Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part One

A little later than planned, it's finally that time for me to throw my hat into the never-ending 'album of the year list' ring. I've read a lot of posts dismissing all the end of year fanfare this time around but I enjoy reading lists and I'm sure many other of you do. The following five posts will be the albums I've decided make my favourite twenty five releases of the year, I've given them in order but naturally that seemingly changes every two minutes so is not to be taken too seriously (as if), there have been about 30/35 albums I've enjoyed this year and it was a difficult job to narrow them down from that number, aside from the top few, I think all the other albums are very even, I'll list the albums that nearly made this list in a round-up post after the top twenty-five are posted. Beautiful Strange releases are void too - I'm a little biased.

In my opinion 2012 has been a good one for new music but a tricky one in so fact that there is no obvious contender for album of the year like in previous years (though apparently Frank Ocean is as close as that gets), I think that's partly the reason why most blogs/websites lists have more seen a bit more variety. Clearly I've not listened to every album released in 2012, that would be impossible and I don't simply have the time (or desire), but these are the albums I'm happy to have enjoyed this year...

Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part One

Other Posts: Part One // Two // Three // Four // Five

25.La Sera - Sees The Light

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Kicking off the list is La Sera's (Katy Goodman's) second solo LP Sees The Light, which from the outset delivers a quick, sharp blast of indie pop goodness. Ten tracks that stay with you for little more than half an hour but which manage to pack quite the punch in that time, keeping things simple throughout, See The Light will make you want hit repeat straight away with its addictive, carefree approach to vibrant pop tunes.

From the woozy, melancholia of "I Can't Keep You In My Mind" and "Love That's Gone" to the super-charged fuzz pop of the sing-along hit "Please Be My Third Eye" and the similarly radio friendly single "Break My Heart", Sees The Light delivers on all fronts, that is if you like a bright approach to a lovelorn life. A glass is half full record, La Sera will bring you a smile with infectious melodies whilst Katy's dreamy vocals melts your (broken) heart. Stand-out track "I'm Alone" the perfect summation, give it a try, you'll have no chance of resisting its charms.



24. Tennis - Young & Old

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I appear to be one of the few people who have really enjoyed both Tennis LP's, their debut Cape Dory was number 26 of my 'Best of 2011 lists' and this, Young & Old scores a little higher, a slicker and more mature approach than the debut results in a sunny pop sound which is super clean and just lovely to listen to, it also helps that Alaina Moore has one of those voices that just makes me melt when I hear it.

"My Better Self" is my favourite track on the record, a toe-tapping keyboard lead and simple rat-a-tat drums give the basis for Alaina's pretty vocals to steal your heart. Pretty is the word for Young & Old and I mean that in the best possible way. Everywhere it turns it's beautiful, "Origins" is another key track on the record, highlighting the bands expanded dynamic with bright and breezy rhythms amongst guitar chimes, equally great is "Petition" another piano led track which bounces along with its infectious melody while nostalgic shimmers ooze from the delicious "Take Me To Heaven", oh yes Tennis, you can, quite easily. Luscious.



23. Stealing Sheep - Into The Diamond Sun

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Fulfilling the promise of the their earlier EP's Into The Diamond Sun is a perfect summer's day album, mixing the Liverpudlian trio's gorgeous harmonies with the individualistic kooky sounds that have become to characterise Stealing Sheep...

Into The Diamond Sun is a delicious combination of spiraling vocal harmonies, psychedelic melodies and off-kilter drums (not to mention infectious hand clapping), impossible to pigeon-hole, Stealing Sheep deserve their own genre, one that's equally bonkers, enchanting and always fun and beautiful, for this album is most definitely that. Imaginative and incandescent throughout highlights are the infectious single "Shut Eye" (as played on Hollyoaks!) which has the most insanely catchy melody you'll hear this year, closely followed by the magical "Genevieve", eccentricity and hypnotic hooks all in equal measure.

Then there's latest single "Rearrange" with layered guitar patterns morphing into something truly gorgeous with siren-like harmonies before genre hopping once more on the haunting harmonies of "Tangled Up In Stars" with the kaleidoscopic trip of closing track "Bear Tracks" bringing out the best of Becky's sweetly-sung lead vocal. A beguiling debut and one that hints at much more to come, I look forward to that...




22. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

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So I'm shooting with this one a lot earlier than most end-of-year lists I've read already, I guess that's the thing about taste, it's a subjective thing. This number feels about right for me, Tramp is Sharon Van Etten's finest moment to date, building on 2010's wonderful Epic, Tramp feels more 'complete', an affecting but beautiful listen throughout.

You can almost feel Sharon's grief on tracks like "Leonard" and "In Line", in complete control of her craft, her exemplary song-craft and versatile voice knock you for six, haunting and powerful, beguiling and strong, for me at least, the album is never better than on it's first single "Serpents", a ballsy, rocking number with clean vocals and strong drum beats.

Tramp is full of emotion, sentiment and is beautifully crafted throughout, it's an album that I doubt has escaped your attention already (unless you've been on Mars of course) and it deserves the full scope of praise it's receiving, Sharon Van Etten is one of the finest singer-songwriters of our generation and I look forward to seeing what she manages to do with the attention she's created for herself.



21. Tender Trap - Ten Songs About Girls

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Tender Trap are one of those rare indie pop bands who are capable of effortlessly combining boundless, infectious energy with catchy and humorous songs,  alongside Amelia Fletcher's strong song-writing prowess Tender Trap can produce some truly fantastic lyrical melodies, something they've rarely bettered than on their latest LP Ten Songs About Girls...

"Train From Kings Cross Station" kicks off the album and is an exhilarating listen from the minute it pulls out of the station, it truly sets the tempo for what's to follow, a wonderful rocking homage to all sorts of things, My Bloody Valentine on (obviously) "MBV" while "Step One" sees the band drawing on their vast experience to give a tongue-in-cheek lesson to aspiring bands following in their footsteps, where playful, call and response vocals and a rocking melody lead a manual for wannabe girl groups.

Closing track "Love is Hard Enough" is equally wonderful, full of the bands dynamic bright instrumentation where the bitter-sweet lead of Amelia's combines with girl group doo-wop's harmonies to glorious effect with the twinkling "Leaving Christmas Day" another future indie-pop cult classic in the making.

Ten Songs About Girls is an exciting, fizzed up listen from minute one to thirty-three, if you're after beautifully sung, exceptionally written indie pop, then this will be one of your albums of the year too.