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13 for 13: The Records We're Most Excited About in 2013

13 for 13: The Records We're Most Excited About in 2013

01 January 2013, 10:55

A new year dawns and with it a whole host of new releases pencilled in for the ensuing months. We’ve bashed our heads together over the Christmas break and compiled thirteen albums that we think will help define the musical landscape of 2013. Regretful omissions have been made, of course, and notable mentions should be made to the return of Foals and Beck, the eagerly awaited debut albums from Daughter, Outfit and Mikky Ekko – plus, not forgetting, the new record from the God-like Kurt Vile, Shout Out Louds and Mudhoney.

From the massively anticipated (Daft Punk, The Knife), the debut make-or breaks (Savages) and the re-inventions (Solange), here are thirteen records you’d be a fool not to sit up and take notice of.

13. Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
(4 February, Atlantic)

Despite being awarded our coveted Album of the Year in 2008 for the terrific Midnight Organ Fight, a bit of a law of diminishing returns has been in play for the once highly regarded Scots ever since.

2010’s follow-up, The Winter of Mixed Drinks split opinion, the band’s opting for a more optimistic and polished approach proving, frankly, a bit of a disappointment to many. September 2012 saw the release, though, of an eponymous EP which started to re-ignite our love for the band, and make us excited all over again at the prospect of this February’s new full-length, Pedestrian Verse.

Initial signs seem promising for a return to the kind of form that make this band – at their best – one of best in a series of lachrymose chroniclers of woe from North of the Border, their verses, on initial encounter, anything but pedestrian. Welcome back, Frabbits, we’ve missed you!
- Jude Clarke

12. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
(18 March, Dead Oceans)

Matthew Houck, who goes by the musical moniker of Phosphorescent, has consistently produced some of the most interesting and inspired music ever to be lazily filed under the catch-all tag of After 2010’s laid-back classic Here’s To Taking It Easy, this time round he promises to return to the more surreal and psychedelic end of his musical palette.

Described as an “assemblage of underwater hymns”, Houck’s distinctive vocal – now raucously singing of alcohol fuelled fun times, now brokenly mourning the end of a romance – is in full effect on this brilliant collection. First single ‘Song For Zula’ sets the tone: a shimmering, echo-laden ode to the oppressive nature of love. Elsewhere on the album we witness more of Houck’s raw and personal songwriting. What better person to accompany us on a trip through the mysteries of love and life?
- Jude Clarke

11. Solange Knowles – TBC
(Expected Spring 2013 / Terrible Records)

Step aside Beyonce there’s a new Knowles in town. Well actually, she’s probably not that new to you and to the pop world she has been around in various guises since the early 2000s but whether it is right or wrong of us, we’ve only stood up and paid attention in the last 12 months. And not without renewed reason. Guided by the sturdy indie hands of Dev Hynes and Kevin Barnes her recent efforts have been nothing but iressistble. In fact ‘Losing You’ was named our seventh favourite track of 2012 for it’s funky rhythms and slick understated pop hooks whilst ‘Lovers In The Parking Lot’ had us mesmerised with its hypnotic vocals and rich production. We know we’re not alone when we say “more of the same please.”
- Lauren Down

10. Savages – TBC
(Expected 2013)

There is no official word from the band on this, in fact we’re not even sure who’ve they’ve signed to in the UK but pending any kind of announcement we feel that a 2013 full length debut is an inevitable move for Savages. Their swirling, post punk guitar driven, Joy Division indebted drones have cemented the Sound of 2013 nominated, London four-piece as one of the most exciting British bands around. The handful of singles they’ve released over the past 12 months have shown the band capable of living up to the energy and promise of their live performances so we only hope a full length can bottle that raw, taught fusion in a sharp, precise manner.
- Lauren Down

9. Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In
(25 February, Names)

Caitlin Rose’s Nashville heritage is infused in every note of her forthcoming second album. Scheduled to arrive on UK shores in February – just as the gloom of winter seems set to go on forever – Caitlin’s perky, upbeat take on country music brings with it a glorious Tennessee swagger and warmth.

Making good on the promise of 2010’s Own Side Now, on The Stand-In you can expect a poise and confidence in her carefully-crafted songs: perfectly delivered in that soaring, expressive, wise-beyond-her-years vocal. With one of its early tracks, the “epitome of modern day Americana” that is ‘No One To Call’ making the Top Ten of our Best Fit Fifty Tracks of 2012, it seems certain that the album from which it was taken will be one of 2013’s highest musical points.
- Jude Clarke


8. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
(11 March, Bella Union)

Grant’s solo debut Queen of Denmark was one of the albums of 2010. It featured songs – and arrangements – of such intensity, beauty and sorrow (with wonderful dashes of humour and clear-eyed anger) that it quite rightly won a whole heap of critical praise. How to follow all that?

Well, if the strength of new material can be gauged by how effectively it reduces you to tears when hearing it for the first time live, we can confidently state that he’s onto another winner. Having relocated to Reykjavik to write Pale Green Ghosts, his set at last September’s End of the Road festival revealed several heart-rending songs that instantly resonated and left you jonesing for more.

More sparse and electronic in arrangement than the lush balladry of …Denmark, the album finds Grant still seeking an ideal of love that is either imagined (‘You Don’t Have To’ dreaming of “walking hand in hand side by side”) or unrequited (the yearning ‘Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore’). Add the tight, catty rhymes of ‘Blackbelt’ (“You are supercilious, pretty and ridiculous”) and a heavy dose of Iceland-inspired metaphors involving glaciers, and it would seem that album number two is distinctly unlikely to be “difficult” for this terrific, profane, heart-on-sleeve chronicler.
- Jude Clarke

7. Arcade Fire – TBC
(Expected 2013, Merge)

Although we’re still waiting for confirmation and release date, it seems enticingly likely that 2013 will see a new album from the Canadian baroque indie superstars Arcade Fire. From the lush symphonic death-rock of Funeral, the dark Springsteen-isms on Neon Bible to The Suburbs’ ruminations on youth, maturity and small-town life, Win Butler, Régine Chassagne and co. have consistently produced albums that capture a mood, an atmosphere and an intent, better than nearly any 21st century act before them has achieved.

Rumour has it (quickly, if not comprehensively, denied at source) that the band have been working with James Murphy on “three or so songs” this time round, but, regardless, it is undeniable that very many people will be eagerly waiting to see what themes this cerebral yet emotionally-engaging band are set to tackle this time around.
- Jude Clarke

6. Daft Punk – TBC
(Expected 2013)

Although their is no official word from the band about their next full length album, the rumour mill is in full swing. The record itself has apparently been in the works since 2010, whilst more recently artists like Chilly Gonzales have revealed the news of their collaboration with the famous French duo and disco, chic production legend Nile Rodgers has confirmed his involvement. Their synth driven house numbers have been changing the electronic music landscape since Homework was released in 1997 whilst 2001′s Discovery forged Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter’s names into musical history, and just about every dance floor going. Unsurprisingly the prospect of their first real record since 2005′s Humans After All, excluding their soundtrack work for Tron Legacy (which in itself was a thing to behold), has us all salivating at the months and every DJ poised for the bar to be raised once more.
- Lauren Down

5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – TBC
(Expected Spring 2013)

In the male dominated indie world of the early 2000s Karen O basically re-invented what it was to be a front woman, and along with her Yeah Yeah Yeahs cohorts created one of the most impressive debuts to have ever graced our ears: a twisted, taught, frenzied 40 minutes of raw emotion. Since 2003 they’ve been ripping it up, turning it down and toying with our emotions. If Fever To Tell was their crazed, brittle, striking exploration of love, sex and everything in between then Show Your Bones was their difficult second album, only without it being difficult. Growing without the pains it explored a more complex palette, more focussed, less frantic but just as intoxicating whilst their most recent full length to date was their most mature offering to date.

Unable to keep their creative feet still, we’re not quite sure what to expect from Nick Zinner, Brian Chase and Karen O’s new album, or even what it will be called but we know we can’t wait. In fact, due to their impressive back catalogue, we’re actually kind of nervous about it. Hopefully they’ll soon prove we have nothing to worry about.
- Lauren Down

4. Lykke Li – TBC
(Expected 2013)

Comfortably perching on the edge of super-stardom Lykke Li emerged from the coy Swedish chanteuse of Youth Novels to the striking femme fatale of 201o’s ‘Get Some.’ Having grown into her new songs and model/artist persona this past year Lykke Li’s unique sensibilities no longer see her merely perching on the edge of pop stardom, but confidently and elegantly poised right in the centre of it. With nothing more than the odd, albiet incredible, track having emerged since 2011′s Wounded Rhymes we’re hoping that Lykke Li’s mooted late 2013 tour is an indicator that the Swedish songstress has new material to show off.
- Lauren Down


3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
(18 February, Bad Seed Ltd)

A band that are poised to release their fifteenth studio need little introduction. Push The Sky Away is set to be released on 18 February and not only mark’s the Aussie’s departure from Mute but marks the band’s first release since the departure of founding member Mick Harvey in January 2009. Recorded at La Fabrique in southern France and produced by Nick Launay, the first single to be taken from the follow-up to 2008′s Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!, ‘We No Who U R’ is proof Nick Cave and co still have an unrivalled ability to chill, haunt and delight within one sighing note. Speaking about the record Cave said, ”Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push the Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren’s loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat.”
- Lauren Down

2. My Bloody Valentine – TBC
(Expected Spring 2013)

The shoegaze legends have finally confirmed they’ve completed the mastering of their long, long, long, LONG awaited third album. Many fans never thought they’d see the day. Many probably still don’t but with a string of live dates set up for the Spring and Kevin Shields himself having confirmed it via the band’s facebook page we believe My Bloody Valentine will deliver. The as yet untitled follow-up to 1991′s classic cut Loveless has yet to be given a firm release date but one thing is for sure, with 21 years in between this and their last, fans expectations will be riding almost unbearably high.
- Lauren Down

1. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual
(8 April, Brille)

With just a 60 second teaser trailer offering no more than an ambient soundscape, exactly what sonic direction The Knife’s new album will take is anyone’s guess. No matter. The Swedish brother/sister duo have the attention of the world’s media in the palm of their hand as we await the massively anticipated Shaking The Habitual – the group’s first album proper since 2006 breakthrough Silent Shout (excluding side-projects and soundtracks, of course).

One of the most pioneering, influential and down right mesmerising acts of the past decade or so and, indeed, responsible for the consistent rise in popularity of cross-over electronica that’s become second nature to the Swedish music scene in their absence, The Knife’s return may just be the musical event of 2013. We’re all ears.
- Rich Thane

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