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Nothing can change your mood quite as well as a healthy slice of good music- so, with Summer nearing it's peak, and the rest of 2013 running away from us, we've taken the time to pick five of the best albums from the past 12 months. Take a look at our favourite albums to hit the shelves since July 2012, and make sure that you don't miss a track.

Macklemore-The Heist (Deluxe Edition)

Little known on UK shores until 'Thrift Shop' took over more radio time than anyone thought humanly possible, 'The Heist' is Macklemore's big break on the music scene. Produced by the genius that is Ryan Lewis, the album is a true 'started from the bottom' rap underdog story. If you loved the likes of 'Thrift Shop' and 'Can't Hold Us', then don't expect this album to be full of banging bass lines and light hearted lyrics- a lot of Macklemore's lines on these tracks go deeper than wearing your Granddads coat- but that's not to say it isn't a stroke of genius.

Perhaps more importantly, Macklemore uses his first major album to depict points that go past the materialism of America (check out the track 'Wing$' if you fancy a lesson in the role of sneakers on an American childhood), and barrels head first into one of America's hottest debates. 'Same Love' supports the Gay Marriage referendum, and calls for equal rights. A ballsy move, and a down right brilliant track.

Recommended Tracks Starting Over: Giving the album a bit of down time and taking it away from the hype of pumping rap lines, 'Starting Over' details Macklemores struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. Depicting the time of his relapse, Macklmemore gives some insight into the mind of an addict- adding a darker edge to the album, but giving it a genuine sense of sincerity. Ten Thousand Hours: Kind of Euphoric, with a huge feel good factor, 'Ten Thousand Hours' is the definitive story of Macklemore reaching the big stage despite his struggles. It's a huge contrast to the likes of 'Starting Over', but works so well as the album's opening track.

Frank Ocean- Channel ORANGE

Despite Frank Ocean's little known status, there's no doubting that his New Orleans inspired mix of slick lyrics and varied R&B rifts make for something quite unique. First gaining some recognition when 'Lost' and 'Pyramids' hit the airwaves (and not getting enough air time in our opinion), Frank Ocean rocketed himself into the public eye after giving an interview announcing he was bi-sexual days before his album launch- á la Bowie.

Many would pin this as a huge risk that could have been made or brake for Channel Orange, but, if they'd heard it before Mr Ocean released that gem of information, they would have realised his sexuality means precisely jot (check out 'Bad Religion' for Ocean's take on his own orientation).

A tightened mix of synthesized perfection, with a few hints of guitar rifts that would put Pink Floyd to shame, Channel Orange is a triumph of modern day R&B. Taking some definitive 70's influences, with some appearances from the likes of Andre 3000 and John Mayer, this album is perfection for your ears.

Recommended Tracks Pyramids: Possibly the song that best sums up the album, and our personal favourite, 'pyramids' puts Frank Ocean on another level. A 9 minute epic, expect some heavy synth's, a big beat to get you going, and a sloping finish to bring you back down to earth. It sounds audacious, but pulls off incredibly well, acting like a hallucinogenic for the ears. If that wasn't enough, the lyrics are sure to make your head spin too, as Ocean contrasts the Last Pharoah of Egypt's fortunes with those of a prostitute. We know. Hearing is believing. Pink Matter: Another almost absurd mix of genres, Frank Ocean synth's the hell out of a slow moving R&B track, with some underlying guitar rifts and violin strings. Documenting the sprawling nature and inner demons of his mind, Andre 3000 offers some insight at the end of the track, before it spirals out of control and ultimately collapses into an uncomprehending mess of musical goodness.

Foals-Holy Fire

The potential saviour's of the guitar band revolution in the UK, Foals third album, 'Holy Fire' is a triumph of British song writing. Following their arrival in 2008, Foals have already delivered some amazing songs, that range from indie boy cult classic, to all out favourites-check out 'Spanish Sahara' if you need a reminder. However, despite a relatively positive few years, Foals have failed to deliver a strong enough album to push them to the next level of festival and stadium sell outs, but, with the arrival of 'Holy Fire' that could all change.

A hybrid blend of the uplifting, guitar heavy flows that we've all come to love from our home grown indie boys (check out the already released 'Inhaler' and 'My Number'), and some darker tracks that could be frankly described as morbid, Foals have delivered a well balanced, eclectic mixture of well versed lyrics, and crafted rifts. Lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, has openly admitted in the past that he has thrown lyrics at songs to try and make them work. This clearly isn't the case here, as a studied build up of tracks reflects on the singers troubles with relationships, home life, and his ever spiraling social problems. Ever elusive, Foals have built an album that is meticulously structured, forgiving, and brutally open.

Reccomended tracks Milk & Black Spiders:A song that could well have been written purely for the ephermeric hit of the chorus, Black & Milk Spiders builds on lyric after lyric before taking an almighty dip in a cymbal and bass drum trashed finale. It's a beautifully contrasting song, that reflects upon the realisation of emotions, wants and needs. Late Night: Another song that gives an incredible build up and hits you with a hook to get lost in, 'Late Night' is a harrowing, twisting track, depicting Yannis Philippakis' relationship with his Mother. When the hook finally drops, it keeps the tracks brooding mood, with a perpetual guitar solo by the lead singer. We had this track on repeat for days on end- it's a real grower.

A$AP Rocky- Long.Live.A$AP

A man who uses Dollar signs in his name has a lot to live up to- and with 'Long.Live.A$AP' A$AP Rocky does just that.

Harlem born, A$AP captures the rap scene of 2012 perfectly, bringing a heady mix of materialism, drive, passion, and realism to your speakers. You won't find anything too ground breaking on this album- unless you look past the big trashy beats of tracks like The Hangover 3 famed 'F*****g problems'. A$AP defines life in Harlem through his lyrics, plus of course, like most rappers, what he's doing with all his money and how many women he's got on the go.

Recommended tracks Get Lit: A chilled out, heavily synthesized beat makes 'Get Lit' a refreshing break from the heavy tracks that surround it. With an almost trance like feel to it, the beat lulls and pulls you in to A$AP's relaxed lyrics- the perfect song if you want a light rap track. Wild For The Night: Mix some heavy New York rap with some heavy skanking beats and you've got yourself 'Wild For The Night'. Featuring laptop famous DJ Skillrex on the track, the only word to do this track any justice has to be: Mental.

Kanye West-Yeezus

There's just no denying the force of Kanye 'Yeezy' West. The man's either in your face on your Twitter feed, on your TV, your radio or somehow getting at you through Kim Kardashian.

A phenomenon of modern history, Kanye has already claimed his seat in music's hall of fame, but with the arrival of 'Yeezus', it seems that that just isn't enough. In all honesty, this album is like nothing we've ever heard before. It's a swirling, snarling cloud of noise, that has been sculpted, organised and designed to flow from track to track effortlessly. Recently stating that people now love him, West has come out to state that 'Yeezus' has been written to make people hate him- and with tracks like 'I Am God'. that will not be hard for some.

'Yeezus' has been criticized for being too short, but each track is a symphony; a cacophony of sound that gives the impression to the listener that this has been a long time in the making. This album is a far cry from the early works of'College Dropout' and 'Graduation'.

If we were Kanye West, we'd be as chuffed with this album as we would with the baby he's just had with Kim Kardashian. It's ground breaking, revolutionary, and the perfect reflection of West's brilliant but arrogant mind-the man reckons that he can speak 'swaghili'- now who doesn't like that?!

If Kanye rose the bar with Jay-Z on 'Watch The Throne', then he's taken that bar and thrown it where no one else can reach.

Recommended tracks Black Skinhead- The first track to be released from 'Yeezus', this thumping, powerful mix takes Kanye West to another planet. Forget anything you've ever heard by him, and forget rap as you know it, 'Black Skinhead' is a fuming track, devoid of rules, streaming away from society and the norm. Blood On The Leaves- If you're going to listen to one track from 'yeezus', make it this one. A fluttering mix of everything from pianos to horns, 'Blood On The Leaves' lays down a bed of anger and fear for West to lay down what you would class as his typical lyrical genius.

Ryan J Gray


Masdings Reviews

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