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Bhanuj Kappal
Music Matters
Bhanuj Kappal

Noise for your shelf: Best albums of 2013

Artist: Death Grips
Album: Government Plates

The one where the seminal Sacramento noise-rap act learn to employ a scalpel as well as they do high explosive. The rage and abrasiveness that characterised their sound has been harnessed as fuel for pure schizoid paranoia. It's not as violent as their earlier releases, but make no mistake, this is still an album that would make it to the top of your apocalypse playlist. I wish there was a little more MC Ride on here though.

Highlight track: Birds



Artist: Future of the LeftImage 2nd
Album: How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident

Future of the Left is the sort of band we need, but not the sort of band we seem to want. Or, at least, that's what everyone thought till this year. The band's crowd-funding target for this album was met in less than a day and they've rewarded their fans' loyalty with a record absolutely dripping with the machete sharp guitar riffs and scathing social commentary we've come to expect from Andy Falkous and company. Apart from the usual suspects (record companies, BBC pedos), Falkous turns his attention to modern masculinity and paints quite an unflattering portrait. The next time someone sneers about how punk is dead or modern music is sh*t, play them this album and return the favour with Falkous' magnificent sneering condescension.

Highlight track: Things to Say to Friendly Policemen



Artist: HoirongImage 3rd
Album: The Resurrection of the Princess of Woe and her Vampire Hound Posse

This list is going to make me sound like the high priest of dissonance, and all I have to say in my defense is: "hey, give noise a chance." Hoirong is the noise-punk/disco-metal solo project of former Lounge Piranha member Kamal Singh. He fills this album with beautifully catchy melodies, and then drowns the same melodies in a deliciously meaty broth of distortion and noise. There's a strong dose of the '90s in here as well, but this is no wimpy post-grunge record. This is easily the best punk act India has seen since Messiah broke up. Get on the bandwagon before he goes live and gets huge.

Highlight track: Fancy Dress + Hindi = Awesome



Artist: El-P and Killer MikeImage 4th
Album: Run The Jewels

Move over Jay and Kanye, there's a couple of new hip-hop monarchs in town. When underground veterans El-P and Killer Mike first started working together it was quite a surprising collaboration, but by the time they released Run The Jewels, most people were wondering why they didn't team up earlier. El-P's fantastic industrial-influenced production provides a great backdrop for these two virtuosos to show off their skills with some brilliantly braggadocious rhymes. From shooting poodles to going on psychedelia-fuelled sex trips, these two do it in style.

Highlight track: A Christmas F**king Miracle



Artist: My Bloody ValentineImage 5th
Album: m b v

In a year of re-unions, this was the least expected and possibly the most satisfying. 21 years after the iconic Loveless, the Kevin Shields helmed shoegaze band released m b v, a gorgeous, noise-drenched record that none of their many clones could ever have produced. This is an evolved yet familiar version of the dense, lush and almost impenetrable sonic maelstrom that made this band one of the touchstones of modern indie. It'll teach you to look at the guitar in a completely different way.

Highlight track: Wonder 2



Artist: The NationalImage 6th
Album: Trouble Will Find Me

The Brooklyn band took three years to release the follow-up to their breakthrough album High Violet, but the wait was definitely worth it. Trouble Will Find Me is leaner, less dense and more accessible than its predecessors but it has the same haunting melancholy feel and the same existential dread that makes their music such an engaging and emotional experience. Bryan Devendorf's innovative drumming deserves a special mention as the driving force that adds a sense of vital urgency to these sad, visceral songs. Heartbreak, desolation and redemption all rolled into one.

Highlight track: Demons

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