vampire weekend

2013 Albums Of The Year: Part Two

Following on from last week's post covering my albums of the year here are my favourite five albums of 2013. Don't forget the Spotify playlist of all of my favourite tracks from the year too.


5. Modern Vampires Of The City - Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend's third album feels a little older and wiser than the previous efforts, still ramshackle and chaotic as it tumbles out of the speakers on tracks like Diane Young but also a little more worldly-wise and heart-breaking. You can hear a growing maturity on tracks such as Hannah Hunt, a song that sounds like the conclusion to Springsteen's Born To Run (or, more likely, Vampire Weekend's own similarly optimistic Run). There was a gritty Gatsby-esque glamour to Modern Vampires Of The City, and it was hard not to be charmed by it's sparkle.

Purchase on on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify:


4. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk [review]

Daft Punk

Random Access Memories was album almost too big to view up close, better for having a little distance and hype dulled perhaps, though an element of the thrill has innevitably gone. It is deserving of a place on this list, if not at the top, for sheer ambition. Daft Punk blew away all their imitators by making real music and delivering what feels like the last ever conventional 'event record' - something Beyoncé has just rendered all the more obsolete by creating the first real 'event album' of the future. Her staggering eponymous video release dropped with none of the hype or fanfare Columbia threw at Random Access Memories. Both are a pleasure to behold, true widescreen artist visions.

Purchase on on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify:


3. Field Of Reeds - These New Puritans [review]

These New Puritans, image copyright: Dean Chalkley

In Field Of Reeds, These New Puritans emerged a considerable musical force, shaking free the shackles of their post-punk revival birth to become one of Britain's most intriguing bands since Radiohead. Field of Reeds sounds like the onset of paranoia or manic depression, and you can forget aggression - as Homeland's Carrie knows, feel psychological anguish doesn't get much scarier than when it is soundtracked by dischordent jazz and classical music.

These New Puritans are at their best when beguiling with approachable yet malicious moments - the delirious cover of Herb Alpert's This Guy's In Love With You, or the ghoulish screaches set against Organ Eternal's spiralling melodies.

Purchase on on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify:


2. Immunity - Jon Hopkins [review]

Jon Hopkins

Whether it is whilst it is in the midst of kicking your ass on its more electronic and intense first-half or stoking your heart on the slower, more contemplative latter Jon Hopkins' Immunity was 2013's dance album non-dance fans could dig.

Those stark melodic moments certainly helped - Abandon Window is cinematic and heart-breaking and the closing title track feels like a healing experience. But the album achieves much through structure and pacing, building in intensity from the taught opener We Disappear to the strung out and reeling Collider. In his work with Brian Eno, Hopkins has learnt from the best, and here he shows what you can do when 'the best' makes up your foundations.

Purchase on on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify:


1. Cupid Deluxe - Blood Orange [review]

Dev Hynes

No other album released this years captured the imagination in the way Dev Hynes' second album as Blood Orange did. From the opening sultry come hither eyes of Caroline Polachek's turn on Chamakay (keep watching for her forthcoming rise to R&B mega-stardom... She was last heard providing Beyoncé with her jams) to the empathetic band-aid of a record that is album closer Time Will Tell this is an album that wears its heart and sexuality on its sleeve. And I can't help but love the honesty. Hynes drops heartbreaker after heartbreaker whilst also honing his production style to near-perfection.

The result is an album that never suffers a dull moment. Cupid Deluxe is a gorgeously approachable record, packed with creativity and surprises yet also chock-full of hooks. Full of intelligent self-referential nods to Hynes' own work, there is enough on Cupid Deluxe to keep attentive listeners fascinated.

Yet it is the songs themselves that I will remember. The slow moving balladry of Chosen, a song floating on skipped heartbeats and heavenly sax. The jazzy breaks and 90s raps of Clipped On. The tears that On The Line's relationship difficulties inspires. No other album in 2013 felt so human, and no other album felt so good.

 Purchase on on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen on Spotify:

That's it for 2013... Let me know what I missed or what you agree or disagree with, otherwise I'll be back all fresh and excited in 2014.

The Obligatory Best of 2010 List - Part One

Another year has past and so bloggers and the music press the world over feel the need to try and convince you of the best albums of the past twelve months. And so as much in an attempt to fill our pages in a quite spell as convince you of anything here are not so much the best, but our most enjoyed albums of 2010.

Not a top ten, or a top 50 even, but a good old honest top 18. Because that's how many albums we really liked this year.  Part one will cover the bottom nine - come back for the rest soon.


18. There Is Love In You - Four Tet

On which Keiran Hebden stopped trying to revolutionise with every record and instead brought everything together to create something which feels a bit like a best-of approach to Four Tet. It lacked the standout moments of the classic Rounds but besides that it is his most focused work.


17. Wave and Cloud - The Whiskey Priest

Unnoticed by the press but don't let that put you off, Wave and Cloud's obscurity only serves to make it even more deserving of your time. A frail and honest record that relies on songs and little more. The coupling of the weatherworn 'A Seafarer's Lament' and the heartfelt and beautiful 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' remains on of this year's best album openings.


16. Latin - Holy Fuck

Another album that appears to have been forgotten... Latin may not have garnered the praise heaped on previous album LP, but it demonstrates Holy Fuck's ability to continue to innovate. 'P.I.G.S.' remains one of the ill-est sounding joints we heard all year.


15. Swim - Caribou

The first Caribou release to really capture BlackPlastic's attention, Swim, along with Matthew Dear's Black City, was 2010's most danceable record for people that like to think. Simultaneously organic sounding and strangely electronic this is an album that felt more like a collaboration than an album by one artist ever normally could - one moment subtle and understated and the next needy and epic.

14. Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Almost not on the list because we heard it in 2009 it makes it here on a technicality - it wasn't officially released until 2010. It's sun-drenched cosmic disco sound is also staggering - this is the sound of taking a dip in the 40 degree heat. By adding in Christabelle, Lindstrøm went and made his best album.


13. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Prolific and at times frankly unfocused, Stevens only seems to release two types of record - challenging and flawed or challenging and fantastic. The Age of Adz is undoubtedly the latter, from the delicate opening of 'Futile Devices' through to the 25-minute-plus 'Impossible Soul' this is the sound of Stevens tearing up the few rules he had previously adhered to. At its best, on the furious and rapid 'I Want To Be Well', complete with it's repeated "I'm not fucking around" chorus, Sufjan sounds more vital than ever.


12. Contra - Vampire Weekend

It seems that everyone but BlackPlastic loved Vampire Weekend's debut. By rights, this - the follow up to a smash record we passed up on - should have been of little interest. And yet something in Contra really captures the listener. Whether on the tight upbeat pop of 'Run' or 'Giving Up The Gun' or the slow and considered numbers that just sparkle as on 'I Think Ur A Contra' this was pretty much the perfect pop record.


11. Subiza - Delorean

In a year when BlackPlastic returned to the White Isle nothing encapsulated the feeling of basking in the Balearic sunshine quite like Delorean's debut... If one band lead the Chill Wave movement for us then it's Delorean. A bit like Animal Collective mixed with a beach, some house vibes and quite a lot of ecstasy Subiza is just too hot and sunny to resist, particularly with songs as beautiful as 'Real Love'.


10. Causers of This - Toro y Moi

Causers of This is one of 2010's sleepers for BlackPlastic - so much so that we haven't mentioned it before now. The problem is that it is flawed, if only mildly so, in that a number of it's charms are hidden away in the latter half. 'Blessa' starts things off in a pleasant but slightly uninspiring manner but there are some of 2010's best moments here - just check the snappy, funky closing couplet in the form of 'Low Shoulders' and the title track. One of this year's most promising debuts, Causers of This is the heart broken record you can dance to.

BP x

Comment: Falling Head Over Heels In An Instant

Less a review, more a lovelorn ballad to a song. BlackPlastic only just got their hands on the new Vampire Weekend album, entitled Contra, and after just one listen it is clear that 'Run' delivers on every promise this band ever offered.

And that is because it is quite simply a perfect pop record, and we don't say that lightly. With the warm electronics of band member Rostam Batmanglij's Discovery side project it gives the band a much more exciting feel than anything on their first album. Through in even more of those Paul Simon vibes than the first album and a sharp as fuck rhythm track and you can't help but feel seduced on first listen.

And like the best pop records it gets better with each listen. The key moment? That climbing "oh-ooh" chord sequence at around two minutes in... It hits you like a crush on a perfect stranger.

BP x

Contra is out now, available from on CD and MP3 [affiliate links].