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Hipster Heart - Iron's 2013

As usual, interesting albums of the year to be ranked and reviewed.

This time I'll make it easier for myself, and group weaker releases by genre as soon as I rate them. Expect only 5-3,5/5 to be ranked in order of preference, and possibly a 3,25 category if it's needed.

Created by: IronAngel | 19.01.2013

1. Torres - Torres
Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Rock. A loveable blend of traditional singer-songwriter stuff like Sharon van Etten, some more intense PJ-Harveyisms, the slowcore angst of Lisa Germano and perhaps even the warm Americana of Fist Aid Kit. Great melodies, fuzzy guitar and an emotional, expressive voice. 4/5.
2. Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods
Sludge/Doom. Even huger than its predecessor, with some more variety and smoother transitions but not quite as many powerful hooks. 4/5.
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
Art Rock. Pretty sleek and polished for a Bad Seeds record. Gorgeous soundscapes and very little dirt. It's not a traditional ballad album like The Good Son or The Boatman's Call, though. More like spacious and airy, with some intense slow burners. 4/5.
4. Procession - To Reap Heavens Apart
Epic Doom. There is life in epic doom. It's not original and I wouldn't say it's a step forward from their previous albums, but few modern bands can harness such monumental melodrama, gloom and power in their music. 4/5.
5. Obscure Sphinx - Void Mother
Atmospheric Sludge. This album has a singular atmosphere. The otherworldly howls of Wielebna chill me to the bone. To be honest, I haven't listened to their debut much since early 2012, so I'm not sure how exactly this compares to it. I'm pretty sure it's even better, and one of the few genuinely delightful surprises from old acquaintances this year. The colossal closing track seals the deal. Step aside, Cult of Luna. 4/5.
6. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Nanda Collection
J-Pop. Candy floss deep-fried in syrup, served with marshmallows. Over-the-top pop with more and catchier hooks than any five competitors combined. Something this fun can't be wrong. 3,5/5.
7. Moonface - Julia With Blue Jeans On
Singer-Songwriter. Stripped down to the basics of man and piano, Spencer Krug writes some of his best songs. Treading a fine line between melodramatic and heartbreaking, he mostly succeeds. 3,5/5.
8. Mourning Beloveth - Formless
Death Doom. A bit of a return to form. Solid and coherent work with a warm, well-rounded sound and simple yet effective songwriting. I am very fond of the heavier emphasis on clean vocal leads; they seem to be the centerpiece of several tracks here. 3,5/5.
9. Implodes - Recurring Dream
Shoegaze/Drone. The band plays a really distinctive blend of drone and gloomy shoegaze. At times it's purely ambient, and at other times (see: Melted Candle) it almost reminds me of Jesu. Rocks a little harder and isn't quite as hazy as Black Earth, I think. 3,5/5.
10. Kayo Dot - Hubardo
Avantgarde Metal. After the mediocre Gamma Knife, this was an unexpected return to form. Possibly their best album ever, or at least after the debut. No weirdness for its own sake, no trying to be difficult, just good music that doesn't get bogged down by any predetermined formulae. 3,5/5.
11. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripely Pine
Alternative Singer-Songwriter. Lively, energetic, earthy, moving between pop-rock, folk, country and some morose singer-songwriter stuff. It took a while, but the album's really grown on me. It's an exceptionally balanced album with a good flow, excellent vocal performance and diverse arrangements to support the songwriting. 3,5/5.
12. Jenny Hval - Innocence Is Kinky
Experimental/Alternative Singer-Songwriter. Another strange Norwegian singer-songwriter. On the weirdness scale, I would put her far beyond even Hanne Hukkelberg, whom she occasionally sounds like. An album that opens with the line "That night, I watched people fucking on my computer" can't be bad, but I wish she was more consistently musical and not quite so experimental. If a few spoken-word passages were swapped for memorable melodies, this would make one hell of an album. 3,5/5.
13. Shannon Wright - In Film Sound
Alternative Rock/Singer-Songwriter. A less innocent or melodic counterpart to Torres; noisy alt-rock in the spirit of early PJ Harvey and Cat Power, with some morose ballads balancing the heaviness. 3,5/5.
14. Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
IDM. Cold, ambient and disjointed. They would do well to develop some themes further and cut some extra fat. Standard BoC fare, though, and that means super solid. 3,5/5.
15. Atlantean Kodex - The White Goddess (A Grammar Of Poetic Myth)
Heavy Metal/Epic Doom. Fewer, longer songs than on the predecessor, making for less of an initial impact. Further listens reveal powerful epics full of lovely harmonies and vocal hooks. Atlantean Kodex continue to fill the hole left by While Heaven Wept turning bad. 3,5/5.
16. Cult Of Luna - Vertikal
Post-Metal. Hypnotic and futuristic. The detail and texture is breathtaking, and at best the songs are devastating. 3,5/5.
17. The Flight Of Sleipnir - Saga
Doom/Folk Metal. Continues where Essence of Nine left off, combining Agalloch-style folk black with stoner grooves. Even more solid than the predecessor. 3,5/5.
18. Magic Circle - Magic Circle
Traditional Doom. NWOBHM-inspired guitar work, dirty production and a powerful voice. A thoroughly traditional but exhilaratingly memorable riff monster. "White Light" is a perfect song, but there are a few weaker cuts and not quite enough variation to become a cult classic. 3,5/5.
19. Have Mercy - The Earth Pushed Back
Emo. Poppier and catchier than most, but not at all shallow or too polished. One of the most original and interesting bands in the recent emo revival, and the best album of 2013 in the emo/screamo/post-hardcore cluster. 3,5/5.
20. Urna - Mors Principium Est
Funeral Doom/Black Metal. I think of the band as an Arcana Coelestia side project, rather than the other way around. Chronologically, it's not entirely fair or accurate. Either way, both bands are brilliant, and this is one of the most dynamic, exuberant extreme doom albums of the year. 3,5/5.
21. Eight Bells - The Captain's Daughter
Math Rock/Black Metal/Krautrock/Noise Rock/Post-Rock. Really hard to label this angular, psychedelic and experimental affair. It evokes comparisons to Aluk Todolo, Slint and even Blut Aus Nord but maintains strong melody and spaciousness. Too short, I want more. 3,5/5.
22. The Meads Of Asphodel - Sonderkommando
Avantgarde Black Metal. Exciting, surprising and engaging, as expected. The production is a bit too murky; a clearer sound would have served their style better. 3,5/5.
23. The Black Heart Rebellion - Har Nevo
Neofolk/Experimental Metal/Atmosludge/Post-Rock. A really unique blend of folky tunes with some thick textures and drawn-out instrumentals. 3,5/5.
24. Lychgate - Lychgate
Experimental Black Metal. Dynamic and relentless with a good flow. 3,5/5.
25. Eluvium - Nightmare Ending
Ambient/Modern Classical. An excellent double disc of rich, lush, beautiful music. The one ambient album you should listen to in 2013. 3,5/5.
26. Tim Hecker - Virgins
Drone/Ambient. One of the most reliable artists in the genre, Hecker can be both harsh and delicate and not sound incoherent. 3,5/5.
27. Argus - Beyond The Martyrs
Heavy Metal/Traditional Doom. Heavier than it is doomy, sadly. There's no equivalent to Pieces of Your Smile. As far as midpaced old-school metal goes, it's a really good romp. 3,5/5.
28. Pintandwefall - Be My Baby
Indie/Art Pop. Finland's best garage rock/punk pop band ditched their guitars and crazy intensity for a minimal, synth-heavy sound. That might be unfortunate, but they've really grown as songwriters. 3,5/5.
29. Benoît Pioulard - Hymnal
Dream Pop/Singer-Songwriter. Exceptionally dense, warm and hazy dream pop with a simple guitar folk core. He treads the fine line between ambient and songcraft, reminding me of artists like Orcas (of which he is half), Belong, Implodes, Grouper, Felicia Atkinson and aspidistrafly. 3,5/5.
30. Tribulation - The Formulas Of Death
Psychedelic Death/Black/Progressive. Great aesthetic and good songs. Despite the somewhat obscure genre tags, the album is easy to listen to. It's a bit bloated at parts, especially the 10+ min tracks could do with editing. 3,5/5.
31. Julia Holter - Loud City Song
Art Pop/Ambient Pop. Holter's music is loose and formless, but also warm and organic. I haven't had time to listen to this album as closely as it deserves, but it seems to have somewhat more complex and conventional songwriting, with less immediate catchiness, than the impressionistic Ekstasis. If dreamy female vocals, sparse arrangement and intelligent lyricism floats your boat, check it out. A little like Kate Bush's last two albums. 3,5/5.
32. Locrian - Return To Annihilation
Drone/Post-Rock. Pretty accessible for a Locrian record, but quite incoherent. There's not much of a dramatic arc for the album, and not all of its humming ambient, moody post-rock and blazing drone metal parts work that well together. But they do their thing incredibly well, combining powerful post-rock swells with the doom and gloom of drone. It's just a treat. 3,5/5.
33. True Widow - Circumambulation
Slowcore. Heavy and fuzzy. I characterized their previous album as Kyuss playing Codeine, and they continue in much the same vein. Not quite as doomy as the sophomore. 3,5/5.
34. Rosetta - The Anaesthete
Atmospheric Sludge. Masters of their chosen style, Rosetta put out another solid album. It doesn't really stand out in their discography, though. Another "great, but could have been better" experience, which seems to sum up the year. 3,5/5.
35. Thaw - S/T [MMXIIl]
Black Metal/Sludge. This album is a dense, suffocating wall of filth. Despite its punishing sound, there's quite a bit of melody and cool riffs to be found. The closest comparison I can think of might be Alkerdeel, but these guys operate with a colder, more industrial/noise aesthetic. 3,5/5.
36. Paysage d'Hiver - Das Tor
Atmospheric Black Metal. A master of his chosen style, as you should know by now. 3,5/5.
37. Lotte Kestner - The Bluebird Of Happiness
Contemporary Folk/Slowcore. This album is dominated by sweet and soft vocal melodies. They're great melodies, but there's not much else going on; an acoustic guitar strumming some chords doesn't really tick the box of "exciting arrangement." Twelve tracks of the same gets a little tiresome, but the best stuff here is seriously good. 3,5/5.
38. Lotte Kestner - Until
Contemporary Folk/Slowcore. EP. Pretty much the same deal as the full-length, I'm not sure what the big idea is, but I like it. There's a little more texture to the arrangements, and the shorter length is actually an advantage. 3,5/5.
39. Highness - Hold
Emo. Members from Christie Front Drive, Pg. 99 and City of Caterpillar, to name a few - guaranteed quality emo in a 90s/early 00s style. If you're into the style at all, I'm pretty sure you will like this. 3,5/5.
40. Deafheaven - Sunbather
Blackgaze. This almost has more to do with screamo and post-rock than black metal. A joyful, sunny sound and, despite their length, catchy songs. 3,5/5.
41. Voices - Voices From The Human Forest Create A Fugue Of Imaginary Rain
Avantgarde Black Metal. The great production, memorable riffs and clever songwriting of Akercocke in an intense black metal guise. Brutally fun. 3,5/5.
42. Stomach Earth - Stomach Earth
Funeral/Death Doom. One of the more suffocating, darker doom albums of the year. Doesn't need gimmicks to create an ominous atmosphere. 3,5/5.
43. Avatarium - Avatarium
Traditional Doom/Heavy Psych. The sound is nicely thick but clear. The riffs churn with power, but I wish the vocal melodies were a little more epic and interesting. 3,5/5.
44. Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle - Perils From The Sea
Contemporary Folk/Slowcore/Folktronica? Mark joins forces with multi-instrumentalist LaValle (The Album Leaf). The lush electronic arrangements are a welcome breath of fresh air to Mark's usual stripped-down, acoustic sound. A compact and catchy album to feed your melancholia, and perhaps his best in several years. 3,5/5.
45. Kurt Vile - Wakin On A Pretty Daze
Folk Rock. Warm, long-winded and psychedelic, this is music for lazy summer afternoons. Relatively full instrumentation on his personal scale, but it all flows together very smoothly. The songs swell into endless jams that evoke some of Neil Young's better work, except I like Vile better. 3,5/5.
46. Kronos Quarter & Bryce Dessner - Aheym
Minimalism/Modern Classical. Kronos Quartet are one of the most renowned ensembles in modern classical, so it's a given the performance is beyond reproach. Bryce Dessner is apparently the guitarist in The National and the post-rock band Clogs. Dramatic string music backed up by guitar, percussion and some vocals. 3,5/5.
47. Terra Tenebrosa - The Purging
Avantgarde Metal. Creepy and ugly, based loosely on black metal and sludge. More riff-oriented and not as good as the debut, but unique nonetheless. 3,5/5.
48. Them Bird Things - Pachyderm Nightmares
Americana. From Finland! An unusually original band, taking various traditional elements for their own, dark and down-to-earth style. 3,5/5.
49. Duobetic Homunkulus - Ani já ani ty robit něbudzeme, šedněme do koča, vozit še budzeme
Avantgarde Death Metal. Worthy torch-bearers for the legacy of !T.O.O.H.! 3,5/5.
50. Dream Death - Somnium Excessum
Doom/Thrash/Sludge. A great blend of thrashy riffs, some sludge and doom. Celtic Frost is the obvious point of comparison. A successful modernization of their sound. I love the meaty sound and the prominence of the bass. 3,5/5.
51. Sigur Rós - Kveikur
Post-Rock. A darker, slightly heavier and more straightforward incarnation of these sugar-dreamers. Not amazing, but a welcome adjustment of their sound. 3,5/5.
52. Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat
Ambient Folk. Recorded around the same time as Dragging a Dead Deer, it's a "return" to the reverb-soaked folk she made her breakthrough with. It has more appeal for me (and probably for most people) than her pure drone and ambient works, but I suspect it was a passing phase for her as an artist. We'll see. 3,5/5.
53. The Drones - I See Seaweed
Garage Rock/Punk Blues. Powerful, emotional and raw songs. Distorted blues guitar, demented vocals a lot like Nick Cave (which this sounds like otherwise, too), some delicate piano. This might be a four-star album if almost every song wasn't overlong. It gets a bit samey and tedious, but the highs are really climatic. 3,5/5.
54. PMMP - Matkalaulu
Art Pop. A farewell compilation with new, artsy arrangements of choice cuts from their back catalogue. One or two songs work better than the originals, and most of them are interesting. 3,5/5.
55. Blue Sky Black Death - Glaciers
Electronic/Downtempo. Instrumental hip hop with dream pop soundscapes. 3,5/5.
56. Low - The Invisible Way
Slowcore. For a change, the album is a laid-back and stripped-down incarnation of the band. It feels a bit like a step back after some more massive, successfully experimental albums. But even at their most mundane, I can't help but enjoy Low. 3,5/5.
57. Melt-Banana - Fetch
Noise Rock. Noisy and abrasive to be sure, but also catchy and accessible. Just unbridled fun. 3,5/5.
58. Agnes Obel - Aventine
Singer-Songwriter/Chamber Folk/Modern Classical. The production on this album is top-notch, as is the classical instrumentation. It's a bit like Bat For Lashes collaborating with someone like Nils Frahm or Dustin O'Halloran. Points fusing two entirely different genres in a very classy and professional way. 3/5.
59. Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe
Ambient. Borderline irritating in its fluffy New Age repetitiveness, but also so very pretty and light to listen to. 3,5/5.
60. Hamferð - Evst
Death Doom/Epic Doom. Emotional, straightforward death doom with powerful clean vocals. Very "Woe is me." Starts very strong, slumps a bit in the third and fourth tracks, but picks it up in the last two. 3,5/5.
61. Orchid - The Mouths Of Madness
Traditional Doom. Originality is an important factor when I evaluate the overall merits of an album, for a review or just as part of my personal estimation of the music. The truly immortal albums have to stand out. But when we confine ourselves strictly to the realm of immediate enjoyment and ask ourselves whether something rocks, originality has no bearing. For all their formulaic Sabbath and Trouble worship (third time in a row, now), Orchid just rock. 3,5/5.
62. Universe217 - Never
Avantgarde Doom Metal. The shrill female vocals are a bit too close in your face sometimes, but I guess it's part of the charm too. Nice dynamics of rolling riffs and laid-back jams. What they lack in memorable melodies they make up for in personal style. 3,5/5.
63. Hookworms - Pearl Mystic
Psychedelic Rock/Noise Rock. Fuzzy and hypnotic rock played occasionally with a punk ferocity and cool female vocals. Sonic Youth and Joy Division probably influenced these guys. 3,5/5.
64. Altar Of Plagues - Teethed Glory And Injury
Atmospheric Black Metal. Good, dynamic album. Lacks something of the atmosphere of the drony, monotonous Mammal, though. 3/5.
65. Nhor - Within The Darkness Between The Starlight
Atmospheric Black Metal. 3/5.
66. Blut Aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber III
Industrial Black Metal. 3/5.
67. Botanist - IV: Mandragora
Avantgarde Black Metal. The production does a good job of disguising the hammered dulcimer, which kind of defeats the purpose. A focused work nonetheless. 3/5.
68. Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn
Epic (Black) Metal. Barely black metal at all, really. A bit too epic and long-winded for its own good, and not as catchy of memorable as Caladan Brood. It makes up for that in lush richness, though. As good as they've ever been, I'm sure - I'm just not crazy about the style. 3/5.
69. Caladan Brood - Echoes Of Battle
Epic Black Metal. There's something rather camp about this Tolkienesque escapade, but it also evokes strong nostalgia. Fans of Summoning, but also Windir or Bal-Sagoth, should find a lot to like. I bet that opening keyboard riff is lifted from a Might & Magic game or something. 3/5.
70. Progenie Terrestre Pura - U​.​M​.​A.
Space Black Metal? 3/5.
71. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Psychedelic Black Metal. 3/5.
72. An Autumn For Crippled Children - Try Not To Destroy Everything You Like
Blackgaze. 3/5.
73. Thrawsunblat - Thrawsunblat II: Wanderer On The Continent Of Saplings
Folk Black Metal. Competent and tasteful, though it lacks some of the shameless joy (and cheese) that makes Caladan Brood so addictive. 3/5.
74. Agrypnie - Aetas Cineris
Melodic (Post-)Black Metal, apparently. I have to respect Agrypnie for their unique, recognizable style. It's a really curious blend of trendy genres done in a way that doesn't resemble any of the so-called hipster BM that uses same elements. Can't say the band's evolved or improved much recently, though. 3/5.
75. Ulcerate - Vermis
Technical/Post-Death Metal. I wanted to like this more than I did, really. It is inhuman. I just didn't have the attention span to break out of my comfort zone and really get to know it. 3/5.
76. In Vain - Ænigma
Progressive Death Metal. Polished and competent music in the spirit of Opeth or Enslaved. Or a second-rate Borknagar with a fraction of the imagination and fun. Needs more soul and interesting riffs. 3/5.
77. Kvelertak - Meir
Hardcore Punk/Metal. It's not that the debut was necessarily better, but it's just not as exciting the second time around. Well-crafted to be sure, but I would appreciate some more filth and anger to give an edge to their catchy rock'n'roll. 3/5.
78. Manilla Road - Mysterium
Heavy Metal. A pretty good fusion of elements from their previous albums. 3/5.
79. Hela - Broken Cross
Stoner Doom. Great melodies and pleasant, Subrosaesque female vocals, even if their style is entirely conventional. 3/5.
80. Windhand - Soma
Stoner Doom. Somewhat better than the debut. Smoky, psychedelic chick doom with little originality. I prefer Hela, to be honest. 3/5.
81. Jex Thoth - Blood Moon Rise
Heavy Psych/Doom Metal. The seductive sway of Keep Your Weeds is a highlight. 3/5.
82. Black Oath - Ov Qliphoth And Darkness
Traditional Doom. 3/5.
83. High Priest Of Saturn - High Priest Of Saturn
Traditional Doom. Monotonous, swaying doom with good female vocals and a bit of an occult feel (must be the organ). It plods along lazily but manages to captivate the listener for its reasonable runtime. Delivers what it promises, if not much more. 3/5.
84. Head Of The Demon - Head Of The Demon
Blackened Traditional Doom. 3/5.
85. Cathedral - The Last Spire
Doom Metal. Heavy, ugly and tired. It lacks any adventurous spirit or bold risks. The album probably gives fans what they wanted to hear and makes for a surprisingly solid swansong. Nonetheless, it's nothing but a (good) throwback. 3/5.
86. Faith - Decades Of Despair
Traditional Doom. Some potentially great songs ruined by a poor singer way too high in the mix. 3/5.
87. Mael Mórdha - Damned When Dead
Celtic Doom. 3/5.
88. Queen Elephantine - Scarab
Experimental Doom. Or something. Elements of stoner, drone, and Om-esque meditative grooves. 3/5.
89. Monolithe - Monolithe IV
Funeral/Death Doom. Spacey and progressive and a logical continuation of their numbered LPs, but nowhere near as good as the Interlude Second EP. 3/5.
90. Ataraxie - L'être et la nausée
Death Doom/Funeral Doom. 3/5
91. Wolvserpent - Perigaea Antahkarana
Drone Doom/Atmospheric Black. 3/5.
92. Abstract Spirit - Theomorphic Defectiveness
Funeral Doom. 3/5.
93. The Ruins Of Beverast - Blood Vaults (The Blazing Gospel Of Heinrich Kramer)
Death Doom. 3/5.
94. Officium Triste - Mors Viri
Death Doom. As far as melodic death doom goes, these guys know their ballpark. The occasional moments of brilliance (like To The Gallows) don't quite make up for how sentimental and sugary it is, though. 3/5.
95. The Fall Of Mammoth - Tcsinga
Death Doom/Post-Metal. This is cold, post-apocalyptic music with not many fucks given. 3/5.
96. The Fall Of Every Season - Amends
Death Doom. With a bit of post-rock and a truckload of melancholia. At times like modern Katatonia, Swallow the Sun or Before the Dawn, but nowhere near as bad. It sidesteps the worst pitfalls of sugar and cheese, but it's a little sterile for my taste. 3/5.
97. Acacia - Tills Döden Skiljer Oss Åt
Gothic/Melodic Death Doom. A little uneven and too slick for my taste, but pretty catchy melodic, melancholy music that reminds me both of Enshine's melodeath and Pantheist's latest prog/gothventures. 3/5.
98. Void Of Sleep - Tales Between Reality And Madness
Sludge/Stoner. Something like a doomier Mastodon, flirting with prog. 3/5.
99. Eibon - II
Blackened Sludge. I don't think the mega-track approach works for them as well as the debut. Filthy and powerful, but difficult to penetrate. 3/5.
100. Year Of No Light - Tocsin
Atmospheric Sludge/Post-Rock. Dronier and less dynamic than Ausserwelt. A bit of a disappointment, but devastating in a few bright spots. 3/5.
101. Agrimonia - Rites Of Separation
Atmospheric Sludge/Crust Punk. 3/5.
102. Regarde Les Hommes Tomber - Regarde Les Hommes Tomber
Blackened Atmospheric Sludge. 3/5.
103. Erlen Meyer - Erlen Meyer
(Atmospheric) Sludge. I considered dropping this album off the list, because I just didn't bother to listen to it that much. But the vocals are just so vicious and the sludge rolls on with such determination that it's hard not to recommend. The semi-atmospheric element comes not from post-rock interludes (though there is one) but rather the hypnotic repetition of massive riffs. 3/5.
104. Huldra - Monuments, Monoliths
Atmospheric Sludge. Fairly generic. The ambient interludes, twinkling piano and light post-rock jams especially are a bit tasteless. Cool clean vocals, a nice round sound and some impressive buildups. 3/5.
105. The Moth Gatherer - A Bright Celestial Light
Atmospheric Sludge. 3/5.
106. The Ocean - Pelagial
Progressive Metal/Atmospheric Sludge. 3/5.
107. Altaar - Altaar
Atmosludge/Drone Metal. 3/5.
108. Oathbreaker - Eros / Anteros
Hardcore/Crust Punk/Sludge. Played with punk ferocity, the album nonetheless exhibits some of the melody and mood of atmosludge. 3/5.
109. Celeste - Animale(s)
Sludge/Post-Hardcore. Relentless and violent, but so much so that it loses effectiveness. If it's heavy and loud all the time, it's not really heavy or loud. Good and solid stuff in moderate doses, though. 3/5.
110. Sannhet - Known Flood
Instrumental Atmosludge/Black. It wades frequently into bombastic post-rock which makes for a very dynamic and accessible experience, while retaining the intensity of black metal. 3/5.
111. Caravels - Lacuna
Screamo/Post-Hardcore. 3/5.
112. Barrow - Though I'm Alone
Screamo. 3/5.
113. Touché Amoré - Is Survived By
Post-Hardcore/Screamo. 3/5.
114. Defeater - Letters Home
Melodic Hardcore. 3/5.
115. Brokeback - Brokeback and the Black Rock
Post-Rock/Psychedelic Rock. Veterans of ambient, experimental and jazzy post-rock return after almost a decade. Their most accessible record, it quite reminds me of modern Earth in its rustic, swaying guitar riffs. 3/5.
116. The Appleseed Cast - Illumination Ritual
Post-Rock/Indie Rock. They've mostly left behind the emo they're renowned for. This is standard post-rock with indie rock vocals and some riffs. Good, but expected more. 3/5.
117. Kobol - Centipede
Nu Jazz, with some post-rock elements. 3/5.
118. Gustavo Santaolalla - The Last Of Us
Video Game Soundtrack. I haven't played the game, but this is a top-notch soundtrack. Serene, organic and sad. Ennio Morricone meets Akira Yamaoka? As an album, it would work better without the ambient tracks. 3/5.
119. Barn Owl - V
Drone. A bit less structured and more ambient than their best, folkier work. 3/5.
120. Pan•American - Cloud Room, Glass Room
Ambient. 3/5.
121. Rafael Anton Irisarri - The Unintentional Sea
Ambient. More drone and less melody than on the phenomenal Daydreaming. It's good but doesn't stand out among the numerous strong ambient releases this year. 3/5.
122. Mohammad - Som Sakrifis
Electroacoustic Drone. 3/5.
123. Ryuichi Sakamoto & Taylor Deupree - Disappearance
Ambient/Modern Classical. A fairly unassuming but delicate collaboration. 3/5.
124. Sean McCann - Music For Private Ensemble
Modern Classical/Ambient. 3/5.
125. Ludovico Einaudi - In A Time Lapse
Modern Classical. Pleasant, soft and stylish, as you would expect from Einaudi. Not his strongest work, but works well on the background. 3/5.
126. Fabrizio Paterlini - Now
Minimalism/Modern Classical. 3/5.
127. Ólafur Arnalds - For Now I Am Winter
Modern Classical. 3/5.
128. Julia Kent - Character
Modern Classical. Short cello pieces, reminiscent more of a film score than an album. Not much has happened since her previous albums. 3/5.
129. Dawn Of Midi - Dysnomia
Experimental/Minimalism. 3/5.
130. Félicia Atkinson - Visions / Voices
Ambient/Psychedelic Folk. Much more in pure drone territory than some of her other work. The sound is delicate, fragile and somehow sorrowfully content. 3/5.
131. bvdub - A Careful Ecstasy
Ambient Techno. This dude releases way too many albums a year to keep track of. Lush and chilled-out, slightly dubby electronica. 3/5.
132. Ulrich Schnauss - A Long Way To Fall
Electronica. Reverb-laden, dreamy music. Boards of Canada continue to be a reference point for him, but he flirts much more with shoegaze. 3/5.
133. Ethernet - Opus 2
Ambient (Techno). Lush and pulsating. 3/5.
134. Emancipator - Dusk To Dawn
Downtempo/Instrumental Hip Hop. If instrumental hip hop and lush, easy listening electronica is your thing, you'll probably like this. Not as good Blue Sky Black Death, though. Disjointed. 3/5.
135. Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory - Elements Of Light
Microhouse. Delicate and detailed textures. I'm not really sure what bells and whistles they've used here, but it all sounds very pure and organic. The album breathes and pulsates easily, blending modern classical with dance music. 3/5.
136. Autechre - Exai
IDM. Angular, challenging electronica. On the less accessible end of the Autechre spectrum. It's top-quality craft but doesn't stir any emotion. 3/5.
137. Baths - Obsidian
Electronica/Glitch Pop. More pop, less electronic, and not quite as good as the debut. 3/5.
138. Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy
Chiptune/Power Pop. These guys do video game nostalgia with some more polish than, say, Aavikko or Desert Planet. Energetic, hectic tunes. Kind of like Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu without vocals, but just not that catchy. 3/5.
139. The Knife - Shaking The Habitual
Experimental Electronic. Frustrating. They're experimenting with their sound, adding tribal percussions, long jams and ambient tracks. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but it's altogether too long. And besides, I don't want my ambient sprinkled between conventional music - it's a different ballpark entirely. But when they bother to write real songs, it works really well. A band blessed with such talent for unique melodies shouldn't be ashamed of it. Ranges from garbage to godly. 3/5.
140. Husky Rescue - The Long Lost Friend
Electropop. Delicate and organic as you would expect, but the reincarnation of the band sees them more straightforward than ever. It lacks the cinematic magic of especially the sophomore. 3/5.
141. Jesu - Every Day I Get Closer To The Light From Which I Came
Shoegaze/Atmosludge. I enjoyed this more than Ascension. It should satisfy fans of Jesu's modern style, but Justin can do better. 3/5.
142. My Bloody Valentine - m b v
Shoegaze. I must confess: I was never that crazy about MBV. Their unique sound gave direction to two decades of indie and noise rock to follow, but I've always had other favorites on the dream pop and shoegaze bandwagon. Anyhow: m b v is a solid, unsurprising follow-up to Loveless, one that could have been released twenty years ago. It's slightly more subdued affair, the vocals are higher/clearer in the mix, and there are two experimental tracks. Other than that, not much to report. 3/5.
143. The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
Indie Rock/Noise Pop. Big, powerful, feel-good rock with hooks. Perhaps not as intense as the first time around. 3/5.
144. Daughter - If You Leave
Indie/Art Pop. Not unlike the latest Bat For Lashes or something - alternative pop with some ethereal female mystique. We've had variations of this theme in Florence + the Machine, Lykke Li, Warpaint etc. Derivative but very competent. 3/5.
145. Esben And The Witch - Wash The Sins Not Only The Face
Ethereal Wave. A nice step up from their debut which had a cool aesthetic but completely forgettable songwriting. The production is meatier and clearer, and the melodies are actually memorable. Still uneven. Not unlike This Mortal Coil, or Zola Jesus for a modern comparison, just with a bit of wall-of-sound noise. 3/5.
146. Mazzy Star - Seasons Of Your Day
Dream Pop/Psych Folk. A surprisingly strong comeback after 17 years. If 90s dream pop and slowcore were ever your thing, this is sure to give you a nostalgia fix. Lazy and wistful. 3/5.
147. Serafina Steer - The Moths Are Real
Singer-Songwriter. Melancholy pop with somewhat Didoesque vocals (or Beth Orton, too). The melodies are accessible but retain an unpredictable edge, twisting and turning like some mountain stream. The production is pretty low-key but fitting. 3/5.
148. Alela Diane - About Farewell
Singer-Songwriter/Folk. 3/5.
149. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt
Alternative Singer-Songwriter. Her 2012 debut was a naked and fragile thing of impenetrable gloom. Now her guitar is joined by bass, percussion and a "better" production, losing much of the intimate intensity of that perfect album. The magic is gone, but there are still great songs here. Borderline case, but I'll rather err on the side of downrating. 3/5.
150. Lisa Germano - No Elephants
Alternative Singer-Songwriter. Fairly stripped down piano ballads with strange electronic bleeps, bloops and cellphone sounds. As angsty and ethereal as ever, but not one of her stronger albums. 3/5.
151. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle
Folk/Singer-Songwriter. Young girl with a great, smoky voice and fairly generic Joni Mitchell -inspired folk pop. 3/5.
152. Goldfrapp - Tales Of Us
Chamber Pop. 3/5.
153. Anaïs Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer - Child Ballads
English Folk Music. Some really good renditions of traditional pieces. I imagine British and American people are familiar with the songs, and especially Anaïs' voice is a treat to listen to. 3/5.
154. Pascal Pinon - Twosomeness
Indie Folk. Blatantly Icelandic, múm-like folk with a soft and sentimental sound and some cute songs. The album lacks diversity and progression, though. 3/5.
155. Owen - L'Ami du Peuple
Singer-Songwriter/Acoustic Indie Rock. American Football frontman Mike Kinsella's solo project is up to its seventh album. Good, moody songs but nothing he hasn't done before. 3/5.
156. Richard Buckner - Surrounded
Singer-Songwriter/Americana. 3/5.
157. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
Singer-Songwriter/Contemporary Folk. 3/5.
158. Mark Kozelek - Like Rats
The master of sad and lovelorn playing acoustic folk covers of all sorts of songs. And yes: that's a Godflesh cover the album takes its name from. He actually sounds quite a bit like Michael Gira on the song. The album is short and sweet, with some really successful choices (Right Back Where We Started From, I Killed Mommy). I actually like it better than Sun Kil Moon's 2012 album. 3/5.
159. Mark Kozelek & Desertshore - Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
Contemporary Folk. 3/5.
160. The Handsome Family - Wilderness
Alternative Country. Their glory days of heartache and gloom are over. This is a nice album, but nothing more. 3/5.
161. Matti Johannes Koivu - Matti Johannes Koivu
Singer-Songwriter. Sunny, lazy folk pop songs - melancholia with major chords. Probably his softest album, giving rather large role to the piano. Inconsistent but occasionally breathtaking. 3/5.
162. Keaton Henson - Birthdays
Indie Folk/Singer-Songwriter. Fragile, sad and stripped-down. Gets loud a few times and that sounds awkward. Decent if unoriginal. 3/5.
163. Hexvessel - Iron Marsh
Psychedelic Folk. Cool EP to go with last year's No Holier Temple. If you like the band, no reason not to check this out. 3/5.
164. Vàli - Skogslandskap
Dark Folk. 3/5.
165. Riitaoja - Mantereelle
Americana/Neofolk. Saw them warming up for Mount Eerie and was really impressed. A curious blend of genres, pretty dark and earthy stuff. 3/5.
166. Boduf Songs - Burnt Upon Re-Entry
Psychedelic/Experimental Folk/Electronica. Very nice at its folkiest, when it reminds me of Mount Eerie. The electronic parts don't really mesh well (except on Long Divider, the second best track). 3/5.
167. Filthy Huns - Filthy Huns
Psychedelic Lo-Fi Indie Rock or whatever. Dirty, droning songs with some electronic flourishes. Not sure what to make of it, it's almost like Krautrock at times. 3/5.
168. Dirty Beaches - Drifters / Love Is The Devil
Experimental Rock/Ambient. The first half of the album sounds a bit Krautrockish, whereas the second is instrumental and more ambient - a structure borrowed from Brian Eno and David Bowie's Low. Feverish stuff. 3/5.
169. Iceage - You're Nothing
Post-Punk. Noisy, abrasive and angry. Takes a lot of influence from hardcore punk and noise rock. 3/5.
170. Dreamdecay - N V N V N V
Noise Rock. Probably the loudest and most punishing of the noise rock albums on this list, this is full of Swans-esque drones, riffs and angry vocals, as well as some bleak post-punk. 3/5.
171. Marnie Stern - Chronicles Of Marnia
Noise Pop/Math Rock. Pretty good for what it is, but it lacks the sheer abrasiveness of, say, Melt-Banana on one hand, and the infectious memorability of Sleigh Bells. The math element is much more prominent and the blistering guitar-playing impressive, though, if that floats your boat. 3/5.
172. Retribution Gospel Choir - 3
Psychedelic Rock from Alan Sparhawk and co. Two 20-minute tracks, the first of which is a heavy, sludgy motherfucker. Surprisingly good and quite different from the mediocre alt-rock of their previous two albums. 3/5.
173. Föllakzoikd - II
Krautrock/Space Rock/Psychedelic Rock. Strangely soothing in the genre's context. 3/5.
174. Anthroprophh - Anthroprophh
Space Rock/Noise Rock/Drone. Some pretty hypnotic jams and quieter drone pieces. 3/5.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by IronAngel ]


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Comments: 30   Visited by: 152 users
22.01.2013 - 00:51
Boxcar Willy
yr a kook
I will live off of this list.
14:22 - Marcel Hubregtse
I do your mum
22.01.2013 - 20:44
Account deleted
If this list doesn't reach 300 by the end of Jan, I am personally going to come to your house to tell you that you SUCK. >:[
22.01.2013 - 20:57

Written by Guest on 22.01.2013 at 20:44

If this list doesn't reach 300 by the end of Jan, I am personally going to come to your house to tell you that you SUCK. >:[

I had to cut stuff from last year's list because the bottom lines were disappearing. Not much point in just listing albums without saying something about them, so I'll try to keep it under control this time around!
24.01.2013 - 03:00
Au Pays Natal
...aaaand we're off...

Atmospheric black metal fan Iron? I found this one. Awesome sound and epic in so many ways, it has a "post metal" vibe too. Even tho it was released late Dec. 2012, they are re-releasing it in 2013 so I am putting it on my 2013 list!
24.01.2013 - 09:12

Written by tea[m]ster on 24.01.2013 at 03:00

...aaaand we're off...

Atmospheric black metal fan Iron? I found this one. Awesome sound and epic in so many ways, it has a "post metal" vibe too. Even tho it was released late Dec. 2012, they are re-releasing it in 2013 so I am putting it on my 2013 list!

Not bad. Will have to keep them in mind.
15.02.2013 - 10:21
Account deleted
Ulrich Schnauss was a really nice find, and I have your list to thank for.
Anything similar you'd like to recommend? (doesn't necessarily have to be a release of this year)
15.02.2013 - 10:37

Written by Guest on 15.02.2013 at 10:21

Ulrich Schnauss was a really nice find, and I have your list to thank for.
Anything similar you'd like to recommend? (doesn't necessarily have to be a release of this year)

I don't know, I'm not really an expert. It was Joe's recommendation originally, though I knew him already. Did you check out the bvdub album? Then there's Tycho and Boards of Canada, top notch electronica. Another good electronic album with some classical sounds is Emancipator's Dusk to Dawn. Chamber trip hop? Need to add it to my list, actually.
15.02.2013 - 11:01
Account deleted
Written by IronAngel on 15.02.2013 at 10:37

Written by Guest on 15.02.2013 at 10:21

Ulrich Schnauss was a really nice find, and I have your list to thank for.
Anything similar you'd like to recommend? (doesn't necessarily have to be a release of this year)

I don't know, I'm not really an expert. It was Joe's recommendation originally, though I knew him already. Did you check out the bvdub album? Then there's Tycho and Boards of Canada, top notch electronica. Another good electronic album with some classical sounds is Emancipator's Dusk to Dawn. Chamber trip hop? Need to add it to my list, actually.

Yeah, I am semi-aware of Tycho, Floex, Boards Of Canada but I, myself am a novice with respect to electronic music. I'll be checking out bvdub and Emancipator shortly.
24.04.2013 - 22:18
Au Pays Natal
Glad to see Todtgelichter on your list. Although not as good Angst, Apnoe is still enjoyable. More proggy and her voice definitely carries the album. Be sure to check out my list, I update it weekly
25.04.2013 - 14:28

Written by tea[m]ster on 24.04.2013 at 22:18

Glad to see Todtgelichter on your list. Although not as good Angst, Apnoe is still enjoyable. More proggy and her voice definitely carries the album. Be sure to check out my list, I update it weekly

It's pretty nice, yeah. I have yet to make up my mind about it. I've been slacking with keeping up lately, too much stuff going on in the real world. I'll have to make an effort in the coming weeks to catch up.
03.06.2013 - 16:42

Great list! I am seriously loving that Iceage record. Amazing.
04.06.2013 - 00:17

Written by 1Yossarian1 on 03.06.2013 at 16:42

Great list! I am seriously loving that Iceage record. Amazing.

Yeah it's pretty nasty. You might want to check out that Hookworms album, Pearl Mystic, too. It's much softer sonically, but has some of the same vibes.
15.06.2013 - 12:21
Account deleted
Some nice-sounding art rock that you may find to your liking.

16.06.2013 - 15:01

Written by Guest on 15.06.2013 at 12:21

Some nice-sounding art rock that you may find to your liking.

Mm, yeah. I had noticed some reviews but didn't get around to listening. This is nicely arranged, with the sparse, chamber-music-like instrumentation. Vocal melodies are a little anemic. I'll have to listen to it more.
16.06.2013 - 23:33
proofread free
Any Guitar/vocal singer-songwriter stuff you recommend this year ... something like this (I'm partly posting to ask for recommendations and mostly so I can let you know about this version of the song )

his other acoustic renditions of his songs are also amazing!
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
17.06.2013 - 12:52

Written by InnerSelf on 16.06.2013 at 23:33

Any Guitar/vocal singer-songwriter stuff you recommend this year ... something like this (I'm partly posting to ask for recommendations and mostly so I can let you know about this version of the song )

I almost like that better than the original, heheh. At least his voice stands out better.

The closest thing would be Mark Kozelek's cover album, Like Rats. At its best, it's really gut-wrenching:

This is somewhat off the mark, but Mark also made a collaborate album with Jimmy LaValle that has electronic and post-rock backgrounds to the music. I like it better than Like Rats, but it may not be exactly what you're after:

Lotte Kestner's slowcore-flavored stuff is quite beautiful. One of the prettiest albums of the year, no doubt:

Laura Marling's work is blatant Joni Mitchell worship, but she does a good job at it:

Keaton Henson is perhaps a bit too whiny for my tastes, but has some nice songs:

Then there's Serafina Steer:

Josh Ritter also released a new album, though I didn't add it to my list. He sounds quite a lot like Paul Simon in his play on rhythms etc. If you're into Americana, that new Handsome Family album is quite gloomy and depressive as always. It's slow and bleak country/folk.
19.06.2013 - 21:50
proofread free
Working through the suggestions, LOVED that Mark Kozelek track, looking up the album ... thanks a lot

EDIT: the album does have its moments but it isn't exactly what i was looking for, i did enjoy it though and will probably keep playing it in the next couple of days.
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
09.08.2013 - 22:06
Au Pays Natal
Do you like the new Rosetta IA? I like it better than ADoM and I really dig that album
09.08.2013 - 22:15

Written by tea[m]ster on 09.08.2013 at 22:06

Do you like the new Rosetta IA? I like it better than ADoM and I really dig that album

No idea yet. I accidentally first put it in the listened-list instead of the looking-forward-to list. I'm not at home on my PC, and didn't want to stream it on my laptop, so I'll check it out better tomorrow or Sunday. I have high hopes. You should check out that Oathbreaker album, btw. Pretty nasty, crusty and a bit BM-inspired sludge/hardcore.
09.08.2013 - 22:17
Au Pays Natal
Written by IronAngel on 09.08.2013 at 22:15

You should check out that Oathbreaker album, btw. Pretty nasty, crusty and a bit BM-inspired sludge/hardcore.

On it. Along the same lines, go look at my last entry in the post/sludge metal suggestion thread. Holy fuck, what a discovery...
08.10.2013 - 17:46
Au Pays Natal
Hey buddy! What else have you got for me? That Oathbreaker album was a good one!
08.10.2013 - 21:54

Written by tea[m]ster on 08.10.2013 at 17:46

Hey buddy! What else have you got for me? That Oathbreaker album was a good one!

Well, I haven't heard much new sludge or post-metal lately. Did you already hear Thaw and Eibon? Quality suldgy black and blackened sludge, respectively. Touché Amoré continue in their screamo/melodic post-hardcore style, which some hate and some love. I think they're OK. I would have said Kayo Dot, but I seem to recall you commenting on the topic already. Ulcerate's post-death ain't bad either.

I am too busy listening to the new Subrosa on repeat (and some Ataraxie, Atlantean Kodex, Argus and Kayo Dot on the side) to really look for other new metal. In a short span, a handful of some of the year's best metal albums just dropped on my lap.

Did you hear Erlen Meyer? Slowish, if not that spacey, atmosludge with sick and raw vocals. Dead in the Dirt play some fine powerviolence, if you're into 50-second-bursts of noise.

The Rosetta album was indeed very good. Not sure yet how it compares to Cult of Luna, but definitely up there. I love how expansive and galatic their sound is.
15.10.2013 - 17:46
Au Pays Natal
Written by IronAngel on 08.10.2013 at 21:54
Well, I haven't heard much new sludge or post-metal lately.

Yup, Erlen Meyer is produced by a member from CoL, knew I would like that. Thaw and Eibon are raw and heavy as fuck. I haven't listened to the new Subrosa yet. I will get on it.

I have a rec for you. Shoegaze/dreampop/post rock stuff. It sounds like it's in analog but still good none the less. I Love this kind of stuff.
26.12.2013 - 19:43
Au Pays Natal
Here is another shoegaze rec for ya. Very smooth with female vox.
01.02.2014 - 00:21

I ran out of energy before I could polish this list to perfection. The ratings are more or less accurate, but I am not sure about the internal order. (Only 3.5 and up are ranked, mind you.) Not that many huge bombs this year, but plenty of nice things to discuver anyhow.

The top 12 or so are really fucking good, and more or less set in stone. Hopefully gonna stick with me for years to come.
01.02.2014 - 00:44
Meat and Potatos
Great list, as always. Wasn't aware of this one.
i'm here for the non-metal stuff
Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
02.02.2014 - 16:33
Au Pays Natal
Sup Iron. Been a long time. You like the Kayo Dot release a lot more than I do. I've listened to it twice now - granted it was with crappy earphones on my iphone at work where it be pretty loud - and I just didn't get it. I like MotW a lot but this sounded like a jumbled mess. Encourage me to give it another shot.
03.02.2014 - 11:35

Written by tea[m]ster on 02.02.2014 at 16:33

Encourage me to give it another shot.

Well! In comparison to motW, I don't think this is a jumbled mess at all. It's a lot more coherent and not nearly as all-over-the-place, IMO. Granted, it makes it less diverse in moods and sonic textures, too - it's a fairly somber sound. The clean, catchy bits remind me of Ulver, Dead Can Dance or modern Tiamat, maybe. Gothic and gloomy. Even the flute and sax have a cold timbre, as unwelcoming as the sludge bits.

Feel free to skip the first track. It starts terribly slow, and the album gets a lot better towards the end. And He Built Him A Boat and The First Matter are awesome. Passing the River, too.
02.03.2014 - 22:20
Meat and Potatos
Where's hipster guide for 2014?
Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
03.03.2014 - 11:05

Written by Karlabos on 02.03.2014 at 22:20

Where's hipster guide for 2014?

Might make it later. I've compiled some albums on my RateYourMusic list, but haven't really made much of an effort. My New Year's pledge was to listen to less music but better.

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