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After having a massive laugh at the expense of everybody else’s taste, it’s now time to invite you all to scoff and guffaw at our chosen albums of the year…

Some people have speculated that we’re increasingly seeing the effect of download and streaming culture on the importance of the album, and while there’s probably a hint of truth to that, this list hopefully proves beyond doubt that the album is far from dead. Instead, it’s like the sprightly old man who you initially underestimate, only for him to beat you at squash, drink you under the table and then skip off down the street, arm in arm with your girlfriend.

No, the album is alive and well, although the increasing proliferation of EPs and Mixtapes could be said to be increasingly infringing on its territory; certainly in the worlds of dance and hip-hop. For the purposes of the list (specifically to avoid having to chop out some of our favourite records), anything released, in any format, as a collection of 5 or more tracks constitutes an album.

The good news is that huge amounts of musicians are still very much invested in the art of creating albums that make more sense when consumed as a whole. Releases from Colin Stetson, Holden, Teeth of the Sea, Jon Hopkins and L. Pierre are far from a bunch of disparate tracks bundled together, but are fluid bodies of work that have a sense of narrative and progression. Yet while we applaud that, even the albums that depend on a few fantastic tracks to drag the overall quality level up (AlunaGeorge, we’re looking at you) aren’t discriminated against – a record with five absolute belters and some filler are better than cohesive, well constructed albums that don’t contain a single moment that makes you go, “woah”.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided not to put this list in order of merit. Partly because it’s pretty difficult to arbitrarily rank music by taste, but mostly because if I’d arranged this purely on votes then I’d have had to put The National in the top five, and frankly I just can’t let that happen. Clearly, democracy doesn’t work. Instead, please browse the following authoritarian dictats alphabetically. After which, you can go out and buy them all from your favourite independent music retailer, because buying music is good (says the bloke who gets most of his from PRs and 2nd hand record shops).

Finally a word of thanks to everyone who’s contributed and facilitated The-Monitors as it’s started to grow this year. No matter how big or small the contribution, it was hugely appreciated. A finer bunch of buggers I couldn’t hope to break bread with: Alex Allsworth – Alex Canonico – Amadeep Chana – Amris Kaur – Anna Sandhu – Chris Sparrow – Daniel Cross – Dan Garber – David Morris – Eleonora Collini – Ella Phillips – Ellie Brennan – Emma Charleston – Felix Dowell – Heather Weil – João Proença – Jen Smale – John Howes – Josep Xortó – Kate Molins – Keira Cullinane – Keiran Merrick – Lauren Wilson – Lewis Perrin – Mat Colegate – Moa Ceder – Nathan Iodice – Nicholas Burman – Oscar J. Narro – Rob McDougall – Ryan Woodcock – Sian Haestier – Silja Hertel – Sophia Satchell-Baeza – and, last but certainly not least, Telmo Dias – the man who actually built the bloody thing (and is currently putting the finishing touches to our forthcoming upgrade). And thanks, of course, to all the good musicians for making good music, and the good PRs for making it easier for us to write about it.

And to you, whoever you are. You’ve got excellent taste.

Kier Wiater Carnihan

The-Monitors’ Fifty Favourite Albums of 2013

Alex Calder – Time EP (and Mold Boy – Memory Reserve) Captured Tracks / Self-Released

Mac DeMarco may have been the one to break through this year, but his former bandmate Alex Calder impressed us even more, either under his own name or his Mold Boy alter ego. Here’s what we said about the former (and you can listen to the latter here):

“The key, whether you’re recording in Abbey Road or onto a sheet of soot-coated paper, is the quality of the music. This is why Alex Calder‘s “Time” EP stands out so vibrantly amid a sea of similar-sounding toss. Whereas others use a lo-fi asthetic to disguise the flaws in their songwriting, Calder employs home-recorded warmth to enhance what are already fantastic songs. Reverb is used to make things sound deeper rather than just bigger, semi-intelligible vocals conjur mystery rather than mumblewank, and instruments are subtly detuned to create a specific atmosphere rather than just out of fecklessness.”
Kier Wiater Carnihan

AlunaGeorge – Body Music Island

“So where do AlunaGeorge go from here? There’s already been some cruel Twitter-sniping over the fact they’re playing a showcase at Westfield shopping centre, and it seems like after two years of hype many people are quite keen for them to fail. It’s hard to imagine why. While Body Music may not quite manage to satisfy the thirst that has demanded slaking for some time, it’s still about as good as pop music gets. And you know what? The fact that they seem uncomfortable with the attention is kind of refreshing. They should get used to it, because for the most part they actually deserve it.”

Anna Calvi – One Breath Domino

“In many ways, One Breath is just as impassioned as its predecessor. Yet it makes for a more rounded experience, perhaps because it paints from a more assured and increasingly varied emotional palette. Her two most obvious weapons, the booming voice and virtuoso musicianship, are only drawn when required. There’s no unnecessary showboating or vocal gymnastics, nor any overt processing or effects. Everything is done purely for sonic effect, and generally it’s done very well.”

Arctic Monkeys – AM Domino

“I’d go so far as to say AM is the best Arctic Monkeys record to date. Solid songs, a la ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’, mixed with more interesting musical influences passed to them from the hip-hop community and the desert rockers. It may be about the excesses of being in a global band, but fourteen-year-olds in Doncaster will still be able to relate to it in parts. Most of all, at its peak are some of the most honestly fun tracks of the year. And in a world where London Grammar is considered an exciting listening, it’s less ‘Who The F*** Are The Arctic Monkeys’ nowadays, and more like thank fuck.”
Nicholas Burman

Bill Callahan – Dream River Drag City

“I have always enjoyed his knack for laying down allegory as naked as can be, ‘Too Many Birds’ coming to mind, or perhaps ‘Rock Bottom Riser’, whilst also retaining the power to pull an imagination deep into the landscape and imagery of the narrative. On this record he seems to achieve this in a more profound way, whilst also being more subtle in both disciplines. For this reason, and for the sumptuous and ever-unfurling depth of the production, ‘Dream River’ is drawing me back again and again, with increasing wonder and curiosity.”
David Morris

Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest Warp

“The hype that preceded ‘Tomorrow’s Harvest’ had many fans salivating like kids being driven to a theme park. For some, finally hearing the album was a bit like arriving only to find the theme park had actually closed years ago and was now lying in ruins. But ruined theme parks can be all more magical for their dereliction. It may still just sound like a Boards of Canada album -but since when is that a bad thing?”

Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty Sargent House

“While the title of Pain is Beauty may feel like it’s been lifted from the margins of a teenage emo’s schoolbook, you have to say it rings true here. Wolfe’s music may stem from pain, but it is also frequently beautiful. Trying to explain the concept of the album, Wolfe told Fader: “When you think about forest fires and things like that, it seems like such a terrible thing and it’s so harsh, but it really makes new room for growth to happen”. While we don’t endorse tossing lit matches into piles of dry pine needles, we do endorse this album. Stick it on, and let it burn away the detritus in your heart.”

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light Constellation

“The avant-garde, like a coastal Devonshire town that’s all cream teas on one side and cheap heroin on the other, can be enjoyable to visit but not necessarily somewhere you want to stay (you can reverse the tea and heroin in that sentence depending on your preference). I enjoy a bit of Albert Ayler or Meredith Monk as much as the next man, but the emphasis is on ‘a bit’ – more than an album at a time and my brain starts foaming. So it’s a testament to the unrelenting quality of Colin Stetson’s third solo album that I’ve pretty much been listening to it on repeat for a week. Any periodic breaks have only occurred because it’s such an emotionally loaded piece of work, with an overdose potentially making you feel like you’ve swallowed a funeral.”

To read our interview with Colin Stetson, click here.

Daniel Avery – Drone Logic Phantasy

“Daniel Avery’s progressive and harmonic tendencies have seen comparisons to James Holden, Jon Hopkins and Four Tet, but really he’s more likely to emerge as this generation’s Chemical Brothers, with music that makes sense at clubs, on festival stages, and in some bloke’s kitchen at 2am over a crate of lager and some cheap MDMA. Also, much like Rowlands and Simons, he’s very much concerned with making a proper album rather than a loose-fitting compilation of 12”s.”

Darkside – Psychic Other People / Matador

“For progressive young musicians like 23 year old Nicolas Jaar, the sixties era may not hold much sway on the kind of music they’re making. Yes, he utilises elements of psychedelia (particularly in his latest project with Dave Harrington, Darkside, which he’s described as like “a cross between Plastikman and Can”), but in ways that are fresh and innovative, maybe even slick.”
Sophia Satchell-Baeza

Dean Blunt – The Redeemer Hippos in Tanks

Undoubtedly the most cohesive solo record he’s released since Hype Williams went on hiatus, this may be simply the best record he’s had a part in, period. His surprisingly untreated voice documents a crushing break-up, with the clarity of the former and the candidness of the latter combining to make a sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes heartbreaking whole. Sweeping, cinematic songs like ‘Papi’ are among the best we’ve heard all year.

Drenge – Drenge Infectious

Drenge are two brothers from the Lake District, combining Jack White’s sense of songwriting simplicity with grunge’s sense of doom and gloom. “Drag me round the yard until I’m brittle / Clip my anus, slap me round a little,” Eoin Loveless states on highlight ‘Nothing’, in the same way someone might ask you for a cup of tea. From the the sloganeering ‘People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck’ through the romantic apocalypse of ‘Bloodsports’, to closer ‘Fuckabout’ (“I live in a paradise / It’s not home but I guess it’s alright”), it’s one of the most consistent debuts from a UK band in recent times. Summing up the anger, sexual frustration, acne, blood and sweat which bands of similar ages manage to forget so easily.

Earl Sweatshirt – Doris Tan Cressida / Columbia

Earl Sweatshirt released this through his own label (via Columbia) rather than Odd Future Records, and while a string of his OFWGK†Δ cohorts crop up on Doris, it still seems symbolic of a slight shift away from his past – in quality if nothing else. It’s not only the best Odd Future-related record to date, and significantly deeper, denser and more diverse than his debut, but one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.

E.M.M.A – Blue Gardens Keysound

“E.M.M.A, if you’ve not heard of her, is one of seminal London bass imprint Keysound‘s newest acquisitions, joining artists like Sully, LHF and label owners Dusk & Blackdown. In other words, she’s right where she should be: on the lips of people who know what they’re talking about. Her tunes hit a happy medium between knowing 130 bpm, post-dubstep, funky, and club thumpers, forcing rainbows down your earholes while making your heart pound like you’ve just stepped off that terrifying rust-bucket of a rollercoaster on Coney Island.”
Kate Molins

Fat White Family – Champagne Holocaust Trashmouth

When Fat White Family headed our halfway chart earlier this year, they still felt a little like an unknown quantity, a violent chemical reaction that was just starting to smoulder. Someone must have dropped one hell of a catalyst into the mix, because now they find themselves in The Guardian, on NME tours and, perhaps the best indication of success, beginning to inspire a minor backlash (see if you can spot the pithy snoot being cocked by Vice in this year’s satirical end of year countdown).

Yet all this is superfluous. As any of the lucky bastards who made their 100 Club gig this month will know, the Fat Whites are an unparalleled live attraction right now, and the fact their debut album manages to match their gigs shows there’s untold substance beneath their sneering, sweaty style. From start to finish (we’ll excuse the tiresome ‘Who Shot Lee Oswald’), it’s a sexy, razor-bladed belter that humps its competitors before setting them on fire, then removes its pustulating penis and extinguishes it with a volley of piss.

Faux Fur – Faux Fur (Self-released)

“Frankly, Calgary’s Faux Fur have no business belting out an album like this when they’re not all even old enough to buy booze. Their mentors, Women, were tragically cut off in their prime, having given glimpses of astonishing potential. That Faux Fur are already showing that potential now is frightening. And fantastic. The energetic tension of their music is so invigorating that a few minutes in its company can take years off even the most jaded listener.”

FIDLAR – FIDLAR Mom & Pop Music

“This LA punk four piece have more abandon than the final scene of Thelma & Louise and are more fun than a night on cheap tequila, though give you the same results: bruises, headaches and lots of memories you’d rather forget. The closest you’ll get to being an angsty, cider-swigging teenager again all year, in the best way possible.”

Ghostpoet – Some Say I So I Say Light Play It Again Sam

“Ghostpoet generally bristles when he’s described as a rapper, and with good reason. While it would be ludicrous to ignore the influence of hip-hop, his sound sucks in influences from a far wider spectrum of sources. His new album, which is the recipient of a rich layer of studio lacquer in comparison to the “shitty home production” of his debut, makes him even harder to categorise. There are barely any hip-hop beats here, but you can hear everything from Joy Division to Burial across its 11 tracks, which display an attention to detail that indicates many red-eyed nights behind a mixing desk, tweaking tracks and tweaking out.”

Grouper – The Man Who Died in his Boat Kranky

Y’know what I treasure most about Grouper, aka Liz Harris? It’s her effortless ability to conjure startling, vivid images with her music, song titles and artwork. Case in point, the title of this record, ‘The Man Who Died in His Boat’, referencing a moment from her childhood where she and her father came upon an empty boat that drifted to shore after the person in it disappeared. The unmistakable music Harris harnesses stemmed from this idea and feeling, and is filled with confused wonder and utter dread in the attempt to try to understand and articulate these emotions. She manages to convey it absolutely perfectly.
Amadeep Chana

Holden – The Inheritors Border Community

Techno ingenue James Holden shows a route out of the industrial dank that has been dominating electronic music this year towards a wooded glade wherein the spirits of Juan Atkins and Amon Duul are engaged in an agrarian hoedown. One of the best tributes you could pay this album is that it never at any point sounds like an ‘electronic’ record – it just sounds like music. Extremely good music.
Mat Colegate

Hookworms – Pearl Mystic Gringo Records

Gringo Records is probably the most consistent DIY label in the country. After last year’s ‘Persistent Malaise’ by Cold Pumas providing one of 2012’s highlights, it was Hookworms’ turn to be the spotlight group for the Nottingham based collective in 2013. With their energetic and furious-sounding live shows and frontman / Leeds-based producer MJ’s opinionated Twitter feed both becoming something of a must-see for the UK grass roots music community, it will be the album that’ll see them stand the test of time, a combination of XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream and LSD psych-outs.

Huerco S. – Colonial Patterns Software Records

“Colonial Patterns tirelessly circles your ears in a way that feels like it could turn itself inside out at any moment, smothering you with smudged sounds that seem muffled, grazed and glittering in turn. From a distance you can make out the jagged borders of Actress, but whereas the British producer’s albums tend to be lopsided, stuffed with disintegrating fragments, Leeds allows his elements room to breathet. A stated love of legendary dub techno producers Basic Channel also makes sense, while it’s no surprise to learn he’s on the label of Daniel ‘Oneohtrix Point Never‘ Lopatin either.”

Jacob 2-2 – Herbivore King Deluxe

“Herbivore is an album packed with surprises, like squeezing a tube of toothpaste and a bunch of neon rainbows flying out. Com Truise, a producer whose music also manages to be refined and restless simultaneously, has heaped praise upon Jacob 2-2′s “perfect sound design”, conjuring “visions of a video age slowly melting in the sky”. High praise, and hard to argue with. If Herbivore is the product of its creator trying to channel the thoughts of a child locked up with nothing but toys and televisions, then it makes you wonder what would happen if he was locked away himself with some synths, a laptop and the world’s biggest collection of vintage sci-fi. Anyone own a dungeon in Brooklyn? Asking for a friend…”

Jeremiah Jae & Oliver the 2nd – Rawhyde Black Jungle Squad X Yellowmask

Jeremiah Jae could’ve had three or four albums in this list (with his Bad Jokes mixtape for Warp being particularly delectable), but this collaboration with Oliver the 2nd is the finest of his many releases this year. Despite the Wild West theme, it’s not all ricochets and spaghetti western samples. ”Pistols’ has more of a hard-boiled noir vibe, ‘Blood Money’ is all wonky psychedelia and the brutal ‘Get Off The Horse’ makes for an epic battle scene in any genre. Perhaps best of all is the gloriously woozy ‘Billy Kid’, one of the few hip-hop tracks to reference Percocet, molly and purple drank that actually sounds like it was created by someone mashed up on all three.”

Jon Hopkins – Immunity Domino

“Classically trained yet obsessed with synths and electronics from a young age, ‘Immunity’ combines Hopkins’ two obsessions with a clinical yet charming dexterity, like an amiable surgeon cheerfully humming to himself as he removes a particularly hermetical brain tumour. Hopkins records anything from dripping taps to reversing lorries for his tracks, but his musique concrète tendencies are always used to serve rather than distract. While some of the harder and more complex beats might put off fans of his more pedestrian earlier work, most will be left with their jaws swinging in the breeze at the sheer progression of it.”

Juana Molina – Wed 21 Crammed Discs

As Neil Kulkarni wrote in his Quietus review, “any album Juana Molina drops is going to be my album of the year”. Indeed, the only criticism you could have of this one is that it took so bloody long to arrive. While she fiddled with her usual techniques and templates while recording Wed 21 in order to wriggle free from her more loop-centric traits (as explained in our forthcoming interview with the Argentine maestro), the end result remains unmistakable, vintage Molina. A total treasure.

The Knife – Shaking the Habitual Rabid

The surprise with The Knife’s latest album is not its length, nor even the roving spirit encapsulated within. It’s the constant sense of reinvention and the liberating sensation that even the artists involved in the making of the album don’t know where it’s gonna go. How many albums can you say that about this year?

As aggressive, threatening and bloated as a fat drunk starting a fight with you at a disco. But in a good way.
Alex Allsworth

Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze Matador

“Anyone unfamiliar with Kurt Vile would be forgiven for expecting him to be some sort of snotty punk upstart, perhaps playing alongside Bertolt Brat, Perving Berlin and Cole Aborter. Yet, almost unbelievably, it turns out to be his real name. And for those who believe in pre-nominative determinism there’s only scant satisfaction; Vile is no agit-thrash three chord wonder, but a purveyor of warm, inviting Americana that’s more likely to offer you a glass of lemonade and a stick of homegrown grass than spit in your face and shove sulphate up your hooter.”

The Last Skeptik – Thanks for Trying BBE Records

The mysterious, sometimes bearded hip-hop connoisseur has gathered some great musicians to create a brilliantly eclectic album ranging from authentic funk to filthy beats. Following in label BBE’s footsteps of releasing instrumental-led hip-hop albums from J Dilla, Pete Rock &, Skeptik put out “Thanks For Trying” in May, although we’d personally like to thank him for succeeding.
Dan Garber

>Lorde – Pure Heroine Universal

On it’s own, debut single release ‘Tennis Court’ seemed like minimalism for the sake of it, yawn-y hipster nonsense. With the release of the full record the whole thing started making sense. While I’m adament ‘Tennis Court’ is still pretty pants, across Pure Heroine there are moments of proper pop goodness. ‘Royals’, with its subtle allure of “let me be your ruler / you can call me Queen Bee / Let me live that fantasy”, is followed up with the childhood innocence of ‘Ribs’, while ‘Buzzcut Season’ is a more lyrically psychedelic take on teen romance. While the careers of headache-inducing Lady Gaga, sell-out mastermind Jay-Z and the totally inane Miley Cyrus continue to splutter on, Lorde’s ability to create a bit of space in the mainstream is refreshing and promises that not all is doomed.

L. Pierre – The Island Come True Melodic

“The album is awash with Hauntological samples: ice cream vans, fractured radio adverts, Calpol-tinged gibberish and, on ‘Drums’, the kind of scattershot, abstract track that Broadcast used to put on their albums to stop you from getting too comfortable. The overall effect is entrancing and affecting where previous L. Pierre albums were simply lush and pretty. Yes they had an emotional impact too, but they never reached quite as deeply. With ‘The Island Come True’, it feels like Moffat’s L. Pierre alter ego has finally come true too.”

Marnie Stern – The Chronicles of Marnia Kill Rock Stars

Because Marnie Stern could probably drop a guitar and make it the most interesting piece of guitar music you’ll hear all year.

Maston – Shadows Trouble In Mind

“Frank Maston composed, played, recorded and engineered his debut album, Shadows, entirely on his own this year. Which might not sound especially impressive – there are many other musicians who do the same after all – until you hear the record. This is no low-key, acoustic guitar whine-a-thon made by some sad sack in a cabin. No, Shadows is a multi-instrumental masterpiece where everything from trombone and clarinet to trumpet and tuned percussion are utilised to serve Mr. Maston’s Morricone-esque vision.”

Read our interview with Frank Maston here.

Matmos – The Marriage of True Minds Thrill Jockey

It’s strange that their most esoteric album brief yet (textual ‘scores’ created from the notes of participants in an experiment attempting to interpret a telepathic signal of ‘the concept of a new Matmos album’) has actually resulted in their most accessible, danceable and enjoyable album in years. The abrasive moments most people fear are few and far between, and delicately judged, but their mastery of tonal shifts for emotional effect is on display throughout. ‘Teen Paranormal Romance’ remains one of the most subliminally sublime grooves I’ve ever heard. The ridiculous Buzzcocks cover potentially breaks the mood, but also provides a pretty blinding reminder that Matmos are the playful face of weird theoretical musical conceit.

Melt Yourself Down – Melt Yourself Down Leaf

Fast, funky, colourful, psychedelic, baffling and 100% enjoyable, this was not only one of the most essential albums of the year but also provided some of the best live performances in support of it, too. While not suitable for every occasion, when your Friday night is needing a bit of rise in spirits, MYD is an essential for the jukebox.

“This is World Music not in the “it sounds a bit foreign so just shove it in there” sense, but because it sounds like everyone in the entire world playing at once. There will not be a more energetic record released this year – just a few minutes in and you half expect your speakers to start dripping sweat.”

Mickey Gloss – Astral Projections for the Kinetically Deranged Self-Released

“The first ever Monitors album premiere was initially going to be Arcade Fire’s Reflektor album, but quite frankly its bloated double-disc format was not only a struggle to make it through in one sitting, but also for our servers to upload. Luckily, the day before we were due to announce it to the world, the debut album from rambunctious London three-piece Mickey Gloss landed in our inbox like a friendly mailbomb. Streamlined, scattershot and passionately punchy, it had a hell of a lot going for it also boasted a complete lack of superfluous appearances from David Bowie and Jonathan Ross.”

Read our interview with Mickey Gloss and listen to the album here.

Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth Warp

“Post-dubstep always seemed like a slightly disposable term, saved only by the fact that the music being made by Mount Kimbie and their peers often wasn’t disposable in the slightest. Yet the music Maker and Campos are now making is so much deeper, fuller and richer (perhaps the result of it being professionally mixed this time around) that the genre they helped define is no longer a satisfying description of their sound. And no one wants to coin the phrase ‘post-post-dubstep’.”

Read our interview with Mount Kimbie here.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me 4AD

While it’s clear The National are looking to make a claim in the part of the musical landscape which might lead some people to whisper things such as “Snow Patrol” or “Coldplay”, it’s still obvious to anyone with ears that the Cincinnati group’s ability to heighten emotional states (and Matt Berninger’s ability to cut hearts with his lyrics) keeps them way above the melee of gooey soft rock.

Oliver Wilde – A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears Howling Owl

“I’m not normally one for things that sound like they could soundtrack my slip into the abyss, but with the heart and soul which manages to radiate from such a considered record like this I’m nearly ready to jump. Howling Owl seems to have just got a breakthrough act, Bristol just got its new poster boy and the rest of us just got one the most rewarding albums of the year.”

Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven Warp

“There’s no need for electronic music to reference humanity: that often seems to be the point of it, to escape peopleness. But an unsettling subhuman vibe runs throughout this record, revealing itself in scraps of surgically sliced samples thrown into a yawning maw of rumbling depth. What makes R Plus Seven so creepy and poignant is that Lopatin deliberately dips you into humanlike sounds; you’re constantly unsure whether you’re hearing real voices or digital interpretations.”
Amris Kaur

Pinkunoizu – The Drop Full Time Hobby

“The Drop is a tumult of textures, drifting and shifting from one to the next. The band sound like they should be described using all of the prefixes anyone has ever applied to the word rock. They are post-groove-synth-psych-acid-yacht-surf-prog-kraut. So many prefixes that I think they’ve almost left the rock itself behind.”

PVT – Homosapien Felte

“PVT seem determined to be more accessible than ever. ‘Evolution’ is their most successful attempt at a conventional ‘pop’ song yet, a catchy retro-futurist number that utilises some ace electronic percussion and builds to a great whorling crecendo. ‘Electric’, meanwhile, is a slightly camp Kratfwerk-meets-Bauhaus number which employs a rumbling John Carpenter-esque bassline and some typically excellent drumming.”

Pusha T – My Name is My Name GOOD Music / Def Jam

Terrence ‘Pusha T’ Thornton’s debut solo album was so good it even managed to eclipse (hoho!) much of his previous work as half of Clipse. Perhaps even more impressively, it’s also a better album than the one put out this year by one of its producers, a certain Mr. Kanye West. Featuring one of the rap singles of the year (‘Numbers on the Boards’), even a guest appearance from Chris Brown couldn’t stink the place out.

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork Matador

While a new QOTSA album was never likely to reach the heights of their first three albums, the latest record from Josh Homme and the boys managed to do something almost as impressive by dissolving memories of the ropier records they’ve released since. Singles like ‘My God Is The Sun’ showed them back on blistering, ball-swinging form, but even the piano-centric numbers, which sounded worrying on paper, didn’t drag.

Savages – Silence Yourself Matador

“Silence Yourself manages to take their proto- and post-punk and goth influences (Black Sabbath, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus, Patti Smith) and put them into a neat forty-minute album that rattles, shakes, booms and pounds its way through your stereo. They’re not original ideas by any means, but the way Savages re-attribute the messages of self-reliance, independence and aggression in a music scene saturated with primary-coloured, meekly safe, semi-pop tones is much welcome in my book.”

Shopping – Consumer Complaints Milk Records

“An East London three-piece heavily associated with the vibrant sweatbox that is Power Lunches on Kingsland Road, Shopping channel the snappy spirit of bands like Delta 5, Mo-Dettes and, appropriately, The Shop Assistants, taking the post-punk ball and gleefully punting it over the garden fence. While some might turn their noses up at Shopping for refusing to push their trolley any further than aisles ’78 to ’83, my counter-argument would be that those shelves haven’t been looted or plundered nearly enough.”

Teeth of the Sea – Master Rocket

“A mind-blowing mixture of pounding rhythms, space-age synths and twisted textures that’s like all the cool videos your older brother wouldn’t lend you as a kid, melted down and poured into your ears. Seriously, you need this record like you need us not to come round and slap your face until you see sense.”

Read our Teeth of the Sea tour diary here.

Thundercat – Apocalypse Brainfeeder

“Apocalypse was recorded after the death of Bruner’s close friend, collaborator and Brainfeeder cohort Austin Peralta last year, and Peralta’s passing casts a moving shadow over what is otherwise an album teeming with vivacity. Indeed, Bruner himself has admitted he struggles to listen to ‘Apocalypse’, such is the emotional weight it’s tethered to. Yet while knowing its background provides context to the album, not least the epic closing eulogy, it doesn’t feel like a mournful record.”

TRAAMS – Grin Fat Cat

“Closing track ‘Klaus’ shows they’re more than just a good-times mosh bomb awaiting detonation. The appearance of a motorik beat is no surprise considering the title, but this is more Kraut-surf than Krautrock, occupying a channel you can imagine Crocodiles happily swimming in. Whereas most of their songs are cut sharply into bite-size chunks, this is like swallowing a six-foot eel – and it slips down a treat.”

Trentemøller – Lost In My Room

“Stylistically elusive and technically diverse, Trentemøller seems to revel in keeping critics and listeners guessing from one release to the next. The creator of music that is the perfect soundtrack to a documentary about a vast, dark alternative dimension, Lost plants one foot in indie rock territory and features an impressive array of guest vocalists, from Low’s Mimi Parker to Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino”.

Read our interview with Anders Trentemøller here.

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