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BEST OF 2013

TOP ALBUMS OF THE PAST YEAR

LATEST REVIEWS
By Charlie David Page
16th December 2013
2013 has presented us with a variety of truly exciting new music from a range of artists, both old and new. SWITCH's contributors relive their favourite albums of the past year.

JamesJames Cerche
5. 'AM' – ARCTIC MONKEYS
Alex Turner and co. turn the swagger up to 11 on their fifth LP as Sheffield's finest mine Black Sabbath and Dr Dre on twelve songs about getting together after midnight. It's sleazy, danceable and fun all at once. 'One For The Road' and 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?' lean heavily on the hip-hop angle, while Turner looks to his idols in John Lennon and Lou Reed for the mid album ballads ('No.1 Party Anthem' and 'Mad Sounds'). 'Do I Wanna Know?' might be one of the coolest songs about uncertainty ever written.

4. 'YEEZUS' – KANYE WEST
After the sweeping pomp of ' My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', Kanye's latest is lean and tightly tracked. Dark, gritty, industrial electro reigns beneath some ferocious swagger and choice samples, making for an arresting listen. From the battle cry of 'Black Skinhead' and the sheer manic egotism of 'I Am A God', West is able to build a record capable of both social comment ('New Slaves', 'Blood On The Leaves') and frequent discussion of his own penis. Fascinating.

3. '...LIKE CLOCKWORK' – QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
A hard-hitting collection of songs from one of rock 'n' roll's biggest badasses. '...Like Clockwork' stomps, swaggers and struts through ten tracks of desert-soaked stoner rock. Main man Josh Homme writes from the head and heart in the wake of a surgical mishap to get hips shaking and heads knocking on a release that shows off the band's vulnerable side without sacrificing any bite. Their best since 2002's classic album, 'Songs For The Deaf'.

2. 'MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY' – VAMPIRE WEEKEND
At risk of becoming hemmed in, Vampire Weekend stride boldly forward on their third and finest record. Sampling and more than a wink in Buddy Holly's direction makes for a winning formula when paired alongside the boppy, white-boy-afro-pop that first announced the band back in 2008. Infectiously catchy with plenty of tonal shifts, 'Modern Vampires' is fun, thoughtful and perfectly realised. Fun and summery, this record matures well and should constantly reward when revisted.

1. 'EMBRACISM' – KIRIN J CALLINAN
As divisive for some as it is jaw-dropping for others, 'Embracism' is a truly remarkable example of the kind of genre-bending Australian pop that is possible when the mind and body are allowed to wander. Solo performer Kirin J Callinan has crafted a touching record that is capable of immense brutality and deep exposition in the space of moments. It's a record that refuses to be pinned down, moving from industrial noise to lyrical balladry and back again under washes of lush guitar, twitching electronica and 80s synth pop. Callinan deals in tales of masculinity and remorse through a series of dreams and nightmares on a debut album that is sure to garner some serious attention as he takes it to the masses.

Honourable mentions go to The National's 'Trouble Will Find Me', Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' 'Push The Sky Away', David Bowie's 'The Next Day', Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories', The Growl's 'What Would Christ Do??', and Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor'.

CharlieCharlie David Page
5. 'SHANGRI LA' - JAKE BUGG
This album snuck across the line at the last second, only having been released a month ago, but the sophmore offering from this 19-year-old genius has been taking over Triple J's airwaves and inundating my iTunes playlists. A little bit Bob Dylan, this is refreshingly unlike anything else out there at the moment.

4. 'MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY' – VAMPIRE WEEKEND
As a long-time fan of Vampire Weekend, I eagerly anticipated their third offering - and fortunately, when it was released earlier this year, I wasn't disappointed. Theirs is the kind of music that grows on you, resulting in a symbiotic relationship with the songs. With a rambunctious new blend of synthetic and real instruments, 'Modern Vampires Of The City' is perhaps less congruous than Vampire Weekend's previous two albums, but a brave (if not conscious) effort to move in a new direction and keep their sound fresh.

3. 'THE 1975' - THE 1975
For pure indie pop, this is the way to go. The Manchester-based band have a distinctive look and feel across their image, and this extends into their music, delivering a modern twist on the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll story. The 1975 have crafted a debut album of addictive and provocative tunes - an offering that is only going to improve as Australia's season of sun and water takes hold.

2. 'REFLEKTOR' - ARCADE FIRE
This certainly has to be one of the most exciting releases of 2013, bringing a little something for everyone - intelligent and catchy lyrics, adventurous instrumental riffs, and a healthy serving of drum beats. It's a complex 76-minute trip from Montreal's favourite six-piece indie rock band, full of bold and layered tracks which amalgamate into an audacious and ravishing work of art.

1. 'TAPE DECK HEART' - FRANK TURNER
This distinctively tattooed artist has wormed his way into my heart with this album, which falls somewhere between a rollicking pub performance and impromptu poetry. The music is complexity disguised as simplicity, with relatable stories of humanity, childhood, love and loss. The entire album concept can be perfectly summarised with these lyrics from 'The Fisher King Blues': "Parents don't be too kind to your kids, Or how else will they grow up to be, Louche Parisian sinners or Nashville country singers, Singing about the terrible things their parents did?"

DanielDaniel Lammin - Best Soundtracks
'CLOUD ATLAS' - TOM TYKWER, JOHNNY KLIMEK & REINHOLD HEIL
This beautifully romantic score was one of the highlights of an incredible film, unashamedly orchestral and emotional. There’s something classical and timeless to this score that matches the lofty ambitions of the film. Easily the best score of the year.
Top Track: 'Cloud Atlas End Title'

'MAN OF STEEL' - HANS ZIMMER
Say what you will about the film, but there’s no arguing that Hans Zimmer’s score for this year’s Superman reboot is a gargantuan piece of work. Leaving behind the iconic John Williams theme, Zimmer has carved out a new and distinct musical language for this new Superman, heavy on the electronics and percussion. This is the kind of score you play often and you play loud. An instant classic.
Top Track: 'What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World?'

'GRAVITY' - STEPHEN PRICE
Director Alfonso Cuaron’s instructions to Stephen Price were to create a score that pushed the boundaries as much as the visuals. On CD it might not be so obvious, but a score is supposed to work in tandem with the visuals, and with a film set in the soundless vacuum of space, a lot rested upon Price’s work. What we get is an intricate tapestry of discordant sound, a swirling diabolical symphony. Not only is it a tremendous piece of composition, it redefines the function of the film score.
Top Track: 'Shenzou'

'STOKER' - CLINT MANSELL
Outside of his work with Darren Aronofsky, we don’t often hear much from Clint Mansell. But when we do, it’s an event, and his score for ‘Stoker’ is no exception. As twisted and playful as the film, his score is like a creeping vine, wrapping around our ears with its slippery melodies before strangling us. There’s also a new piece written for the film by Philip Glass, the duet between Indiana and Charlie that was easily the most erotic scene of the year. It is to Mansell’s credit, though, that his work is just as memorable and palpable as Glass’.
Top Track: 'Duet'
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