As we rapidly hurtle towards the mid-day of 2013, we reflect on the greatness of the music that has, so far, been presented to us. We marvel in the past, present, and future of hip hop, and we witness the return of a powerhouse legend. We head on over to http://www.amazon.com/Disappearance-ebook/dp/B00DL123N2/ where we buy a copy of my book, because it’s a fun post-apocalyptic romp. We bear witness to the enduring strength and resilience of rock ‘n’ roll. Let us bow our heads.
#30: Ghostface Killah – “Twelve Reasons To Die”
With a production very similar to executive producer RZA, and the familiar flow and bite of the veteran MC, Twelve Reasons To Die pays dirty homage to the sound of the Nineties while offering up one compelling track after another. A concept album involving an Italian mobster resurrected as the Ghostface Killah, it’s both utterly unsurprising and stridently riveting.
#29: The Men – “New Moon”
“Maturity” can be such a dirty word, but in the case of Brooklyn’s The Men, it fits like a well-worn work glove. On their fourth album they balance the booming punk rock energy with a more contemplative, Neil Young-esque sense of style, and the results take their sound to a very heartfelt level.
#28: Camera Obscura – “Desire Lines”
Their best album since Underachievers Please Try Harder, the Scottish indie pop band crafts a delicate, wistful album of gently affecting music to listen to on a quiet night with good coffee. Any situation, really, where you can appreciate Tracyanne Campbell’s deliberate style of sighing, wink-and-nudge humour and devastating lyrical observations.
#27: Beach Fossils – “Clash The Truth”
Laid-back stoner pop that walks a fine line between trying and not trying. It has much more punch and energy than most albums that come out sounding like this, likely due to the band’s background in hardcore punk.
#26: Youth Lagoon – “Wondrous Bughouse”
Dreamy psychedelic noise, like a dark LSD trip converted into an album. Gorgeous, even when it might be trying to kill you.
#25: My Bloody Valentine – “m b v”
After 22 years, it could have been another classically tragic exercise in “why bother?”. Instead, it proved to be worthy of the MBV legacy, cranking the heavier end of shoegaze into high gear and making those melody-obscuring vacuums sound even more massively dreamy than they ever had been before.
#24: Milo – “Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night”
The lord and master of sensitive nerd-rappers, Milo presents here a double EP that manages to art up hip hop for the internet age, reworking the genre through the filter of ambient production and deadpan rhymes. This is not party rap, in the best possible sense.
#23: A$AP Rocky – “Long. Live. A$AP”
The swag rap present of hip hop, A$AP oozes confidence over a series of next-level productions, including some of the best stuff Clams Casino has come out with to date.
#22: Mount Kimbie – “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth”
Remember when dubstep was a British invention revolving around dub and 2-step garage? Burial? How did we get from there to Skrillex, again? Joel Zimmerman, is this your fault? Anyway, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth finds the British group throwing out post-dubstep in favour of cross-genre pollination with pop and rock, making for an album that feels as innovative as it does familiar.
#21: Mikal Cronin – “MCII”
Oh, what a shock: raw, punk-inflected garage rock has, once again, saved rock ‘n’ roll from irrelevancy. Another generation has decided to go dig up the corpse. The sometime Ty Segall collaborator’s first album for Merge has some real crossover appeal (sort of) with a heavy emphasis on Seventies power pop studded in amongst all that squalling amped-up stomp.