Tis the season to release “Best Of” lists which aren’t, if I’m being 100% honest, my favourite thing in the world to do but each year I put my thoughts out there.
Now this isn’t because I don’t like compiling them, it’s just so bloody difficult, especially taking into account the calibre of albums, EPs and tracks that I’ve heard over the last 12 months – most of which have given me multiple eargasms.
Here are 10 of those culprits, in no particular order.
PHFat – Happiness Machines. Shortly after they released this album Disco announced that he’d be leaving the group and I cringed for remaining members Mike and Narch. But after killer headlining sets at RTD, Synergy and fruitful radio play, they’ve emerged as one of this year’s best acts with a cracking album to back it all up.
John Wizards –John Wizards. Having just returned from Europe where they supported Jagwar Ma on tour, it’s both heartwarming and disappointing to see them achieve international success yet still hold a relatively low profile back in SA. A gorgeously crafted and rhythmically punctuated debut self-titled album.
Shortstraw – Goodmorning, Sunshine. The last cover story I wrote for LMG was on this album and while I dived into it extensively, I forgot to mention my favourite part – Hanro Havenga’s album artwork, probably the best of 2013. With SA pretty much wrapped up in a cute, little cellophane package, the only way forward for this band is over the seas.
Red Huxley – Nothing More. By now we all know the story: three guys meet Dave Catching backstage at Eagles Of Death Metal concert, he invites them to LA, they create Kickstarter campaign, raise money, travel to LA and record album. What you might not know, is just how good the finished product is.
Dead Lucky – Son Of Lazarus. I’ve been a fan of this band for a very long time and have seen the various line-up changes over the years. When the newly-cemented group finally began work on this album (produced by Brendyn “Rusti” Russouw and Theo Crous) there was no doubt in my mind it would be a banger. Shit-bricks rock ‘n roll with a bluesy, swag undercurrent that channels the whiskey-soaked legend of the Lemmiester himself.
Wild Eastern Arches – Salamander Sun. The follow-up to their underground success “Mountain” is every bit the psychedelic smash you’d expect from WEA. Rather than stray from a formula that very clearly works for them and their audience, they tease the wistfulness out of their tracks without making them tedious. Languid, reverberating guitars and distant, resounding vocals make this my personal favourite of 2013.
SLABOFMISUSE – We Float Reality. Fine so this is an EP but you can just shut your mouth right now because this is QUA-LI-TAAY. It’s ambient glitch-work punctuated by saxophone, xylophone/wind chime and the occasional hip hop beat, reminiscent of a Wormstorm masterpiece. If Damien Hirst ever dabbled in performance art, I’d imagine this would be his soundtrack.
Gangs Of Ballet – Yes/No/Grey. There’s not much more than I can say/write about this album that I haven’t already. An expertly put together debut album by these four Durbanites with the help of Grammy Award winning producer Darryl Torr.
Move Your Things – Nomadic Orchestra. Jazzed up funkadelic balkan beats guaranteed to soften the hardest of hips, this album’s a bright and bouncy affair and I’m gobsmacked that more of a fuss hasn’t been made of its quality.
Van Coke Kartel – Bloed, Sweet & Trane. Much like “Sons Of Lazarus” VCK’s rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities slice through an industry having a bit of an indie identity crisis, with hard-hitters ‘Sweet’, ‘Die Dag’ and ‘Moeg Vir Myself’. Read this interview with the album’s producer Theo Crous and realise this is what your future rock ‘n’ roll royalty looks like, kids.