(….and the nine before that) ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Albums o’ the year obviously there’s a tad overlap from H&H but I’ve extended and shifted it simply because I CAN’T DECIDE (past the sold top 3 anyway)
#1//Love In Arms – Gabriel Bruce
Love In Arms is utterly rad. that’s as far as my succint journalism agrees to extend on this one. you know how much I love Gabriel Bruce, we all do. The eventual arrival of this album made my life improve rapidly and should make yours do the same. I could write endless paragraphs about my love for this album, but that’s the long and the short of it, whenever I find anyone that enjoys and/or owns it, my faith in the world is rebalanced a little. Without a doubt the best musical release to happen this year, and one that everyone should really really appeciate.
#2//Bloodsports – Suede
Bloodsports would be unjust and wrong not to mention, it’s brilliant and you can’t knock that. I could once again revel in stories of Suede releasing this being an integral part to the direction of my entire year, but anyone who is reading this probably knows all there is to know ten times already, possibly more the rate I go on. Most of my friends are unwilling to give this a try because “they’re an old band”, but I’ve never seen an “old band” come back seeming as quite as relevant and impressive as Suede have with this one, it’s been said a million times but if they’d come back with what you’d expect of a 10 year nostalgia reunion trip album, it would’ve been horrible and painful for everyone involved. I for one, am more than a bit happy this didn’t happen, and anyone who hasn’t already needs to listen for that reason if no other, this album’s as new as those above and below, and also fucking ace.
#3//Immunity – Jon Hopkins
Immunity is something I’d never envisaged myself being quite so into at the start of the year, but encapsuled by Jon Hopkins after watching in awe while no one else seemed to care before Pet Shop Boys at the O2, nerding up and catching him again at Lovebox by which point completely in love with the album solidified that by the end of the year, I definitely am. The intricately shaped noises into intense music is just all you need for the best electronica album I’ve heard, well, in my life I suppose. Why on earth it didn’t win the Mercury Prize over James Blake’s drawl will plague me forever, Hopkins is a synthy genius and has got the sheer musical talent to back it up, and I strongly admire such a feat.
#4//Electric – Pet Shop Boys
I’d heard Elysium last year and admittedly wasn’t that into it, I wasn’t expecting them to return to the 80s standard of synthpop ‘bangers’ anytime soon, it had all gone a bit mellow. So when I first started getting tastes of Electric in the form of Axis and Vocal, it was really quite surprising, and brilliant, and by the time the full album had come out, it’d proved that we had indeed returned to the days of the synthpop bangers, with possibly more dance-y synth genius than before, and I’ve barely stopped listening to it since. Anyone that can put Example on a track and make it work deserves recognition of the highest for a start.
#5//Drenge – Drenge
I hadn’t even listened to Drenge when i pre-ordered their album, on a complete whim i paid £19 for a ticket to see them with it included, entirely based on everybody else’s murmurings. I did eventually get round to listening to Bloodsports (blame Suede, unsurprisingly) and Backwaters but remained unsure til Drenge landed on my doorstep and hit me with one of the most concise (a mere 40 minutes or so) yet incredible thunderous garage-y blues rock album I’d ever heard, so loud it was quite hard to believe they were just a duo of brothers until I went to aforementioned gig and it virtually blew my eardrums. If you haven’t heard it yet, you need to. If you haven’t seen them live yet, you need to. Undoubtedly the second best debut of 2013, and things will only get louder next year at the rate its going for the Loveless kids.
#6//180 – Palma Violets
It’s rare when an NME hype band deliver, especially when you’ve been so hyped up by NME it seems ridiculous and not even you yourselves appear to believe you can be that good, but as satisyingly delightful as it would’ve been to see NME be crushed down by a subpar album and a bad reception to their so called heroes of the year, Palma Violets were never ever going to be at the centre of such a thing. The second The Great Escape happened back in May last year, I was convinced along with thousands of others that this was going to be one of the best albums in a very long time, and it was. With the bonus of Mackey at the helm, the entire album is everything about PV’s you’d ever need to know, raw recordings that shout and growl so much Nick Cave himself even approves of the more than obvious borrowed tactics, it’s one for throwing yourself about to and if you haven’t tried that live yet too, it’s a much granted bonus.
#7//Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action – Franz Ferdinand
I lost track of the Franz after 2004, that was one of the best albums ever made, I loved it, my friends loved it, everyone loved it, but since then everything appeared to go downhill, I didn’t buy any of their albums ( and despite funnily enough recieving You Could Have It So Much Better mistaken for this one at Christmas) I didn’t need to. They had Do You Wanna? and Ulyssess inbetween and that was it, so when this came out I wasn’t paying attention again. I didn’t even know they had one out til someone speedily sent me the link to Evil Eye demanding I watch the video, it was strangely better than what I’d expected as a song too, after further research, the album sounded like 2004 again, it had some great singles, they didn’t need to not sound like 2004, it’s still the best sound 9 years later, and by the time they were on Jools playing it, I was sold. I’m finally seeing them, 10 years after my dying wish to do so, in March next year, and I for one am ridiculously happy to have them back.
#8//Secondhand Rapture – MSMR
Everyone had been talking about MS MR all year, they were one of the few bands I figured I’d go see at Lovebox because “no one else was on” and having listened to a few tracks the week before, they sounded alright, everyone might have a point. Seeing them, with a bunch of Hurts fans all melting in the sun having had to stand through Lil Kim’s soundcheck (she didn’t even turn up for her set after delaying MS MR’s for half an hour, which considerably pissed everyone off I’m told) concerned about nothing other than Hurts set later on and suffering all this noise, was a welcome relief, they were actually very very good and I left spellbound by their singer. Its a common fact there are very few female singers I can bare, I don’t mean it, just generally female voices don’t get on with my ears as much, this year’s thrown up a lot of contradictions but Lizzy Plaipanger is without a doubt the prime example, and that is why I love this album so much, her voice is inescapably brilliant. It caught me so much that when seeing her in a tent later in the evening, I had to run up and gush at her about how much I loved their set, ttrying to avoid the fact I didnt even know her name, without a doubt one of the nicest musicians I’ve ever met too. I didn’t listen to them that much afterwards, I just got back to normal Suede service, but at the start of the month I suddenly remembered and became addicted again, I only got the album on Christmas Day and I’ve only needed a week to confirm it is indeed one of the best of the year in full too. Not many people seem to be talking about them since Lovebox, but if you haven’t started yet, you need to check them out.
#9//Selfhood – Sharks
Despite the complete sadness the split of Sharks left me with this year (more on that below), Selfhood showed they were a band with a hell of a lot to give musically, they could’ve given a hell of a lot more had they not, but to consecutively release albums of such high standards is a great way to fall out on. Every track is simply brilliant and not enough people seem to know it, it doesn’t even matter that they’ve split up (despite the desperate need to experience it live once you do) you should listen to this album, it’s a punk rock ethic with jangles of Marr influence and intensely skilled lyrics that I’m yet to find another band capture so well, I loved Sharks in the same way as I love Suede, they were part of something else entirely, and could write some bloody good songs too.
#10//The Next Day – David Bowie
This was inevitable, I’m yet to see a list that doesn’t have it and rightly so. It might not be the best Bowie album ever heard, it might be far from it, but if you can appear from nothing, launch a new song without a soul expecting it and claim the entire year for your own, shocking the world as you go, it’s got to be applauded, especially when your music is still of ridiculously high standards. It took me a while to appreciate this, I wasn’t that fussed, it wassn’t gonna be as great as the 70s so why bother? , but faced with it in hmv a week after release, not buying it seemed wrong, and it would’ve been. I had a 5 hour photography exam the next day and listened to it for the entire thing, it is entirely addictive. Dancing Out In Space is one of the best tracks of the year, if not ever. I’m not expecting Bowie to come back, I think it’d ruin the illusion if he did, if The Next Day is his last album ever, his work is well & truly done here, he’s established as an undeniable icon that still has the ability to floor us all after ten years and what more do you need?
#11//Push The Sky Away – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
I only listened to this 3 days ago, it’d probably be higher if I hadnt. The entire year has been spent with We No Who U R, a free download, on my iPod, whilst everyone claimed it was the best song of the year, I never really paid that much attention (a theme’s occurring here) but I did adore the artwork, I spent most of the year in record shops staring at it in wonder and questioning if it was worth the risk, I always wrongly decided no, wrong move. However after getting far too into Grinderman (an act i distinctly remember being scared and creeped out by on Jools many years ago) after Palma Violets repeatedly played them before their gigs at the start of the month, and always claiming to be into Cave without really ever listening to all that much outside of The Birthday Party, I thought it was time to give it a go, and it’s, in the simplest terms, beautiful. It’s an album thats left me awestruck since I played it, it’s miles away from my usual listening and that’s only made it even better. Amazing.
#12//Exile – Hurts
The Hurts saga wasn’t a very simple one, I wasn’t very interested in them when Exile was launched for reasons I wasn’t quite sure of either. However, after trying to ignore it, it inevitably won me over, it was a great album. At points a mile away from the debut I completely adore in every way, but that’s by no means a bad thing, it’s heavy, synthy and just a really great pop album, you can’t lose the tracks from your head, no matter how much you claim to hate them because they use a sample thats not a world away from Rihanna whining , they’re really very good.
Back in a bit….2 hours kids.