Hello one and all, and Happy Festivus!
As is the tradition ’round these parts (well, my tradition…) it’s that time of year again where I throw into the air all of my favourite songs, albums and gigs of the year and see where they land. So below, I give you, the year that was in giggage music – 2013.
This year has been a easy one, because no matter how many times people complain about top albums lists being ‘redundant’ (‘It’s all about single tracks now guys, the album is dead!’ etc. and on and on), I’ve managed to find it effortless to list of more than 30 albums that I’ve thought have been fantastic in 2013. This year, for me anyway, the album has been superior to the single. Maybe I have a longer attention span than my Gen Y compadres?! Whatever it is, artists aren’t giving up on the album, and so they shouldn’t. It’s an art form, whether it be on vinyl, CD or mp3. This year was difficult to separate my top 10, but easy to choose at least 30 albums to ‘judge’. So without any further ado, here they are:
30. Hanni El Khatib – Head in the Dirt.
29. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine
28. Jacco Gardner – Cabinet of Curiosities
27. Anna Calvi – One Breath
26. Toy – Join The Dots
25. Traams – Grin
24. The Courteeners – Anna
23. Lust for Youth – Perfect View
22. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II
21. Bass Drum of Death – Bass Drum of Death
20. Her Parents – Happy Birthday
19. Suede – Bloodsports
18. Tripwires – Spacehopper
17. The Smith Westerns – Soft Will
16. Deap Vally – Sistrionix
15. Holograms – Forever
14. Wampire – Curiosity
13. Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
12. Johnny Marr – Messenger
11. Sulk – Graceless
10. Jagwar Ma – Howlin’
9. FIDLAR – FIDLAR. Funniest/drunkest band of 2013.
8. Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs – Clarietta. The best of the psychedelia class of 2013. Oh, and Edwyn Collins produced. Gotta be good.
7. Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Coming back with this album after a four year hiatus was a stroke of genius.
6. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are. Never a Miles fan until this year – love him now!
5. Peace – In Love. According to my last.fm stats I’ve listened to this album the most out of every other album this year. It is SO ADDICTIVE! I’ve had to tell myself on more than one occasion ‘Jen, no, you can’t listen to this AGAIN this week, you’ve had enough’, but I still managed to fit it in way too many times. Peace are fun, charming, and fairly derivative. But so what? They also have an awesome album, and it pleases me seeing how far they’ve come this year. And any man who regularly wears make-up and leopard print will always be thought of highly in my books.
4. Savages – Silence Yourself. On a great deal of (worthy) end of year lists this year but it’s no surprise, as it’s a brilliant album. I’ve been partial to dark, angry, brooding music this year and these guys have it in spades. Another band who steer clear of the ‘look at me, I’m famous!’ lifestyle. Jehnny Beth is undoubtedly female musician of the year for me.
3. Filthy Boy – Smile That Won’t Go Down. Loved these guys for ages now and it was such a pleasure to have them release their debut album and for it to be fantastic. Lyrically ridiculously remarkable (see Alex Turner but much more seedy) and also for such young guys some great talent. Not ones for hyping themselves up or over-promotion, it’s probably why I like them as much as I do.
2. Drenge – Drenge. This was so incredibly close to beating out AM for the top this year, and they’ve been interchangeable for weeks now. For a not only young but also only two member band, the tunes that they make are just spectacular. Live they are ridiculous! I love me an angry album, and this was my go-to for many a Monday morning train journey to work this year.
1. Arctic Monkeys – AM. I just couldn’t go past AM for the top spot this year. I wasn’t much of a fan of their last album (blasphemy!), but they’ve come back ridiculously strong with this one. It’s had almost a weekly appearance on my iPod since it was released and I’m still not tired of it. AM’s are well and truly BACK.
Putting together a top 30 singles/tracks list is also a yearly necessity – I wouldn’t want to leave out any brilliant bands who haven’t released an album this year (or yet), would I?! As it stands, there are seven tracks on this list from artists who haven’t released an album this year. There have been some brilliant new bands emerge in 2013 that are yet to release an LP (The Family Rain, The Wytches, Temples, Telegram etc.), and loads more new bands that I’ve seen live who have been great but haven’t made the list. So, here they be (linked to the track on YouTube).
30. Suede – It Starts and Ends with You
29. Art Brut – We Make Pop Music
28. Her Parents – Why Don’t You Just Fuck Off
27. Telegram – Follow
26. Teleman – Christina
25. Parquet Courts – Master of my Craft
24. The Courteeners – Are You in Love with a Notion
23. Temples – Colours to Life
22. Holograms – Meditations
21. Night Engine – I’ll Make it Worth your While
20. Wampire – The Hearse
19. Johnny Marr – Lockdown
18. UMO – So Good At Being in Trouble
17. Tripwires – Shimmer
16. Sulk – Flowers
15. The Cribs – Leather Jacket Love Song
14. Deap Vally – Walk of Shame
13. Savages – She Will
12. Arctic Monkeys – Snap Out of It
11. Franz Ferdinand – Evil Eye
10. Filthy Boy – That Life
9. FIDLAR – Cocaine
8. The Family Rain – Pushing It
7. Primal Scream – 2013
6. Jagwar Ma – The Throw
5. Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs – Be Glamorous. The entire album is fab, but this song in particular I’m a huge fan of – the filmclip is the best. This track is a bit more knees up than some of their other stuff but it’s a fun number to sing along and don your best lippie too (you too boys). And they all have lovely hair.
4. Drenge – Bloodsports. This is the track that made me sit up and want to hear more from Drenge. I saw them at the 100 Club supporting The Cribs earlier in the year and even though I couldn’t see them (vertically challenged) I thought they were fantastic. How can two guys make such a fantastic racket?! I don’t know, but I love it.
3. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are. I admit it, I’ve never really been that fussed on Mr Kane, but when this track came out earlier in the year my thoughts changed. Hand clapping, uplifting chorus, ‘la la la’s’… not sure how anyone CAN’T like this. I actually fell in love with Miles a bit in 2013. True story. Then he chopped off his locks and I fell a little bit out of love with him. The end.
2. Peace – Follow Baby. So much like early Blur/Stone Roses it was a bit off-putting at first, but once I got over that fact I was hooked. The catchy guitar riffs, the rolling drums, the holding back before the chorus… as Mr Takai would say, Oh Myyyy.
1. The Wytches – Robe For Juda. I just can’t think of another song this year that I’ve enjoyed more than this one. Late runners, but easily track of the year. I’m a sucker for tempo changes and clamorous song finales, what can I say… Seeing them live at The Black Heart a couple months ago really did it for me (blog here, and Shout4Music review here!). For all their angst and yelling and noisy guitars, they seem like lovely young guys. My only regret with The Wytches this year is not giving them a 10/10 in my live review on Shout4Music. Live and learn.
According to my calculations I’ve been to over 50 gigs this year (here’s a map of all the locations I’ve been to, because I had way too much time on my hands at my day job one day…). That’s only averaged out at around 2 per week. PRETTY SLACK. Hoping to possibly do more in 2014, depending on what comes up photography-wise. This year was chock full of fantastic gigs, a lot of first-time-seeing bands and a few new gig venues (travelling to Paris for Tim Burgess and Amsterdam for Deap Vally helped with that cause!). Here’s the top ten for this year, although most of the top five could be interchangeable, depending on how I’m feeling on any given day…
10. Loom at The Black Heart – 4th September. If you have not seem Loom live yet, do yourself a favour. I have no idea of any of the names of any of their songs, but they just kill it live. And almost kill people. You have been warned.
9. Holograms at The Lexington – 21st October. I can’t NOT have this gig in my list after producing both a feature interview and a gig review for Shout4Music as a result! Have loved these guys since last year and it was an immense pleasure to discover that in person they are also funny, engaging and lovely people.
8. The Courteeners at O2 Shepherd’s Bush – 3rd December. This gig also holds a special place in my 2013 heart as it was the first proper ‘pit’ gig that I went to with my camera. Oh, and Liam Fray is a mighty fine specimen when 2 feet away…
Liam Fray of Courteeners, 2013
7. The Family Rain at Borderline – 5th July. Fantastic gig, but made even better after the event. We met them after the gig and they signed a huge poster for us. In our drunken haze at The Crowbar afterwards we managed to leave the signed poster there, never to be seen again. A few emails to their management (by my plucky other half) and a couple weeks later we were in possession of a brand new, signed poster from The Family Rain. This one addressed ‘To Dave and Jen (again)’. Nicest guys in indie 2013.
The Family Rain – the poster!
6. The Cribs at O2 Shepherd’s Bush – 22nd February. Squashed up the back and managed to take one of my favourite shots of the year, with my point and shoot no less. I had a real Cribs resurgence this year, and the gig was a brilliant advertisement for their Payola best of that came out this year. Love these guys.
Shepherd’s Bush, 2013
5. Arctic Monkeys/Drenge for iTunes Festival at The Roundhouse – 9th September. Almost the line up of the year (see further below for that accolade), seeing both bands in a slightly smaller venue was ace. The crowd were loving it as well. Can’t go wrong for a free gig.
4. Miles Kane/The Family Rain at Brixton Academy – 11th October. Luckily just down the road from my place so always happy to see a gig at Brixton. Could not believe how lovely the crowd were. For some reason I was expecting piss-throwing ‘lads lads lads’ all over the place, but there were couples, young kids, older folk and an all around ‘nice’ vibe. And everyone was singing along! Loved every minute of it.
3. Jagwar Ma at The Barfly – 14th October. Pretty sure I rocked up to this sold out, tiny gig either hungover or just in a bad mood, and didn’t expect much to change. I cannot believe how much Jagwar Ma live were able to lift my mood. Aural drugs?! Maybe. I danced – DANCED! Everyone danced for that matter, even the annoying blokes who stood chatting the whole time the support DJ was playing. It made me want to see them live again and again. Their album is great, but live they are just on another level.
2. The Wytches at The Black Heart – 21st November. Wasn’t sure what to expect from these guys when I went along to The Black Heart to photograph their gig, but I had swotted up on their tunes before heading along. They just blew me away. Such unassuming kids producing such a massive, angry sound. I was shaking my head most of the evening because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing/hearing. Bring on The Wytches in 2014.
The Wytches, 2013
1. Peace at O2 Shepherd’s Bush – 6th December. A late runner but well deserved. Crowd were decent, the sound was ace, there wasn’t a lull at all AND they played their cover of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. For the first time seeing these guys I wasn’t sure if I’d missed the boat on seeing a decent live show from them. Oh how wrong I was. Pleasantly surprised is an understatement.
ADDED BONUS – Line up of the year! This would have to go to the Metz, Cheatahs and The Wytches line up at Village Underground. Three bands that I’d listened to a LOT this year, and all three of them performed at such a massively high standard. Pretty sure The Wytches walked away with another 500 fans that night.
So there you have it, my comprehensive list of basically what I liked in 2013. All good stuff, of course.
Have a lovely Chrimbo and New Year to all! Guessing this will be the last post of the year, so see you all in 2014. Thanks for reading 🙂