Friday, 29 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 11. Mark Wynn

11. Social Situations - Mark Wynn (Self-Released)

Stripped down bare, a lone voice and guitar can deliver a sparse eloquence that relies for its potency on the quality of the individual behind it.  Mark Wynn produces that potency with ridiculous consistency.  Line him up alongside Roy Harper, Billy Bragg and Jeffrey Lewis and see him slug it out with the best.  Seriously - he's that good.

His prolific output produced many of the delights of 2013 and there were so many high points it's difficult to do justice to them all.  My favourite was this, which came out as a split LP with The Sorry Kisses and also as a separate download on Mark's bandcamp site. It's like a Fast Show for the ears, only better. The scattergun delivery and acerbic humour pepper your ears and mind with a barrage of images that build into a panoramic private glimpse into a world where popular culture rubs up against mundane, brilliant obsessions and the listener wins every time.  

Get it here.

This will be my last post before voting closes in the official festive fifty, so make sure you let us know your three favourite tracks of the year before midnight on 30 November here.  

My top ten countdown begins from 1 December.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 12. Bill Baird

12. Spring Break of the Soul - Bill Baird (Pau Wau)

For the second year running, there's a place in my top twenty for the twisted pop of this Austin, Texas artiste.  Less immediate that last year's offering, Spring Break of the Soul nonetheless creeps into your consciousness and leaves a mark there that's both vivid and indelible.  Baird's basic artistic palette has its roots in late psychedelic strangeness, but there's so much more to this seventeen track collection: the man has a restless consciousness that means he leaves few stones unturned in his sometimes bizarre quest for interest and inspiration.  For the listener, this is an enigmatic and playful romp through a million shades of pop goodness.

Get it as a download here or on double vinyl from Pau Wau here.  

Two days left to vote in the festive fifty here.  

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 13. Nnevteiga

13. NnEvTeIgA - Nnevteiga (Tendress)

Crazy brilliance from this Japanese band who take loads of disparate elements and glue them together with demented noise.  The result is a mad brainshaker of an album with too many high points to list here among its twelve tracks, but I'll try one: 'ItA EkUTshI' crams more into its two minutes than most bands could come up with in a lifetime.

Get it as NYOP here.

Just three days left to vote in the official festive fifty here.  

Monday, 25 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 14. Banque Allemande

14. Willst Du Chinese Sein Musst Du Die Ekligen Sachen Essen - Banque Allemande (SS Records)

Sledgehammer attack of an album from this Berlin band, whose debut seemed to come out of nowhere a couple of years ago.  Then, this suddenly appeared in 2013 and tore my head to shreds both mentally and physically with its ferocious combination of visceral guitars and charging beats, a restless  and dangerously lively intelligence underpinning it all.  I've heard comparisons with the Velvets but, apart from the obvious, I don't see them: I'm thinking more Big Black at their very best, piling into a studio that Laibach had used and taking what they needed.  Limited edition LP of 400 copies and last I heard they were down to double figures, so you might want to move quick: get it here.  

Five days left to vote in the official Festive Fifty at Dandelion Radio here.  I should also mention that randomly drawn out voters will get some bunches of CDs picked by individual DJs.  

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 15. Laurence Made Me Cry

15. The Diary of Me - Laurence Made Me Cry (Self-Released)

Sometimes a release forces me to reassess my in-built preference towards the raucous and noisy and reconsider my often-held opinion that good music doesn't usually come from people who can sing and play their instruments well.  The Diary of Me is one such release.  Jo Whitby can sing, and she can play too, and she also has a tendency to surround herself with people who can do these things too and are able to complement her remarkable talents.

So, on this album, we don't just get a whole collection of masterpieces penned and crafted by Jo herself; we also get contributions from the likes of Paul Foster (Dementio13) Diane Marie Kloba, other artists whose remarkable talents have done much to light up 2013.  The album is a treasure trove of introspective delights that, conversely, still manage to reach out and illuminate so much of the outside world.   CD or NYOP download available here.  

A lot of people seem to be following this countdown - thanks for that.   Tell us your own favourites of the year by voting in the official Festive Fifty at Dandelion Radio here

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 16. Sieur et Dame

16. Amour et Papouasie - Sieur et Dame (Kythibong)

Another release from the incredible Kythibong label, and another from Nantes, this time an astonishing collection that veers from nightmare cabaret to crazed opera and stops off every now and again for a quick flirtation with one of those Shock-Headed Peter type nursery rhymes that frighten kids half to death.  The dual vocals can simultaneously take you to humanity-transcending heights and make your flesh want to creep up your arse.  The overall effect is stunning: a unique album from unique performers.

Get it on CD or LP from here.  

Friday, 22 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 17. The Fall

17. ReMit - The Fall (Cherry Red)

One of the finest Fall albums of recent times.  So why is it only at number 17? Simply because there were sixteen albums released this year that I enjoyed more, and because 2013 was an especially productive year for high quality releases.

With The Remainderer imminent and another album to expect in the new year, we might be entering one of those prolific periods for the band's releases and, if this one was anything to go by, we're in for a treat.

Remember: get along to this link to vote for your favourite three tracks of 2013 in this year's official Festive Fifty.  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 18. - The Healthy Boy & The Badass Motherfuckers

18, Carne Farce Camisole - The Healthy Boy & The Badass Motherfuckers (Kythibong)

The excellent Kythibong label brought us many great things during 2013 and one of the best was this, a simmering monster of growling bluesy folk, featuring the menacing vocals of The Healthy Boy - somewhere between Nick Cave and Jacques Brel in a pact with Satan - and the brooding musicianship of the Motherfuckers, from Nantes.  This was nothing like what I expected on seeing the band's name and a perpetual unearthing of surprises and wonderful destruction of expectations is a feature throughout the collection.  Get it on vinyl from here.  

Remember: nine days left to vote in the festive fifty.  Tell us your three favourite tracks of the year here.  

Best Albums of 2013 - Number 19: derTANZ

19. Kaktusz - derTANZ

As in 2012, there was plenty coming out of Hungary to get excited about this year.  One of the very best was this album from Budapest experimental punkers derTANZ, an album of blistering yet meticulously channeled noise, recorded entirely live.  Probably best summed up by the comment Sand left on the album's bandcamp page: "Strange album, after many listenings I still can't pinpoint it well, but I like it a lot.  It is strangely easy to listen and captivating."

Well put, Sand.   The album's available as CD or NYOP download from here.  

A timely reminder, too, that there are now only ten days left to vote in the offiical festive fifty at Dandelion Radio.  Tell us your three favourite tracks of the year here.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Best Albums of 2013: 20 - Churn Milk Joan

20.  8 Black Postcards - Churn Milk Joan

Churn Milk Joan have had a busy year, but for me their finest moment was this brilliant part-improvised five track collection they recorded in their Hebden Bridge studios. 

They quote this from my review on the album's bandcamp page: "...another stunner... a taut percussive backdrop against which sparse guitar patterns interweave, Tago Mago-esque musical interludes rise and fall and something not unrelated to a funk vibe drags you into a sonic blender into which sounds are tossed before coming out of the other end entirely transformed, as indeed is the listener."

Couldn't have put it better myself.  Oh.

Get it as NYOP here. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The 2013 Listen To Me Top Ten - Nominations

As usual, my December show on Dandelion Radio will feature the Listen To Me Top Ten - a selection of my ten favourite bands or artists who've contacted me during the year and introduced me to their music, for which I'm very grateful.  The numbers doing this during 2013 were greater than ever so the ten selected came from a very large pool and inevitably form an extremely strong shortlist.

During the show, I'll attempt, with great difficulty, to put them in some kind of ranking order, but for now the ten selected bands and artists are listed below.  I'd recommend you check them out if you've not done so before, because they're all extremely worthy of your attention.

The nominations:

Burning Condors (Bandcamp)
Jude Cowan (Website)
DerTANZ (Bandcamp)
Dot Dash (Bandcamp)
Indidginus (Soundcloud)
Diane Marie Kloba (Website)
Labasheeda (Website)
Laurence Made Me Cry (Website)
Music For The Muted (Soundcloud)
Nac/Hut Report (Website)

A reminder again that you can vote for your own favourites of the year in the official Festive Fifty at Dandelion Radio here

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Top 40 Albums of 2013: 25-21

Concluding the bottom half of the countdown:

25. Images Du Futur - Suuns (Secretly Canadian)

Great live band and this album finally translates that into a truly memorable collection of studio recordings.  Excellent remixes EP recently released too.

24. The Ring of the Rise - Micah Blue Syndrome (Immune)

Its understated brilliance works on you until you submit and are forced to admit that barrages of noise, while they unquestionably have their place, are not something you should build your life around completely.

23. Last Test - Dementio13 (Self-Released) - Above

A man who releases so many albums I invariably lose track of where he is with them and sometimes find myself back-tracking. This is him at his eclectic electronic best: available as NYOP here.

22. Zabraneta Planeta - Bernays Propaganda (Self-Released) - Below

The live session from this Macedonian band broadcast on my show was one of the highlights of the year for me.  Many of the tracks feature in their studio versions on this fine collection, also available as NYOP.  Get it here.

21. Silence Yourself - Savages (Matador/Pop Noire)

Giving indie popularity a good name for the first time in years.

A reminder that you can let us know your favourites of the year by voting in Dandelion Radio's official Festive Fifty here.  Half of the voting period has now gone: get yours in by the end of November for it to count.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Top 40 Albums of 2013: 30-26

I know this is a bit early, but I always start it at this time of year and it still takes me up to Xmas Eve before I get to the end.  And I want to get it done and dusted before the first broadcast of the Festive Fifty which, as usual, will be on Xmas Day.  A reminder you can vote for your favourite three tracks of the year here. You've got till the end of November.

In this  chart, these are numbers 30-26:

30.  Hunting a Schizophrenic Wolf - The Fucked Up Beat (Daddy Tank) - Above

Abrasive and apt to stir your body to move in strange, unhealthy directions.  Yet another work of wonder from one of the finest record labels of our time, if not the finest.

29. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (Astro Black)

Out of the blue release that turned out to be one of Will Oldham's best ever: this finds him at his quirky, melancholy best.

28. Why Can't You Write Something Nice For a Change? - Tingle in the Netherlands (Nerve Echo)

A collection that brings together this irreverent duo's work together in one neat, nasty little package.  Irrepressible ditties that offend in a world that needs offending.

27. Lunar Collection - Lee Negin (Passing Phase)

A regular visitor to these annual charts, still knocking out electronic music that manages to be both familiar and surprising at the same time.

26. A Wonder Working Stone - Alasdair Roberts & Friends (Drag City) - Below

Understated neo-folk from one of a small number of masters of the craft.

Numbers 25-21 coming soon...

Monday, 11 November 2013

Top 40 Albums of 2013: 35-31

Continuing the countdown...

35. Wait to Pleasure - No Joy (Mexican Summer)

Shoegaze-tinged indie pop with a timeless freshness.

34. You Owe Me Nothing But Love - Comanechi (Tigertrap)

By turns spiky and tuneful.  The uncompromisingly brash 'Patsy' is one of the most astonishing tracks of the year.

33. Tomorrow's Harvest - Boards of Canada (Warp)

Cracking return to form - retains all the elements that made their earlier work such a delight, but endowed with the masterful touches of veterans.

32. White Light - 65daysofstatic (Century Media)

Another triumph of the tried and tested - sublimely atmospheric and powerful.

31. I Surrection - Talisman (Sugar Shack) - below

Reggae veterans still carrying an awesome punch.

Let us know your favourites of the year.  Vote in the official Festive Fifty at Dandelion Radio here

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Top 40 Albums of 2013 - 40-36

Commencing my countdown of the year's best albums...and what a great year it was:

40. Mowgli - Mister Lies (Lefse)
39. The Big Dream - David Lynch (Sacred Bones)
38. The Moths Are Real - Serafina Steer (Stolen)
37. James X Boyd & The Boydoids - James X Boyd & The Boydoids (Self-Released)
36. Fetch - Melt Banana (Azap) (below)

Numbers 35-31 coming soon.  Don't forget voting is open in the only chart that really counts - the official Festive Fifty on Dandelion Radio.  Vote here