The Best New Albums (and more!) Of 2013
Each year I promise myself I won’t do anymore of these “Best Of 20??” lists, and each year I renege on that promise. This year is no different; except it is. No different in that I’m still going to list the new albums I’ve enjoyed the most this year, the least this year and the rediscoveries that have occupied my time and money this year. I will not, however, bother to rank them this year. It’s one thing for a man in his mid 40’s to still be compiling a list like this, not to mention maintain a music blog. But, just like the Four Tops, I can’t help myself. But ranking them and believing that anyone really gives a shit that I think Random Access Memories is a better album than Motorhead’s Aftershock, well, that’s just delusional and a little bit sad, innit? In addition, please bear in mind that there are plenty of albums I have just not had the time to listen to this year, so if you don’t see them on the list it doesn’t mean I hated it.
So, no mas, mi amigos! Let’s start with the newbies followed by the reissues, and finish off with those albums and bands I was unlucky enough to miss the first time ‘round but lucky enough to catch this year.
Before I get into it, let’s take a wee moment and discuss what I pegged, way back on July 1st, some albums that I initially thought were pretty good but faded fast and failed to make this final cut. They were: Queens Of The Stoneage, Like Clockwork; Yo La Tengo, Fade; Suede, Bloodsports; Jim James, Regions Of Light and Sound; Neon Neon, Praxis Makes Perfect. These albums are far from bad, really, but they’re pretty far from great, too. They are…OK, but nothing earth shattering. They sounded far better on the first few listens but lost their appeal pretty quick. Oh, and David Bowie was never going to make this list, as much as I like his back catalogue. The Next Day is just bland.We’ll do a few each day, so come back often to see who made the grade!
The Stranglers, Giants: This is one of those not-so-rare-anymore excellent comebacks by a band long since thought of as past their prime. There will be a couple more on down the list, but I thought I’d talk about this one first. Full disclosure: I’ve always loved this band, and everything they did up to 1982’s Aural Sculpture, an album many fans of the group thought of as their ‘sell out’ album. I disagree, but for some reason I stopped listening after that one. When I saw this on Amazon I decided to take a shot and it is really a fantastic growler of an album, even without Hugh Cornwell. The snarling bass, the organ, even relative newcomer Baz Warne, all sounds fantastic and just as you’d expect a very good Stranglers album to sound!
The Phoenix Foundation, Fandango: These space rockers from New Zealand are new to me but have been around for a number of years, releasing a bunch of critically acclaimed albums in their homeland. This is my first, and while I hear the Pink Floyd spacey-type thing critics have been lazily throwing around when discussing the merits of this band I also hear a lot of‘80’s influences as well. No bad thing for a guy with tastes like me. Some of the songs ramble on a bit too long, but for the most part it all holds up. A good find! amazingly well.
The Strokes, Comedown Machine: It’s another homage to the wild and wacky sounds of the New Wave 1980’s, with a little Michael Jackson Off The Wall sonics, put through the Velvet Underground indebted “chug-chug” filter, but this time it works really well. I think it’s their best since Is This It, even better! The Strokes a really good dance band! Who would’ve thunk it?
Robyn Hitchcock, Love From London: May 2013 was my Robyn Hitchcock Month. I bought this new album and played it to death, loving every single psychedelic second of the entire disk. I then went back and listened to as much of his discography as I could and was amazed, again, at how damn consistently great he’s been, and continues to be! Love From London is fantastic, and any fan of good old fashioned British psychedelic pop music in general needs this in their collection. Now!