Avid fan of nice sounds and curator at Downtown art space Vent, Seif Abdel Salaam has put together a definitive list of the top five best and worst albums of 2013 and why they've made it to the list, especially for Scene Noise.
It was a pretty spectacular year for music with some artists you may not have heard of coming to the forefront and some of your favourites bombing with new releases. Check out the acrimonious reviews below and let us know if you agree...
FIVE BEST ALBUMS:
JON HOPKINS – IMMUNITY
Here is classy Electronic music. Here are fascinating sounds. Here is intricate attention to detail. Here are subtle layers with even subtler compositions. Here is Jon Hopkins. This album is fucking good that it might just be one of the best albums of the decade. I swear, sometimes I think I have a rather serious man crush on this guy. While I think James Blake’s Mercury Prize win was very well deserved, I really did want them both to win. There's not a single track on this album that I don’t like. Highly recommended.
Sounds like: Forrest Swords/ Apparat/ Ulrich Schnauss
Best Track: Collider (It’s nine whole minutes and they are the best nine minutes on my iPod)
GHOSTPOET –SOME SAY I SO I SAY LIGHT
Hi. I am Ghostpoet. I am so good at what I do and I hope you like it. Seriously though, this guy... he’s like a cross between a young Jimmy Ruffin and an older Derwin Schlecker. It’s actually quite sad how underrated he is. Ever since his debut Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam came out, I knew he had it in him to come out with a second album and not suck tits. Listen to this beautiful album and you will not regret it, trust me.
Sounds like: Gold Panda/ Jamie XX/ Zomby
Best Track: Msi Musmid
JAMES BLAKE –RETROGRADE
EMOTIONS EMOTIONS EMOTIONS. Not only is Blake hands down one of the greatest voices I’ve heard in a long long time, but he’s also one of these musicians/magicians who manage to make music that sounds like silence. There are moments in this album where the music is pretty much happening in a complete vacuum and yet it has such a profound effect on the listener. And the lyrics are beyond incredible. Also, fact that he featured RZA on of his tracks is an absolute win. All you have to do is lock yourself up in a room, turn off your phone and pretty much your whole life and listen to this album in its entirety. Absolutely stunning. (P.S. The bonus track on this album I Ran is a sample from OutKast’s Bombs Over Baghdad and it is pure genius, make sure you don’t skip it.
Sounds like: Airhead/ How To Dress Well/ Bon Iver
Best Track: Retrograde
SIGUR ROS – KVEIKUR
Listen to this album if you really, really, really, really like music. A group of incredibly talented Icelandic gentlemen do all that is in their might to produce fresh sounds using only fresh instruments including a bowed guitar (I know, right?). I’ve seen these guys live before and they are absolutely stunning. Much like their previous albums, Kveikur does not by any means disappoint. Just classy Icelandic music. If Iceland was looking to release a video to market their country, this should definitely be the music to accompany it.
Sounds like: Not sure but it makes me want to check into a sketchy Icelandic B&B and never have to return.
Best Track: Rafstraumur
TYLER, THE CREATOR – WOLF
Leave it to a crazy ass black guy from California and his crew to sit down and write a bunch of weird shit and make it sound like the best Hip Hop music you will ever listen to. Here is a fact: Tyler, the Creator and the entire Odd Future gang are so damn fresh that practically no one else in the business can compare. I’ve seen these guys in July alongside Meek Mill and it was one of the most glorious concerts I’ve ever been to. It was raining like there’s no tomorrow and I didn’t move one inch, neither did anyone around me. This album, in short, is a compilation of eighteen tracks of pure sexual Hip Hop.
Sounds like: Meek Mill/ SchoolBoy Q/ Black Cobain
Best Track: Tamale
FIVE WORST ALBUMS:
DISCLOSURE - DISCLOSURE
Never trust two teenager brothers from Surrey who got together one day and decided to bore the shit out of humanity with yet another linear and utterly pointless dance album. Also, never trust two teenager brothers from Surrey who feature Sam Smith on one of their tracks. My only advice to this self-indulgent duo is to stop sampling music that is somehow way worse than their own.
"You lift my heart up when the rest of me is down" – awww, you are SO fucking lame.
Sounds like: Disgusting dance music. Goodbye.
Worst Track: When A Fire Starts To Burn
The National – Trouble Will Find me
Here is a group of middle aged men that have managed, despite a career made up entirely of mediocre Indie chants, to release yet another album whose title and artwork are literally one hundred times more interesting than the music itself. Trouble Will Find Me is a great name for an album. An androgynous head carved inside a mirror surface reflecting only the scalp to nostril area of the face is a terrifically avant-garde concept for artwork. But if I wanted to buy an album for its artwork and name I’d only pay good money to stare at the artwork and the name goddamnit. It’s been said that front man Matt Berninger has been musically influenced by fatherhood since the birth of his daughter circa the band’s release of the equally horrific previous album High Violet. To many, this is admirable, especially fathers. I, on the other hand, am not a father and would therefore happily cross the Atlantic on my private jet, punch the shit out of Matt Berninger and demand that he only come around on Father’s Day. Surely if Hallmark had a listen to the album they would love to sort out a deal with his ugly face. A while later, after he screams in agony and begs me to stop, I would punch him some more and tell him, with a less than average and borderline tedious baritone like his own, that if he can’t make decent music at 41 years old, he can’t make decent music ever. And if that Hallmark deal actually hits a home run for him, all he needs to do is basically be glad that those who still celebrate Father’s Day actually deserve to listen to his stupid fucking music.
** Just this last month, The National performed Sorrow at the MoMA (of course) for 24 hours. That’s twenty-four whole hours. The horror. The freaking horror.
Sounds like: Luther Vandross on mushrooms.
Worst Track: I Need My Girl
MGMT – MGMT
Right, here’s the thing. Debut album: fantastic. If anything, I truly believe that Oracular Spectacular has actually set the bar for successive albums by Indie bands of the same sound/feel. This self titled album, on the other hand, is arguably the worst thing that has happened to the genre since forever. It literally sounds like an incomplete arrangement of unidentified instruments, which, in my dictionary, automatically means that they were just trying so damn hard to be different that they ended up being so damn pretentious. It really such a bad album that I honestly couldn’t listen to the whole thing because my ears were on the verge of actual physical bleeding.
Sounds like: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Worst Track: ALL OF IT.
ARCTIC MONKEYS – AM
Ok. Who doesn’t like the Arctic Monkeys? No one. Who expected their fifth album to be the best thing ever? Everyone. Was it? Absolutely not. When I casually mentioned to one of my good friends and music buffs how annoying the album was and how ridiculously immature the lyrics were, his reply was that they were based on some poem by some poet whom I don’t know and couldn’t give a flying fuck about. This is Alex Turner we’re talking about here. He’s literally one of the greatest lyricists of his time. So when he comes out with an album that has the words "If you like your coffee hot/then I can be your coffee pot" then he can go ahead and jump off a cliff and fall to his stupid death. And it’s not just the lyrics that I’m angry about here. It’s really just the entire album as a whole. Mixing, arrangement, everything. In a recent interview, Turner mentioned that they didn’t want to sound like four blokes jamming in their garage. Oddly enough, that is exactly what this album sounds like. There isn’t a single song on AM that didn’t make me want to cry in complete and utter disappointment. Still love these guys though, let’s see what comes next.
Sounds like: Two Door Cinema Club if they were prepubescent boys still unsure of their sexual orientation.
Worst Track: I Wanna Be Yours
RUDIMENTAL – HOME
Can someone please tell these guys that their music only belongs in Hyundai and Coca-Cola ads? What is this? How and why they were nominated for a Mercury Prize is really beyond me. Thanks for proving me right guys, the majority of Drum and Bass is annoying and so are you.
Sounds like: Well, Hyundai and Coca-Cola ad music.
Worst Track: Feel The Love