Unlike what Noel Gallagher said to his interview with Rolling Stone about the year 2013 “Dog-shit year. Can’t wait until it’s over.”, I can barely count how many good albums were released this year, even in the first quarter famous names such as New Order, Depeche Mode, The Strokes, Yo La Tengo and David Bowie fought for a spotlight in New Release section almost in every record store. But no one made a comeback as dramatic as My Bloody Valentine. After 20 years since their last wonder ‘Loveless’ Kevin Shields & Co. released ‘m b v’ on February 2nd with free-listening in their official website, the rumor spreads in the speed of light, by the time it was launched, the website broken down within minutes due to overcapacity.
Now there will be too many albums to mention if we’re talking about the whole year for all genres. So here are 10 albums (in alphabetical order) which maybe more suitable to be listed in this niché website, in case you missed one:
1. ‘AM’ by Arctic Monkeys
Didn’t we expect Arctic Monkeys to end-up this way? I mean, listening to the whole album from ‘Do I Wanna Know’ to ‘I Wanna be Yours’ we can feel the musical-morphosis from raw garage-rock to a drumbeat that sticks tightly to bold melody on bass and guitar, yet catchy lyrics that makes Alex sounds more and more seductive. Not to mention that hairstyle that maybe only him who’s eligible to have without looking cocky.
2. ‘BE’ by Beady Eye.
Another initial-titled album, with cover-art controversy in several countries (including mine, with sticker covers the nipple). Different than its predecessor ‘Different Gear Still Speeding’ which was brighter and Liam’s thick influence of The Beatles spiced almost the whole album, ‘BE’ offers more differences in one package, more experiments and more instruments involved, such as glockenspiel usage in ‘Second Bite of The Apple’ and a trial of reversed-sound in ‘Dreaming of Some Space’ that probably inspired by some absurdities done by Liam’s other influence The Stone Roses.
3. ‘Bloodsports’ by Suede
What is expected from a long gone Britpop band that made a brand-new full length album? A continuation of signature sounds. ‘Bloodsports’ is more than a comeback, it was a back-to-the-roots action done by Brett Anderson and his mates. ‘Barriers’ as the first single was quite relieving to hear, knowing that they stayed as the same Suede, not much evolving, so that we could expect Suede as way before ‘A New Morning’; glamorous yet trashy, wild yet sexual. They went back to the origin; the whole album took the keys from ‘Dog Man Star’ and ‘Coming Up’. It feels like reviving Bernard Butler’s twists in some songs, and it was such a safe decision.
4. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ by Miles Kane.
Miles Peter Kane puts us on agreement that making classic album could be done at any time. His second album brought the mixture feelings of both Britpop and 60s at the same time. ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ is a cheerful uplifting song that swings you instantly, while you can predict the rhyme easily. ‘Darkness in Our Hearts’ may remind you a lot to The Strokes. You’ll bet Paul Weller and other mods/post-punk musicians played a big role in influencing this album. Not much surprises, but if you love classics why not. It was produced by Ian Broudie, which may guarantee you there will be bit of Lightning Seeds or The Coral style hidden within the layers such as voices overlapping, etc.
5. ‘Graffiti On The Train’ by Stereophonics.
Honestly I’ve never listen to this album in full-length until last week, I’ve only heard one song ‘In A Moment’ on which my verdict says it is just a normal Stereophonics tracks, still rocking, except it is darker and neater. But when I dug more into the tracks, I found ‘Indian Summer’ which I caught a sense of Kelly Jones that playing experiments with some catchy melodies that sounds not really Stereophonics. So overall album is quite confusing because it is like they’re going in an eclectic way, leaving ‘Catacomb’ as the only full-bodied rocking track.
6. ‘Loud Like Love’ by Placebo
In their 7th album Placebo consistently provide their fans with array of tunes which accommodate the feeling of both depressingly dark yet romantically gloomy, brought in constantly by Brian Molko’s voice inside the intensity of alt-rock with naked and sorrow lyrics. ‘Loud Like Love’ seems to be the brightest song so far, the other stays in the same atmosphere. This is just another Placebo’s proper work.
7. ‘The Messenger’ by Johnny Marr
After a Smiths and Electronic, The Healers, Talking Heads, Modest Mouse, The Cribs later, finally Johnny Marr decided to have an album under his only own big name. Saving the post-punk era with his Mancunian band, Marr survived the next era after the death of The Smiths by working on numerous projects, brought him a title of God-Like Genius on NME award this year. You’ll find the old Marr in The Messenger, just like The Smiths in a louder version. Unlike Morrissey that highlighted most of his solo works with lyrical power and distinctive voice, Marr obviously showed-off only his mastery in jangly guitar-riffs. Listen to ‘The Right Thing Right’ and you’ll know.
8. ‘More Light’ by Primal Scream
A 10th album quite well-done after the departure of Reni after The Stone Roses reunion. ‘2013’ kicks-in as a start with the story plainly telling of Britain nowadays, from the bold lyrics “Television, propoganda, fear, how long will this shit last? Punk rock came and went and nothing changed, was it just a pose?” and this goes over the entire album. Combination of acid house, garage rock, kraut-rock, acoustic guitar strums here and there, a psychedelic touch, a teamwork between Bobby Gillespie and Kevin Shields that wrapped-up in a colorful danceable ‘It’s Alright It’s OK’ or ‘Invisible City’ that shows its electronic splash with horns arrangement, all in the same general idea; ‘More Light’ is densely a political album that speaks in a groovy way.
9. ‘Rewind The Film’ by Manic Street Preachers
In Britpop era, or maybe up to nowadays scene, no one speaks politics as loud as Manic Street Preachers. Now in ‘Rewind The Film’ they show a more-laid back mature sounds and lyrics. Not necessarily about aging, but maybe a different view from 27 years old band that have been through everything. The opening of the album ‘The Sullen Welsh Heart’ James Dean Bradfield sings accompanied by only one guitar “I don’t want my children to grow up like me. It’s just so destroying, it’s a mocking disease. A wasting disease.” Simply a refusal of fighting the same war over and over again. ‘Rewind The Film’ is the highlight of the album, a 7 minutes story-telling by Richard Hawley and JDB in a dramatic strings and skilled-out acoustic guitar melody provided just in every bridge before chorus. An overall calm-down state of this Welsh-trio.
10. ‘Where You Stand’ by Travis
When everything around changes and bands like Coldplay or Muse choose to drift away from their initial sounds, Travis tries the best to keep their feet on the ground. Even though they did a little improvements to sound more into today’s indie-scene flavor, like in ‘Another Guy’, or mixing Mumford’s stomping beat and Keane’s piano feelies in ‘Mother’ to indie-folk-ish ‘Reminder’, we still can have what we love from Travis; the melancholy voice of Fran Healy stays there. (Thakis)