March: Woodkid – The Golden Age
Yoann Lemoine, in his guise as Woodkid, released his long anticipated album ‘The Golden Age’ in March 2013, two years after his first EP ‘Iron’. And the fans, who have been kept waiting since March 2011 have been rewarded with the gift of this experimental and captivating album. The title track may at first lure you into thinking that this is just another soft-sounding alternative album, but prepare to be proved wrong. Drama is the name of Woodkid’s game, and the powerful french horns and sweeping strings accompanying his silky smooth tones bring a whole new, almost neoclassical element to the album. ‘Run Boy Run’ and ‘I Love You’ along with the single are worth investing your time in.
March: Peace – In Love
If you thought 2013 has been defined by house and garage, you’ve missed out. Peace have figure headed a Birmingham guitar resurgence which is set to continue into next year. Yeah they might be arty wannabes, Peace was enough but ‘In Love’ is just taking the piss – but they are the best England has to offer right now so we can let them off. ‘Wraith’ has quickly become an integral part of the MIC soundtrack thanks to it’s funky riff and cocaine references, whilst ‘Follow Baby’ is the grunge anthem this 90s comeback needs to get itself off.
March: Bastille – Bad Blood
Bastille have achieved huge success over the past year, reaching number 2 in the UK singles charts with ‘Pompeii’ just days before the release of their chart topping album Bad Blood. This hipster-pop group have successfully pushed the usual chart boundaries, competing with the likes of Rhianna and One Direction to produce a fresh and eclectic sound which is becoming increasingly sought after. That hairspray-addicted frontman managed to get a song inspired by ancient Rome into the mainstream for the first time since Foals’ 2007 hit ‘Cassius’. Notable tracks include ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’, a translation of his heartbreak and ‘Laura Palmer’ which the band members poured their souls into, turning an idol into a blood-racing anthem.
March: OneRepublic – Native
“Lately, I’ve been losing sleep” states Ryan Tedders in OneRepublic’s single ‘Counting Stars’. Yes, losing sleep waiting for the release of OneRepublic’s latest album ‘Native’ after the band delayed the release of the album choosing not to rush what they wanted to be their ‘best album ever’. Well OneRepublic never fails to impress; listening to its captivating singles such as ‘Counting stars’ and ‘If I lose myself’ mixed with the musical masterpieces of ‘Light It Up’ and ‘What You Wanted’ both caters for the more mainstream audience whilst also keeping to its gracious lyrical roots and hence becoming the bands highest charting album to date.
April: James Blake – Overgrown
Despite top competition James Blake become the first electronic producer in several years to win the mercury award for his album Overgrown. His brand of sexually frustrated vocal loops, crooning around mournfully, perfect beats, especially on ‘overgrown’ and ‘retrograde’. Please take a minute to watch his incredibly awkward interview with Newsnight, it speaks volumes about his musical style and just how complex the idea of post-dubstep is to grasp for anyone over 35.
April: Kurt Vile – Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze
“Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze”, Kurt Vile’s biggest release so far, gives the slacker rock genre its most ambitious and intimate album yet. The confident but often self-deprecating lyrics are both witty and thoughtful, while his versatile, guitar-driven sound is made satisfyingly tight due to the fact that he and his band are capable of making their performance as loose and sometimes lazy as possible (especially on “Never Run Away”) without going too far. It’s a long album, and you’d expect Vile to eventually lose steam, but he doesn’t – this album delivers from beginning to end. Best tracks: “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, “Was All Talk” and “Pure Pain”.
May: Disclosure – Settle
Following the popularity of ‘Latch’ in 2012, Surrey band Disclosure’s first album from was certainly highly anticipated. It takes UK garage to a new place by showing an awareness of a general pop aesthetic but retains the classic electronic and house-like drops. Each collaborator brings a fantastic level of variety to their tracks. We see the likes of Sam Smith, Ed MacFarlane and London Grammar appearing and their individuality provides the foundation for the brothers to produce some use their number one formula.. Highlights include ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ and ‘You & Me’. Disclosure’s signature sound has come to define pretty much every night out you’ve been on this year., we’ve definitely all had the same bass faces ‘When A Fire Starts To Burn’ gets dropped.
April: Fallout Boy – Save Rock and Roll
In one of the biggest come-backs of the year, Fall Out Boy released their hotly anticipated album, Save Rock and Roll. The album brought with it a new edge to FOB’s sound, showing just how far the band have come since announcing their hiatus. With catchy lyrics throughout, each song was worthy of being a hit, placing this as one of their best albums yet. And with numerous collaborations such as Big Sean, Courtney Love and indeed Elton John, this was one certainly not to be missed! Stand out tracks:The Phoenix, Alone Together, Young Volcanoes.
May: Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle
Once I Was An Eagle marks a departure for Laura Marling; rougher, darker and much more self-assured. OIWAE deals with the fallout from a failed relationship: loss, pain and eventual acceptance. Previous albums had a somewhat literary, dreamlike focus: OIWAE is gritty and deeply personal, almost Bob Dylan-esque, with childhood and naiveté as constant themes throughout. Her range has expanded and her guitar playing, particularly on Little Love Caster, with its delicate Spanish guitar, is beautiful throughout. And don’t forget: she’s only 23. The waifish ingénue of English folk has so much more to offer. Best tracks: Once, Where Can I Go?, Master Hunter.
May: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
This year saw the eagerly awaited return of electro legends Daft Punk. Random Access Memories elevated the duo to unforeseen critical acclaim, surpassing their previous studio releases. Although Daft Punk fanatics were disappointed with the progression away from the synthesized techno of classic Daft Punk, RAM represents, in Giovanni Georgio’s own words, “the sound of the future” with a new focus on a disco-funk sound and the importance of live instruments. The surreal tones combined with musical nostalgia and remarkable collaborations culminate in 80 minutes of unbeatable melodies. Seminal tracks include ‘Give Life Back to Music’, ‘Instant Crush’ and ‘Within’, marking Random Access Memories as the pinnacle of Daft Punk’s creativity and innovation.
June: Kanye West – Yeezus
Kanye West came, he saw (Jay Z’s poor album), he fucked shit up. Yeezus is the filthiest album of the year and it was as damn moreish as heroin, one listen here never enough. As always it was controversial, I’m physically not allowed to quote the sweet and sour sauce line. But less outrageous songs like ‘Bound 2’ and ‘Blood on the Leaves’ display the sampling genius of this record, combined with impeccably, innovative lyrics. Jesus, I mean, Yeezus will undoubtedly go down as a landmark record, just for ‘I am a God’ ft. God.
June: Tom Odell – Long Way Down
Any album that peaks at number one in the album charts is almost certainly going to be a good one and with Long Way Down only being Tom Odell’s first album I’m already expecting big things for his second. It’ll most definitely get you humming on the bus and lighten your mood if it’s chilly. Odell completes it with his powerful voice that has just that hint of vulnerability, making it one to remember. It’s hard to pick just a few favourites as the dulcet piano and strong percussion throughout make it so good to listen to all at once. Saying this ‘I Know’ will always get me singing, ‘Supposed to Be ’ will get you thinking and ‘Can’t Pretend’ has to be a classic.
July: Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus
Electronic duo Fuck Buttons’ third studio album, Slow Focus, is an absolute gem. Textured, vibrant and thoroughly trance inducing, each track offers something different amidst the complex and captivating feel of the album generally. Transcending their own genre in a multitude of ways, a wonderful darkness lingers throughout the record – there’s something in the screeching loops and hypnotic percussion that unexpectedly combines to produce music that just works, no explanation necessary. If you’re seeking musical escapism, look no further : Fuck Buttons know how to produce eminently listenable yet surprising, multi-faceted tunes. Recommended tracks: Brainfreeze, Sentients, Stalker.
August: Swim Deep – Where The Heaven Are We
Birmingham-based Swim Deep made our respective suns shine with this beach-ready collection of songs, released just in time for our summer playlists. The combination of hazy synths and Williams’ gentle vocals are a winner and provide a great variety of songs, from the swaggering melancholy of ‘King City’, to the joyful tones of ‘Honey’ and the majestic ‘Soul Trippin’. Despite the album being a top twenty hit, the band are still based on a Tumblr page and getting steadily more well-known. Watch out for big things in 2014.
August: Jagwar Ma – Howlin’
Any Madchester fans out there will be easily attracted to this album – I know I was. But “Howlin” is more than a simple throwback album, made accessible and enduring because it not only contains the psychedelic dance sensibilities of bands like The Stone Roses or Primal Scream – it lives up to the euphoric “past was yours but the future’s mine” atmosphere of that movement. Even if this was released in 1990 and heard in Manchester’s Hacienda nightclub, songs like The Throw would still be recognised as instant, exhilarating classics of indie dance. Best tracks: “The Throw”, “Man I Need” and “Backwards Berlin”.
September: Avicii – True
Avicii began as a hard hitting EDM artist, but his latest album suggests otherwise with heavy folk influences presumably from a Ralph Lauren Denim agreement. True incorporates a range of other artists, such as Aloe Blacc on ‘Wake Me Up’, which is just the start of this newfound country influence. ‘You Make Me’ features Salem Al Fakir (‘Silhouettes’) to create a new sense of EDM that appeals to a larger audience with alternative and indie elements. ‘Shame On Me’ encompasses jive-like beats that could easily feature on the ‘Great Gatsby’ soundtrack. Avicii has tactfully merged other genres in True.
September: Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film
A band who can effortlessly reinvent themselves and still stay true to their spirit take a moment to reflect in Rewind the Film. They still have plenty to say but lament the failure of music to mobilise a generation in the way they’d hoped. Quietly they lay down the mantle… for now. Stand out tracks include ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ (ft. Lucy Rose), ‘As Holy as the Soil’ (a loving tribute to lost band-mate Richey Edwards) and ‘30 Year War’ (a vitriolic assault on British government of the last three decades).
October: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz
Not just a twerking, tongue pointing superstar; this personality has produced some sickeningly catchy songs. Most notably ‘We Can’t Stop’ which reached Number 1 in the UK with it’s ironically sad depth, yet heavy-partying lyrics. Recently ‘Wrecking Ball’ climbed the ranks to achieve Number 1 in which Miley seemingly poured her soul into this Ballard. The opening song ‘Adore You’ follows a similar sadness, though it is more of an easy-listening piece, with softer, simpler lyrics. Wherever Cyrus goes, there will be a trail of controversy in her wake.