Museum of Modern Art; collaborated with Montreal-based ambient electronic music composer Tim Hecker on the largely improvised 2012 ‘Instrumental Tourist’; and recast the title track from his 2010 disc ‘Returnal’ as an elegant and emotive piece for piano, featuring the otherworldly voice of Antony Hegarty. Advertising powerhouse Saatchi & Saatchi tapped Lopatin for an installation event at the 2012 Cannes film fest and Sofia Coppola’s longtime cohort Brian Reitzell invited him to create original music for Coppola’s The Bling Ring. ‘R Plus Seven’ is disruptive and hypnotic in equal measure, and the fun of it lies in trusting Lopatin as he guides us past - and often through - its succession of walls and mirrors. “another intriguing chapter from an artist whose work remains alive with possibility.” - Pitchfork
Steve Gunn’s new album imagines the fugitive moments afforded us during time off, out, and away as occasions for dilatory investigations into our immediate environments and interiors. Time Off showcases the virtuosic guitarist and songwriter’s oblique character sketches and story-songs. These contemplative studies frame Gunn’s most affecting, accessible and articulate work of pure songcraft to date. His definitive statement as a songwriter,Time Off represents the culmination of nearly fifteen years of stylistic experimentation as a solo artist, a member of GHQ and the Gunn-Truscinski Duo, and more recently, as a guitarist in fellow Philadelphia-bred troubadour Kurt Vile’s touring band the Violators. Steve’s keen baritone voice features more prominently than ever before on these tunes, each of which feels both more rigorous and expansive than previous efforts. Building on his established penchant for charting musical travelogues that ramble through city and wilderness alike, these dispatches about home are not merely descriptive but corporeal. Gunn’s evocative writing and ductile instrumental phrasing, buttressed by the band’s intuitive playing, carries the listener along bodily for the “Trailways Ramble.” It’s a real collection of foot-tappers and head-nodders.This is Gunn at the top of his game, utterly unique but steeped in traditions both vernacular and avant-garde. Jump in.
6 Parquet Courts Light Up Gold The last few months have seen a wildly accelerated trajectory for Austin Brown
and Andrew Savage, aka Parquet Courts. Formed from the ashes of bands such as Fergus & Geronimo and Teenage Cool Kids, Parquet Courts are a glorious encapsulation of everything NYC punk should be; a frenzied and frantic ramraid on the history of garage rock but with more whip smart intelligence, cutting humour and – crucial to the band – emotional honesty than most other bands muster. Parquet Courts initially released their debut LP “Light Up Gold” on their own label Dull Tools in July last year, but the resultant buzz and excitement (with the tastemaking likes of Spin, Pitchfork, Village Voice and many others joining the ranks of the converted) has seen the album get an official release in the US in January and in the UK on April 15. From start to finish, this is a full throttle experience which you have no choice but to dive in to headfirst, with ridiculously infectious melodies and propulsive guitars which grab you as Brown and Savage (with assist from Max Savage and Sean Yeaton) spin their short, sharp tales of quarter-life ennui (“Borrowed Time”), weed-induced inertia (“Stoned and Starving”) and job anxiety (“Careers in Combat”) with concise, laserlike precision. “Parquet Courts have produced a debut that’s both instantly addictive and lastingly rewarding” – Guardian
5 Hookworms Pearl Mystic For a while now Leeds five-piece Hookworms have been terrorising headlining bands across northern England and beyond, not through histrionics or gimmick, but through sheer sonic velocity and emotive intent. Often bracketed among the latest wave of psychedelic rock currently appearing in pockets around the UK (as support slots with Wooden Shjips, Sun Araw and Peaking Lights attest), this tag is somewhat of a misnomer for a band whose use of repetition and reverb is not to open the third dimension or for some sort of flowerpower escapism. Instead the reel feels
cathartic. Each fresh revolution of the loop a confrontation between the band and themes of depression, loss and anger - subjects close to the heart of the group’s vocalist MJ (“no enigma; we just don’t use our full names, we’ve no interest in being celebrities.”) ‘Pearl Mystic’ was recorded and produced in MJ’s own Suburban Studios and he admits he enjoyed the greater freedom he could allow himself on his own project. Live and on record, like Spaceman 3, they pointedly subvert the tripped out sound environments of psychedelia with a darkly malevolent punk menace; unlike J.Spaceman et al, there’s no chemical assistance. These concepts and feelings come with clarity, and hit all the harder for it. Indeed, the most impressive thing about Hookworms is that, through this torrent of emotion, through their wild motorik and their thick slabs of noise that threaten to spill over, there’s always the sense that they’re in control of it all. So committed are they to this catharsis that they refuse to throw any of it to chance.
4 Bill Callahan Dream River Welcome to the serene shores of ‘Dream River’ (his fifth record under his own name, it’s his eighteenth, if you count his records as Smog) Bill Callahan’s follow-up to 2011’s gorgeous Apocalypse (The 2011 Drift
Record of the Year). This new album finds Bill expertly accompanied by a small and wonderfully framing band, leaving his rich baritone as the solo star of this fine record. It’s his deadpan and understated delivery that marks him as one of the most penetrating and gripping artists since Leonard Cohen; a genuine poet, with each new appearance it’s just a joy to see how much control and restrain he has over his vocal. He’s learned to use negative space so well that there’s even poetry in the pauses. It’s been widely acknowledged for years that he is a song-writer par excellence, but the real craft is how he has become the master of his vocals. Lyrically Bill tugs at the loose strands of a scene and unspools ‘em until he comes to the knot. Or if he’s out of doors, he ruffles through the chaff that makes up the haystack, looking for something hard and sharp. The days of the allneedle haystack are gone, but Bill still finds something that gets beneath the skin, even when surveying moments of easy contentment. He pans out to a long shot to give us perspective - and drifting, finds another set of circumstances to regard. The subjects shift conversationally, like a kaleidoscope, revolving out from a tiny glinting detail reflected in windows we look through every day, windows that aren’t even there to begin with. The plainspoken flies with the poetic in these songs, along with the sudden jolt of something you remember. “To call Dream River “content” or “serene” feels wrong, because there’s still a pang of longing to it. But in all of this album’s searching, it does bring back one hopeful find: that maybe the closest we can come to the thrill of wilderness is the adventure of being with another person.” - Pitchfork.
3 Kurt Vile Wakin on a Pretty Daze Kurt Vile is slowly, quietly becoming one of the great American guitarists and songwriters, of our time. This 69-minute double album is comprised of sweeping, expansive songs that are both very intimate and conversational. Wakin On A Pretty Daze is a timeless record that would have sounded great 30 years ago, sounds great today, and will still sound great in another 30 years’ from now. “Making music is easy...Watch me!” he boasts right at the start of the album, nearly seventy minutes later, after waves and waves of sunburned guitars and drawled vocals, you’d be hard pressed to disagree with him. Beautifully produced by John Agnello, the record is filled with hazy, swooning guitar lines and dreamy, beatific, and occasionally sardonic vocals. It is summed up by the staggeringly gorgeous 9-minute opener, Wakin On A Pretty Day. The record has other connections to Kurt’s home town. Steve Powers (ESPO), the renowned Philly street artist, painted the cover mural on an abandoned building near the Northern Liberties. The album was also announced via a mini-doc of Powers creating the mural with Kurt’s commentary, and the two of them talking about Philadelphian music and visual arts. The mural will be re-created in London, Los Angeles and New York. If you question that a 70 minute album would be a gripping listen, how about this; we now have a deluxe edition of the album to include the “It’s A Big World Out There (And I Am Scared)” EP (we also have stand alone 12” copies). Not a bad year for the former forklift driver, who’s shown that behind his veneer of lackadaisical creativity is a songwriter toiling hard to make music with such hazy perfection seem so laid-back. “His most assured record to date, this is also the Philadelphia rocker’s most purely pleasurable.” - The Guardian.
NO.2 Unknown Mortal Orchestra - “II” Emerging from rampant hedonism and isolation is ‘II’, the new album from Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The musical vision of Portlander-via-New Zealand Ruban Nielson started as an anonymous home-recording project that fused psychedelia, soul, choppy percussion and funk. It illustrates the emotional turmoil of life on the road, painting surrealist, cartoonish portraits of loneliness, love and despair. Released way back in February, it has honestly spent getting close to ten months on the Drift shop stereo now, the mark of a superb album for sure. We caught up with Ruben to ask him about the album.
“I hardly ever say Unknown Mortal Orchestra these days. It’s a mouthful. Like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” You’re pretty young as a band, but you seem to have carved yourself out your own sound. Who have been big influences on you? We’re all obsessed with music so we’re influenced by a lot of stuff. At the moment I’ve been really influenced by electricity and the way that it revolutionized the way music was made. I think the way that sound converts to voltage and the way that voltage is manipulated is something not enough musicians think about. I’ve been really influenced by Captain Beefheart and Arthur Lee for the past couple of years. At the moment I’m deep in into Prince and Bowie.It’s cool to get into an artist on another level and just kind of devour them. Find out what they’re all about. I’m doing that with Prince at the moment. He’s the most difficult though because he removes all his interviews and videos from youtube and his online presence is super controlled, and even before the internet was popular he was really guarded so you have to find
books and DVDs. This year I’ve liked the new Wampire record. The Foxygen record. Jackson Scott’s record, and the new Wolf People. I liked those bands and we took them all on tour with us this year. It’s nice to be able to do that. These days when I have a new band that I like I bring them on tour and then you get to see them play as much as you like. You’ve been pretty much on the road all year right? Highlights from life on the road? Tips for surviving? Yeah it’s been a full year of touring. In fact I haven’t really stopped for a few years. I’m really bad at coming up with highlights so I don’t really bother. It’s hard because hanging out with heroes is one of the coolest things about getting more well known but then you’re forced to name drop so I usually skip that. Tips include: drink spirits instead of beer (beer slows you down really badly if you drink it every day), don’t do cocaine (it steals precious sleep and ruins your voice and is also illegal), don’t ride with drugs in the van at all, and when possible, always use the women’s toilet (always cleaner).
shopping on tour. I prefer to look through records at a store rather than buy them online. I will usually buy a record based on what it looks like. The New Zealand music scene seems to be getting more attention over the last few years, Do you feel part of that scene’s legacy? My old band was on Flying Nun and I grew up around that music and those people. I feel very much connected to it. The DIY weirdo ethic of people like Chris Knox and Jed Town had a massive impact on me as a kid. That is Janet Farrar on the cover of ‘II’ isn’t it? How did that come about? A friend of mine showed me this image of her in a book about witchcraft that Janet wrote and I thought it was one of the coolest things I’d ever seen. When it was time to choose a cover I became obsessed with tracking her down so she could be on the cover of my record. We’re going to be talking about your record a lot for the foreseeable future… can we abbreviate it to “UMO” and if so, can we pronounce you as “you-mo”.
Have you checked out any particularly good record shops on your travels?
Of course. We call it U.M.O. and also Oomo.
Guestroom Records in Norman, Oklahoma is pretty awesome. Apollon in Bergen, Norway was good. Portland is pretty amazing. We have Mississippi Records and 2nd Avenue which are my two favorites I think. Jackpot is pretty great too. We do a lot of record
We have been describing you as ‘wonky’ sounding. You’re down with that right? I’m down with all the genres of music that are wonky. That’s where the soul gets in.
BONOBO “The NOrTh BOrders”
BILL CALLAhAN “dreAM rIVer”
dAUGhTer “If yOU LeAVe”
dUCKTAILs “The fLOWer LANe”
fACTOry fLOOr “fACTOry fLOOr”
jOhN GrANT “PALe GreeN GhOsTs”
jAGWAr MA “hOWLIN”
sTeVe MAsON “MONKey MINds IN The deVIL’s TIMe”
AGNes OBeL “AVeNTINe”
PArqUeT COUrTs “LIGhT UP GOLd”
UNKNOWN MOrTAL OrChesTrA “II”
KUrT VILe “WAKIN ON A PreTTy dAze”
RECORD OF THE YEAR Jon Hopkins Immunity I think on some level, all of us at Drift unanimously knew that Jon Hopkins ‘Immunity’ would end up being our Record Of The Year from the first time we heard it back in June. There is something so primal about each of the disparate aspects of this new solo album, it has the ability to resonate at any time, with almost anyone. Electronic music can so easily become an introspective experience for both maker and listener, but Hopkins has managed to produce a warm and embracive album that shifts so dynamically from start to finish that it pulls the listener in takes you on that journey.
Jon Hopkins is arguably best known for his 2009 collaborative Mercurynomination album ‘Diamond Mine’ that he made with King Creosote (who offers guest vocals on Immunity’s closing track), his production work alongside Brian Eno on ‘Small Craft On A Milk Sea’ and Coldplay’s ‘Viva la Vida’ or his film scores for ‘Monsters’ and ‘How I Live Now’, but ‘Immunity’ is actually his forth record as a solo artist and illustrates his ability to develop elements of ambient music in a new direction. ‘Immunity’ is packed with the most aggressively dancefloorfocussed music Hopkins has ever made. ‘Immunity’ is said to be inspired by the arc of a night out. It’s such an identifiable narrative that you’re able to focus on the adapting pace of the album. It rumbles to a start and breaks
into a chest pounding tempo of synth timbres and bass beats before just flying right off the rails and floating unhurriedly as ambiently as the breeze. It’s ghostly, it’s beautiful. Nearly six months after it’s release, this albums gets played with an alarming regularity in the shop. It sounds as exciting and dynamic as when we first heard it. “a remarkably visceral, sensual, confident electronic record that stays absorbing from beginning to end, and should finally catapult Hopkins to stardom in his own story.” - Pitchfork “You’ll be blessed if you hear a better album of electronic music this year.” - The Quietus
Meet Jon Hopkins The new Brian Eno From studying the sound of hotel water pipes to stealing chord patterns from a reversing lorry, Jon Hopkins likes to go the extra mile when adding a little human warmth to his electronic music On a grotty east London corner, by a long-shuttered-up pub and a railway, Jon Hopkins’s studio disguises itself well. Inside we find a small, pristine room filled with shiny technology: analogue synthesisers, Kaoss pads, a huge glittering iMac. A doormat separates Hopkins’s warren from the rest of the building; the words always make Hopkins smile. “Fuck off,” it says.
singer-songwriter King Creosote. “I really wanted to get loud again,” he shrugs. “Quite simple, really.” He’s mainly done collaborations in recent years. On Coldplay’s 2011 album Mylo Xyloto, he’s credited as “Jon Hopkins: light and magic”, having also helped produce 2008’s Viva La Vida with his de facto mentor, Brian Eno. They also worked together on 2010’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea with Leo Abrahams; Hopkins’s only time alone has been spent writing scores and as a remixer, On paper, Immunity is a very different most notably for director turned project for Hopkins. His last album was musician David Lynch. 2011’s Mercury-nominated ambientfolk LP Diamond Mine with Scottish Hopkins makes the least fuck-off music imaginable, though. This week, the boyish 33-year-old releases Immunity, a stunning record inspired by the emotional arc of a night out. It begins with Hopkins entering this studio – we hear footsteps and the turning of a key – before it explodes into a spectacle of glorious techno, peaking at a monstrous central track, Collider, before slowly, deliciously coming down.
For this album, though, he’s completely on his own, and happy to be. Born in Wimbledon in 1979, this self-confessed “musical obsessive” was the only musician in his family. At two, he got fixated by a set of toy chimes; at four, he went around to a friend’s house who had a piano. “And I just wasn’t interested in talking to him anymore. This was it! Pressing one note, listening to the way the note decayed and the sound just slightly morphed …” He got his own when he was eight – the same piano still sits behind him in this studio – and he studied the instrument at the Royal College of Music as a teenager. But electronic music is his true love. As a child, he was really into Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Erasure, he explains, “but it wasn’t about the songs. It was that sound … It’s the sound of human ingenuity.” He raises an eyebrow selfdeprecatingly. “But electronic music is full of emotional content, and technology exists for you to put in that personality.” The overuse of software can damage music, though. “Some machine-y music is great,” he says, “but you can apply any groove to any song now – there’s literally a massive drop-down menu on most programs. And that’s what takes the human being out of the process.” Hopkins fights against this by doing what he did on Diamond Mine: recording sounds and rhythms from the outside world. In a Manhattan hotel bathroom a few years ago, in the middle of the night, he spent hours trying to work out why “weird little sine wave blips” were coming out of a water pipe. An alarm on a reversing lorry outside this studio took the chord pattern of hazy new track, Sun Harmonics, down a completely new route. On the night of the Olympic opening ceremony, Hopkins was on the roof of his house nearby, recording the fireworks exploding just over a mile away. “I wanted them to sound like some sort of distant battle,” he explains. “Like explosions of something that’s already happened, that you’re seeing the remnants of, hearing echoes. That’s kind of how it’s supposed to sound.” Hopkins speaks gently and intensely about his methods, and with obvious warmth; he’s a geek, certainly, but more romantic than that.
The concept behind Immunity is romantic, too. It’s influenced, he says, by festivals where he’s played DJ sets over the years – “where perhaps I’ve played early on, and been up until way into the next day. There’s so many experiences you have on the way, like making bonds with complete strangers. Ultimately, there’s a real sadness when it starts to end.” He’s been particularly influenced by Berlin acts Modeselektor and Apparat and the “hypnotic quality” of British DJ James Holden’s sets – so much so that he worked on the addictive, squelchy bassline of recent single Open Eye Signal for six weeks. “And at the end of every day, it was completely impossible to sleep or switch off. You end up kind of having very strong coffee every morning to get you through it!” He’s also been learning autogenic training to hypnotise himself. “It’s great to do something that makes your brain just switch to a different mode, and music can do that really powerfully.” He’s practically fizzing as he speaks. “It’s so exciting!” When he’s grinning so eagerly, it’s hard to think of Hopkins as the next Eno, but all signs point that way. Film soundtracks he’s made in
recent years have raised his stature too. The mesmeric score for 2010 sci-fi film Monsters was nominated for an Ivor Novello; he’s also worked with the State of Play director, Kevin McDonald, on the forthcoming How I Live Now. This summer also brings a single with Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts, a cover of the Silence of the Lambs soundtrack song Goodbye Horses – so, like Eno, Hopkins is handling both ambient music and pop with aplomb. But what’s been Eno’s best tip? Hopkins smiles. “He would never offer any. But he’ll notice if someone is just getting overly detailed, tooling away on edits too soon. So now, I just put down my ideas quickly, just chuck everything in as I’m thinking about it. It’ll sound like a complete mess, but in there, there’ll be this spark of energy, of excitement.” In this is a lesson, Hopkins knows this more than most: from grotty east London corners can come glorious things. © Jude Rogers / The Guardian
The top 100 albums of the year as picked by the staff of The Drift Record Shop.