The ever knowledgeable Johnny Feeney has frequently featured on the blog throughout this year, popping up time and again to share his musical musings and words of wisdom with us all. So ahead of my own list of albums of the year, Johnny has kindly compiled his top ten albums from 2013.
Before I leave you in Johnny’s very capable hands, I’d like to thank him for this, and all the other posts during the year. He’s a top man. So, without further ado, here are his top ten albums of 2013.
10. Creep – ‘Echoes’
Echoes, the Brooklyn electronic duo Creep’s second album, is a dark, atmospheric record laden with spectral, woozy trip-hop beats and are joined by lots of guest vocalists including Romy-Madeley Croft of the XX and trip-hop royalty in the form of Tricky.
9. Cults – ‘Static’
Static is a tightly packed album of breezy, infectious indie rock with lo-fi production and errs on just the right side of sickly sweet. There are some incredibly catchy songs on here that can lodge in your head for days. Great stuff.
8. Drenge – ‘Drenge’
This debut album from the Loveless brothers, Eoin on guitar/vocals and Rory on drums, is a treat of primal, visceral blues rock. There are some great clattering drums and thundering power riffs throughout. Raw and raucous, this is an excellent rock album.
7. London Grammar – ‘If You Wait’
Ploughing a similar furrow to the XX, Nottingham trio London Grammar specialize in beautifully understated, minimal pop on their debut album. In Hannah Reid, they have a commanding vocal presence that lends a gorgeous intensity throughout. Some real gems on here.
6. Savages – ‘Silence Yourself’
This Mercury Prize nominated debut album of primarily brooding post-punk may not be the cheeriest but it’s certainly one of the best guitar albums of 2013. The all-female four-piece have bags of attitude and there’s a dark intensity to some of these songs that you won’t find easily elsewhere.
5. Vampire Weekend – ‘Modern Vampires of the City’
New York indie-poppers Vampire Weekend returned this year with their third album in much more restrained mode. ‘Unbelievers’ is the closest they come to a hell-for-leather song of the ilk of earlier songs such as ‘A-Punk’ or ‘Cousins’, but in their place are dreamy pop songs and delicious melodies such as the standout ‘Everlasting Arms’.
4. M.I.A. – ‘Gatangi’
A very welcome return to form for M.I.A. after 2010’s underwhelming, clangouring MAYA. As highly ambitious as ever and infused with eastern influences and tribal beats, this album is bristling with chaotic, genre-hopping ideas. Amidst the chaos however are plenty of moments of pure brilliance. ‘Bad Girls’ is the best thing she’s recorded since ‘Paper Planes’. Overlong and could have done with better quality control as it tails off tamely but still bags more fun than anything else released this year.
3. Parquet Courts – ‘Light Up Gold’
Released late last year in the US and in the early weeks of 2013 this side of the Atlantic, Light Up Gold is a short, sharp treat of rollicking, spiky garage rock with squalls of feedback in places. The Brooklyn four-piece whisk you quickly and confidently through 15 songs in just over 33 minutes, with barely a pause for breath.
2. Fuck Buttons – ‘Slow Focus’
Relentless, bludgeoning electronica is the modus operandi of the Bristol duo Fuck Buttons on Slow Focus, their third studio album. Really dark, repetitive and hypnotic throughout but absolutely captivating from start to finish. Music to get well and truly lost in.
1. Girls Names – ‘The New Life’
The Belfast alt-rockers’ second album is a real step up from their debut, 2011’s Dead to Me. The tight rhythm section of snapping drums and driving, propulsive basslines provide the framework around which Cathal Cully and Phillip Quinn’s guitars weave, mesh and meander intricately. Cully’s vocals are way down in the mix and difficult to decipher and seem more like an afterthought than an integral part of the songs but it’s the music on here that’s most impressive. Hands down my favourite album of the year and the one I keep going back to again and again without ever tiring of.