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Who Will Make The Album Of 2013


So having just finished my end of year list way too late to have anyone care, I thought I’d get ahead of the game for once, and have a go at guessing which artist will make what would be the album of 2013. It’s clearly ridiculous, but it’s just a bit of fun, and also a way for me to bag some proper ‘I told you so’ rights in the coming year.

The Indie Rock Debut Contenders

Here we have the bands, championed by the NME and the odd critic out there for Indie Rock crown. The best of the bunch seem to be the following: Peace, Palma Violets, Savages and Haim. The latter just won the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll/list/whatnot, which should make them major players, but they don’t do anything for me. The songs are good and fun (their rendition of The Chanukah Song was a highlight of 6music’s Christmas playlist), but they sound too much like what my head thinks the 80s sound like. They are undoubtedly good, but not fresh enough to make an album that would stun. Palma Violets on the other hand are exactly that. Their lead single ‘Best of Friends’ was the NME’s song of 2012, they deftly signed to Rough Trade after never releasing any songs and having seen them live, the phrase ‘Fucking Amazing’ does spring to mind. But my main worry, is that they haven’t got enough songs of ‘Best of Friends’ caliber. ’14‘ and ‘Tom the Drum’ are songs that I do think rock, but don’t quite have the catchy power of BoF. Ultimately though, their secretism about releasing tracks will work in their favour, as it makes guessing this much harder, they could still come out and stun us.

Savages are in a tight bind. While probably my personal favourite of all four (how can you not love a post-punk band of Siouxsie meets Joy Division), they have one stonking track in ‘Husbands’ and a great sound. But I can’t help feeling they’ve rushed into the making of their album, especially as they have remained independent, on their own ‘Pop Noire’ label. They need to take the time, tour even more than they already have so that when they have a full album out, it will be packed with tight and infectious intense songs like ‘Husbands’, a poor record here could kill them early on.

So, my pick for the Indie Rock album of 2013 folks is Peace. Why, because unlike Palma Violets I know their other songs are awesome, I saw them live and know that they rule, and genuinly, every single track this band have put out, (all 8), is golden and that’s more songs than on a Springsteen album. All it takes is one more cheeky single that does something different around when release day for the album hits and they will have nailed it. Peace 4 2013. Rumours of a Rock Revolution are abounding, and are as stupid as they were the first time some hack journalist propagated them… Indie won’t be the place the music revolution will happen, it will be in POP…

The Pop Debut Contenders

Music is changing, and it’s not the way you think it will be. Rather than Indie wiping out stupid boring pop music for big men with guitars who sing about girls and drugs and leather jackets, it’s the Pop that will go Indie. Over the last couple years it’s become increasingly more acceptable for the #cool #indie #types to admit to being fans of pop music, or even hideously uncool pop acts, but 2012 is the first year where artists are properly combining Indie nous with Pop Power, giving a crossover power that will destroy all in their wake. The two new bands leading the charge are both British, one from Glasgow, and one from London. I talk of course, of two nominated for BBC’s poll as well, AlunaGeorge and Chvrches.

AlunaGeorge I’ve been aware of since early on in 2012, when they made me break my unwritten rule of not buying singles when I bought ‘You Know You Like It’ after hearing it on the radio. Something about its awesome production and catchy as hell chorus made me have to grab it. In other words, it worked exactly like pop singles are supposed to, except on twee indie types like myself. The follow-up single ‘You Know You Like It’ was even better, and again, I bought it. The band have nailed making interesting, arty music that can get the pop factor essentials absolutely right, and it’s why they really should have won Sound of 2013. Now with these 2 perfect singles, and a teaser clip for a new song that sounds great, and a sneaky chilled out one that sounds supercool, their album should be a shoe-in for a record that combines pop sales with Indie coolness.

I can’t really split between them and Chvrches for who is better. While AlunaGeorge are more slinky, more post-dubstep, Chvrches are full on synth-pop. The heavy, heavy tones of the synths allow vocalist Lauren Mayberry to plant sugary sweet melodies in your brain with a fantastic scottish accent that makes them especially shine out. Singles ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Lies’ are both impossible to forget, but also rewarding on repeated listens. Their album should devastate if they can even put out one more song as good as the previous two, and from interviews they all seem to have cool heads on their shoulders so it should be no problem. These two bands are just as likely as Peace to make the record of 2013, but so far all I’ve looked at is new bands…

Established Band Contenders

Leading the pack of bands that have already put out albums in Foals. The main single ‘Inhaler’ sounds like someone took their ambient selves from previous album Total Life Forever and trapped them in a room with 1993 era Soundgarden until they were prepared to RAWK. Mighty riffs and screaming vocals make it a breath of fresh air in dainty indie land. Being still the darlings of the press, they have enough about them to make an album that can surprise and twist even if other single ‘My Number’ is just a bit ok.

They will probably be trumped though, if current biggest Alt band in the world besides Radiohead, Arcade Fire, manage to beat the turn of the new year with their as yet unconfirmed but being worked on fourth album. It’s estimated for late 2013, or early 2014, and considering they have put out 3 records of era defining quality, it should seem an easy game for them to take album of the year, especially with James Murphy at the helm of production. But Yorke and pals could have revenge with Atoms for Peace‘s debut album Amok. Only single ‘Default’ was pretty awesome and live footage keeps emerging that finally makes sense of how someone as physical as Flea fits into a sound as odd as the one Yorke creates. Arguably this could even sound better than Radiohead’s last LP which left a lot of people very cold with its Caribou stylings.

A group of assorted older bands will be making ventures into 2013, among them Mudhoney, Eels, Pearl Jam, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but most asonishingly My Bloody Valentine, who have claimed the new album is actually finally mastered, only 22 years after their last was released! Some of Indie’s less hype-intensive small groups are also due to be making 2013 inroads, Everything Everything hope to follow fantastic single ‘Cough Cough’ with a quality album, Local Natives have been gathering a cult following throughout 2012, and thi smight be their breakthrough year, while band-that-I-just-heard-on-the-radio Villagers have a very nice single out in leiu of their album due out in 4 days. Good for them.

But in all honesty, if I know myself, if won’t be Peace, AlunaGeorge, Atoms for Peace or Chvrches that turn out album of the year. It will be some weird act that I’d never heard of until mid-July who emerge from nowhere with a completely different sound. And that’s not a bad thing, the internet and the disfigured shape of the music industry mean that any odd record can wind its way into your hands, and it means that taste doesn’t have to be so tribal, we can like what we like. That said, I’m still humming ‘Lies’ by Chvrches, so you can probably count them as favourites.

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Can Palma Violets… [insert cliché here]?


palma violets best of friends

So today band-I-caught-at-Reading-thanks-to-Bill-and-then-discovered-they-have-massive-internet-hype Palma Violets have (finally) actually recorded a song and put it onto the internet.

This takes from the realms of a band the nme can tell you are great to an actual band that you can judge for yourself. The end result: we can now see If Palma Violets Are Any Good.

And… It’s good. Really Good. Good enough that the nme can brand it ‘one of the catchiest guitar songs in years’. Which is all fair enough but the nature of the band, a british guitar rock group with two equally talented and charismatic frontmen means that the easy comparison to go to is The Libertines, not to mention that there’s plenty of room to call in Joy Division too.

And all of this means that the inevitable ‘Can Palma Violets… [insert cliché here]’ articles are just around the corner from the music press that must be the best in the world for overhype. Only last year it was proclaiming The Vaccines the saviours of Rock’n’Roll and Arctic Monkeys-esque working class heroes (until they found out they were actually comfortably middle class).

So before a good new band is suddenly shoved on magazine covers and asked to rescue us from some sort of musical lull where Only They Can Save British Music, let’s hold back on the hype. Do we really want to have to face another awkward moment where we sit back and go… “well they were alright”.

The most ironic thing in all of this, is that any hope there is of a British Rock Band repeating the success of a band like The Libertines or the Arctic Monkeys is if we just leave them alone, let them gather their deserved following online and at gigs, and then when the band is ready and developed and mature, it can put out that album that will Save British Rock.

And can Palma Violets make that album? Maybe in two years, yes, they probably could.

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New Songs Round Up 05/08/12


I’m back from holiday so I thought I’d get up to speed on all the interesting new songs that’ve emerged while I’ve been away

SBTRKT – Gloss

SBTRKT was one of my favourite artists to emerge last year, and his debut album deserved its fantastic critical reception. His soundcloud account has steadily been revealing some new material for a while, and these two songs are hopefully an indication of where he’s going with an as yet unannounced second record.

Too Door Cinema Club – Sleep Alone

Ahead of the release of their much anticipated second album, and following their perfomance as the Olympic Torch was being lit, this is the debut single of the new material. It’s pretty tasty, and a solid Indie choon.

Frank Ocean – Bad Religion

Right, I’m cheating here, this isn’t technically a single release, Pyramids is the actual lead single for Ocean’s critical explosion of an album, Channel ORANGE. But, he did perform this on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, with The Roots as his backing band. While I had (and sort of still have) my doubts about Ocean, this song blew them away. Some of the best lyrics, and an incredibly honest emotion, its a one of a kind song, and set to power Ocean into the top spot for male solo artists.

AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It

This is something of a guilty pleasure for me, as it is clearly heavily influenced by 90s R&B, but at the same time, it fuses with glitchy electronica, in the vein of SBTRKT to make the first single I’ve ever downloaded from amazon, which is a hell of an achievement, but deserved for such an outrageously catchy and funky pop song.

Amanda Palmer – Want It Back

With an inventiveness to inspire awe and fear, Amanda Palmer leads off her record-breaking Million Dollar Kickstarter campaign to fund her new album with this single. This being Amanda Palmer, she inevitably gets naked, and the video is pretty damn NSFW so watch out who’s looking over your shoulder when you press play.

BONUS – Arctic Monkeys – Come Together

This was definitely the highlight of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, and a cracking cover of my favourite Beatles tune, by one of my favourite English bands. The fact it charted is testimony to just how cool the two bands combined are. It is just funking sick.

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