woensdag 1 januari 2014

WoNo Magazine's top 10 albums 2013

2013 is over, time for reflection. Having heard so many new songs, new albums, it is always hard to come up with the ones that really deserve this extra attention. What are the criteria to choose from: most played?, deepest emotions?, albums containing songs that I sang along to most?, musically correct albums?, albums that will make an impression on the reader, i.e. tickle my ego? I just don't know. For days I'm scrapping albums after a re-listen and again. In the end it seems to be intuition and feeling mostly.

2013 was a good year for pop and rock music. Several truly great albums, containing very good music were released, From young and enthusiastic bands, to great albums by veterans. Or artists that did not seem to have any problem to come up with their difficult second album. The first three albums of an artist are always the best? You'll see below that this blog repudiates that claim too.

I also want to mention a few songs released in 2013 that are so incredibly good. 'Royals' by Lorde is exceptional. Daft Punk's 'Get lucky' is a ride down memory lane with Chic('s Nile Rogers) in the driver's seat. AAAH by Taymir is the best poprock song to come out of The Netherlands in years if not decades. 'Jubilee street' is a monument of a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Franz Ferdinand released two of these exceptional songs, but they are honoured enough below. Finally a band that I never expected to mention in this sort of overview: Editors. Its single 'A ton of love' is excellent. Great pop, with a familiar sounding central riff and Tom Smith daring to use his voice, truly singing.

Let me end with the honourable mentions before I lead you to my top 10 of 2013. 'Waiting for something to happen', by Veronica Falls, holds great popsongs, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds' Push the sky away' holds a few of the very best songs of 2013, but also half of the songs don't do much to me, so no top 10. Don't forget who you are by Miles Kane was the very last album to drop off the list. Great popsongs, some extremely good, but I decided that this album was simply more impressive:

10. Reflector. Arcade Fire

There is a lot to discover on the album. Arcade Fire goes from punk to disco within seconds and blends them in the next moment. Intriguing, fun, at times brilliant.


9. Snapshot. The Strypes

Whoa! Talking about a whole shot of energy in abundance. Snapshot delivers just that. Snapshot has me dancing through the kitchen while cooking. Makes me nod my head on an unexpected busride and makes my fingers dance this keyboard. Snapshot is as pure a shot of adrenaline as possible from a digital machine. Snapshot is balled energy. An album that makes it impossible to say that the band's energy on stage was not captured.


 8. ...Like clockwork. Queens of the Stone Age

Josh Homme it seems does not hide any longer behind a wall of sound, aggression and loudness. He shares his inner self and lays it bare for all to see. "From here on it's all downhill", he sings. That remains to be seen. It seems like Homme has found a new well to drink from after the first one dried out. Whatever it is that is in the water, I like it. Keep drinking, Mr. Homme.


7. Phosphene. Taymir

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What Taymir really managed well, is to create a sense of urgency. About half of the songs clock in at just over 2.00 minutes. Point made, the recording button on the console pushed in to stop the tape/digits. This is a beginning for a couple of young guys from The Hague. A first test, the first bunch of songs. A first album that contains a few great songs, some fine ones.


 6. Right thought, right words, right action. Franz Ferdinand

Eight songs are winners and great additions to the repertoire of FraFer. Eight out of, only, ten songs, may not seem a high score, but when the songs on Right words, ... are of such a high quality as on offer here, who cares. FraFer delivered another winner. That's the only conclusion I can draw here. With two songs that belong to the best of 2013: 'Love illumination' and 'Bullet' are just so good.


5. Shangri la. Jake Bugg

Wow! Breath deeply for a moment. What a record Shangri La is. What seems to have happened here is that this youngster from the U.K. has made a giant jump into new registers of his songwriting and performing capacity. Jake Bugg is two albums under way, but hearing his latest album and only within one year after his debut, it appears I'm a believer. Jake Bugg is a serious talent, there's no other conclusion possible.


4. Oh, mayhem! Bettie Serveert

Oh, Mayhem! is 2013's first super record. And again by a Dutch band. Either I've become a nationalistic snob or the level of records produced in this country has increased significantly. Either way congratulations to Bettie Serveert for a great record. It's simple, Oh, Mayhem! is one of Bettie Serveert's best records to date. If not the best.


3. Another self portrait. Bob Dylan

The first and foremost conclusion I drew hearing Another self portrait for the first time is a simple one: Bob Dylan was destroying his career full force around 1970 (and failed, as we know in 2013). The second is that we have another Dylan masterpiece on our hands. Another self portrait is of enormous and consistent quality. The third is how happy I am that I'm hearing this music in 2013, all-a-new. Another self portrait is a gift to all Dylan fans from the now 72 year bard. Don't be fooled by the name, not even by the self portrait, this is the real thing.


2. AM. Arctic Monkeys

It took me circa five days, but in those five days a sort of miracle took place in my head. From being baffled, WTF is this?, to total conviction. 'Suck it and see' (2011) was fantastic, ask me again at the end of the year what AM is. AM is the start of a great adventure. Remember what came after 'Rubber soul' (in hindsight for me)?, 'Their satanic majesty'?, 'Bleach'?, 'Young Americans'? It is my conviction that the one after these albums is what we are going to be offered by Arctic Monkeys soon. There is no doubt left. Arctic Monkeys are the most important rock band on the face of this planet in 2013. There's no competition.


1. Rivers & coastlines: The ride. TMGS

No quotes here from days gone by. Having listened to all albums again, it was completely clear that AM by Arctic Monkeys had found its match. Rivers & coastlines: the ride leaves everything else behind in 2013. It is the album that I've played most often, the album with the best songs on it and at the most consistent level. The album that makes me smile each time I listen to it. The trumpets that my mind starts blowing just before they kick in. Little melodies that play around in my head, all the time. A lot.

My fear of getting bored was totally unfounded. This album is a favourite, one that has become very dear to me, a part of my life. Like all exceptionally good albums should. TMGS is a band that deserves a lot more attention that it has received so far. So act now and go to Bandcamp, listen and buy!



P.s. Time for a confession. Last year I accidentally overlooked one album. An album that may just have ended up on the first spot. Here's the link to the review. Shame on me!


Sorry, Tim Christensen

P.S. 2 Don't forget to pick up your issue of the new WoNo Magazine 13.1 here.

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