Here’s where we left you last. Now, on with the rekkids!
Releasing three albums over the course of eighteen months is a level of hyperactive productivity that you just don’t find in many bands. The wildly weird septet have leapt from spliff-toting garage psych to gun-slinging spaghetti western in their brief yet illustrious time as a band, but it’s here that they fully realise their astronomical potential. Not only sporting the single best opening track of 2013, King Gizzard put together their strongest pound-for-pound material yet across warped guitar, banshee vocals and some spiralling moments of slow-mo bliss. When it comes to tripping the light fantastic, this is a band that truly emphasises the last part.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Pop in My Step, Head On/Pill, Float Along – Fill Your Lungs.
When it came to the heavier spectrum of Australian music in 2013, you simply could not go past the efforts of a crew of Western Sydney twentysomethings with a metric shit-tonne of ambition and the musical chops to pull it off. Not only did Singularity completely trump its predecessor – their 2011 debut, Discoveries – but it sonically took the band onto a different plain entirely. Drawing a striking contrast between atmospheric ambience and scorched-earth catharsis, the album is a full-scale assault on the senses. Invigorating and undeniable by nature, Singularity is indicative of not only a truly impressive present but as an incredibly bright prospect.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Worldeater, Masquerade, Quantum Flux.
Perhaps the most un-2013 album to be released in 2013: An album of barnyard stomps, croaky storytelling and blues in its most traditional style. Although this is far from Parr’s first rodeo – it marked his eleventh studio album in twelve years – it’s a record that sees a strength in songwriting that has never shone through quite this way. An energy builds with washboard percussionist Mikkel Beckman and harmonica/mandolin player Dave Hundreiser; while the characters in each track are painted so vividly, you feel their every movement. Essentially, Barnswallow is a direct response to “They don’t make ’em like this anymore.” Actually, they do.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Badger, Jesus is a Hobo, Henry Goes to the Bank.
After sixteen years in the game, you would at the very least be understanding if the output of The Dillinger Escape Plan was on any kind of decline. Instead, the band made a return this year that proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they were still a merciless, (literally) fire-breathing beast to be reckoned with. The rage is very much maintained on their fifth and potentially best LP; barely allowing for a moment to catch one’s breath before tearing into the next vitriolic, bile-laden exercise in off-kiler chaos. If any metal album was going to tear you apart in 2013, it was more than likely going to be this one.
THREE TOP TRACKS: One of Us is the Killer, Understanding Decay, Prancer.
If you’ve ever seen – or, at least, seen any footage of – Caves live, their set up is very simple. One guitar, one bass, one drum kit and two microphones set up so that vocalist/guitarist Lou Hanman and vocalist/bassist Jonathan Minto are facing one another. Betterment, the band’s second album, is the recorded embodiment of this set-up. You’ve got grinding bass to your right, buzzsaw guitar to your left, pounding drums in the middle and defiant shout-along vocals over the top of the whole thing. It’s raw, it’s unapologetic and it’s a fucking fun listen. High-fives all ’round.
THREE TOP TRACKS: ❤ Koala, Build Against, I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care.
Everyone from Bobby McFerrin to Anna Kendrick has explored the majesty of a capella over the years, but few have kept the spirit and the warmth of it alive quite like Aluka. The Melburnian trio finally released their debut album in 2013, going to great lengths to provide stunning vocal arrangements in the most peculiar of places. Recorded across hallways, stairwells, depots and even in their cars, producer Nick Huggins captures each song in its essence and meticulously crafts it into its own environment. Space is a thoroughly rewarding experiment in the power of a voice and a voice alone.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Station, TipToe, Swim Down.
Is this at all surprising as an entry? Really, were the sharpest-dressed men in all of indie rock ever going to deliver something short of exceptional? When your last two albums are as seminal, moving and brilliantly-written as 2007’s Boxer and 2010’s High Violet, one can only assume the next time around will follow suit. This is exactly what happened – from its intimate, striking confessionals to its all-in jaunts through rockier musical territory, Trouble Will Find Me comfortably held its own as one of the year’s most anticipated and subsequently beloved albums. They deserve nothing less as a band.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Graceless, Sea of Love, Don’t Swallow the Cap.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of Major Arcana, the debut album for Northampton noisemakers Speedy Ortiz, is how it manages to capture the squirming discomfort and musical disarray of the indie rock movement through the 90s – and, yet, it comes out the other side sounding fresh and raucous rather than tepid and old-hat. It certainly isn’t the first record of its kind, and studies show that it will most certainly not be the last. What it is, however, is one of the finest examples in recent years of striking the balance between influence and inspiration. A truly outstanding rock record.
THREE TOP TRACKS: MKVI, Tiger Tank, Fun.
“I’ll start the story at the end,” offers vocalist Joshua Coxon during “Recurring,” the opening track of his band’s eponymous debut. From there, he and his exceptional crew of bandmates take us through a slew of lush math-rock excursions in sound matched to poignant and searching lyricism. As far as debut efforts went throughout the year, Seahorse Divorce proved to have some of the strongest replay value. It revealed a greater sense of character and some truly smart songwriting along the way. It ultimately didn’t even matter where the story started – as long as you were around to listen to it.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Summarise Proust, Recurring, Rogers Street.
Despite being four albums in, Panic! At the Disco have never made two records in a row with the exact same personnel as the one before. It’s this that lends the band to being somewhat of a blank canvas at times – they have explored most of pop’s wider spectrums in greater depth than most of their contemporaries, yet have rarely stayed for more than a spell. Here, vocalist Brendon Urie – along with mainstay drummer Spencer Smith and new bassist Dallon Weekes – try on roller-disco grooves, Kraftwerk-esque robo-pop and bi-curious kiss-offs. It’s queer by nature, and this is perhaps its greatest attribute.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Girls/Girls/Boys, Vegas Lights, Far Too Young to Die.