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Scott Armstrong’s Top 10 Albums for 2013

By December 24, 2013 No Comments


Here it is! Our final blog post for 2013! I probably say this every December, but I think this year has been unmatched in terms of highly anticipated releases and the emergence of a lot of young, groundbreaking acts. I find it very difficult to even approach creating a list which fully represents everything I’ve heard and loved this year, but in saying that, I’ve also spent the last few weeks demanding this from a few I OH YOU bands and nobody likes a hypocrite. Here are my top 10 albums for the year along with a track from each which I particularly like.

Here goes:
[youtube][/youtube] 1. Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
I really loved Mount Kimbie’s debut record ‘Crooks & Lovers’, but I didn’t expect anything like this for a follow-up. The mesmerizing King Krule features aside, this album takes some of the most inspired instrumentation of the year to create a feeling of darkness and total rejuvenation throughout. It’s an album which finds it’s place perfectly somewhere between the club and and your bedroom late at night and in a live setting, it’s as brutal and raw as you could have dreamed. Do not miss this if you can get to Laneway next year.

[youtube][/youtube] 2. Arctic Monkeys – AM
They’ve come a long way since penning songs about nightclubbing in the UK as confused, frustrated teenagers. AM is the perfect follow-up to ‘Suck it and See’ in the sense that it delivers an even more refined experience as a whole; lyrically, melodically and even the odd Black Sabbath reference doesn’t go astray. At the heart of it, it’s still about personal struggle and finding your feet as it was from the beginning. They’ve really done it with AM. Some people may call this a comeback, but I don’t think they ever left.

[youtube][/youtube] 3. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
Cut Copy still manage to blow me away with every release. Free Your Mind is a perfect example of a band embracing the music they love and throughout this LP, it’s easy to hear their stylistic progression all the way back from ‘Bright Like Neon Love’. Like a perfectly preserved time capsule from bygone eras of dance music, it’s homegrown, eurphoria inducing dancefloor ready gold.

[youtube][/youtube] 4. Jagwar Ma – Howlin’
Another fantastic local release. Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield have long been releasing inspiring material under different guises (Lost Valentinos/Ghostwood) but rarely with this much well deserved critical acclaim. A perfectly timed, stunningly executed album full of acid-house and Madchester vibes which at times overwhelms and surprises. There’s a lot of different styles represented on Howlin’, and at no point does it lose any of the cohesiveness which it perhaps could have. From psychedelic techno inspired moments like ‘Four’ to the more serene and contemplative ‘Backwards Berlin’, Jagwar Ma mastered the art of building the vibe across an LP this year. Extra points for that ‘Man I Need/Exercise’ 1-2 punch. Very big.

[youtube][/youtube] 5. Daniel Avery – Drone Logic
I first heard of Daniel Avery through the Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Beats In Space mix last year with ‘Taste’ and have been so thankful ever since. Truly one of the most unrelenting and multi-faceted slow burner techno albums of the year. Drone Logic proves that you don’t always need a fast pace to provide the heat. With names like Erol Alkan on board, it was immediately apparent that you can expect something innovative and engrossing. I love the way the vocals are used to punctuate the tracks on this album, too. Fingers crossed for a tour sometime in 2014.

[youtube][/youtube] 6. Foals – Holy Fire
Holy Fire was easily my most anticipated album leading into this year. It’s divided a lot of the long-time fans and whilst I can see how the shift in overall direction could alienate some, it’s a really dark and interesting album which I love. Tracks like ‘Providence’ and ‘Inhaler’ definitely made me wonder if I was listening to the same band which produced the earlier material, but it’s got a great mix of progressive pop and dynamic guitar work throughout. Thumbs up, Yannis & co.

[youtube][/youtube] 7. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
I feel bad not having this a little higher up the list, because Beautiful Rewind really has been one of the biggest revelations of the year. There’s so much going on throughout this album; the jungle influences which thrash around in tandem with the more ambient sections which bleed calm amongst the fray. Kool FM may be one of the biggest singles of 2013 for me too. Serious pirate radio feelings all ’round. I can’t sum this album up as well as I’d like, but it holds it’s own place with ease in this list.

[youtube][/youtube] 8. King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
Regardless of his age, Archy Marshall took it all on this year and won. An esteemed guitar player amongst his many other talents, this is the adopted voice of a tired generation of adolescents. An album that bursts with colour from the grey, ‘Easy Easy’ demonstrates the finer pop sensibilities whilst ‘Foreign 2’ shines with percussive nuance and tonal prowess. Any reader of this blog would have slowly witnessed the unraveling of the love we have for King Krule this year.

[youtube][/youtube] 9. World’s End Press – World’s End Press
We’ve been waiting a long time for this one, and it’s safe to say that it didn’t disappoint. Melbourne’s World’s End Press delivered an LP which, if I had a CD player, would be in that CD player for a long time. Full of melodic hooks, superbly soaring vocals and joyous house vibes – this self titled debut cemented my initial suspicion that WEP are indeed the real deal. Technically, I really love the sound of this album too! It’s got that DFA drum sound which is a perfect accompaniment to the rest of the sound, especially those synths. This LP patient and flows in a way which acknowledges that some of the slower moments are just as crucial as the soaring heights of tracks like ‘Drag Me Home’.

[youtube][/youtube] 10. Wavves – Afraid of Heights
Afraid of Heights made me a Wavves convert, no question. I never really delved too deep into it all until this, but I now see the path which lead to such a polished, clean sounding album which isn’t afraid to present some really great hooks. It’s a bit of a roller-coaster but truly one of my favorites from the year. I hope we can look forward to some more refined material like this in future! I became a little bit obsessed with the way this record sounds too, Nathan Williams truly did a fantastic job on this independent release.

We’ll be taking a bit of a break into early 2014, but I can promise some really exciting in-depth interviews with a couple of artists I’ve listed above. Thanks for reading the blog + Happy New Year from I OH YOU!

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