Music Blog

Best Albums of January 2013

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Ten of the best albums from the month of January 2013...

Click to the BBC album reviews pages to read more, as well as hear track previews and leave your own comments.

(Yes, we know the first pick is an EP.)

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Solange Knowles - True

(Terrible Records; released 7 January)
Recommended by: Nick Grimshaw

"These songs give more with each listen; Solange's vocal arrangements keep revealing an extra melody or another ear-snagging lyric. The result is an incredibly addictive pop record that's comparable to no other contemporary release. From a singer who's always been defined by comparisons to somebody else, that's quite an achievement."

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Losing You (external link)

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Serafina Steer - The Moths Are Real

(Stolen Recordings; released 14 January)
Recommended by: Tom Ravenscroft, Freak Zone

"Like the droll yet odd tales weaved by David Thomas Broughton, Steer sings deliciously barbed songs about the city - and, you know, space abduction, skinny-dipping, that sort of thing. She asks for too much when she wants to be aligned with Alice Coltrane instead of "this folky-girly-pigeonhole-harp-thing". But she is harder to define (and more brilliant) than you might imagine."

Read the full BBC review

On YouTube: Night Before Mutiny (external link)

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Yo La Tengo - Fade

(Matador; released 14 January)
Recommended by: Cerys Matthews, Gideon Coe

"Fade sounds irreversibly like it's a Yo La Tengo record, and nobody else's. But the real revelation is that it's the most settled album they've recorded in years. Curiously, the band's versatility has allowed them to turn a million different sounds into a single gorgeous and unfailingly interesting one."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: I'll Be Around (external link)

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Young Fathers - Tape One

(Anticon; released 14 January)
Recommended by: BBC Introducing, Semtex, Vic Galloway

"'White boy beat / Black boy rhythm,' they state, outlining vital ingredients. Which, when stirred so excellently, suggest Edinburgh rap trio Young Fathers could follow Massive Attack from scene-specific successes to crossover acclaim and substantial commercial impact. Their Protection could be special indeed."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Sister (external link)

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Mountains - Centralia

(Thrill Jockey; released 21 January)
Recommended by: Gideon Coe

"Mountains - the chillaxed twosome of Koen Holtkamp and Brendon Anderegg - chart boundless ocean depths on this third LP for Thrill Jockey. Centralia unfurls at a leisurely pace, the band's characteristic blend of burbling electronica and acoustic instrumentation at its most formidable, and most satisfying, yet."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: No official videos available

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José James - No Beginning No End

(Blue Note; released 21 January)
Recommended by: Huey Morgan, Gilles Peterson

"On his Blue Note debut, James forgoes his electronic excess for a tighter collection of acoustic soul melodies. Here, he isn't so focused on alternative sounds; instead, James is able to streamline his approach and keep the vitality of his previous work. The result is a nocturnal set of refined resonance."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Trouble (external link)

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Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba - Jama Ko

(Out Here Records; released 28 January)
Recommended by: World on 3, Bob Harris, Loose Ends

"This third album from the Malian star features an array of guests, but these are ingested deep within the composite band belly, without seeming too starkly gratuitous. The veteran master Kassé-Mady Diabaté sings with Sacko on Sinaly, but the lesser-known Zoumana Tereta makes a greater impact, his husky, weathered tones dominating three songs."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Jama Ko (external link)

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Kris Kristofferson - Feeling Mortal

(KK Records; released 29 January)
Recommended by: Another Country with Ricky Ross, Ralph McLean, Bob Harris

"If this fine album turns out to be the 76-year-old Kristofferson's final release, then few could've asked for a more fitting valedictory statement. The sound is sparse, spontaneous, warm and intimate, with Kristofferson accompanied by his own acoustic guitar and a few unobtrusive side-players. If any artist has earned the right to deliver his own eulogy, it's this indomitable country legend."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: No official videos available

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Christopher Owens - Lysandre

(Turnstile; released 14 January)
Recommended by: 6 Music Album of the Day, Lauren Laverne

"The instrumentation's lighter swing is a viable alternative to Girls' concessions to progressive rock's nuanced twists and turns. Yet the dancing flute, happy-sad harmonica and succinct guitar breaks underpinning Here We Go and the route one beauty of A Broken Heart are the stuff from which dreams are woven. Owens' bid for a place in the pantheon of gifted and fascinating greats is still on course."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Here We Go (audio only; external link)

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Cult of Luna - Vertikal

(Indie Recordings; released 28 January)
Recommended by: Rock Show with Daniel P Carter

"Every Cult of Luna release and tour must be savoured, as this is a band so far ahead of its peers. They have tested their boundaries, and they will test yours. That the Swedes are still succeeding like this on their sixth album is testament to both their quality and vision. The end-of-year lists for 2012 are barely gone from recent memory, but you can expect to read about Vertikal again in 11 months' time."

Read the full BBC review
On YouTube: Vertikal album teaser (external link)

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