The top song race has been made slightly easier by employing the use of a 'smart playlist' in iTunes to take advantage of my personal rating system of 3 stars (good) and 5 stars (great) for relevant tracks.
All I need to tell iTunes is to compile a list of these rated songs that I have added during 2013, and there I had my instant shortlist. Hooray for smart playlists!!
However with this starting off with 71 tracks, a fair amount of the last month has been spent whittling that down to 27 great songs. I now have 6 tracks locked in, with 10 others fighting for the last 2 spots.
The albums list is a different process, but one of the big reasons for me starting this blog is so that I have a ready reference of what albums I've listened to this year. By my calculations, this number was 88 which was fairly quickly reduced to a shortlist of 20. Luckily, 6 of these were obvious selections for me.....however choosing 4 of the remaining 14 has been fairly challenging.
I finished this last night....but you'll have to wait until next month for the results. In the meantime, consider getting hold of these albums.
In the meantime, they have lost their lead singer and main guitarist who decided to go off and form another band. As he was the main purveyor of the aforementioned guitars and vocals, it's pretty understandable that album #2 might be a little different on the sound spectrum.
Well, I think it's understandable.....many of the reviewers don't seem to have given them much of a break on this matter, and seem to do very little other than moan about the fact that it's different to the first album. The fucking idiots.
On album #1 all you seemed to read in their reviews was how wonderful it was that they're influenced by so many 90's bands. Suddenly though, it's apparently terrible that they're influenced so much by the very same 90's bands. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for opinions, but you've gotta give things a chance and consider ALL relevant facts.
Take this disgraceful, and unnecessarily spiteful review by a dickhead called Joe Clay from 'The Quietus'. He starts off by petulantly not liking their name (yawn), much in the same way that his 3 year old daughter might have if she wrote the review. The time to dislike the name has passed on album #1 dude.....get over it. Perhaps if he'd listened to the album on its merits, instead of wasting so much time on his 1 listen trying to compare it to other bands, he'd have enjoyed it for the very decent album that it is....even though it may not be as good as the first album. The fucking idiot.
To call the album decent may in fact be selling it a bit short. Yes, it's lost the very raw edge that they had, but there are still plenty of guitars, as well as some really nice vocal harmonies, trumpets, and even some percussive hand clapping in the excellent 'Nothing New', which along with 'Middle Sea' are the album highlights. I'm not thrilled with 2 instrumental tracks (including another faddish 2013 'intro'), but tracks like 'Out Of Time', 'Lose My Breath', 'Rebirth', and 'Somewhere', make this a very strong and enjoyable album, one of the better ones I've come across this year. Well played Yuck.....please come and visit us again in Oz very soon. 8/10
Good idea Ash, as this really is a nice album, and excellent follow up to 2010's 'Escapades'.
Early highlight 'Sharp Shooter' paves the way for the excellent 'When Yesterday's Gone', and a lovely piano intro on 'Wasting Away', which is also very catchy. 'Colours' very nicely provides an almost mournful change of tempo
The first single released from the album was 'Twin Cities', and this is clearly the albums standout track. I can't believe I haven't seen these guys live yet (they are apparently very good), shame on me!
Overall, this a good album that, while slightly let down by the supporting tracks, will reward a bit of patience and hopefully lead the band toward an outstanding 3rd album.....I think that they have this in them. 7/10
As brilliant as 'Neon Bible' is, and as great as 'The Suburbs' is.....this album is probably the best overall, despite maybe not having that absolute high points of 'Neon Bible'
In absolute 20/20 hindsight, the opening chords of 'Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)' almost provides you with a promise of the upcoming majesty and understated power of this band.
This is one of 4 'Neighborhood' tracks on the album which must surely tell some sort of cryptic tale or saga, however as I'm more of a music man, the impact of the words is no doubt mostly lost on me! However...here's what the music is telling me.......#1 to me would seem to be laying the story of a faction within a community, who for now are keeping to themselves and in contact through a network of tunnels.
'#2 (Laika)' is more frenetic, and sounds almost like a struggle, or inner turmoil of some description that, for now, is remaining contained within the faction. The story is split here by the almost mellow 'Une Année Sans Lumiere', which in true Arcade Fire style cranks up the pace at the end.
'#3 Power Out' starts with a great urgency, which translates to me like what was inner turmoil, has now broken out into a more widespread emergency. This song nearly leaves you sitting on an edge, absolutely compelling stuff.
'#4 (7 Kettles)' instantly projects some form of aftermath, or even a resolution, as though the community is now settling back into some form of regular urban existence, albeit a different one from the beginning. What is truly outstanding about this quartet of songs are the different moods that are created by the music alone. To be honest, I think that these 4 tracks are most likely to mean something different to everyone who tries to interpret them.
The album nearly seem to reset itself at this point, with the strongly string influenced 'Crown Of Love' taking you almost gently and slowly along a twisting and turning pathway until your are suddenly racing your way into the albums highlight 'Wake Up', which is surely deliberately named to do exactly that. One of their very best tracks here, anthemic, orchestral musically and vocally....with a nice twist at the end....just amazing!
'Haiti' offers an almost light change of pace that becomes almost hypnotic as it meanders through many different voices, and into the last of the great tracks in 'Rebellion (Lies)', which is just rippling with the understated power I referred to at the albums beginning.
If Rebellion is the albums climax, then the final track 'In The Back Seat' is effectively the cigarette that you smoke afterwards, smile to yourself, and drift away into a blissful slumber.
My recommendation here is to put the headphones on, and just sit and allow yourself to be thrown around and swept away by this incredible album....come on, you know you want to!!
Not a lot going on in this space at the moment due to EOY list compilations.
Best Coast - Fade Away: (A little disappointing after a few listens)
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - Fly By Wire: (Promising signs)
The Jungle Giants - Learn To Exist: (I keep forgetting to listen to this!)
Seapony - Falling: (2012 - Doesn't seem as 'guitar-y' as the first album)