Albums of the Year – numbers 40 to 31

Our long awaited countdown starts here. And what is clear is that 2013 was a very strong year – looking at those albums in today's 40 to 31 countdown, in other years they might have been top 30 or even 20.

Over 2013, we saw strong comebacks from the likes of Bowie and Daft Punk, albums re-inforcing their positions from the Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire and Laura Marling, and great new artists  like Peace, Kacey Musgraves and Disclosure in very different sectors.  We were a little light on anyone really pushing back against authority – no Sex Pistols or NWA in 2013 – but other than that, a very good year.

Regular readers will know not to expect too much dance, hop hop etc. Disclosure and Eminem both came close to the list, and I can see that Jay-Z and Kanye West are geniuses, but I’d be lying for effect if I said it’s what I listen to sitting at my desk. Equally, I don’t like Jazz, and Classical just sort of washes over me. So you’re stuck with a collection here of rock and pop in various forms basically, with excursions into folk and country and a bit of electronica . Hope you enjoy it anyway!

(We're going to use Soundcloud as well as videos, so you can check out more of the acts without page loading time getting too slow I hope).

40.          Lissie – Back to Forever

A bit of a disappointment after her excellent debut in 2011, but still a collection of catchy, 1980s influenced pop-rock songs, and her voice is great, bringing emotion and conviction to everything she sings.

39.          Savages – Silence Yourself

An album to admire more than enjoy perhaps, but a notable achievement (recognised by a Mercury Music  Prize nomination). Dark, serious, focused tracks in the goth / punk / rock tradition, with Siouxsie as a clear influence. Absolutely showed that female bands don’t have to be fluffy, overtly sexy or pop to be successful and may in time prove to be one of the most influential bands on this list.

38.          Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs – Clarietta

Do a handful of young UK bands make a ‘movement’? Are this lot even part of the garage / psychedelic revival? Who knows, but this debut blended US clever post punk (think Talking Heads, Television) with some more British straight ahead rock vibe and a touch of psychedelia to provide an enjoyable and very promising album.

37.          Rilo Kiley - rkives

Questionable whether his should be allowed here as it is a compilation, but as it isn’t a greatest hits I think it’s OK. Please come back, the late lamented Rilo Kiley  - the very best of quirky, indie-pop, with clever lyrics and the vocals of the amazing Jenny Lewis. And this is much better than we might have expected as a collection of tracks that weren’t included on previous albums.

36.          Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

I don’t own this yet, but hey, it’s Christmas (hint, hint). My wife hates her voice ( ‘too little-girl-y’) but I rather like it, and they really know how to write memorable melodies, with interesting synth-pop backing. Unlike some in the genre, there’s real passion in there too, which sets them apart – another excellent debut.

35.          Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Yes, Get Lucky was and is an iconic and classic track, and there was a lot to enjoy here, with some really quite weird stuff (in a good way) as well as the obvious dance. But it all went on a bit at times, some tracks were just boring, hence my rating is somewhat down on many year-end lists.

http://soundcloud.com/alsosprachzara/daft-punk-instant-crush-feat

34.          Kodaline – In a Perfect World

Look, I know it isn’t hip or credible, but you'd be more positive if you’d seen 10,000 kids singing along to them at Reading, and how much it meant to this Irish band, for whom overnight success has taken quite a long time.  There’s still a place for songs that are easy on the ear but strike some emotional chord, as Coldplay, U2 and others will tell you, and this is the latest in that line. Won’t change your world but an excellent example of its type.

https://soundcloud.com/rowina-gabriela/kodaline-high-hopes

33.          James Blake – Overgrown

The Mercury Prize winner to our surprise. Respect to Blake – he could have positioned himself in the Sheeran / Howard / Odell singer songwriter camp - but he is ploughing a challenging and different furrow with unclassifiable music that picks up elements of rock, dance, experimental and classical music to make something that is unusual and identifiably his. Takes a while to get into but worth the effort.

https://soundcloud.com/i-d-online-1/james-blake-retrograde

32.          Lorde – Herione

Was this an amazing debut for a 16 year old from New Zealand, or a bit of a disappointment after her sublime track Royals, one of the 3 top global tracks of 2013 (along with Get Lucky and I Love It)? Well, a bit of both. A very good album, with stripped back, XX influenced songs and the credible sounding world-view of an articulate, cynical but hopeful 16 year old. She should make better albums, but quite a start to her career.

https://soundcloud.com/mmmusic/lorde-team

31.          Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

You feel that they should be pretty huge by now, headlining festivals and so on after this, their fourth very strong album. Think of the intersection between Elbow, Biffy Clyro and the National – pretty dark lyrics and songs that always have more going on than you first think. (I’m listening to this as I write and thinking, this should be higher than 31!)

Numbers 30 to 21 tomorrow!

 

 

First Voice

  1. Ian R:

    Hi Peter. Now Charlie Boyer is one that passed me by, but from your summary sounds like something I’d like, so I’ll be off to itunes later to check that one out. Afraid I must agree with most of the critics on Kodaline though – they make Keane sound like the Pink Floyd.

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