This list of fine music, in no particular order, is the music I most enjoyed in 2013:
DJ Koze – Amygdala
The Berliner Stefan Kozalla jumped back onto the scene with this glorious and expansive LP, his first original solo album in nine years. Essentially a dance record, but at once so much more than that, splicing in cuts and samples from across the board, creating what has been the defining point for many of the standout records of the year – diversity in style and aesthetic, in flow and in mood.
John Wizards – John Wizards
Planet Mu Records
It gives this blogger great joy in knowing he is one of a handful in his home-country of South Africa to not only include this LP in his Best of 2013 list, but also to have booked John Wizards to perform at a show early in 2013 soon after the band first surfaced. After a whirlwind year, the band found themselves under the international spotlight, toured Europe and the UK with Mount Kimbie and Jagwar Ma, and released a flamboyant LP with foresight, Planet Mu. The album is an exceptional first output from the young Capetonian producer John Withers, and I eagerly await what lies ahead for this talented outfit.
William Onyeabor – Who Is William Onyeabor?
William Onyeabor could perhaps be dubbed a true international man of mystery. According to the label that released this album, Onyeabor “self-released 8 albums between 1978 and 1985 and then became a born-again Christian, refusing ever to speak about himself or his music again.” This compilation album of his best works shows how the man was ahead of his time in many regards, and I’ll be damned if Onyeabor’s synth-rich West-African soul-filled funk of ‘Atomic Bomb’ or ‘Good Name’ or ‘Fantastic Man’ don’t worm and weave their way into your brain after the first listen.
Deerhunter – Monomania
Deerhunter is a monstrous band. Their discography glimmers, their topics ugly and real and exquisite, their sound expansive, their pretense zero. This record is the band’s sixth release, and much like the discography, the album itself starts off wild and strong and grows and transforms into a beautifully grotesque collection of songs with a sound palette at times smooth and dreamy and at others grinding down bone and metal into shavings that float in the wind.
Darkside – Psychic
Nicolas Jaar has fast become one of those musicians whose music becomes difficult to describe (just see what wild amalgamation of words other websites have used) that I find myself simply saying, “It’s Nicolas Jaar, just listen to it.” Psychic is an album Jaar made with guitarist David Harrington who serves as a live musician when Jaar performs as a solo artist. What does it sound like? I have heard and agreed with comparisons to Nick Cave and Tom Waits, as well as some beat producers and jazz aficionados. Essentially, it’s another stellar album in the Jaar archive, and you should listen to Jaar.
La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin
La Femme jumped into existence through a multi-coloured strained glass window and landed with shards of glistening glasses falling all around them. The French psych-punk rockers delivered a buoyant debut album, a veritable roller-coaster ride of groove and grind, smooth and sharp, lithe and languid from beginning to end.
Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
For their second album, the Mount Kimbie duo of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos have broadened their gait and ride on in free strides on each track, building flow and throwing paint at the backbone to create these vibrant and rhythm songs.
Portugal. The Man – Evil Friends
When you have 6 albums to you name, some hit, some miss, but all experience and learning, and you then collaborate with none other than Midas-touched, prima producer Danger Mouse, you have got something real good in the pot. Certainly Portugal. The Man’s finest album to date, and another Danger Mouse success-story of bringing out some of the best in a group of musicians.
Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze
The album title gives it all away. Its the album you might wake up to on a lazy Saturday morning after a Friday night. Its easy while not background music; welcome soothing company. Catch this quick doccie on the making of the album art too.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
Bad Seeds Ltd.
Nick Cave has got it going on, he’s on the pulse.