I can almost hear the first fireworks going off in the background… am I still within the boundaries of 2013? Yes? Phew. An end of year isn’t complete without candles, more alcohol than usual, a bout of the flu, awkward family moments over Christmas and an end-of-year list, right? I agree. While a lot is changing – and always will – some things stay the same. I for one am glad for that. So without further ado, let’s dive into what I think is the absolute cream of this year’s musical crop.
2013 was an awesome year for music: new releases from all corners, a reissue market functioning well above what a music lover is able to digest combined with a relentless barrage of news, previews, tracks, dj-sets, remixes and re-edits made for a landscape that was a pleasure to get lost in. With the means of production, distribution and promotion at everybody’s fingertips and the current incarnation of what was once The Music Industry never far behind, the idea of “keeping up” with new releases the way this possible in the nineties and 00’s is now an impossibility.
Discovering new music is a combination of enthusiasm, time, recommendations, news sources and happy accidents. The list below features the 22 tracks, albums, compilations and reissues that soundtracked my 2013 with impact, and I hope some of these will do the same for your 2014.
Bill Callahan – Dream river (Drag City)
Sparse, poetic and perfectly realised. Funny too.
Day – Land of a 1000 chances (PL70)
10 years in the making and a melancholic account of life and living in California.
DJ Rashad – Rollin (Hyperdub, EP)
Brash yet polished, melancholic yet frenetic. I could listen to this all day.
James Holden – The Inheritors (Border Community)
Former trance hero channels ancient spirits and opens up a gateway to a primeval state of being. Heady stuff.
King Krule – 6 feet beneath the moon (XL)
Or, why Britain captures the essence of urban existence, 2013 edition. Tears of teenage bard fall on concrete.
Lone – Airglow Fires (R&S, single)
2013’s obsession with the late eighties and early nineties caught in a perfect snapshot.
Omar – The Man (Freestyle, single)
Mister Lye-Fook adds another anthem and future evergreen to his impressive resumé.
Various Artists – I am the center: private issue new age music in America, 1950-1990 (Light in the Attic, compilation)
Didn’t see this one coming, let alone how much I loved it. An off-line soundtrack to reinstate the balance of what’s important.
Various Artists – Psychemagik presents Magik Sunrise (Leng, compilation)
This is what happens when digging for records leads you to unexpected places – a shining example of how there will always be new (old) music to discover.
Dieuf-Dieul de Thies – Aw sa yone vol. 1 (Terangabeat)
Ebo Taylor – Conflict Nkru! (Mr. Bongo, reissue)
Express Rising – II (Numero Group)
Hailu Mergia and his classical instrument (Awesome tapes from Africa, reissue)
Joe – Fact mix 415 (factmag.com, mix)
Johnny Paycheck – Darmel’s House (Good Records NYC, mix)
Kurt Vile – Waking on a pretty daze (Matador)
Logos – Cold Mission (Keysound)
Mark Francis Johnson – Orange Mound (Gauss-pdf.com, mix)
Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp)
Paula – Relaxed Fit (Ethereal Sequence, reissue)
Special Request – Soul Music (Houndstooth)
Steve Gunn – Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors)