A busy year of releases started with Indian's debut record Somewhere Else, the first full length effort from Søren Løkke Juul. Recorded in the Danish countryside, the album drew both folk and electronic inspirations to a heady effect, with NME summarising the LP as "a place where nostalgia and modernism collide." Developing his live show over the year and supporting both Daughter and Phosphorescent on sold out UK and US tours, Søren's achievement was recognised with four nominations for the prestigious Gaffa Prisen awards in his native Denmark.
inc.'s no world, another debut, maintained this momentum in February, with Notion effusive in describing the release as "one of the best albums of 2013." Fusing soulful r'n'b with a rare introspection, the record was heralded by The Fader as an album "that both unsettles you with its cryptic shrieks and soothes you with its familiar rhythms." The latest effort from Stornoway, Tales From Terra Firma, followed in this vein as the Oxford quartet attracted praise from MOJO and The Independent, with The Guardian awarding 5/5 to the band "who’ve stretched out without losing sight of the intimacy of their charming debut."
One week later saw the release of Daughter's eagerly anticipated debut album If You Leave. This Is Fake DIY noted that "an album as beautifully conceived as If You Leave is one you follow from start to finish, riveted by the story it weaves and the emotion it bleeds", whilst The Line Of Best Fit wrote that "heartbreak has never sounded so perfect", placing it fourth in their Albums of the Year round-up. If You Leave was picked up as Album of the Year at the AIM Awards. Following the album, the London three-piece performed extensively across the summer festival circuit, including emotional sets at Glastonbury, Latitude and Primavera, and played over 130 shows this year. 2014 will see the band head to Asia and Australia for live dates.
Iron & Wine's Ghost On Ghost was released in April, the fifth studio album from Austin-based Sam Beam. Captivating critics across the board, with Paste declaring it "the best album in Iron & Wine’s already impressive discography" and The Quietus' definition as "big, beautiful music". Along with strong reviews from Q and Record Collector, the record was nominated for the 2013 Art Vinyl Prize, alongside Zomby's With Love, which was released in June.
Monomania, Deerhunter's latest record dropped at the start of May, following the premiere of the title track on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. From "propulsive and ecstatic" (The Observer) to "one of the great American rock 'n' roll bands" (NME), the critical furore around the album was overwhelming, with it now cropping up on the vast majority of Best Of 2013 lists. Curating a three night spectacular at ATP along with three stellar shows at Primavera established the band's fierce live reputation. The album is the perfect nocturnal garage album, full of the layered and hazy vintage guitar sounds that have come to define them, with Magnet commenting that Deerhunter are "one of the most unpredictably creative bands around."
May saw The National released their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me. With The Fly describing it as "another confessional masterpiece", The Guardian lauding it as "exquisite", and Pitchfork claiming that "every National album has been more ambitious, accomplished, and successful than the one that came before it", the record was critically acclaimed and reached the Top 3 in the UK, Eire, USA, Canada, Australia, Noway, Denmark and more. Paired with their formidable live reputation, they comfortably sold out their US and European tour dates, launching the album with a triumphant show at the Barclay’s Center in the band’s adopted home of Brooklyn, and will continue into the new year with shows in Asia and Australia. Following TV performances with Jools Holland, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and more, the band rounded off the year with their first ever GRAMMY nomination, for 'Best Alternative Music Album'. The winner will be announced on the 26th January 2014.
In a schedule of unprecedented activity, Camera Obscura's Desire Lines followed in quick succession, with the group also responsible for the latest 4AD Session, which was released in November. Already celebrated for their original and colourful videos, the year saw the Doctor Who inspired video for 'Troublemaker', along with notable visuals for 'Break It To You Gently'. The album was marked by AllMusic as "their best and most confident work to date."
The previously mentioned With Love was released on 17th June by the enigmatic Zomby as "something to behold" (Consequence of Sound), with Drowned In Sound praising "its absorbing, whole-world-in-a-record effect." The final release of the year came from bEEdEEgEE, the moniker of Gang Gang Dance's Brian DeGraw's, in the shape of SUM/ONE which Time Out felt was "an album that threatens to reshuffle at least a few of the ‘best of the year’ lists", with the Vinyl Williams-directed video for 'Flowers' (featuring Lovefoxxx) recently premiering through Vogue.com.
In terms of catalogue releases, 2013 paid tribute to The Birthday Party and The Breeders, with Live 81-82 pressed on limited vinyl for the first time, and a luxurious boxset marking the 20th anniversary of the latter's influential Last Splash album. Efterklang's The Piramida Concert was also released, the band's live album to accompany 2012's Piramida. Finally, the first, long-feted history of 4AD was published in October by The Friday Project, as friend-of-the-label Martin Aston's definitive book, Facing The Other Way, comprehensively charted the past, present and future of 4AD.
2013 also saw single releases from SOHN and Lo-Fang, who will both release their debut albums through 4AD in the new year.
Listen to a selection of tracks from our releases below on Spotify or YouTube: