Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 10 albums of 2013

10. Cloud Control - Dream Cave
Following on from the success of their 2011 record, Bliss Release, Cloud Control have returned with another glorious pop album. Released in September, the album was the perfect soundtrack to late summer, with hazy guitars and synths. Although the sound is much the same as their first album, it's a formula that works - vibrant but laid-back music that is distinctly 'Cloud Control'.

9. Foals - Holy Fire
 With a much heavier and richer guitar sound than many of the albums on the list, Holy Fire is easily one of the most gritty albums of the year, making for an exciting sound - a progression from their earlier albums with catchier melodies, whilst still retaining a rawness that has become their trademark.

8. Dutch Uncles - Out Of Touch in The Wild
 The dancing in the music video for Flexxin should give a clue to the pulsing rhythms that drive the songs on the album. Hailing from Manchester, the band has branched out from the guitar rock with which the city has become so associated, instead creating a niche for themselves - violins intertwine with xylophones in unusual time signatures.

7. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts
 Recorded in Reykjavik with Icelandic electronic musician, Birgir ├×├│rarinsson, John Grant's second  album has a melancholic vibe to it. Grant's voice is beautifully melodic, seeming to sincerely believes every word he sings. With wonderful string sections the album sounds hugely atmospheric - one can hear the influence the Icelandic landscape has had on him, particularly on Glacier.


6. Sweet Baboo - Ships
 The fourth album from Sweet Baboo (AKA Stephen Black), Ships is a charming record with simple,  catchy melodies. With jangling guitars and trumpets, it's a triumphant sounding album that has been a firm favourite throughout the summer months. Despite the morbid title of If I Died..., it's a wonderfully quirky tune with a sense of fun that is carried across the whole album.

5. Owiny Sigoma Band - Power Punch
 A joint collaboration between musicians from London and Nairobi, Power Punch has a sound that encompasses the best of British pop and rhythmic Kenyan beats. The brainchild of musicians in electronic hip-hop collective, Elmore Judd, it's clear that electronic music has very much remained an influence in the album. The fusion of the two cultures brings refreshing sounds to the album, and sets the group out to be one to watch in 2014. 

4. Villagers - {Awayland}
Villagers’ second album, {Awayland}, is a clear progression from their debut. Although some critics disliked the fact they’ve departed from their acoustic roots, there’s definitely a grittier edge to the album which makes them seem wiser – perhaps the result of months on the road, touring. Stand-out track, Nothing Arrived, sounds fresh amongst the more electronic tracks on the album, with bluesy piano chords wonderfully contrasting with the crisp clarity of lead singer Conor O’Brien’s voice.

3. The Epstein - Murmurations
Alongside the line-up changing, The Epstein's original country vibe has also greatly evolved over the past few years, and in Murmurations, has found a new sense of sophistication. The tracks are refined whilst still retaining a slight rock'n'roll edge, showing that the band have truly found a niche for their music.

2. Stornoway - Tales From Terra Firma
 Sonically, Tales From Terra Firma is far removed from Beachomber's Windowsill, with a more poppish sound, but, much like their first, the album is full of maritime imagery – ironic for a band from Oxford, one of the furthest points from the sea in Britain. Recorded in old churches and a garage, Tales From Terra Firma is wonderfully rustic, with little quirks throughout that showcase the band’s extraordinary musical talent – a spoon solo features in Knock Me On The Head.

1. Everything Everything - Arc
 The explosive second album from Everything Everything is one of the most vibrant to hit the Mancunian music scene in a long time. With its pulsing drum beats and jangling basslines, the album is an exhilarating listen, and the almost chant like quality to the vocals provides a unique sound which makes Everything Everything one of the most exciting bands of the year. 

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