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I know it’s kinda boring but I’m gonna have to agree with ROAR and KEAL and go for Sunbather as my number one! I do wonder whether the DEP would have got it had their album come out later in the year and I would have listened to it more recently.

I feel a little bad cos it’s extremely mainstream but I’ve really been enjoying the new Arctic Monkeys album. It’s a bit more Black Keys and it’s got some really catchy tunes (I’d recommend Arabella if you’ve not checked it out).

Here’s the top 10 (Rory: TOP 50! Seriously! You’re making us look bad!):

1. Deafheaven – Sunbather

2. Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

3. Kvelertak – Meir

4. Arctic Monkeys – AM

5. Queens of the Stoneage – … Like Clockwork

6. Cult of Luna – Vertikal

7. Biffy Clyro – Opposites

8. Russian Circles – Memorial

9. Clutch – Earth Rocker

10. Inter Arma – Sky Burial

Another unique list, this time by Filnef:

The Dead C - Armed Courage

The Dead C – Armed Courage

The Dead C – Armed Courage

Peter Jefferies – The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World (reissue)

Demdike Stare – Testpressings 1-4

Miles – Faint Hearted

Lovers without Borders – 7” singles

Wolf Eyes – No Answer:Lower Floors

The Daffodils – In A Fog

Heatwarmer – Heatwarmer

An interesting and inverted list by Mac P, starting from the bottom with number ten and ending with the best album of 2013: “The Golden Age” by Woodkid. 

"The Golden Age" by Woodkid

“The Golden Age” by Woodkid

#10 The National – Trouble Will Find Me

The National always impresses and even though I wasn’t as hooked as I was with Boxer or even High Violet this album is still well worth a listen. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N527oBKIPMc

#9 Grayskul – Zenith

Their first album in four years after Onry Ozzborn took a break to form Dark Time Sunshine. There’s a mix of different styles, some better than others but a lot of cool stuff to find here. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeXKXTzP0KM

#8 Wintergatan – Wintergatan

With no more albums coming from Detektivbyrån I’ve placed all hopes in Wintergatan for my fix of strange music from Sweden. You might think that accordions, xylophones, music boxes and Harry Potter references would not make for a great album but you’d be wrong. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBK2AF-NdVA

#7 CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

CHVRCHES is all over the synth, retro sound but they do it better than anyone else. There’s a good reason that this album has gotten so much acclaim. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyqemIbjcfg

#6 Shad – Flying Colours

One of the best if not the best Canadian rapper right now, he’s humble, has a social conscience and just makes great music. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1u9JoEYxFnw

#5 Junip – Junip

Not much to be said about this album, José González really knows what he’s doing. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxC4f3G8iRw

#4 The Uncluded – Hokey Fright

I’ve been a fan of Aesop Rock for awhile and this album is fantastically weird, combining stripped-down folk music with rap in a way that really works. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxOd1MUOxQU

#3 Jim Guthrie – Takes Time

Jim Guthrie’s first instrumental album in years after his foray into electronic music, solid from end to end. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y40D3SGlpa4

#2 How to Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion

Trent Reznor is only getting better with age, the music is simple but strong and Mariqueen Maandig’s voice only adds to it. Hopefully this won’t be their only album now that Nine Inch Nails is releasing again. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sUTVT7HzSg

#1 Woodkid – The Golden Age

This was actually an easy choice for #1, I’ve been completely hooked on this since it was released. It’s big and grandiose and unlike anything else out there right now, definitely my favorite of 2013. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQu8FOjJXdI

Devendra Banhart - Mala

Devendra Banhart – Mala

1. Devendra Banhart – Mala

2. The National – Trouble will find me

Full album: 

3. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

Best song: From the sun 

4. MOZ – Vacuum

Listen to the whole EP here: 

5. Juana Molina – Wed 21

Best song: Eras 

6. Junip – Junip

Full album: 

7.Vida Boheme – Será 

8.  Los Tiros – Tu Pesadilla Regresó, Bienvenido Al Infierno

Listen to full album here: 

9. 2 Minutos – Valentin Alzheimer

Listen to the whole album here: 

10. Sonido Gallo Negro – Sendero Místico

This list is a mix of music from different places around the world, from Guatemala all the way to Sweden and New Zealand. I hope you enjoy it!

lu! 

Deafheaven Sunbather, the best album I've heard in 2013

And so on to my top 20 albums of the year. Yes, there’s a bit of a spoiler above – Deafheaven’s Sunbather was the clear standout for me, one of the most thrilling metal albums I’ve heard in a long time. But there were plenty other surprises in store this year – read on to hear my favourites.

20. Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

Lost in the shadow of big-name grunge-era comebacks, Mudhoney have been consistently excellent for decades now, and their latest album is yet another career peak. Loud, fuzzy, and lacking any pretension, Mudhoney rip through a great set of tunes, with Mark Arm’s acerbic wit in evidence throughout.

19. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum

Wow. I’ve heard some dark albums in my time, but this one is really something. Old-school death metal that sounds like it was recorded in a cavern in the bowels of hell, Grave Miasma intersperse no-frills riffs and blastbeats with twisted, screeching solos and atmospheric interludes. The result is one of the most interesting albums in what has been a particularly strong year for death metal.

18. Doomriders – Grand Blood

Grand Blood is a bit of a departure for Doomriders, darker and less anthemic than previous releases, but their trademark death n’ roll sound is still firmly in place. Songs like “Gone To Hell” even show a more melodic side to the band, yet never fail to kick ass in the process.

17. Clipping – Midcity

“It’s Clipping bitch!” So starts the self-released mixtape from underground hip hop trio Clipping. Brash and exhilarating, Clipping meld a traditional hip hop vocal style with subversive lyrics and instrumentals that owe more to noise legends Merzbow and Whitehouse than anyone else.

16. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

One of many big-name releases this year that seemed to come from nowhere, Hesitation Marks is the best thing I’ve heard from Trent Reznor in a long, long time. The album seems to be a more mature, at times surprisingly upbeat companion piece to its stylistic predecessor The Downward Spiral. Not that that really matters – the key thing to note is that the songs are fantastic, particularly album openers Copy Of A and Came Back Haunted.

15. Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind

Four Tet has made his name releasing densely-produced but emotionally resonant “folktronica”, but he’s also a respected DJ with an expert feel for what will work on the dancefloor. Beautiful Rewind is undoubtedly a more club-focussed album, with some of the most dance-worthy beats Four Tet has produced in years, and it’s uniformly brilliant.

14. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this remarkable album is that it’s essentially a collection of leftovers from two fantastic collaborations between Killer Mike and El-P that came out last year. Released for free as a mixtape, Run The Jewels pisses all over most of the big name rap releases this year.

13. Clutch – Earth Rocker

Clutch just keep getting better and better. Undoubtedly one of the finest live bands in existence, new album Earth Rocker is probably the closest they’ve come to capturing that awesome sound on tape. Needless to say it is the tits. Fucking badass.

12. Carcass – Surgical Steel

None more metal. This is perhaps the finest example of melodic death metal since Heartwork, all the more surprising given Carcass’s long absence from the scene (not to mention the disappointment that was Swansong, their last album before disbanding in 1996). Killer riffs, pounding drums, facepeeling solos, and Jeff Walker’s distinctive vocals make for one of the best comebacks in a year full of them.

11. Death Grips – Government Plates

Another year, another unannounced, free-to-download Death Grips mixtape. This one is a bit more patchy – several tracks in the second half feel more like sketches than fully fleshed songs – but at their best Death Grips are the most exciting force in music, and the first few tracks alone are some of the most innovative, mind-bending music you’ll hear this year in any genre. Mental.

10. Jon Hopkins – Immunity

I have to admit I didn’t pick this up on its release, in fact I only even heard about it when the “best of 2013″ lists started trickling out, but it has quickly become one of my favourite things ever. Jon Hopkins is a producer who has worked with a host of artists including Coldplay, but don’t hold that against him – this solo release is dark, bass-driven techno of the highest order.

9. Tim Hecker – Virgins

Tim Hecker is an experimental musician who creates ambient noise soundscapes with surprising emotional depth and warmth. On Virgins, recordings of live musicians are deconstructed and reconstituted into more than the sum of their parts. This is an album that needs to be experienced in full, but is more than worth the effort.

8. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Black Pudding

Mark Lanegan’s recent collaboration with Duke Garwood is fast becoming one of my favourite releases of his. The pair fit together perfectly, creating contemporary blues songs with a range of stylistic influences that nevertheless work as a cohesive whole. This is mood music for sure, but when you’re in the mood there’s nothing better.

7. Kvelertak – Meir

This album is the perfect distillation of everything that kicks ass in metal. Every song, every riff, every fill is just balls-out amazing. So much fun.

6. Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady

Janelle Monáe is extremely talented. More than a little crazy, too, but without a doubt one of the most gifted and charismatic performers in mainstream music today. New album The Electric Lady develops the sci-fi concepts of her previous work, telling the story of android alter-ego Cindi Mayweather. Grand, ambitious, and stylistically diverse, The Electric Lady is a triumph.

5. Kelela – Cut 4 Me

Kelela’s debut is a free mix tape produced by a collective of producers from the Fade to Mind and Night Slugs labels. It’s a perfect marriage of innovative underground productions and strong R&B vocals, an album that manages to break new ground while still sounding catchy as fuck. Definitely one to watch.

4. Queens Of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

QOTSA are one of my favourite bands, but I haven’t really loved any of their albums since Songs For The Deaf. That is, until …Like Clockwork. In fact, this new album might be even better. It’s easily their most cohesive work, a strong, mature group of songs that flows incredibly well as an album. And the songs are really great, from the alt rock musings of “I Sat By The Ocean” to the pounding “My God Is The Sun” to the filthy funk of “Smooth Sailing”.

3. Gorguts – Colored Sands

Every so often I hear an album that completely changes my perceptions of metal as a genre. This is one of those albums. Dense, atonal riffs crush down over pounding drum beats, intricately technical without sounding needlessly flashy or pretentious. The songs are densely composed, making interesting use of dynamics and structure without ever letting slide on the brutality. Even the classical piece for string quintet that forms the centrepiece of the album, The Battle Of Chamdo, is dark and ominous. Intelligent, technical death metal at its absoulte best, Colored Sands is essential.

2. Melt-Banana – Fetch

Melt-Banana are possibly my favourite band of all time, and this might just be their best album. It’s a loud burst of wondrous joy from start to finish – an insane blend of grind, punk, noise, and J-pop that never lets up. Starting with the awesome Candy Gun, Yasuko and Agata tear through 11 tracks of high-octane madness before ending with the relatively sedate (but no less amazing) disco track Zero. Another perfect 10 album in a year that had several, this one is certainly the most fun. And if you ever get the chance to see them live, do it – they are the best live act I have ever seen!

1. Deafheaven – Sunbather

So, here we are at no. 1. While there are certainly reference points here, from the more adventurous black metal bands in the US to post-rock/shoegaze acts like mbv and Ride to Japanese hardcore legends Envy, I’ve never heard an album quite like it. Fast, tremolo-picked major chords swirl over uplifting blastbeats, creating a blissed-out sound that is both melancholic and yet strangely euphoric, crushing yet oddly beautiful. A truly wonderful album, and an easy pick for album of the year.

Palms

No doubt, this has been a great year for music. From surprise (and surprisingly good) returns from old favourites to instant classics from bands that were new (or at least new to me), I’ve heard a lot of albums that I simply loved in 2013. So much so that I struggled to limit myself to a top 10. Instead, I’ve decided to list out my top 50 in two parts. First up, here are albums 50 to 21:

50. Baths – Obsidian

Underground electronic music with catchy pop hooks. Miasma Sky

49. Sebadoh – Defend Yourself

Characteristically patchy album from the indie rock legends, but there are some incredible songs on here, particularly album opener I Will.

48. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Pearl Jam’s latest is underwhelming on first listen, but really grew on me. Inessential, but surprisingly solid. Check out Mind Your Manners, one of the punchier tracks.

47. James Blake – Overgrown

James Blake’s Mercury-winning album is hauntingly beautiful from start to finish. Retrograde is a perfect example – it starts softly but builds to something fantastic.

46. Nails – Abandon All Life

Fucking heavy. Seriously fucking heavy. Nails blast through 10 crushing songs in no time at all, leaving you thirsty for more. God’s Cold Hands

45. Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons To Die

This is pretty special – a concept album from one of rap’s great storytellers, produced by multi-instrumentalist Adrian Younge. Watch the Rise Of The Ghostface Killah here.

44. Forest Swords – Engravings

Atmospheric, creepy electronic music. This album is crammed full of intricate productions and slow, trip-hoppy beats. Thor’s Stone

43. David Bowie – The Next Day

An early sign that 2013 was going to be a pretty special year for music, The Next Day is a great collection of songs that sounds modern yet timeless.

42. Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

Thurstone Moore’s first album since Sonic Youth’s split flat-out ROCKS. It undeniably sounds like Sonic Youth, but with elements of sludge, grunge and even black metal thrown into the mix. Case in point: the heavy-as-fuck Alighted.

41. Castevet – Obsidian

This album is pretty out there. Proggy black metal, with lurching riffs and frequent time changes, but held together by strong songwriting and superb musicianship. The Tower

40. Atoms For Peace – Amok

I was a bit dubious about this album (I love Thom Yorke, but Flea? Really?), but it’s actually really good. And I bet they’d be great live – just watch them play Default on the Daily Show.

39. Autechre – Exai

Autechre’s latest is a treat – a long double album that sees them take a step away from their more experimental side and throw in some wicked beats, while still sounding like no-one else. recks on

38. Mouth Of The Architect – Dawning

If you’re looking for a post-metal band to take care of your Isis cravings since their tragic split, look no further – my only criticism of this incredible album is that it sounds too much like its influences (Isis, Neurosis, Cave In, Mare) to be truly original. But that hardly matters when it’s this good. Lullabye

37. Kylesa – Ultraviolet

This is the album that Kylesa clicked for me – I’ve liked their previous releases that I’ve heard, but this one I really love. Tracks like Unspoken have a fantastic blend of sludge, melody and moodiness.

36. Boards Of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest

This was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, and it didn’t disappoint. A step back to the darker sounds of their classic album Geogaddi, yet totally gorgeous throughout. Reach For The Dead

35. Thundercat – Apocalypse

The best way I can describe this album is “futuristic space jazz”. Thundercat is a talented bass player that has worked with artists ranging from Erykah Badu to Suicidal Tendencies, and on this solo album (produced by Flying Lotus) he knocks out 12 remarkable fusion songs. Tenfold

34. Russian Circles – Memorial

Epic instrumental metal. A perfect blend of atmospheric post-rock build-ups with some truly crushing riffs. I missed the chance to see them live last year, and now I really regret it! Defecit

33. Palms – Palms

One of the most gorgeous albums of the year. My only criticism is that Palms sound too much like “Chino Moreno fronting Isis”, and not enough like a band in their own right, but with songs as good as Future Warrior that’s hardly a serious issue.

32. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu

This is perhaps the most “hipster” album on my list (and I realise that’s saying something) – techno-influenced Syrian wedding songs executive produced by underground legend Four Tet. It’s great though – odd, unconventional, and incredibly danceable. He was quality live as well. Warni Warni

31. Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

This is another album that I was eagerly anticipating coming into the year, and again it lived up to expectations. Bigger, noisier, and yet oddly more accessible, this is a great set of tunes that builds on the promise of their previous releases. Brainfreeze

30. Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time

Sky Ferreira’s debut is 80s-throwback pop with an  alternative edge; a bit generic perhaps, but elevated by a strong collection of songs and a sultry vocal performance. Songs like Boys are just insanely catchy.

29. Mutation – Error 500

This one totally slipped under my radar at first – it’s a self-produced noise/metal experiment from Ginger Wildheart, with a string of big-name collaborators including Shane Embury, Mark E. Smith and Merzbow. It’s absolutely batshit insane, with elements of pop, metal, grind, and noise, like nothing else I’ve heard. White Leg

28. Windhand – Soma

Windhand play slow, heavy doom with a strong grasp of melody and song structure. The haunting vocals of Dorthia Cottrell really transcend this album far beyond typical genre fare, and songs like Woodbine are some of the most memorable I’ve heard this year.

27. Philip H. Anselmo And The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only

Phil Anselmo’s first solo album is one strange fucking ride. A million miles from the classic metal of Pantera, there are perhaps some similarities with previous side projects Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem. However, this album is a bit more out there – there are few real grooves or riffs to grasp onto, but somehow the crushing brutality of it all works. Bedridden

26. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

This is the album where DEP have managed to fully integrate their experimental jazz-metal leanings with their anthemic pop side. Everything you’d expect is there, from off-kilter chords and crazy time progressions to anthemic choruses with brutal hooks. Paranoia Shields

25. ASG – Blood Drive

This album quickly went from being a mildly diverting background listen to one of my most treasured go-to listens. There’s nothing particularly original about it, it’s just full of fantastic stoner/metal songs with a strong Torche/Soundgarden vibe. Avalanche

24. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches are a Scottish trio (including Iain Cook, formerly of Aerogramme) that had a massive buzz following a strong series of singles, and their debut album lives up to the hype. Deliriously catchy songs with an 80s electro vibe. The Mother We Share

23. Tomahawk – Oddfellows

Rock’s finest supergroup return with another incredible album. After a bold experiment with Native American-influenced music that, for me, didn’t quite pay off, Tomahawk’s latest is back to the band’s alt-metal roots. Twisted rock anthems with the inimitable Mike Patton on fine form throughout. White Hats/Black Hats

22. Ka – The Night’s Gambit

This might be the most subtle, understated album on my list. Ka’s vocals are quiet and softly spoken, and the beats are minimalist to say the least. But there’s something captivating about this album and the story it tells. One of my favourite hip hop albums in a long time. Our Father

21. All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature

From one of the quietist albums on my list to one of the loudest. All Pigs Must Die play fast, heavy thrash-infused hardcore. Featuring Ben Koller from Converge on drums and several other scene stalwarts, the musicianship is impeccable throughout, but that would mean nothing without the songs to back it up and thankfully this album is killer all the way through. Chaos Arise

So, that’s my list so far. You can check out my top 20 here. Cheers!

Rory

Deafheaven Sunbather, the best album I've heard in 2013

Deafheaven Sunbather, the best album I’ve heard in 2013

1. Deafheaven: “Sunbather”

There’s no question about it, “Sunbather” is the best album I’ve heard this year. Sunshine black metal at its best. I love how the songs are allowed to take time to develop and I love the bottomless agony. Deafheaven’s cover of Mogwai’s “Cody” from 2012 opened my eyes to the band and “Sunbather” turned out to be even better than I expected. This is my soundtrack of the year. Best song: “Vertigo”.

2. Frightened Rabbit: “Pedestrian Verse”

3. Mystery Jets: “Radlands”

4. Camera Obscura: “Desire Lines”

5. Pelican: “Forever becoming”

6. Russian Circles: “Memorial”

7. Mouth of the Architect: “Dawning”

8. Mogwai: “Les Revenants”

9. Vånna Inget: “Ingen botten”

10. Doomriders: “Grand blood”

Follow this link to see a more fundamentalist metal version of my best of 2013: http://www.slavestate.se/?e=2314

Best of 2012 by KEAL: http://blackdandelions.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/best-of-2012-kea/

Best of 2011 by KEAL: http://blackdandelions.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/best-of-2011-keal/

Best of 2010 by KEAL: http://blackdandelions.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/best-of-2010-by-keal/

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