This is the Spillers Staff list of their favourite albums of 2013.
ASHLI’s TOP ALBUMS OF 2013
1.a Retribution Gospel Choir – III
1.b Low – The Invisible Way
1.c Mavis Staples – One True Vine
1.d Trentemøller – Lost
2013 has been a great year for Low fans with their new album produced by Jeff Tweedy and a greater presence from Mimi on singing duties.
For me the Retribution Gospel Choir (Alan Sparhawk side project) album topped the Low output with two stellar tracks across two sides of vinyl (40 mins all in if you’re wondering). This release gets me in the same way I was enthralled by Neil Young’s Le Noise in 2010. I think my friend Jon Caroll summed it up best when he referred to it as the greatest Neil Young album not made by Neil Young.
As well as that, Low are covered on the (also Jeff Tweedy produced) Mavis Staples album which opens with Low’s Holy Ghost. The Nick Lowe penned track (Far Celestial Shore) is astounding while you also get an incredible cover version of Funkadelic’s Can You Get To That. It’s an album made for Sundays.
It’s a good few years since I’ve listened to any music from Danish producer Trentemøller. There are a host of guest musicians and vocalists (inc. Low!) on Lost and the sign of a great producer is to be able to handle this variety of artists while honing a completely cohesive work which he does with effortless aplomb.
2. Nick Cave – Push The Sky Away
This album immediately leapt in to top Nick Cave albums of all time (along with No More Shall We Part and Boatman’s Call). The pace of the album is offset masterfully by the sharp venom of lyrical genius that Mr Cave excels in: “Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake”.
3. Steve Mason - Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time
A politically charged (though never preachy) opus. You have the fire fuelled ‘More Money, More Fire’ on which London MC Mystro spits lyrics on, balanced out with the introspective (yet anthemic) Lot Of Love which renders me wanting to embrace Steve Mason in a giant vice like hug. “Is there a lot of love for me? I just don’t know”. There is mate.
4. Cian Ciarán – They Are Nothing Without Us
Another politically charged album but with a very different feel to its predecessor of 2012. It’s not hard to guess what sector of society Cian is commenting on when he sings “I hope you choke on your profit” but by heck we certainly need artistic voices who are conviction filled enough to write these kinds of songs. Musically and lyrically inspiring. Please play live some time!
5. Karl Bartos – Off The Record
As a former Kraftwerk member (that is, "classic lineup" member, joining for the Autobahn tour and leaving somewhere between Electric Cafe and The Mix) Bartos’ uses archival tapes, zip drives and computer files from 1975 to 1993 as the foundation, then mashes these off-hours audio sketches (recorded "off the record" from his usual band) with new ideas, overdubs, and vocoder vocals. The whole album feels profoundly familiar but incredibly modern.
6. Jon Hopkins – Immunity
As explained by Jon Hopkins himself, this album (from former King Creosote collaborator) is a ‘journey’ album, the journey that progresses over the course of a night out (raving presumably?!) and by heck has Hopkins achieved what he set out to do!
7. David Bowie – The Next Day
2013 – the year of Bowie! Bowie Bowie Bowie and more Bowie! I especially enjoyed how the sleeve notes and lyrics for this album were printed in the most awkward of colour combinations (and tiny print) making it very difficult for those who wish to sit at home singing along to their new favourite record to get anywhere without a very bright reading light and a steady arm. Coming in at 17 tracks, I don’t think there’s is one superfluous lyric in the whole album.
8. Tony Joe White – Hoodoo
By far the grooviest album on my top 10(+) – the grooviest album I’ve grooved to all damn groovy year! If anyone can recommend me another great Tony Joe White album to investigate, I’m all ears!
9. Matthew E White – Big Inner
I nearly didn’t put this in my list because having rinsed it so much in the 1st half of the year I simply haven’t had a chance to reconnect with it of late. However, I can clearly recall falling head over heels for this album and its soul-laden vibes. The guy has an old, wise head on his young shoulders and I can’t wait to hear what’s next.
10. Serafina Steer – The Moths Are Real
Being the same age as Matthew E White, Serafina Steer is equally as wise and brutally honest with her lyrics. At times the frankness can really knock me sideways (“You hate my friends but fantasize about them as well”). With Jarvis Cocker being such a fan of her previous album he puts his money where his mouth is producing and guesting (along with Capitol K, Steve Mackey, The Boxettes, Polar Bear’s Seb Rochford). I wish to have my entire adult life soundtracked by this wonderful and unique observer.
REISSUE OF THE YEAR:
Saada Bonaire - Saada Bonaire
Sounds like ESG meets Grace Jones, these sales notes do more justice than I can to the story……
The fantastic German disco/world music project from Bremen which never was meant to be. Formed by Bremen DJ Ralf Behrendt in 1982, Saâda Bonaire was a unique concept band centered around two sultry female vocalists (Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld) and dozens of local musicians culled from the local immigration center. Originally signed to EMI in 1982, their first and only single, “You Could Be More As You Are” was produced by legendary Matumbi, Slits and Pop Group producer Dennis Bovell in Kraftwerk’s studio in Cologne.
COMPILATION OF THE YEAR:
V/ A - In Fuzz We Trust
3rd in a series of Fuzztones tribute albums : Fuzztones classics, covered by the legendary bands that inspired them in the first place! This one rips it up and features The Electric Prunes (w/ guests Arthur Lee), ? & The Mysterions and my favourite track Sky Saxon - Get Naked.
LIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
Ry Cooder - Live at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco Aug 31-Sept 1 2011
(Live Recording/Film Score)
Recorded with a full band over two nights in 2011, this Ry Cooder & Corridos Famosos concert offering marks the guitarist’s first live recording under his own name since 1988. Featuring a host of guest musicians and friends (inc a 10 piece brass band) and two (totally reworked) Woody Guthrie tunes. But for me it’s the presence of Flaco Jiménez on accordian that really gets the album in full swing.
FAV RSD RELEASE OF 2013:
Bardo Pond – 12” covering Maggot Brian.
Stunning. Looooong. Worthy.
An utterly incredible year for music!
STEVE’S TOP 10 ALBUMS 2013
Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest [Warp]
A fine return from Warp’s masters of atmospheric electronics.
Excellent new live album from this German pianist and composer.
Qluster – Lauschen [Bureau B]
Haunting live recording frime Hans Joachim Roedelius.
Mazzy Star – Seasons Of Your Day [Fontana]
Beautiful new album from David Roback and Hope Sandoval.
Roedelius Schneider – Tiden [Bureau B]
Excellent new album from Roedelius from Cluster & Stefan Schneider of To Rococo Rot.
Olafur Arnalds – For Now I Am Winter [Mercury Classics]
Beautiful album from the Icelandic pianist and composer.
Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle – Perils From The Sea [Caldo Verde]
Great collaboration by The Album Leaf’s Jimmy Lavalle and Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek.
Ken Camden – Space Mirror [Kranky]
Implodes guitarist with an album of space / sci-fi inspired ambiance.
Nine Inch Nail – Hesitation Marks [Null Corporation / Polydor]
Great new album from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Eat Lights Become Lights – Modular Living [Rocket Girl]
Excellent album of Krautrock inspired electronics.
GRAF’S (alphabetical) TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2013Chelsea Light Moving - Chelsea Light Moving [Matador]
Thurston Moore, Keith Wood (Hush Arbors) and more combine to make easily the angriest album of the year.
Cian Ciáran - They Are Nothing Without Us [Strange Town]
Second album under his own name proves even further what a vital part he played in creating the overall sound, colour, texture and feel of the Super Furry Animals.
Mikal Cronin – MCII [Merge]
Former Ty Segall buddy breaks out the power-pop hooks on this amazingly catchy second album.
Darren Hayman – Bugbears [Fika]
A collection of adaptations of 17th Century folk songs he discovered whilst researching material for last years The Violence LP. Darren’s wonderfully forlorn voice is matched by a beautifully illustrated and annotated booklet.
Hookworms - Pearl Mystic [Gringo]
Big loud swirly guitars? Yelpy angry vocals? Driving rhythm section? SOLD! More psychotic than psychedelic and all the better for it.
Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister [Fortuna Pop!]
Cardiff born fuzzy indie-pop of the highest order. Equally at home playing delicately woozy shoegaze as they are punk rocking the fuck out. Amazing.
Sweet Baboo – Ships [Moshi Moshi]
Sweet Baboo’s long deserved breakthrough album. Getting Rob “Voluntary Butler Scheme” Jones to add a massive dollop of Big Pop Production on to his usual charming array of just slightly off kilter songs proved to be the perfect combination.
Thought Forms – Ghost Mountain [Invada]
Big massive guitar noise straight outta Bristol. This kind of droning never gets boring.
Totem Terrors - Repeat Play Torrent Rar [Diet Pops]
Cardiff’s second best drum machine based band’s debut album of wonky post punk pop delights. Their minimalist approach and shy smiles hide many hidden depths.
Wave Pictures - City Forgiveness [Moshi Moshi]
Double album of amazing new Wave Pictures songs all loosely based on the theme of travel taking us on a sprawling journey over four sides of vinyl (or 2CDs). A trip well worth taking.
BARRYJon Hopkins - immunity
An intricate, addictive downbeat techno journey. Riddled with classical elements, and amazingly intricate.
Mum - smilewound
Glitchy vocal pop. Dancy beats mixed with beautiful vocal melodies, and pounding low-fi rhythms. Their best, and most accessible work for many years.
Esmerine - Dalmak
Soulful, eastern inspired chamber classical from gybe! Alumni. Sweet and mournful violin with galloping tribal rhythms. A tremendous emotional tour de force.
Lusine - the waiting room
Playful new York dance music with vocoded vocals mixed with detroit disco. A beautiful mix of danceability and catchy hooks. Intricate but wholesome. An exciting release for all lovers of electronica.
The dodos - carrier
Jangly indie pop duo make their most Soulful album to date. Smooth vocals over galloping drums and minor chords. Familiar territory for the band, but an impressive refinement of the sound.
Blondes - Swisher
Subtle, brooklyn dance music. Drifting beats and synth hooks meet dusty pads and thumping kicks. Engaging and intricate. An amazing listen, time and time again.
Sigur ros - kveikur
Darker and more intense than their previous few outings, and all the better for it. A heavier refinement of the token sigur sound, a beautiful progression, and an extremely accomplished album. Contrasts perfectly to the companion 10", a similar sound, but much more ambient than the album.
Explosions in the sky & David wingo - prince avalanche
Soundtracks have long been something perfectly suited to the texan post-rock and, and this is an absolutely amazing display of their restraint and idea of melody. Wistful and beautiful, this perfectly captures the feel of the open air and essence of country living.
Grails - black tar prophecies 4,5 & 6
Smoky, dusty instrumental rock, influenced by eastern folk music and progressive blues. An emotive journey around the dark reaches of the world.
Holden - the inheritors
Border community boss and modular synth wizard makes an intense album of juddering oscillations and lateral rhythms. Deep pulsing bass hits and skipping saw waves, deep filters and twisted arpeggios. Analogue heaven.
GRACE’S TOP 10 RECORDS OF 2013(In alphabetical order & a few extra as I can’t count but don’t tell
Ash as I’m in charge of bookkeeping and numberwang!)
1) Bill Callahan – Dream River
2) Cate le Bon – Mug Museum
3) Cian Ciaran – They are nothing without us
4) David Bowie - The Next Day
5) Jon Hopkins – Immunity
6) Low – The Invisible Way
7) Mavis Staples – One true vine
8) Nick Cave – Push the Sky Away
9) Retribution Gospel Choir -3
10)Steve Mason – Monkeys Mind in the Devil’s Time
Making this list was tough, so forgive me for a few extra bits
on the side. Massive big love for the Shhh...Apes EP, Wave
Pictures ‘City Forgiveness, Joanna Gruesome ‘Wyrd Sisters’
RY COODER & CORRIDOS FAMOSOS ‘ Live at the Great
American Music Hall’ (THANKS ASHLI FOR ALERTING MY EARS TO THIS X)
Title Swisher (Bo2013 Barry)
Label RVNG Intl
Title Tomorrow's Harvest (Bo2013 Steve)
Title Chelsea Light Moving (Bo2013 Graf)
Title They Are Nothing Without Us (Bo2013 Graf)
Title Live at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco Aug 31-Sept 1 2011 (Live Recording/Film Score)
Title MCII (Bo2013 Graf)
Title Carrier (Bo2013 Barry)
Title Modular Living (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Rocket Girl
Title Dalmak (Bo2013 Barry)
Title Prince Avalanche (Bo2013 Barry)
Label Temporary Residence
Title Spaces (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Erased Tapes
Title Black Tar Prophecies 4, 5 & 6 (Bo2013 Barry)
Label Temporary Residence
Title Pearl Mystic (Bo2013 Graf)
Title Weird Sister (Bo2013 Graf)
Label Fortuna Pop!
Title Perils From The Sea (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Caldo Verde Records
Title The Invisible Way
Label Sub Pop
Title Seasons of Your Day (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Rhymes of An Hour
Title Smilewound (Bo2013 Barry)
Label Morr Music
Title Hesitation Marks (Bo2013 Steve)
Title Lauschen (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Bureau B
Title Saada Bonaire
Label Captured Tracks
Title Tiden (Bo2013 Steve)
Label Bureau B
Title Kveikur (Bo2013 Barry)
Title Ships (Bo2013 Graf)
Label Moshi Moshi
Title Ghost Mountain (Bo2013 Graf)
Title Repeat Play Torrent Rar (Bo2013 Graf)
Label Diet Pops
Title City Forgiveness (Bo2013 Graf)
Label Moshi Moshi
Label Yep Roc