Tracks of 2013 – Top 10

It is now time to wrap up the year of music 2013 has given us and what better way to start than with my top 10 tracks of the year. Out of the top 10 there have been tracks that have struck me for their imagination, innovation, risk-taking, melodic mastery and so on. They come from worldwide heavyweights to the more obscure crafters of music and they’ve all been picked from those I have looked at, so please don’t despair if there are any missing artists as they might just have passed me by this year.

10. Paul McCartney – Appreciate


Yes. He is 71. Yes. It is from his album New. No. It isn’t what you are thinking. If you look upon McCartney’s 2013 album; full of nostalgic forays into the past decades of his career, then you’ll see that the man of innovation and risk taking is still there. Appreciate is a hidden gem within the New album. It’s neo-psychedlica curled around a hip hop beat and it has more freshness about it than many of the young artists releasing music this year. That is either a sign of McCartney’s prowess or a sign of the lack of it amongst the new musicians of today.

9. Gaz Coombes – Buffalo

Despite plying his Britpop trade around 20 years ago, Gaz is probably making the most profound and elaborate music of his career. Buffalo is to be a single off his upcoming album which is he is currently working on. If this track is anything to go by then he looks set to expand upon the firm foundations of his debut album from 2012. A dramatic and atmospheric glow as the song progresses through it’s stages of varied tone.

8. Arctic Monkeys – Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?

They perhaps needed to do something bold and different after many saw their fourth album as their comparative worst effort. What I like about this track is that it’s not obviously crammed with reverbing guitars or with Alex Turner rapidly delivering his vocal around it. There’s no hint of desert rock here either. It’s driven by a different source which gives the song an indelible groove while giving it bags of space for a more developed and tuneful vocal from Alex. Perfect example of less being more in terms of production.

7. Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas – Instant Crush

This one of the best tracks off Random Access Memories and it best combines the 70’s and 80’s influences with the typical Daft Punk sound and style. Throw in Julian Casalancas and you have one of the most tuneful and melodic tracks they’ve ever produced. You’re left vulnerable to the plucked, churning of the rhythm much like Andy Summers of The Police produced with Every Breath You Take in 1983. The vocoded vocal is poised in perfect balance to the synths and you can still detect the character of Julian’s voice beneath it. A fantastic piece of electro pop and a change of direction that worked for Daft Punk.

6. Bombay Bicycle Club – Carry Me

Bombay Bicycle Club

A great progression of their music was suggested with Carry Me. Retaining the elements that make them successful is key and they did that. But the re-evaluation was not only needed but works to great results. A mix of subtlety and sheer boldness. All the fine raw elements clashing with the bold industrial sounds while still forging a great spacious and floating harmony and atmosphere. The result of a complex song being instantly accessible through recording skill.

5. Savages – Husbands

Dark, angry , gritty and everything else. This song features the deep rooted bass line which remains about the only constant throughout. Above it is the grinding and screeching guitars with the clashing percussion. Smashing through it are the snarling and bold vocals that evoke a real raw and emotive feel that is shoved right up into your face

4. TOY – Endlessly

TOY followed their debut with a solid second effort in Join The Dots. It gave them a chance to refine and let their sound grow with Endlessly being the prime example of that. That theme of organised chaos holds true again here, yet it is directed into a more distinguished melody which makes it all the more enjoyable. Wonderfully spaced out and atmospheric despite the various elements in action.

3. Jagwar Ma – Man I Need

Man I Need’ is one of the standout tracks from Howlin which instantly sets the tone with the psychedelic whirring along with the wide scope and relaxed urgency of the percussion which is pretty typical of a psychedelic style. The rhythm makes an indelible groove, the percussion plies at it too. Also a magnificent clash of influences to create something new. A standout track from a standout album.

2. The Knife – Full of Fire

This brother and sister duo from Sweden took the traditional notions of song structure, style and context and shredded them into a million pieces. They didn’t just progress their sound to the next level, but to the next light-year. It’s deep, dark and gritty. The industrial grinding of the lower pitched synths and set against the flashing synths sounds above them. The vocals combine with the instrumentals in such a eerie and unfamiliar way that it is at times a wonderfully terrifying experience. The fact it is a ten minute affair only enhances it as you lay on edge at each development of sound. It is almost too advanced to contemplate for some. But at least we now have a possible avenue for musical progression instead of recycling the last 50 years to no end.

1. Rose Elinor Dougall – Future Vanishes

I have to admit that I initially had this track placed further down the top ten. But only after I listened to all the tracks again did I realise that this song was still ingrained in my mind. It then hit me that this track actually fulfils all the criteria I asked for. It has melodies and hook at every turn, it has a magnificent atmospheric quality to it, imaginative in it’s forms and lyrics and innovative in terms of combining pop and electronic features to a psychedelic track. On top of all this is it’s beautiful contradiction of its self. It can send you into an atmospheric and psychedelic trip into the depths of your thoughts or can leave you at the mercy of it’s rhythm and deep rooted groove. It does everything you ask for. Why shouldn’t this track top my list? Is it because she doesn’t sell out arenas or headline Reading and Leeds, or grace the top of the charts? I don’t think so. That’s not what I’m about, but this song is.

This Weeks Music Video

This Weeks Music Video. Videos from Au Revoir Simone with Crazy, Savages with Husbands, The Killers with Shot At The Night and Foals with Out Of The Woods

Savages – Silence Yourself Review

There is quite a bit of excitment about Savages upon the release of their debut album Silence Yourself and the Post punk revival girl band have certianly been causing a stir over about the last two years in tiny, cramped London venues. Places they have been completely owning with the frenzied energy of lead singer Jehnny Beth and the wild gritty instrumentals. Their goal is to get people emotionally and physically invloved with music and rediscover that sort of musical pleasure that hasn’t been experienced in a way such as this since P.I.L or Joy Division and with this they are a sort of unique echo into the past but with an attitude and application that perhaps many musicians could take on; maybe not whole-heartedly but certainly in some ways a lot could be learned from Savages.

‘Husbands’ is a song that lit the fuse in terms of grabbing everyones attention by the collar in what is one of many songs that convey the feeling of an intense live performance from them into an album song. The bass is constantly fluxuating up and down the neck of the bass guitar in such an effortless fashion like a twisted version of McCartney on all the LSD he could ever want! They band themselves switch from the muted sound for every line Jehnny sings and to a rousing blast of guitar and cymbals at the end of it and then falling back into the bass driven, lyrical section of the song for another line with such discipline. Even when she whispers ‘husbands’ it’s in such a frantic and ‘on edge’ manner that is complimented by that bass line yet again. A great song to get the intrigue going. ‘She Will’ is one of the centre points of the album that starts of with the gradual build up of all the musical elements in a rather considered manner that allows focus on the vocals and lyrics which demonstrate Jehnny’s vocals well and the build up of grinding guitar for the chorus that leads on to just her vocals and the constant cymbal clash and the repetitive nature of the song towards the end ushers in the rythm and bass guitars back in and results in a further build up of sound from all those involved.

With ‘Shut Up’ the bass again from Ayse Hassan just kills me while the song works in harmony amongst that element along with the rousing and rapid guitar sections and again the cymbal driven purges of percussion inbetween. Lets not forget Jehnny’s vocals that again take the song to a higher level of intensity to mirror their aims about what they wish to do to people’s perception of music perhaps. With ‘I Am Here’ the band in effortless fashion take on a start-stop approach thats works in a wonderful way to sort of emphasise the end of every line sung. ‘City’s Full’ is jam packed with deep and dark bass lines and disstorted guitars which leads to a disstorted bass line for the chorus that provides a dark and intense hook to the song and to be honest Hassan’s bass lines provide that element throughout the album. Lyrically and vocally Jehnny Beth is both thought provoking and wild and intense dually which for most musicians; it’s hard to do either. Gemma Thompsons guitar provides the song with an alertness which gives scope for Jehnny’s vocal performance and the constant crash of cymbals from Fay Milton keeps the song on it’s own edge too and simply adds to the intensity (yes I said it again). Their ideas about image and music should certainly be heeded amongst other musicians but whether the album is for everyone im not sure. It might be too much for someone else but not for me. Even it it was the musical discipline and obvious talent of all the members is clear to see and they don’t seem to have any hidden agenda or motivation either, They lay everything out in their music alone. Not even in their image. This for me is refreshing and they themselves have left themselves with the difficult task of the second album. But that dreaded phase I doubt will effect them at all. They seem so cool and at ease with their music and Silence Yourself is the result. Just be sure to take in the depth and meaning of the album too, so don’t judge it on first impressions.

Savages – Silence Youself = 9/10

File:Savages - Silence Yourself.jpg

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