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Albums of the Year 2013

After the usual careful deliberation, here are our Albums of the Year.

Top 50 Albums Top 50 Reissues Top 50 Bestsellers

Album of the Year 2013

Sleaford Mods - 'Austerity Dogs'

Sleaford Mods - 'Austerity Dogs'

These albums-of-the-year lists are meant to be about best and most important music that we've heard this year, right?

A quick word about our choice for this year. If the polarisation of opinion within Norman Records about this one is reflected outside Norman Records, you will either hate it or you will love it. This is not a record we all agree on. It's not even one where we've all 'agreed to disagree'. Several members of staff think it's genius. Several members of staff think that Phil has lost his marbles in choosing this as the official Norman Records AOTY and want nothing to do with it. We leave it to you to decide.

Buy it now
2.

Hookworms
Pearl Mystic

This is the 'classic' debut album Leeds psych man band Hookworms. They purvey a kind of heads down, no nonsense kraut boogie which borrows as much from Neu '3' as it does Status Quo 'On the Level'. Moving way into the modern age, it's the kind of album no Spacemen 3 fan should be without. Heavy ...view item »
3.

Holden
The Inheritors

Ever since our office promo of the new Holden album turned up it’s never been too far from the office stereo, since it’s one of the rare records that everyone here can agree on - a lengthy voyage of finely detailed analogue synths, stumbling beats and occasionally surprising instrumentation (check...view item »
4.

Parquet Courts
Light Up Gold

I’m convinced this lot have impressed me before somewhere but this seems to be the first of their records we’ve stocked so who knows where I previously encountered them. That’s not important, though. What’s important is that we’ve got their debut LP right here in our office to sell to you, and it’s really good...view item »
5.

These New Puritans
Field of Reeds

Okay, stop right there. Take everything you think you know about These New Puritans, throw it in the waste paper basket and let’s start again. One of my bigger gripes about modern day popular music is the lack of risk taking, the consensus seeming to be find your signature sound, spend the r...view item »
6.

Thee Oh Sees
Floating Coffin

We have a dilemma here at Norman Towers this week - do we award our coveted Album of the Week trophy to The Knife’s ambitious and sprawling new 3LP masterpiece or this latest offering from Californian garage rock overlords Thee Oh Sees? The notoriously prolific ...view item »
7.

The Haxan Cloak
Excavation

The cover on this looks uncannily like a Prurient sleeve, an indicator to the darkness that lurks within. This is the follow up to the well received self titled debut from Bobby Krilc on Aurora Borealis. An album high in many of 2012’s end of year lists. Imagine the slow motion dread of ...view item »
8.

Forest Swords
Engravings

I just listened to the execrable new album from Money, or at least as much of it as the office could bear before Phil insisted I switch it off some way into track four. My despair has been eased somewhat by the fact that I have this absolute corker of a new album by Forest Swords...view item »
9.

Tropic of Cancer
Restless Idylls

I don't really know whether Henry Miller was an influence insofar as their elegantly alluring moniker goes but this increasingly renowned LA-based artist Camella Lobo somehow produces incredibly erotic and sensual music from the most spartan ingredients. Shame all her lyrics are about death, loss, depression and such cheery romance-slaying issue...view item »
10.

Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld
Still Smiling

The promo for this album turned up a few years ago and has been on fairly regular rotation here at Norman Towers ever since, with former Einsturzende Neubauten/Bad Seeds character Blixa Bargeld teaming up with Italian composer ...view item »
11.

Fuzz
Fuzz

Those of you who were a little put off by Ty Segall’s recent slow-down on the dreamy ‘Sleeper’ can put away your tissues and put on your air guitar shoes because Segall’s new trio Fuzz finally drop their debut LP on In The Red this...view item »
12.

Boards of Canada
Tomorrow's Harvest

I’ve been waiting far too long for this moment being a massive fanboy but finally I get to hear the long awaited Boards of Canada album! I found ‘Campfire Headphase’ a bit of a letdown (after liking pretty much every single track they did beforehand) so I’m hoping ‘Tomor...view item »
13.

Joanna Gruesome
Weird Sister

"Heard it all before blah blah blah". I'd like to be all "whatevers" about this album but it's so damn lovable and exuberant that I'd feel like some schoolyard shithead that's just knocked the specs off some poor shy kid and stolen his Monster Munch. I'd feel bad if I accused them merely of aping early ...view item »
14.

Fuck Buttons
Slow Focus

Four years ago Fuck Buttons proved their phenomenal debut album was no fluke with a similarly amazing Weatherall-produced effort, and now for the first time they’re producing themselves on album number three, ‘Slow Focus’, further refining t...view item »
15.

Factory Floor
Factory Floor

Oh! Here’s the record that many of us have been waiting for for literally years. Yes, after what seems like an age of just putting out limited singles and EPs Factory Floor have finally taken the plunge and done a full-length album. My knowledge about the dance musics is limited, and countless column inc...view item »
16.

My Bloody Valentine
m b v

It was the “where were you moment” for the ‘Loveless’ generation when My Bloody Valentine finally, halfway through Match Of The Day, decided enough is enough, it’s coming out. At no point in the last 20 years did such a thing seem remotely possible. A quote from a fri...view item »
17.

Hacker Farm
UHF

Hacker Farm are a Somerset collective of experimental electronic mavericks who have been raising all the right eyebrows lately with their spooky glitchtronic pastoral weirdness. In my haste to listen to all the other records I actually missed out on last year’s debut, but their ne...view item »
18.

Laurel Halo
Chance Of Rain

Quite a stylistic departure from her last celebrated long player is 'Chance of Rain', the new freaky stylus-eater to burst forth from the excitable neurons of Ms. Halo, NY’s queen of warped techno. There's not any vocals for a start and the whole shebang initially stumbles into the arena of our minds with a woozy jazz f...view item »
19.

Grouper
The Man Who Died In His Boat

Originally released in 2013, this album was recorded by Liz Harris alongside her best-known work, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. It’s in the same stylistic ballpark - ethereal, heavily reverbed electric guitar and vocals with dark and mysterious undercurrents, sometimes swimming into clearer focus when Harris switches to ...view item »
20.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Push The Sky Away

The evergreen Aussie troubadour Nick Cave is back this week with the latest offering from his all-star Bad Seeds. This one is based on a notebook of observations he made from the window of his Brighton home, and is largely comprised of introspective, moody and often heartfelt numbers which showcase Cave’s ...view item »
21.

Kurt Vile
Wakin On A Pretty Daze

I learned something today. I learned that Kurt Vile is not a pseudonym but in fact the actual name of popular singer and songwriter Kurt Vile. I know! Me neither! Anyway, Mr Vile’s got a new album out this week and he wants me to tell you about it. It’s called ‘Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze&rsq...view item »
22.

Oneohtrix Point Never
R Plus Seven

The prolific Daniel Lopatin is back this week with another Oneohtrix album, and this time he’s on Warp and I find myself in the difficult position of trying to describe this record in mere minutes. The friendly TNT delivery guy just helped me ou...view item »
23.

The Knife
Shaking The Habitual

Oh gawd, look what I’ve landed on the review carousel today. None other than the welcome return of mysterious Swedish avant-techno-synth-poppers The Knife, a whopping seven years (is it really that long? I feel old) after their previous effort ‘Silent Shout’. Now I like The Knife as much as t...view item »
24.

Broadcast
Berberian Sound Studio

Peter Strickland’s new film Berberian Sound Studio - a thriller centring around a foley artist working on a ‘70s giallo film - looks completely fascinating but sadly I’ve not seen it yet so I’m having to review this soundtrack out of context. Thankfully it’s a won...view item »
25.

Anthroprophh
Anthroprophh

I know from our sales figures that a lot of you are already pretty into cult UK psych titans The Heads, so you probably don’t need me to tell you that Anthroprophh is the alter-ego of their visionary songwriter and axe-mangler Paul Allen, who here dish...view item »
26.

Autechre
Exai

Electronica legends Rob Brown and Sean Booth are back with their 11th long player and an extremely “long player” it is; clocking in at over two and a half hours it’s a pretty heavy listen! Over the last twenty years or so they have churned out some interesting works, some good and some not so good but this is real winner from s...view item »
27.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
II

I'm the only person in this office who doesn't seem to like Tame Impala all that much, these fellow antipodeans are more my bag. Although they appear to plough a similar furrow of hazy psychedelic pop, Unknown Mortal Orchestra seem to be the more lo-fi, interesting proposition. That could start a war, eh...view item »
28.

Lantern
Rock 'N' Roll Rorschach

Sophomore Lounge are an interesting label - they’re so dizzyingly diverse that every time we get something new from them I have to re-evaluate them, but more often than not I love what they’re bringing out, be it the anarchic noise punk of Tropical Trash ...view item »
29.

Vision Fortune
Mas Fiestas con el Grupo Vision Fortune

Ah, what a treat! We were all well into Vision Fortune’s debut cassette a year or so back and now the hypno-punkers have got a full-length LP out, housed in one of the coolest sleeves I’ve seen in a while, with eight tracks each named with a Roman numeral. As a record it sucks you in with hypnot...view item »
30.

Machinedrum
Vapor City

Machinedrum has a long and varied history, initially pricking our then soft Norman ears years back with a kind of Prefuse 73 like avant-hop style that won him some of our very special plaudits. It wasn’t until 2011’s ‘Room(s)’ however that Machinedrum real...view item »
31.

Mazzy Star
Seasons of Your Day

Flicking to the reviews pages of The Guardian this morning, I was curious to see what their take was of Mazzy Star’s long awaited return. Instead their feature album is by Jessie J. What hope is there? Anyway the fact they gave the awful new MGMT record a good write-up shows that ...view item »
32.

Zomby
With Love

At last. When embarking on a reviewing marathon, it’s a challenge enough to try find a record you actually like. Phil has just wandered over with the new Zomby record. It’s a double album, 33 tracks and I have...what? 30 minutes to dissect it and tell you all about it. Luckily, my job has been made...view item »
33.

Colin Stetson
New History Warfare Vol. 3 : To See More Light

Sax machine Colin Stetson has been turning ever more heads of late with his innovative and unique playing style, and finally this week we have the third in his ‘New History Warfare’ trilogy available for your consumption, hot on the heels of his excellent collaboration with modern sax legend ...view item »
34.

Julianna Barwick
Nepenthe

The wonderful Julianna Barwick has a new album out this week, allowing me to start my day of reviews in uncontroversial territory as the sun streams through the windows and she bathes us in her ethereal loveliness. On this one she’s gone to Iceland to record with Alex Somers (...view item »
35.

Plinth
Music For Smalls Lighthouse

I utterly love the packaging on these Claypipe Records releases. This one comes in a lovely full colour sleeve with booklet complete with stories, illustrations, etc. Frances Castle’s illustrations are just gorgeous (she did the cover portrait on last week’s Music a...view item »
36.

Dirty Beaches
Drifters / Love Is The Devil

Dirty Beaches, aka Alex Zhung Hungtai, has been peddling his own peculiarly murky brand of outsider analogue driftpop and reverb-drenched Suicidey paranoia for a few years now, reappropriating minimal analogue and rock’n’roll traditions into weird passages of...view item »
37.

Sommet
Fugitive

Ooh, I’m liking this a lot. I don’t know a lot about Sommet and the press release isn’t giving a lot away but the sleeve to this LP indicates that this is the work of Clement Bonnet and Sebastien Rosat, who I’m assuming are French until instructed otherwise. They’ve pieced together seven tracks of pulsating soundtra...view item »
38.

Roly Porter
Life Cycle Of A Massive Star

The space concept album is as old as time, from Holst, Louis & Bebe Barron, Jeff Mills, Jack Dangers, Lustmord, ...view item »
39.

Rashad Becker
Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. I

I've been wildly curious about hearing this album after hearing Rashad Becker perform live at Islington Mill in Salford a few months ago. It was one of the strangest sounding performances I think I've ever heard live, unlike anything I think I've experienced before. Rashad B...view item »
40.

Mount Kimbie
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth

Despite its red herring sleeve featuring a big fat arse, Mount Kimbie’s ‘Crooks and Lovers’ was one of those slow burning classics, an unclassifiable post dubstep record which included elements of soulful hip hop and post-rock, whose deep late night atmospheres ingrained deeper into yo...view item »
41.

The Pastels
Slow Summits

It’s been 16 long years since the last proper Pastels studio album, after an interesting collaboration with Japanese popsters Tenniscoats and ‘The Last Great Wilderness’ soundtrack, it’s great to see Glasgow’s finest back on true form. ‘...view item »
42.

Vatican Shadow
Remember Your Black Day

Don't know why I grabbed the latest transmission from uber-dark noise puppy Dominick Fearn Cotton? NO! His general "furious hamster" demeanour and perpetual exploration of the darker side of life often leaves me feeling fairly bleaked out if I'm of a fragile state of mind, ie. most Autumn mornings. As it happens I'm erring on the perky '...view item »
43.

The Oscillation
From Tomorrow

There's so much psychedelia and spacerock around these days I constantly feel like I'm on drugs man. Now Loop have reformed there's no escape, The Heads were once the un-coolest band in the UK, now they're the coolest. Too cool to play a country that once shunned them and laughed like sc...view item »
44.

LA Machine
Phases & Repetition

I don’t hear phaser on drums as often as I’d like. I don’t know why it’s not common practice ‘cause it sounds sick. ‘Phases & Repetition’ starts with phased drums and a dub heavy Can groove possessing with it the promise of a classic from the outset. LA Machine don’t e...view item »
45.

Function
Incubation

David Sumner has been recording and releasing records as Function  since 1996 when he first emerged on fellow NYC techno don Damon Wild's Synewave label and later went on to spawn his Infrastructure New York label in 1998 with the release of  'The Dielectric Coefficient' which really blew me away a...view item »
46.

M. Geddes Gengras
Collected Works Vol. 1, The Moog Years

Finally our copies of this absolute heart melting LP have arrived. M. Geddes Gengras has serious underground credentials, playing in LA Vampires, ...view item »
47.

Maston
Shadows

...And here’s another psych-pop record, this time from Maston, Frank Maston, who approaches the ‘60s sound from a hazy, haunted angle which is reminding me a little of the cottony-sounding muffled airiness of Candy Claws squeezed into intelligible song structures with some cheeky instrumentation - nice little brass touches and crazy ...view item »
48.

Lawrence
Films & Windows

Been quite enamoured of this guy for a while, although his albums seem to be a little on the scarce side so I sadly don't own anything by him. However, this one is shaping up to be one of my favourite minimal albums of the modern age. Shaking off the old emo-house tag he and his own highly regarded Dial imprint...view item »
49.

Amor De Dias
The House at Sea

I’ve pulled back the blinds, the sun is streaming through and there is just the faintest glimpse that winter may be fading into a glorious spring. If that event does happen then I know exactly which album I will be sharing it with. First up, before we go any further this is a collaboration between Alasdair MacLean (...view item »
50.

The Prophet Hens
Popular People Do Popular People

Ah, this is what I’ve been after. The last few weeks have seen a slew of re-issues from bands of varying vintage emanating from New Zealand and they are all very good and we are always very nice and it’s good to see but it’s sooooo exciting to see a brand new band emerge out of the isle who, from the very first seconds, have ev...view item »

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