Halfway Point: The Best 50 Albums of 2013 (So Far), Part Two

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Woah, here we are again, going from 40 to 31 for fun and profit (no profit).  Again, a gentle reminder to check out my book located here for all of your post-apocalyptic Toronto fun.

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#40:  Bonobo – “The North Borders” 

Bonobo’s 2010 album, Black Sands, was a godsend of minimalist ambient downtempo production, and while The North Borders doesn’t quite scale those lofty heights, it is still very, very good work.  There’s a sense of flow and form here that can be often lacking in his contemporaries.

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#39:  Autechre – “Exai”

The British duo are up to eleven albums now and they never quite get easier.  Exai further explores the realms of noise and dissonance within an electronic setting, and is probably their strongest work since the late 1990s.

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#38:  Waxahatchee – “Cerulean Salt”

Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield’s second album, which ups the gambit on very personal songs and improves the quality.  Humble weariness, mundane disappointment, and wavering fragility abound.

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#37:  Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School Of Medicine – “White People And The Damage Done”

The punk legend blasts on with his new band and his new, post-Occupy sense of purpose.  Slashing power chords and strident anger bring to mind the best of the Dead Kennedys, with shiny new production values.

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#36:  Cayucas – “Bigfoot”

A big blast of a summer album.  Nothing original or innovative, but still great fun regardless.

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#35:  Ghostpoet – “Some Say I So I Say Light”

The man’s name is completely appropriate:  this is ghostly ambient hip hop with a blurred urban eye for poetry.  Something to contemplate through headphones in the dead of night.

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#34:  Dirty Beaches – “Drifters/Love Is The Devil”

Part lo-fi rave-up, part ambient noise experiment, all Canadian road warrior, Dirty Beaches brings that sweltering night rush to life.  Equal parts dread and abandon.

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#33:  The Flaming Lips – “The Terror”

The experimental psychedelic rock band (the Pink Floyd of our times?) forges on with a spacey, dread-filled album obsessed with the central terror of existence:  that, even without love, life muddles on, empty yet filled with its own hideous vitality.  How many people thought, after picking up Transmissions From The Satellite Heart on the strength of “She Don’t Use Jelly”, that we would be here twenty years and a legendary career later?

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#32:  Pheonix – “Bankrupt!”

The French art-pop band returns with another solid collection of dancey radio-ready hits.  Hard to deny, even if you’re not normally into this sort of thing.   The band takes the synths, shoves them to the front, and crafts a gigantic stadium festival dance party.

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#31:  Chelsea Light Moving – “Chelsea Light Moving”

Post-breakup, Thurston Moore brings out the big guns, releasing an album of classic indie stomp with dollops of that signature Sonic Youth searing skronk.   The legacy of a classic band is in good hands.

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