With another series of essential music videos, gigs, tracks and albums in the bag, now it’s our writers’ turn to pick their own favourite album of 2013 – across six selected LPs there’s a ‘head rush of pulsing punk rock rhythms and unsettling psych-pop melodies’, some ‘mastery of techno’, ‘a true labour of love’ and plenty more besides.
After you’ve been through Live4ever’s picks of the year, please leave a comment below to let us know which LP has best occupied your time during the past twelve months!
Jamie Boyd: Arcade Fire – ‘Reflektor’
Although double-sided LPs often garner a notoriously lukewarm reception within the music industry, Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album fortunately leans towards the successfully ambitious as opposed to ill-advised pretentiousness seen in many iterations of the particular album format.
The Haitian rara music inspired tracks inject a vibrant energy into lyrics depicting finely tuned swipes at a broken modern society, blending hazy nocturnal musings with punk bursts for an emotively charged record that rewards repeated listening as some of the band’s most intriguing output to date.
Beau De Lang: Thee Oh Sees – ‘Floating Coffin’
Known primarily for their ritualistic live shows and amphetamine-paced recording output, it’s easy to forget that somewhere beneath all the steamed sweat and split 7-inches San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees can still write some killer songs. This year’s ‘Floating Coffin’ just further solidifies their sadistic quantity-and-quality approach, as their fourth album in three years is another healthy head rush of pulsing punk rock rhythms and unsettling psych-pop melodies, all pushed along by frontman John Dwyer’s squealing guitar solos and maniacal rubber-room yelps.
Whether they’re delivering paranoid sermons about war-ridden landscapes and demonic strawberries, or crafting aching ballads about the dreadful monotony of being a minotaur, with ‘Floating Coffin it’s becoming more and more apparent that Dwyer and company have tapped into a strange psychotic sound that is undoubtedly their own.
Simon Moore: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – ‘Specter At The Feast’
Dark, menacing and macabre, this album didn’t exactly win awards or spark riots in the streets on its release. ‘Let The Day Begin’ is an incredible single, but the album is admittedly a tough one to get, one that seems to have an air of indeterminate age.
The songs prowl and circle you, lingering with intent to intimidate and mystify, like the growling, doom-laden ‘Fire Walker’. Hayes, Been and Shapiro play with mood, referencing Shakespeare and Agrippa and all manner of gothic literature, enriching their music with depth and simmering power. It’s not provocative, it’s evocative, and utterly unlike anything else released this year.
Andy Peterson: Daniel Avery – ‘Drone Logic’
The town of Bournemouth is home to the UK’s blue rinse and righteous indignation brigade – not a very promising hotbed for the latest rising star of the electronic music scene. But it’s where Daniel Avery calls home.
Introducing himself last year with a Fabric set that turned hip abstraction into the gristle of a great night, his album ‘Drone Logic’ showed a mastery of techno so astutely done that thoughts of Carl Craig sprang immediately to mind. During a year in which EBM has been strangling dancefloors worldwide, Avery proved that there is a road to glory which isn’t signposted compromise.
Sam Slattery: David Lynch – ‘The Big Dream’
David Lynch’s ‘The Big Dream’ is a lush, vaporous, often ethereal record, which swims spectrally through the rafters of the mind, whispering unsettling but strangely comforting tales of technicolor prom night loneliness (witnessed in the soulful ‘Cold Wind Blowin’).
There’s also emaciated depression-era dust bowl doom (Lynch’s chugging, sand blasted re-imagining of Bob Dylan’s ‘Ballad Of Hollis Brown’) and twinges of broken hearted melancholy ( the beautifully maudlin ‘The Line It Curves’). ‘The Big Dream’ weaves as much of a mysterious magic in the winter shadows as it does in the hazy summer light.
Dave Smith: Steve Mason – ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’
He’s only bloody well done it. On ‘Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time’ Steve Mason has managed to make what is (for nine-tenths of its life anyway) deep down still wonderfully simple tea and biscuits rock and roll seem original, unconventional and, whisper it, even experimental without plunging into a tedious world of self indulgent bleeps and whistles.
It’s a comprehensive, assiduous and fully realised body of work – a true labour of love. As if that isn’t enough, ‘I Go Out’ – his caustic Sonny & Cher argument with Emiliana Torrini for Speedy Wunderground – is just about the best track I’ve heard this year too.
Essential Listening 2013 Series: