BEST OF 2013 – Honourable Mentions & Near Misses – Part 1

The top thirty has been counted, the prize draw declared open and copious amount of crap telly and rich food has passed before and into us. The enjoyable world betwixt Christmas and New Year allows for various bits and bobs mopping up other enjoyable aspects of the year. The first, as is increasingly traditional now, is a list of albums I thoroughly enjoyed but which sat just outside the list when it was put together. So, in the interests of continuing to provide you with splendid tunes to spend time and money on, here are another ten fine records from 2013 with rather more brief summaries, with a further ten to follow before we embrace January. Click each title to explore further.

Near Misses 1

Girls Names – The New Life

Heavy 80s indie sound, evoking memories of Bunnymen, Joy Division and even the lighter end of The Cure. Great jangle quotient and some lovely melodies.

Public Service Broadcasting – Inform-Educate-Entertain

I suspect it will lack longevity, but there’s a certain thrill to these vibrant pop-rock collages, layered with spoken word samples from old propaganda films. Truly excellent live too.

Bill Ryder-Jones – A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart

A lusciously melancholic album of hushed tones and even more hushed vocals. Perfect for the bitter winter mornings ahead, with somnambulant guitars and delicately placed piano.

Mogwai – Les Revenants OST

In more mature, thoughtful mode, Mogwai crafted a stunning soundtrack which broods and swells in equal measure. A dark but absorbing record. Seek it out at the same time as their wonderful new album, ‘Rave Tapes’, which is out in a few weeks.

The Necks – Open

A single track, sixty-eight minute jazz album with more strut, swagger and downright atmosphere than most of the stuff released this year. It gradually gathers momentum and intensity before drawing to a close in a majestic wash of sound. With a doff of the cap to Nick Southall, this was a late discovery and might have made the thirty given time.

Daughn Gibson – Me Moan

Ah, what a strange but brilliant record. Like Nick Cave and Scott Walker melded into one particularly exuberant person who’s familiar with the work of LCD Soundsytem. It is bizarrely tremendous and well worth seeking out.

Grails – Black Tar Prophecies Vol 4-6

 A late find, with due thanks to Barry and Ash at Spillers, and technically a compilation, but this is a truly remarkable album which I feel duty bound to flag before you. Droney, proggy, transcendant, dubby and absolutely enormous, these are very special bits of music.

The Pastels – Slow Summits

The first straight studio album by these Scottish indie-pop charmers in sixteen years did not disappoint. Hazy jangle, cooed vocals and glorious washes of trumpet and flute coalesce into something really rather special, offering a logical update of their demure but luscious sound of old.

Hookworms – Pearl Mystic

Thundering psych-rock with a spaced out sheen and an enormous sense of fun. Best played very, very loud. The hazy ‘In Our Time’ is a particular favourite.

Yr Ods – Llithro

Welsh indie-pop jangle of the highest order, sounding spookily like early Super Furries, with plenty of other 90s influences thrown in for good measure. A melodically rich, utterly joyous burst of sunshine.