Matthew Cooper reports on a few strong 2013 album releases that might have passed you by….
Machinedrum- Vapor City
Recently signed to NinjaTune so in a way not too dissimilar to HyperDub, you should know by the stamp on the CD or Vinyl sleeve that the quality of the product will be good. Travis Stewart’s newest effort is a concept album where each track represents a different district within a city he has had recurring dreams about. That city is of course the name of the album.
Opening with Gunshotta with a rolling bass line that appears from nowhere and sets you up for more of what you think is to come. Eyesdontlie offers that, both of them are in short ‘bangers’ to use a tasteless term but elsewhere on the album the result is a more ambient vibe. So if what you wanted was 53 minutes of thumping jungle anthems then sadly you’ll have to look elsewhere, but give your ears some time to adjust to tracks like ‘U Still Lie’ which bury their rewards a bit deeper and you will be just that, rewarded.
Jessy Lanza- Pull My Hair Back
Similar to NinjaTune, you know what you’re getting by the name on the label. HyperDub have put out every Burial release to date and just this summer released Ikonika’s fabulous second album ‘Aerotropolis’ which featured Jessy Lanza as a guest. Now the Ontario native gives us her first full length effort ‘Pull My Hair Back’. The album is a somewhat oblique tale of Electronic Pop but it suitably compliments itself as the skeletal approach to the record is what makes it stand out from the crowd. And it’s fair to say that the electronic pop crowd is not short on members right now.
There are tracks here that should have got as much radio play as anything else this year, ‘Keep Moving’ has all the right 80s- throwback vibes that would appeal to the masses. While radio seems to have missed a trick, we can keep Lanza to ourselves for a little while longer as ‘Pull My Hair Back’ could well be one of 2013’s strongest debuts.
Pusha T- My Name Is My Name
Pusha T’s first proper album has been a long time in the works and his approach to it is pretty much the same as he has approached everything before it, thankfully. Feed him beats and let him go hard at it and you end up with a record of fire. Opener ‘King Push’ and lead single ‘Numbers On The Boards’ from back in March are fine specimens of this. Kanye co-produced the album and thankfully there isn’t too much erm ‘Kanyeness’ on here (see Yeezus) it’s mainly straight Hip-Hop, which hasn’t been done so well in quite a while, compared to Jay-Z’s torrid MCHG this is a masterpiece really. There are of course a few hindrances, Suicide goes a bit too ‘trappy’ for its own good and while Pusha states on the opening track that he ‘doesn’t sing hooks’ he does on this number and it’s better forgotten about.
Elsewhere, lyrically and production wise it’s a watertight effort, see Pain and HudMo produced ‘Hold On’ featuring the ever colourful Rick Ross. Truthfully the album falls away in the second half, and a half-arsed guest appearance from man of the hour Kendrick Lamar doesn’t save it either. But going against the flawless first half dozen tracks it was always going to be a task to maintain such a high level of ambition over the course of 12 tracks. The album was self-declared as the best album of 2013, which probably isn’t true but it just may well be the best Rap album of the year.