Archive | December, 2013

My Favourite Singles of 2013

21 Dec

1. Get Lucky by Daft Punk

2. Diane Young / Step by Vampire Weekend

3. White Noise by Disclosure

4. No Destruction by Foxygen

5. Honey by Swim Deep

6. Lying to You by Keaton Henson

7. Right Thoughts by Franz Ferdinand

8. My Number by Foals

9. Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys

10. Avent Gardener – Courtney Barnett

11. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

12. Mirrors by Justin Timberlake

13. Chocolate by 1975

14. Big When I was Little – Eliza Doolittle

15. I Love It by Icona Pop

16. Entertainment by Phoenix

17. I wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How) by Skaters

18. The Wire by Haim

19. Thrift Store by Macklemore

20. Broken Heart by Christopher Owens

21. Benjamin Clemantine – Cornerstone

22. Step up for the Cool Cats by Palma Violets

23. The Throw by Jagwar Ma

24. Just Hold on We’re Going Home by Drake

25. The Way We Fall by Alea Diane

26. Chum by Earl Sweatshirt

27. Open by Rhye

28. Strong by London Grammer

29. Alien Days by MGMT

30. Nothing Comes to Nothing by Babyshambles

31. Fifth in Line For the Throne by Camera Obscura

32. New Slaves by Kanye West

33. Recovery by Frank Turner

34. Reflektor by Arcade Fire

35. Cars Not Leaving by Gabrial Bruce

36. Recover by Chrvches

37. Love Sick by Peace

38. Gold by Jaws

39. Fresh by Summer Camp

40. Song for Zula by Phospherencet

41. Together by Disclosure and Nile Rogers

42. Where Are We Now by David Bowie

43. Royals by Lorde

44. Retrograde by James Blake

45. Dropla by Youth Lagoon

46. Water Me by FKA Twigs

47. La La La by Sam Smith

48. Song My Love Can Sing – Doug Paisley

49. Attracting Flies by Aluna George

50. Sunday by Earl Sweatshirt

51. 100% Duke Dumont

52. Suit and Tie – Justin Timberlake

54. Let Me Go by Gary Barlow

55. Sacralige by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

56. Bipp by Sophie

57. Control by Big Sean

58. Slashrr by Rustie

59. Is This How You Feel by Pretures

60. Good For Me by Circa Waves

My Favourite Albums of 2013

21 Dec

1. Random Access Memories by Daft Punk

2. AM by Arctic Monkeys

3. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend

4. Opposites by Biffy Clyro

5. The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake

6. 180 by Palma Violets

7. Days are Gone by Haim

8. The 1975 by The 1975

9. Desire Lines by Camera Obscura

10. Nothing Was the Same by Drake

11. Trouble Will Find Me by The National

12. Settle by Disclosure

13. Yezus by Kanye West

14. Drenge by Drenge

15. About Farewell by Alela Diane

16. Tape Deck Heart by Frank Turner

17. We are…by Foxygen

18. Pure Heroine by Lorde / Woman by Rhye

19. Once I Was an Eagle by Laura Marling

20. Soft Will by Smith Westerns

21. Right Thoughts by Franz Ferdinand

22. Reflektor by Arcade Fire

23. Bithdays by Keaton Henson

24. Machineries of Joy by British Sea Power

25. Doris by Earl Sweatshirt

26. Howlin by Jagwar Ma

27. Body Music by Aluna George / Sunbather by Deafheaven

28. A Bad Wind Blows in my Heart by Bll Ryder Jones

29. In Love by Peace

30. Where the Heaven are We by Swim Deep

31. Lysandre by Christopher Owens

32. Holy Fire by Foals

33. Our Crushing Love by Mutual Diamond

34. Push the Sky Away by Nick Cave

35. Double Ep by Courtney Barnett

36. The Bones of What You Believe by Chrvches

37. Bankrupt by Phoenix

38. Cerulean Salt by Waxahatche

39. Waiting For Something to Happen by Veronica Falls

38. June Gloom by Big Deal

39. Volume Three by She and Him

40. Cupid Delux by Blood Orange

41. Mechanical Bull by Kings of Leon

42. The Electric Lady by Janae Monae

43. If You Wait by London Grammar

44. Pythons by Surfer Blood

45. AHJ by Albert Hammond Jr

46. Comedown Machine by The Strokes

47. Immunity by John Hopkins

48. John Wizards by John Wizards

49. Summer Camp – Summer Camp

50. EP2 by FKA twins

51. MGMT by MGMT

52. Overgrown by James Blake

53. Heart of Nowhere by Noah and the Whale

54. Kids in L.A by Kisses

55. Cut 4 Me by Kelela

56. Absolute Zero by Little Green Cars

57. Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper

58. Anxiety by Aute Van neut

59. Glow and Behold by Yuck

60. Love in Arms by Gabrial Bruce

Keane ‘The Very Best of Keane’ – Review

8 Dec

You have to wonder why greatest hits exist in 2013. Thanks to Itunes and Spotify, we are perfectly capable of putting our own compilations and playlists together in a matter of minutes. We are our own curators. We are in charge of what we want to listen to, not labels. I guess they still serve a useful purpose in that they allow fans and critics an opportunity to reflect on an artist’s achievements collectively. They also serve as an entry point into an artist’s carear for new comers – which is certainly needed in the case of somebody like Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan (both of whom have released ‘best ofs’ recently). Even In the case of The Killers, who released ‘Direct Hits’ last week, that concise and carefully selected greatest hits felt meaningful, as the pop-minded band had spent so long working towards it – every single they’ve released seemed to have one eye on that inevitable milestone.

However In the case of Keane, ‘The Best of Keane’, feels redundant. For starters it is neither concise nor carefully selected. I’m a Keane fan but I would struggle to sit through 20 of their songs in a row – and that’s only the one disc edition! As a result, it’s inevitably hard work, made harder by the odd selection of songs. Only two tracks represent last year’s impressive ‘Strangeland’ and two more come from the underated and ambitious ‘Perfect Symmetry’. On the other hand, seven songs (seven!) are taken from the hit and miss ‘Under the Iron Sea’ – that’s over half the original album. Included in that selection are blatant album tracks like ‘Hamburg Song’ and ‘Atlantic’ both of which drag this compilation down like iron tonnes.

Another hinderance is the sequencing. The story of Keane is told chronologically, which puts everyone at a disadvantage. The first half of the album consists of the ballads they made their name on whilst the second half (barely) represents the more colourful and interesting styles they have since experimented with. A more imaginative approach to sequencing would have been to mix the old songs with the new, bringing out the best qualities in each song, balancing light and shade, finding the common elements that make Keane songs Keane songs. Instead a rather depressing narrative unfolds, in which Keane are introduced as bland miserablists who evolved into a confident and ambitious pop group, failed to find hits, and reverted back to a tired version of their original persona. But Hopes and Fears really isn’t as dreary as the songs that represent it here make out, and ‘Strangeland’ is so much more interesting than ‘Silenced by the Night’ suggests.

Actually, each Keane album is worth exploring. Of the four released to date, ‘Hopes and Fears’ is the one that stands out as a classic. But It’s one of those albums that remains as unloved by critics as it is adored by the public. ‘The Very Best Of’ will do nothing to alter that perception critics have of it. Strung together at the start of a greatest hits these 2004 singles may lack the necessary punch, but they’re still great songs. For me, Keane nailed the post-Radiohead anthemic ballads that were oh-so on trend a decade ago. There is more emotional complexity explored on ‘Hopes and Fears’ than Coldplay managed over the course of a decade – let alone Snow Patrol, Athlete or Starsailer. These were songs that dealt with growing up and growing apart honestly, directly and with bags of emotion. But unfortunately we only get a glimpse of that here.

Of course ‘The Very Best Of…’ does just enough for the public at large, which is all the label probably wants. They care about ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ getting a few extra downloads (a song that is currently number one thanks to Lilly Allen’s bland cover) but they don’t care about presenting Keane in a new light. They’ve chosen to emphasise the slow ballads people know the group for and virtually ignore the more ‘experimental’ side. Which is a shame mainly because ‘experimental’ Keane are still wholly accessable and emotionally forthright (and really not that experimental anyway!). If that’s the Keane we choose to remember then I suggest we forget about ‘The Very Best Of’ and get our own playlists together.