the range

2014 Songs of the Year: Part Two - 50 through 41

Just got here? Get up to speed by reading Part One here. Click the Prev post button at the bottom of this post to get to Part Three.

50. Slow Build - The Range

 

49. Lighting Sparked - Dillon

 

48. Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe - Jessie Ware

 

47. Girl - Jamie xx

 

46. Sick Beat - Kero Kero Bonito

 

45. Call My Name - Haerts

 

44. Pretty Girls - Little Dragon

 

43. A Place Called Space - The Juan Maclean

 

42. Never Work For Free - Tennis

 

41. Pieces - Paperwhite


2013 Albums Of The Year: Part One

We are at the end of 2013 and so it's time for that most obligatory of blog posts: something that summarises what I particularly liked this year. 2013 has been a bit of an odd one in many respects... We have been spoilt by an abundance of lots and lots of good songs but for me the album format has felt more tired than ever. In other words, lots of good albums yet not that many great ones.

Before delving into the list of my favourite albums of the year feel free to check out the Spotify playlist I've compiled of some of the best tracks of the year... It's a bit of a mammoth set and in no particular order:

As always, my top ten list isn't necessarily supposed to be the ten best albums of the year, just the ten I enjoyed the most. I'll follow up with five through one shortly - the first half of my top ten are below. There were some near-misses here - Haim, Fuck Buttons, Classixx, Washed Out and Foals all delivered strong albums, but there can only be ten on the list...

 

10. The Bones Of What You Believe - CHVCHES

CHVRCHES

When I first listened to CHVRCHES (a little late but that was corrected by a friend) I didn't know what to expect, but it sure wasn't this. The low-end electronic rhythms of The Bones Of What You Believe feel oiled, primed, sleek and ready to move. In contrast, those synth-pop melodies and Lauren Mayberry's vocals feel angelic, beautiful and innocent. The whole feels mentally incongruous yet infectious as hell. At their best CHVRCHES were churning out pop songs so impossible not to like that it masked their depth. Gun remains one of my favourite moments of the year - a sweetly aggressive put-down record that betrays Mayberry's own emotional dependency on the subject. And Tether is the perfect soundtrack to your denial, every bit as amped as the feelings it describes.

Purchase on Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen via Spotify below:

 

9. Nonfiction - The Range [review]

The Range

The Range's debut album for Donky Pitch was one of 2013's most surprising finds - a record of fractured rhythms, hip-hop beats and beautiful melodies. The sounds, samples and snatches of hip-hop rhymes that emerge from the chaos feel collage-like  in nature, the specifics much less important than the whole. Nonfiction is a complex sounding melting pot of noise but it is also a pure joy to consume - exciting and rewarding, thoroughly and unapologetically contemporary.

Purchase on Amazon.co.uk on MP3 [affiliate link]. Listen via Spotify below:

 

8. Settle - Disclosure

Disclosure

No album felt quite as instaneaously infectious this year as Disclosure's Settle, a promiscuous and delicious warm slab of 90s influenced garage house. Despite growing up a generation late for it, Disclosure focused on drawing inspiration from the dance music that inspired them, capturing the world's attention whilst boosting the career of AlunaGeorge. Settle's appeal is in it's honesty combined with it's inclusive approach to music - they created something out of a catholic approach to music appreciation, borrowing from the best to create something new.

Purchase on Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen via Spotify below:

 

7. Reunion - Alex Barck [review]

Alex Barck

The best album from this year that no-one I've spoken to has ever heard of, the Jazzanova founding member released a proper grown up house music album that delivers a full twelve quality tracks. Soulful,  bluesy and absolutely full of passion and detail, Reunion respects where it comes from, but adds plenty of modern magic.

Purchase on Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen via Spotify below:

 

6. Reflektor - Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire, copyright Guy Aroch

Criminally overlooked by many, Arcade Fire's 'dance record' is of a significantly higher calibre than most would have you believe. It deals with a variety of themes - celebrity, technology and the end of the compact disc - but it is the songs, and James Murphy's production, that should win you over. Title track and first single Reflektor dazzled with ambition and spectacle but there were plenty of equally immersive moments - Joan of Arc's swagger, the distortion and stark drum rhythms of It's Never Over (Oh Orpheus).

In turning their back on the insular themes of suburbia that dominated their previous albums Arcade Fire made something that felt far more expansive.

Purchase on Amazon.co.uk on CD or MP3 [affiliate links]. Listen via Spotify below:

 

Come back soon for my five albums of the year, and if you have any thoughts on the above (or what else you think should be in the list) please comment!

EP Review: Seneca - The Range

On Seneca The Range follows up his Disk EP from last year on Donky Pitch with another EP of incredibly dense and percussive dance music.

The Range came to my attention a few months back when he released his fantastic Promises Edit into the wild. It's a stunning rework of Ciara's Promise that feels deep, sweet and thick like treacle, creating a big electronic sound around the vocal with smatterings of drum & bass rhythms as the track builds. Unfortunately it doesn't feature here, due to it's unofficial status, but it's worth checking out.

Seneca - The Range

What we do get are three new original tracks and three remixes. PS 3 opens the EP, creating a spectacularly kinetic track of Asian-sounding melodies and flick-knife-quick rhythms. It's an impressively uplifting track, full of Eastern promise and clattering excitement - steel drums stuttering vocal edits and frenetic energy. It's pretty thrilling.

Greg Maddux Change Up is next, and whilst it retains the same complex, multi-layered rhythms it is downbeat in mood. Stirring, blue electronic melodies slowly play out in the background against brittle, cold keys whilst The Range's trademark pitched vocal samples sit high in the mix.

The final original track is Life Like This and it's probably more similar to that Ciara edit than the other tracks on this EP. Slower, though definitely not slow - it has just a little less energy than the other tracks here. Rapid drums and an Amen break still give the track energy, but it's also feels delicate and contemplative in tone - an observation of the non-stop chaos of life, perhaps.

Two remixes of PS 3 feature. Obey City create a slower track that plays up the Eastern elements of the original, adding strings, whilst Supreme Cuts deliver a deeper mix, full of sub-bass and a more minimal sound. Howse provides the remaining mix, this time of Life Like This, and it too is deeper, creating a thick, atmospheric track that still has complex rhythms but combines them with hazy melodies.

Seneca is out now through Donky Pitch, you can purchase the EP on Bandcamp. Check out that Ciara remix below: