Top Albums of 2013 So Far
2013 is officially halfway over and so far it’s been a whirlwind of a year; industry icons returned to the studio after being off the grid for more than a decade and newcomers who seemed to have popped up out of nowhere have claimed a permanent foothold in the scene. Today the staff at Discobelle shares some of the releases that have really made an impression on us. These are the records we’ve had on repeat; the ones that beg for another play and transcend genres and even seasons. Use the arrows below to view the slideshow.
This pair of UK, Nu Disco/Re-Edit producers must possess the midas touch as their talents have been tapped by artists and labels the world over. It’s a safe bet, these days, that if the Psychemagik boys are involved, there must be gold. Magik Sunrise is their second compilation full of lost gems and bizarre oddities like the Balearic, French folk of Daniel Mathieu to the glossy slow jams of Rioland & Goldfader that lie somewhere between Herb Albert and Bob James.
My stand out track here is the sensual, Gozame Ya! by Susana Estrada, channelling her best Brother’s Gibb production. – RICHARD.GEAR
San Francisco base duo Derrick Boyd and Zoe Presnick, known together as Tone of Arc, deliver a brooding, low slung debut that is a funky as it is diabolical. “The Time Was Right” is chalk full of hot bass licks and vocal performances that would make Richard Hell and Joe Stummer twitch. Besides the stellar reworking of a cult classic (Goodbye Horses) the stand out tracks are the swampy-stomp of “Surrender” and the euphoric, tropical vibes of closer, “Left Field”
And if you haven’t seen their (intense) video for “Goodbye Horses,” give it a whirl below and have pleasant dreams! WHAHAHAHAHA – RICHARD.GEAR
Rhye – Woman
The buzz machine got it right on this one; Rhye more than deserve the praise that’s been heaped upon them by critics and indie music nerds. I’ve probably listened to this album in full about a hundred times at this point, and it still never fails to transport me. Its spacious arrangement, unrushed pace and meditative mood recall classic pop-fusion masterpieces like Paul Simon’s Graceland and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. The most striking instrument on the album is Mike Milosh’s voice, which floats its way into open spaces in the mix in waves of pure unmediated feeling. Woman is probably one of the first albums to bring together jazz, electronica and R&B without sounding forced and pretentious – but its greatest achievement lies in its emotional purity and honesty. – Peter Collins
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Given that Daft Punk are the reason I first fell in love with electronic music, I may not be the most impartial judge of this album. It’s admittedly a pretty satisfying full circle moment, as a fan, to hear the duo conducting an orchestra of the great disco session musicians they built their careers on sampling. But after the relative disappointment of the Tron soundtrack, this album is a return to form that just feels right from start to finish. From the vocoded scat fugue on the bridge of “Lose Yourself to Dance” to the disco ragtime breakdown in “Touch” to the breezy California yacht rock of “Fragments of Time” to the mind-melting interstellar finale of “Contact,” it’s a creatively envisioned and beautifully executed album. This is what happens when the best production duo on earth have the resources and the confidence to do exactly what they want. It’s tough to pick a favorite track, but opener “Give Life Back To Music” embodies the feel-good ethos and tight live musicianship that run through the album. No solos, not much fancy production, just 100% pure groove. – Peter Collins
In Koze’s words “Amygdala” was supposed to be his St. Pepper’s, and honestly he’s not too far off. Both albums make you rethink genres, using unique instrumentation and steering clear of the expected. Focusing on development and songwriting, Amygdala is a relevant and powerful collection of dance tracks. His innate sense of sound, space, emotion and fun makes this a truly timeless album. When thinking of Koze, driving pulses and an obsession with orchestral samples comes to mind, but Amygdala is full of emotional drive that paces the man behind the turntables perfectly. – Lauren Knight
“Hanging Gardens” is bright, warm, and breezy – and maybe it’s just me and my west coast upbringing but I’m really into that. A glossy pop record that is impossibly lush, peppered throughout with catchy, supernatural melodies, and gleaming synths. Filled to the brim with pitch-bends, hi-hats, and infectious bass – there’s a lot going on here, and yet you’re left with wanting more. – Lauren Knight
I know it’s not technically an album, but Zombie Disco Squads EP “Kicks, Cats & Hi Hats” features 3 of my most-liked tracks this year and was released on my favorite label, Suara. ZDS brings an extremely creative approach to dance music – blurring the lines between deep house, UK bass, and techno. It’s dark and spooky with immaculate production quality, without taking itself too seriously. – Lauren Knight
It wasn’t until 2011 that Kavinsky reached mainstream consciousness after his single “Nightcall” was famously featured in the opening credits of the movie Drive. This year the French house producer (who’s garnered comparisons to Daft Punk) released his debut LP “Outrun” and for the first time we’re able to see the full spectrum of his producing capabilities. There are so many things that I love about this album, even the opening “Prelude,” which is more of a narration than anything else. It contributes to the overarching dark and cinematic feel of the album and I for one absolutely love it. – Nancy Lu
Let me just start off by saying that I love a man with a good falsetto. Autre Ne Veut’s Arthur Ashin has that and good R&B sensibilities. Comparisons to How To Dress Well are unavoidable, but Autre Ne Veut has an amazing ability to turn out beautiful melodies from total dissonance. He once remarked, “I like the idea of being able to fuck with expectations, and for the music to be a Rorschach test, in a way” and “Anxiety” is just that. The album is a collection of heavy percussive beats and curious sounds like creaking doors all wrapped up in a whole lot of soul. Tracks like “Counting” dig deep into your emotional core, pulling out everything you’ve had bottled up inside. – Nancy Lu
Keyboardist and sound engineer Jon Hopkins got his start backing Imogen Heap but is probably better known for his work with Brian Eno and Coldplay. It’s hard to believe that “Immunity” is his fourth album but it’s the one that’s placed him solidly on the map. After more than nine months of being locked up in his East London studio, Jon Hopkins emerged with a record that can be described as nothing less than an immersive auditory journey. The meticulous placement of each sound is evident, and every track seems to mirror an emotion or experience we’ve had before. – Nancy Lu