Well I know there’s a week left of the year, but I’m not really expecting any more big records in that time (although music industry, if you wish to read this as a challenge then be my guest!) so I feel comfortable enough writing this now. It was a pretty good year for music and there were a lot of incredible releases this year that I personally think everyone should hear. So in no particular order, here are my five favourite albums from this year.
Streetlight Manifesto – The Hands That Thieve
The tag of “my favourite band” is one that’s generally pretty flexible, but I think if I had to choose one in a properly long-term sense it would be Streetlight, and in April of this year they put out this simply magnificent album. It was pretty much all I listened to for about a fortnight after it came out. There aren’t, in my opinion, any bad tracks on this one; lyrically it’s a masterpiece and the tunes are catchy as hell. I feel that even people who aren’t necessarily big fans of the genre will find something they like out of its ten tracks, and as such I’d recommend this to near-enough anyone.
3 picks: The Littlest Things, The Hands That Thieve, Your Day Will Come
Toh Kay – The Hand That Thieves
This choice could be seen as a little bit of a cop-out, but Tomas Kalnoky’s acoustic companion to the aforementioned release is an excellent album purely on its own merit. Despite the virtually-identical title and the fact that the tracklist is exactly the same, THTT’s take on the original ten songs is completely different – the slowed-down nature practically makes them take on different meanings to their original forms. This is always the album I go to when I need to concentrate on something nowadays, as the soft guitars are perfect for getting into a decent headspace.
3 picks: With Any Sort Of Certainty, If Only For Memories, Ungrateful
Los Campesinos! – NO BLUES
As you might be able to guess if you’d read my glowing review of the LC! show I went to a few weeks ago, I’m a pretty big fan of the band and I might even stick my neck out and say that record number five is the best they’ve ever done. If you listen to their debut release and then this one straight afterwards, you’ll really see just how far they’ve come as a band soundwise. The lyrics are up to their usual high standard and due to the catchy nature of the tunes they’ll end up stuck in your head for quite some time. Certainly not one to miss.
3 picks: Cemetery Gaits, Glue Me, Avocado, Baby
Drenge – Drenge
You could be forgiven for claiming bias on this one given the fact that Drenge are a band composed of two people who I know, but that doesn’t take anything at all away from this year’s exceptional debut release. The heavy guitar sound is almost genre-defying, and the macabre lyrics are an excellent antithesis to a lot of contemporary music. The two-man setup has drawn comparisons to The Black Keys but I wouldn’t let that put you off: this sound is a world away from theirs.
3 picks: Backwaters, Nothing, Fuckabout
Less Than Jake – See The Light
Not a lot I can say about this one that I didn’t already say in my review posted back in November, but the long and short of it is that this album sees LTJ back to their brilliant genre-defining best. It’s a thirteen track rapid-fire assault on your ears that, unless you’re some kind of boring automaton, will just make you want to dance. If you like brass instruments, catchy choruses, and songs that above all else convey important life messages, do yourself a favour and listen to this.
3 picks: Jump, Do The Math, American Idle
So that’s that, then – five albums released in 2013 that I felt deserved special recognition. Go out and listen to them all. With the exception of the Toh Kay album (which was unfortunately cancelled by the record label before being leaked by someone in the know), they’re all out there on Spotify which I know like 97% of people use so no excuses!
Happy holidays to you all, and if I don’t post anything else before the 31st then have a happy New Year too!