We had some of our Xtra Mile family compile a list of their top five albums for the year 2013...
Barry Dolan of Oxygen Thief's Top Five
In no particular order my records of the year are:
David Bowie - The Next Day
We're big fans of Davie Bowie (rhymes with "snowy", never "TOWIE") in the Dolan household - on a recent episode of Pointless we had three correct answers in the final round - and so we ignored the hype/anti-hype, fanaticism and subsequent backlashing that went on following the announcement and release of this album and just got on with listening to what turned out to be a fantastic rock and roll record. Check out "If You Can See Me" for the sound of David bringing about the apocalypse.
Mutation (aka: Ginger Wildheart & co) - Error 500 / The Frankenstein Effect
GINGER FROM THE WILDHEARTS MAKES TWO HEAVY ALBUMS AND THEY'RE BOTH SO AWESOME I CAN ONLY WRITE ABOUT THEM IN BLOCK CAPITALS AND MINIMAL PUNCTUATION. Ok, that looks mental so I'll stop - but these albums sound mental; it's like WH's own Endless Nameless tried to clone itself and something went wrong with the process, creating something even more disturbingly beautiful in the process. I'm going to stop typing now before my thumbs fall off and go listen to it again.
Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer
Insanity-metal, but fucking great songwriting - it may be a symptom of how far down the heavy rabbit hole my brain has gone in recent years, but I listen to this and for all the ferocity I just hear kick ass hooks and enormous choruses. Their short set supporting Mastodon on tour last year was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, cramming in more hits than Queen at Live Aid.
AC Acoustics - Victory Parts (reissue)
I'm a 90s indie boy at heart, despite what the riffs and hair might suggest; raised on a diet of Placebo and Radiohead. So, seeing that AC Acoustics' 1997 album was being remastered & reissued gave me the perfect excuse to listen to it a bunch this year. Sounds as fresh now as it did back then and I'm still finding new quirks of lyrics and guitar interplay 16 years after its initial release. I am old.
Everything On Red - Satellites
A late entry for me this one; EoR supported OT in Manchester on our full band tour recently & thoroughly kicked arse. Their album rattles along at a storming pace blending punk and hardcore, riffs and hooks, melodies and screams; the 3 piece sharing vocals throughout. Check it out - if the opening riff from "Quoth The Raven" doesn't have you bobbing your head in appreciation, I strongly suspect you may not actually have a head at all.
Mogwai - Les Revenants Soundtrack
I always put one extra album after my top 5 that I've really liked, but haven't spent as much time with as I should have. This is that one.
I've never been that into post-rock (being quite happy enough with "rock" thank you very much) as it has often felt to me like soundtracks missing their films. So I think that's why I've enjoyed this album; I loved the tv show Les Revenants (I studied French at university so pretentiously insist on not calling it "The Returned") and having the claustrophobically bleak imagery of the show to envisage whilst listening to the soundtrack made it make a lot more sense to me.
My XMR favourites have been Jamie Lenman "Muscle Memory" (though must admit to mainly listening to the heavy side so far as it is my favourite), Chris T-T & The Hoodrats "The Bear" and Ben Marwood "Back Down".
Neil OT's top 3: Frank Turner - Tape Deck Heart, Jamir Lenman - Muscle Memory, Arcade Fire - Reflektor.
Ben OT's top 3: Paramore - Paramore, Jamie Lenman - Muscle Memory, Bring Me The Horizon - Sempiternal
JIm Lockey and The Solemn's Sun Top 5:
1. Father John Misty - Fear Fun
2. Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing
3. The Neighbourhood - I Love You
4. A$Ap Rocky - Long. Live. A$AP
5. Why? - Mumps Etc.
Frank Turner's top 5:
1. Larry & His Flask - By The Lamplight
2. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
3. Two Cow Garage - The Death Of The Self Preservation Society
4. Dave Hause - Devour
5. Ben Marwood - Ben Marwood Backs Down
Gregory Nolan’s Top Five:
1. Tape Deck Heart - Frank Turner
2. Cannibals With Cutlery - To Kill A King
3. All This Bad Blood - Bastille
4. Northcote - Northcote
5. Perils - Anders Knudsen
Beans On Toast Top Five:
Beans on Toast's Top 5 albums of 2013
As voted for by the play count on my iTunes - (seemed like the most honest way to do it)
1. Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting the war
Slaid is a Texas based outlaw country singer, very down to earth. My mum gave me his CD after seeing him play a small show in Essex, so he travels well. I've only had the CD for about a month and it's still top on my play count, because it's pretty much been on repeat.
2. Will Varley - As the crow Flies
I first heard of Will when we played a show together in April. I was immediately obsessed and see him as one of the countries best new songwriters, this is his second album and it's stacked with greatness.
3. LA Salami - Sub EP
This EP was a free download, so just go and download it. London's troubled, talented Bob Dylan style songsmith is thought provokingly & beautiful.
4. Dizraeli and Downlow - Everyones a Winner
Another free (or pay what you want) download, this time from Bristol poet / rapper Dizralei. Rather than playing with his band The Small Gods for this album it's a mic / decks set up for old skull hip hop heads. The set they played at Boommtown was a huge highlight of my Summer, and they've nailed it on this mixtape aswell.
5. Frank Tuner - Tape Deck Heart
Some may think an obvious choice what with writing this for the Xtra Mile site, but the play count doesn't lie. I listened to this record lots in preparation for the tour I did with Frank in June. As usual from the main man - its a heartfelt, inspiring and solid work of art.
Franz Nicolay's Top Five:
"In no particular order, since I think music should be judged on its own terms rather than in false competition with music that has entirely other aims.
Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
I don't need to add much to the chorus of praise for this masterful record, except that whoever in the band is responsible for all the great melodic bits that Simon ended up playing live deserves some kind of medal.
Lady Lamb The Beekeeper - Ripely Pine
Everything that a debut album should be: an explosion of accumulated ideas from a young songwriter throwing everything she has at the wall; that somehow manages to be both brimming with energy and tightly arranged. Baroque suites of logorrheic folk songs that morph into the howling guitar heroics of a young PJ Harvey, then culminate in majestic, horn-driven rock ecstasies.
Bill Callahan - Dream River
Oh, just another top-shelf album from one of the few songwriters whose lyrics can legitimately be called "literary." He's on a real roll with these last few records. He's also got a real secret weapon, in the onomatopoeic guitarist Matt Kinsey. And possibly the only man who's managed to make extended flute solos work on pop records.
David Dondero - This Guitar
The title track is the new anthem for mid-career musicians who've had neither the success to relax into their lives nor the unambiguous rejection that would let you quit, whose enthusiasm has separated like curdled milk into a still-hot love for their calling and resentment and regret over the paths closed off and people left behind in its pursuit.
Chris T-T - The Bear
Log-rolling but whatever, this record is a sticker. Sometimes people talk about musicians "taking themselves too seriously" as if it's a bad thing, because I guess you're not supposed to show your work. What all these records have in common is serious artists seriously trying to make art, and no apologies.
Against all odds, the Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys compilation was totally great, and led me to Mary Margaret O'Hara, whose 1988 album Miss America is a treasure. In other non-2013 releases, how come none of you told me how rad the Waterboys are? And I discovered Ivor Cutler, which sent me down a weeks-long rabbit hole.
I'm happy, I'm happy, and I'll punch the man who says I'm not, Franz”