Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top 30 Best Albums Of 2013: PART II (#11--20)...

The penultimate section...

11. Foxygen We are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic: the duo’s sophomore delves deep into trippy Bowie territory, staggered by two brilliant tracks (No Destruction, On Blue Mountain) but backed up consistently with seething, bluesy rock that bands longer in the tooth still haven’t come close to mastering. The beats and choruses trip in without a moment’s notice—nice trick when one just wasn’t expecting it.

12. Sat. Nite Duets Electric Manland: calling this a classic rock album may be pushing it but the record’s numerous nods to gold-encrusted oldies are impossible to ignore.. Alternately blistering and bittersweet, the album’s hazy images of ex-girlfriends and wasted afternoons spent getting high are pure Sat. Nite Duets. This is an impeccably produced concept LP-- a herky-jerky jaunt stuffed with wanky guitar stabs and Talking Heads-esque breakdowns that still manages to touch on the band’s pet theme of fleeting summer fun.

13. David Bowie The Next Day: ten years have since the last Bowie album and as much as a rock god he is, no one expected much. How wrong we are: The Next Day brims with shocking ferocity while revisiting his hey days of the 1970s but not stealing from it. The most immediate thing is the lush instrumentalism and Bowie’s vocals rising to match it. The grooves are stylistic and lyrically the man is still pushing buttons.

14. A$AP Rocky Long Live A$AP: hip/hop continues to be the one genre that evolves into exciting new territory and last year saw the rise of the sensitive thug type: the young, urban male (Schoolboy Q, Frank Ocean)examining a harsh life and spitting it out back. A$AP Rocky is no different and his debut LP continues this trend by demanding its fair share of pussy, weed and respect. Though Long Live A$AP clings to the past at times, it sandwiches its momentary lapses with thrills of pure lyricism and guest skill-set tracks like 1 Train where Danny Brown and Kendrick Lamar bring the house down in style.

15. The Child of Lov The Child of Lov: already branded with goodness in the form of contributions by Blur and Gorillaz front-man, Damon Albarn and punk band Doom, The Child of Lov’s (Cole Williams) self titled debut is a pretty good way to commence one’s musical trajectory. The album is scattered with an alluring high wail reminiscent of Cee Lo Green and is an energetic ride. Williams died a few days ago so that makes this project even more special.

16. Popstrangers Antipodes: an album that revels in the dissonant darkness, adept at offering something accessible before pulling the rug out from underneath. This is first evident on Jane, where an organ and seemingly innocuous guitar riff subtly shifts in unease when the bass rumbles through. There’s a minute of this musical interplay before everything explodes into white distorted noise, and Joel Flyger’s disaffected vocals drift in. That sense of unease pervades much of Antipodes – the stretched, off-kilter chiming guitar and Flyger’s hushed, slightly menacing voice in In Some Ways.

17. Autre Ne Veut Anxiety: propelled by two massive songs at the start (Play by Play, Counting), Arthur Ashin’s debut LP roars to life with its Prince-aping futuristic R&B pop hybrid. Though sure to be divisive, the album’s production is spot on, clever even. The textures involved feel sparkly and exciting: hear and just believe the metallic effect of the guitar subtlety guiding Ego Free Sex Free.

18. The Doppelgangaz Hark: New York duo The Doppelgangaz, made up of childhood friends Matter Ov Fact and EP, have released their much-anticipated third studio album, Hark. The 12-track project includes reader-approved singles Hark Back and Oh Well. There are no guest features but the flows are tight and among the very best rap will have this year.

19.M.I.A Matangi: like the woman who made it, Matangi is hugely inventive and a bit exhausting: if it's hard to take in anything other than small doses, you can't help but be glad it exists. On the title track, Arulpragasam takes aim at her legions of pallid imitators: "Lookalike, copycat, doppleganger, fraud … if you're gonna be like me you need a manifesto." You could argue that's yet another example of her tendency to, as the Australians say, let the wind blow up her arse and waggle her tongue.

20. Black Joe Lewis Electric Slave: “Electric Slave is what people are today, with their faces buried in their iPhones and the only way to hold a conversation is through text,” Lewis explains in the album’s press release. While he’s not always singing about escaping modernity, the music itself carries a good deal of that weight. He may mythically title songs like Vampire and Golem; the lyrics largely focus on timeless issues of the heart and an old-fashioned drive for good times.