Twenty thirteen, all secrets and spying, disco and dancing. We begin with new work by cellist Oliver Coates, the PRAH label’s debut release. Don’t be fooled, it starts quiet but does’t stay that way for long. The Knife put on one of the most baffling shows of the year (imagine, “and now, the solid gold dancers!”) and Shaking the Habitual is difficult, dark listening. But these are strange times, and the percussion on Wrap Your Arms Around Me could be the best of any track this year. Burial brings up the atmosphere on Hiders, released just in time to make the best of. Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. But it’s probably just too much Grand Theft Auto V – Age of Consent’s thumping track comes from the in-game soundtrack. The excellently named Big Data explore the repercussions of their name and Facebook’s privacy policies in a cautionary take about sharing too much online in Dangerous. Autre Ne Veut escalates the emotion on the followup to his debut, Anxiety, on Counting.
Ethereal, lush Woman is best not attempted anytime soon at karaoke, and is followed up by Goodnight from what must be the most anticipated not-yet-announced album, from Philip Owusu. Bringing the tempo back up, it’s time to dance without intention thanks to Holy Ghost! “Put it off, and wait for another day” Well alright, then. Put it off is just what I’ve been doing with my running regimen which has turned to dust, but earlier in the year Disclosure provided the regular soundtrack with Defeated No More battling with Help Me Lose My Mind for favourite track. Lusine cover Electronic’s Get the Message followed by one of DJ Ringfinger’s favourites, Public Service Broadcasting, taking their samples from Prelinger films. A joyful evening was had by many of us this year at Punchdrunk Theatre’s The Drowned Man in London, Melt Yourself Down’s track We Are Enough soundtracks the finale wrapping up 3 hours of dance, doom, running after actors, and trying to work out what just happened, really. If nothing makes sense anymore, then it makes perfect sense for Arcade Fire to ask, “Do you like rock n’ roll music? Cuz I don’t know if I do…”
Another of DJ Ringfinger’s votes for Low leads off a trio of women. Carla Morrison is a rising star in Mexico, a special edition of Dejenme Llorar was released this year. Through her I fell into alt.latino music in a big way this year. On the more electronic end, Juana Molina returns with a swooning, huge new album.
After Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a tune from my album of the year: Serengeti’s Kenny Dennis LP. Kenny Dennis is a character-based concept album. Kenny being a Chicago-based rapper from the outfit Grim Teachers. He raps a lot about nutrition, getting lost, 5K challenges, and directions to Reno. In between, we’re introduced to stories about KD’s time on Powerball (“crush Nitro to the wall”), his protege Anders, wife Jules, and the Sharper Image on Michigan Avenue. “This will make sure that you don’t suggest to the KD’s he should grow greens instead of crunching out MC’s!” It’s a bit daft, but it makes me smile a whole lot, and rewards repeat listens of which there have been many for me this year.
Twenty thirteen’s headlines of fear, uncertainty and doubt can be found throughout a number of these cuts from Big Data to The Knife, but hey, if we’re going to go out with everything laid bare, we may as well go out dancing with a more upbeat take than ever take on the year that was – Janelle Monae implores us to dance towards the apocalypse before we wrap it all up with a song that you can’t help but move your feet to, Happy.
Until next year!
Cello And Autoharps – Oliver Coates
Wrap Your Arms Around Me – The Knife
Hiders – Burial
Colours – Age of Consent
Dangerous – Big Data
Counting – Autre Ne Veut
Woman – Rhye
Goodnight – Philip Owusu
Dumb Disco Ideas – Holy Ghost!
Defeated No More – Disclosure
Get the Message – Lusine
Theme from PSB – Public Service Broadcasting
We Are Enough – Melt Yourself Down
Normal Person – Arcade Fire
Just Make it Stop – Low
Disfruto – Carla Morrison
Lo Decidí Yo – Juana Molina
From the Sun – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
West of Western – Serengeti
Dance Apocalyptic – Janelle Monae
Happy – Pharrell Williams