The Best of 2013

So, where does a year go? As we march tiredly towards the season of the Santa I offer below my year in music. Rather than doing a top ten this year it’s a chronology of the new music that crossed my radar. I struggle with lists by preference as I tend to appreciate the latest discovery or release more (a bit like having children!). In some cases they actually raised their heads during different months, sometimes in response to gigs and sometimes because I found them on This Is My Jam, which is one of the best places to find new bands and rediscover songs long forgotten. Hopefully the You Tube links will be stable for a little while but catch them while you can and my apologies for any regional restrictions encountered. Take your time, it’s all worth checking out.

 01 – Jan – La Busta Gialla  – Il Sogno Del Marinaio

Featuring Mike Watt, bass player with the Stooges, fIREhOSE, J Mascis and the marvelous Minutemen I caught Il Sogno Del Marinaio at a tiny venue in Leicester. A very individual album, more of a song cycle than a set of songs and with wide ranging references. I blogged a little about it here.

Partisan Song by Il Sogno del Marinaio

02 – Jan – Lady From Shanghai – Pere Ubu

I saw Pere Ubu many years ago in London and they are one of those mythic bands that drift into memory. I was surprised to see that they were playing at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham and not knowing their recent (and consistently strange) output over recent years was intrigued to take a look. David Thomas is an idiosyncratic artist. Well worth reading more about if you like your artists focused on the process and not the audience. Real grumpy as well. The gig was 90% new material form the current record.

414 Seconds by Pere Ubu

03 – Feb – m.b.v – My Bloody Valentine

A lot has been written about m.b.v. Snook out after 14 years in production via their website one Sunday night in February it was universally well received. But you know all this. If I was scoring them this would be in the upper reaches.

New You by My Bloody Valentine

04 – Feb – Push the Sky Away – NCATBS

Nick Cave is one of my favourite artists and this is a beautiful album. A fairly small set of Bad Seeds used on this but to great effect. An artist so far ahead of the pack and I suspect still heading to the top of game (to mix a few metaphors). This album features one the greatest opening song lyrics ever committed – see Mermaids. Bad man….

Jubilee Street by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

05 – Feb – AMOK – Atoms For Peace

Tom Yorke and his ‘super group’ Atoms for Peace. An expansion of his previous solo album and another diverse mix of styles and references. As with all super groups the end doesn’t always equal the sum of the parts but engaging and original non the less.

Amok by Atoms for Peace

06 – Feb – The Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories – Steven Wilson

An artist new to me and discovered through TIMJ. It’s probably been used but think contemporary Mike Oldfield. Keeping the prog flag flying.

The Raven That Refused to Sing by Steve Wilson

07 – March – Next Day – David Bowie

Another artist sneaking a new project out with ut warning after extended leave. He followed up ‘Where Are We Now’ with the brilliant ‘Next Day’ album. Still milking the franchise with an ‘extra’ edition somewhat cynically but the original song set was an impressive return. This was my favourite track and has a great video.

The Stars Are Out Tonight by David Bowie

08 – March – Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

Thurston Moore, after quitting Sonic Youth and splitting with Kim Gordon released his contribution to the new projects from Lee Renaldo and Gordon. Still very ‘Youth’. Would have loved to see them live but the tour was cursory in the UK.

Burroughs by Chelsea Light Moving

09 – March – The Invisible Way – Low

Low first came to my attention when Robert Plant covered a couple of their songs and since then I’ve amassed quite a few of their many albums. They all have a different character and the Invisible Way is quite subtle in many ways. Managed to see them in November and they give good gig. Their mastery of the quite / loud dynamic is black belt standard.

Plastic Cup by Low

10 – May – More Light – Primal Scream

I played this album to death when it came out. A massive double album with some impressive material. The song below is probably one of the more low key tracks but the mixed up second half really makes it work. The album also featured a slightly cleaned up version of the Grinderman ‘Worm Tamer’ track which was a surprise.

River of Pain by Primal Scream

11 – June – Tomorrows Harvest – Boards of Canada

One of those bands I had heard about but not really experimented with. In many ways they have become a softer experience and I prefer the earlier ‘left field’ albums. Still an interesting record when taken at the appropriate time.

Reach for the Dead by Boards of Canada

12 – July – Peace, Love & Sympathy – Six By.Seven

A new Six By.Seven album from Chris Olley. I know Chris a little bit and he is a committed and prolific artist. Along with his solo and electro beat music he got the band back together with a brilliant and dynamic new drummer for this album. Their homecoming gig in Nottingham was huge and really enjoyable. More about that here including a live version of this track.

Sympathy by Six By.Seven

13 – July – Slow Focus – Fuck Buttons

Like the Boards of Canada I was encouraged to try this record. Sonic terrorists with flashing lights. Unfortunately I missed their local gig but I’ve very much enjoyed discovering their material.

Brainfreeze by Fuck Buttons

14 – July – The Big Dream – David Lynch

Just incredible. David Lynch makes unique music. This is darker than Crazy Clown Time and features Lynch on some very distorted guitar and heavily processed vocals. There is nothing else like it. He post released an additional track ‘Bad the John Boy’ which is so dark it sucks light out the room.

Star Dream Girl by David Lynch

15 – Aug – Civil Wars – Civil Wars

Nu-Folk but done well (think, completely unlike Mumford & Sons). It was however pretty much this track that I bought the album for. A cover of the Smashing Pumpkins epic, Disarm.

Disarm by Civil Wars

16 – Aug – The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) – Bob Dylan

The Bobcat came out with Vol 10 of the Bootleg series and a real curve ball choice. Featuring material from Self Portrait & New Morning as well as the Isle of Wight concert in 1970 it was probably the lowest down most Dylanites list of preferred re-issues. It does however sound fresh and alive and proves Dylans history isn’t just his presumed classics.

Pretty Saro by Bob Dylan

17 – Sept – And I’ll Scratch Yours – Various – Peter Gabriel

Completing his ‘Scratch my Back’ project, this compilation of Gabriel songs features a number of artists covering his songs. A mixed bag but with some highlights. This being the highest even before the poignancy of Lou’s demise.

Solsbury Hill – Lou Reed

18– Sept – Dream River – Bill Callahan

Another highlight. I became aware of Bill/Smog through I Break Horses a couple of years ago. His album though is very high up the list of memorable 2013 issues. Lyrically and musically individual. Another sadly brief number of UK shows, maybe next time.

Javelin UnLanding by Bill Callahan

19 – Sept – Man & Myth – Roy Harper

And another artist steeping out of retirement with a solid return. I was never the biggest Harper fan but he does have moments of genius. Unfortunately his year went downhill but the jury is still out.

The Exile by Roy Harper

20 – Oct – Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam

Eddie and the Lightening Rods flashing around again. Not peak era Pearl Jam but good for a blast. Maybe they are just too big now.

Sirens by Pearl Jam

21 – Oct – Last Night on Earth – Lee Ranaldo & the Dust

More ex-Sonic Youth output. Of all of them this is my favourite and it’s been hammered in the car. With Youth drummer Steve Shelly included it has some huge songs and great guitar work outs. Another band very high on the ‘wltm’ list.

The Rising Tide by Lee Ranaldo & the Dust

22 – Oct – Birmingham (Live) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

As a long standing fan of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel I don’t know why I missed the live shows but at least the double album release of Human Menagerie & Psychomodo turned out well. Exhuberant performances of some timeless songs.

Tumbling Down by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

23 – Nov – Sweet Summer Sun, Hyde Park 2013 – Rolling Stones

Yep. The Stones got it back together and they are still breathing and on good form. I wasn’t there. I don’t like crowds…..

Miss You by the Rolling Stones

24 – Dec – Live from KCRW – NCATBS

A possibly opportunistic live release of some material from Push The Sky Away and a few other tracks. However, its completely brilliant, especially Higgs Boson Blues (absolutely the best song of the year) and an evil version of Jack The Ripper.

Mercy Seat by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

25 – Dec – Live from the Cellar Door – Neil Young

Cheating slightly here because at the time of writing this hasn’t been released. I have heard about half of it though and I’m really looking forward to it.

Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young

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