End Of Year Review

Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein are of the opinion that time is relative. Using the voice of Ford Prefect, Douglas Adams stated that “Time is an illusion, lunch time doubly so”.

So we find ourselves at the end of 2013 – either sooner or later than anyone expected – with the chance to look back at the music this year has thrown at us.

Going back to my opening paragraph, in this retrospective you’ll find me talking about stuff I never reviewed. My apologies. This is due to not having enough time, or because through repeated listens the sounds in question have grown on me.

THE GREAT UNREVIEWED

Rewind The Film – Manic Street Preachers

Album number eleven from the Manics was released in August, and was preceded by a video for the title track. Overall it showcased a new direction for the Welsh trio.

Comprising twelve (mostly) acoustic tracks, subtlety is the over of things here. Gone is the bombast, replace by delicate and lilting guitar playing. The lyrical content remains constant – alienation, despair, Richey and politics – with closing track 30 Year War being a damning indictment of the British political landscape sculpted by the Government of Margaret Thatcher. Claims that L.S. Lowry’s painting were hidden because he turned down an honour are the centrepiece of the chorus; incidentally the track is also a hint towards the direction of album number twelve, Futurology which will be released in 2014.

Nostalgia and a longing for days gone by are prevalent throughout. The opening line of the album is “I don’t want my children to grow up like me”; Anthem For a Lost Cause, Show Me The Wonder and the title track each have accompanying videos that are perfectly tuned to the emotional content.

Not only is it a cracking album, it’s a cracking Manics album that will stand the test of time.

Not Even Doom Music – Mat Riviere

This is one of the albums that through repeated listens I came to enjoy and love.

Not Even Doom Music is Riviere’s second album; it is ten songs of minimalistic, atmospheric brilliance. From the pounding, uplifting sense of euphoria of Wool to the sparse longing of Summons, the who spectrum of human emotions is explored, manipulated and catalogued. This is a genuinely stunning record, and one of the hidden gems of 2013 – check out the use of a music box, which is inspired.

Tropical – Pompeya

Most people would nominate Daft Punk’s Random Access Memory as the funkiest album of the year. If you put these two side by side then the Russian’s effort would win hands down.

Yes, I said Russian! The quartet hail from Moscow, and with their debut album they cut a swathe through the manufactured crap we are exposed to on a daily basis – a human rights violation is ever there was one. It is just a shame that they aren’t better known.

Highlights include Slaver, Y.A.H.T.B.M.F. and pretty much the rest of the album.

THE GREAT REVIEWED

So we come now to the list of reviewed albums that fancied my tickle this year. These are in no particular order.

Fate – Soviet Soviet
Pain is Beauty – Chelsea Wolfe
Motto – Sky Larkin
Nature Nurture – Crystal Stilts
Versions – Zola Jesus with JG Thirlwell ft. The Mivos Quartet
Discipline & Desire – Wax Idols

SURPRISES

On top of the albums, there have been a number of welcome surprises this year.

First amongst equals is what I termed the Scandinvasion. Terrible I know, but memorable. Lars & The Hands Of Light, Black Lizard, Retro Stefson and Oyama are prime examples of the great and varied music coming from the Scandinavian shores.

Secondly, The Peter Ulrich Collaboration’s The Painted Caravan is a wonderful album that surprised the hell out of me when I first listened to it, and it still does months later. With each listen you hear something new you missed the previous times.

Thirdly, Skin Town. Enough said.

PLAYLIST?

Oh, go on then!

Lastly, thanks for all the views, comments, and the time taken to read my posts. Tis much appreciated.

May you all have a happy new year, and I hope to see you all at some point soon.

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