There’s a distinct folk feel to our early round up of the best albums of 2013 so far, with two of Britain’s most interesting exponents of the genre releasing stellar albums this year. But as with many years our list is also dominated by American indie and alternative music, of both the stadium and indie disco varieties. There are also a lot of beards among our top ten. Just one of the those razor free years that comes around every now and again.
So enough of the hair chitter chatter, get yourself down to your local independent record shop and start picking up these excellent albums from 2013. Feel free to let us know if we’ve missed out your favourite albums of the year. And finally, here’s a Spotify list featuring some tracks from those in our list.
10. Josh Rouse – The Happiness Waltz
Josh Rouse is dancing into middle age nicely with his tenth album The Happiness Waltz. Like some of his early to middle period albums, in particular 1972 (named after the year of his birth), this latest album is full of sunny melodies, country twangs, radio friendly hooks and some gorgeous singing. Read our full review here.
9. Thirty Pounds of Bone – I Cannot Sing You Here, But For Songs of Where
This third album of folk music by Thirty Pounds of Bone, aka Johny Lamb, manages to sound traditional without ever slipping into genre cliche. It is one of the best folk albums released this year and one of the best albums of 2013 full stop. Read our full review here.
8. Just Handshakes – Say It
This impressive debut from Yorkshire’s Just Handshakes features many a familiar C86 sound, from whirly-gig keyboards, chorus pedals and the choppy insightful melodies of XTC, all providing the perfect backdrop to the sumptuous, earthy English folk vocals of singer Clara Patrick. Indie pop with a distinct folk twist. Read our full review here.
7. Matthew E White – Big Inner
White is part of an eclectic country, rock, soul, gospel, you name it, collective of musicians in his native Virginia who are put through their paces with aplomb on this his first album. The end result is timeless country soul at its best and fans of Lambchop’s Nixon are going to love this. Read our full review here.
6. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
In Pale Green Ghosts, sweary ex-Czars man, John Grant, presents an album of wonderful contradictions. In parts almost dirge-like folk rock, this incredibly raw and openly confessional record is also awash with poppy electronica. Read our full review here.
5. Low – The Invisible Way
Centred around husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker Low have been fine tuning their brand of so-called slow core rock across ten albums now. The Invisible Way takes the haunting, tender ethos of previous album C’mon one step further. Gone are the overt ’50s and ’60s electric guitar sounds to be replaced with piano, acoustic guitar and an even softer Americana feel under the direction of producer, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Read our full review here.
4. Tullycraft – Lost in Light Rotation
While many of their twee peers are still drinking weak lemon drink from a flask and grumbling about this and that, America’s veteran indie pop outfit Tullycraft have added a good splash of gin to this poor metaphor of a flask and are belting out optimistic happy pop as if the recession and all the other ills since their last album in 2007 had never existed. Read our full review here.
3. Southern Tenant Folk Union – Hello Cold Goodbye Sun
Conflict about musical direction, song choices and album themes, can be a destructive influence for some bands. Fortunately for Southern Tenant Folk Union, the Edinburgh based collective that loosely falls under the folk/bluegrass banner, the opposite has happened and pre- production disharmony has conspired to create one of their best albums and one of the year’s most innovative albums. This is folk and bluegrass like you have never heard it before. Read our full review here.
2. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Born out of the chaos of the hurricane that ripped New York state apart last year the Brooklyn based band have produced one of their most calming and satisfying releases yet. Read our full review here.
1. Phosphorescent – Muchacho
American album of the year and our favourite so far as Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck expertly blends country, soul, electronica and rock. Perhaps the greatest exponent of sounding epic and in need of a good night’s sleep in modern music. Marvellous stuff. Read our full review here.
Album reviews by Joe Lepper, Dorian Rogers and Rob Finch.