Friday, 20 December 2013

HMM Presents: The Best Of 2013 - Album Of The Year (25-21)

Continuing the countdown to Heavy Metal Mouth's first annual magazine, here marks the beginning of my biggest and best end of year list; the Album Of The Year 2013. I'll be posting the first 15 albums of my list for everyone to read on the website. Following that, the magazine will be published containing the Top 10, the full list and more articles.

It's been an incredible year for music, so without further ado, let's get down to who and why; here are the greatest albums of the year.

25. Static- Cults

It’s often the case that personal tragedy or heartache acts as the catalyst for a great album, but the circumstances for the recording of Static were different to most; the news that Cults duo Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion had split in 2012 only intensified the spotlight on the indie pop group’s sequel to their well received 2011 debut, provoking debate as to whether the pair could work together successfully again.

The result is another half hour of shimmering indie pop, but with a noticeable shift in tone. Gone is the playful nonchalance that made the group’s debut such a joyful listen in favour of a darker mindset that reflects the post breakup lull felt by both halves. It’s a hit and miss process that produces a slightly more complex, deeper side to the pair while also stealing them of their carefree innocence and glowing youthfulness, the elements that made them so attractive in the first place.

Ultimately though, Static is a decidedly quiet, low key success of a sophomore album that shows there is life in Cults after the gimmicky lo-fi smash of their debut, showcasing another side to a maturing group that have already been forced to deal with serious conflicting issues and come out relatively unscathed. Static, at its best, suggests that Cults have a staying power beyond what was previously expected of them, and the capability to deliver another record as good as or better than they did two years previously as a fresh faced couple in love.

Best Tracks: So Far/We’ve Got It/Shine A Light

24. I have lost all desire for feeling- Perfect Pussy

Perfect Pussy make a lot of noise in 13 minutes on their debut demo. Recorded live, I have lost all desire for feeling is a searing hot ball of energy that explodes in the listeners ears with a series of short, stinging punk songs that come off somewhere between Crystal Castles and Sonic Youth.

As harsh as it may appear though, there’s something beautiful lost inside this raw noise that suggests a promise beyond these abrupt freakouts (not that there’s anything at all wrong with these 4 musical tantrums).

Right from their unspeakable name down to the minimalistic track titles (they are literally called one, two, three and four) and their shortness, Perfect Pussy represent hope for modern punk- a return to chaos, anarchy and confusion, all of which are supplied in buckets on I have lost all desire for feeling.

Best Tracks: I/III/IV

23. betteroffDEAD- Flatbush Zombies

 The confrontational, raw rap skill of Flatbush Zombies isn’t so much as conveyed to you as it is spat in your face over the course of 19 tracks on betteroffDEAD, the Brooklyn trio’s second mixtape. The personalies that comprise Flatbush Zombies are products of their environment and they’re acutely aware of it; witness the scathing anti-patriotism on opener ‘’Amerikkkan Pie’’ for evidence, but just as they are proud of their upbringings (Thugnifiscence) they spout furious anger at the situation more often than not (G Tearz, Death). This kind of unhinged tempermentality is the definition of betteroffDEAD and it’s the same bitter hatred, anger and passion that we first witnessed in Wu Tang Clan and NWA, the ultimate representation of societal commentary and political injustice in hip-hop.

But while the same violent temper presents itself here, there are key differences between the band and their predecessors, mostly demonstrated in the group’s lack of discipline, pace and execution, as they struggle to control and employ their talent rather than letting it loose in a constant barrage of brutal profanity. These things come in due time though, and this anarchic, youthful attitude is what sets Flatbush Zombies apart from the rest right now. Maybe it’s a good thing to let chaos reign for a while yet.

Best Tracks: Bliss/Regular And Complex (GNB)/The Results Are In

22. The Next Day- David Bowie

Just 8 days into the year, David Bowie shook the music world on his 66th birthday with the revelation that he’d been working in secret on a new album. It was difficult to know how to feel; the innovator, the Duke, the most fascinating musical figure of the 20th century was back, but the great man’s recent work was an underwhelming experience. Something told me that this time was different though; from the shocking unveiling to a highly unusual, bold cover, it seemed like Bowie was ready to surprise the world once again, and The Next Day is everything we could have hoped for in any realistic sense.

Playing like a collection of greatest hits, The Next Day takes us through rock Bowie, experimental Bowie, introspective Bowie and any other you can name as the icon basks in the present while celebrating his past, reminding us that there is still very much a Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane left inside us, and more important, the man himself.

Best Tracks: Where Are We Now?/Valentine’s Day/Dancing Out In Space

21. Government Plates- Death Grips

For those who have yet to experience the ear splitting sound of experimental electronic trio Death Grips, the band is perhaps best described as a chaotic electronic fusion of punk rock and hip hop beats, all under the guise of menacing synth noise. If that all sounds a bit much, that’s exactly how it’s meant to be; Death Grips want to overwhelm you with their trademark madness, and this innovative style has already seen its influence grow over the past year with many pointing to one of 2013’s standout records, Yeezus, as a prime example.

Government Plates shows no signs of slowing down with fresh supply of another 11 lightening quick, hard-hitting tracks that aim to melt your brain in somewhat similar fashion to Richard D. James’ Aphex Twin or Venetian Snares, with a slightly more structured, focused personality than the aforementioned. Govermement Plates fluctuates between frantic wall of noise attacks featuring repeated rap interludes, best exemplified by the likes of opener ‘’You Might Think He…’’, centrepiece ‘’This Is Violence Now’’ and lengthy bombastic closer ‘’Whatever I Want’’. There are softer soundscapes here though, to be grasped upon for breath by the listener with ‘’Birds’’ and ‘’I’m Overflow’’ representing the (somewhat) more subdued side of the group.

All of this combines to form another eccentric, explosive release from one of the most exciting young acts in electronic music today.

Best Tracks: This Is Violence Now (Don’t Get Me Wrong)/Birds/Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)

Next: 20-16

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