Andy’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

I’m not a fan of Top 10’s, I must admit.

I love music and, strangely, lists; but having to pick 10 out of thousands of albums is difficult. It’s less difficult as I haven’t listened to thousands of albums but I’m comfortably into three figures this year. A top ten by genre would have probably been a big task on its own but hey, I’ll stop moaning and get on with sharing my list with you.

220px-Alter_Bridge_-_Fortress_album_cover10. Alter Bridge – Fortress

I’ve liked Alter Bridge since I heard ‘Metallingus’ being used as a WWE theme. Admittedly I hadn’t really listened to them in too much detail and hadn’t even listened to a full album of theirs but on the bus to work I took the plunge and experienced their latest offering from start to finish.

It is magnificent. Miles’ vocals, Mark Tremonti’s guitar work and solo’s, even drums which I tend not to notice that much, were brilliant right the way through. One to be enjoyed at a hearty volume and I can guarantee you’ll struggle to contain your natural air guitar instincts.

220px-A7XHailtotheKing9. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King

Another one I’d heard in the passing, A7X were a band I never got round to emerging myself in when The Rev was still here. I listened to the album and was immediately impressed. The riffing is superb, solid vocal performances throughout and some of the best solo’s of the year all appear.

The conceptual close of the album is an excellent piece inspired by War Of The Worlds and added a new dimension to the band and so, to the album too.

220px-Chvrches_-_The_Bones_of_What_You_Believe8. Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

Other than my iPhone having a spelling breakdown when I had to type it the first time, there’s nothing I don’t like about this band.

A bit of local pride too is an influencing factor but this album packed with pop-tastic tracks is a master-class in synthpop. Lauren Mayberry, the band’s lead singer, offers some often-emotional vocals over the top of beats to tap your feet to and an album you can enjoy time and time again.

 

220px-My_Bloody_Valentine_-_MBV7. My Bloody Valentine – m b v

If there’s a polar opposite to ‘Easy Listening’ it’s this. Just 22 years in the making,  m b v was far from Loveless part 2. More melodic than earlier albums but equally easy to get lost in, it’s an album I’ll personally never tire of.

It still has that wild, frantic My Bloody Valentine sound to it but it’s more refined this time round. It may be more melodic than previous offerings but not radically different to their signature sound. It’s as challenging as anything they’ve done before but more accessible; a must-hear for those keen on the genre.

220px-BE_Artwork6. Beady Eye – BE

Whenever I mention Beady Eye to my music-loving friends it’s always met with a roll of the eyes and some comment about how Liam Gallagher hasn’t sounded good since 1997 but I always explain how BE is a particularly well thought out album and far more mature than their debut.

There’s a lot of psychedelic influence on show, far less production on the vocals and a maturity to the sound. Catching them live was excellent too and the tracks from the new album were very well received.

220px-Snapshot_album_art_cover5. The Strypes – Snapshot

With an average age of less than some of the clothes I own, The Strypes are quite extraordinary. Bringing a swinging 60’s vibe into the modern-day it’s energetic, raucous and downright impressive. After hearing ‘Blue Collar Jane’ on Jools Holland I was really looking forward to hearing this album and it didn’t let me down.

Securing a support slot with Arctic Monkeys says a lot about how great this band are and next year is sure to bring them even bigger and better things. Towards the end of the album the band shows off a different sound which will be interesting to see how it evolves into their next record.

220px-Magna_Carta_Holy_Grail_cover4. Jay Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail

Arguably the king of Hip Hop, Jay Z dropped one of the best albums of the year to widespread critical acclaim in July.

With Nas, Rick Ross and Frank Ocean appearing it’s a treat for fans of the genre and as always, the album more than lived up to the hype. ‘Picasso Baby’ is my favourite track from the album and the documentary on the back of his six-hour performance of this track at an art gallery in New York is truly brilliant.

 

220px-Black_Sabbath_133. Black Sabbath – 13

The first 3 tracks on this album last for over 15 minutes. I own albums that are half way through by that point. The opening sets the tone for the rest of the album really. It’s big, anthemic, classic-Sabbath with some artful riffing and a good vocal performance from Ozzy. 19 albums will give you plenty of practice but the band seem to take it to the next level on this one no doubt helped by the grand-wizard Rick Rubin who, regardless of genre, always delivers. This album most certainly does deliver, far exceeding my expectations.

 

220px-Biffy_Clyro_-_Opposites2. Biffy Clyro – Opposites

I’ve been a Biffy fan since their early days in the late 90’s playing pubs and clubs in Ayrshire. To see them go from that to creating a beautiful, melodic, artistic, challenging album such as this proves that hard work, dedication and touring constantly will pay off. Originally announced as two separate albums it eventually merged into a double CD and from January to December has been on at least once a week in my house.

220px-Arctic_Monkeys_-_AM1. Arctic Monkeys – AM

The sexiest album I heard this year. It’s sleazy, filthy rock and roll done brilliantly. From start to finish there isn’t a bad track on it. With tracks like ‘R U Mine’, ‘Arabella’ and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’, there’s so much to enjoy and even after a good few months living with it, still gives me ‘that feeling’ every time I hear it.

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