albums

GFP’s Favourite Albums | 2013 [Part One]

by Tom Johnson

Here, in no particular order, are our favourite albums of 2013. A proper Top 10 will follow soon, so think of this as the ‘highly recommended’ section. It’s been some year, hey? Thanks for sticking with us, and we hope you find something new to fall in love with. We think you just might…

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ay yes

Way Yes | Tog Pebbles

Every aspect of a Summer, from the weightless abandonment, to the slow dull ache of it slipping away, is brought to life in this glorious and fascinating collection of songs from Way Yes. Tribal percussion, perfect harmonies and the most truest of pop hearts reign throughout and create a record that becomes the very best of friend to those who find themselves in its grasps. Don’t be one of those to miss out.

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audible 

football, etc. | Audible

The perfect mix of energetic guitars and emo singalongs, the second record from Houston’s football, etc was comfortably the best LP of its genre in 2013. Heartfelt, triumphant and resoundingly epic it perfectly balanced beauty and pain to create a record that felt like the best of friends from the very first listen.

BUY

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infinty

Infinity Crush | When We’re Snow

Quite how these small, quiet songs from Infinity Crush manage to be so affecting is anyone’s guess. Intensely personal rather than covering any wide-ranging themes, the eight songs here are all bare-boned confessional diary entries about people, places and situations we know nothing about, and yet they’re crushing. A beautiful, occasionally haunting collection that’s not to be missed.

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sonlux

Son Lux | Lanterns

The magnitude of Son Lux’s vision is evident on album opener ‘Alternate World‘. The hymnal sound of a choir, augmented through reverse reverb, battles against warped mandolins; while the steady beat of 808 drums underpin a despondent vocal turn from featuring artist Ieva Berberian (of GFP favourites Gem Club). On Lanterns, the listener gains a glimpse into this alternate world; in which diverse instrumentation and an entwining of genres create a chaotic euphony, and subsequently Son Lux’s most compelling work to date.” [Read more]

LISTEN // BUY

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julie

Julie Byrne | Julie Byrne

Discovering Julie Byrne earlier this year was something of a revelation. It was also staggering to find barely any reviews of her self-titled album, not to mention a facebook page, twitter account etc. But then the music she makes doesn’t feel suited to this digital age. A voice that haunts like the most affecting of memories, leading some of the most raw and touching folk-ish songs we’ve heard since early Cat Power. Yep, that good.

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wild ones

Wild Ones | Keep It Safe

One of the gems of the Summer, this debut album from Portland’s finest purveyors of indie pop is a charming and dreamy collection of tracks that all comes together brilliantly. From the dazzling synth-led opener Golden Twin, to the heartfelt groove of Paia, Keep It Safe is a assured, confident and brilliant record.

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loscamp

Los Campesinos! | No Blues

Like all of the most interesting things in life, you have to get really get inside of No Blues to fully appreciate it. Yes, it’s a Los Campesinos! record in most of the ways you already know; but it’s an aged version of what’s come before. There are wrinkles around the eyes, cracks in the skin, slight bulges that you never noticed before but it still has the ability to surprise. For all of its intimate familiarity No Blues is a vehemently resolute record, and it feels unwaveringly alive.” [Read more]

Listen // Buy

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no apw

No Paws | Healthy Men

Channeling desperation and anguish in to despair in to heady pop songs is nothing new, but No Paws make a far better task of it than some of their contemporaries. An energetic skip through dark and heavy-hearted synth-pop, Healthy Men is a restless journey through late-80s British pop influences, but it’s also one that’s very much worth taking.

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nils

Nils Frahm | Spaces

The greatest live album ever released? Sounds like a rather hyperbolic statement for something so new but sit down and listen to it and try and convince me otherwise. A compilation covering two years of live recordings, Spaces is a mesmerising and astonishing collection from one of the greatest musicians on the planet.

Listen // Buy

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tera

Tera Melos – X’ed Out

A slight change of direction for the mathy/hard-rock trio who reined things in somewhat for new record X’ed Out. Despite the more straight forward approach t’s still staggeringly good; big crunches of guitar sitting quite happily next to the more intricate breakdowns and some of the best, straight-up fun choruses they’ve written thus far.

Listen // Buy

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tnp

These New Puritans | Fields Of Reed

A dense, intricate and somewhat bizarre collection of songs from one of the UK’s most unique and adventurous bands. They used everything from a ‘Magnetic Resonator Piano’ to the sound of a hawk flying around the studio to create a dark, heavy and often beautiful record.

Listen // Buy

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day ravies

Day Ravies

A billowing cloud of influences and genres with stark originality sitting side-by-side with chest-warming familiarity. Sometimes records that flit between styles so casually can end up feeling disparate – a kind of imbalance that makes it difficult to get in to – but that’s simply not the case here. Tussle is a warm and brilliantly vibrant record from the Australian quartet.

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Waxahatchee

The collective name for the solo meanderings of Katie Crutchfield, Cerulean Salt is a startlingly personal and human collection of songs. They’re sub three-minute snapshots of a life lived somewhere else, and they hold such weight, and possess such power, that even the shortest of Katie’s abstractions never feel half-finished.” [Read more]

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jinx

Weekend | Jinx

Less ferocious than their snarling, unhinged debut it might have been, but Jinx was still a dark, almost gothic ride through stormy skies and blood-spattered dancefloors. A barn-storming, post-punk delight that will rattle your senses to the core from a band who always place themselves on the very edge of the precipice.

Listen // Buy

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rmhub

RM Hubbert | Breaks & Bone

Well and truly tearing up the blueprint for his 2012 award-winning LP, RM Hubbert crafted this majestic solo LP by using small sprinklings of his own vocals alongside his signature and always-fascinating guitar style. Raw and unflinchingly honest, Breaks & Bone is a brave and beautiful record that will sit in your chest for days.

Buy

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fiery

Fiery Crash | Practice Shots

Or melancholic anthems for weary heads. Practice Shots is a gorgeous collection of folk-tinged pop songs, peppered with brief moments of ambience and electronica, all led by the soft-sighed baritone of the records creator, Joshua Jackson. It’s an album to truly lose yourself in, and we would suggest you do that right now…

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Concept1

Adam Stafford | Imaginary Walls Collapse

Sturdier and more balanced than his brilliant debut LP, Imaginary Walls Collapse is further proof that Adam Stafford is one of the most under-rated and under-valued songwriters around. Clever, intelligent and brilliantly-sculpted pop songs built around loops, beat-boxing (the good kind, don’t worry) and his rain-soaked lead vocal, it’s an album that offers up something new upon every listen.

Buy

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hecker

Tim Hecker | Virgins

Travelling to his home town of Montreal, Seattle and then Reykjavik, Hecker’s recordings for this album were focused largely in ‘intimate studio rooms’. One noticeable element from these recordings is Hecker’s increasing love of wind instruments, something which has been much more understated in the past. Album tracks such as ‘Amps, Drugs, Harmonium‘ and ‘Radiance‘ are testament to this as the interweaving, dissonant wind instruments make up the key texture for both.” [Read more]

Listen // Buy

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redbeard

Rick Redbeard | Selfish Heart

A timeless and gorgeous set of folk-ish songs from the Phantom Band’s Rick Anthony, and one of the lost gems of 2013. This quiet set of folk-ish songs took a while to set in, but when it did it quickly became one of the years most rewarding listens. From the heavy-sigh of Kelvin Grove to the stark and melancholic Old Blue, Selfish Heart is simply one of the finest Scottish records of the year. 

Listen // Buy

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james

James Holden | The Inheritors

While a few of his contemporaries might have grabbed the limelight in much of the end-of-year lists, it’s Holden’s brilliantly vibrant ‘The Inheritors‘ LP that holds the most weight. His first album of brand new music since his 2006 debut, it’s a diverse and dazzling collection that flits between spacey trance, brass breakdowns and constantly shifting and exuberant textures. The best electronic LP of the year? Quite probably.

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twoinch

Two-Inch Astronaut | Bad Brother

“Within the schizophrenic three minutes of album opener ‘swol’, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which rule book Maryland trio Two Inch Astronaut play by. They do their best to take that avant-garde, fuzzy-punk, indie-grunge book and feed it through a shredder, stitch it all back up and then feed it back through the shredder…” [Read more]

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sky

Colorlist | Sky Song

On their third album, instrumental duo Colorlist have crafted a record that drifts between quiet moments of beauty and rousing, often spectacular, soundscapes. Wonderfully organic, the eight tracks here offer up a magical listening experience; one that takes you so far away from the walls of your bedroom that you’re left wondering if you’ll ever make it back. An invigorating, bold and brilliantly intricate album to truly lose yourself in.

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lower

Lower Plenty | Hard Rubbish

There are no dance moves, no hooks, no pop-culture references, certainly no posturing and studio trickery. In fact, it barely feels like they move from their seats at all. No Tom Waits, Patti Smith or Nick Cave impressions, just a few people sitting at a table, playing some sad songs they made up. And it’s wonderful.” [Read more]

Buy

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whenevr

The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die | Whenever, If Ever

Out of the gate though, there’s a notable level of maturity with the songcraft – especially considering this is their debut full-length. And the emo-ness that does exist within the band, is complemented by some gorgeous post-rock/straight-up indie rock that helps distinguish The World is a Beautiful Place from their contemporaries...” [Read more]

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swearin

Swearin | Surfing Strange

“Surfing Strange is a different beast however, and should be treated as such. It’s the debut’s calmer, older sister. It leans more towards 90’s indie and grunge and away from the aforementioned punk splattered pop. Its highlights are plentiful and, in its best moments it is an absolutely glorious and uplifting album.” [Read more]

Listen // Buy

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cuushe

Cuushe | Butterfly Case

“Unrelentingly pretty and carrying the picture-perfect poise of a high-wire acrobat, it was a gorgeous blend of subdued synths and heart-in-throat vocals. Pleasing, then, to find out that the rest of the record follows much the same path. Achingly gorgeous minimal backdrops catch the eye, but it’s also thrillingly loud in places, the end resulting being one of most satisfying and engaging albums we’ve heard in a very long time.” [Read more]

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Top 10 albums of 2013 to follow…

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