2013 in Review….

So, another year ended and some great music from January the first to now. Aside from the albums of the month, there’s been some brilliant music, and here’s a bit of mine, so what’s yours?

Albums – (aside from our albums of the month, where my top 3 was AM, Pale Green Ghosts and Modern Vampires Of The City, but more of that later)…

Arcade Fire – Reflektor: I know this has got a lot of stick, but it’s been an essential album since it came out. It’s a change, it’s distorted, overlong in places (not in my opinion really), but it’s a step forward and brave doing it.

David Bowie – The Next Day: How do you manage to record an album in secret as one of the biggest artists in history and release it without anyone knowing? God knows, but even better is that it’s a great album. An elder statesman still on form, and some of his best work in 20 years.

John Hopkins – Immunity: Electronic album with emotion and atmosphere? This nailed it for me. I can’t wait to see him live.

James Blake – Overgrown: I did an air punch when this won the Mercury. It was a leap on from his first, and something that managed to combine the booming, hollow reverberation of dubstep with a very intimate vocal and melody. I wish I had 10% of this guy’s talent. It’s mesmerising music.

A Sagittariun – Dream Ritual: Another electronic pick, but one of the most inventive albums I’ve heard all year. Shades of so much of the music that first introduced me to clubs, but way more than that. (I wrote about it here: http://www.4clubbers.net/2013/music-reviews-161/).

Haim – Days Are Gone: Love it or hate it, it’s not hard to agree this is brilliant pop music. Bits of Fleetwood Mac, 70s soft rock, hip-hop (seriously) and modern guitars, there’s nothing else really like it about this year. And the hype was outlasted. I still love it, even if I’ve listened to it to death.

Phoenix – Bankrupt!: Another festival-inspired album, but more great pop music. A band that’s dismissed as being hipsters, but they can write a tune to remember. Their gig (hazily) at Glastonbury convinced me completely.

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories:  Ok, so the hype was relentless, the single, Get Lucky, played almost (almost) to the point where it got too much, but there’s something great about an album that goes big on traditional production. Strings, horns, guitars, on a massive studio desk, and not Pro Tools. A complete contrast to most of music in the charts today, and therefore a GOOD THING. It’s not perfect, but then what is these days?

Luke Solomon – Timelines: An unsung hero of UK house music, this album was much more than 12 dancefloor tracks. It was personal, it was poignant (in the case of Lonely Dancer, Solomon’s tribute to Kenny Hawkes) and it was wandering, in fact it’s everything a house music album usually isn’t. That’s why I loved it (and I reviewed it here: http://www.residentadvisor.net/review-view.aspx?id=12961)

Atoms For Peace – Amok: What do Radiohead do when they’re not making their own music? If you’re Thom Yorke then you’re assembling a superband (Flea from the Chilis, Nigel Godrich and more) and making haunting, fractured music that skirts between electronic and guitars. It’s pretty unique – and acquired taste too – but their gig at the Roundhouse was incredible.

Midlake – Antiphon: A late entry but one of my favourite American bands. They may be minus their frontman now, but this is just as good as their previous work. Lush, ethereal, wistful, painful, and sensational.

As for the rest? Singles and gigs were many, and here’s my highlights:

Singles:

Tons really. Mostly electronic, as that’s what I get and what I listen to, but there’s been a lot of great ones around. Obvious ones and less so.

Todd Terje – Strandbar: You’d have to have been a hermit to miss this, but what a track. Ubiquitous, and no less catchy after the 50th listen.

Bonar Bradberry – 3two5: 50% of PBR Streetgang, it’s a cut of grooving house that is both deep and energetic, and those vocals… we didn’t know Bonar had it in him!

Deadstock 33s – The Circular Path: One of many of Justin Robertson’s alter egos, this is a rollercoaster cut of acid-tinged house that makes you want to find a sweaty basement and stay there until it’s light. Genius.

Jammhot – Chrysalis:  Leeds outfit debut on Saints and Sonnets sounded like 90s garage hijacked on a spaceship and brought back 20 years later. In a good way.

Dan Mangan – About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All: A great title, a total fairground of a record. Every time I listened to this, it felt like I was walking down a street to the closing titles of my own film. Superb, and cinematic.

Daft Punk – Get Lucky: Obvious, yes. Still brilliant though. However you may hate it, hearing this will always mean summer 2013.

Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie: The album may not have lived up to it, but this was the best thing he’s done in years and showed a lot of the noisy r’n’b nonsense of late just how it should be done.

Vampire Weekend – Ya Hey: Infectious, and better than Diane Young for me. A great album from a band I couldn’t really love before, but this changed my mind completely.

Ms Mr – Hurricane: I saw them for the first time at Glastonbury, and they were brilliant. This was the standout single from an album that helped fill an LCD-shaped hole.

Jagwar Ma – What Love: Another Glastonbury epiphany, like a sweaty Aussie rave build on the Stone Roses and Madchester’s hedonism.

Phoenix – Entertainment: Opener of a poptastic album from the French outift. The video’s almost as good (and odd) as the song itself.

David Bowie – Valentine’s Day: What a comeback, and what a record. A clever pun in the chorus, and a brilliant guitar hook. It’s like 1974 all over again.

Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know: Sheffield’s finest reborn as a west-coast power pop band. Many hated it. I loved it.

Haim – Don’t Save Me: I could’ve picked about five, but this was one of a great clutch of radio-friendly songs that you can’t stop singing. Seeing them in March next year can’t come too soon.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor: The opening single of an album that’s divided opinion. But this was a statement of intent, and you can see James Murphy’s fingerprints all over it. Seven minutes plus of majesty that revealed more and more every listen.

Gigs:

John Grant: It may have toured Pale Green Ghosts, but both solo albums got an outing, and the fragile singer with the molasses voice proved even better live. Mesmerising.

XOYO Loves – The Coronet in November gave us DJs (Lindstrom, Waifs and Strays, Aeroplane and Greg Wilson) but it was live sets from Crazy P and Hercules and Love Affair that topped it.

The Reflektors – Ok, so Arcade Fire, but who cares? Seeing a band that big in a venue like the Roundhouse and them playing from their new album and back catalogue, while the whole crowd was dressed up like a circus…. I wish I could do gigs like this every week.

Despacio – not a gig specifically, but James Murphy and 2ManyDJs’ own disco in December was a glorious throwback to pre-superclubs, lasers, glitter cannons and jets. Just an amazing soundsystem and brilliant tunes, for 5 hours.

Glastonbury – So many bands, so many memories. Some missing ones too. Haim, Ratpack, Rolling Stones, Seasick Steve, Phoenix, Jagwar Mar, Ms Mr, Chic, New Build and all sorts of other shenanigans. Going back here reminds me there’s nowhere else that comes close to it, anywhere.

6 comments

  1. nolankane706

    Ace overview Guy. Much the same for me with a few add ons….

    Albums

    Jon Hopkins – Immunity
    There is no argument to the fact that this is my album of the year. There is not one song that is weak on this album and it goes far beyond a dance album. Distinct, unique and wonderful.

    Jon Connor – Unconscious State
    The album that eventually saw Connor sign to Dr Dre’s Aftermath Records showed that there is some great hip hop out there and got me excited for his release expected in in 2014. This guy has allot to say and does it very well. Only good things will come from him linking up with Dre. Kendrick has kicked off a new generation for Aftermath and Connor is going to fit in nicely.

    Chance The Rapper – Acid Rap
    They say that the best things in life are free. In January of 2013 this album was released for free and got better with every day throughout the year it seemed.

    Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires Of The City
    Like an old friend back from living away for a few years Vampire Weekend have learnt a bit, and have changed a bit but they are still the same band that I love. It was a pleasure to have them back in my life.

    Disclosure – Settle
    You will be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t like this album. Not since Basement Jaxx has a band come out with a strong cross over dance album. A must have for 2013.

    Singles

    Booka Shade – Love Inc
    Every now and then there is a dance song that makes you smile and takes you to another place. In 2013 this is the one that did it for me. A welcome return for Booka Shade to a feel I used to get from their music about 8 years ago.

    Talib Kweli – Push Through feat Curren$y, Kendrick Lemar
    This song was owned by the guest appearance of Kendrick Lemar and his 16 bars. Great track on monster verse by Kendrick.

    Daft Punk – Giorgio by Moroder
    Amongst a varied album Daft Punk came through with a track that was an adventure. Perfect for having a word and a heads down in a club.

    Jay Z – Somewhereinamerica
    The return of Jay Z. He still has the swagger and I still love it.

    DIANA – Perpetual Surrender (Four Tet Remix)
    Released as a free download this proved to be a handy little track in my record bag for the second half of this year and a popular track in my car.

    Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon
    More artists should be making music like Mvula and more labels should have faith that people will buy it. A stand out track from a stand out album.

  2. misterstory

    Top stuff Brothers. Lots of stuff that I’ve no knowledge of and can do some research now.

    Ok – top 3 albums of the month for me (in no order) (i) Chvrches (ii) John Grant (iii) Vampire Weekend

    Albums of the year otherwise (in no order) (i) Jon Hopkins – Immunity (damn this is such a beautiful album and 3 of the brothers have it up there too!) (ii) Earl Sweatshirt – Doris (how can you not love anyone with the surname Sweatshirt? I listen to this start to finish 4 times a week when I train, I love this album much more than I should do) (iii) The Field – Cupids Head (can’t get enough of the field) (iv) Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond (I will choose this for my next Album of the month, very pretty folky indie stuff) (v) Deerhunter – Monomania (its all over the shop and I’d never choose it for the brothers but I am a fan, what can I say, I love all things Deerhunter/Atlas Sound)

    Trackswise – honestly, I don’t really (can’t) think in terms of ‘tracks’. I need to listen to the radio more in 2014 to change this but I’d be looking through the above albums to pick out tracks and I prefer them all as part of the album. A NY resolution me thinks.

  3. whyohwhyohwhy

    Nice choices Brothers. I’ve not actually got round to getting Disclosure’s album, so I’ve finally ordered it. I just seemed to have let it pass me by, though I don’t know how.

    Immunity is just amazing, I’ve even got non-dance music mates onto it.

    Have to admit Midlake’s made a late run – I think it was out in Dec – and it’s just wistfully brilliant.

    Brother David, what say you?

  4. David Allison

    Hi folks, sorry I’m a bit late to this. I thought 2013 was a funny old year, a lot of decent stuff but maybe not quite enough that was exceptional. What it WAS was the year of the amazing comeback.

    My top albums, in no particular order:
    Disclosure – DISCLOSURE. Probably my album of the year. As Guy says, a total crossover hit. Irresistible.
    The Bones of What You Believe – CHVRCHES. Just hasn’t been off my stereo since it was an album of the month. Pop of the highest order.
    Purgatory/Paradise – THROWING MUSES. The first great comeback of the year, their first album in 10 years and Kristin Hersh’s best set of songs since the group’s hey day. It seems odd on paper – lots of short songs seguing into longer ones, but it totally works.
    The Next Day – DAVID BOWIE. The surprise of the year. Not just a genius way to stage a comeback (out of the blue, no warning), but who knew he’d then follow it with the best album he’s made since 1980! Maybe a song or two too long but otherwise flawless. And feels like it’s *about* him getting old. Wonderful.
    Tales of Us – GOLDFRAPP. Understated, pastoral, wispy, but full of muscular songwriting. Gorgeous and melancholic. Also provided the gig of the year for me at MIF.
    Random Access Memories – DAFT PUNK. A much weirder comeback record than the ubiquitous Get Lucky suggests and all the better for it. Widescreen ambition matched with properly nuts songs as well as a few usual bangers. Really love this album.
    Modern Vampires of the City – VAMPIRE WEEKEND. Well, we all love this, don’t we? 🙂
    Lescop – LESCOP. Moody French electro pop. What’s not to love? Great standard throughout the album. Played this LOADS.
    And finally…
    Yeezus – KANYE. Ha ha, maybe I’m just sticking this here to wind you lot up. Come on, it’s adventurous and it’s crazy. I love half of it. The other half, well maybe not so much. But he’s out there and I love him for it. Guardian’s no 1 album ha ha ha!

    And I’d nearly add JOHN GRANT to that list, but it doesn’t quite make it for me – perhaps only because the two different styles of song sit rather uneasily. A good album though.

    And then there’s the disappointing. For me, this includes the latest DEERHUNTER (sort your quality control out, Bradford!), ARCADE FIRE (tediously long), HAIM (why not just listen to Fleetwood Mac), PHOENIX (overproduced and lacking in decent tunes), JAMES BLAKE (not a patch on his debut), MS MR (great singles, but not a great album) and ALUNAGEORGE (3 great singles and then I guess you ran out of ideas, guys?).

    Songs of the year:

    The Next Day – Bowie.

    Azanga – DJ Spoko.

    False Thing – New Build.
    Jerk Ribs – Kelis (which has been mysteriously deleted from the internet – I kid you not!)

    Vacances de 87 – Le Couleur

    Hurricane – MS MR

    Sensitive New Age Guy – John Grant


    Black Skinhead – Kanye
    The Mother We Share – Chvrches

    Royals – Lorde
    and then of course…

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