My Favourite 25 Albums of 2013: Part Three - 17-14
Direct Links to Albums (updated as they become live) : 25 - 22
// 21 - 18
// 17 - 14
// 13 - 10
// 9 - 6
// 5 - 2
17. Editors - The Weight of Your Love
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The past couple of years have seen more changes than any previous in Editors
almost ten year long career, founding guitarist Chris Urbanowicz left the band and in have come Justin Lockey (known to me as half of Lights on Moscow
alongside Lanterns on the Lake's Hazel Wilde) and Elliott Williams (formerly of Airship
). The bands fourth LP The Weight of Your Love
is the first with their involvement and sees a return to anthemic rock after their successful (in my opinion) attempt at electrifying synth-led work on In This Light and On This Evening.
It kicks off with “The Weight” which soon introduces a starkly produced album full of ominous soundscapes with the emphasis on Tom's baritone vocals. The track is all dark, brooding atmosphere built around strong song-writing and some luscious string arrangements, full of emotion and fragility rarely seen from the band before it highlights a maturing band unafraid of what people may have to say.
There are two obvious single moments here, "A Ton of Love" instantly grabs you with both barrels and blasts you into submission with a mix of pop-hooks, swirling synths and heavy drum beats, easily the most upbeat song we've heard from the band to date it harks more to Simple Minds than Joy Division, big, bright rock which swaggers with a stadium sized conviction and "Formaldehyde" is up there with any of the bands best hits, a non-stop adrenaline filled rush of typically Editors-esque pace and pomp.
Perhaps ironically another of my favourite tracks is an older track I heard first live when Chris was still in the band "Two Hearted Spider" combining a creeping guitar line with Tom's brooding lead, building in emotion and power amongst skittish drums and shimmering guitars."Sugar" is as sweet as the name suggests while the restrained "The Phone Book" is a very nice moment too.
I'm pretty biased when it comes to Editors but The Weight of Your Love
is a fine fourth record from a band continuing to try new things and improve themselves, though in the live arena is perhaps where this album is best, the live version of "Nothing" is nothing short of stunning.
16. Agnes Obel - Aventine
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, the second LP from Berlin based Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel
confirms an intoxicating talent with a stunning album of refreshingly pure and sparse piano led melodies backed with the odd bit of luxurious strings and a soft, expressive vocal.
Lead track "The Curse" instantly mesmerizes and is possibly the boldest moment throughout, a stark yet seductive melody with little more than twinkling piano and haunting string arrangements combining with Agnes' fragile vocal. The result is devastatingly beautiful and poignant and the good news is there's plenty more for fans of such beautiful, affecting melancholy too.
"Dorian" is impeccably constructed, weaving a similarly delicate and majestic spell under restrained, wintry instrumentation whilst the contemplative and slightly creepy "Run Cried The Crawling" hints more at the darkness. Aventine
remains an ethereal, immaculate experience throughout and is best summed up by the poignant, calming tapestry of "Fuel To Fire", a beautiful piano led melody armed with an emotive narrative that, like much of the album, is guaranteed to make hearts go a flutter.
15. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripley Pine
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Lady Lamb The Beekeeper
(the recording name of Ally Spaltro) released her debut studio album Ripley Pine
early in the year (a release that contains a few tracks that had been previously released on her earlier bedroom recorded releases but I can ignore that as I'm late to the party. Ripley Pine devastates with an incredible range of songs that hit right at your soul, one minute stripped back electric guitar solo and then the next complex full-band arrangements with a running length that equally varies, from three minutes to seven yet the dozen tracks here are always rich and sophisticated, it is simply an incredible record from a lady with a versatile voice and a raw, expressive talent..
At her most vulnerable on the exquisite "Florence Berlin", a stark, intimate heart-breaker and on "Little Brother", a soft delicate beauty that transports you to a world of soulful dreams with her lone electric guitars twangs sending shivers down your spine. "Bird Balloons" feels like it should be Ally's breakthrough track, as dynamic and powerful as a St Vincent and as epic and emotive as Patti Smith, it bursts with venom and anguish in equal measures and is as affecting as any song you'll hear this year.
My Jim Steinman roots mean I'm a sucker for long tracks and the two on Ripley Pine
are possibly my favourites on the record, "You Are The Apple" is one of those rare tracks that brings you to a stand-still on first listen, progressing from a bluesy opening to a full band stomper with an eruption of raw emotion. Ally made a comment during a live show I saw about alienating her early fans with the 'polish' of the recorded album and thus also releasing a demo album via her Bandcamp
yet, for me at least, it's the rough aggression that I find so powerful and astonishing, when the orchestra comes in; goosebumps all over.
"Crane Your Neck" closed the same live set and is likewise the sort of track to bring an audience to a stand-still, even those at the back who come to gigs to chat to their mates stop to pay attention as Ally howls and shrieks with her typically unpredictable voice, resonating with a fiery intensity that perfectly sums up Ripley Pine
, hot, rich and passionate throughout - do yourself a favour and order Ripley Pine via Ba Da Bing here
14. Savages - Silence Yourself
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soon found themselves at the centre of the music industry's attention, the London based quartet ended a fine debut year with a place in the BBC's Sound of 2013 long-list after taking people by storm with their ferocious post-punk soundscapes and a live show full of the most blistering intensity and entrancement, their debut full-length Silence Yourself
did not disappoint.
Taking the sound perfected in the live setting into the studio to make a faultless record driven by uncompromising bass-lines and pounding drums, with brutal guitar lines adding distortion and noise while Jehn's shrieking vocals command and possess, it makes you want to play it louder and louder, again and again.
Much of the album is the same tracks I heard in the Shacklewell Arms or The Old Blue Last in early 2012 from the searing, terrifyingly beautiful "City's Full" to the propulsive energy of "Shut Up" or the shimmering textures that open "She Will". Silence Yourself
remains hypnotic and contagious throughout, brimming with repressed energy which explodes with a juddering climax on "Husbands", Savages calling card with strong-venomous vocals, prominent bass, fierce guitar and clear tight drums - each of the bands individual members come together and the result is a potent, brutal and brilliant combination.
A special note must go for the albums wonderful closing track "Marshal Dear", the most beautiful moment on the record with twinkling piano leading Jehn's restrained vocals with occasional guitar soars the only indication Savages true form. A gentler beast that indicates Savages will be around for many, many records to come.