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Halfway To Paradise: The Quietus Albums Of The Year So Far
John Doran , July 12th, 2013 09:16

Hats off to all of our favourite artists this year so far, says John Doran. All flipping 75 of them...

Listen to our 109 track Spotify playlist here!

It's become something of a Quietus tradition to announce that music is so good this year that we've had to extend the length of our twice yearly charts, to contain its bounteous nature gracefully. And, yes, this July we've bumped our halfway mark album chart to a top 75 as to include all of our staff's choices. There's always a bit of discussion at Quietus towers, powered by many mugs of mahogany hued Yorkshire Gold Tea, as to whether this is really because there is more good music being released now than ever before, or whether we're just looking harder to source it or attracting more interesting people to send us their CDs, vinyl, streams and downloads. I'm not sure that it's really that important, as long as the music is still there for us to write about and enjoy.

Of course, if it was just down to us alone, god knows how pitiful the pool of music that we cover would be.

So instead of explaining my methodology as per usual, I thought I'd say thank you to some folk for helping us make the site what it is. Certainly this year I owe thanks to a whole bunch of people for opening doors for us and introducing us to new local scenes and music cultures. Primarily I want to say cheers to Joe Bangina, Joost Heijthuijsen, Hicham Chadly, Noov Senary, Salma el Tarzi, Mahmoud Refat, Ayman Ramadan, Sadat and Samer and everyone else who hooked me up for my trip to Cairo earlier this year - and those of you still in Cairo, please stay safe! Given that Egypt is still a dictatorship and subject to censorship of all officially available media, there aren't any albums as such to include in this chart, but we're still hoping to see the first international release by Islam Chipsy later this year and hopefully there will be some exciting news about Sadat and 7a7a to pass on soon. No doubt some Electro Chaabi will feature in next Monday's chart of compilations, reissues and mixes.

Elsewhere we owe a shout out to the true heads in Poland and Western Ireland for opening our eyes to incredible, genre-ignoring underground scenes. In Eastern Europe thanks go to our writer friend and member of kIRk, Filip Kalinowski, label guy Maciek Stankiewicz and Unsound curator Mat Schulz. Likewise thanks go to Stephen Graham, Darren Toms and Daniel Harrison, for bringing the West Coast of the Emerald Isle to vivid and terrifying sonic life for us.

Thanks to each and every one of our contributors who do a fabulous job despite utterly appalling terms and conditions - THANK YOU, YOU SEXY BASTARDS - without you the site would be nothing. In the terms of this article however, I'd like to single out Kiran Sande, Sean Kitching, Simon Jay Catling, John Freeman, Julian Marszalek, Joseph Burnett, Alex Macpherson, Noel Gardner, Gary Suarez, Sophie Colletta, Toby Cook, Glen McLeod and everyone else who has brought me music that I was previously unaware of. I've got 99 problems but a pitch ain't one.

Munificent praise should also be heaped on the heads of record label owners and bands who help us to turn around really great features, such as Andy at Riot Season and Bad Guys, who went clay pigeon shooting with Mat Colegate for this excellent feature. To everyone at labels, to everyone in bands, to everyone who works in distro, to the promoters, printers, designers and everyone else we work with from time to time: we salute you.

There are too many PR people who've brought us great music this year to single out, so to all of you, major label, indie label, independent PR, part of a big team, I say thank you for all your efforts. Please come over to Quietus Towers for breakfast on us at your convenience.

And finally, my never ending thanks to Luke Turner, Rory Gibb and Laurie Tuffrey for unstinting hard work and creativity in working on the site: they are all handsome, generous, fragrant smelling and spiritually resilient to corruption to a fault and hopefully will all (one day) receive giant brass statues constructed in their honour. And maybe someone will buy Luke a tank or a steam train.

This top 75 was chosen between the four of us equally, based on which new release albums we have listened to the most this year so far. Of course it's up to you to decide what you think your own chart of releases would contain, but we hope that there's enough new music here to give you plenty to explore. Please utilise the comments feature below to tell us what you would have included yourself.

NB: This is a snapshot of what we like right now. Death to good taste! Death to consensus! Death to worrying about what everyone will like in the future! Long live exciting music that kicks against the pricks!

75. Föllakzoid - II (Sacred Bones)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

74. Besnard Lakes - Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO

"The positive and soaring fourth album Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO is the sun seeking yang to the darker yin of The Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd-penned apocalyptica on The Terror. The squally drama recalls the psych-fuelled dreamscape of its obvious forebears, from the early 4AD roster, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, even Throwing Muses at times." Nick Hutchings

Read our review of Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO here

73. Locrian - Return To Annihilation (Relapse)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

72. Wolfbait - Wolfbait (Art For Blind)

"Given that this is Wölfbait's first release, they aren't alumni of any well known bands unless you're embedded in the Dublin hardcore scene, and they have struck a massively noise-ridden end-of-days soundtrack they call "Kraut violence" (as in, Krautrock meets powerviolence), the lack of immediate big push is understandable. However, I'd be surprised if Wölfbait doesn't get a vinyl release one day, because it absolutely rips, and no-one who's heard it seems to disagree." Noel Gardner

Read our review of Wolf Bait here

71. Comanechi - You Owe Me Nothing But Love (TigerTrap)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

70. Shining - One One One (Indie)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

69. Cathedral - The Last Spire (Rise Above)

"I have to confess something: with the double disc prog-gasm that was previous LP The Guessing Game and the globe-trotting and comfortably testudineous winding down of operations – that, as well as cementing their legend and reminding us all why Cathedral were so important in the first place, perhaps added an unrealistic pressure and expectation – I was as sceptical as I'd dare be that The Last Spire would turn out to be any good. And then they went and made a doom album, an out and out, claw clinching, horn raising doom album, and arguably their strongest record in over a decade." Toby Cook

Read our review of The Last Spire here

68. Owiny Sigoma Band - Power Punch (Brownswood Recordings)

"On this album, released on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, the Owiny Sigoma Band have dared to make an album that pushes their ever-evolving sound into unexpected directions. The result is no sucker punch, but a knockout blow." Richie Troughton

Read our review of Power Punch here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

67. Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)

"You are simply not afraid enough anymore, and yet you really should be. There used to be a time when all the best thrash and crossover served to constantly remind you that the threat of nuclear war was imminent, that faceless multinational corporations and your own government were out to face-fuck you and that the human race was sleepwalking to oblivion. And then, somehow, in the last 10 or so years it all became about skateboards, beer, zombies and 'Turbo Hyper Ultra Mega Power' – it just wasn't dangerous enough anymore. Thank the bullet-belted gods, then, for the emergence of Dallas, Texas based crossover five piece Power Trip. And thank those very same gods for their Southern Lord released debut full-length, Manifest Decimation, of which you should be very afraid, because it sounds like some sort of terrifying Cold War army marching unstoppably onwards to the sound of Exodus covering Nuclear Assault." Toby Cook

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

66. Hey Colossus - Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (MIE)

"Hey Colossus haven't just been a band for a decade, they've been a consistently good one. But with the release of Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo – their eighth album since their 2003 formation – they've suddenly arrived at a place where they're not just a good, but an excellent band. Something in their sound has clicked, but it's no subtle flicking of a switch; this feels like a dislocated shoulder being forced back in to place." Tom Hannan

Read our review of Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

65. Dinos Chapman - Luftbobler (Vinyl Factory)

"Dinos and his brother Jake curated an edition of All Tomorrow's Parties in 2004. Looking back through that line-up now serves as a pretty comprehensive road map of influences by which to understand where Luftbobler came from: the heavily effected peals of brass on 'He Has No Method' and the splintered voices of 'Pizza Man' are pure Throbbing Gristle, the spiraling beats of 'So It Goes' and 'Sputnik' riff on Tri Repetae-era Autechre, the bouncing-ball piano figures that crop up occasionally are reminiscent of Richard D. James' music." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Luftbobler here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

64. Iceage - You're Nothing (Matador)

"So let's get on with it: Iceage's You're Nothing is one of the most exciting, open-minded pop punk (not THAT sort) albums I've heard in years. North American punk rock is currently in rude health, most obviously evidenced in crossover terms by Iceage's Matador labelmates Fucked Up. To me, though, Danish group Iceage are the superior, largely because of the defiantly European aesthetic that shines through their music. You couldn't really imagine these handsome young Danes in big shorts and tees or baggy jeans." Luke Turner

63. The Asphodells - Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust (Rotters Golf Club)

"The success of Ruled By Passion Destroyed By Lust lies in a number of differing factors that add up to one almighty whole. Weatherall's ability to cherry-pick any number of wildly differing influences without relying on any one in particular is remarkable in itself but the fact that he and Fairplay consistently come up with something that's their own is a talent to lauded. So yes, while the fat, dubby basslines are firmly in place and the Krautrock influences dance across these 10 tracks, The Asphodells manage the unique trick of being both in hock to everyone and no one at the same time." Julian Marszalek

Read our review of Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

62. Black Pus - All My Relations (Thrill Jockey)

"If you're hoping for subtlety and intricacy, you've come to the wrong place. The only counterpoint to the stream of crashing cymbals and pounded skins is a crude oscillator that Chippendale apparently activates directly from his kit and which serves to mimic Gibson's shuddering bass lines in Lightning Bolt, only with less control over where they fly. This is noise rock at its most animalistic: punkish rhythms allied to untamed sweeps and swoops of brutal electro-racket." Joseph Burnett

Read our review of All My Relations here

61. Barn Owl - V (Thrill Jockey)

Review pending

60. Vår - No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers (Sacred Bones)

"Pale young man, I can read your dreams. Flags of red, black and gold glowing in the light of enormous bonfires, a fraternity of youth doomed to wilt under the frost of age's ever encroaching winter, horns echoing through mountain forests and hawks circling through steel grey skies. You dream of a nation without boundaries, united only through the language of a thousand broken hearts, tears glistening on the cheeks of marble statues, drum rolls and epic poems, the glint of daggers and the swearing of blood oaths. Pale young man, have I got a record for you." Mat Colegate

Read our review of No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

59. Dethscalator - Racial Golf Course No Bitches (Riot Season)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

58. Melt Yourself Down - Melt Yourself Down (Leaf)

"It's practically impossible to describe what Melt Yourself Down sound like without coming across like a caricature of Bobby Gillespie. Let's give it a try: punk jazz funk afrobeat blues hip-hop no-wave free-jazz dance psychedelic rock. See what I mean?" Nick Southall

Read our review of Melt Yourself Down here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

57. Palehorse - Harm Starts Here (Candlelight)

Review pending

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

56. Pusha T - Wrath Of Caine (self-released)

"As indicated by its brazen title, the masterful Wrath Of Caine offers plentiful mountains of uncompromising coke rap, larger-than-life boasts peppering these self-described "drug dealer Picassos." Even savvy listeners might reasonably find themselves consulting Rap Genius as one would academic footnotes amid Pusha T's inside baseball contributions to the cocaine lexicon. (Fortunately for them, he's an active verified user on that buzzed-about and somewhat controversial database.) His forthright and unfiltered approach carries considerable weight, as more and more contemporary rappers seem to be taking drugs rather than selling them." Gary Suarez

Read our review of Wrath Of Caine here

55. Endless Boogie - Long Island (No Quarter)

"This is fine American blue collar slackness, a paean to the continuing vibe of real boogie, in thrall to the body moving joy formidable - and no retro exercise either. Rather, it's living musical authenticity that hasn't stopped to look in the mirror too many times and dances like no one gives a shit, the good times rolling on down the years. Why stop?" Harry Sword

Read our review of Long Island here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

54. Samba Touré - Albala (Glitterbeat)

"It is 10 years since Touré's solo debut, Fondo, and in that time he has become a star in his homeland. His powerful desert blues is cut from the same cloth as his mentor Ali Farka Touré, whom Samba toured with in the late 90s, having previously cut his teeth with the group Farafina Lolo (African Star). Touré has also performed the late Ali Farka Toure's work with kora player Toumani Diabaté. Alongside the likes of Tinariwen, Tamikrest and Terakaft, he can be seen as one of the leading proponents of the strong wave of Malian blues that has captured the attention of music lovers across the globe, all voicing the challenges facing the north west African country's people during this period of upheaval." Richie Troughton

Read our review of Albala here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

53. Merchandise - Totale Nite (Night People)

"With this, their third album, the Florida trio seem to have crystallised their increasingly refined sound: heavily pop-inflected post-punk underlaid by the noisy traces of their hardcore origins. The fact that there are only five songs suggests brevity, but Totale Nite is a masterwork of long-form cuts, nowhere better exemplified than on the title track's shift from insurgent opening wall of sound to expansive 80s guitar-pop, Carson Cox's vocals cast in romantic poise, to freak out coda." Laurie Tuffrey

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

52. Zomby - With Love (4AD)

"Zomby always plays it coy with his audience, one the one hand revealing facets of his personality via his infamously tetchy Twitter feed and a drip feed of sketch-like tunes, while simultaneously denying us entry into the insular, hermetic world of his music. With Love isn't going to win him any new converts but it's the best Zomby album since Where Were U In '92, focusing his loves of UK pirate radio culture, dirty south hip-hop beats and moody synth plug-ins across two discs of spectral, freaked-out club-not-club music. Giving with one hand and taking with the other, its best tracks beckon you to dance before cruelly dropping out without warning, leaving you floundering, confused but intrigued." Rory Gibb

51. The Botanist - IV: Mandragora (Flenser)

Review pending

50. Violetshaped - Violetshaped (Violet Poison)

"Seething froths of noise and heavy thumping club vibes – and the word is applied loosely here, as this music best suits the kind of club that's little more than a basement with a sound system – are the order of the day on Violetshaped. It's split over two records, its two halves quite discrete: the first is more industrial and beat-driven, while the second trades in more obscure, eerie atmospheres. Theatrical shrieks that reveal a fascination with classic horror film tropes pierce the insistent techno thump of 'The Lord Won't Forget', and similar motifs are deployed throughout the record to chilling effect, such as the horror film samples, malevolent rasps and echo chamber scrapes that punctuate 'Down Regulation''s squall of gritty noise. The skeletal kick on 'cX310' is buried deep under layers of scratchy, hoarse noise, while 'Anaesthesia' is a fitting closer, all synth swoops and a greyscale sawing sound that drills deep into the skull." Maya Kalev

Read our review of Violetshaped here

49. Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)

"So it is with Fade, an album that makes a bold and convincing claim at being Yo La Tengo's most streamlined to date. The epic explorations of melody, mood and noise that frequently extended beyond the 10-minute mark (and, on occasion, combined to take up over half the running time of previous efforts when stacked up against shorter tracks) have been jettisoned in favour of more concise pieces of music. The result is album swathed in a cotton wool loveliness that plays to the band's strengths." Julian Marszalek

Read our review of Fade here

48. Prurient - Through The Window (Blackest Ever Black)

"Prurient's Through The Window, a three-cut techno tour-de-force released this month on the Blackest Ever Black imprint, is at once limiting and liberating. It's a prequel of sorts, written during the same sessions as 2011's Bermuda Drain, a recording that set Prurient's work apart from concurrent fare, and sparked Dominick Fernow's alliance with co-conspirator and BEB label boss Kiran Sande. Through The Window's bookend tracks are substantially lengthy, and profoundly fearsome. Compositionally, they mimic the flows of codified data: these epics stream along for a time, change inconsequentially on the surface; but closer audition reveals how their features repeat and differ in subtle and unfolding ways. Fernow frames cinemascope panoramas that apparently fill the sonic field until, abruptly, another window opens." Ryan Alexander Diduck

Read our review of Through The Window here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

47. Hacker Farm - UHF (Exotic Pylon)

"There is a darkness in the west. Hacker Farm's U/H/F is a slouching, rough beast of dank, clanking electronica; the sinister pulse of feral farm machinery, human voices traced in static on the wind over the Severn Estuary, Cold War codes and grinding industrial basslines." Ben Graham

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

46. Rabih Beaini - Albidaya (Annihaya)

"Lebanon-born, Berlin-based musician Rabih Beaini is more commonly known for his club music aliases Ra.H and Morphosis, under which he whips up storms of improvisational techno inspired by noise, electroacoustic music and free jazz. Albidaya is a reflection on his childhood in Lebanon and the country's traditional folk music forms, so there's plenty of acoustic instrumentation here, including plucked strings, saxophone and drums. There's an audible sense of delight, however, in the way that Beaini hacks and scrapes away at them with static, dust and grit, while the frazzled tones of an Eko Tiger Duo organ (one of Sun Ra's favourites) seep like oil through the music's core. It's an intense, noisy and turbulent listen, and by its end you feel chewed up and spat out, but thoroughly cleansed." Rory Gibb

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

45. The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees Of Reality (Now Again)

"The album positively bubbles - adding Latin swing, Afro beats and Oriental shimmer to their hallucinatory jams ... 13 Degrees Of Reality is a triumphant testament to an ongoing desire to absorb a myriad of influences and morph their sound into fascinating back alleys." John Freeman

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

44. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats - Mind Control (Rise Above)

"Mind Control seems to have been written with ensemble live shows in mind, as opposed to the solitary bedroom-based vision ploughed by just one man. As such it loses some of the trashy anything-goes experimentalism while growing a tougher, harder exterior shell. Criticisms aside, Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats remain just as intriguing as ever, wearing their influences on their highly-stylised sleeves with as much campy posturing as it takes without ever falling into the trap of derivative retro-clichés or becoming stoner rock's answers to the Darkness or Yuck, as some may fear. Although Blood Lust remains their crowning achievement to date, Mind Control's highlights shine just as true." Charlie Frame

Read our review of Mind Control here

43. Kanye West - Yeezus (Virgin Records)

"Sure to be the most dissected and overanalyzed record of 2013, Yeezus opens with a disruptive robotic skronk and closes with coy snippets of patter, two indicators that maybe dwelling too much might prove maddening. As with West's Jay-Z infused Watch The Throne, this sixth solo outing once again evokes the erratic artist's notorious sexually charged narcissism. But Yeezus sports far too many clues, coincidences, nods, and references to simply file it away with such succinct dismissiveness." Gary Suarez

Read our review of Yeezus here

42. Johnny Marr - The Messenger (Warner Bros.)

"Still, though: the prospect of Marr unfettered by any famous foil or hindered by a fellow collaborator's vision is mighty tasty indeed. Ain't even no Healers round these parts – here's Johnny, on his lonesome. And it's this curiosity that forms the crux of The Messenger, too. Anyone awaiting the same ear-pricking, skin-tingling innovation that Marr's renowned for may be disappointed: his guitar is dazzling throughout, no doubt, but there's richer spoils here than his string-manipulation. Instead, the true fascination with his debut solo album is how it's unmistakably shot through with his own personality." Ben Hewitt

Read our review of The Messenger here

41. From The Bogs Of Aughiska - Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood (Human Jigsaw)

"FTBOA create mostly creeping, endlessly unfurling dark ambient noisescapes; subtle, measured waves of crawling pastoral horror, cloaked in a broadly black metal aura and rooted in the myth and folklore of the pair's native Western Ireland." Toby Cook

Read our review of Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

40. Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat (Kranky)

"Just as the poignancy of the image of a riderless boat filled with ownerless relics is born from lack and mystery, so these compositions are haunting because Grouper gives them space to breathe, filling that absence left by the unidentified lost man with her own hushed emotional response. If you're still unmoved by the time you reach the final song, well, you're probably as dead as he is." Maya Kalev

Read our review of The Man Who Died In His Boat here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

39. Stellar OM Source - Joy One Mile (RVNG Intl)

"Her first full-length album to document her shift to rhythm-driven dance music, it captures the exuberance and hyperactive intensity of her earlier forays into hi-tech soul, but further pries open the mix and sharpens the music's impact, allowing each drum hit and fizzy firecracker melody to breathe and operate as distinct from others around it." Rory Gibb

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

38. Heterotic - Love & Devotion (Planet Mu)

"In an age where retro is a dirty word and paint has barely had time to dry before it's old news, we need records like Love & Devotion. A gentle rebuke to our insatiable thirst for novelty, it proves beyond doubt that musical nods to the past need not be automatically synonymous with creative calcification. Instead, Heterotic draw on a rich musical heritage, exploring how the ghosts of the past affect the present. Retro styling contextualises Love & Devotion and, crucially, the album's story is delivered with an emotional heft that many current producers aspiring to hypermodernity would do well to note." Maya Kalev

Read our review of Love & Devotion here


37. John Foxx And The Maths - Evidence (Metamatic)

"Evidence is an assemblage of sorts, a collection of tracks that Foxx and Benge recorded piecemeal over the last couple of years, some previously released, others not. It's to the pair's credit that the album hangs together as well as it does. It also contains some of John Foxx and the Maths' most adventurous work to date, alongside some of their most accessible." Ben Graham

Read our review of Evidence here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

36. My Bloody Valentine - m b v (Pickpocket Records)

"Thing is, even after eight million Twitter jokes, meme GIFs, Facebook posts and more within the space of a few hours, even when I finally had completed an order and the download was arriving, some part of me still wasn't quite believing it. A couple of people had thought that maybe it was a hack and a joke, and while I'd said "They can't have done that to both the Facebook site and the actual webpage," I half thought. 'Well... maybe they could.'" Ned Raggett

Read our review of m b v here

35. Foals - Holy Fire (Transgressive)

"Whether it comes with age, experience, or both, there's a point at which we can detect our torment shifting to tolerance, our fast-calcifying angst beginning to make room for something approaching understanding. With Holy Fire, Yannis Philippakis and his band – Jack Bevan, Walter Gervers, Edwin Congreave and Jimmy Smith – have gone some way towards capturing the sound of that transition. From the glissandos and vertigo of 'Milk & Black Spiders' to the jounce and yawn of 'Providence', in every note and noteless space you can feel it: the physical unburdening, the personal reckoning, the fatigue and reprieve of letting go." Lauren Strain

Read our review of Holy Fire here

34. Marnie Stern - The Chronicles Of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars)

“From the opening tapped guitar line of 'Year Of The Glad', Stern's fourth album (which almost deserves inclusion for its title alone) tears through its 32-minute length at breakneck speed. The appearance of Oneida's Kid Millions on drums is a deft stroke, lending the album this frenetic urgency, which, matched to Stern's more song-focussed approach, pivoting on her abilities both as a lyricist and as a fretboard-slayer, forges an album of brilliant rawness, a feeling which translates into repeat-play addictiveness.” Laurie Tuffrey

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

33. Floorplan - Paradise (M-Plant)

"Detroit native Robert Hood is generally known for his work as a master of minimal techno, stripping away all extraneous material to leave pure, unfettered machine funk, all that's needed to send the body into a rapture of motion. His side project Floorplan practices the same economy of form but leans closer towards house, setting samples from gospel, soul and disco into lovely, looped motion above eyes-down four-to-the-floor. The results are little short of astonishing, especially on gorgeous, moving highlight 'Never Grow Old', where a disco diva works herself up to ever greater heights of spiritual fervour until the track finally explodes in ecstatic release." Rory Gibb

32. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood - Black Pudding (Heavenly)

"On Black Pudding, Duke Garwood is to Lanegan what Warren Ellis is to Nick Cave. He adds creepy, sombre atmosphere to tracks like 'Shade of The Sun' and on 'Thank You' wouldn't have felt out of place on this year's sublime Bad Seeds effort Push The Sky Away. To this tangible atmosphere, Lanegan adds gravelly gravitas to recall Waits at his best on 'After Hours'. It's a frustrating, clever number that leaves you wanting more, a trick also poignantly achieved on 'War Memorial', a song that similarly ends in a tantalising semi-colon." Nick Hutchings

Read our review of Black Pudding here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

31. TVO & Covered In Sand - Red Night Variations (Broken20)

"It might just be the best thing [Ruaridh] Law has been involved in to date, with his tracks occupying a sweet spot between the sludgy murk of his original Red Night album, the percussive drive of his club music, and a newfound urgency that touches on the dread bass pressure of Shackleton and Raime, Kassem Mosse's gradually unspooling house grooves and, on highlight 'Super 8 In Glasgow Tenement', the drizzle-soaked moorland electronics of The Haxan Cloak." Rory Gibb

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

30. Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon (RCA)

"Trading in the GarageBand strings and brass on these compositions (written while she was the receptionist for the City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) for the real deal, Laura Mvula's debut album arrives garlanded with praise. What's refreshing is that, by its close, not only do you find yourself backing these tips for greatness, but the album - an immaculately drawn piece of jazz-inflected pop - is loaded with such originality that Mvula's carved out a niche of her own in 2013's musical landscape." Laurie Tuffrey

Read our review of Sing To The Moon here

29. A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP (RCA)

"An absorbing, immersive listening experience, Long.Live.A$AP outshines the recent full-lengths of technically more proficient rappers as well as those of strikingly safer hip-hop hitmakers. Though the absence of former ally Spaceghostpurrp is certainly felt, Rocky has amassed such an impressive collection of beats that the temptation to skip a song never arises. Such ingenuity is befitting an apparent aesthete like Rocky who, like the stylish Kanye before him, fully if perhaps cynically knows that the devil is in the detailing." Gary Suarez

Read our review of Long.Live.A$AP here

28. Function - Incubation (Ostgut Ton)

"Function could have put out an hour's worth of solid bangers and the result would still have been better than 90% of the derivative slop out there. Just like his thin but rewarding discography, Incubation speaks volumes of Sumner's commitment to quality and artistic progress. Sandwell District as a label may be over, but with Incubation, Function fulfils its closing statement to perfection. It bears repeating. Stasis is death. See you on the other side." Maya Kalev

Read our review of Incubation here

27. Lescop - Lescop (Pop Noire)

"Lescop's eponymous debut is teeming with life, undulating grooves, deft electronic ambience and has hefty hooks aplenty. No fat goon in a Teardrop Explodes t-shirt is going to spoil that by telling me he's heard it all before. It marches with the confidence of a man about town, a noirish beast prowling the Parisian underground scene; it's slick, seductive and stalks from club to club, and from capital city to capital city, while the rest of us sleep or do quotidian chores like working. Lescop paints a picture of himself as some elegantly wasted nightfly, although if that sounds shallow, there's plenty of existential angst and dark emotion to sink your teeth into." Jeremy Allen

Read our review of Lescop here

26. Wanda Group - Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight (Opal Tapes)

"Throwing [references] to see what sticks seems a little at odds with the nourishing aspect at the heart of Wanda Group, a certain verisimilitude that sidesteps overt abstraction towards something more beautiful. Over the two sides of Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight, a delightful network of small forms are laid out in a sequence not dissimilar from that of a mixtape. The softest, most porous of his work to date, it sounds chiseled from rock as crumbled and aerated as that found on the artwork." Matthew Kent

25. Dawn Richard - GoldenHeart (101 Distribution)

"Crucially, the album has the kind of depth that rules out single-track highlights, and a collective grace that improves with every listen, frequently stemming from buried sonic earworms: the handclaps and submerged drum loop at the start of 'Gleaux' give way to an earth-shaking half-time tremor and distant chamber strings, showing off the care and attention given to GoldenHeart's arrangement and composition." Laurie Tuffrey

Read our review of GoldenHeart here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

24. Fat White Family - Champagne Holocaust (Trash Mouth)

"Remember a few years back, the mainstream music press was all agog over a London music scene based around herberts having a skaggy gap year acting like extras from a Dickens panto? This am dram behaviour basically was the death of indie, until the rather more appealingly degenerate Fat White Family appeared in our lives earlier this year. They look like the kind of young men whose hands relieve OAPs of wallets to keep band and vices going, yet are one of the tightest, most capable live groups we've seen in a very long time. Their debut album Champagne Holocaust is a ludicrous and louche affair, tying up the blues, lo-fi and indie and giving reddened arses to the lot of 'em, with preposterous, deviant songs about "five sweaty fingers on the dashboard", or wondering who shot Lee Oswald ("was it a secret government within the American government? ... was it Bobby Davro?") If Mark E Smith still had a sex drive he still might not come up with anything as good as 'Cream Of The Young'. That they're currently not on the cover of the NME rather than the laughable Miles Kane is a sad and damning indictment of a pernicious age." Luke Turner

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

23. Dean Blunt - The Redeemer (World Music / Hippos In Tanks)

"The Redeemer is a singular achievement. It's as much a mosaic as it is a mixtape, and as much a novel as it is a daytime soap. While the partial abandonment of sample-led chaos and the demystification of the music's origins will most likely raise the eyebrows of many fans, it's foolish to feel that something's been lost. The stuttering electric guitars and drums on instrumental outsider trip 'All Dogs Go To Heaven' may sound like a late night Amon Düul outtake, but it keeps alive the roaming 'play first, think later' compositional aesthetic of Hype Williams." Tristan Bath

Read our review of The Redeemer here

22. Wolf Eyes - No Answer/Lower Floors (De Stijl)

"If you thought Human Animal took too long to jolt out of the speakers to pulverise your brain, this might not be the Wolf Eyes record for you. There are no song-titles like 'Urine Burn', 'Leper War' or 'Mangled Rusty Dog Rot'. We're never fully or persistently stabbed in the face (or ears). Outright aggression has been superseded by the manipulation of tension and suspense. Don't get me wrong, No Answer: Lower Floors isn't exactly Tubular Bells, yet Wolf Eyes are making it abundantly clear that they are growing older and wiser and, yes, even mellowing. Wolf Eyes were never one-dimensional, but they're adding an increasing number of strings to their duct-taped noise bow, and more moods, techniques, textures and subtleties to their bile-splattered palette." JR Moores

Read our review of No Answer/Lower Floors here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

21. Suede - Bloodsports (Warner Music Group)

"The joy of Bloodsports is in what its title suggests, an embracing of convoluted, dark, twisted narrative between now and then, both in terms of the relationship of the lyricism and Suede's own journey. They've arrived at a romantic, odd, ambitious pop record that eschews musical theatricality for a punchy, 40-something's take on the complexity of love from the view - and this is why it works - of one who is still, at heart, an incurable and incorrigible teenage romantic." Luke Turner

Read our review of Bloodsports here

20. James Holden - The Inheritors (Border Community)

"Clocking in at over 75 minutes, The Inheritors is an exhausting, complex and disorientating listen, but one that will stay with you. Once upon a time, Holden used to bridge the gap between bedroom and club, but now the most suitable location to take in his music would be in the middle of the woods, a windswept moor or a stone circle. It's the boldest of sonic statements. The title is borrowed from William Golding's 1963 novel about Neanderthal man, but I have my own theory - "The Inheritors" are Holden, Kieran 'Four Tet' Hebden, Nathan Fake, Luke Abbott and their peers. They have inherited Detroit techno's legacy and are fucking with it until it is barely recognisable from the source - the scorched, decayed title track in particular is potent fuel for this theory. The lineage may be getting harder to trace, but it's definitely there." Joe Clay

Read our review of The Inheritors here

19. The Ex & Brass Unbound - Enormous Door (Ex)

Review pending

18. L.Pierre - The Island Come True (Melodic)

"[L.Pierre's] album speaks to me of the eternal holiday of the alcoholic. Once you create as much distance from your everyday life as you naturally have from orange tinted Polaroids of childhood caravan trips or stays in seaside hotels and Super 8 film reels of school sports days, then you start to experience your quotidian life like it's the sun bleached memory of a happy event. You feel nostalgia and warmth for boring events that are unfolding right in front of you. You feel wistful about experiences that most people would find barbaric or gauche or unremarkable. You experience the epic, the heart-warming and the hilarious in post office and supermarket queues. You develop permanently rose-tinted glasses." John Doran

Read our review of The Island Come True here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

17. Wire - Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)

"For their next trick, Wire attempt time travel – either that or they're looking to pip Kevin Shields and co to the record for the slowest realisation of an album, with a near 35-year gap between initial violent creation and the finished product on this, the band's 12th release. Taken from unfinished sketches that were kicked about on the circuit in 1979-80, Wire aficionados will recognise many of these from the 1981 live album Document & Eyewitness. But more than a remake, it's an exercise in artistic frugality as a means of renewal. As Wire explained to The Quietus, the type of 'creative recycling' employed here has long been a method they've used to make something new. As bassist Graham Lewis puts it, 'It started off as a project that was a good idea, and then suddenly we realised we had a new album. It feels so natural to us, but it's not a common thing.'" Tim Burrows

Read our review of Change Becomes Us here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

16. Matt Berry - Kill The Wolf (Acid Jazz)

"it's a delight to find an album that, while obviously in love with its influences, is confident enough to poke fun at them as well. For such an album be Kill The Wolf, my lords. And I would beseech thee to listen most carefully. For it be far from a hey-nonny-no. Rather, it is a resounding hey-nonny-yes." Mat Colegate

Read our review of Kill The Wolf here

15. RP Boo - Legacy (Planet Mu)

"It should be chaos but you can't help but get caught up. You'd be a fool to miss out on the other footwork artists Planet Mu's been promoting, but for sheer, lingering, soulful insanity Boo can't be beat." Lee Arizuno

Read our review of Legacy here

14. Savages - Silence Yourself (Pop Noire/Matador)

"I'd take Savages, with their furious, high-velocity update of Joy Division, Simple Minds, British Sea Power, The Smashing Pumpkins, Einsturzende Neubauten, Bauhaus, The Birthday Party, Suede and so on over a thousand pallid boys who've managed, somehow, to divine an 'original' sound at the end of post-modernism. Why? Because Silence Yourself is the manifestation of a formidable spirit, a sense that everything they do is done with great purity of intent, and a brilliant sex, life and death album of a kind rarely seen these days." Luke Turner

Read our review of Silence Yourself here

13. LE1F - Fly Zone (no label)

"Oh wuuuutt, NYC rapper Le1f has been making cameos in all the recent editions of Hoody Who. You might well remember him from his sassy videos 'Wut' and 'Soda', and he just keeps on coming back with tighter material. Looking up more about Le1f, I kept coming across the term 'banjee', which is an 80s moniker for a Latino or black gay dude who dresses thuggish. He notes that banjee is 'my gay swag, my code word. It makes me feel tall, like a prince'." Jodi Burian

Read our review of Fly Zone here

12. Stara Rzeka - Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem (Instant Classic)

"This extraordinary album was written on an acoustic guitar but has obviously moved on significantly between conception and execution. While the album opens with the chiming of a 12 string, it slowly morphs into elektronische musik before sliding blissfully under layers of super heated sludge guitar and noise. By the time the ecstatic synths are met by necrotic black metal vocals, nothing about this album will surprise you, which is good thing, given that it shifts through sparse BM moves that remind one of Norwegian second wavers Thorns and through the arboreal drones of early Growing, before ending on a celestial cover of Nico's 'My Only Child' with speaker destroying drone metal. Stara Rzeka (Polish for 'Old River') is a side project of Kuba Ziolek of Ed Wood and Innercity Ensemble, and this album has me hitting repeat more than any other released this year so far." John Doran

11. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)

"But casting aside all the background noise for a minute there is only one (very important) thought on my mind: is it any good? Immediate reaction? Yes. It'll definitely recapture the interest of anyone who felt that The Campfire Headphase was a bit lightweight. It's pitched somewhere between the mellow pastoralism and childlike nostalgia of Music Has The Right To Children and the denser, more complex song structures of Geogaddi. They've not gone dubstep and it certainly isn't EDM. It's resolutely BOC, but their trademark sound has evolved. They're giving all the analogue synth jockeys like Oneohtrix Point Never and Emeralds a run for their money with some epic, layered work-outs dripping in their trademark cloying melodies, but also heavy in drones and some of their best drum programming yet." Joe Clay

Read our review of Tomorrow's Harvest here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

10. Jon Hopkins - Immunity (Domino)

"Hopkins nearly chucked in making his own music after becoming disillusioned when his initial solo albums on Just Music were pretty much ignored. Thank Eno he didn't. Hopkins is one of the gifted few who can imbue his machines with tangible warmth and genuine emotion, whether they are tempting you onto the dancefloor or offering you a moment of sedentary reflection. Up to this point, Hopkins is best known for the work he does with others, as an arranger for Coldplay, an in-demand producer and a talented collaborator, but Immunity is the record that defines him. You'll be blessed if you hear a better album of electronic music this year." Joe Clay

Read our review of Immunity here

9. British Sea Power - Machineries Of Joy (Rough Trade)

"A mature record, in the best possible sense, Machineries Of Joy reins in the whimsicality and tendency towards wackiness, while still retaining a smart sense of humour alongside the philosophical pondering and strident rock shapes. There are less of the in-jokes for students of existential literature and applied geology, and more of the genuine emotional engagement that should play as well in the Tesco's of Basildon as the smarter salons of Brighton and Cumbria. Not that BSP have foregone their customary originality and wit; far from it. But Machineries Of Joy has a depth and directness that could easily see it becoming their defining album. Oh, BSP, I still love you! Hitch up the caravan and air out the sheets; a second honeymoon could well be on the cards." Ben Graham

Read our review of Machineries Of Joy here

8. The Knife - Shaking The Habitual (Rabid Records)

"Texturally and musically, it's almost certainly the most diverse and sumptuously detailed record that will command the attention of the mainstream this year." Rory Gibb

Read our review of Shaking The Habitual here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

7. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd.)

"Perhaps it's the impact of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' work on film scores such as The Proposition and The Road, but the command of space and dynamic in the music heightens the lyrical impact. This might be quieter than Grinderman's randy garage hectoring, but these songs still hum with latent power. 'Jubilee Street' (one of the Bad Seeds' finest tracks of recent years) and 'Higgs Boson Blues' especially transfer well to the live setting, building with as much luxurious pomp as anything from the Bad Seeds canon." Luke Turner

Read our review of Push The Sky Away here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

6. Frisk Frugt - Dansktoppen Møder Burkina Faso I Det Himmelblå Rum Hvor Solen Bor, Suite (Exotic Pylon)

"Weirdly, almost from the get go (well, from the get go of the second track at least) the weird thing about this weirdly brilliant album is not how weird it is but how weird it is that you don't notice much of the weirdness, just an intricately woven tapestry of tunefulness and sunny riffs. The fact that African finger pianos are back to back with electric guitars and vintage synths with programmed beats and squalling Fisher Price saxophone with kora doesn't seem weird at all." John Doran

Read our review of Dansktoppen... here

5. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Tri Angle)

"Bobby Krlic's first album as The Haxan Cloak scared the wits out of us back in 2011 when it dragged itself, croaking uneasily, from its mouldering grave. Excavation turns up the knob marked 'fear and unease', abandoning the acoustic instrumentation of his debut and plunging into a chasm of sub-bass rumble and growl and terse sewer pipe ambience. In both sound and physical effect, it feels like being dragged kicking and screaming downward through a manhole by slimy, rotting hands - but in a manner that's creepily pleasurable rather than genuinely life threatening." Rory Gibb

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

4. Matmos - The Marriage Of True Minds (Thrill Jockey)

"Human communication defines Matmos' new album, provides its conceptual basis and ultimately proves to be its most enduring aspect. Over the few months I've been listening to The Marriage of True Minds I've come to adore it - I'm not sure if there's anything else released yet this year that even comes close to its captivating brew of psychedelic noise-pop and musique concrete - and a live show in London last week featuring mock psychic projection, Drew Daniel in death metal studs 'n' leather, an audience making birdcalls and M.C. Schmidt massaging a pair of huge balloons, served as further confirmation of its crackpot brilliance." Rory Gibb

Read our review of The Marriage Of True Minds here

3. (Ensemble Pearl) - (Ensemble Pearl) (Drag City)

"(Ensemble Pearl) is Stephen O'Malley and Michio Kurihara on guitars, Atsuo from Boris on drums and Bill Herzog from Jesse Sykes' band The Sweet Hereafter on bass. All of them bar Kurihara played together on the successful Sunn O))) and Boris collaborative album Altar in 2006, but this isn't a sequel and, more to the point, doesn't really sound anything like it. Instead the link is a social one: experimental drone rock played this well depends on an intimacy and shared vision between people who can 'read' each other with a frightening degree of insight." John Doran

Read our review of (Ensemble Pearl) here

2. David Bowie - The Next Day (EMI)

"Fortunately, it's great. I mean: it's not just good, it's great. It's not Diamond Dogs or Young Americans or Low – get real, this isn't the 70s and you and I are not twelve – but it's great in that it's not Heathen or Reality but better. No wild pioneering sonic experiments here: it's primarily a "rock" album with plentiful twists, with the closest sibling being Scary Monsters. The gorgeous melancholy of 'Where Are We Now?' is unrepresentative." Chris Roberts

Read our review of The Next Day here

1. These New Puritans - Field Of Reeds (Infectious Music)

"The estuarine landscape of Field Of Reeds is best seen in two ways: in grand panorama from an aircraft banking over London, when sun glints off the water of the Thames widening toward the North Sea. Or, on the other hand, oozy intimacy along the rough shoreline, traditionally a site for dumping the waste of London. Here, alongside creeks where air bubbles rattle from the mud with the ebbing tide, a rutted horizon offers up gifts of ancient marmalade pots, broken clay pipes, fused and rusted metal. It's a landscape that refuses, like memory or dreams, to be defined or contained, that forever shifts and opens itself up to new narratives and fresh explorations. These are the images foremost in my mind whenever I listen to Field Of Reeds, a rich, complex album that, similarly, rewards both the grand overview and close attention, and offers up fresh details, insights and emotions with each listen. It succeeds in exploring a British topography in a way that's both timeless and visionary, delving into the natural, magical, and squidgy unreliability of human memory as they eddy and swirl like the water that surrounds us, and of which we are largely made." Luke Turner

Read our review of Field Of Reeds here

Click here to listen and buy this album on eMusic

  1. These New Puritans - Field Of Reeds (Infectious Music)
  2. David Bowie - The Next Day (EMI)
  3. (Ensemble Pearl) - (Ensemble Pearl) (Drag City)
  4. Matmos - The Marriage Of True Minds (Thrill Jockey)
  5. The Haxan Cloak - Excavation (Tri Angle)
  6. Frisk Frugt - Dansktoppen Møder Burkina Faso I Det Himmelblå Rum Hvor Solen Bor, Suite (Exotic Pylon)
  7. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd.)
  8. The Knife - Shaking The Habitual (Rabid Records)
  9. British Sea Power - Machineries Of Joy (Rough Trade)
  10. Jon Hopkins - Immunity (Domino)
  11. Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest (Warp)
  12. Stara Rzeka - Cień Chmury Nad Ukrytym Polem (Instant Classic)
  13. LE1F - Fly Zone (no label)
  14. Savages - Silence Yourself (Pop Noire/Matador)
  15. RP Boo - Legacy (Planet Mu)
  16. Matt Berry - Kill The Wolf (Acid Jazz)
  17. Wire - Change Becomes Us (Pink Flag)
  18. L.Pierre - The Island Come True (Melodic)
  19. The Ex & Brass Unbound - Enormous Door (Ex)
  20. James Holden - The Inheritors (Border Community)
  21. Suede - Bloodsports (Warner Music Group)
  22. Wolf Eyes - No Answer/Lower Floors (De Stijl)
  23. Dean Blunt - The Redeemer (World Music / Hippos In Tanks)
  24. Fat White Family - Champagne Holocaust (Trash Mouth)
  25. Dawn Richard - GoldenHeart (101 Distribution)
  26. Wanda Group - Piss Fell Out Like Sunlight (Opal Tapes)
  27. Lescop - Lescop (Pop Noire)
  28. Function - Incubation (Ostgut Ton)
  29. A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP (RCA)
  30. Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon (RCA)
  31. TVO & Covered In Sand - Red Night Variations (Broken20)
  32. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood - Black Pudding (Ipecac)
  33. Floorplan - Paradise (M-Plant)
  34. Marnie Stern - The Chronicles Of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars)
  35. Foals - Holy Fire (Transgressive)
  36. My Bloody Valentine - m b v (Pickpocket Records)
  37. John Foxx And The Maths - Evidence (Metamatic)
  38. Heterotic - Love & Devotion (Planet Mu)
  39. Stellar OM Source - Joy One Mile (RVNG Intl)
  40. Grouper - The Man Who Died In His Boat (Kranky)
  41. From The Bogs Of Aughiska - Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood (Human Jigsaw)
  42. Johnny Marr - The Messenger (Warner Bros.)
  43. Kanye West - Yeezus (Virgin Records)
  44. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats - Mind Control (Rise Above)
  45. The Heliocentrics - 13 Degrees Of Reality (Now Again)
  46. Rabih Beaini - Albidaya (Annihaya)
  47. Hacker Farm - UHF (Exotic Pylon)
  48. Prurient - Through The Window (Blackest Ever Black)
  49. Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)
  50. Violetshaped - Violetshaped (Violet Poison)
  51. The Botanist - IV: Mandragora (Flenser)
  52. Zomby - With Love (4AD)
  53. Merchandise - Totale Nite (Night People)
  54. Samba Touré - Albala (Glitterbeat)
  55. Endless Boogie - Long Island (No Quarter)
  56. Pusha T - Wrath Of Caine (self-released)
  57. Palehorse - Harm Starts Here (Candlelight)
  58. Melt Yourself Down - Melt Yourself Down (Leaf)
  59. Dethscalator - Racial Golf Course No Bitches (Riot Season)
  60. Vår - No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers (Sacred Bones)
  61. Barn Owl - V (Thrill Jockey)
  62. Black Pus - All My Relatives (Thrill Jockey)
  63. The Asphodells - Ruled By Passion, Destroyed By Lust (Rotters Golf Club)
  64. Iceage - You're Nothing (Matador)
  65. Dinos Chapman - Luftbobler (Vinyl Factory)
  66. Hey Colossus - Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo (MIE)
  67. Power Trip - Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)
  68. Owiny Sigoma Band - Power Punch (Brownswood Recordings)
  69. Cathedral - The Last Spire (Rise Above)
  70. Shining - One One One (Indie)
  71. Comanechi - You Owe Me Nothing But Love (TigerTrap)
  72. Wolfbait - Wolfbait (Art For Blind)
  73. Locrian - Return To Annihilation (Relapse)
  74. Besnard Lakes - In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
  75. Föllakzoid - II (Sacred Bones)

The Quietus Half Year Chart of reissues, compilations, live LPs, covers compilations and mixtapes will be live next Monday, July 8

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