It’s rare I manage to write actual blog posts these days, but I compiled this little list in my head and decided it had to go somewhere. So here it is. A track for each month of the year, and some tedious musings to go along with them just for a bit of context. These aren’t necessarily my favourite tracks in any given month (although in some cases, they are) but one way or another, they’re what’ll remind me of this year.
January: Metronomy – The Bay
I saw the video for this at a BUG show (that’s a recurring theme in this list) and spent weeks thereafter listening to it on a loop. Although it was actually an acoustic version from their Daytrotter session that I enjoyed most, maybe just because it’s interesting to hear the song with the production and electronics stripped out.
February: Vitamin String Quartet – Wake Up (Arcade Fire cover)
Nikki and I got married in February, and tasked with coming up with music that was non-religious, non-traditional, non-shit and broadly acceptable to both aging relatives and people our age, we turned, as so many indie weddings do, to the Vitamin String Quartet’s library of cover versions. We had a playlist of about a million of them playing during the meal, but this was the one used for the bride’s arrival.
March: HEEMS – Swate
I love Das Racist, and the fact that they’ve apparently split up (boo!) doesn’t worry me too much because their solo mix tapes released over the last year or so were really strong. I listened to Heems’ mixtape, Nehru Jackers, most of all (usually while playing Minecraft) and this was my favourite track. It’s got the same sense of deeply ironic comedy and stream-of-consciousness rapping as their magnum opus, Rainbow in the Dark.
April: Grimes – Oblivion
A Canadian girl with singing sweetly over industrial backing. Well, something has to fill the gap between Crystal Castles, I suppose (that’s a joke, son). More seriously, I love Oblivion. It’s almost like a murder-ballad from the point of view of the victim. It’s hard not to love that level of nihilism. Again, I listened to it a lot in April purely because I saw the video at a BUG show.
May: Garbage – Blood For Poppies
In May we went to see Garbage at the Troxy in East London. Mostly for old times’ sake. They’re still under the impression that they’ve got songs left in them, but I’m not so sure. Both their first albums were practically era-defining, and everything since has been somewhere between completely shit and a bit like someone doing songs in the style of Garbage. In any case, Blood for Poppies was the only one off the new album I listened to in any meaningful way. I like the chorus hook, although the rest of the lyrics are somewhat cringeworthy.
June: Alt-J – Breezeblocks
This time, a murder-ballad from the point of view of the murderer, which is a bit more traditional. As soon as I heard the Alt-J album (An Awesome Wave) for the first time it had Mercury contender written all over it, but most of the times I tried to listen to it I didn’t get past this track because I kept wanting to go back and listen again. We saw them live at Latitude in July and they were great.
July: Underworld – And I Will Kiss
Hey, remember the Olympics? The opening ceremony was, against all expectations, completely amazing, not least because of the soundtrack. This is the track that covers the opening section, Pandemonium. As it’s almost 20 minutes long, I haven’t exactly listened to it loads, but pick a section and you can probably remember what was happening on screen at the time it was playing, which, for me, is evidence of how well put together it is.
August: Birdy Nam Nam – Jaded Future
In August, the BUG TV show was on Sky Arts 1. We went to a couple of recordings. This was the theme song. It’s like dynamite going off in your ears.
September: Ben Folds Five – Do it Anyway
I wasn’t a huge fan of this song, but the video, featuring actual Fraggles AND Anna Kendrick, was amazing. I never did like the Muppets. The song’s grown on me, but it’s safe to say there are things I like off the album (The Sound of the Life of the Mind) better. They were both released in September.
October: Swiss Lips – U Got The Power
In October we had our belated Honeymoon in New York, timed to coincide with our friends’ wedding. For some reason, almost every shop in New York still plays MOR rock music from the between the mid-80s and mid-90s. The exception was Forever 21, which is a clothes retailer. They played music that actually seemed modern, one song of which was this, from Manchester outfit Swiss Lips. It’s a little Passion Pit-sans-Falsetto, but that’s still better than most.
November: CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share
Speaking of Passion Pit, I went to their gig in November and it was great. As good as they are on record, the songs work so much better live. But I’m not choosing them. I’m choosing the Scottish electro-pop outfit CHVRCHES, who supported Passion Pit at the Kentish Town Forum. I normally hate support bands, so it’s always a huge bonus for me to see one I both know and like.
December: Kina Grannis – In Your Arms
I could have chosen D:Ream, who I saw reform for one song (complete with Brian Cox) at Robin Ince’s End of the World show, but instead I’ll choose the song I’ve actually been listening to in December, which is this. Another one I saw at a BUG live show a few days prior. The video is insanely twee, but just about below my threshold because of the sheer tedium that doing a stop-frame animation with jellybeans must have involved.