Row Boat’s Top Ten for 2013

When musical worlds collide, here is my top 10 releases of the year.

10. ‘Corsicana Lemonade’ by White Denim
White Denim released their 5th studio album this year, ‘Corsicana Lemonade.’ In keeping with tradition, the album has that original progressive/psychedelic/jam session feel throughout. It’s one of the reasons this album flowed into my top 10 with a hard riff hook opening and unique song structures to the norm.

9. ‘Sirens’ by Oceanus
Oceanus’ debut album was an instant hit for me. For two people to release an album that interlinks with theme and music, and is as tight as it is, the work they put into this album deserves to be appreciated. I could rave about it all day, but really it’s one of those postrock releases you must hear for yourself, from start to finish.

8. ‘Mantangi’ by M.I.A.
I’ve been a fan of M.I.A. since she came on the scene back in 2005. This album was released on her own label, N.E.E.T Recordings, so I was even more curious as M.I.A. is renowned for speaking her mind lyrically, which I do like in certain artists. I love this album. Combining those lyrics and adding the thick, attractive beats and melodies onto this selection of tracks, once again proved that whilst emphasising meaningful lyrics you can create a sexy beat too.

7. ‘In Passing’ by Steve Gibbs/Cyrus Reynolds
Simply put, a beautiful collection of songs that just grip you all the way. I normally sit on a quiet moment with these songs as you are able to hear the background noises (the breathing and strain of the bow against the violin strings) that are every bit as important as the instruments themselves. I will dance and shout on the rooftops about it until i’m in my grave.

6. ‘Ghost Story’ by Preghost
Preghost, also known as Kosuke Anamizu, released ‘Ghost Story’ this year. It is a collection of what I guess I would call ‘dreamy electronica.’ This debut alias of Kosuke (yes he has more alias’s) shot into my top 10 upon hearing track 2, “Snow Leopard.” That’s how good it really is. The overall theme of this album makes perfect sense from a listening point and is, for me, one of the ultimate chill out albums I’ve come across.

5. ‘Holy Fire’ by Foals
Many people didn’t hear of Foals until this year. They’ve been around for some time, but this year they really cracked the indie market with the hard hitting and incredibly well written album ‘Holy Fire’. This album is one of my running albums. It’s constant, clever, melodic, sometimes heavy, sometimes softer. It’s complete, and it’s one for any kind of rock collection. As long as they don’t stray too far into the mainstream, they will keep producing great albums like this.

4. ‘Kveikur’ – Sigur Ros
Wouldn’t be a top 10 without Sigur Ros. Everybody who knows me, knows how much respect I have for these guys. I have to admit I was worried about the direction they would take with their new work after Kjartan Sveinsson left the group. But Kveikur is a very, very solid album. It’s not my favourite of theirs, but, my god, they have written a fantastic set of tracks and created some new signature sounds, which is very admirable of them. They’re as solid as ever with songs like “Isjaki” and “Brennisteinn.”

3. ‘For Now I Am Winter’ by Olafur Arnalds
And now for my second Icelandic artist, ‘For Now I Am Winter’ by Olafur Arnalds. For me, this is quite simply the best work of his to date. What makes this album more special for me is the inclusion of Arnór Dan Arnarson, who is the front man of my favourite band, Agent Fresco. Beautifully composed piano pieces with minimal beats here and there, and the small orchestra of strings make this album a wonderful experience to listen to.

2. ‘Endless Endings’ by Moshimoss
I told you Kosuke Anamizu had more than one alias, and here is his other, Moshimoss. For me, my top 2 was always going to be an ambient or a postrock. ‘Endless Endings’ is a spectacular ambient album put together so delicately with ethereal textures and a stunning arrangement of instruments. There is nothing complex in this album, but it’s so intelligently put together; and that’s what makes it so good. Take my word for it, it’s an album you must own.

1. ‘Wild Light’ by 65daysofstatic
When you sit in the car with your wife, she turns to you and says, “this song is outrageously good. I love it!!!!” That’s when you have your album of the year. You see my wife, has great taste in music. We differ in some areas, but with ‘Wild Light’ there is no difference in opinion. It’s a masterpiece of postrock. Most postrock fans (I believe) would agree with me here. It, like many other of my favourite albums, will probably never ever leave my playlist. Melodic and powerful with offbeat arrangements, encapsulating guitars, heavy drum beats, if you looked up ghost-rock in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of the ‘Wild Light’ album cover next to the description.