Friday, 13 December 2013

Songs and Shows that saved my life 2013

I think I echo many critics when I say this has been a funny year musically. The ebb and flow of coverage has centred around 'impact' releases, at times it seemed that labels had colluded more than normal to ensure that everyone got a bite of that month long blanket coverage for their showcase release. Leading the pack on wall to wall media was Bowie, who made the cover of every music title for his release and even infiltrated radio programming without actually saying a word. Earl Slick had a very good middle of year as the official spokesman for all things David. Nick Cave, Daft Punk, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys and Haim all became part of this whirl of blitzkrieg media, squeezing the oxygen supply to such an extent that there was precious little room for anything else to breathe around their album releases.

And yet, looking back over the year my favourite records and stand out moments are notably without any of these 'must-have' releases. Parquet Courts, Matthew E White, Daughter and Lorde all crept up on us a little but have ended the year lined up as things to notice for 2014.

As ever my list includes precisely no bands on the roster. this is for two reasons. Firstly it seems churlish to suggest that I like the music and bands that Loudhailer represents, that is very much a given and secondly, were I to include them there would be no room for anyone else. That said, and here's the little plug, particular Loudhailer highlights of 2013 were Night Engine's sold out Borderline show, Editors UK tour and a fourth album of quite remarkable consistency and daring, returning to the fold of The Polyphonic Spree after a long time away and their phenomenal Village Underground show and working with Matt Berry on 'Kill The Wolf', an album I fully expect to be attracting attention for years to come.

The summer took me to Glastonbury (which provides some of my live highlights of this year), Latitude (which supplies the rest and which will forever be remembered by me for Molly headbanging along to Bloc Party on my shoulders) and Reading (which has none, though Night Engine were remarkable - rules, schmules).

So, in time honoured fashion and to add to a teetering pile of 'Best Ofs' here we go

Albums of 2013

1. Savages - Silence Yourself

I have kept coming back to this throughout the year. A rare new band that seemed to have more than a fleeting agenda, whilst some of their interviews made me cringe at times (a Guardian chat in particular sticks in my mind), for a debut 'Silence Yourself' is genuinely remarkable, a musical statement of intent unrivalled by any.

2. Parquet Courts - 'Light Up Gold'

Big thanks to Tim Hall of (then) PIAS for turning me on to this. The first three songs are the best opener to an album I have heard all year and 'Socrates died in the fucking gutter' still makes me smile.

3. Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

Loved her since the debut album. Amazing to watch this career progression and this is, to my mind, her best yet. Wonderful, talented long term artist that the whole country should be proud of. A genius in the making.

4. Primal Scream - More Light

I grew up with Primal Scream. I wanted to be Bobby Gillespie in JAMC days. I own 'Velocity Girl' and its one of those things I would save in a fire. But I thought me and the Scream had parted company of recent times. Then I heard '2013' and I was back in the club immediately. Please god let this be a run of good stuff and not a one-off.....

5. John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts

I liked The Czars and vaguely knew his solo stuff but this, well this was quite an eye opener.

Shows of 2013

1. The Rolling Stones at Glastonbury

Fuck being clever here. I was so excited about this i didn't quite believe I was going to see it until I was in the field and then I don't remember much apart from grinning and dancing until the end of the set. 'Happy', Jumping Jack Flash' 'Paint It Black' were particular highlights, reminding me of my dear departed mum but the whole thing was a proper moment to remember and tell the grandkids. Others thought it was flat, guess we stood in the right place - noatble thanks to Tom Smith for the suicidal but successful (how did he get back into the field?) drinks run - God was on our side etc. Or perhaps my mum had a little hand in it....

2. Bobby Womack at Latitude

It's not often you get to put your four year old daughter in a position where, in later years, she can say 'I saw that legend'. Latitude Sunday afternoon offered just that chance and Bobby Womack was immense. The family Jamieson had a good dance, the kids field didn't matter and everyone had smiles on their faces. Legend.

3. I Am Kloot at Glastonbury

I still say there's no justice that this set wasn't in all the reviews of the weekend. Kloot were stately, funny, thought provoking and downright groovy that afternoon. But those of us who saw it know and that's what really counts. Fuck lost gems, this lot should be up there every album.

4. Savages at Electrowerkz

Like their debut Savages shows are an exercise in totality. The most compelling new band I have seen (outside Loudhailer) by a country mile.

5. Matthew E White at Latitude

I like 'Big Inner' a lot but I like it live a lot more. Country soul revue time. Made our afternoon.

The single that got me this year

Lorde - 'Royals'

Out of nowhere, no hype as such, just a great track with sharp lyrics and a real sense of self. Proof that good music can cut through.

The book I loved

Morrissey - Autobiography

Possibly the least controversial thing I will ever say (if you know me, you'll know this was no contest). the opening 20 pages are some of the finest writing period, the rest is genuinely engaging, even the court stuff has a certain interest to it. Much as I try I can't let go of my love for Morrissey, now Molly is stealing my Smiths cds it seems like the curse has been passed down a generation.

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