10. Ty Segall - The West
Ty Segall isn’t necessarily known for his psychedelic folk recordings. The Ty Segall band is one heavy unit of fuzz, distortion and low fidelity, so when Segall released Sleeper this year, well there was a moment of confusion, then a few months of surprise. The closing track “The West” is the strongest track on Sleeper, and acts as a personal reflection of Segall as a child in the eyes of himself. “The West” is definitely one of the best folk tracks of 2013, and certainly one which asks questions to the listener about their upbringing, geographical origin and family life.
9. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
The title track on These New Puritans third album is like watching Star Wars while sailing down the Nung River. It has the vocal jeopardy of a crazed lunatic – Senator Palpatine / Walter E. Kurtz, but the sincerity of Adam Sandler sailing through the glaciers on 50 First Dates. “Field of Reeds” closes Hidden with six minutes of deep bass and what sounds like Tuvan throat singing, what I imagine the Easter Island heads would sound like.
8. Oneohtrix Point Never - Chrome Country
Not many composers can offer up four simple semibreves and immediately spawn, let alone maintain, an emotional ordeal to already tackle, as Daniel Lopatin provides on R Plus Seven closer "Chrome Country". Yet as listeners will have likely experienced beforehand, Oneohtrix Point Never's latest efforts advanced on his experimental yet tender rupture of musical aesthetic on what exactly emanates such raptured example states as joy or sorrow. "Chrome Country's" twisting borders of voice sampling, twirling piano keys and lofty child voices was easily one of Lopatin's most troubled isolatory presences - part pleasantry in its accessibility, yet part shattering through such withdrawn use of layering to pronounce a sense of dire longing 2011's Replica had begun so valliantly to express.
7. Daft Punk - Contact
2013 truly was the year of the album-closer. And no artist managed to generate as much sensory overload than French fancies Daft Punk and the singularity-blaring epic that was "Contact". Rightly praised (among other things) for their focus on more physical drumming this time round, Daft Punk's passionate investment this time hit against an aura of panel-bleating synthesizers and star-gazing electronics - standing up to be the pinnacle duality to an ever-looming singularly of incredible and climatic unleashing. "Contact's" mind-melting, mind-altering, passage-to-another-plain-of-existence vibe that at numerous points exceeded critical was bettered only by the duo's decisive ambition to keep pushing to the point of destruction. This was the musical equivocal to the scene from 2001; it was the sound of attempting some comprehending of the incomprehensible. But above all, it was proof that despite passing the big four-oh, Homen-Christo & Bangalter can still generate enthralling cases for Daft Punk remaining one of electronic music's affirmed champions.
6. My Bloody Valentine - Wonder 2
m b v finally showed its face, and for the most part, the shoegaze champions and much-loved leaders in effect-swallowed rock almost wiped the presence of a two decade hiatus clean off the timeline. But what "Wonder 2" brought felt distinctly futurist in context; presently fresh and ultimately one of Valentine's most daring yet indisputably high-octane efforts to date. Amid Kevin Shield's ghostly, faint vocals and the track's hurricane-like shroud of gusty distortion and bellowing guitars riffs, no one could have expected (let alone be prepared) for the band's DnB-like rampancy of drums that felt less an instrumental layer, but more some maddening collective of aspiration, excitement, concern, hostility and panic. Every chemical imbalance and psyche strain fans will have likely generated beforehand, all mashed and centred into the affirmed energy of Valentine's delivery - little means to escape, but littler reason to do so.
5. Mikal Cronin – Weight
Mikal Cronin’s “Weight” speaks the listener on several levels. It’s a song about aging, the changing perception, and the pressures that come with it. Cynicism is clinical to how “Weight” is delivered, and Cronin does this in such a way that the listener questions both the meaning behind his words, and the meaning behind their own thoughts and how they relate. He sings: “I’ve been starting over for a long time; I’m not ready for the second wave, the weight of seeing through.” This ‘second wave’ is integral to the song, which makes the fruitful intelligent lyricism and power pop / garage rock track one of 2013’s standout tracks.
4. Sky Ferreira - I Blame Myself
Sky Ferreira’s debut album was long overdue before it dropped in October, but it was worth the wait. There’s no “Everything Is Embarrassing”, or anything remotely similar – but Night Time, My Time does hold the key to the synth pop door waiting to be opened by artists who are within the art pop and electronic pop clique. The pop manufacturing of Lady Gaga is far too simplistic, and the deep electronica of Lorde is too left-field for a majority swing; but Sky Ferreira and “I Blame yourself” bridge the gap. It’s a 4/4 pop song with two strong verses and a chorus shouting from the point of view of the audience – a proper pop song.
3. Fuck Buttons - Hidden XS
As much as scientists and astronomers confirm the Universe is expanding exponentially, there will come a point (as futher commentary alludes to) when the Universe and [our] reality will turn the other way: compressing, getting smaller, returning to zero. "Hidden XS" may have come some billions of years early, yet given the creators of that own musical realm were noise oracles Fuck Buttons, hardly anyone could have come away thinking they hadn't already experienced the great implosion. Slow Focus' closer was the sound of a realm colliding unto itself - pulsating sub-bass, audacious guitar riffs and razor-tipped synths grating against one another to the point of devolved chaos. But it wasn't until the track's catalysing mix of drumbeats and hand-claps, did things truly conjure a lost-but-found bittersweet ting to Buttons' visage. In the end, over the course of the track's thunderous percussion and bolted chord deliveries, Fuck Buttons' scope distilled a storm of shock and immediacy, but one removed from negative or sinister implication. Despite the nihilistic, pessimistic analogy of a Universe's end, the inevitability and indeed emotional impact of such thought overly felt relatable and comforting - the music's claim to a new beginning, a new start, one to embrace rather than deny.
2. Cut Copy - Meet Me in the House of Love
Cut Copy did more than just copy a style on 2013’s Free Your Mind. Sure, Primal Scream and Happy Mondays have something to tell their grandkids about with Free Your Mind, but it isn’t just a 90s influenced rave. “Meet Me in the House of Love” is a back album track. It’s one of the more referencing tracks - to both psychedelia of the 60s, and the acid scene in the late 80s and early 90s. There’s absolutely outdating production on this track. Much of Free Your Mind features electronic bass riffs and electronic drums, but “Meet Me in the House of Love” overrules it with a rave track fitting of the club scene.
1. Vampire Weekend - Worship You
Non-single highlights in a luxury dish of yearly highlights. It has all the makings of an album deemed fit for top reigns for Vampire Weekend and theid third album, Modern Vampires Of The City. And standing above them all was "Worship You"; Weekend's most tense, most action-defined and above all most dizzyingly exuberent composition thus far. If not by the humpy-bumpy vibrance of guitars from starting position, it was the adrenaline of vocalist Ezra Koenig's tongue-tying vibrato of lyrics that pistoned through the song's outback like mighty steam mechanics - careless, humble and rightly without fault. And topping off with a luxurious clincher of harmonics and further streaks of tampered instrumentation prior, on track 9 of a respected 12, Vampire Weekend's musical repetoire and charisma reached unparalleled heights with a song that was rhythmically adjust, tonally matched and above all, heaps and heaps of fun to play back and marvel about all over again.