Another year draws to a close and my annual plan to spend less money on music due to my ever-increasing old git status has failed as usual. I found that this year had a much higher proportion of reissues than before, due to the boom in deluxe pretty thing reissues in lovely packaging full of hard to find old songs. Nice. I also got into my charity shop record hunts in a big way and the wad of vinyl LPs is expanding across the room. Anyway, this blog post is concerned with the new stuff, specifically the tracks of the year. Albums to follow, along with some other odds and sods.
“We could have made it but we didn’t have the stamina, we both lost out in the end. “ Autoheart: Control. This track has been around for a while but its official release this year meant it sneaked back into my end of year review. Autoheart’s forthcoming album is my most eagerly awaited music of 2013 due to the quality of their songs which have appeared in the usual places on the internet. Melodic heartfelt pop is their strength and that’s something that I adore!
“Once a passion filled your eyes, left me speechless , satisfied. Now tonight all we have is this darkening sky.” Jimmy Somerville: Taken Away. Listening to this song led me to buy the EP it comes from, then his two other recent EPs and then his entire back catalogue. Jimmy Somerville is in an imperial phase right now but is not really in the limelight as much as he should be.
“It’s getting louder and louder and louder and louder and louder.” The Irrespressibles: Two Men In Love. This choice could have been their electropop + orchestra song Ship, narrowly beaten by the beautiful epic slow-build of a song that will not surprise you when I say it is about two men in love. The album is pretty amazing.
“From the outside, from the outside. Everyone must be wondering why we try.” Jessie Ware: Wildest Moments. One of those artists who was tipped for the top that actually did some tipping (in my ears)! This has soul, which is sorely lacking in a lot of modern pop music. Smooooooth but not too glossy, just right.
“Patiently, I’m waiting. For you to give up everything. And say just what you mean.” Twin Shadow: Patient. I discovered this song in our car via Jamie’s iPod, loved it, bought the album, played it a lot. I like it when that happens! Twin Shadow is one to watch, great song writing and performing, and the videos are also excellent. This one has dance routines!
“Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good.” Solange: Losing You. She’s back! She’s still amazing! Phew. This song is both old-fashioned and new/exciting. Funky heartbreak, oh yes.
“I’ll be your warrior.” Mark Foster, Kimbra and A-Trak: Warrior. An unexpected crossover episode! This single with Mark Foster from Foster The People gave Kimbra’s album a further push, which was nice. I may be too old to know who A-Trak is but this is a super energetic pop number with the kind of offbeat video you’d expect from Mr Foster.
“You’re the reason there’s still hope in my heart.” Bright Light Bright Light: Feel It. Inspired by Laura Palmer’s diary and cheesy 90s dance pop, and featuring a great big diva voice : how could I not love this? Great single from an excellent album. Well done that man Rod Thomas.
“Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge, nobody wants to see your fingertips, detached from your piano fingers… At least not yet.” The Melting Ice Caps: Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge. This song is superficially a series of health and safety warning signs but actually something cleverer, as I would expect from the mind of David Shah (Mr Ice Caps). Another recommended album there.
“And when the music stops …” Little Boots: Headphones (Ronika remix). Yes, a remix! This version is better than the original, a peculiar old school dance sound about a disco with weird pitch changes to Ms Boots’ voice to make it just marvellously different and a bit non-specific gender. Hard to explain. Now where’s the album?
“She’s working at the pyramid tonight.” Frank Ocean: Pyramids. This one is also rather odd, in a great way. It’s not quite hip hop and not quite R&B either. When I got this album it was a priority playlist on the iPod for ages and deserving of all the hype it got.
“To you it’s just the same old story. Another fairy tale made of faded glory.” David Morales and Roisin Murphy: Golden Era. This Murphy / Morales collaboration was a lovely surprise and it was everything I hoped for in such a project. A deep housey disco number with regret in the lyrics, should have been a big hit.
“Get lost, you’re dancing to the beat of a different drum .” Gossip: Get Lost. The album may have annoyed some of their older fans (in loyalty, not in years) but this Xenomania collaboration was the first Gossip album I loved enough to buy. I’m weird but the vibes were right and this track is the highlight of a great pop long-player.
“… the dead don’t go away, They made us what we are, they’re with us every day.” Pet Shop Boys: Leaving. I loved this track immediately and recently the lyrics make me a bit too sad, which is not really a bad thing for a song to do when I think about it. A mixed album but I would compare it to a good b-sides compilation and we do love our b-sides.
“That’s why, the carols make you cry. Joy.” Tracey Thorn: Joy. Another weepy happy song, one of the original compositions on Tracey Thorn’s excellent (more than just a) Christmas album.
“No one should settle for a maybe, I’ll get an answer for you soon.” Saint Etienne: Answer Song. So many lovely songs on their Words and Music album but I had to choose one. I’ll go for the sad romantic one every time!
“I’m ready to learn what it tastes to burn, I’m gonna let you show me what it means to breathe fire.” Niki & the Dove: Tomorrow. I found this Swedish duo via a blog and was captivated by their atmospheric brand of slightly freaky big electropop.
“Honey get your hands off those boys. Honey put your arms around me.” Bearcraft: Honey. Another one of Jamie’s favourite artists and this single was definitely their best work yet. Bearcraft have been quiet recently as Dicky Moore (Mr Craft) has been busy playing guitar for Scritti Politti but they’ll be back with an album of this melodic synthpop soon.
“Sad, so sad.” Elton John vs Pnau: Sad. Not actually all that sad, mostly very pleasant and melodic. I think “melodic” is becoming one of my words. As well as this Pnau collaboration via a remix project I also finally bought Elton’s discoey Thom Bell Sessions on CD but didn’t get the urge for any other albums.
“I’m always trying to tell you, I’ve got problems, That I can’t work out.” Gaz Coombes: White Noise. The return of The Artist Formerly Known As Gaz From Supergrass was a big success for me and this track in particular showed him in fine form.
Next time: Albums of the Year, maybe some Gigs and Covers. The version type, not the images on the front of records although I do like those too.