The votes are in *, the jury has sat **, and the die is cast ***. The Every Record Tells A Story Albums of the Year 2013 have been decided upon.
And what a year it has been. Thanks to Spotify, I have been able to give insufficient thought, time and consideration to so many more artists than I ever was able to before. Some albums I didn’t even listen to the end of **** before I cast aside months of someone else’s life’s work – spurning them, in the nicest possible way, as I would a rabid dog. ***** There have been some great new albums this year, and reading these lists is a great way to catch up on what we might have missed. It is also tempting to have a list of albums that weren’t released this year, but which I have listened to properly for the first time. I have “discovered” albums by Elvis Costello, The Kinks, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Pink Floyd and Jesus and Mary Chain among many others – thankfully for the artists concerned the rest of the world discovered them first…
It turns out there’s a lot to be said for buying stuff, as parting with the hard-earned does somewhat focus the mind and makes sure that you give a record another listen before shuffling on to something else. It is telling that only two of the final ten albums on the list involve artists I have not ended up buying on vinyl or CD, or seeing live, or both.
So without further nonsense from me, I am pleased to announce The Every Record Tells A Story Album of 2013 is Drenge’s debut album:
1. Drenge – Drenge
From out of nowhere (well, Derbyshire) came this guitar-abusing, drum-bashing, fanzine-producing teenage duo with the year’s most raucous album. Drenge is a brilliant mix of riffery and confused teenagers trying to make sense of a crazy world. Catharsis is achieved by turning up the volume knob and playing loud. A superb debut.
2. Queens of the Stone Age – Like Clockwork
A mature, standout album from Josh Homme and co. Their best record since “Songs For The Deaf“, with more depth than a first growth claret. It’s always a good sign if an album is released in the first part of the year and you are still finding new things to enjoy about it in December.
3. John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts
2013 was the year I finally believed in Ghosts. Pale Green ones only of course. I missed Grant’s debut (don’t worry, I have made up for lost time) but this was a stand out – a little different to everything else out there, with some vitriolic, sad and very witty, lyrics.
4. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
After the pop sensibilities of previous albums, Goldfrapp produced a stunning set of torch songs each with a beautiful, cinematic air, evoking Ennio Morricone soundtracks.
5. Suede – Bloodsports
Almost overshadowed by Bowie’s comeback – announced in the same week – Suede quietly produced a stunning album that stands tall against their first three records. They were brilliant live too.
6. David Bowie – The Next Day
Sprung on us like a surprise party, only one we actually wanted and never thought we’d get, Bowie’s The Next Day was a sprawling seventeen song double album – and that’s before the CD of extras released in November. But tracks such as “Where Are We Now”, “Valentines Day“, “If You Can See Me” ( in fact the whole of side 2) “Dancing Out In Space” et al showed Bowie has lost none of his class.
7. The National – Trouble Will Find Me
A friend calls this Mope-Rock. My wife found it annoying… but I really warmed to this record. Some beautiful tunes, played in an understated manner.
9. Arcade Fire – Reflektor
Good to see a band that doesn’t rest in its laurels. Whilst not (for me at least) reaching the heights of “The Suburbs”, this is a fine album.
10. Pond – Hobo Rocket
Creeping up quietly into the last spot is this year’s psychedelic (and rather silly) masterpiece, Hobo Rocket by Pond. I found this on Spotify and not knowing anything about them, thought I’d found the new Tame Impala. It turns out that is literally true as three of them have played in both bands. They are more like “the old Tame Impala” as it happens. This is a great record, especially if you have been looking for a crazy version of Led Zep, Flaming Lips T-Rex and Tame Impala. And we’ve all been looking for one of those, right?
Just scraping underneath the top ten:
Arctic Monkeys – AM
Sheffield’s finest primates are maturing nicely. There’s even a Black Sabbath nod in “Arabella” whilst fans of Turner’s “Submarine” soundtrack will enjoy the more reflective moments on side 2.
So there it is for another year. What were your favourites? Let me know what I’m missing in the comments section below.
Record #262: Drenge – Bloodsports
- *, **, *** Literally, none of these things happened. It’s just me, making a list. Just like every other damn music website. But let’s not kill the mystery.
- **** This only happened once. Sorry Factory Floor – I was in a grumpy mood and you’re just not my thing at all.
- ***** I can’t think why more music sites haven’t asked me to write the introductory paragraphs for their albums of the year….