Top 10 International Albums of 2013

 

Yes, it has come that time of year where every website dedicated to some form of culture has a round up of all the good shit of the year. Well, because I’m susceptible to trends, I’ve decided to weigh in as well. With the power of hindsight, I’m going to give my Top 10 records of the year, from overseas. Now, believe me, that’s a hard fucking job, more of a curse. There’s been some great records, some average records (Black Angels, Mudhoney, The Strokes) and some very disappointing records (Arctic Monkeys, Sebadoh, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). And now comes the time to rank them.

Special mentions to the records that were awesome but not super, amazing awesome: Ty Segall, FUZZ, Diarrhea Planet, Death Grips, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, My Bloody Valentine, Deerhunter, Mikal Cronin, Majical Cloudz.

ALSO: Parquet Courts would have most definitely been included in here, but although it was released locally this year, it was officially released last year.

SUPER SPECIAL ULTRA BONUS METAL INCLUSION: Kvelertak-Meir: 

Kvelertak wouldn’t really fit in anywhere else on the list, but their sophomore record ‘Meir’ needed to be included. Just super thrashy, fucking mental to the bone, and more hair-raising than an orgy with horror movie characters, ‘Meir’ is one hell of a record. Kvelertak certainly do justice to their Norwegian metal roots and blast our minds out of our skull on this record.

10. Thee Oh Sees-Floating Coffin

Sure, Thee Oh Sees didn’t do anything super different on their latest album. There wasn’t the psychedelic smorgasbord of ‘Warm Slime’ or the freaky ecstasy of ‘Help’. But ‘Floating Coffin’ certainly ticked all the boxes for a diverse and entertaining listen. Really, John Dwyer can’t do anything wrong when it comes to music, and ‘Floating Coffin’ is evidence of that.

9. Deerhunter-Monomania

Deerhunter make nocturnal-pop music, light enough to chat along to, but dark enough to put you in an existential mood if you listen hard enough. Shrouded in voodoo and jangly guitars, ‘Monomania’ is absolutely fucking awesome to listen to, and will probably never cease to be. Who knows what was happening to Bradford Cox when he was making this album, but his pain has become our pleasure. How very schadenfreude.

8. Savages-Silence Yourself

Not since The Slits has there been such a ferocious, dedicated and focused female-led band. Yes, I’m well aware of Sleater-Kinney and L7, and I do love both those bands. But Savages brought a rawness to their post-punk that is rarely seen in any music nowadays, let alone feminist affliction. The vicious and tantalising nature of every song on their debut record is refreshing and brutal, and I am fucking stoked to be able to see them next year at Laneway.

7. Wavves- Afraid of Heights

I was so excited for this album to come out, I actually counted down the days until it was out so that I could feverishly jam pack all the songs into my brain. I was so worried that the album wouldn’t be good, I actually lost sleep over it. Luckily, Wavves didn’t chuck a Rise Against, and made a fucking belter of an album right on the cusp of mainstream appeal. A complete distancing from their noise-rock roots and stoner fuzz, Wavves presented themselves with a new-grunge outlook. Angst-ridden and self-deprecating to the core, as well as being loaded to the brim with catchy as fuck tunes, ‘Afraid of Heights’ is definitely a worthy successor of 2010’s ‘King of the Beach’.

6. Washed Out-Paracosm

For 2013, Washed Out were my pick of the bunch of electro wonders (?) of the year. CHVRCHES? Shit. Disclosure? Pretty shit. Youth Lagoon? His new album is so terrible mediocre. And the rest aren’t really worth mentioning. But Washed Out added a whole new layer to chillwave, adding naturalistic textures to his already spread-eagled tunes. ‘Paracosm’ simply let itself flow, flow and flow some more, barely even trying to give the most relaxing sensations this side of ancient Nicaraguan healing medicine.

5. Bass Drum of Death-Bass Drum of Death

I never understood why bands self-title shit after their first EP or album, but as long as its Bass Drum of Death as opposed to Birds of Tokyo, I couldn’t really give a shit. This album encapsulates awesome rock n roll. Its a scuzz overload, way-over-the-top and totally brain dead. It sounds as though John Barrett went into the studio and created the most deranged but beautiful collection of tracks he could. That being said, the album is chock full of catchy tracks that will have you gleefully headbanging into the sunset, like some sort of leather-jacket snotty cowboy.

4. Kurt Vile-Walking on a Pretty Daze

If you’ve ever listened to Kurt Vile before, you’ll know that he exceeds the description of chilled. The guy is like the most relaxed person on the entire planet, a combination of Ghandi with Mathew McConaughey’s character from Dazed and Confused. On his latest record, which is more like a magnum opus, Vile stretches the limits of his imagination, nailing his forlorn sound and breaking hearts one bar at a time. Fuck, this is such a good record, and Vile doesn’t even have to try.

3. Future of the Left-How to Stop Your Brain in An Accident

Future of the Left and Falco are probably the last real ‘punk’ entities left on the globe. There is no other act with the political rigour and viciousness of this band. In every song on ‘How to Stop Your Brain in An Accident’, Future of the Left are committed to waging war against all factions of contemporary society, whether it be bullshit pop culture, religion, false idols or sexuality. This record will tear your fucking head off, shit in the bloody cavity that remains, and still call you a bitch for not moshing to its glorious tunes.

2. Fuck Buttons-Slow Focus

The double-LP extravaganza of Fuck Buttons’ third record is enough to floor the casual listener. If you walk into its abrasive trappings unprepared on a physical, mental, or existential level, this album will decapitate you and leave you for dead. However, for those that can handle the challenging nature of the tracks, oh, how you will reap its prosperous rewards. Every song swings into a new galaxy of sci-fi, tribal beatings, engaging every sense and making you a better person from it. ‘Slow Focus’ is just one fucking brain-basher of an album, in all the right ways.

1. FIDLAR-FIDLAR

My love affair with FIDLAR is an unhealthy one to say the least. Every time someone asks for an album recommendation, I claw their face, grapple their shoulders and scream, ‘FIDLAR! GET THE FIDLAR RECORD!’ until I can scream no more. Needless to say, I don’t have heaps of friends left. But that’s OK (?) because I have the FIDLAR record. Its a loose and reckless thing, the record that lurks at the back of the skate park, covered in tattoos, drinking something awful, and smoking a cigarette that doesn’t smell like a cigarette at all. The songs are full-paced, thrashing pieces of raw garage rock, inspired from everyone from Black Flag, to The Stooges, to Nirvana. This is a perfect album in every way, and will never die in the hearts of those that enjoy the best garage rock this globe has to offer.

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Video: Bright Young People-Liberties

The debut single from English band Bright Young People has raised the bar exponentially in terms of what the average music purchaser can expect from a debut single. ‘Liberties’ combines all the right types of shit to create the perfect rock n roll song. There’s the super old school Iggy Pop vibes coming through, before he got New Wave, and then there’s a wholesome, scuzzed out atmosphere that’s equal bits New York Dolls, Television, The Cramps and Wire. ‘Liberties’ drips with dancing potential, something that comes on, and instantly the whole room stoops into a weird, primal boogie. This song is totally engaged in being amazing.

P.S You know who’s a fan of Bright Young People? Motherfucking Ian McCulloch, from Echo & the Bunnymen. Let that sink in for a second, then go try and make a debut single that sounds half as good as this song.

Video: Dinosaur Pile-Up-Peninsula

For those that take a listen to this, and scoff to their horn-rimmed glasses hipster friends ‘Huh-what a middle of the road rock song’… go take the 10 foot long pole out of your arsehole, step away from your MacBook Air, and wake up to the fucking greatness of Dinosaur Pile-Up. They live up to their name, with a crushing addictive sound. The clip for ‘Peninsula’ is your average go-to tour clip that says ‘we party, but we also are really serious about our career’. But that can slide, because ‘Peninsula itself fucking rocks. It is really, really good, a rock song that the world needs. It’s been a couple months since there was a good rock song that could be played on the radio without one’s face exploding in disgust. But since ‘Peninsula’ came out, the average radio listener can think less about spontaneous combustion, and more about the fact that Dinosaur Pile-Up are a heapz dezent band.

Video: Savages-Husbands

I feel kind of awkward writing about Savages. They’re on of the most genuine female bands to exist since L7 and Sleater-Kinney, and I’m, well, a douchebag. However, they are too good to not share. True to their name, Savages play a brand of post-punk that scrapes into your conscious with alarming noise, announcing it’s arrival (and intention to infect your brain for as long as possible) with screeching guitars, banshee vocals and spine-tingling bass. The video for their latest single ‘Husbands’ is as attacking as anything on their jaw-droppingly amazing debut record. Black and white, with a big ol’ homage to Alfred ‘Master of the Thriller’ Hitchcock. Watching this video, it takes me back to being scared shitless during the original Willy Wonka, when the kids are going through the tunnel of horrors, and all those massive bugs freak them the fuck out. You’re guaranteed to have the same reaction of ‘I’m too young to be watching monsters attack me from a screen’ when watching the ‘Husbands’ clip.

You can thank Savages for the nightmares in person when they tour Laneway next year.

Album Review: Swim Deep-Where the Heaven Are We

ImageYou could call Swim Deep many things, most of them either to do with being British or being indie kids, mainly because you’re a bigot. However, one thing you couldn’t accuse the band of is lacking an original sound. Swim Deep have truly found their niche. Their sound is like a wholesome, clean, indie with elements of summer. HA! That sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Wrong! This shit may be cleaner than the sex record of a celibate, but its a damn addictive clean sound, something that I guarantee this record is going to be huge in the following months. Swim Deep are going to be the new Foster the People/Two Door Cinema Club/Passion Pit, only this time you’ll be able to listen to the record more than a couple times without getting sick of it.

‘King City’ perfectly exacts this sound. If it had been done by anyone else, it would’ve been shit. Oh my god, would it have been shit. The band pull out every cliche known to man on the track. Wispy ooo’s pollute/pull the chorus of ‘with the sun on my back, it’s a nice day/I will never choose any other way’, and it’s exactly the kind of thing on a One Direction song. BUT IT IS SO FUCKING GOOD! Like, really, really, Resident Evil level infectious. If this was a zombie, it’d be the king of the zombies. Fuck, if it was a scene from Star Wars, it’d be that bit from a New Hope, where the Stormtrooper is like ‘set it to stun’. Why? Because ‘King City’ is fucking stunning. Yeah, what’s up, I’m all about puns motherfucker.

This kind of infectious indie pop is what Swim Deep exceed at. Where logic says the song should fail oh-so-completely, Swim Deep manage to make it work above and beyond expectations. Check ‘Colour Your Ways’ or ‘The Sea’ for stellar proof. Those things are gems. They shine like a holy set of testicles, albeit radio-friendly testicles. When ‘The Sea’ comes on, all I can do is picture myself as a buxom blonde driving down a Californian highway in a red Corvette, hair blowing in the 90 mph wind, shades dangling, and Swim Deep cranked to a billion.

However, for all Swim Deep’s adept nature to transform pop, they can also get a bit low on the intrigue factor. When the band get too introspective, some of the best parts of their songs can get lost in the mix. ‘Red Lips I Know’ could’ve been the standout on the album if the band took a chance on bringing the guitars towards the front and letting loose, instead of holding that awesome riff so close to their chest. Same goes with ‘Honey’; although a wistful, closed eyes pash track, it could easily use a little more life, and it could be achieved if the bass was just a teensy bit more apparent. It sounds sick, but you have to strain to hear it.

Overall, Swim Deep came close, but didn’t quite knock it out of the ball park. Still, this is just the debut, and an enjoyable one at that; the promise and potential on here is astounding. To bring it to local terms, think of ‘Where the Heaven Are We’ as Ball Park Music’s debut: Really good, but with just a slight more professional tone, and a second shot, the band turn into national indie stalwarts on the sophomore. Really hope that’s the case with Swim Deep. Regardless, if Swim Deep come to Australia, I’m certain they’d have no trouble selling out a venue like The Metro, and ‘King City’ will be a ear-rupturing crowd pleaser.

Video: SPLASHH-Feels Like You

Looks like Tame Impala really stirred some shit. Now all the fucking pysch bands are coming out of the woodwork, and it could not have come at a better time. I don’t know why, but SPLASHH are just too cool, and give off some really friendly vibes that suck you in like octopus tentacles. Maybe it’s the extra H, maybe it’s the warped, distorted guitar wah-wah. Who knows? (it’s probably the pink elephant skateboarding in the video) But their shoegaze-y pysch is putting them at the front of London’s burgeoning new pysch scene.

Finite-Warhol’s Warning

Birmingham, England. A place that is famous for bands like The Beat, Editors and the holiest of holies, Led Zeppelin. However, there’s a band so new in Birmingham, they’ve only released one song. One fucking song! Why the fuck are they even being mentioned in passing? Is it really worth the gigabytes of data streamed through the internet (I don’t understand technology). Short answer, yes. Long answer, because Finite’s debut single ‘Warhol’s Warning’ is fucking good, unashamedly 90’s, and ripping with the ferocity of 10,000 Wildcats (not the animal, but the basketball team from High School Musical). It recalls the furious alarm of bands like At the Drive-In, debut album-Foo Fighters, and the more recent Home Town Hero. Drums pound with unheralded anger, spit flies from the vocals and the riffs are second to none, 90’s throwback wise. If you’re feeling nostalgic, or keen for some Brummie love, keep an eye on Finite. You can grab the single for free from their Bandcamp.