Now That’s What I Call 2013

Album

So another year, another load of albums listened to, another load of gigs enjoyed and 10 albums that are the sound of 2013. I have to say I didn’t think it was a great year for music…a lot of bands trying to sound like yesteryear, whether that’s the stones, oasis or anything from the 80s. But I did have a clear 10 that were top albums for me, and perhaps another 5-10 of alright sounding stuff:

10. Jake Bugg – Shangri La (England)

I really like Jake Bugg…I like the way he doesn’t try to change himself and seems pretty into his music. But I did prefer his first album more than Shangri La and if it wasn’t for Slumville Sunrise and What Doesn’t Kill You this probably wouldn’t have made the cut. Still a good offering though.

9. Foals – Holy Fire (England)

Another band that probably didn’t set the world on fire but a lot of catching tunes on this album. My Number is a great little song and Out In The Woods stands out as well.

8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito (USA)

An album I probably didn’t expect to have on my list but when I heard it the first time I really enjoyed it. Didn’t have much play for a while, but have been enjoying it again over the last few weeks. Really like Sacrilege, Area 52 and Mosquito.

7. Johnny Marr – The Messenger (England)

I am a huge smiths fan and it pains me to say that I didn’t enjoy this ablum at first…maybe I’m too critical, maybe the Healers album was just too good, maybe I just really want a smiths reunion tour??? But lately I’ve softened and this is a good album after all. Upstarts is one of my favourite tracks of the year and I really like the energy of the opening track The Right Thing.

6. David Bowie – The Next Day (England)

When I first heard this album I though man that’s the best thing since sliced bread…but lately I haven’t dug this album as much. I think the big thing at the time was no one expected this album so it blew everyone’s mind. On reflection, I really like the first half of the album but think the second half fades away a bit. Fav track is Valentines Day.

5. BRMC – Specter At The Feast (USA)

I’m a huge BRMC fan and as such enjoy any album by them. I probably preferred their last album, Beat The Devils Tattoo, to Specter but I still thing this was a good offering. Hate The Taste is probably my favourite track as it is the kick start into the second half of the album which strangely blows the first half away.

4. The Veils – Time Stays, We Go (England)

The Veils, the Veils, the Veils….I love this band so much. Some times this would be the number one album of the year and some times its just number 4…today is a number 4 day. I have to say I wish the gig earlier in the year was better (shit sound) and that’s probably the only reason they are number four and not second today. Dancing With The Tornado blows everything else away on this album!

3. Queens of The Stone Age – …Like Clockwork (USA)

This is very unlucky not to be 1 or 2 on my list as its an awesome album. Really looking forward to seeing them live again and a bit of Feel Good Hit of The Summer time!! I Sat By The Ocean is my 2nd favourite track of the year! More to follow…

2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (USA)

A band that I have a little soft spot for and when I looked at my play count was surprised to see this as the second most played album…hence why its second on my list 🙂 I like all the tracks on this album but I particularly like Hanna Hunt, especially about half way though when the tempo steps up and he starts to shout the lyrics…I could listen to it all day and be happy.

1. Arctic Monkeys – AM (England)

Some might say that I named my daughter so that her initials are the same as this album!! I could not possible confirm or deny such rumors! In all seriousness though this album is godsend! I love the opening bars of Do You Wanna Know? and R U Mine? is the track of the year for me (just for the Tracey Island name drop). I think this album shows how much they have grown up over the last few years and a bit of Josh Homme influence thrown in there has made them into one of the best bands around. I am so looking forward to this gig later in the year!!

The thanks, but no thanks…

Strypes – Snapshot

Palma Violets – 180

City and Colour – The Hurry and The Harm

Elvis Costello – Wise Up Ghost

Jagwar Ma -Howlin

The I just didn’t get it award goes to:

Arcade Fire – Reflektor…anyone who swaps a c for a k deserves to be shot.

E.P. that I enjoyed most

The Flaming Lips – Peace Sword (I did think the Terror was shite though)

Gig of the year

Easy….This Is The One!!!

Manuel’s Top Ten of 2013

mbv, white lies, editors, divine fits, phoenix, the veils, polica, johnny marr, school of seven bells, metronomy

I beat myself up pretty good in 2012 for not being as diligent a new music listener as in years past. 2013 was different. Because of a few lifestyle changes over the past 12 months — some deliberately good, some not so deliberate or good — I devoted more time listening to music. The result was, IMHO, a more considered study on what was a very good year in music. 

If I have a criticism of my list, it is the lack of new bands represented. I obviously did not venture far from my comfort zone. I will try to be better about that in 2014. 

10. Metronomy “The English Riviera” (2011)

Do you have your skinny jeans on? A t-shirt with an ironic phrase or image on it? What about thick, black plastic glasses? Yes? Okay, you’re now ready to listen to this album. Although released a couple of years ago, I was introduced to it by a colleague in early 2013. And despite my snarky intro, I really dug this album. I wasn’t alone; it was considered by many one of 2011’s best. If this is new to y’all too, I think we’ve all been caught asleep at the switch.

9. School of Seven Bells “Ghostory” (2012)

I spent the earlier part of the year playing catch up to a number of albums purchased in 2012 that I hadn’t gotten around to hearing. This is one of them. If you’re a fan of SoSB’s signature synth bliss sound, this album will not disappoint. Sadly, as of this past December, this band is no longer — one of its two members died of cancer. He was 35.

8. Johnny Marr “The Messenger” (2013)

One wonders what took Johnny so long to release a solo album. Doesn’t matter. It was worth the wait. And for a codger like Marr, his songs sound quite fresh. I hope he doesn’t wait another couple of decades before his next release.

7. Poliça “Shulamith” (2013)

One of the few newish bands to make my list. I won’t write any more than what I did here. I will add that this probably would’ve been higher on my list had I gone to their concert when I had the chance. D’oh!

6. The Veils “Time Stays, We Go” (2013)

Typical excellence from Finn Andrews & Co. This release was enhanced by my witnessing another cathartic live performance. Best show I attended in 2013, although it can’t possibly top Stu’s concert of the year/decade/ever.

(Stone Roses? Really? Damn. I could probably win a million dollar lottery and a night to remember with <insert your favorite female beauty here>, and it probably still wouldn’t beat this accomplishment. SUPER jealous. Only a time machine to them performing in 1990 could top it.)

5. Phoenix “Bankrupt!” (2013)

This being their sixth album, it can be easy to overlook how difficult it is to consistently create timeless, incredibly catchy music. But that’s just what Phoenix did. Again.

If I have one criticism (and it’s a big one), it is how horribly mixed this record is. It is super-compressed and muddy. If it weren’t for Phoenix’s ability to craft a good pop song, this would be unlistenable to me. However, despite this transgression, I think this album is better than their previous.

4. Divine Fits “A Thing Called Divine Fits” (2012)

As stated in an earlier post, this one snuck past me in 2012. But I made up for lost time by playing the bejeesus out of it in 2013. And like many on this list, its sounds echo my favorite artists growing up. I hope these guys have more great tunes in their future.

3. Editors “The Weight of Your Love” (2013)

I can’t write much more than I have already. Excellent album. And “Formaldehyde” is still a great tune many months after first hearing it.

2. White Lies “Big TV” (2013)

In three years, White Lies came #1 and #2 in my end of year list. So it’s hard to dispute them not being my favorite band at the moment. I hope I’m in town next month when they pay a visit to Portland.

(Biffy Clyro and White Lies in Portland four days apart. It would be a crime to miss either. But working for The Man can be a heavy yolk.)

1. My Bloody Valentine “m b v” (2013)

During one particularly lucid listening session, I convinced myself that Kevin Shields is an alien, and that he periodically makes albums to communicate with his home planet many light years away. Hidden deep in all that white noise and fuzzy feedback, he could either be letting them know that we’re not yet ready for First Contact, or that we’re finally ripe for harvesting. We might find out tomorrow, or not for many thousands of years. But until the arrival of our future overlords, I’m going to enjoy the beautiful soundscapes he and his unwitting human bandmates made for us.

MBV’s masterpiece, “Loveless,” may have the historical distinction of being an original work of art. But I will argue that this is a better album. It is nearly perfect to my ears. And for that, it earns its place at the top of this year’s list.

Resspeck! (and many listens) also given to…

  • Biffy Clyro “Opposites” (2013) — every song is an anthem. Seeing them live must be one big sing-a-long.
  • David Bowie “Then Next Day” (2013)
  • INXS “Shabooh Shoobah” (1983)
  • Bat for Lashes “The Haunted Man” (2012)
  • Arctic Monkeys “AM” (2013)
  • Phantogram “Eyelid Movies” (2013)

I love this annual tradition. It gives us a chance to slag each other ever so gently about each other’s questionable taste. So here’s your chance to set me straight. What do you think?

Stu’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

cover2Wow……What a year it has been! Not just for us in the Daddy club (congratulations again Morky boy), but the music has been pretty darn decent as well. It has been an absolutely stonking year for established acts, and my Top 10 highlights this with only one debut album in the mix courtesy of Chvrches.

My list changed at least a half a dozen times before I was happy, but my Top 2 have remained consistent throughout. So here we go:

10. DAFT PUNK – Random Access Memories (FRANCE)
I’ve always enjoyed Daft Punk’s upbeat music and this is a great release with some rousing electronic tracks. Perhaps a couple of album fillers in there but still a very enjoyable listen.

9. WOODENBOX – End Game (SCOTLAND)
Woodenbox are a folk band from Edinburgh, with a mariachi twist. The Caledonian Calexico, if you will. This is their very strong second album that gets better with every listen. There’s a great tempo to the whole album that has me looking forward to hearing more from them in the future.

8. THE VEILS – Time Stays, We Go (ENGLAND\NZ)
Yet another very good album from The Veils. This album is possibly aimed at breaking into the mainstream market, but they have lost none of their bittersweet brilliance in doing so.

7. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – Like Clockwork (USA)
Well….we’ve pretty much all agreed that this is a great release from QotSA. Josh Homme proving yet again he is the man.

6. EDITORS – The Weight Of Your Love (ENGLAND)
A fine release by the lads from Birmingham. 5 months has passed since this album debuted and it is still on heavy rotation. Easily my favourite Editors album since The Back Room.

5. BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – Specter At The Feast (USA)
BRMC do not know how to release a bad album…..fact. Even when experimenting with different sounds on previous albums I’ve always found time to listen to their back catalogue, and with SATF they have a worthy addition. Consistently great tracks with a return to the strong, chunky riffs that had me hooked after a couple of listens.

4. JOHNNY MARR – The Messenger (ENGLAND)
When I first listened to this my first thought was “OK, that’s not a bad album. Could have been better I guess”. How wrong I was. This got better, and continues to, with every listen. The flow of the album is superb with his signature riffs taking us through each track. This is the Johnny Marr album I had hoped for.

3. CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe (SCOTLAND)
Each year there seems to be at least a couple of unasahdemly poppy albums that peak my interest, and the Glasgwegian synthpop trio Chvrches definitely fall into that category. However, with two of the band having been in reputable Alternative Rock bands prior (Aereogramme and The Twilight Sad), it’s fair to say that Chvrches’ credentials are perhaps better than your average synthpop band. Add to that the delightfully cute Lauren Mayberry as lead singer and they get a big thumbs up from me.

2. ARCTIC MONKEYS – AM (ENGLAND)
After a couple of albums that didn’t quite fulfill my hopes the Monkeys delivered, and then some, with AM. There’s not a weak track to be found here on the album that correctly features in many of the critic’s 2013 lists.

1. DAVID BOWIE – The Next Day (ENGLAND)
In any other year AM would have topped my list, but Mr Bowie…..where the hell did this album come from? A genuine modern classic from a true musical genius.

Close, but no cigar….
Jagwar Ma – Howlin
Moby – Innocents
Suede – Bloodsports
Travis – Where You Stand
The National – Trouble Will Find Me
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse

Top gig and musical highlight of 2013….
The Stone Roses, Vector Arena, Auckland, 27th February 2013. Best gig of the year, of the decade……of my life???

Keith’s top 10 albums of 2013

Top albums 2013

Most years I seem to struggle with a top 10 albums for the year. 2013 was much easier. A couple of albums just became obvious that they were going to be at the top. I also managed to only select albums that were actually released this year too; another first for me!

My top albums this year mostly come from bands/people I’ve liked in the past. Only 2 new artists made their way in. Having said that, it’s great when someone you like brings out another album you also like.

So here we go….

10. Arctic Monkeys – AM

“Only tenth?” I hear some of you cry. Well yeah, to be honest it’s lucky to have made the top ten. A week or two ago it wouldn’t have. But I’ve been bombarded by Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? on Radio Hauraki for a while now, loving it, and I’m beginning to realise that the rest of the album is pretty damned fine too. Think I’ll be listening to this one for a while yet.

9. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

I’m a big Neko Case fan, and although this has been out for a while it’s just starting to grow on me. She’s definitely going away from her country roots and branching out into lusher territory. Reckon I’ll love this album this time next year. Looking forward to seeing her live at the Wellington festival later this year too.

8. Kacey Musgraves – Same trailer, different park

If Neko Case is less country than before, then Kacey Musgraves certainly makes up for it. I was torn between loving this album and hating it, but it obviously ended up on the good side. It’s almost twee country, but she seems to sing from the heart. More than that, the songs are simply incredibly catchy. And for what it’s worth, she’s very cute too!

7. Telekinesis – Dormarion

I’ve been a fan of Telekinesis (just one guy – Michael Benjamin Lerner, from Seattle) for a few years now. Until recently I thought they only had one album – Telekinesis! from 2009. A few months ago I found that there were two albums released since then – 12 Desperate Straight Lines from 2011 and Dormarion from 2013. They both continue the trend laid down by the debut – power pop with great tunes. Definitely worth a listen or two.

6. Camera Obscure – Desire Lines

Their last album, My Maudlin Career, was good but it didn’t really drag me in, the same way that Let’s Get Out of this Country did. But it only took a couple of listens to Desire Lines to get me hooked. If you don’t know, it’s Scottish twee pop. Bit like Belle and Sebastian but will a female singer and a wee bit ballsier (not hard, I know). Sweet voice though and again, great songs.

5. Steve Mason – Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time

I thought that this album would be high up on the critics’ Best Of 2013 lists but I haven’t seen it at all. 20 songs by ex Beta Band mainman Steve Mason that all segue together as one. Not often you get Brazillian commentary from a Prost / Senna duel, together with formula one sounds thrown in to a track either. Love the whole album.

4. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind the Film

I was a bit nervous when I first listened to this one. When it’s your favourite band, you hope that they haven’t screwed it up. I’d heard that the album was a bit different from the usual Manics fare – it wasn’t their shiny rock pop big anthems, and it wasn’t their semi-punky alternative.

This was a third way – acoustic. But (thankfully) it isn’t singer songwriter style acoustic, nor is it a stripped back acoustic set (a la Nirvana) type sound. It’s a band playing their songs, but just without loud guitars. Growing old gracefully. And for the most part it sounds wonderful. A couple of songs I could do without, but in general I love it. Mind you, my favourite song is the closing 30 Year War – a song closest to the ‘old’ Manics sound.

3. Biffy Clyro – Opposites

A high entry for a band I hadn’t heard until about a month ago. It’s just great pop rock with catchy tunes. I said it all here really.

2. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

Been a fan for a while now since Songs for the Deaf. Since then I’ve sort of delved in a bit to their stuff and kinda liked it. But this one is all cracker. Clever rock n roll with attitude.

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

I have thrashed this album since it came out. My iTunes stats say that all its songs are now in my ‘top 250 played songs’ playlist – that has been going for the last 8 years or so. 35+ times that is. Liked them before but this is the best album I reckon. Smart (without being too smart), infectious pop. Time to stick it on again….

Top Albums’ nationality breakdown – 5 American, 1 English, 1 Welsh and 3 Scottish!

Bubbling under…. Phosphorescent, Kurt Vile, Franz Ferdinand (like the single so the album will get more of a hit now), Avett Brothers, Arcade Fire (still not sure about this one at all – maybe it’ll grow on me), Okkervil River & Dexys.

Older albums I’ve listened to lots but from other years…. Sarah Blasko’s I Awake (would have been top 5 otherwise) and Abigail Washburn. And a bit of Divine Fits too.

Listen yersel – And to make it easy to listen to some songs from these albums, here’s my Keith’s top albums of 2013 Spotify Playlist.