Tag Archives: jon hopkins

Rob’s Obligatory Top Ten Albums of 2013

20 Dec

Yep, it’s that time of the year! Here are my favourite albums of 2013. Music lovers have had a bumper crop this year, and it was hard to cut it down to just ten. But here they are, in no particular order.


Cloud Cult – Love

This was the first album of 2013 that I actually fell in love with. The Minneapolis collective – currently an eight-piece – released their tenth studio album in March of this year and it was a fantastic, poignant ride. Lush layering, heartfelt lyrics, and wonderful harmonies all helped to create what could be their magnum opus.


Kavinsky – OutRun

Love wasn’t the first album to be really, really darn good though. That falls to Kavinsky. Most well known for the use of Nightcall in the soundtrack to Ryan Gosling flick Drive, the French electronic artist released his debut album in February. It may lack emotional impact, but it more than makes up for it in songs that practically drip with 80s movie nostalgia.


I The Mighty – Satori

2013 was a great year for rock music, though, nearly making up for the damp squib of 2012. One of the best offerings was served up by San Francisco’s I The Mighty. Their debut, Satori, has it all. Great musicianship, varied and truly poetic lyrical content, and choruses that you’ll be singing for weeks – or months, in my case. This is a strong a debut as you’re going to get.


Houses – A Quiet Darkness

Speaking of strong lyrical content, A Quiet Darkness was ahead of the pack. Houses delivered a concept album with a wonderful, heart-wrenching story – two lovers, separated by a nuclear holocaust, trying to reunite with one another. It captures the post-apocalyptic tone perfectly, and the catalyst is not only the dreamy ambience of the music but the sparse, yet graceful, lyrics, which work beautifully with the dual vocals of Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina.


Enemies – Embark, Embrace

I’m not sure how, but Enemies have managed to do something very unique with Math Rock. Normally the sole haven of musicians and technical music enthusiasts, Embark, Embrace swaps the often discordant noodling with uplifting, soaring melodies without losing any of the complexity that keeps music snobs (such as me) hooked. It’s great, both for pretentious folk like me and for casual listeners.


Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

2013 also saw the triumphant return of a few of music’s heavyweights. One of the standouts was Hesitation Marks. Trent Reznor had a busy year, also releasing the impressive How To Destroy Angels debut album, and the signs were good that another Nine Inch Nails album would impress. But it surpassed even fan estimations, with not only that unique Nine Inch Nails feel, but with a true progression on show.


Lanterns on the Lake – Until the Colours Run

There’s nothing not to love about Until the Colours Run: a huge sound, vibrant guitar work, the beautiful strings, and wonderful vocals from Hazel Wilde. Almost every song sounds absolutely massive, and when it doesn’t – such as one of the standout tracks, the ballad Green and Gold – it only serves to further augment the impact. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional.

The First – Take Courage

Enough of that teary-eyed, twee stuff though. The First’s sophomore effort, Take Courage, is a beast of a rock album. Huge riffs, thumping choruses, and a rhythm section you could set your goddamn watch to all come together to form one of the most exciting albums of the year. Listen to this, and you’ll wake up the next morning covered in tattoos next to an empty bottle of whiskey. It’s that hardcore.


Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Immunity has been included in a large number of ‘Albums of the Year’ lists, and with good reason. The Mercury-nominated album, Hopkins’ fourth, shows the progression of an artist truly doing what he wants to do. Building on the unique sound of 2009’s Insides, Hopkins creates breathtaking, diverse soundscapes that just happen to be some of the best electronica to have been released in years. Immunity is great. Go buy it.


Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

You know what? I’m just going to say it. This is Queens of the Stone Age’s best album. Rated R has the bizarre, Songs for the Deaf has the heavy riffs, but neither compares to the variety on show here. From the slacker drawl of I Sat by the Ocean, through the psychedelic Kalopsia and the Prince-esque Smooth Sailing, to the delicate piano of the title track, it’s a journey of an album, with every song expertly balanced. A masterpiece.


So there we go. A little rundown of what’s been keeping me sane this year. Have a Merry Christmas and a ruddy great New Year!

Best Albums of 2011

24 Dec

2011 was a brilliant year for music. Well, if you enjoyed delay-filled loveliness, sci-fi-themed instrumental rock, and sleazy electro. In no particular order, my albums of the year!


King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

This was one of the most accomplished, full, and beautiful releases of the year. Tasteful, subtle and layered without sounding pretentious or twee. Also check out the Honest Words remix EP.


65daysofstatic – Silent Running

65DOS re-imagined the score to the fantastic 70s sci-fi flick Silent Running to great effect. The band also performed the film live, alongside the movie itself on big screens.



SONOIO, aka Alessando Cortini, creates fantastic, layered electronic for our amusement. NON SONOIO, a remix album, was released for free download recently. Go give it a listen.


PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

The Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake is lyrically unsurpassed, with elegant and delicate musicianship. A work of art.


IAMX – Volatile Times

Chris Corner’s IAMX created a wonderful, sprawling, electro-rock gem for their fourth album.


Deaf Havana – Fools and Worthless Liars

Deaf Havana signed to BMG and released their latest album in November. If you want massive, anthemic choruses, you’ve come to the right place.


Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Thirty-nine songs, thirty-seven of them instrumental. Cold, sparse, and perfect for the film. Oh, and two of the best cover versions since Johnny Cash’s Hurt.


Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Haters gonna hate. This album is boss.


Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will

I wasn’t sure how Mogwai were going to come back after the brilliant The Hawk Is Howling. I should never have doubted them.


I Break Horses – Hearts

Scandinavians make everything better. In this case: lovely, lovely shoegaze-y loveliness.


Rival Schools – Pedals

A lot of us missed Rivals Schools when they were gone. They were part of a wonderful, vitriol-filled era that popped up and summed up a whole generation’s adolescence. It’s good to have them back.


Saul Williams – Volcanic Sunlight

Saul Williams’ last album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, was industrial-tinged hip hop, and his style has taken a real change since. It’s a challenge to listen to at times, but it’s worthwhile and abrilliant follow-up.


So there we go! Thank you 2011. Let’s hope 2012 brings us plenty more to enjoy.