H&H // BIG FAT REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2013
2013 was essentially the strangest and best year musically of my entire life, at the end of last year’s review (and first ever H&H article, what an ace site eh?) I was very much looking forward to seeing a small band from the 90s headline Alexandra Palace. This band released an unexpected comeback album back in March, and as anticipated I saw them, then I saw them again before the month was out and, within a week, my life was governed by the powers of Suede. I then spent much of the rest of the year tearing around the country after them, not to mention an invite to Abbey Road the music producer in me has never quite recovered from. But that’s not all, on top of Gabriel Bruce finally getting his ace debut album out there(!), 2013 has been brilliant for debut albums and growing bands in all respects, experiencing types such as Temples, Drenge, Teleman and Palma Violets, among endless others stroll into the limelight recently has made it considerably impressive. In short, it’s been a very, very good year.
My Top 5 Albums of the Year
#1: Love In Arms // Gabriel Bruce
For a start, I’d be a hypocrite if this album was not up there on my year list, thankfully however, from the day of release (and probably before) it was set in stone as number one. Gabriel Bruce, to put it succintly, is a musical genius and a flawless dancer, and within the debut ten tracks, both these facts are established in fine style. A lot of horns, a lot of disco vibes and one earthshaking growl is all you need to make the album of the year and Mr Bruce does it effortlessly, roll on the next….
#2: Bloodsports // Suede
#3: Immunity // Jon Hopkins
#4: Electric // Pet Shop Boys
#5: Selfhood // Sharks
My Top 10 Songs of the Year
#1: It Starts And Ends With You // Suede
Like the presence of Gabriel Bruce, the presence of high ranking Suede was inevitable, and cutting this list down to ten, not to mention between the two, was a bloodcurdling feat but this track always stood up among the rest. It’s a succession of infectious hooks, crunching guitars and Brett Anderson’s twisted romantic lyricism that singlehandedly manages to keep the pace of the early 90’s as relevant and brilliant today as ever, and that’s something that no one else could quite pull off. Ace.
#2: Greedy Little Heart // Gabriel Bruce
#3: Thursday // Pet Shop Boys
#4: Nothing // Drenge
#5: Rock Steady // Trans
#6: The Mother We Share // CHVRCHES
#7: Colours To Life // Temples
#8: Plans // Red Kites
#9: New Town Velocity // Johnny Marr
#10: Right Action // Franz Ferdinand
My Top 5 Gigs of the Year
#1: Suede – The Garage, 16th October.
To cut to the point, I saw Suede more times in 7 months of this year than I’ve ever seen any other band in my entire life, and for, naturally, very good reasons, so this came entirely down to “How on earth am I going to pick one that was the best?” simply because they were all unbelieveable (not said lightly) experiences. However, when the realisation that you’ve seen your favourite band ever in a tiny room with merely 499 other very fast ticket buyers – during a gig in which they played endless rarities and b sides on top of all the good stuff – strikes, nothing else really quite compares – not to mention the intensely surreal moment of being shown images of horses in various poses by slightly less sober than usual members of aforementioned band afterwards, always worth your £30.
#2: Pet Shop Boys/Jon Hopkins – O2 Arena, 18th June
#3: Siouxsie/Viv Albertine – Royal Festival Hall, 17th June
#4: Gabriel Bruce – Lovebox, July
Intensely dark and utterly impressive, only to be followed up with much of the same from Hurts & Jon Hopkins an hour later.
#5: The Killers – Wembley Stadium, 22nd June
Things I’m Looking Forward To in 2014
#1: The Follow Ups
I’d be lying if Suede weren’t top of my priorities but with the return of them, Bowie and countless others, on top of the year’s stellar line up of debuts, the follow ups are becoming as important as the surprises. Will Bowie remain silent & never do anything again or is this just the start? Will Suede indulge themselves in strings and create ‘Dog Man Star’ epic mk. II? Will Gabriel Bruce break his back dancing recording his second masterpiece? There’s only one way to find out….
#2: The Gigs
Live music is my main focus all year every year and while 2013 was undoubtedly the best yet for just that, and with a possibly inevitable move to London, as D:Ream once said, things can only get better, just look at the tours announced already
#3: The New Risers
With Drowners, Temples, Skaters & Jaws, to name a few, all lined up for debut releases this year, their deserved successess look only set to grow, and bring some top class new music with them
#4: The prospect of (finally) seeing Franz Ferdinand
Anyone around my age with any interest in being ‘cool’ aged about 9 thought ‘Take Me Out’ was the best song ever written for at least 2 years of their young lives, and speaking from complete experience, ‘RTRWRA’ shows after a few dips, the Scots are back in their highest form, I’ve only waited 9 years to see it close up.
So there you have it, a year largely sold to pursuing some Britpop genius, but still with enough time left to marvel at the fine array of new bands cropping up, and who knows, if you’re lucky I might’ve stopped talking about Suede by the time next years’ list comes around…don’t get your hopes up.