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Top Music 2013

Looking back at the year in music that 2013 was for me, I can only conclude that it’s been an exciting year with a superb mix of music.

A Top 5:

  1. Editors - The weight of your loveEditors have grown into being one my of my all-time favorite bands, and that is not to be underrated, as it puts them next to a band like Bauhaus. 2013 saw the release of their “The Weight Of Your Love“, a fantastic resurrection after the near-death situation of 2012 with original guitarist Chris Urbanowicz leaving. The Weight Of Your Love combines the wide stadion rock music sound with their old indie background, desire for grandeur and acoustic silence. All at once. And then they are still widening their spectrum by intelligent use of the additional musicians but also in Tom’s singing.
  2. Arcade Fire has not only released the album Reflektor, but are also performing at some occasions under that name. It is a great double album, that made it very close to my number 1. With every album they release a work of integrity, intelligence, lots of folk influences and electric eclecticism, centered around a theme. The double album set up allows them to wander and search without too many limitations. The small contribution of David Bowie to the title song is a great plus.
  3. Nick Cave released a somewhat slow album, Push The Sky Away, with his Bad Seeds. I am very fond of the rather relaxed sound and production which holds many subtleties. The opening song, We No Who U R, and the closing title song cut deep into my soul and brain every time again.
  4. David Bowie made a completely unexpected sort of come back with The Next Day. Although, ‘come back’ feels quite inappropriate in case of a chameleon like mr. Bowie. The album is full of references to his career, the music he created, the places he visited, the people he met. Yet, it is clearly out of time music, immediately recognizable as Bowie’s.
  5. The Clash - Sound System Ghetto BlasterAfter 3 years of work behind closed doors (much by bass player Paul Simonon), The Clash released a brilliantly packaged overview of their career with the Sound System collection. A great way to finally catch up with this phenomenal band. In their brief existence they produced an enormous variety of tunes and dubs, but always remained true to their punk-style principles and ideals. All of these and a bunch of great extras were re-edited and re-issued and complemented by some little collectibles in a Ghetto Blaster format. Counting 5 regular albums over 8 CDs, and 1 extras album over 3 CDs, a poster, badges, dog tags and a manual.
    This collection got me into buying the Live At Shea Stadium album, where in 45 minutes or so they showed their greatness and forward rock approach, blowing away a crowd of 72000 rainy people waiting for The Who.

Other much liked music was released by:

  • Eels, “Wonderful, Glorious”. I also read mr. E’s autobiography which helped understand his personal and musical universe a lot better. And even besides that advantage, it is a worthwhile work full of humor of a survivalist kind. Much like the music. A true free spirit.
  • Bent Van Looy, lead singer of Das Pop, has released a bright and vivid solo album Round The Bend. The album was intended to be mostly piano, but ended up full of beautiful strings and light orchestral arrangements.
  • Suede did release a real come back album with Bloodsports. It has the old fierceness and wild pop orientation. The only minus I felt was the limited lyrical spectrum.
  • Agnes Obel gave us a beautiful follow-up to her debut album. Aventine resides mostly in the same universe as Philharmonics, but the intelligent and sparse use of classic piano, cello and silence does not feel ‘have heard’ at all.
  • Nine Inch Nails were brought to life again by Trent Reznor with Hesitation Marks. Although much more electronical again, less rock and -certainly- much less desperate and self-destructive, it reminded me much of The Downward Spiral, in a good way. Not that the latter gets surpassed, but that’s probably never going to happen anyhow. A good thing that mr. Reznor has found ways to collaborate.
  • Franz Ferdinand, much like Editors, conquered that little special place in my heart. I even lively remember how their debut album (2004) raised my hope again about music, after some years of disillusionment. With Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action they stick to their hyperactive danceable rock style funk something, highly recognizable, yet very fresh.

Top Music 2012

In 2012 it seemed I wasn’t involved in music too much. Not enough, that’s for sure. Result of being a workaholic? Anyhow, I still wanted to share:

Album of the Year (2012): Swans – The Seer

Swans - The SeerAfter rebooting Swans around 2010, Michael Gira released the epic double-sided The Seer album in 2012. It’s been repeatedly, including by the man himself, described as THE ultimate Swans album that Michael Gira not only had in mind during all of his Swan years, but also has been working on for over 30 years.

Gira has transformed totally into the master of his self-shaped universe of martial music with much varying song lengths, styles and tones, with songs that fade away into a gloom an then restart to burst into total fierceness. But these time around Gira often adds a touch of brightness and even some folky tunes to the dark repetitive mantras and drones. He even creates some acoustic drones, quite hypnotic. In a very clear production Gira lyrically sounds familiar with his themes of children of love, mother earth, holy gods.

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Peter knows which way to go

Peter knows which way to go. And not only because his spaceship knows.

On his personal, newly established, music label Huvolla Peter Murphy has been releasing some Secret Covers, named after his latest concert tour. It started with the John Lennon classic Instant Karma, that was also used in a (JP Morgan) commercial.

Then came David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Peter added his special oriental feel; the one in which his CD Dust was already… covered. The distinct electric violin of Hugh Marsh re-appearing after Dust and Peter’s -incredible- live album Alive (Just For Love).

Next, Peter released the live and cracklin recording (with his band) of Joy Division’s Transmission, performed at the Highline Ballroom (NYC) in July 2009. I remember Bauhaus playing “Isolation” live during their last tour (ever), with Peter already copying some of Ian Curtis’ typical gestures.

Both as solo artist as with Bauhaus, Peter has performed on a number of occasions with Nine Inch Nails. He performed Hurt with Trent Reznor at a radio (FM live) session. I downloaded that one for free. Peter now released it as secret cover #4. And I bought it. Being a collector-fan and to support Peter.

Peter Murphy is a remarkable voice in today’s musical landscape, a position he rightfully gained by being an expressive, committed and original artist. Not because he’s god. Because there is no god.    But god.