Blur – Bang

It’s hard to believe it’s the end of another year, isn’t it? Bang (from their debut album Leisure) feels like a rather appropriate song for this rather unusual of days. “Bang goes another year, in and out of one ear.” This year really has flew in though. Very much so. There’s an air of reflection about Bang too which fits with the day. After all, it’s very common to reflect on New Years Eve isn’t it? I think the lyrics of the song are really rather sad actually, underneath all of the shuffling indie-dance rhythms. Honestly I can’t understand why the band seem to dislike it so much. It’s no masterpiece – it’s not even the best song on Leisure – but it’s an enjoyable slice of indie pop. I’m surprised it only reached #24 considering how of its era it sounds really.

In any case – happy new year and best wishes for 2014!

My Albums of 2013

Overall, I think 2013 has been a really good year for music. Far better than 2012. We had a triumphant comeback with David Bowie’s The Next Day. Meanwhile pop stalwarts Pet Shop Boys released one of their finest albums ever in Electric. Then, fresh talent such as AlunaGeorge and Jagwar Ma (amongst others) released excellent debuts. Here’s my top ten albums of 2013:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Electric
  2. David Bowie – The Next Day
  3. Jagwar Ma – Howlin’
  4. AlunaGeorge – Body Music
  5. MIA – Matangi
  6. Depeche Mode – Delta Machine
  7. Cut Copy – Free Your Mind
  8. Disclosure – Settle
  9. Janelle Monae –  The Electric Lady
  10. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

A tough choice: there were other albums I thoroughly enjoyed this year too. My only worry for 2014 music is that so many of my favorite artists have released albums in 2013 (even 2012), that the vast majority won’t do anything in 2014. I’m looking forward to new offerings from Foster The People, Katy B and Friendly Fires (hopefully). Who knows – there’s bound to be a surprise or two like David Bowie and Beyonce’s surprise releases this year. Only time will tell, but it’ll certainly be interesting  to see.

Year Highlight: Depeche Mode – Soft Touch/Raw Nerve

Finally, another surprise of sorts. I’m a big Depeche Mode fan but I’ve found their albums made following the departure of Alan Wilder to be rather patchy affairs. To be honest – I had given up hope of them reaching the quality of their best records ever again. That is until Delta Machine came along. It’s a strong album and the best that they’ve ever made without Wilder. Soft Touch/Raw Nerve is quite an unusual Depeche Mode song. It’s a hybrid of rock and electronic music which is hardly new territory for them, but it’s never sounded quite like this. It’s hard to describe, it sounds like two songs in one almost. Very contrasting. It’s a shame this wasn’t a single, because I think it could have done quite well actually. It certainly wouldn’t have sounded like anything else in the charts that’s for sure.

That’s my seven random songs of the year selected. I hope you enjoyed them. On this final day of 2013 I’ve got a few more posts I want to make, so I’ll definitely be back later!

Year Highlight: Janelle Monae – Ghetto Woman

Penultimately, we have a song from Janelle Monae’s long awaited sophomore The Electric Lady. I really liked her debut album The Archandroid, but I loved her second offering. She’s definitely a fresh of breath air in R & B. Ghetto Woman is definitely inspired by Stevie Wonder, though I can hear some 80s inspired synths in there too (although just a tiny bit). There’s such an irresistible groove to Ghetto Woman. That’s not the only merit of the song though – the lyrics are also very touching too. The lyrics certainly read as a plea to working class black women in America to reject stereotypes. That to stay strong, even when viewed in a less than favorable light. Towards the end of the song, she also addresses her own upbringing and childhood. The rap at the end is autobiographical. The song definitely has very inspirational lyrics. Definitely one of the most underrated songs of 2013!

Year Highlight: Jagwar Ma – That Loneliness

My favourite debut album of 2013 was Jagwar Ma’s Howlin. It’s another homage to the bygone era of the Second Summer of Love, much like Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind was. Coincidentally both bands are Australian. Where they deviate though is that Howlin focuses more on the jangly guitar sounds of Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. The most obvious homage to The Stone Roses is That Loneliness, which sounds like it really ought to have been on their seminal self-titled debut. It’s easy to envisage Ian Brown’s unmistakeable vocals singing this track. It’s the shortest song on Howlin and breezes by at just under three minutes long. Short and very sweet. Like many of the songs on The Stone Roses, it’s also incredibly catchy. One listen, and this song will be in your head, I guarantee it. I’ve got a feeling Howlin is just the start of a bright and fruitful career for this underrated Australian duo!

Year highlight: MIA – Warriors

Another slight anomaly in my collection, given that I don’t listen to a load of rap music. MIA is just so creative and unique though. I really like all her albums, though Matangi is my favourite album of hers yet. It’s downright cacophonous in places and definitely not for everyone, but it’s great if you can get into it. Warriors is just bonkers. The first time I heard it, it was rather perplexing. It sounds like several songs in one whilst retaining a certain cohesiveness. That’s definitely the major strength of the track for me. It darts between various genres so it never gets dull (much like MIA herself). The best way I can describe the song is a sort of danceable world music rave.A definite hybrid of styles indeed. It’s only draw-back being that it just cuts out very suddenly and that serves as the ending of the song. That minor drawback aside this is still an excellent song from an excellent album!

Discovery: Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scu81EW4UC8 I’ve become more than a little addicted to this song after I watched The Goonies for the first time last night. I prefer to call it by its original title of Good Enough, as it was titled when original written. The Goonies ‘R’ was only tacked on for marketing purposes. I just love this uptempo and rollicking slice of synth-pop. It’s bubbly, bursting with energy, much like Cyndi Lauper herself. So much so, I can’t understand her dislike for the song. In a 1996 interview she said she hated it and it never appeared on any of her albums prior to 2003’s The Essential Cyndi Lauper. It’s still a very popular song with her fans though. I think it’s very underrated. “Good enough for me” indeed!

Year Highlights: Cut Copy – Meet Me In A House Of Love

Back to more familiar musical territory for today’s 2013 highlight. I think Cut Copy are excellent and Free Your Mind is their best album yet. It’s an irresistible homage to the Second Summer of Love. It sounds very authentic which is incredible considering they’re an Australian group.  Meet Me In A House Of Love is one of the best dance songs of 2013 with its pounding synths. It’s my favourite Cut Copy song. It’s just so damn enjoyable. It’s such a climatic dance song, no wonder it’s been serving as an encore on Cut Copy’s current tour. It’s got such a magnetic pull and it demands repeated plays.  Definitely one of the most addictive songs of 2013!

Year Highlight: Nine Inch Nails – Came Back Haunted

If you had have told me a year ago that in 2013 I would love the new Nine Inch Nails album so much that I’d buy a copy nearly on release date, I would have laughed. Well that’s exactly what happened. Hesitation Marks was such an unexpectedly good album for me.The lead singe Came Back Haunted is just irresistible with one of the most blistering chorus’ of 2013. Admittedly – it’s not what I usually listen to. Although credit where it’s due, Trent Reznor is a creative force to be reckoned with as demonstrated with Hesitation Marks. Such a consistently good record. Judging by the quality of Hesitation Marks and debut album Pretty Hate Machine, I definitely need to listen to more Nine Inch Nails.

Year Highlights: David Bowie – Dancing Out In Space

Merry (belated) Christmas everyone! I hope everyone had a lovely day. I certainly did. I was so busy yesterday I couldn’t post my second song out of my seven highlights of 2013. I’ll post two today to make up for that. The first one I want to share is from the most suprising release of 2013. Dancing Out In Space which is from David Bowie’s The Next Day. An absolutely excellent album and it’s quickly become one of my favourite Bowie albums. Yesterday one of my presents was The Next Day Extra which I can’t wait to hear. Dancing Out In Space is a definite highlight from The Next Day. This psychedelic celebration of dance is incredibly uplifting to listen to. Uptempo and addictive, it’s one of my favorite David Bowie songs!