This is what a year sounds like: 2013

With 2013 nearly over, as usual, I’m publishing the most listened to purchases, downloads, steals and donated music of my year. I leave it until after Christmas, safe in the knowledge that I’m unlikely to come across any other music between now and 1 January 2014, while thinking that many lists are produced too early. If I’d have written this when others were doing so, such as my most ‘go-to’ music publications in 2013, The Quietus and The Wire, I’d not have included The Fall’s very recently released EP, The Remainderer, which is, in a nutshell, excellent.

This list comprises everything that I’ve given time to and have returned to again and again after an initial listen. Much more music has been consumed in these past 12 months, but much has fallen by the wayside and I’ve stripped this back to all that I rate, and that has been repeatedly replayed, whether through sheer enjoyment, or trying to find some redeeming feature.

On repeat
Of those that have had the most listens, then The Baptist Generals’ Jackleg Devotional To The Heart and The Ex & Brass Unbound’s Enormous Door are probably neck and neck, closely followed by Wire’s Change Becomes Us. The latter shows Wire continuing to push the boundaries of what they do, and proving, as they state, they are a contemporary band. The Ex & Brass Unbound merge rhythmic hypnotic punk rock with Congotronic style riffs, Ethiopian rhythms and free jazz—sounds awful on paper, but you’ll have to take it from me if you haven’t heard them, they are truly spectacular. Finally, The Baptist General’s return was maybe not as glorious as it could be, considering the long wait, but this is probably the album that has grown on me the most over repeated listens this year.

Surprises
The surprises this year came from Matmos’ excellent 
The Marriage of True Minds, particularly their truly remarkable cover of Buzzcocks’ ESP. Another surprise was one that many probably experiences, in David Bowie’s The Next Day. While he didn’t make an outstanding LP, and in fact, the first half is far stronger than the remainder as it proves to outstay its welcome on listening to it as a whole, it is at least credible and there are some good tunes on there. I think we can safely agree he has redeemed himself of the travesties of everything he has done since Let’s Dance. Lastly, another breath of fresh air, and one I have to thank The Wire for introducing me to, was Young Echo’s Nexus, which proved there is still life in Bristolian dub, (at least visible to those outside of Bristol).

Disappointments
Akron/Family continue to disappoint, which is a real shame after 2009’s excellent Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free—my favourite album of that year. In 2009 I thought I’d discovered a band that I’d carry to the grave. In 2013, after two poor follow-ups, this year’s being Sub Verses, I’ve decided to stop buying their records. Nick Cave was equally disappointing; although note that I didn’t say The Bad Seeds. The latter are at the top of their game, sounding brooding, tight and displaying a maturity that is completely befitting. Unfortunately, when coupled with some truly atrocious lyrics, on Push The Sky Away, (come on Nick, “I fire up her snatch”; please), they are unsubtly trampled over, that and with the exaggerated vocal performance that tries just a little too hard. If only it had been a solo Bad Seeds album and Mr Cave had stayed at home, but at least he, (and the Bad Seeds that were involved), are over the mid-life crisis that was Grinderman, which I suppose we have something to be grateful for.

That’s it for those that are interested. Sorry I haven’t provided links for everything, but it’s all out there in Internetland somewhere for you to find for yourself.

This is what a year sounds like: 2013—presented in reverse chronological order:
The Fall – The Remainderer EP
Lee “Scratch” Perry & The Upsetters – Roaring Lion
Burial – Rival Dealer EP
Africa Express – Maison Des Jeunes
British Sea Power – From The Sea To The Land Beyond
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Live from KCRW
Ezra Furman – Day Of The Dog
Stealing Stars – Noah And The Paper Moon
Death Grips – Government Plates
The Thing – Boot!
Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Autechre – L Event EP
Various – The Wire Tapper 33
Robert Wyatt – 68
Four Tet – Beautiful Rewind
MGMT – MGMT
Jeffrey Lewis and the Rain – WWPRD? EP
The Mighty Diamonds – Reggae Anthology: Pass The Knowledge
Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries – Boss Man’s Dub
Storm Bugs – No Nothingness
Eleanor Friedberger – Personal Record
Dinos Chapman – Luftbobler
Hugh Cornwall and Robert Williams – Nosferatu
Young Echo – Nexus
Belle & Sebastian – The Third Eye Centre
Phil Ochs – The Broadside Tapes
Various – The Wire Tapper 32
Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain
Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Kanye West – Yeezus
Congo Natty – Jungle Revolutions
The Beatles – All albums from Please Please Me through to Let It Be
James Blake – Overgrown
Ghostpoet – Some Say I, So I Say Light
Dan Deacon – America
Julian Cope – Revolutionary Suicide
Terry Edwards – 681
Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
Boards of Canada – Tomorrow’s Harvest
Jon Hopkins – Immunity
Baptist Generals – Jackleg Devotional To The Heart
The Fall – Re-mit
The Ex & Brass Unbound – Enormous Door
Stereolab – Emperor Tomato Ketchup
Savages – Silence Yourself
Anne James Chaton & Andy Moor – Transfer
Neon Neon – Praxis Makes Perfect
Akron/Family – Sub Verses
Matmos – The Marriage of True Minds
The Knife – Shaking The Habitual
Chumbawamba – In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher
Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express
Lee Perry And The Sufferers – The Sound Doctor: Black Ark Singles And Dub Plates 1972 – 1978
Kraftwerk – Man Machine
British Sea Power – Machineries Of Joy
Wire – Change Becomes Us
Autechre – Exai
LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
John Foxx And The Maths – Evidence
Various – The Story of Blue Best 1961: Parts 1 & 2
Various – The Story of Blue Beat 1960
David Bowie – The Next Day
Various – Caveat Emptor 2
The Pre New – Music For Homeowners
Roots Manuva – Banana Skank EP
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
Various – Deutsche Elektronische Musik Vol 1 & 2
Atoms For Peace – AMOK
Andy Moor and Colin McLean – Everything But The Beginning
Mogwai – Les Revenants Soundtrack
Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie Prince Billy – What The Brothers Sang
Sun Ra – A Space Odyssey: From Birmingham to the Big Apple
Darkstar – News From Nowhere
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
The Stranglers – La Folie
Various – Evolution of Dub, Volume 7: Creationist Rebel
The Thing – Bag it!
Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing Remixes
Can – Delay 1968
Fire! Orchestra – Exit!
Pere Ubu – Lady from Shanghai
Villagers – {Awayland}
Broadcast – Berberian Sound Studio
Lean Left – Live at Cafe Oto

And so goodbye to 2013—with the promise of new Mogwai and Polar Bear albums in the news already, I can’t wait for 2014. If you’ve made it this far, then thanks for reading, and I’ll leave 2013 with a live set from The Baptist Generals for your listening pleasure.

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