THE MUSIC YEAR OF 2013 was characterized by a neck-high flood of young, female vocalists (chvrches, lorde, haim, braids and banks), an onslaught of British poet-producers (James Blake, King Krule, Mount Kimbie, Sohn) and seasoned veterans deciding to take their music to unexpected, mostly satisfying places (Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire).
These are records that we as a shop, and you as customers and friends obsessed over— and it’s a pretty cool crop of vinyl.
In no particular order, our favorite albums of the year are:
VOLCANO CHOIR // REPAVE
Surreal, non-sensical, lovely, and on repeat. This is NOT Bon Iver, but an intimate and playful reincarnation of Justin Vernon with a group of super talented musicians to back him. You’ll eventually find yourself singing along with car windows open so prepare for strange looks. (Concert in January)
KING KRULE // SIX FEET BELOW THE MOON
This album was first adored by our very own Spencer Richardson, and quickly adopted by co-workers and customer alike. The inimitable Krule created a debut album with such bold ramen flavors that most found the LP hard to digest at first… And why not— picture a Vegas lounge act fronted by a lovelorn, 18 y/o South Londoner and the mental image may not exactly inspire confidence in their musical ability! But upon repeat listens, confidence is exactly what you get. You also get great guitar work, vulnerable poetry, and moments of scorching introspection. This a jaw dropping first effort from a guy we can’t wait to hear more from… (Concert on 12.18)
ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER // R PLUS 7
At Touch we try not to let music videos taint our pure digestion and appreciation of an album… In the case of ONEOHTRIX.NEVER however, we just had to watch. The Betamale video acted as an overture— a primer to the unspoken message being transmitted by the electronic art piece that is R PLUS 7. Once it is viewed, Lopatin’s theme of technology and the internet as false idol and seductive siren comes to life in every track. It’s f*cking scary. (Concert in February)
JESSY LANZA // PULL MY HAIR BACK (HYPERDUB)
In a year when a growing number of female vocalists chose to play the line between jail bait and diva with their voices and live acts, it was oh-so-refreshing to have Jessy Lanza on the scene. The album, Pull My Hair Back, is sensual and adult. The lyrics are direct and tantalizing. The voice is breathy and inviting, and the album begs the listener for repeated listens while, of course, dancing in front of a mirror.
VAMPIRE WEEKEND // MODERN VAMPIRES OF THE CITY
Psst. You can stop pretending you don’t like them now. Vampire Weekend is the band that is simply smarter and bolder than you ever wanted to give them credit for. New vocal tuning, electronic flares and layering made for an album which by VW’s standards felt experimental. At its core however Modern Vampires still features the lovingly crafted lyrics and bubble-pop instrumentation that rightfully appeals in equal parts to groupies, So Cal hipsters, mid western dreamers and northeast ivy leaguers.
JAMES BLAKE // OVERGROWN
A Touch Vinyl favorite, featuring one of the best singles of this year — Retrograde, Overgrown is near perfection. But we expected this right? The RZA collab breaks the flow a bit for us, but overall it’s an album featuring a man who defined a class of his own and continues to excel in that space. Future R&B will always tip it’s hat to JB and his work thus far.
RHYE // WOMAN
Speaking of future R&B, some acts you just have to see to believe. Is it wrong for us to say that Rhye was the best female vocalist of 2013? We think not. He’s also the best male vocalist of 2013. Woman is an album written ambiguously so that it could be a man serenading a woman or vice versa. Cool. And while the vocal might lull you into a comfort zone, the lyrics themselves are often brutal— as though ripped from Patrick Bateman’s personal diary. Live, Rhye enjoys riffing and improving to create funky-long love tracks sure to make any gender’s heart melt.
DARKSIDE // PSYCHIC
Nicolas Jaar is unstoppable. After an amazing 2012, and with most people hoping for a straight ahead follow up to “Space is Only Noise”, Jaar came out of left field with an awesome comp under his Other People label and DARKSIDE, a new project that defies easy classification. Psychic shares DNA with 90’s downtempo and electronic music, but with it’s long instrumental intros, super chic guitar solos and falsetto vocals it also brings to mind Pink Floyd. Spark one before listening. (Concert in January)
JOHN WIZARDS // ST
There was no record more fresh or funny from 2013 than the debut from John Wizards. South Africa is a seemingly infinite well spring for things that look and sound new, and we can’t get enough of it. Peep the album artwork while you listen. Like the cover design itself we believe the attitude and tone of the music belies something more complex and crafted… But we’re not sure what! Clearly the love affair with this one will be long and healthy.
DISCLOSURE // SETTLE
Settle may not be a perfect album, but boy howdy is it danceable! Any time Fire Starts to Burn, Latch or White Noise dropped on the dancefloor, a hyped up and uncontrollable “OHHHH” would invariably emanate from the crowd. That still counts for a lot. Great guest vocalists (AlunaGeorge, Sam Smith, Jessie Ware) help, and the melodies and choruses have a spacey yet ‘ripped up’ feel that are like crack to anyone that likes to move their feet.
// Special Mentions
Daft Punk // RAM, BOC // Tomorrow’s Harvest, Moderat // II, Fuck Buttons // Slow Focus, Deptford Goth // Life After Defo, Hiatus Kaiyote // Tawk Tomahawk, FUZZ // ST
EP / 12”
Hot Chip // Dark and Stormy, Sampha // Dual EP, Arcade Fire // Reflektor 12”, Sohn // Bloodflows 12”. Braids // Flourish/Perish EP (thanks flarehunter76)
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