Is it really that time of year again? I’m bet that’s a phrase you’re getting sick of hearing 🙂 It’s the usual vibe of getting everything finished off correctly, or racing around preparing for Christmas and all that business. To be fair everything for me between now and the New Year is just about sorted. I’ve one last gift to buy on Saturday and done – it was the top ten that was giving me anxiety of getting the time to finish it. I know I don’t have to do it, but I’ve done it for so many years now that it somehow feels wrong to not note my favourites for posterity. This year has been weird for me as I haven’t listened to as many albums as I would like to as I find something I like and listen to it over and over and over again; until every last nuance is etched on to my brain like some audio tattoo. I have found it difficult to get a top ten, so know that these releases are all excellent as I have pondered them for some time now….well except number 4 on the list seeing as it came out yesterday…anyways….
For a while this was easily number 2 but the more I listened to it, the more vital it became to me. I started listening to Gazelle Twin as I noticed a few of my friends mentioning her and I was curious. Hooked straight away. She has this low menace, and rhythmic beats, lyrics that just quietly destroy you but offer beauty in a way no one else can. The Quietus gave her their best album of the year which I’m sure is a much better accolade than Head of Red, but I urge anyone with an interest in dark, brooding electronic music to get your ears wrapped round this pretty damn sharpish. (Review here)
Those gorgeous and entirely brutal men of 3TEETH had me in raptures for most of this year. I have not shut up about them since I started listening to them. Never have I gone from wanting people to shut up about something to being its greatest advocate which should show how goddamn amazing number 1 is to shift this one down a peg. Whilst a lot of the new breed of Industrial bands are busy emulating the early years of Skinny Puppy, FLA and Nitzer Ebb (which is all well and good and something I enjoy), 3TEETH acknowledge the bands that inspire them but choose to take that and create something much more them. Heavy, pounding Industrial brutality of the best kind. How I am meant to wait until April to see them live I really don’t know!
I’ve been listening to Iris for well over a decade now. I met Andrew Sega in Slimelight many years ago and nearly had a full blown fangirl fit whilst he was unwaveringly cool in my fangirliness, so yes, one could say Iris are a pretty special band for me. I was starting to think they were slightly off the boil, as their last EP didn’t quite do it for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the new album so approached it with caution. I had no reason to fear. It’s the perfect mix of synthpop but with some definite nods towards dance music. They’re one of those bands that really should be utterly massive and I’ve never understood why they’re not. It’s like sublime pop music for adults that doesn’t make you feel like you should be listening to Radio 2 or whatever, and this is Iris at their most inspired.
This came out yesterday. it’s in my top ten of the whole year the next day. I really do love Marching Dynamics but this release sounds like they’re genuinely having fun with the project. It seems much more confident. Yes, it is still very much dubstep but it doesn’t take itself too seriously – there’s some seriously funky samples going on throughout and so far my favourite track is ‘000 Blase’. I’m sure anyone who listened to it and knows me well enough would understand why, but there’s much more going on than samples that amuse Kate that’s for sure. I’ve ordered this on vinyl (only 100 copies available) and really looking forward to punishing the speakers with this baby!
I can’t remember how I got in to listening to her. She was part of the Hype Williams duo and this is her solo debut but aside from that I know very little about her. All I know is I’m very pro with the amount of women producing seriously off kilter electronic music at the moment. Copeland is more weird trip hop/dismantled pop music than unsettling but there’s a lot going on for a relatively short album (8 tracks) but definitely worth investigating for strange but satisfying electronic fare.
A recent discovery of mine after reading a lot about their lead singer, Laura Jane Grace, coming out as Transgender. This is just amazing in my books as it was such a brave move to be the person she genuinely was. It could have cost her her career but whilst their has been some changes within the band, most things I have read have been overwhelmingly in her favour. It’s so good to know that the punk scene is so accepting. A few years ago it could have gone down differently who knows? All I know is this album is a fantastic journey going through the process with Laura Jane and getting a glimpse of what it must be like being a woman in a man’s body.
When people ask me if there is a music genre I don’t like my usual answer would be rap….but that isn’t necessarily true. What I don’t like is the big, swaggering, ‘guns, bitches and bling’ style rap music. Give me the sonic assault of Dälek (I might be a bit in love with the noise The Oktopus makes), or Scroobius Pip, or always The Beastie Boys and yes, that I can get in to. I want rap music to speak to me not describe a lifestyle I have no interest in, or any experience of. And this is where Kate Tempest comes in. She’s more performance poet than rap artist but who can say with absolute certainty. I love how she has made an album that is very much like reading a novel; each track is a chapter and it’s one of those albums you have to listen to as whole really to get the full impact, but I have to say, if I have to choose one track, ‘The Beigeness’ is easily my song of the year.
As it is the mighty Neubaten, this really should be higher up the list but ‘Lament’ is a difficult yet amazing release. Written specifically for an art installation in Flanders, Belgium to commemorate the outbreak of World War 1, there’s a lot of difficult subject matter to go through…more so than any usual Neubaten release. Live, Lament was absolutely outstanding – probably my favourite gig of the year, but it is something that makes a lot of sense live. ‘How Did I Die’ was so captivating live that listening to it on CD seems somewhat lacking. Not that the track isn’t amazing but I have clearly been spoilt by an amazing experience….damn it! 🙂
I think what I like most about Blush Response is the fact Joey Blush is such a hardcore geek for actual synths. None of this hiding behind a laptop not doing much bullshit. It’s all hands on. I like to see that in a live setting; something to look at (Not that I have seen Blush Response yet, more’s the pity!). If the artist themselves are just playing a CD on their high spec macbook then I could do that myself at home! Blush Response are definitely EBM friendly dancefloor stuff but with the hardware geekery, and great lyrics, they really are an interesting project and should be getting in to more and more headphones – and hopefully on to a stage in the UK, apparently he’s based in Europe now so that’d be a good gig to get in 2015.
I’m still not quite right with this being in the top ten album list, but the music press made such a fuss about it being called a ‘mini album’ rather than an EP at the time, it kind of makes sense, and to be fair, my summer wouldn’t have been the same without this EP/Mini Album/Call it whatever you will that it definitely needs a mention. This is just pure gorgeous Synthpop and as far as I’m concerned Röyksopp and Robyn should just work together all the time. They just work so well together; her otherworldly vocals and their minimal techno are just the perfect pairing. ‘Do It Again’ (the track) was on heavy rotation in the early summer and is a damn fine piece of synthpop filth. Utterly love it.
So thank you 2014. You’ve been a funny one, but you’ve given me some fine music and kept my earphones busy. Let’s see what 2015 has for me 🙂