Monday, 16 December 2013

Albums of the Year 2013

Review of the Year 2013

What a year for great music, both new and old, via labels that love to spot talent, crate dig, travel all over the world and who jump through many hoops to secure the licenses and fund artists and albums. Thankyou.

::New albums::

Laura Veirs- Warp & Weft (Bella Union)
Want to talk about America's gun control issue? Laura Veirs does and on this startling 9th album she pulls no punches. America is the stand out lyrically but musically there are so many highlights. At Londons Islington Assembly Hall in November, she cited Alice Coltranes modal 'Journey In Satchidananda' as an influence to album closer White Cherry. As a live band her 4 piece sound like a blend between country, grunge rock and folk with a touch of bluegrass too. Quite probably my Album of The Year.

Oddisee- The Beauty In All (Mello Music)
As much as i really enjoy Oddisee's vocal work, it was the geographic album 'Rock Creek Park' that got my intention, full of tweaked out instrumental hip hop. There's always so much to listen into on his music that it's easy to get lost in it but the Beauty In All album simply soundtracks a journey to work, home or on the tube so well. And his album title is spot on. Truth.

Mavis Staples- One True Vine (Anti)
A record that benefited massively from the production of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy who gave alot of depth to the lyrics Staples was presenting. As ever, a heartfelt plea of an album as Mavis gets ever more closer to her Christian beliefs- something which i respect massively. Bless you Mavis :).

KELELA- CUT 4ME (Fade 2 Mind)
Kelela set's her RnB phaser to stun with this excellent debut. A Los Angeles singer, this 'tape' was produced by a variety of up and coming british producers. Initially intended to be a mixtape of sorts but morphed into a debut album. Solange Knowles is a fan of her work too.
Mop Mop- Isle of Magic (Agogo)
Deep and spiritual afro jazz of the highest calibre from the Berlin producer Andrea Benini. It has a couple of soulful moments but for the most part it's percusive, moody and tribal. Sounds like it was recorded in the mid sixties. The groups own end of year list is was a joy to listen to as well.

Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo- Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo (All City)
Having been getting into artists like Mulatu Astatke, Build An Ark, Lloyd Miller and the Skeletons over the last couple of years, my interest in Jazz is leaning more towards the spiritual and modal, so up comes this album which is presented as a tight 33 minute LP from Parisian producer Onra and fellow arranger Buddy Sativa. Even though most tracks barely scratch the 4 minute mark, the ethos from the duo was very much a "spontaneity rules" approach which comes across in droves on this album. Mode is all.

Oliver Wilde- A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Light Years (Howling Owl)
It wouldn't really be a proper Bristol blog if I didn't name check at least one artist from town every now and again, but Oliver Wilde is here on merit alone. The Wiltshire lads debut of textural, cassette style lo-fi has many layers to it. Whilst it's melancholic in places and inward looking, there are also sunnier moments making for an intricate and absorbing experience.

Courtney Barnett- The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas (Marathon)
Low slung storytelling, with a nice tint of 90's shoegaze, Barnett really does paint some vibrant pictures of the ordinary and retains a good sense of humour whilst doing it.

Paramore- Paramore (Atlantic)
I watched Hayley Williams & band put on one of the most energetic performances at the iTunes festival and there's no doubt that Hayley really is one of the very best front women out there, swoon, (yes i have boycrush on her). The songs from the band match their last album and the quality is high despite a line up change. They may have veered closer to pop with the saccharine Still Into You, but the likes of the melodic Fast In My Car, the gospel vibe on Ain't It Fun and punkish opener Now more than make up for it.
Charles Bradley- Strictly Reserved For You, Nicole Willis- Tortured Soul, Night Moves- Coloured Emotions, Bonobo- North Borders, Dawes- Stories Don't End, Lady- Lady, Swearin'- Surfing Strange, Lewis Parker- The Glass Ceiling



Honey Ltd- Honey Ltd (re-issue of the year)
(Light In The Attic)
This is my personal favourite re-issue of the year, an album that was out of print for ages with LP's trading for up to $2000 a pop. Honey Ltd were like a breath of fresh air and brings together the production of Rotary Connection with the melodies of Mama's and Papa's. Delightful and on repeat! This release also caps off a superb year for Light In The Attic. Well done chaps and lasses.

Willie Hutch- Soul Portrait (Shout)
Most know Hutch for his soundtrack work on The Mack but upon stumbling into  a record shop only round the corner from where i live, they had Hutch's debut. Super soulful and packed with some superb RnB. Oh, and it's not on Spotify. A must own for soul fans.


::Compilations and Catalogue::

Theo Parrish Presents Black Jazz Signature 1971-1976  (Snow Dog)
Theo Parrish is no one trick pony as he really does seem to pick the cream of the crop from the Black Jazz catalogue. A superb cosmic, spiritual jazz selection that i've played often. Worth the purchase for 2 or 3 of the tracks alone. Mind expanded.


Peru Maravilloso: Vintage Latin Tropical and Cumbia (Tigers Milk)World music doesn't always jump to mind in my 'fave-genres' list but sometimes have a penchant for the occasional slice of Bossa. Up steps the Peru Millavoso comp via Tigers Milk (Strut) = World music never sounded so good! Some lovely long lost gems here, the best of lost latin, peru, cumbria and the tropical, mostly from 1964 which, no doubt, was a thriving time in Peru for music. Essential if you're buying one record this year from the genre.

Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label (Numero Group)
Since hearing a podcast from Daptone that featured Gene Williams essential 'Don't Let Our Love Fade Away', i've been on a quest to legitimately own a copy. Thankfully Numero Group deemed there to be an audience for the catalogue and released a 21 track compendium containing the 'best of'. Artists such as Marva Whitney, Lee Harris and Everyday People grace this Northern Souler. Yowser.

The Get Down Boogie Sound (Ace)
Been Mcloving my boogie this year, so much so i have a little mix ready to go soon that i'll stick on Mixcloud. It's been a while since anything matched or bettered the Back2Beats comp or the supremely good Boogie Back by DJ Spinna, but this highlights some real gems from the Vanguard catalogue. Extensive sleeve notes on each song too with highlights including Convertions 'SweetThing' (Leroy Burgess), Carol Williams club hit 'Can't Get Away (From Your Love)' and The Ritz 'I Wanna Get With You'. 5 star boogie.


Top 5 Gigs
Jagwar Ma- Birthdays, Dalston
Matthew E White, Iveagh Gardens, Dublin
Foxygen, The Lexington, Islington
The Pixies, Roundhouse, Camden

Paramore, Roundhouse, Camden
Factory Floor, Embankment, Central.

Close: Seapony :D , Arctic Monkeys :o ,
May God Bless You this Christmas

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