The best album releases of the month, August 2013 edition

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As July saw only a few decent releases, I've made up for it in August by expanding this list back to the regular ten. It's almost a straight split between talented female performers and noise bands this month. I'm also not feeling like writing a lot, so I've grabbed official videos to illustrate each album.

Julianna Barwick 'Nepenthe'

The more I listen to this the better it gets. My review is here (the 405).
"So much music gets described as ethereal, but there is no better adjective for this.
After a while you get lost in Nepenthe and forget that this is mostly voices, it manages to transcend its constituent parts and make a beautiful noise from start to finish."

Braids 'Flourish // Perish'

Their debut 'Native Speaker' had some stellar moments and this builds on it. A slightly more electronic feel and the ambitious songwriting that first brought them to attention is still there.

Julia Holter 'Loud City Song'

Often confused with Julianna Barwick (and to compound this their albums came out on the same day!) I reckon Holter's new one is her best work to date. Built around voices that are as clear as a bell, this is another beautiful album.

Mark Kozelek & Desertshore

There's no stopping Kozelek now that he has his own label. When you count live recordings he will have released six albums during 2013. This one with Desertshore, who include Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney, should please long-standing fans ('You Are Not My Blood' and 'Sometimes I Can't Stop' are the most RHP thing MK has done for a while). The lyrics focus on similar areas to his recent albums - the loss of family and friends (Jason Molina and American Music Club's Tim Mooney in particular), watching boxing matches, the endless cycle of touring, etc. It either comes across as hugely self-indulgent or a revealing peek into his personal diary.

LISTEN to 'Katowice or Cologne'

Medicine 'To The Happy Few'

Another shoe-gaze comeback, although Medicine always seemed to mean more in the US than UK.
my review is here (the 405)

No Age 'An Object'

This still sounds like No Age, but this time it seems the main influence is post-punk not post-hardcore. Wire rather than Husker Du if you like. Just 29 minutes in duration, this rewards repeated listens. They are doing interesting things with noise that set them apart from run-of-the-mill punk duos. There are even a couple of catchy anthems hiding close to the surface.

Superchunk 'I Hate Music'

They don't REALLY hate music of course, I mean two of them run Merge records after all. This is as joyous and as catchy and you would expect from Superchunk.
my review is here

Laura Veirs 'Warp and Weft'

Nine albums down the line, Laura Veirs is still remarkably consistent, although this new release is her most varied to date. Perhaps furthest from her folk roots, embracing occasionally noisy guitars and a tribute to jazz legend Alice Coltrane, and featuring guests such as Neko Case, kd Lang and Jim James, it's a very welcome return.

White Hills 'So You Are.. So You'll Be'

This is their seventh full album and by now White Hills have convinced that they aren't just a psych/ garage band, they fully embrace the hard rock and space rock made by the like of Hawkwind. Another impressive outing with some gloriously loud synth parts as well.

White Hills - In Your Room from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Zola Jesus 'Versions'

Apparently some quarters have received this collaboration with less than enthusiasm. Here we have the songs and voice of Zola Jesus working with Jim Thirlwell (aka any project with the word Foetus in it) and the Mivos Quartet. The end result is stripped back versions of material that has graced the ZJ albums to date. It certainly works for me.

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