Oh how I love the music press in the UK. Never letting any band pass you by that has written at least one half-decent song. The NME is the prime example for making two elephants out of a bit of fly-excrements. So now after “only seven weeks into 2013” they make us look forward to 30 unmissable albums that (might) be released over the remaining 10 months of the year.
I gave you my views on the BBC longlist a while ago, and after reading the NME article, I could not hold back. It just offers too many opportunities to deliver this article. Just keep in mind that these are in parts very personal views. You might disagree and I would actually love this. Just leave a comment or send me an angry message on Facebook or whatever. So here they are, the 30 unmissable albums of 2013:
1. Arctic Monkeys – What a band they used to be right? Their debut was a blast. Arguably one of the most exciting debuts of recent times. What followed afterwards was a good follow up. Then it went a bit tits up really. Alex Turner going all mental with MTV presenter Alexa Chung. The drummer went all mates with P Diddy and stuff and the rest did keep to themselves (thank fuck for that). Then they decided to go to the desert to record with Josh Homme. No matter how much respect I have for that guy, the album sucked. Funny that their follow up had a single called “Suck it and See”. A pointless album really. And for me they managed to steer themselves into irrelevance with that one. Still, there might be a return to their great songwriting skills. But after one of their mums tweeted that they’re back in the desert, my hopes are not hanging too high.
2. Arcade Fire – this one, I am actually looking forward to. If they managed to continue their impressive track record of great music. We might really be in for a treat with this one. Mind you though, Canadians do love their kitsch as much as Americans do. I am not hoping for them to do a Stars…
3. Kings of Leon – I think it was the NME that once published a story about Caleb Followill getting beat up in a London pub because “he tried to look too much like the leadsinger of Kings of Leon”. I’m sure the magazine fully supported the band right from the beginning. I was living in Liverpool, when the band totally went through the roof with their fourth record. Unfortunately what followed wasn’t really related to their music anymore. The band got pooped on by pigeons, walked off stage because of drinking problems and released an album that couldn’t keep up with its predecessor in terms of commercial success. What nobody can dispute though is the unique voice and the great songwriting the band possess. A new album might be a complete failure or a resurrection of one of the biggest bands in rock of the last decade.
4. The Strokes – Another one of those durgged up frontman… It was at the Southside Festival in the south of Germany a couple of years ago, when I saw them live. They were headlining the main stage and were on just after Faithless. It was a disaster. I don’t want to say that they were crap, they played every song I wanted to hear, all their hits, they nailed them too. But Julian Casablancas, the little prick was doing nothing all night but mumbling into the microphone, laughing about his own jokes that he probably only made in his head. Then came their last record: “Angeles”.
5. Savages – Oh yeah, an all girl post-punk band. Cool. They are from New York right? Cool. They probably live in Brooklyn. Cool. They probably all went to art school. Cool. Actually this bores me.
6. Haim – Their first singles were brilliant. For some reason I thought this whole 80s revival was sucked and dry, but their songs sound so fresh. I really hope the album manages to convince. I would actually cry if they’d turn out to be a “few singles band”!
7. Palma Violets – Oh yes, this could be as close to a good guitar record as it will get for British music. Those of you who have been following this blog will have noticed that there is plenty of guitar driven noisey music out there in the US, Germany and in the UK too (more on that soon), but Palma Violets might be able to live up to the hype. Their debut 180, named after the art space they practice in (anyone remember this band?), it boasts an organ(!), some reverb ridden guitars, crashing drums and some soulful overdriven vocals. Nice!
8. Peace – So Sony (i.e. Columbia) has found their very own answer to Warner Music’s Foals… Apparently the NME is so hooked on the record that it has been spinning on heavy rotation. Nice. But do I look like I give a shit? The 2012 EP Delicious has some added Britpop vibes and while they manage to pull off the quirky guitar work, they haven’t yet found a way to reproduce the intensity Foals manage to capture. It is a very British thing in its essence. Will work fine over there I guess. There will be enough hipsterkids with totebags, badly shaved hair and glasses they don’t need, around Europe to make this the next shit-hot thing. Have to admit though, there could be hope. A 60s revival could be on.
9. Howler – The hype surrounding their debut album totally passed me bye. Some decent reviews they got, but the album artwork was so off-putting I never gave them a chance. So now the NME is telling us that their new record is going to be “more folky” and will have a “Woody Guthrie vibe”. Add the pretentious philosophy lectures at Bristol university and you definitely lost my interest. What’s next? Probably recording in Berlin as it is such a “vibrant place” or something.
10. Warpaint – An all girl band? – Go on. – They managed not to completely fuck up Ashes to Ashes by Bowie? – Yes, I’m listening. – They made this video clip. – You’re running the danger of losing me again. – They named a song after their bandname. – So uncool that it’s cool again. – John Frusciante likes them. – Hmm…this could be a hit or miss. – Let’s just wait for the new album. – Sound then.
11. MGMT – It’s quite obvious that almost everybody between the age of 18 and 29 has danced one of MGMTs songs off their debut album. It’s a modern classic. I’m also quite certain that a lot of people have a little story to tell about their favourite song from this band. Was it so surprising that a band that sang aout heroin, cocaine and fucking with stars in the very first song of their debut album, went a little bit nuts on their follow up? They showed a lot of courage to net bend over for the pressure of commercial success. And in the end they created this brilliant video for Congratulations! So the next record is supposedly even weirder. If they’d just make a 50 minute video instead I’m sure it would leave the waiting in a state of utter mayhem. Let’s hope their LSD infused writing sessions leave us with an end-product worth cherishing.
12. Wild Beasts – Could all those pretentious philosophy mindfuck bands just leave it? Where has the rock in rock gone?
13. Babyshambles – Oh come on. Are you joking NME? What is it with your addiction to this fragile on and off heroine wreck? “Fuck Forever” was alright, but he’s never managed to release any song of any sort of relevance since the Libertines. Doherty has become a tabloid zombie and now that there are no more stories about him in the Sun he comes up with some music? What a waste of hard-disc space this is proving to be.
14. Hurts – I have no idea why Depeche Mode are one of the biggest bands on this planet. Maybe it has got something to do with the 1980s being too full of cocaine. And all those cool kids back then, with their pants under their armpits, shiny shoes, slick hair and money have turned out to be this generations wet dreams. So now I realize that I am not actually talking about Depeche Mode but about two slick dorks from Mad-Chester that just sound exactly like Depeche Mode. But then, they’re from Manchester…maybe for their second record they decided to explore the psychedelic offerings of generation hacienda
15. Suede – last of the big Britpop bands that needed to reunite. Maybe a few years late, but noone can complain about them trying to delve into the pockets of desperate 30-somethings that where young, when they were young. Inevitable comeback.
16. Eminem – He’s a quality act, isn’t he? From white trailer trash to rap superstar with his first album. He’s bemused us with his “notgivingasinglefuck” attitude, allegedly dated two of the hottest singers of my youth and made fun of it afterwards in a music video. He won an oscar, he fought with his on and off wife (without beating her to shit like Chris Brown) and then disappeared before reappearing with not one but two albums. So another three years later a new album is in the pipeline. Should be alright this.
17. David Bowie – I was bitterly dissapointed with his new single. He’s an institution. Therefore he can do whatever he wants. Doesn’t get my feet icky though.
18. Atoms for Peace – People will hate me for this: I was never a fan of Radiohead. No matter how hard I tried I just found their music too exhausting to get into. All these different layers without getting to the point. Thom York’s voice… You might be confused as I absolutely adore Chris Simpson, and he has a really weepy voice. In that context though, I don’t mind. York just never got to me. Even more shocking would be telling you that I prefer Radiohead’s early work (Oh no he didn’t). York’s venture into electronica is not surprising. I’ll give it a try, but I doubt it will make 2013 more bearable.
20. The Horrors – Could be alright.
21. Klaxons – I had a dram once, that I was on holidays in an old medieval town in Croatia (never been there, never seen it, if you’re a shrink, tell me what this could mean). It was the end of the day and I somehow ended up with some “friends” (never seen them in my entire life) on a rooftop that happened to be a bar. From the bar we had a perfect view over a little plaza. Klaxons played that plaza – I am not even sure if I had heard more songs than Golden Skans back then. That same dream also made me meet Uffie and Katy Perry at the same party. Weird it was indeed. Has this got anything to do with their new album? No. But maybe I’ll have some more lucid dreams after a few doses of it. Apparently it’s going back to their “rave roots”…As if we needed some more of that.
22. Miles Kane – Wow, what a beast of a song he has churned out as a teaser for the upcoming album! I’ve never properly given the lad a chance, but after listening to the three songs of that single on rotation I’m getting more and more excited. Might this be a proper rock record? Dirty, fast, furious, angry? It all seems to be there for the taking. Go for it Miles!
23. White Lies – They were like the Cover of the cover of the cover of the cover of Joy Division. I saw them live in Liverpool touring their first record. People were freaking out, when they came on stage. Me and a friend left after two songs. It was aweful, cold and as far away from the crowd as one can get – unless you’re watching Bono. Then they churned out some radio-friendly singles on their second album, made it to the center stages of some festivals. I doubt they’ll manage to reach that peak again. And commercial success doesn’t mean they produce remarkable music. Bloody average!
24. Azealia Banks – The female rapper that has received so much praise in advance to even releasing a single album. Her youtube videos and the few songs she released on the net seem to be enough these days to become a star and get into every club via the guestlist. A shame really thinking that she hasn’t reached the potential she promised with her first track 212. Since then she prefers to place herself as a narrow-minded nobhead fulfilling every single cliché a male rapper ever accumulated. Well done Azealia, I don’t give a fucking fuck about your album.
25. These New Puritans – Is this Nine Inch Nails without the urgency of Trent Reznor? Or is it Pendulum without the stadium-dub-step? Or is it the soundtrack to the Blade Runner remake? Or is it Grime for white folks? Or is it bored A&Rs having a laugh? Or is it… Can’t find anything appealing for myself in their sound.
26. Queens of the Stone Age – Oh, so Dave Grohl is on the drums again? Let’s hope for a Rated R rather then a Lullabies to Paralyze then. Is it possible that Josh Homme is missing the nutcase that is Nick Oliveri?
27. Vampire Weekend – There are some bands that you know you should like, but no matter how hard you try, you cannot manage to connect. Radiohead are my personal prime example (see 18). Vampire Weekend are somewhat similar. I know I should like them, they are doing something different. All these dancey guitars, the smart lyrics, artwork and attitude all add to it. In the end I seem to miscalculate something though. I’m sure a lot of people are waiting for this album. I am 100% sure that I will listen to it, but unless there’s less flute and more distortion, I’m afraid my result will be different to all those indie kids again.
28. Noah And The Whale – I bought their 2nd album The First Days of Spring as a present for my then girlfriend. We used to love hanging around in bed listening to indie. She’d always ask me what I’d put on, the next time I went round her place, she’d bought or downloaded the record. She was cool, she had a great taste in music, she introduced me to Modest Mouse, and I spent great 6 months with her until the love had faded. Splitting up is part of life and the breakup wasn’t too bad. What hurt more was losing this Noah and the Whale record. It is the perfect soundtrack to ending a relationship without creating a mood of “iamsodepressedithinkiamgoingtokillmyself”. It is beautiful. Another thing that makes it even more painful to have given the album away is, that it was a special edition. It came in a book-like format including a bonus dvd. The artwork was great and the dvd had the whole album as a film on it. But I am bemoaning the loss especially for two extra videos that showed the band play in a small New York appartement. Less of a session, more a hippy meeting with some weed-smoking kids on a sofa and the band circled in the middle. During the second song they get up and walk through the stairway and onto the street singing and playing a song. The band comes across as a very likable bunch. Their last album brought a radio friendly single that made the heavy rotation in other European countries too. But it was a lot sunnier than their previous album. I’m looking forward to hearing where their journey takes them next.
29. Beady Eye – I shit you not, this band made the cut. For what reason? Honestly?
30. Tribes – I got really excited about them at one point. A few weeks before my internship at their label ended, their record came in. My boss put it on straight away and I really dug that whole Weezer like feel of the first songs I heard. Unfortunately it turned out that their album only had about 4 good songs – and they were the first 4 on the record. The rest is rubbish. Hope is what’s left though.