Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Year That Was

This was piece is originally hosted at https://onthebeatmusic.wordpress.com/ - check it out!

Looking back over the music I loved and listened to last year I found the list to be rather small. For me, two new albums composed the largest part of my listening, along with smaller inputs from some old favourites.
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Niki & The Dove – Instinct
My album of the year was, without a doubt, Instinct from Niki & the Dove.
I discovered the Stockholm duo, Malin and Gustaf, at a small gig in Cardiff early in the year when a friend interviewed them. Unfortunately I made up the part of the crowd that had been brought along by a friend – I knew nothing about them. However, in the hour or so that followed I fell completely in love. During the intimate but powerful gig I found a music that spoke to me. On stage Malin is captivating. She is powerful yet she doesn’t intimidate. I find I can apply this judgement to their music too. To me, I have found my new Kate Bush. But nothing will ever replace the original, of course.
I have listened to their music almost every day since that gig. The album ranges from the calming to the exhilarating. Despite the strong electronic influence on their music it can still feel personal and human. The beautiful simplicity of the words bring something new I was yet to find in this genre of music. For a calming moment I will always choose Mother Protect. Otherwise, to fire my spirits, DJ Ease My Mind is the perfect accompaniment.
The other album which formed the majority of my listening this year was Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave. However, I think enough has been written about this album to fill an entire folio so I’ll keep my adoration to a minimum and say this was indie rock playing to my ears.
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
To be controversial, I will openly admit to having enjoyed the arrival of Lana Del Rey. Love her or hate her, you can’t entirely ignore her. Video Games was my song of the summer 2011 and I still absolutely love it. From a purely fashion and girl-crush point of view I think the aesthetic she brings is a refreshing combination of vintage chic and rock-music lover. Too often things can go one way or the other.
I don’t profess this to be an album of the year, or to be music genius by any extent. Even I would struggle to listen to the entire thing the entire way through but there are some songs there which I love. Her lazy, hazy summer songs are ideal for a fantasy of lying in a field or whatever it is that self-indulgent teenagers did this year. Most of the songs on here are easily-skippable but when I’ve been lost for inspiration these have been the ones I turned to this year.
Life in Film – Needles & Pins
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A small mention must go to an EP which was finally released this year. I discovered Life in Film through Watch.Listen.Tell. on YouTube and developed an instant passion for Carla. This five song EP is a lovely bundle of them, not straying into the unexpected and delivering exactly what I waited so long for and provided a new love in the form of Lose Control. If nothing else I recommend a casual listen to this lovely, low-key music.
Simon & Garfunkel
As much as it shames me to admit it, it took me until 2012 to discover Simon & Garfunkel. I’m rather ashamed that it took me so long but also delighted that I have finally found them. I can’t limit my new-found fandom to one particular album but Sounds Of Silence is definitely a massive love of mine.
I expect that everything I have to say will have already been said a hundred times before. But, just in case anyone is still as ignorant as I was, go and listen. Cecilia and America have become songs that I listen to so often I can’t imagine life without them.
This year I came across and half-listened to a lot of music but none of it quite struck me as much as these few chunks. I have high-hopes for 2013, since we have already begun with a magical return from Bowie.
Lauren Sourbutts, @IrvingFlashman

Are some of your highlights the same as mine?, what would you include on your list, what doesn’t deserve to be here? Tell me in the comments below!

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