Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 50 Albums of 2013: 10 - 1






















10. Julia Holter - Loud City Song


There was no better experience, no better record that invited and further involved its listener in the joy and charm of the musical environment, than Julia Holter's Loud City Song. Away from the conventional focus on ethereal layering, experimental deliveries and song-writing that was more flashback than episodic, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist used such a sparking array of generative locale, the charm and charisma of Holter's aesthetical powers far outshone the jazzy night-life the album so carelessly danced and twirled its way theough, the in-tune exploration and breadth of nightly soul was enough to give the album's build a hefty height of imagination. Once more, in a year that has seen female vocallists continuing to push the boundaries of nakedly human purity and simplicity, Julia Holter stood out as the year's biggest representative for female creatives, not just as a conventional counter to the masculine establishment, but as the album graced in its presence - sweeping its listener up into the neon-humming, cobble-clinking enclosures of evening jazz bars and indoor/outdoor cafe's - demonstrated a female intoxication of harmony and soul, infused ultimately into one of 2013's most spacious, rich yet simply-expressed records of the entire calendar.
~Jordan Helm



9. Foals - Holy Fire


Once in a blue moon, an album - more specifically a record shackled in constraints that it's alternative, commercial, Glastonbury-approved, Radio 1 Maybe Tier - comes along and reminds us all why there are so many bands today trying the very same rock mindset in providing anthems fit for stadium relay and radio rejuvenation, in the first place. Foals fortunately know how to excite and uplift without selling either their souls or their creativity. Holy Fire was living, breathing proof that hollow tags of 'rock music' and 'commercialism' don't at all implore the kind of euphoric excitement and unilateral attraction acts like Wire, Joy Division, Radiohead & co have managed for this tiny isle over the decades. Foals' third album sprung up like a fully-charged coil in its desired lead of twirling guitar leads and vocal supremacy. But even with the exhuberance and exersion, the music seemed built from the exact underlining passion and intent to paint a picture, tell a story, drive a message throughout. None of their twelve tracks sounded the same, yet every one seemed to stand on the very same philosophy of captivation through immaculation. Holy Fire was not only Foals' most compelling record writing wise, it quickly became one of rock's - regardless of a individual's perception of that word - greatest reminders that beneath the superficial layers of genre tagging, lies human passion amid musical talent. And by God was that felt herein.
~Jordan Helm



8. Iceage - You're Nothing


You’re Nothing is the target set by Iceage for future punk rockers to surpass. Punk rock in its modern form is either construed by Americanisms like pop punk, and ageism like with the British try-hard wannabees. Punk rock isn’t done right unless it’s innovative, or in the 70s / 80s. Iceage’s iconic loud and grunge-esque You’re Nothing follows on blindly from their debut album New Brigade. The Danes have a knack for sound and structure, giving their recordings something more than just three chords and a shout. It’s a scary sophomore album which binds together my love for loud aggressive music, and sweet symphonic guitar progressions.
~Eddie Gibson



7. Blood Orange - Cupid Deluxe


Devonte Hynes was in no mood to deceive his listener this year, nor was he a man who wanted to pass off the recurring inequalities in life as merely 'a phase...a one-off...an isolated incident'. This anti-quarantining in Cupid Deluxe gave Hynes' Blood Orange moniker the year's most successful and resounding rejuvination of RnB into the modern Wage - a modern age that, despite the labours of equal rights and umerous campaigns, still revers ugly misfortunes of one being called out solely on such absurdities as colour, creed, ethnicity, sexuality and such. Hynes' emphatic mix of groove-led guitars, padded drums, electronics and vocals - both solo and guest collaboration alike - was a sound the listener could never let go of, and the usage in instilling the listener with a deep, and hard-hitting, realization of reality in its most bleakest, cruelest and head-shaking of moment, was a liberation that came with major collateral sorrow. The collapse of a relationship, the aspirations of a dream never likely to materialize, even the simple act of walking down a city street. In its most contextually personal, Blood Orange struck at something; at its most basic and everyday of subjects, Hynes absolutely shattered it. Cupid Deluxe was blissful in its song-writing without giving off ignorance, yet was overwhelmingly realistic to the point the harshness wasn't at all required. In the end, the smooth production, soulful vocals and arrangements throughout perfectly soundtracked the life of the outsider, the loner, the bullied, the abused. the unheard voices stretched across the developed 'first World' sector of the World.
~Jordan Helm 



6. Doldrums - Lesser Evil


Lesser Evil is a narcoleptic's nightmare – never has bleeps and bloops been more damaging to ones sleeping pattern than Doldrum’s debut album. Toronto based electronic wizard Doldrums (pseudonym for Airick Woodhead) lives in a world of fantasy. His voice reminds me of a damsel in distress, or a young child discovering Narnia. Doldrums goes far-out on Lesser Evil, beyond the regularities of electronic dance music, and far beyond that of glitch. It’s the bassheads come to album for tightly composed experimentations of sound. It’s packed full of little vocal cuts and percussion stabs, with synthesized riffs bringing back the visions of the mid-00s dance-punk fad with electronics – think Late of the Pier with a whole lot more bass, layers, and The Snowman kid.
~Eddie Gibson 



5. My Bloody Valentine - m b v


m b v is as iconic in 2013 as Loveless is in 2013. Listeners of m b v hang on to every single chord because they don’t want the album to be over – because then My Bloody Valentine’s completed their goal of releasing a third album. In my head, Shields is still pondering what to put out, but listening through m b v makes me realise something more tear-droopingly emotional. Whatever Shields touches turns to gaze, and the My Bloody Valentine audience wouldn’t have it any other way. m b v doesn’t mirror it’s recording process of 21 years. It’s as developed as I am, but akin to the 90s rather than the 10s where m b v has seen its audience. Fears about m b v’s quality have been raised for years, but the critics and fans comfortably welcomed m b v in to the My Bloody Valentine discography with open arms. It’s a natural follow-up to Loveless, and one which could seamlessly have been released in 1993.
~Eddie Gibson



4. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires Of The City


New York is a city of cultural excess; a once Dutch then British isle that most recently in history has been home to a host of musical revolutions by the American citizens rightly poised about the structural stretches. Vampire Weekend's third album graced our ears with a two-tone eulogy of a waking city bubbling with artistic ingenuity, yet one perillously full of emotive dangers and catalysts an individual standing against the wider hive of the populous, would class as unfavourable. Modern Vampires Of The City is a love-letter, sonnet and tragedy rolled into one bound-and-pressed sumrmize of charisma, charm...and atypical 'coolness'. Whether it be Ezra Koenig's bouncing rocketeer of lyricism, or more note-worthy the romanticism of Vampire's rock versatility and universal variety of theme, Modern Vampires Of The City was as detailed as the very city it stood fond of. This was an album to get lost in; an album that felt like a musical tourist map chock with far too many spots to capture in one given day. In the end, with a 50's csnap and a 21st century slickness, Vampire Weekend blossomed into becoming their most networked yet personally affective in their career. A landmark example in capturing the ear, and further proof that the eye - be it theoretical and metaphoric in the field of music - can lead us down many a curious alley.
~Jordan Helm



3. Jon Hopkins - Immunity


It's a guarantee that after this, Immunity - electronic producer Jon Hopkins' forth studio album as a solo symphony-dabbler - will be regarded in future times as one of electronic music's critical questions in where the line between rhythm and tone stands, and wherein it blurs to a powdery fragrant dust of wonderous suspicion, and absolute amazement. Like the Spanish national football team pre-2008, Jon Hopkins was always the underachiever in terms of respect and admiration from the wider media and music community. With Immunity, Jon Hopkin's spatial drawn-out voyages of house pacing, techno tones and subtle shifts finally (at last) achieved macroscopic suspense and deserved praise throughout. This was neither a tonally colourful album, nor was it one that necessarily involved itself in as many sonic territories as it could get its hands on. Yet the linearity of Hopkins' approach and sequencing of unfolding events left the producer's transluceny of saw-toothed synthesizers and wintry piano touches feeling far more expansive and involving than most multi-layered fabrications of contemporay electronica. Immunity then gladly took its time; tenderly treating its space with both pride and sensitivity. And within each of the album's eight sonic environments - be it the voyage of outback windings on Open Eye Signal, the event horizon of Collider, the dancefloor shimmers of Sun Harmonics - Jon Hopkins' mesh of simple leads with complex topography stood as one more milestone to electronic music's power as both a sound with beauty, but one with impecable connection and understanding.
~Jordan Helm



2. Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus


Last year, one of the very first snapshots of British musical pride in the opening cinematic to the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony was a pan of the river Thames...provided in musical accompaniment to a sample of Surf Solar's jitteringly ecstatic blast of noisy electronica and droned layering. It's a perfect comparison to noise power-house Fuck Buttons' impressive array of tcompositions in what, up to last year, had comprised of merely two albums and thirteen tracks. Yet the depth, the drive and the determination to expand horizons in the British duo's scope of components always felt fit for the grand stage whereby birth presides and openings offer the events to at last unveil themselves into present reality. Slow Focus in musical terms continued Buttons' expansion of tribal-like euphoria with textural scrutiny on an album, signalling less the birth of a new beginning, but more the moments preceeding it...the end of what was an incredible journey for the life before it. Thus, Fuck Buttons' hip-hop and techno expansions never outshone what was already a crowning establishment of electronics pushed to their utmost engaging and emmaculate of extremes. Yet despite Slow Focus wcoming across as the end of days, like many peoples' assumptions on the meaning of the word 'apocalypse', this was by no means a prophesized pessimism unfortunately coming into being. The Universe radiating from out of Fuck Buttons' mammoth set-pieces - and straight through closer Hidden XS - signalled something far more promising and uplifting. Ultimately, Slow Focus was a 'final chapter/showcase/showdown' that its listener could be proud of; engaging and embracing, yet more importantly standing proud for simply being a part of. Here was the sound of the Big Bang inverting on itself, and boy was it a final act more show-stopping and united than all Olympic openings combined.
~Jordan Helm



1. Savages - Silence Yourself


This is the first time a British album has topped our album list since 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight by Frightened Rabbit – and it may be even longer if Scotland take their independence chance in 2014 (if so, we’ll be going back to Radiohead’s Amnesiac from 2001.) Savages are igniting a flame that went out thirty years ago, and they’re doing it with style. Silence Yourself is a powerful post-punk debut album, taking influence from a range of musical sources, such as Siouxsie & the Banshees, early PJ Harvey, and the first two Public Image Ltd albums. Savages are using post-punk as an image for primitive human development, and our constant fight against one another to what is considered evolution. Post-punk being a genre most associated with the late 70s and early 80s, as a definitive era, something which doesn’t get passed down through the years unless you’re in The Fall. Silence Yourself is the past, undeveloped sound of darkness, emotion, and eeriness which haunts us all when reaching rock bottom. It’s a statement more than anything; that post-punk and gothic rock died out quicker than the latest trend of hip words. Their fierce lyricism borders the realm of conceptual complexity, though it’s still rather literal and to the point in a blunt fashion. They don’t imitate a genre of the past, but play a genre suited to their whole philosophy. This is the sound of Savages, and Silence Yourself is their alma mater.
~Eddie Gibson



Sunday, 22 December 2013

Top 50 Albums of 2013: 20 - 11


20. Deafheaven - Sunbather

 

Sunbather is the album on everyone’s tongue – they know it’s good, but they don’t quite know how good it is. Well it’s good enough for our top 50, and it just makes the top 20. Deafheaven are one of the few metal bands taking their sound to the alternative sphere of shoegaze and post-rock. They have kept the screaming nonsensical vocals, and it all seems to work here. Sunbather sounds like the outcome of Burzum and Sun O))) meeting at a My Bloody Valentine reunion concert. The progressions are Mogwai-esque, and dynamically, Sunbather is the most tactically constructed metal / post-rock album of 2013.
~Eddie Gibson



19. Phoenix - Bankrupt!

 

In a barely cared-about corner of the web, a list of the 'happiest' albums places Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix among the hierarchy. Phoenix are indeed a 'happy' band - happy in the sense their music always instils a kind of positivity I myself never feel could be salvaged, even in the most darkest of periods. Bankrupt! may have been a little more obscure in such approaches, but the synthesizer playfulness didn't prevent a deliverance that used such confidence to inspire a rebirth of overwhelming emotion. Their fifth album brought back the atypically Phoenix moments, but the paradigm between past work never felt rehashed or lazy: the colourful pop of lead-single Entertainment a la 1901; the just-as-striking accomplices of SOS In Bel Air & Trying To Be Cool (Lisztomania & Fences); the seven-minute multi-part eye-widening of the title track (Love Like A Sunset); the melancholic slap of reality in Bourgeois (Rome). Bankrupt! borrowed but never stole; Phoenix's mesh of rock hooks and crystallising synth pop giving the French four-piece a record that was uplifting, mesmerising, but focused more-so on expanding its sound to that of electronically dizzying heights.
~Jordan Helm



18. Jagwar Ma - Howlin


Revivals are always interesting to read, write, and hear about. Jagwar Ma are leading the 80s / 90s baggy / house revival with electronics, guitars, and a whole lot of passion for their inspirations. Cut Copy belongs to this revival, Django Django are there, somewhat from their debut last year – and there’s more around the corner. There’s a reason why people take influence from Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and the Happy Mondays’ albums – it’s because they’re good, really good actually. Howlin defines Jagwar Ma’s sound in just the opening segments of “What Love”. There are hazy vocals, a slow tempo, and a hell of a lot of percussion and bass to take the track through ‘to the other side’. Howlin is like this for its entirety, and Jagwar Ma are showing how they can influence the future generations with their own sound which heavily takes from what came before.
~Eddie Gibson



17. Beach Fossils - Clash The Truth

 

It feels like an eternity since I reviewed Clash The Truth back In the early months of 2013. The singles released from Beach Fossils sophomore album were in public domain in 2012, which means we couldn’t include any on out singles list – we would have picked both “Careless” and “Shallow” – two outstanding tracks bridged by “Taking Off”, one of the leading tracks. To be honest, Clash The Truth is a 90s post-punker kid’s dream. It lights a flame between the post-punk revival bands and indie rock, with a little reverb and a whole lot of guitar skill. Beach Fossils are not missing guitarist Cole Smith, as Clash The Truth excels in the area’s where they’re lacking the former original member. Credit must be given when due, and damn does Clash The Truth deserve some credit. It’s not at all innovative, but Beach Fossils find that hole where The Fall and The Libertines left off in the 80s and 00s respectively – this is it.
~Eddie Gibson 



16. Autechre - Exai


Not since the days of Confield & LP5 have Autechre's attempts been proficient on both rhythm and mental analogy. Not that the records succeeding them haven't left a sonic mark on my appreciation of their music, but given the scale of Exai's efforts this year, I'd empathise with anyone who declares the years between 2002 and 2012 felt like an implosive capsulation or a decade that simply never happened. Because the experience we got from Autechre's eleventh album this year, felt overly Universal to a reality of experimental song-writing, glitching textures and daring pushes of musical extremity. Throughout the two-hour, seventeen-track payload, Autechre perfectly captured the height of their influence into a signature cold-but-thoughtful analysis of music as a model of in of itself. Whether that be the concrete 4/4 techno and glitch, the irregular signatures of their experimental intrigue, or even the expansive questioning of tone and placement about a particular composite, Exai was a musical Mount Everest and philosophical Grand Canyon; an album that stood as the duo's highest achievement in well over a decade, but also an album seductive in its depth and curling questioning - repeated listens often bringing abstract answers but always a contingent excitement. 
~Jordan Helm



15. These New Puritans - Field Of Reeds


It’s not for everyone, but it’s for me. Field of Reeds is a step above These New Puritans previous album Hidden. Producer Graham Sutton has been working with TNP for a number of years now, and his post-rock beginnings and ambient structures are apparent in TNP and their own blend of post-rock, art rock, and modern classical. Field of Reeds is a concept album at heart, with two important characters acted out by vocalists Elisa Rodrigues and Jack Barnett. They combine to form a unitary Adam and Eve wish in a dystopian world which is left to the imagination. With Field of Reeds, TNP extend their neoclassicism beyond that of Hidden
~Eddie Gibson



14. Mikal Cronin - MCII

 

As Ty Segall was mellowing out in 2013 with Sleeper, his trusty right hand man Mikal Cronin was off releasing his sophomore album MCII on Merge Records. MCII is far from mellow, and it downright elevates Cronin’s status from a back-up band member, to a fully-fledged solo artist. His self-titled debut album wasn’t the completed concept, but MCII took that step, and made it in to a stairs to the top of the West coast 2013 albums – surpassing Segall in the process. MCII is very reflective of Cronin’s own personality, life, and fears. Tracks such as “Weight” are devastatingly beautiful in the power pop / garage rock genre, while “Shout It Out” offers that bit of pussified pop punk. You won’t find a better garage rock album that borders pop than MCII.
~Eddie Gibson 



13. Oneohtrix Point Never - R Plus Seven

 

Ever since I first heard the destructively torturing cries and crunching distortion on Nil Admirari, I've never once dismissed Daniel Lopatin's music as anything but eye-opening. From the cinematic void of Returnal, to the episodic stun of Replica, R Plus Seven was always going to be OPN's next step into extracting sound and challenging the very principle of music to something far more ominous. Lopatin orchestrated the same principle as his brilliant 2011 sophomore, in that each of the album's ten tracks stood more as glimpses rather than outright connective themes. The nature of these choices in sounds may have had all the hallmarks of shapeless extracts with little purpose of being. Yet whether it be a tirade of organ chimes or sweep of synthesizers, inhuman choir sounds or jittering beat patterns, there was an order to this chaotic meddling. It may have been short-lived and fairly secretive between each track, but R Plus Seven seemed to fit to that methodology superbly. And as with most of OPN's 'music', there was emotion to be found and passion to be praised in the structures. Daniel Lopatin hoped to reshape the concept of sound, but one thing he dared not to interfere with, was his listener's capacity to connect and engage on a mentally stable/unstable level. Thus when it came down to it, R Plus Seven only pushed its semantic of narrative intention, ever deeper.
~Jordan Helm



12. Lorde - Pure Heroine


Lorde is young, talented, and has something to say. Pure Heroine reflects her teenage years with a bit of maturity and pain, while her comraderies are still chasing attention from boys. You all know “Royals” now, I’m sure, but Pure Heroine is so much more than one single. The abrupt minimalism is a continuous theme on Pure Heroine, composed by Lorde and her operative producer Joel Little. Little’s ear for the ambient / dubstep recordings of South London’s past has found its way to New Zealand, for what is the quintessential pop album of 2013.

~Eddie Gibson



11. Cut Copy - Free Your Mind

 

House music in 2013 has never been more effective since the days of Happy Mondays and Primal Scream. I mentioned it in the Jagwar Ma summary, and it’s a testimonial to what’s a rejuvenation of electronica and dance music outside of the popular fashion. Cut Copy has unofficially dedicated their fourth album Free Your Mind to this mind-set of reckless love and psychedelia held up inside a capsule. Elements of Free Your Mind are flawed, but overall, the concept and vibe of Free Your Mind is among the best Cut Copy has created. Better yet, they and their sound is feeling new for this acid house love – the third summer of love.

~Eddie Gibson



50 - 41 | 40 - 31 | 30 - 21 | 20 - 11 | 10 - 1 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Top 50 Albums of 2013: 30 - 21





















30. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away


Push the Sky Away is such a majestic album from the moment it starts till the moment it ends. Nick Cave knows his style, and what his audience wants; so the poetic, and justified lyricism of Push the Sky Away are true to his name – and the name of the Bad Seeds too. He’s aged considerably since the 80s hay days, but Cave hasn’t lost touch with curating an album of interest. Let’s put it this way, if Cave was British, he would have knighted long time ago – and Push the Sky Away is in tribute to his legendary song writing status. 
~Eddie Gibson



29. Low - The Invisible Way

  
Low is music for the gentlemen’s alternative rock. They’re never to exuberant, and never likely to strip naked in music videos – they are what they are / it is what it is. The Invisible Way marks no change in Low’s discography, though it’s unlike those that have come before. This album teds to lean towards a slower, less percussive structure, with the piano and soft vocal work taking the stage more often than the guitars – that’s not to say the electric guitars are minimal, they’re not at all. Low are very much a loud band in a quiet bands hand, and they utilise their skills in a way many soft rock / slowcore artists can’t – with emotion attached to every last note.
~Eddie Gibson



28. Oneirogen - Kiasma

 

Denovali Records are notorious for offering up music that stimulates the deepest fabrication of creative senses. No album excelled higher/deeper at such feats than Oneirogen's Kiasma; a record that had more post- prefixes slapped to it, but in actuality felt suited to such future-connotative suggestions. Kiasma's paralyzing drone of darkly tone and monstrous guitar relays, painted a bleak picture, but beyond the initial spectacle, Mario Diaz de Leon's distorted instrumentation, dense production and gaudy, noisy shape-shifting never appeared faulted or lacking reason. The album's overwhelming proficiency eventually finalised in its strict focus; the energy and amplification never waning nor dropping away to misunderstood experimentation. For a label already strengthened by its roster of visage-invoking composers, Oneirogen's nihilistic-yet-meaningful alternatives made 2013 a year for Denovali followers to recreate emotively, let alone remember mentally. 
~Jordan Helm



27. Autre Ne Veut - Anxiety

 

Adley Atkin doesn't do subtlety. His style is one of showmanship, performance and magnetic proficiency. Anxiety was a record twisting in narration over personal affliction and concern, as it was keenly tied down by Atkin's 80s remedies on the perfect RnB exposition. The album delved into two-fold intentions to uncover ten-fold a success - a marvellous extravagance of synth presets, beats, string instrumentation and above all Atkin's proud-but-aware expression of vocals showering over each of the album's compositions. Combined with the Autre Ne Veut insignia of colourful production and wrap-around layering, Anxiety could rightly be seen a just reflection of its title narratively. But on the side of instrumentation and tone, it was just-as-likely a counter to such claims; the eccentric artist's front and timid back in effect finding a comfortable middle-ground both personalities could wonderfully work off - the entire stage left in Atkins' skilled, frantic-but-wise hands.
~Jordan Helm



26. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time


Working with Ariel Rechtshaid has really rubbed off on Sky Ferreira’s sound. Her debut album Night Time, My Time was delayed twice and finally saw daylight in 2013. It’s a blend of her earlier more pop oriented material, and a more fierce punk sound which is driven through with tracks like “Omanko” and “Heavy Metal Heart”. Her synthpop beginnings are still here, and the art rock has been encompassed by her session musicians who are pretty much faultless throughout. Her delayed debut is worth it, and rightfully makes it on this list as one of the best pop albums of the year.  

~Eddie Gibson




25. Ty Segall - Sleeper

 

Sleeper’s quality lies in the name. Ty Segall isn’t known to release indie folk, fuzz folk, or any other variety of ‘folk’ at all. The whole genre has been taken out of its original context, but here it applies. Segall’s brilliant Sleeper relies on psychedelic folk compositions to fulfil the 35 minutes long album. It’s the right length, and I think this is the right time for Segall to be experimenting with his backing band. This is an album he can tour rather easily, after losing Mikal Cronin for his own efforts this year. There’s never a dull moment on Sleeper, making it one of Segall’s most effective albums to date. 

~Eddie Gibson




24. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe


Given all the talk and buzz surrounding CHVRCHES' inevitable arrival on the synth pop scene, you'd be forgiven for thinking The Bones Of What You Believe was on par with the second coming. If anything, it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine the debut album by the Scottish trio as, at the very least, epitomising the genre's sweet but scorching array of clever song-writing and addictive hooks. CHVRCHES themselves showed no different on an album coaxed in glittering synthesizer leads, stomping drum beats and last-but-certainly-not-least Lauren Mayberry's vocal efficiency in lifting us up into euphoria when desired, and laying down strict lines of emotion as required. The track titles were as direct and as clear as Mayberry's command: Gun, Lies, Recover, Lungs. There was hardly a time when CHVRCHES weren't striking a distinct context amid their celebratory flair.
~Jordan Helm



23. Tim Hecker - Virgins


Tim Hecker's sound has always been risky; risky in the sense that you never quite know whether you're going to come out of the other side the same human, free-thinking, mentally-adjust being you went in as. Virgins, while sonically was no exception to Hecker's distorted ambiance and experimental boggling of our senses, the narrative of the album (religiously tinged) decided to focus on the personal and afflictive nature of such closures. More and more we were dragged into this bleak, blasphemous realm, and more we could feel the hope and anguish begin to pull at either end like some medieval torture device. But from out all this figureless and disjointed challenge, Tim Hecker as always provided a coherence and distinct path amid the macabre hollowness. Virgins was a dark record without any need-be light to contrast it. Anti-dark perhaps? More reason to stir over in fear; more reason to celebrate the twisted logic of Tim Hecker's sound.
~Jordan Helm



22. The Field - Cupid's Head





It's not uncommon to see albums as stepping stones to an artist's musical absolution of sorts. But if anything, Cupid's Head initially appeared scaled back, devolved even. Gone were the increasing fathoms of tension, so too the guest musician hotspots that made Looping State of Mind excel as far as it did. But once the 54 minutes had elapsed on Axel Wilner's forth studio album as The Field, the very thought of negative implication seemed all too non-existent. Cupid's Head was a deservedly evolutionary step in Willner's repetition of groove and rhythm - the album hypnotising its listener into oceanic fluidity in parts, and stricken awe of human voices shouting 'no no' over and over, in others. Thus, The Field's sound (continually stable yet adaptable) was evermore enticing to fully comprehend; Cupid's Head triumphing as Willner's most textural and immersive sound to date across its six tracks. The layering might have been psychadelic - the shifts in passage less concrete. But if there was one thing that remained, it was the Swedish producer's capacity to bring about so much from so little.

~Jordan Helm



21. Everything Everything - Arc


Musicians are not Gods; they are not monarchs, leaders or anything else that automatically equates to standing on some imaginary, higher-ranking echelon in contrast to we 'normal' human beings. Everything Everything may have reached for higher scales of musical expression - dabbling in classically-favoured instruments and more-than-idle analogies of social living - but at the end of the day, Arc was one of 2013's finest (and earliest) examples of talented humans still aware they're on equal turf with their non-talented equivalents. It would be unfair to call Jonathan Higgs the next Billy Bragg, the next Thom Yorke, hell the next Zach de la Rocha. But what stands true is that combined with EE's maturity in guitar-led structures, synth key accompaniment and heart-wrenching conceptualization, Higgs' topics read like contextual tropes (dependancy on natural resources, relationship issues, social anxiety, psychotic instability), but tied more importantly into his impressive vocal range; Arc becoming the take-note case for fellow four-piece's into exploring how brilliant human beings, as people, can be. Insane, selfish, unstable, foolish, stupid people...but brilliant nonetheless.
~Jordan Helm