Archive for June, 2013

2013 Mid-Year Best Albums

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We began the year in usual ranting mode against the lack of any exciting new propositions, with the returns of My Bloody Valentine; David Bowie; Yo La Tengo or Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds being the standout records of the first few weeks. The lack of quality work from newer artists made us think that we should be bracing for a long and stagnated twelve months in popular music, plagued by the feelings of nostalgia, opportunistic reunions and overall déja-vú. Luckily it didn’t take long for us to be proven wrong.

Artist such as James Blake; Vampire Weekend; Thundercat; Mikal Cronin or Phosphorescent reached new heights in their still young careers; whereas strong debuts by hip-hop star A$ap Rocky; UK abrassive post-punk revivalist Savages or US punksters Parquet Courts proved that fresh talent was not going to be in short supply.

More surprising and long-awaited returns by the likes of Kanye West with his fiercely raw and controverisal ‘Yeezus’; Boards Of Canada and Daft Punk, both rebelling against the current trend transforming electronic music into the much maligned EDM; the former by ignoring any advance in sound since they stopped for a long hiatus and the latter by revisiting the golden era of late 70s FM radio in the States, yatch rock included.

Elsewhere, John Grant; Patty Griffin and Laura Marling stood up among songwriters with their respective very personal records. The Knife; The Haxan Cloak and even The Flaming Lips offered some of the biggest experimental challenges of the year. Avant-jazz was alive and kicking with Colin Stetson and Melt Yourself Down; Deafheaven kept expanding metal boundaries and in the realms of world music Tuareg guitar player Bombino produced by The Black Keys and A Hawk And A Hacksaw, digging in the sources of Balcanic music kept on blending, tradition and more contemporary flavours.

They’ve all shaped a more than reasonably exciting first half of 2013 and left us wondering if the second half is going to remain at this level. With new albums by Janelle Monáe; Fuck Buttons; Julia Holter; Jay-Z; Neko Case or MGMT in the pipeline, we may be heading for one of the best music harvest in recent memory.

In the meantime, here’s our Top 50 favourite albums of the year so far: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Invasion Of The Norwegian Singers

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Recorded live and released without much fanfare through her own label, Norwegian chanteause Susanna‘s joint effort with fellow vocalists Sire Nielsel & Susanne Sundfør,’Death Hanging’, has impressed us with the trio’s folk-infused haunting harmonies, reaching the top of our loop.

Another standout from Kanye West‘s much divisive ‘Yeezus’ is the weeks highest debut, next to brand new offerings by the likes of M.I.A.; Mala Rodriguez; Califone and Schoolboy Q with a little help from Kendrick Lamar .

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Kanye West Enslaves The Loop

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Just when the internet is burning with the divisive first impressions to his ‘Yeezus’, our loop surrenders to Kanye West and one of his new album’s standout moments, ‘New Slaves’, featuring the very processed vocals of Frank Ocean. West has just surprised the world with his fiercest collection to date, half of it easily fits among the most impressive of his work, the second half feels less successful.

The other attention grabbing album of the moment, Boards Of Canada‘s triumphant comeback, gives us the highest entry. The Scottish electronic duo is in the company of new offerings by Goat; Todd Terje; Neko Case Feat. M. Ward and the surprise collaboration between Brit faves Toy and Bat For Lashes .

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The Weeknd Takes Us To Kiss Land

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Canadian alt-R&B icon The Weekend returns to top the loop with new single ‘Kiss Land’. The title track to his new album, which follows the successful mixtape trilogy that turned him into one of the most acclaimed artist of recent times.

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Daft Punk Teams Up With Panda Bear In Album Standout

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Our favourite moment off Daft Punk‘s world conquering new album, in which the popular Gallic robots team up with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear for the irresistible ‘Doin’ It Right’, takes over the honour position this week.

Kanye West‘s first taster from his new work is the highest debut, next to brand new tracks by the likes of Neon Neon; Chvrches; Disclosure and the reunion of Goodie Mob helped by the always lively presence of Janelle Monáe.

Check this week’s edition here. Read the rest of this entry »

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