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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Album Review: Future of the Left-How to Stop Your Brain In An Accident

ImageFuture of the Left are the kind of band that both crush your mind like a trash compactor, and make you a smarter person for it. Listening to Falco’s lyrics is like reading poetry from an anarchist Shakespeare, or Jim Goad. It’s offensive, obtuse and in case you didn’t get it the first time,really fucking offensive. But at the same time, one feels like they are compelled to agree with Falco, maybe through sheer charisma, maybe through the black comedy, maybe because he’s actually right about all the stuff that he talks about. And he does talk about a lot. In ‘How to Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ alone, Future of the Left take aim at religion, capitalism, record company greed, contemporary culture, superficiality, big business, sexuality, the traditional male stereotype….the list goes on. For some, it might seem like an exhausting task to write down even a few of the things that piss you off, but for Future of the Left, it’s just business as usual. And in case there wasn’t enough irony already, Future of the Left are really fucking good at business.

‘How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ is easily Future of the Left’s best record, and that is quite an accomplishment. For a band renowned for creating some of the most ear-shredding material available to man, to go from blistering track to blistering track, and still retain a genuinely diverse sound, Future of the Left surely have outdone themselves. Songs on the record exchange moments like Justin Timberlake exchanges blowjobs for singles, switching from the bitter, to the cynical, to the forlorn and enraged. Moving between tracks feels like falling down a giant funnel, going from a wide open idea previously, and suddenly being shoved through a tight, compressed space that you have to get used to all over again. It’s a disconcerting experience, but it’s unique and unconventional, something Future of the Left have always been, but never to this degree of power.

The first four songs of this album are better than any pop-punk band with a number tacked onto the end of their name could wet-dream of. Individually, these songs are bombastic, but together, they form a bond more powerful than the kids in Captain Planet. ‘Bread, Cheese, Bow & Arrow’ makes like Satan gargling rocks, a determinedly evil song that combines a stop-start belting with Falco’s vocal switching between Hannibal-the-Cannibal-pyschoanalysis and the grunt of a serial killer before he brings an axe down on your head. The follow-up ‘Johhny Borrell Afterlife’ is a thinly-veiled tearing apart of Johnny Borrell and his big head (literally), the frontman from Razorlight who sold an astonishing 594 copies of his debut solo record. However, the song also stands for all the bullshit, private school self-indulgence that most have come to observe as one of the most disdainful things in the universe. ‘Future Child Embarrassment Matrix’ announces itself with little subtlety, a maelstrom of instruments and the screaming of ‘Her cock is so hard! Her aim is true! I hear that when she comes, she comes enough for two!’. Now that, that’s fucking poetry. Oscar Wilde would probably stop his post-death gay orgy to shed a tear or two. The fourth and final song to make your head dissipate all the shit it’s been fed as of late is ‘The Male Gaze’, a song that shifts from Future of the Left beating the listener to an enjoyable death, to a slightly less bash-worthy track. There’s still the intensity there of staring down Mike Tyson from a distance of five metres, but there’s a little less anger, even a couple ooo’s in there. Don’t be confused and think this is a doo-woop, because there’s still a hefty criticism of the traditional male form, but it was nice of the band to slow down the onslaught for just a second right?

Although the first four tracks are on the same level of awesome as having Sid Vicious resurrected for a day and watching him indulge in all the new drugs that have been invented since the 80’s, the shining moment comes in the form of a monologue. Yes, a monologue, like the one’s in plays n shit, but this isn’t your average high school production. And if it was, I would pay endless amounts of money to gain access to such a play. ‘Singing of the Bonesaws’ is  a vicious, cut-throat dissection of popular culture and the music industry, and its a no holds barred cage match of the most brutal proportions. All kinds of weird and fucked up metaphors are put on display here, but hands down the favourite is MTV’s newest show, which is Kim Kardashian being chased by a bear that…I don’t want to ruin it for you, because the execution of it is too awesome, but let’s just say everyone dies a very graphic death.

Hopefully, the scope of how fucking great of an album Future of the Left have made is coming to fruition in your mind, as the rest of the album progresses in the unhinged manner so sophisticatedly barbaric. I won’t go into it, but every song is as demonic and curse’d to fuck with your conception of normality as the previous tracks I have described. ‘How to Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ is the best Future of the Left album because it never slows, never apologises and never regrets a single thing it does, no matter how gruesome, disgusting and politically incorrect one can get. For those that think Arcade Fire deserve to be ruined by hellfire every time they play, and have the smell of shit poison their nostrils every time they speak, this album is for you.

‘How to Stop Your Brain In An Accident’ will be available on October 25th, through Remote Control and Prescriptions Music, the band’s own label.

New: Future of the Left-Bread, Cheese, Bow and Arrow

https://soundcloud.com/prescriptions-music/mastered

This song is so fucking awesome, holy shit it’s like doing coke off the butthole off a raging bull. It bucks and kicks, a torrent of guitar squall intermittently punching you in the gut whilst the glorious Falko screams the undoings of society. Fuck, this song is just a compressed rocket ship of power. Listening to this song is similar to showering in lasers. Future of the Left fucking rule.