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: Washed Out-Paracosm

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I have a confession. It is really hard for me to say, for I am a proud man, and I do not like to admit when I am wrong. And not only does this confession wholly place me in the realm of wrong, but to use a pride analogy like a boss, my honour has been ripped from the status of Ancient Chinese Emperor to common Roman pleb. Here it goes: I didn’t like the first Washed Out album. Shocking, I know. But, in my defence, my 15 year old tastes were more suited to the likes of Metallica’s ‘St. Anger’ and Marilyn Manson’s ‘Antichrist Superstar’. Long live shitty metal amirite? Right? C’mon guys, Slipknot are still a relevant band! Guys?

However, I HAVE GROWN. My musical taste has expanded beyond Theory of a Deadman, A Day to Remember and Three Days Grace. I’m finally within my wits to accept the forthright genius of chillwave, and it’s youthful master Ernest Green aka Washed Out. And just in time for his second, absolutely delicious sophomore album ‘Paracosm’. (For anyone that gives a shit, the song that really got me into Washed Out was ‘New Theory’, off the ‘Life of Leisure’ EP. That song is straight godly)

Onwards, to victory! ‘Paracosm’ is a beautifully naturalistic album, full of the kinds of hidden wonders and green intricacies of the Amazonian rain forest. It contains plenty of fluid motion and washed gulping refreshment in every song that is plastered across it sweet nine tracks. The whole thing is like a strawberry-pineapple crossbred fruit-vibrant, a little unusual, and fucking delicious. ‘Paracosm’ is one of the best albums of recent hearing memory because it’s a psychedelic, chilled electronic mix that hits every point of awesome on the colour wheel of amazing. Blue, green, red, orange, yellow, pink, mothafuckin’ gamboge…everything is chucked in, mixed well and popped out to sound well beyond orgasmic.

Although not the standout on the record, lead single ‘It All Feels Right’ seems like where I should start when explaining the legendary-ness of ‘Paracosm’. After the godly opening of ‘Entrance’, the listener emerges from Disney’s Tiki Room, and immediately starts tip-toing across step-stones to a chocolate fountain. Sound wonderfully weird? It’s about to get weirder. Green’s voice hazes over the track as strings cascade like a goddamn champagne flute, little taps resounding over and over in the listener’s brain cells, forcing you to fall deeper and deeper in love with the sounds of chill wave. ‘It All Feels Right’ is legit the sound of a flower blossoming. But that’s not enough. Washed Out keeps you hooked, easily transitioning to the chilled-party-with-all-your-best-friends vibe of ‘Don’t Give Up’. Fucking glorious man. Washed Out is like the N.W.A of naturalistic post-dubstep dream electro. Juxtaposition, I KNOW, but what’s literature for if not to be broken. It’s what Ice Cube would have wanted.

The good times, classic hits don’t stop there. Groove into the luscious canopy of ‘All I Know’ to hang out with some pot-smoking folk-rave loving 80’s hippies, or dive into the cool lagoon of ‘Paracosm’ to hang out with mermaids and dolphins. Poseidon’s even at the party, playing the harp whilst simultaneously doing coke off a dugong’s phallus. It’s a sight to behold, but can only be accessed through ‘Paracosm’. And I’m not even touching upon the holy ground of ‘Falling Back’, which illustrates lucid dreaming via harmonious synth, pitter-patter percussion and angelic vocalisation. Holy shit, has a song ever made you cry before? Well, ‘Falling Back’ can help you achieve that.

Going through Washed Out’s ‘Paracosm’ for the first time reminds me of the time I first heard The Avalanches, or Beach House, or even Toro Y Moi to a lesser extent. Just those wholesome, realised sounds of musicians knowing exactly what they are doing, exactly how to do it, and seeing their work come to fruition. Heavenly sounds that transport the listener to an emotional and vivid place, now that’s a rare thing to come across in music. It really cannot be overstated how well this album has been made and performed. ‘Paracosm’ has become one of my favourite albums of the year, along with FIDLAR, POND and Kurt Vile. Yep, it’s that good, and I would stake my phone plan to say that it’s not going to dull in vibrancy any time soon. Go and buy it here at Sub Pop. 

Jazz-Rat’s Playlist

Contrary to the name, Jazz-Rat does not like Jazz. If you told him to play some Louis Armstrong, he’d put on the Tour De France. What an idiot! What a fool! What a buffoon! That’s enough insulting of the Jazz-Rat’s musical naivety. Despite not living up to his name, Jazz-Rat is a DJ, which he will take any opportunity to remind you of, and he is also a keen Michael Buble impersonator. Not fucking bad, I’d dare say Buble’s got some competition. The Voice has a new contender for Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden and Delta Good-head to slobber over. Because I love his lanky personality more than Darth Vader likes to choke his own soldiers, I compiled a compilation. At his request, there’s ‘a little bit of everything, cos I’m into everything, y’know, like not just electronic, but like, rock music as well’. So from the confines of The Mess Hall’s Aussie-bloke swagger, to Tame Impala’s (again, at his specific request) bombastic personification. There’s even the new Flume remix by Ta-ku and some Diplo and the Glitch Mob, because, you know, he’s a DJ (ladiezzzzzzz ;). Apologies in advance for the Pitchfork-y vibe halfway through.

1. Flume feat Chet Faker-Left Alone (Ta-ku Remix) (Available for Download)

2. Tame Impala-Elephant

3. The Mess Hall- Keep Walking

4. Peking Duk- The Way You Are

5. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs-Household Goods

6. Fishing-OOOO

7. Pretty Lights-Sunday School

8. Melt Yourself Down-We Are Enough (Free Download Available, this band will be huge)

9. Diplo-Express Yourself

10. Digitalism-The Pulse

11. SBTRKT-Nervous feat. Jessie Ware

12. The Glitch Mob-Beyond Monday

13. The Gooch Palms-Cucaracha

14. Yeasayer- Reagan’s Skeleton

15. Hot Chip-Over and Over

16. Interpol-PDA

17. Jaill-The Stroller

18. Jagwar Ma-The Throw

19. Melody’s Echo Chamber- Crystallized

20. Washed Out- New Theory