Tag Archives: 2013

Rob’s Obligatory Top Ten Albums of 2013

20 Dec

Yep, it’s that time of the year! Here are my favourite albums of 2013. Music lovers have had a bumper crop this year, and it was hard to cut it down to just ten. But here they are, in no particular order.

 

Cloud Cult – Love

This was the first album of 2013 that I actually fell in love with. The Minneapolis collective – currently an eight-piece – released their tenth studio album in March of this year and it was a fantastic, poignant ride. Lush layering, heartfelt lyrics, and wonderful harmonies all helped to create what could be their magnum opus.

 

Kavinsky – OutRun

Love wasn’t the first album to be really, really darn good though. That falls to Kavinsky. Most well known for the use of Nightcall in the soundtrack to Ryan Gosling flick Drive, the French electronic artist released his debut album in February. It may lack emotional impact, but it more than makes up for it in songs that practically drip with 80s movie nostalgia.

 

I The Mighty – Satori

2013 was a great year for rock music, though, nearly making up for the damp squib of 2012. One of the best offerings was served up by San Francisco’s I The Mighty. Their debut, Satori, has it all. Great musicianship, varied and truly poetic lyrical content, and choruses that you’ll be singing for weeks – or months, in my case. This is a strong a debut as you’re going to get.

 

Houses – A Quiet Darkness

Speaking of strong lyrical content, A Quiet Darkness was ahead of the pack. Houses delivered a concept album with a wonderful, heart-wrenching story – two lovers, separated by a nuclear holocaust, trying to reunite with one another. It captures the post-apocalyptic tone perfectly, and the catalyst is not only the dreamy ambience of the music but the sparse, yet graceful, lyrics, which work beautifully with the dual vocals of Dexter Tortoriello and Megan Messina.

 

Enemies – Embark, Embrace

I’m not sure how, but Enemies have managed to do something very unique with Math Rock. Normally the sole haven of musicians and technical music enthusiasts, Embark, Embrace swaps the often discordant noodling with uplifting, soaring melodies without losing any of the complexity that keeps music snobs (such as me) hooked. It’s great, both for pretentious folk like me and for casual listeners.

 

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

2013 also saw the triumphant return of a few of music’s heavyweights. One of the standouts was Hesitation Marks. Trent Reznor had a busy year, also releasing the impressive How To Destroy Angels debut album, and the signs were good that another Nine Inch Nails album would impress. But it surpassed even fan estimations, with not only that unique Nine Inch Nails feel, but with a true progression on show.

 

Lanterns on the Lake – Until the Colours Run

There’s nothing not to love about Until the Colours Run: a huge sound, vibrant guitar work, the beautiful strings, and wonderful vocals from Hazel Wilde. Almost every song sounds absolutely massive, and when it doesn’t – such as one of the standout tracks, the ballad Green and Gold – it only serves to further augment the impact. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional.

The First – Take Courage

Enough of that teary-eyed, twee stuff though. The First’s sophomore effort, Take Courage, is a beast of a rock album. Huge riffs, thumping choruses, and a rhythm section you could set your goddamn watch to all come together to form one of the most exciting albums of the year. Listen to this, and you’ll wake up the next morning covered in tattoos next to an empty bottle of whiskey. It’s that hardcore.

 

Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Immunity has been included in a large number of ‘Albums of the Year’ lists, and with good reason. The Mercury-nominated album, Hopkins’ fourth, shows the progression of an artist truly doing what he wants to do. Building on the unique sound of 2009’s Insides, Hopkins creates breathtaking, diverse soundscapes that just happen to be some of the best electronica to have been released in years. Immunity is great. Go buy it.

 

Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

You know what? I’m just going to say it. This is Queens of the Stone Age’s best album. Rated R has the bizarre, Songs for the Deaf has the heavy riffs, but neither compares to the variety on show here. From the slacker drawl of I Sat by the Ocean, through the psychedelic Kalopsia and the Prince-esque Smooth Sailing, to the delicate piano of the title track, it’s a journey of an album, with every song expertly balanced. A masterpiece.

 

So there we go. A little rundown of what’s been keeping me sane this year. Have a Merry Christmas and a ruddy great New Year!

Titans, Tumbleweed and Temporary Employment

22 May

I’ve not been around much, and for that I apologise. EyesAreOut has been accumulating dust at an alarming rate, but I swear it’s not a permanent thing. Anyway, I have some news!

First up, Titans & Kings are set to release our debut EP! It’s called Hold Your Tongue, and it looks a little something like this:

holdyourtonguecover

Plus, it sounds a little something like this:

 

If you like the sound of it, then it’ll be available on Amazon MP3, iTunes, off our Bandcamp page and also available in a limited edition CD print. Get them while they’re hot! It’s set for release on the 27th May, but you can order a physical copy from our BigCartel page and order the MP3s over here on Amazon on the day.

Not only that, but recording for my other project, White Birches, is going well. Just heard back one of the finished songs, and it’s sounding rather darn lush, mainly thanks to the wonderful production that Paddy Johnston has added, as well as some lovely work from Rob Sherman. Three songs have been recorded, with three more to go. It’s going to be all very nice and chilled, too, which makes a change from my usual grumpy solo stuff.

It's coming, and it hopefully will be good.

It’s coming, and it hopefully will be good.

That’s pretty much all I’ve had time for recently. I’ve been working a temporary contract earning sweet, sweet cashola. The work is not the most glamorous – cleaning cameras and data units that were used as part of the 2012 Olympic games, repackaging them and databasing them for storage and whoever uses them next – but it is strangely satisfying. I’m also working with one of my bestest best friends, which means there is always an opportunity to argue over which Indiana Jones movie is the best one.

There is, however, one major flaw to the job: the storage crates we’re working out of are full of gosh darn poisonous spiders. Us Brits aren’t used to things that definitely look like they’re meant to hurt us. The closest we get to dangerous wildlife in this country is the odd mythological beastie and the occasional angry badger or daddy long legs. The crates, though, appear to have come from abroad, and are full of eight-legged monsters that just look mean. Having wikipedia’ed our nemeses, some of them are definitely dangerous – although thankfully none are fatal. That said, we’re still double-checking our hard hats and jackets before putting them on and incurring the wrath of any spider taking a snooze.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Haven’t done much writing as I haven’t had a permanent base of operations for about two months, but there is more of that to come soon. Looking at my list of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m doing pretty well on them so far – although Porkins here still needs to lose a bit of weight.

‘Til next time!
(PS – here is MY suggestion for the Titans & Kings artwork. I wonder why nobody liked it…)

titans and kings ep 2

New Year’s Resolutions for 2013

11 Jan

Hello, everybody!

I hope that your 2013 is going excellently. I don’t know about you, but I love a good resolution or two. 2012, all things considered, was a bit of a terrible year, and I am very glad to see the back of it. I’m determined that 2013 is going to be ruddy excellent, however. So I’ve made a list of my resolutions for the coming year.

 

Get back in shape

Let me explain. I was ill for a stupidly long amount of 2012, my energy totally sapped. To be honest, I’ve become fat and I need to lose my new-found love handles. I want to get back into the shape I was in before my illness, back in 2011. This isn’t for my health, or for goodness in general. It’s entirely for my own vanity.

 

Release at least two EPs

I have three EPs in the pipeline this year. Titans & Kings, the hard rock band where I play bass, have studio time booked for the end of January. The release of that EP is a given. We’re looking to tour post-release and already have a nifty video out:

Then there’s Paddy Johnston & The Love Explosion. We really want to get an EP done this year and it looks very likely to happen. We have a truckload of songs and it would be amazing to get something permanent down.

Finally, my little project White Birches. I have a nice-sounding EP in mind, with lots of ambient layering and lush harmonies – if I find the time to record it. I also have plans for a fantastic video and a great, stripped-down live band. We’ll see what happens with those but I would love to share my own musical creativity – and by that I mean shove it down the throats of anyone within shouting distance.

I want all three EPs released, ideally. However, I will consider 2013 a success if I get two of the three completed.

 

Release an e-book

Here’s a tricky one. I am about a third of the way through my debut short story collection, loosely themed around the ideas of perception and reality. I would love to finish it and put it up online. You can see snippets here and there on the blog.

But there’s another project I have in mind. A couple of years ago, I had another blog where I shared a secret about myself a day. It wasn’t always interesting, but it gained a regular following and was therapeutic to do. I’ve been told many times that I should edit and rewrite it, by people I trust (and whose opinions I count on more than even my own). It’s something I am finally willing to do. I’m also toying with the idea of transforming it into some kind of semi-autobiographical narrative, but that’s a very young idea and one I am planning to keep very close to my chest.

So, one of the two. I want to make it happen even if very few people read the damn thing.

 

Send some short stories to magazines and webzines

Leading on from my last resolution, I want to send some of my short stories to publications – whether electronic or print. I have a few ideas already, particularly for the more genre-heavy ones. It doesn’t matter if I succeed and they publish, although obviously that would be preferable, but it’s important to take the step to try and make my writing actually accessible by someone other than my friends and lovely blogger buddies.

 

Be happy!

Finally, and most importantly, I want to be happy. It’s been a long time since I felt comfortable with my life and who I am. I want to get that back, gosh darn it. This one resolution, I don’t have a plan for, but we’ll see what happens.

 

So, those are all the major resolutions for this coming year. There are some minor ones – finally doing more Retro Reviews for Retr0mance, making a short horror movie, beating my friends Paddy and Rob at Scrabble, and applying for the television show Pointless with my Dad (we’d make a hell of a team).

Am I overreaching? We’ll see. But what the hey. Let’s make 2013 a year to remember.