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

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

Previously posted: Part One // Two // Three // Four // Five

5. Fever Dream EP

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Another EP making my top album lists, this one, the self-titled EP by London trio Fever Dream is arguably long enough to be considered an album in any case, I've heard albums that were less than this 26 minute, six track wonder.

The lackadaisical haze of the opening track "Glue" sets the tone, where raw and rambling rhythms hypnotise, spiralling in tempo around Adrian's vocals before exploding in a whirlwind of beats and guitar abuse. An awesome blend of noisy dissonance and dreamy vocal harmonies.

 Earlier single "This Waste" follows, it remains all kinds of wonderful with its feedback-drenched, shimmering guitars and slightly ominous sense while newer tracks equally impress, from the pure noise thrill of the energetic "Suspense" to the beautiful closure "Alchemy", a melancholy pop song.

The highlight though is "Poyekhali!", with bumpy bass line and explosive, murky guitar, I'll come back to that awesome word again, this is awesome.

4. TOY - TOY

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This is the album I pick when I go running, I'm not sure if that's a glowing recommendation or not but TOY is a truly superb album nevertheless, it's good to run with because of its runaway roller-coaster melodies and the maelstrom of storming, metronomic beats that rattle along with bursts of adrenaline pumping energy and pulsing rhythms.

Summed up perfectly on the aptly titled "Motoring" with overloading fuzz-drenched guitars and gaudy keyboards making for a slick, infectious ride combining the best bits of psyche, krautrock and shoegaze in one glorious track. The same intoxicating mix is the formula for much of the album, at its gazing best on "Dead & Gone", hypnotic and driving or "Colours Running Out" where gorgeous shimmering guitars duel with the korg keys and consistent drum beats.

Toy is truly superb, hard, dense, melodic, exciting, brilliant. My top UK album of the year...

3. Wilsen - Sirens

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Wilsen, an artist completely unknown to me six months ago released her blow-away debut album Sirens towards the end of July with it's lead track "Dusk" as the most incredible prelude, a track that introduced an unbelievably talented artist and an album I've fallen head over heels in love with...

"Dusk" is deliciously sad and unbelievably gorgeous, Tasmin Wilson's ethereal whispers are soft and comforting and remain at the forefront of delicate, stripped back instrumentation throughout where gently picked chord patterns and light brush strokes combine to haunting, heartfelt results.

"December" commands your attention with thoughtful textures and melody, while the restrained title track shines brightly with soft instrumentation, "Paper Ships" even more so, beguiling in its beauty as Tasmin's pure vocal soothes amongst softened guitar twinklings, the near-folk instrumentation is radiant and blissful throughout, never more so than on Sirens opener "House On A Hill".

The highlight of Sirens though is "Anahita", the albums final song, a track which perfectly sums up the delicate fragility of Wilsen's songcraft and the intoxicating beauty of Sirens. Rising and falling almost Daughter-esque from soft, tender intimacy where Tasmin's heartfelt vocals showcase a range of shattered emotions with twinkling guitars providing a gentle backdrop before slowing increasing with a steady percussive beat to a raging crescendo of harmonies and powerful drums. Utterly stunning.

2. SoftSpot - Enso

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The proper debut full length album Enso by the incredible SoftSpot  is a continual ride of superlatives that I can repeat from my previous posts on the band (I've featured them here quite a lot!).

The Brooklyn based trio, primarily the work of Sarah Kinlaw and Byran Keller released Enso on digital / vinyl earlier this year and I highly recommend you give it a listen and then a purchase, the vinyl is limited to just 250 copies.

Enso continues with Softspot's "wonderful layered sound that builds up to a wave of sonic wonder, its atmospheric build-up punctured by precise percussion. It's a sound that seems so carefully crafted yet performed so effortlessly" with "the combination of Sarah's hauntingly gorgeous vocal with momentum building textured guitar riffs", both those from my Introducing piece back in January 2011 when I first fell for the band and then moving forward to September last year (in reference to album track "Slack Tide"); "engrossing layers of melodies, wonderful guitar shredding riffs and to die for vocals." or about an earlier version of album track "Holy Father" "...an absolute monster. It starts peaceful enough, Sarah's hauntingly beautiful voice hits you straight away, it's unique, stunning. Accompanied by the rat-a-tat of drum sticks, slowly increasing in intensity as Brian's textured guitars glisten on the edge simmering until finally it explodes, cumulating in a euphoric cataclysm of aural pleasure, heavy-hitting drums, guitar buzz and hard bass-line riffs". This is a band whose sounds has it all.

 More recently as the album launch came closer words about "The Cleansing Hour". "It's an absolutely beauty, slowly building upon mournful shades of melancholic guitar and a metronomic drum beat gently entwining around Sarah's softening vocals and bells until at the three minute point light is finally allowed to win and the track blossoms with Softspot's signature cataclysm of sumptuous, shimmering sounds which manage to induce just about every spine-tingling sensation possible before parting and finishing as it begun, with its stark backbeat outro" and most recent of all "Disciple Fix" "..building sumptuously with a fusion of fast paced tropical rhythms and eastern influences blending with Sarah's ethereal vocals, as sensual and gorgeous as ever...".

 "I've said it before, I'll say it again, I love this band."

1. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

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I'm honest enough to say for the first six months of the year I tried to stay out of the whole Lana Del Rey 'thing'. The sheer amount of hype and press around the release of her album, her 'authenticity' and 'back-story' put me off what really mattered, the music. I didn't get it at first, sure "Video Games" was a knock-out song, a voice so smooth and sultry on a slow, delicious track filled with emotion, but I'm instinctively adverse to following the majority.

It all changed at Latitude festival in early July when I was curious enough to check out Lana's live show, an oddity because what I had previous thought of as a middle class festival with middle-aged, middle income spectators politely sipping their inflated priced beers all over a sudden turned into an audience of rabid school-girls, the front rows were full of teenagers scrambling to get as close to Lana as they could whilst screaming (I'm not sure how much of the show they actually heard) - she duly obliged with a trip to the mosh-pit half way through the set. A set which was more than good enough to allow me to form my own opinion on Ms Grant, a world-weary voice with commanding presence and a collection of atmospheric songs on par with any I've heard in recent times. One I certainly wouldn't have expected to have earlier in the year...

Since that day Born to Die and later The Paradise Edition have easily become my most listened to record of the year, there's a couple of flops on the album, "Lolyta" for example, sure, but overall Born to Die is an album which oozes with class and sophistication with Lana's to-die-for vocals at the helm, it's dark and precise, out-pouring with richly melancholic melodies that tug at your heartstrings throughout. I read the words murder ballads to describe Lana Del Rey somewhere, I like that.

"Million Dollar Man" a sure highlight, like so much of the album it's bathed in production with adds the woozy ambience along with Grant's siren calls and haunting songs. "Lucky One" shines around around shimmering soundscapes and the immaculate tone of the vocal delivery while "Born to Die" with orchestral flourishes in simply radiant. I'm not going to sit here adding superlatives to the rest of the tracks I could quite easily instead I'll sum up. Born to Die is quite easily my album of 2012. Perhaps it's time to forget your pre conceived prejudices too?