8 Albums You Might Have Missed in 2013.

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra.

The Bryan Fer­ry Orchestra.


8. More Is Than Isn’t, RJD2.

When Dead­ringer came out in 2002 RJD2 was hailed as the nat­ur­al part­ner in crime  to DJ Shad­ow. He lost his way ever so slight­ly in the inter­im, but this his 6th solo effort is a decid­ed return to form.

Bor­rowed beats and riffs fused with hiphop and RnB, effort­less­ly bal­anced and blend­ed. It gets a 7.7 from Pitch­fork here.

7. Psy­chic, Dark­side.

Nico­las Jaar and Dave Har­ring­ton teamed up as Dark­side for this impres­sive­ly cin­e­mat­ic slice of indi­etron­i­ca, reviewed by me ear­li­er here. It gets an impressed 9.0 from Pitch­fork here.

Daft Punk.

Daft Punk.

 6. Ran­dom Access Mem­o­ries, Daft Punk.

Just in case you some­how missed this, album of the year, reviewed ear­li­er by by me here. Majes­tic.


5. Same Trail­er Dif­fer­ent Park, Kacey Musgraves.
Alt coun­try has yet anoth­er improb­a­bly young, old before her time star to sit beside the likes of Caitlin Rose, who’s 2010 debut Own Side Now I reviewed ear­li­er here.

Pris­tine melodies tell tales of woe and wast­ed lives, and are served up by a voice that would melt and break hearts.

4. AMOK, Atoms For Peace.

The debut album form the indie super­group melds Tom Yorke’s vocals with Brazil­ian beats, and sets them against a twitchy indi­etron­i­ca back­drop. Reviewed by my ear­li­er here.

Julianna-Barwick3. Nepenthe, Julian­na Barwick.
The sec­ond album prop­er from her after her break­through The Mag­ic Place in 2011, reviewed by me ear­li­er here.

Record­ed with Alex Somers, the Sig­ur Ros col­lab­o­ra­tor and the string quar­tet Ami­ina in Ice­land, it has the haunt­ing, ethe­re­al feel of peek era 4AD Records, when The Cocteau Twins, TMC and Dead Can Dance fused bliss with grunge. It gets an 8.5 from Pitch­fork here.



2. The Jazz Age, The Bryan Fer­ry Orchestra.

20s jazz cuts of clas­sic Roxy Music and Bryan Fer­ry tracks, it was reviewed by me ear­li­er here. It will either leave you utter­ly per­plexed, or be the most obvi­ous­ly bril­liant idea for an album imaginable.

BEELD21. The Essen­tial Mix 2011, Nico­las Jaar.

Two years old at this stage, but if you’ve yet to down­load this, do so here and now. Its two hour length means that Jaar has the lux­u­ry of, when he wish­es, play­ing the whole track. As he does with the Broth­ers Four’s 1960 clas­sic “Green­fields”, which melds 50s doo wop with 60s folk, the Lati­no sounds of Los Ange­les’ Negroes’ “Tu y tu Mirar”, or the typ­i­cal­ly del­i­cate Kei­th Jar­rett track, “Encore”.

In between, you get snatch­es of the Aphex Twin, snip­pets of Jon­ny Green­wood’s score for There Will Be Blood and, best of all, Ange­lo Badala­men­ti talk­ing us through the theme tune to Twin Peaks. Sub­lime.

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Hypnotic Debut Album ”Psychic” from Nicolas Jaar and his Darkside.

Darkside's Psychic.

Dark­side’s Psychic.

Nico­las Jaar first rose to offi­cial promi­nence when he won the annu­al BBC Radio 1 Essen­tial Mix of the Year joust in 2011. Mov­ing effort­less­ly from Bill Calla­han, the Aphex Twin and Kei­th Jar­rett to Mar­vin Gaye, Bey­on­cé, NSYNC(!) and back again, you can see the full track list­ing here. And you can down­load it – minus the annoy­ing BBC idents — via the small grey down­load under the blue Play but­ton here.

For the last year or two he’s been tour­ing with fel­low DJ hip­ster Dave Har­ring­ton as Dark­side and Psy­chic is their debut album, after their eccen­tric and ever so slight­ly aca­d­e­m­ic remix­ing of Ran­dom Access Mem­o­ries (reviewed by me ear­li­er here) which they called Daft­side.

The women of Twin Peaks.

The women of Twin Peaks.

And yes I know, remix­ing and sam­pling the arche­typ­al musi­cal mag­pies pro­duces a resplen­dent po-mo moe­bius strip that’s delight­ful­ly clever, but it doesn’t make the results any more danceable.

Psy­chic is a much more robust affair. As you’d expect after hear­ing the regal Essen­tial Mix, which kicks off with Ange­lo Badale­men­ti talk­ing us through the com­pos­ing of the Twin Peaks’ theme, this is indi­etron­i­ca fil­tered through the prism of widescreen cinemascope.

The best way into the album real­ly is via the Essen­tial Mix. Every­thing that is deft­ly hint­ed at and explored in Psy­chic, from dub­step and dis­co to prog rock psy­che­delia, free jazz and Enoesque min­i­mal­ism is aired and touched on there.

This is what Jaar feeds off of, where he sources his ingre­di­ents from. But the album that results when it’s all reduced down to a sin­gle 45 minute record is its own beast entire­ly. And yet beneath the sur­face, all those ele­ments can clear­ly be savoured.

Psy­chic  is both moody and men­ac­ing, yet rhyth­mi­cal­ly dri­ven, deft­ly strad­dling the divide between elec­tron­ic ambiance and the dance­floor. Where just enough is sug­gest­ed by the breathy, falset­toed vocals with­out ever being ful­ly explained.

This is what Don­al Dineen means when he uses the term “head­phones” as a genre descrip­tion. Ian Cohen gives it a 9.0 and a more ful­some descrip­tion in Pitch­fork here. And Jim Car­roll has an inter­view with Dave Har­ring­ton in the Irish Times here. It get the album of the week from Nialler 9, the best Irish music blog here.  And you can hear Paper Trails from the album per­formed live here. Get the album and the Essen­tial Mix. It’s not the sound of the future. It’s the sound of now.

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Daft Punk’s Plush New Album “Random Access Memories”.

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories.

Daft Punk — Ran­dom Access Memories.

Despite the fact that their debut Home­work came out in 1997, Ran­dom Access Mem­o­ries is only the fourth album prop­er from French duo Daft Punk. It’s both a sum­ma­tion of every­thing they’re about, and com­fort­ably their best album to date.

Super­fi­cial­ly, you get the same sense that some peo­ple have when look­ing at a Neo-Clas­si­cal build­ing. It seems to be noth­ing more than a mix and match of oth­er peo­ples’ great­est hits. But the more you lis­ten to it, the more sub­stan­tial it becomes. And apart from any­thing else, it’s absolute­ly sumptuous.

As the boys form Pitch­fork not­ed in their review of it, where they gave it an 8.8, it’s a paean to the kinds of expan­sive, mon­u­men­tal albums that just don’t get made any more.

Paul Williams in Phantom of the Paradise.

Paul Williams in Phan­tom of the Paradise.

Record­ed oh so expen­sive­ly in ana­logue, gone on all but one of the tracks are the sam­ples you nor­mal­ly asso­ciate with them. And in come a host of guest singers and actu­al instrumentalists.

Ani­mal Collective’s Pan­da Bear, The Strokes’ front man Julian Casablan­cas, and 70’s muso Paul Williams, who scored and starred in Bri­an de Palma’s cult clas­sic Phan­tom of the Par­adise (’74), which was such a sem­i­nal influ­ence on the pair. And, hap­pi­ly, most promi­nent­ly of all, Nile Rodgers backed up by Phar­rell Williams on vocals.

But the album’s high­light is Gior­gio by Moroder, a won­der­ful dri­ve thru cel­e­bra­to­ry syn­the­sis of elec­tron­ic music over its first few decades.

Have a look at the brief clip of Girl Talk’s mashup on Fla­vor­wire. And you can see the offi­cial video for their ubiq­ui­tous sin­gle Get Lucky here.

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