Tuesday, December 17, 2013

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2013: 20-18

20 Low - The Invisible Way
[iTunes] [Spotify] [Amazon]
Low haven't been slowcore as such for a while now, but their raw delicacy still requires taking the time and effort to lose yourself in. This tenth album, for its occasional nods at gospel and the Velvets, is still full of empty space and carefully arranged instrumentation around the room's edges but it's the most intricately layered and beauteous work they've produced for a good while. It invokes a stillness in time and the winds within its textures, while Alan and Mimi harmonise beautifully, making both their phrasing and the shades underneath mean that much more as they spin stories of personal heartbreak, redemption and a kind of eventual joyousness.

19 Islet - Released By The Movement
[iTunes] [Spotify] [Amazon]
The perpetual motion machine that is live Islet hasn't always suited being placed in perpetuity onto tape, so this time they decided to record as-live in various bedrooms. As always there's something straining to escape between the arrythmic marches, synth drones and the vocal exchange of cryptic oaths, introducing discordant quasi-tropicalia overheatedness to blindingly technicolour psychedelia and letting them fight it out to the death. It's a complete single work, floating ambient mood passages between the popping motorik frenzies and invention of space-indie. Tripping over itself with ideas, woozy with both possibilities and a metaphorical version of the bends, it needs to lie down in a darkened room.

18 Kiran Leonard - Bowler Hat Soup
[iTunes] [Spotify] [Amazon]
Clearly some kind of savant, the sixteen tracks on the then 17 year old uber-multi-instrumentalist's first properly released album hop joyfully between genres like a Todd Rundgren for the bedroom pop set. His type of troubled singer-songwriters are Harry Nilsson and Tom Waits rather than Barrett or Walker, but Van Dyke Parks is a more common through road of an influence for someone equally comfortable with music hall Kinksisms, baroquely orchestrated cracked balladry, fuzzy power-pop that falls into its own black hole and piano-led prog-pop ambitions, often employing the richest of developing croons, you feel post-folkish tags don't so much fail to constrain him as tell so little of the tale.

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