2013's been a superb year for albums so far. We've selected the albums that've gone down particularly well at NME, starting with Daft Punk's 'Random Access Memories'. Awarding it the only 10/10 of the year so far, our reviewer said: "Daft Punk have created something as emotionally honest as any singer-songwriter confessional – and a lot more fun to dance to.”
Merchandise – Totale Nite
“The Florida punks break away from the pack with five tracks full of high drama, fresh ideas and singer Carson’s emotive croon.”
Laura Marling - Once I was An Eagle
“Self-doubt, hard truths and heartbreak as the 23-year-old's fourth album sifts through the flotsam of a failed love affair.”
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away
“What Cave and co have managed here is no mean feat: a masterpiece that merges the experimentation and freedom of their side projects with Cave’s most tender songcraft.”
Iceage– You’re Nothing
"‘You’re Nothing’ is a sort of toast: to loud music, hard drinking and the energy of the unbroken. It’s a band taking all their introverted anxieties and turning them outwards into a furious energy."
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
"The entire record is as premeditated and grounded in US alt.rock history as you can get. Most bands fail where Parquet Courts shine because they suck as musicians – too slick and too multi-talented to summon anything that doesn’t drown in overkill. ‘Light Up Gold’ avoids this like the plague."
Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats – Mind Control
“Clearly fed with water from a pool full of wide-reaching influences, 'Mind Control' is a record that reveals more about itself with every listen. Not all of it's pretty. In fact, none of it is. Psych just went over to the dark side.”
Tyler the Creator – Wolf
“It isn't a masterpiece. At times, there's the sense Tyler's charisma outweighs his content, and as such it's probably up to Earl to deliver the group's first bona fide hip-hop classic. But 'Wolf' suggests Odd Future, far from being a flash in the pan, are set to grow and grow.”
Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin
“More focus, more drive, more purpose. Sounds like it could be a slogan from a bad car advert but, actually, it's all the qualities contained within the latest in a run of seven albums in six years by San Francisco's Thee Oh Sees.”
Marnie Stern - 'The Chronicles Of Marnia'
"The American singer-songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire’s fourth album is excellent, and finds the nimble-fingered New Yorker flitting between manic, cheerleaderish pep and losing-team-crying-in-the-locker-room pessimism."
Miles Kane, 'Don't Forget Who You Are'
"The sharpest suit in rock has long since stepped out of the shadows of his famous friends and is every bit his own man."
Mount Kimbie – Cold Spring Faultless Youth
"The South Londoners' second album features King Krule and strange emotions, but never loses sight of the dancefloor. It's an album that claws for attention, the careful nuances, shuffling rhythms and strange emotions of their first outing fine-tuned into something unmissable."
Charlie Boyer And The Voyers – Clarietta
"Recorded with Edwyn Collins in London’s West Heath Yard Studio, there’s a distinct lack of reverb or dressing on the album, giving each of the 11 songs an ‘upfront’ sound, as if the band are actually in the room with you, singing directly into your head. Not that ‘Clarietta’ needs any help on that score. It’ll be under your skin in no time."
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
"Detractors will say making music about the minutiae of your own problems is dull or self-indulgent. But for The National’s devotees it’s the simple fact that their music evokes stories and scenarios that could happen to any of us that’s so seductive. They have pulled off another album for the modern age, and its stories live in all of us."
Var – No One Quite Dances Like My Brothers
"‘No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers’ feels engorged with meaning, though it’s tricky to unpick. But not since The Cure’s ‘Faith’ has a group pulled off such a feat of heavy, heady melancholy."
Iggy And The Stooges – Ready To Die
"‘Ready To Die', Iggy's first album with The Stooges since 2007's 'The Weirdness', is a different beast, and much more like the balls-on-the-board gutter-rock that made his name. It's a fat, satisfying slab of Iggy punk-rock steak. Exactly what we ordered."
Daniel Johnston – Space Ducks
"There's been a dearth of concept albums about ducks recently (a gap I'd hoped to fill with my 'Quack My Bitch Up' EP featuring Drake), but despite the surreal subject matter Johnston's soundtrack for his own comic book is romantic and deeply human."
Frank Turner – Tape Deck Heart
"Despite recording in the States, he hasn't forsaken his British roots. So if the Brit Awards jury are again going to give next year's Best Male Solo Artist gong to a man most of the country haven't heard of, going by the mighty 'Tape Deck Heart', Frank must be a shoo-in."
James Blake – Overgrown
"On his debut, Blake was caught in a no-man’s land between the club music he had outgrown and the as-tender-as-Bon Iver trappings he’d yet to fully master, unsure of what he wanted it to be. His sound is no less divided this time around, but on ‘Overgrown’ he’s done making apologies for it."
Mudhoney – Vanishing Point
"Putting the fun in grunge since 1988, Mudhoney drink from the familiar well of Iggy on their ninth album with outrageously enjoyable results. In total command of their combination of punishing rock and loveable looseness, ‘Vanishing Point’ often sounds like the last blast of a 72-hour Hold Steady jam."
Bleached – Ride Your Heart
"An album as classic as its faultless Thelma & Louise-ian artwork, the universal themes of ‘Ride Your Heart’ manage to transcend the dated California girl stereotype while knowingly plugging into what still makes the myth so appealing."
The Flaming Lips – Terror
"This record won’t have thousands of hands propelling Coyne above their heads in a plastic ball when the band tour it. It’s the sound of the man inside the ball feeling an unknowable fear and trying to accept it. The rest of us should join him in his strife, if only to enjoy that psychedelic drone groove. It’s an anxious riot. "
Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
"‘Sempiternal’ is packed full of similar sucker-punch moments, with ‘The House Of Wolves’ and ‘Antivist’ typifying the album’s muscular and impressive anthemics. Ready to break noisily out of the underground, the quintet have made one of the year’s most accomplished metal albums."
How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion
"Following Nine Inch Nails’ consistent excellence and stellar work scoring David Fincher’s The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo comes the debut HTDA album, an impressively powerful affair."
David Bowie – Next Day
"This album is, foremost, about songcraft. Rather than reinventing Bowie, it absorbs his past and moves it on, hungry for more (and indeed, Visconti has hinted that more is to come)."
Suuns – Images Du Futur
"On an album that rarely shakes off its shroud of unease, Suuns paint a pretty bleak picture of all our tomorrows, but their own dazzling ‘…Futur’ looks assured."
Girls Names – The New Life
"In places it’s a bit samey, marred by a shortage of songs. But ‘The New Life’ is, nonetheless, a must-listen. Not only for its seductive power, but because it feels unprecedented. Never before now have the doomy stylings of post-punk been used in the context of Northern Ireland."
Inc – No World
"Inc is the recording name of Los Angeles brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged, and their debut album is 11 whispered R&B songs, all textured, considered and thoughtfully constructed."
Matthew E White – Big Inner
"Many have tried to recreate the vibrancy and laidback groove of vintage soul-pop, but to absolutely nail it you need to be someone truly cosmic. Amy Winehouse just about managed it, and Matthew E White is one other such person, whose splendiferous seven-track beast has finally arrived in the UK."
FaltyDL – Courage
"Renowned for skilfully interweaving dance music influences from both sides of the Atlantic, ‘Hardcourage’ steps on from the broken UK garage rhythms that typify much of FaltyDL’s earlier work and into the sort of soulful, pleasurable house grooves occupied by the likes of Four Tet and Jamie xx."
In Foals - 'Holy Fire', the "Oxford art-rockers cast off their spiky, mathletic shackles and head for the big league with their third album". Fully deserved of its 9/10 NME review.