Monday, July 1, 2013

My Favourite Albums of 2013 So Far

It's the first of July today, and with 2013 half-gone, I wouldn't be much of a music blogger if I didn't cobble together a list of the best albums of the far!

Except I don't feel especially qualified to tell everyone what 2013's "best" releases are because, well, I haven't listened to all of them. I do try to stay abreast of the good stuff, but I've glanced at some other mid-year best-ofs, and there are albums on those lists that I've not even heard of, much less listened to. So, instead, I've just grouped together a few of my favourite albums that were released in the last six months - they're not necessarily The Best, they're just the best I've heard.

Now, without further ado, let's all gaze down at the atrophied legs of 2013...

We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic by Foxygen
This album sounds like it was made in the seventies and, unlike a lot of albums that actually were made in the seventies, I love it! The slightly hippie-ish classic rock vibe ties everything together nicely, but the songs themselves are diverse enough to keep things interesting. San Francisco is a slightly twee summertime song with a lovely boy/girl duet in the chorus, while In the Darkness is more theatrical and the title track is an unhinged freak-out. Melody is never in short supply.

Praxis Makes Perfect by Neon Neon
I wonder if I'd like this record as much were it not for the jaw-dropping National Theatre Wales performance that it spawned, but I suppose that's kind of moot. This is an album with a story to tell, and while that story isn't quite as lucid when it's not being performed by actors, the LP still bristles with the intrigue and danger that typified the life of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. Check out his Wikipedia page if you're curious to find out more; I'm just going to say that if you want to hear synth music that remains perfectly cool and detached while it grabs you by the balls, this is the album for you.

Pale Green Ghosts by John Grant
I've already written a lot about this album, so go and read my track-by-track review and we'll leave it at that.

La Costa Perdida by Camper Van Beethoven
This could yet prove to be my album of the summer. I'm already head-over-heels for Northern California Girls (a slow-burning, skyscraping come back to me), Peaches in the Summertime (a frantic ode to a sexy lay-day), and the title track (a sweet-ass murder song), and the other seven tracks will surely follow given another listen or two. It might be presumptuous to put a record on my Best of 2013 list before I've truly gotten into it, but frankly, those three songs alone would be enough.

Wonderful, Glorious by Eels
As lyrical content goes, this is far from E's best, but you can't fault the music. The last three albums - Hombre Lobo, End Times, and Tomorrow Morning - got a slightly mixed reaction from critics, and while I've got time for all three of them, this album is definitely superior. On the surface, it's a fuzzed-up rocker in the same vein as Souljacker (and, hey, that would have been great), but it's actually something of a rattle-bag; You're My Friend is a stuttering, staggering laptop anthem, while Accident Prone and On The Ropes are softer numbers that allow a little bit of light to shine through. Even the big, rocked-up numbers have their little diversions, which make the whole thing feel slightly proggy. I'm a big Eels fan, can you tell?

Honourable mention goes to Mosquito by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (uneven, but worth a tenner just for Despair) and Inform-Educate-Entertain by Public Service Broadcasting (great, but not as cohesive as I'd hoped). I also purchased new albums by Tullycraft, Future Bible Heroes, and Mikal Cronin over the weekend; I've not had a chance to listen to them properly yet, but they could all prove to be better than anything on this list.

Which awesome albums have I overlooked? And what will you be looking out for in the next six months? Let everybody know in the comments. 

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