Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Tag archive

Julia Holter

LIVE REVIEW: Julia Holter, DR Koncerthuset, 18.08.2016

in Live Reviews by
Julia Holter live at DR Koncerthuset

Photo by Morten Krogh

Julia Holter is trying hard not to lose her cool. She tries to sing her first song only to find that her mic isn’t plugged in. She keeps asking for more vocals and keys in her monitor, only to learn that none of her band have any monitors at all. It’s not the most auspicious start to an evening in a smaller room in Koncerthuset, but Julia Holter is a professional.

There are little hints at this professionalism, her classical training, such as when she provides the exact measure to pick up after the mic snafu or when she conducts — whether consciously or unconsciously — for herself, waiting for her backing band to rejoin her on a song.

Maybe it’s the initial tension of the evening that skews this perspective, but the energy of the band as a whole seems stronger than when we first saw this incarnation at Vega last year. Perhaps there is a battle-worn solidarity that helps them rally their energy, but everyone recovers from the early inconvenience and compensates for a lack of joviality with energy. It’s not surprising that Holter surrounds herself with people as seasoned as herself.

While waiting for the monitor situation to get sorted, Julia jokes that now would be the time to sing a cappella, except she never does that. But later, when she sings the hushed line, “all the people run from the horizon” from “How Long?” or when the opening vocals of “So Lilies” ricochet off of those of her backing vocalist, you wonder why she wouldn’t try it. Her voice always identified as a part of her lush arrangements, but would anyone even blink if she made them the defining characteristic of a song?

Her set hasn’t changed much in the last year, with Have You in My Wilderness still her most recent release, but her set did draw a new appreciation for “Vasquez.” Without the electronic elements of its recorded version, it takes on a decidedly more jazzy feel, the bass more dominant and Holter’s vocals more careless in their delivery. The breakdown in the middle, without the horns of the album, is a showcase of minimalist bass and viola work, and when the drums chime in, it is truly startling. And that’s why we’ll be out at every show she plays in Copenhagen — for all her polish, and even after seeing three shows in as many years, Julia Holter can still startle.

Our Top 20 Albums of 2015

in Blog by

Every December the staff of Here Today meet to decide our favourite albums of the year. It’s an ugly brawl, with scars lasting well into the next Spring. This year, to save ourselves a bit of dignity, we thought we’d ask our readers to pick the best of our 20 candidates for best album. The voting will end at midnight on the 20th of December, but we will be arguing the case for each album until the final day.

[yop_poll id=”2″ tr_id=””” show_results=”-1″]

Majical Cloudz – Are You Alone?

When relationships end, it can get ugly fast. Some people lash out, and some turn it inwards. The source of heartbreak on Majical Cloudz’s Are You Alone matter far less than the overarching contemplation of what it means to be in love or alone. The down tempo album of pianos, synths, and solo vocals on this particularly lovelorn album makes it your best friend and companion for rainy days or just days when you can’t bear to face the world. And it’s still got more dignity to it than a Netflix marathon.

Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr had all the makings of the next garage rock band of the minute, but there are already enough swampy vocals out there. What there isn’t enough of is the deadpan delivery that makes this band instantly recognizable. It’s as if that voice has given them license to go ever so slightly off the rails; with atypical narratives and atypical song structures, The Agent Intellect wraps its frayed ends around you and grips tightly. All the proof you need is in the second movement of “Why Does It Shake?” If that doesn’t make it a contender for song of the year, there’s no hope for any of us.

Jamie xx – In Colour

It seems ridiculous that In Colour is actually Jamie xx’s debut album as a solo artist. After two LPs with the xx, producing Gil Scott Heron’s I’m New Here, and countless remixes, finally we have a full-length album with Jamie’s name on the cover. Not that he is alone: xx bandmates Romy Croft and Oliver Sim make an appearance, as well as Young Thug and Popcaan. The result is a bright collection of down-tempo dance tunes with a nostalgic bent.

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

The Canadian quartet’s self-titled album is a soundtrack through a dystopian fairyland (and with song titles like “Pointless Experience,” “Bunker Buster,” and “Death,” that’s not really projecting). Pulled between ambient synths and math rock guitars, pulsed by deceptively understated drums,Viet Cong falls into loops that you could easily roll through for hours at a time without wanting to break out of the cycle. You’ll snap out of it, though, when the faux nice-guy vocals kick in and remind you that these guys have a fatalist streak in them. It’s definitely one of the most exciting debut albums of the year.

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

It’s been exciting to watch Chelsea Wolfe develop as an artist, and even more still to see how she’s harnessed the competing elements of her music in new ways. Abyss is her most balanced record yet, allowing her voice to float through quieter arrangements instead of always serving as a contrast to the intensity and harshness of the noise she works with. Songs liked “Grey Matter” hit that sweet spot of letting her voice shine over the aggression instead of in spite of it, but never let us worry for a second. Wolfe can make even the ugliest noises sound beautiful.

Sufjan Stevens  – Carrie & Lowell

Where other albums this year have distinguished themselves in their inventive production, Sufjan Steven’s seventh studio album takes the opposite approach: the instrumentation is limited, often nothing more than a finger-picked guitar, and effects are kept to a minimum. What we are left with is the deep melancholy of Stevens’ soft vocals, and his lyrics of loss. As a counterpoint to this close focus on the singer-songwriter’s emotional state, there is a limpid precision to his playing that cuts through the whole record, elevating it from naked confession to finely-wrought statement.

Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper

Noah Lennox, co-founder of Animal Collective, returned with an album that showcases his signature blend of electronic pop and off-kilter psychedelia. It’s all there: the weird tropicana, angelic Brian Wilson voice, the bouncy synths. Noise and melody intertwine until they are indistinguishable from each other, lyrics melt into chorus-laden chants. Some critics have complained that none of this is particularly new with Panda Bear, but when the results are this good, it seems like a rather minor complaint.

Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa

From Kinshasa to the Moon: this is the trajectory declared by the Congolese 7-piece at the beginning of their debut album. The record label may have neglected to append the destination to the album title, but the rest of the world hasn’t. It’s an often-bewildering journey, full of unfamiliar pulsating rhythms and dark bass lines, that don’t conform to what we would comfortably like to call ‘afro-beat’. Acoustic elements clash with lo-fi synths, the synchopated drums countered by the regularity of the electronic beats. It’s the sound of a big, busy, alien city moving into the future: crowded, idiosyncratic, chaotic and heady.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Some of us refused to believe that a member of Fleet Floxes could have a sense of humour. But say what you like about I Love You, Honeybear, it is not an album that takes itself very seriously. Josh Tillman has produced an album of nostalgic bar-ballads and folk love-hate songs suffused with bright colour and a sly wit. Perhaps what has captured the imagination of so many listeners is this odd juxtaposition between, on the one hand, Tillman’s emotional delivery and sentimental arrangements, and on the other, his withering treatment of millennial culture. It might be ridiculously mean-spirited, but if Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” is anything to go by, most people are down with you insulting your former girlfriends as long as you do so in such an obvious way that it ends up biting your own ass.

Tobias Jesso Jr – Goon

Father John Misty was not the only one this year to make waves with some retro singer-songwriter nostalgia. But Tobias Jess Jr is less barroom depressive, more of a grand piano melancholic. Double-tracked vocals, minimal instrumentation, and heartfelt lyrics: it’s probably not a stretch to guess that plenty of weddings in 2016 are going to feature “Without You” on their playlist.

Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

West-coast rap’s rising star exploded this year with To Pimp A Butterfly. Grandiose yet subtle, rooted yet avant-garde, the album is the perfect distillation of the best of both the old guard (Dre, Snoop, George Clinton, Ronald Isley) and the new (Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Rapsody). Full of the smoothest grooves and catchiest beats, the real strength of the album is how even the smallest details contribute to creating a vibrant, exciting whole. There is a moment at the end of “Wesley’s Theory”—when what sounds like a phone vibrating turns out to be the saxophone intro to the wild jazz of “For Free”— that perfectly sums up the level of creativity, humour and dedication that has had critics call this the definitive rap album of the decade.

Joanna Newsom – Divers

A new record from Joanna Newsom should always be considered a notable event. But if Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly can be considered a defining part of 2015, to say the same of Divers would feel faintly ridiculous. Divers is as much part of 1715 and 2215 as it is of this year. And that is what makes Newsom such a unique, fearless voice, one that can dedicate itself to the research of how humans work through and against time without even a hint of pretension. And an album whose first single opens with these lines is worthy of every accolade: “The cause is Ozymandian / the map of Sapokanikan / is sanded and bevelled / the land lone and levelled / by some unrecorded and powerful hand.”

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida

Sometimes what makes an album stand out is the reception it gets when you play it to other people. This year Dick Diver’s Melbourne, Florida stood out for this very reason. The sound is instantly familiar, songs distantly remembered from a past life, worming themselves back into your working memory. Those more familiar with the Aussie quartet will point out that the band have already made a name for themselves with their first three albums, but I can personally testify that everyone I’ve introduced to “Waste the Alphabet” and “Tearing the Posters Down” already has these engraved in their minds alongside the best that 80s and 90s indie pop ever produced. And don’t be fooled into taking this as twee: with song titles like “Beat Me Up (Talk To a Counsellor)”, there is a dark, caustic wit to Dick Diver that makes them worth anyone’s time.

Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

After dazzling us with the dark, swirling chaos of Loud City Song in 2013, Julia Holter’s follow up, Have You In My Wilderness, presents itself as something of a return to the light. Gone are the dark horns and paranoid bass, replaced by harpsichord and dreamy strings. But don’t be fooled, there is still plenty of dark weirdness in Holter’s lyrics and vocal delivery. It’s just that they have been transferred into the bright, white room shown in the cover art. Opening with “Feel You” the closest thing to a pop-song Holter has ever produced, Have You In My Wilderness demonstrates a new, luxuriant side to an artist that will always be a part of Here Today’s personal pantheon.

Holly Herndon – Platform

If there’s an album that would be ridiculous to listen to in any analogue format, it’s Holly Herndon’s Platform. This collection of glitchy digital compositions captures the often-overlooked joys and perils of living through computers. Herndon has taken the Knife’s school of heavily-effected vocals to new extremes, sounding more like a computer that is trying to reconstruct music from a broken hard-drive. If that sounds a little off-putting, one can only respond that this is the whole point, but that is not to say that songs like “Chorus” and “Morning Sun” aren’t almost danceable. It’s just that they re-create what it’s like to listen to dance music on headphones, whilst browsing the internet: fractured, distracted, introverted. And it’s about time that we focused on the way that most of us listen to music day to day.

Blur – The Magic Whip

Since their reunion in 2009, Blur have peeked their heads around the corner every so often with a tour and a new single to make their existence more than a nostalgia trip. The Magic Whip, however, is the first real evidence that there is intention left in them. They’re a band whose members have gone in different directions in the last 10 years and brought those experiences back with them, but remember what it is everyone loves about them. Crunchy, abstract guitar solos? Check. Moody broody ballads? Check. Big, joyful singalong choruses? Check. Any memory of Britpop? Successfully traded for the here and now. Rather than argue that this is the best album of their career, it’s more apt to appreciate that this is exactly the record you would hope they would make now.

Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, Girl

It’s taken five albums, but with Apocalypse, Girl Jenny Hval has finally found a way to skip down the weird/accessible line with just the right balance. The Norwegian singer (who is one fourth Danish) got us all grooving to references to breast cancer and soft dicks, sneaking in feminist and anti-capitalist declarations with admirable wit. Her avant garde pop is a patchwork of electronic music, chilled beats, spoken word and gentle vocals. And yeah, you do feel a little dirty singing along to some of it (most of it?), but a huge part of Hval’s appeal is that she never forgets that the most effectively subversive music is, at its heart, fun.

Various Artists – Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton

Karen Dalton was a literally unsung hero of the New York folk scene in the 60s. She released a couple of albums of covers, but was too affected by anxiety to keep recording, and never shared any of the songs she wrote herself. Fast forward to 20 years after her death and her songs are seeing the light of day, albeit through the interpretations of other artists. While Sharon Van Etten had chords for the title track, other artists had only lyrics to work with, making this album a collection of songs by artists like Julia Holter, Marissa Nadler, Isobel Campbell, and Josphine Foster, with lyrics by Dalton. The lineup alone should make Remembering Mountains an overlooked gem, but the thread of Dalton’s work tying the songs together makes it truly special.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BBNZIKlMpw

New Order – Music Complete

New Order have existed under that name in various incarnations for 35 years, but they still hold a place as the quintessential party band for the types of kids who don’t get invited to a lot of parties. Music Complete will definitely get you dancing, and the loss of Peter Hook means that there’s something really genuine in the laments of broken relationships (and with such a distinctive style, Hook is actually pretty easy to copy). Plus the guest appearances from Iggy Pop, La Roux, and Brandon Flowers also bring in unique sinister vocals, over the top pop shine, and a kind of meta-New Order interpretation respectively.

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett is one of those artists that you really feel you could be friends with. She has no trouble relating the mundane in life with a dry delivery and a sense of humor that holds your interest. On Sometimes, she’s learned to use that voice to convey a deeper sense of ennui, as on “Depreston” and even hint at unexpected emotions other than boredom in “Dead Fox” before amping things back up with “No One Really Cares If  You Don’t Go to the Party.” And that’s really why Courtney Barnett could be our pal; she’ll tell crazy stories and entertain a full room, but probably spend the next two weeks hiding at home. We can get behind that.

LIVE REVIEW: Julia Holter, Vega, 04.11.2015

in Live Reviews by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

It’s fair to say that Julia Holter has become something of a contemporary cult figure for the Here Today staff. In fact, checking the side bar on Spotify, I can see that at the moment of writing at least three friends are listening to her. But what is it that hooks us? From the insular minimalism of Ekstasis, via the disquieting swirls of Loud City Song, and finally to the harpsichord-dominated psych-pop of her latest album, Have You In My Wilderness, the L.A. singer-songwriter is hard to pin down to anything other than her voracious and sparkling personality.*

If you have only accessed Holter through her records, her live presence will come as a surprise. No mystery, no ominous lighting, just a cheery young woman with a mass of thick hair and a laid-back band. For this tour Holter is joined by a bassist, a violist and a wise-cracking drummer. The use of strings lends quite a different effect from last time I saw her, when she was accompanied by a small but brash brass section (making the song “Horns Surrounding Me” almost literal). Which is not to say that the set is all airy-fairy sweetness, but rather that this evening discord is sown slowly and suggestively, rather than forcefully.

Julia Holter Vega-4837

After some initial technical difficulty, the band begins with a song “about dying on an island,” as Holter herself puts it. The song in question, “Lucette Stranded on the Island”, is full of quiet, lush melancholy, showcasing the band at their sweetest. No matter how dark the subject matter might be, Have You In My Wilderness is without a doubt the brightest of Holter’s work, epitomized by the bobbing bass line and drums of “Feel You” (which, we are reminded, does not sound completely unlike the word “failure”).

There are other moments of brilliant dynamism, particularly on the song “Horns Surrounding Me”. Though the horns in question are nowhere to be found, the ominous, driving piano riff does a good enough job of evoking the paranoid desire to run away. As the drums pick up on the alternate beat to the piano, the pace seems to increase, and the viola starts to wail. But the real highlight of the evening is “Marienbad”, with its haunting opening arpeggio and medieval-sounding vocal harmonies. There is an escapist element to all Holter’s music, albeit an escape into something disquieting, but the minimalism of this song seems to highlight the space in the room. Have we escaped back into the present?

*Yes, I am aware that she has released records prior to Ekstasis

PHOTOS: Julia Holter, Lille Vega, 04.11.2015

in Photos by
Julia Holter (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Julia Holter (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Julia Holter (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Julia Holter (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Julia Holter Vega-4837

Julia Holter Vega-2621

Our gig picks this week

in Blog by

“Hey guys, any good concerts this week?” You bet. As the days get darker and colder the gigs keep piling up. To help you sort out your musical priorities, we’ve come up with our recommendations for the next five days.

Wednesday, November 4

Julia Holter, Vega

Always a favourite at Here Today, Julia Holter’s latest release, Have You In My Wilderness has received universal acclaim. If your dream hangout spot is the Road House from Twin Peaks, welcome to your new musical obsession.

Thursday, November 5

The Prodigy, Tap1

Do we really need to tell you why the Prodigy are worth seeing? Weren’t you around when the video for “Firestarter” was playing everywhere? Jeez, live a little.

Shilpa Ray, Loppen

If you haven’t already shaved the top of your head and colored the remaining hair green in tribute to the Prodigy, you can opt for a more quiet evening with Shilpa Ray, who did this wonderful duet with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Friday, November 6

Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen

The dark queen of doom folk is back again with Abyss. Halloween really isn’t over till Chelsea’s passed through town.

Mercury Rev, Koncerthuset

These indie heroes of the 80s and 90s are still going strong with their newly release The Light in You.

James Chance and the Contortions, Jazzhouse

NY NO WAVE! KILL YR IDOLS! God knows how or why they are still playing, but how can you not be into a little contortion?

Saturday, November 7

Put on your best canadian tuxedo and point your Mustang south towards Amager Bio for longhaired-wonder Kurt Vile.

(If you are in Århus you will have the chance to experience Kurt Vile at Voxhall on the 4. of November.)

Kuku and Blixa Bargeld, Jazzhouse

Honestly I can’t think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want to see Blixa Bargeld doing anything, anywhere. Just the other day I watched a video of him making risotto on German tv. Worth it.

Sunday, November 8

Son Lux, Lille Vega

No one goes wild on a Sunday, so why not chill with Son Lux instead? Also, is this what people mean by chamber pop?

Thurston Moore, Store Vega

Or else head round the corner to Vega’s larger venue and check out Sonic Youth-founder Thurston Moore. Then again I haven’t read Kim Gordon’s autobiography yet so I dunno whether I’m supposed to be ok with him or not.

Patty Waters, Jazzhouse

Believe it or not, Jazzhouse does actually host jazz gigs every now and then. “Priestess of the avant-garde” should be all the endorsement this jazz innovator needs. Jazz (and did I mention jazz?)

 

Roskilde Festival 2014, Sunday 6th July

in Live Reviews by

Deerhunter

After several days of stage theatrics and moody band introductions, it’s a surprise and a pleasure to see Deerhunter conducting their own soundcheck. Frontman Bradford Cox’s awkward charm does more to connect with the audience than any set of laser displays or smoke machines. As the band launch into “Agoraphobia”, the refrain of “comfort me” seems particularly apt, a love letter to the warmth and comfort of the shoegaze bands that inspire it. But Deerhunter replace the ethereal quality of bands like Slowdive with a certain degree of quirkiness which is clear in Cox’s stage banter as much as in his music. After regaling us with a description of a 4th of July celebration chez Deerhunter, the band launch into “Nothing Ever Happened”, drawing out its motorik energy until it starts to melt into a cover of Patti Smith’s “Horses”. A moment of brilliant free-association genius, and a great begging to Sunday at Roskilde.

CC

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Julia Holter

The warmth and energy of Deerhunter are replaced with an almost unbearable heat and humidity inside Gloria, where we wait for Julia Holter. But that same discomfort put this reviewer into a mind frame that perfectly suited the David Lynchian-quality of Holter’s music. The avant-garde singer-songwriter is accompanied by a drummer, a cellist, a violist, and a tenor-saxophonist. The effect is altogether different than that of her latest record, Loud City Song: the noise, reverb and general swirliness of the album are replaced with a crisp, stripped-back sound, as intimate as it is unsettling. “Maxim’s I” is transformed from the kind of song you’d expect to be heard in a Twin Peaks road bar into something closer to jazz or minimalist classical music. The intimacy is helped by Holter’s approach to her audience: offhand questions about what wine people in the front are drinking turn the affair into a secluded, friendly if off-kilter microcosm.

CC

Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Kasabian

I have this image in my mind of Kasabian sitting around a few weeks before a tour or album release. Guitarist Sergio Pizzorno turns to frontman Tom Meighan and says “mate, why are we still doing this? We’re not even that great.” Meighan puts his hand on Pizzorno’s shoulder and says “Serge, it’s because we’re massive LADS!” They then discuss ‘banter’ or something. At Roskilde, the vision becomes reality as Meighan makes exactly the same motions with his (relatively sparse) audience. It’s about half an hour before their set is due to start, and they’ve summoned only a few dozen to wait in line for the pit. This is the same band who closed Glastonbury. Why have they failed to crack Denmark? The majority of the small group waiting are all British. The lone Dane standing next to me says his friends didn’t even want to come with him to watch. Maybe Danes don’t really go for lead singers who look like Eye Ball Paul from Kevin And Perry Go Large, but it’s entirely their loss.

Meighan is unashamedly confident and cocky, but he justifies his behaviour onstage, introducing the band as ‘The Mighty Kasabian’. He engages with the audience by pointing and waving his tongue at them, and between songs stands pouting triumphantly on the edge of the stage, beckoning the crowd to shower him and his band with all the woops and claps they can muster. Basking in praise comes naturally, he relishes it, and shows enough vitality in everything he does to make it work. Who gives a fuck if his audience is only half full; as long as a few people are enjoying it, he can hype them up enough to adequately rub his ego.

From opening track ‘Bumble Bee’ taken from new album 48:13, to closing number ‘Fire’, which is extended and dedicated to Leicester, the performance is unfailing. The final track sees Meighan and Pizzorno telling everyone to bounce on the ground for the guitar riff, before jumping incessantly for the rip roaring chorus line. It’s got even more energy than the actions for ‘Vlad the Impaler’, which followed a similar routine. As the rest of the band depart, Meighan sings, surprisingly well, the chorus line from ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ a capella. A few punters are still screaming the riff from ‘Fire’ after the band have left and the hosts have stepped on. The only disappointment is the lack of encore.

HT

Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Kasabian (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

 

MØ: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love your plait and scrunchie combo. I love the tennis skirt and dirty trainers you’re wearing. I love your complete disregard for the ‘No Crowdsurfing’ rule. From kangaroo jumps three feet in the air to sprawling onto the ground and singing from the floor, watching MØ perform is a visual spectacle. It’s tiring just looking at her, as sweat drips from her forehead. Always in control, her voice never once falters or fails; it stays completely powerful and enchanting, as she accompanies herself with looped “huh”s and high pitched “ow”s. She’s a beautiful clash of soft feeling and urban style, both in look and sound.

HT 

MØ (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

MØ (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Stevie Wonder

If there’s a place for legends, the Orange Stage is it. From The Rolling Stones on Thursday, to Stevie Wonder on Sunday, it was the performance space for two entirely different but well loved acts, and the latter’s evening set brought the festival to a joyous end before a few thousand punters stayed on for Jack White. Wonder’s band is so extensive it takes several minutes to credit them all. For the entirety of the two hour set, the singer remains enthusiastic, engaging and encouraging of the audience to partake in his soul celebration. He introduces all his tracks with an invitation to “sing this”. The chorus forms the base of a hit track for him to sing over. This is not Wonder’s show alone; he ensures it belongs to the tens of thousands of tired, dirty spectators too. As he moves into ‘Ebony and Ivory’, the musician asks the crowd: “can you imagine how much people have missed out on because of the prejudices we have in this world?” and once again beckons for Roskilde to join him. “If you agree with me, sing… You can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it.” Whether the subject matter is love, adultery or racism, for Stevie Wonder, music is the channel through which people should come together and reach greatness, solidarity and power.

HT

Stevie Wonder (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords

If Forest Swords’ Matt Barnes feels hard-done-by in his allocated slot—playing Gloria at the same time that Stevie Wonder and Moderat are playing the Orange Stage and Arena—he certainly doesn’t show it. The space that isn’t occupied by the scattered but enthralled audience is instead filled up with the Liverpool-based producer’s approach to dub music: lung-fizzling bass, unsettling samples, sharp keyboards and even the odd spaghetti-western-influenced guitars. Barnes is accompanied by a bassist, and divides his time brooding over the sampler, hunching over the keyboard or swaying around with his guitar. Tracks like “Thor’s Stone” and “The Weight of Gold” from his debut Engravings are without doubt some of the standout electronic songs of 2013, and are even more effective live.

CC

Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Forest Swords (Photo by Tom Spray)

Photo by Tom Spray

Jack White

Those of us who watched clips from Jack White’s set at Glastonbury last week knew what to expect for this, the concluding set at the Orange Stage: an expansive retrospective of his work, from the White Stripes to the Raconteurs and his solo work. His band band, including a fiddle-player and a lap-steel-guitarist, help to reinvent as much as they reproduce the sounds from his back-catalogue, adding a certain amount of country twang to the overdriven swagger of much of his later work. A slight hint of reserve blends in with the excitement as White begins his set with a drawn out jam of the White Stripes’ “Icky Thump”: is this going to be a display of utter indulgence, an artist at the height of his success revelling in his apparent freedom to do whatever he likes? That reserve is also to be found in White himself, who largely refrains from talking much in between songs except to get a little annoyed when the crowd doesn’t seem to know the lyrics to “Hotel Yorba”. “You guys speak English, right?” This is going south fast, but a split-second later White recovers by making some quip about his own level of English. Thankfully, the experience seems to humble him enough to really begin engaging with the crowd, rather than taking their adulation for granted. The extended jams end, and are replaced by a quick series of White Stripes medleys that drive the audience forward through slower songs from Lazaretto.

Throughout White pays tribute to fellow Detroit-native and predecessor on the stage, Stevie Wonder, and even makes the odd joke about sharing his doctor with Drake. It is clear in these moments that Jack White’s ability as an entertainer take precedence over his sometimes rather insular and self-aggrandizing approach to his “art”, and that on stage he is able to fully embrace that. A festival crowd might not know the lyrics to all his White Stripes songs, but they can end Roskilde on a jumping high with set closers “Steady as She Goes” and the obligatory, perennial “Seven Nation Army”. But even in this last instance, White doesn’t rest on his laurels, but reworks the song in such as way as to work best with a band of six rather than one of two. We can only apologize to poor Londoners, from whom apparently we snatched him at the last moment. Such is the power of Roskilde.

CC

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh

Julia Holter | Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2014

in Photos by

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

(Roskilde Festival 2014)

Julia Holter (Roskilde Festival 2014)

Roskilde Festival 2014 | Bands to catch

in Blog by

Thursday 3rd July

Who: Earl Sweatshirt
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 17:30

Who: Outkast
Where: Orange Stage
When: 18:30

Who: Chance The Rapper
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 21:00

Who: The Rolling Stones
Where: Orange Stage
When: 22:00

 

Friday 4th July

Who: Connan Mockasin
Where: Pavilion Stage
When: 14:00

Who: Damon Albarn
Where: Arena Stage
When: 20:30

Who: Darkside
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 23:00

Who: Trentemøller
Where: Orange Stage
When: 01:00

Saturday 5th July

Who: Omar Souleyman
Where: Apollo Stage
When: 17:30

Who: Manu Chao
Where: Orange Stage
When: 19:30

Who: Arctic Monkeys
Where: Orange Stage
When: 22:30

Who: Interpol
Where: Arena
When: 00:00

Sunday 6th July

Who: A$AP Ferg
Where: Avalon Stage
When: 16:00

Who: Julia Holter
Where: Gloria Stage
When: 17:00

Who: Stevie Wonder
Where: Orange Stage
When: 20:30

Who: Forest Swords
Where: Gloria Stage
When: 21:00

Photos of the year 2013

in Blog/Photos by

The Hives

The Hives, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 31.01.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The_Men-9

The Men, Stengade, Copenhagen, 21.03.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

The Soft Moon, Loppen, Copenhagen, 30.03.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

Shout Out Louds, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 09.04.2013 (Photo by Hilmar Darri Flygenring)

Folkeklubben-3581

Folkeklubben, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 25.04.2013 (Photo by Morten Krogh)

Autre Ne Veut

Autre Ne Veut, Rust, Copenhagen, 23.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Daughter

Daughter, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 10.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids

Japandroids, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 03.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 02.04.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Palma Violets

Palma Violets, BETA, Copenhagen, 31.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Schultz and Forever

Schultz and Forever, DR Byen, Copenhagen, 03.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Araab Muzik

Araab Muzik, KB3, Copenhagen, 08.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz

Metz, Ideal Bar, Copenhagen, 04.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 02.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cody

Cody, Store Vega, 01.03.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Widowspeak

Widowspeak, Loppen, Copenhagen, 08.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 10.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

The Eclectic Moniker, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 10.05.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Øresundsfestival 2013

Broke, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

MØ, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

Iceage, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Øresundsfestival 2013

The White Album, Øresundsfestival, Malmö, 11.05.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, Parken, Copenhagen, 14.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Bring Me The Horizon

Bring Me The Horizon, Amager Bio, Copenhagen, 18.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Beach Fossils

Beach Fossils, Stengade, Copenhagen, 21.05.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Nick Cave

Nick Cave, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 31.05.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

blur

Blur, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 31.05.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

grizzly bear

Grizzly Bear, Optimus Primavera Sound, Porto, 01.06.2013 (Photo by Janye Yong)

A$AP Rocky (Photo by Tom Spray)

A$AP Rocky, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 11.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mew (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mew, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 12.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National, Loppen, Copenhagen, 20.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Trash Talk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Trash Talk, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 27.06.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Drenge (Photo by Tom Spray)

Drenge, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Savages (Photo by Tom Spray)

Savages, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Slipknot (Photo by Tom Spray)

Slipknot crowd, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Animal Collective (Photo by Tom Spray)

Animal Collective, Roskilde Festival, 04.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metz, Roskilde Festival, 05.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P, Roskilde Festival, 05.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Iceage (Photo by Tom Spray)

Iceage, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013

Action Bronson (Photo by Tom Spray)

Action Bronson, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National (Photo by Tom Spray)

The National, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metallica (Photo by Tom Spray)

Metallica, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sigur Ros (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sigur Ros, Roskilde Festival, 06.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

James Blake (Photo by Tom Spray)

James Blake, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Photo by Tom Spray)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Queens Of The Stone Age (Photo by Tom Spray)

Queens Of The Stone Age, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk (Photo by Tom Spray)

Kraftwerk crowd, Roskilde Festival, 07.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

John Legend (Photo by Tom Spray)

John Legend, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 16.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sleep Party People (Photo by Tom Spray)

Sleep Party People, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 27.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Smashing Pumpkins Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

The Smashing Pumpkins, Falconer Salen, 31.07.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

AlunaGeorge, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

AlunaGeorge, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothing, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cloud Nothings, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Scenes, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julia Holter, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Walkmen, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Walkmen, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Autre Ne Veut, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids crowd, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

We draw A, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

We draw A, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Fucked Up, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Fucked Up, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Bloody Valentine, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

My Bloody Valentine, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival (Photo by Tom Spray)

Japandroids, OFF Festival, Katowice, Poland (Photo by Tom Spray)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

ice_cream_cathedral-8479

Ice Cream Cathedral, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Haim

Haim, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Tame Impala - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Tame Impala, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 09.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Dirty Beaches - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Dirty Beaches, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Mikal Cronin - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Mikal Cronin, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Ducktails - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Ducktails, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 11.08.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

transmetro-9211

Trans Metro Express, Strøm Festival, 13.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

haxan cloak

The Haxan Cloak, Cisternerne, Copenhagen, 14.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

malmo-festival-9366

Ice Cream Cathedral, Malmo Festival, Road Trip, 17.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

malmo-9862

Baby In Vain, Malmo Festival, Road Trip, 17.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

byrne-vincent-9963

David Byrne & St Vincent, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 22.08.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

MS MR Live 1

MS MR, Rust, Copenhagen, 28.08.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Matthew E. White (Photo by Jen Tse)

Matthew E. White, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 09.09.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

APlaceToBuryStrangers-2063

A Place To Bury Strangers, Loppen, Copenhagen, 24.09.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

Delorean (Photo by Jen Tse)

Delorean, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 25.09.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Editors (Photo by Tom Spray)

Editors, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 26.09.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

MGMT (Photo by Jen Tse)

MGMT, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 01.10.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

James Blake (Photo by James Hjertholm)

James Blake crowd, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 06.10.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Baby In Vain (Photo by Jen Tse)

Baby In Vain, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 04.10.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Washed Out - Photo by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Washed Out, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 09.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Foals (Photo by Tom Spray)

Foals, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 15.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julianna Barwick (Photo by Tom Spray)

Julianna Barwick, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 20.10.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Biffy Clyro by Jen Tse

Biffy Clyro, Den Grå Hal, Copenhagen, 01.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

national 1

The National, Forum, Copenhagen, 02.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

JuliaHolter-5362

Julia Holter, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 05.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

IMG_6180small

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Falconer Salen, Copenhagen, 08.11.2013 (Photo by Jonas Bang)

14. okt 13 80_o

The Woken Trees, UK tour (Photo by Jonas Bang)

Crystal Stilts-7055

Crystal Stilts, Stengade, Copenhagen, 14.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

fuckbuttonsmulti

Fuck Buttons, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 16.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Volcano Choir (Photo by Tom Spray)

Volcano Choir, Amager Bio, Copenhagen, 18.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Youth Lagoon (Photo by Jen Tse)

Youth Lagoon, Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, 20.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

EL-P and Killer Mike (Photo by Tom Spray)

EL-P and Killer Mike, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 20.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Tallest Man On Earth (Photo by Tom Spray)

The Tallest Man On Earth, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 21.11.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Get Your Gun (Photo by Jonas Bang)

Get Your Gun, Russia/Estonia tour, fall 2013 (Photo by Jonas Bang)

Trentemøller (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Trentemøller, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 22.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

blouse-8593

Blouse, Loppen, Copenhagen, 26.11.2013 (Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh)

MØ (Photo by James Hjertholm)

MØ, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 28.11.2013 (Photo by James Hjertholm)

Queens Of The Stone Age (Photo Jen Tse)

Queens Of The Stone Age, Forum, Copenhagen, 29.11.2013 (Photo by Jen Tse)

Destroyer (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Destroyer, Jazzhouse, Copenhagen, 03.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Kurt Vile (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Kurt Vile, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 05.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

20131213-182524.jpg

Oh Land, Store Vega, Copenhagen, 12.12.2013 (Photo by Ivan Boll)

Cut Copy (Photo by Tom Spray)

Cut Copy, Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 13.12.2013 (Photo by Tom Spray)

Albums of the year 2013

in Blog by

AutreNeVeutAnxiety_1024_1024_90

1. Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

Arthur Ashin’s second album oozes emotional intensity throughout, with the album title perfectly summing up Ashin’s emotions while writing this album. Whether its about the anxiety of calling his grandmother for fear of her death (“Counting”), dealing with hitting his 30’s (“Gonna Die”) or going through a break-up (“World War”). Starting off with “Play By Play”/“Counting”/“Promises”/“Ego Free, Sex Free”, Anxiety has to be one of the strongest back-to-back hit filled albums released for a while. From start to finish this is an album to you can listen to whether its a Friday night ready to go out on the town or on a relaxing Sunday morning nursing a hangover as Ashin soothes you with his alt-R’n’B.

mbv

 2. My Bloody Valentinem b v

If you say you’ve been waiting 22 years for this record, you’re lying. Even the most faithful of My Bloody Valentine fans gave up hope of ever seeing another release from the band long ago. When this album was released in February with little ceremony and an ordering process that temporarily broke the internet, there should have been no shock that it wasn’t another Loveless. Instead we’ve been treated to unexpected guitar solos, unexpected guitar-free compositions, more of Bilinda Butcher’s beautiful voice, and a few genuine what-the-fuck-is-that-sound moments. If you say this album wasn’t worth a two-decade period of absence, you’re lying.

iceage (1)

3. IceageYou’re Nothing

Still pissed off, still drawing heavily on post-punk angularity and tinny black metal bleakness, Denmark’s finest return with a more diverse album than their debut. The fast tracks still explode with spit and bile (“Ecstasy”,“Coalition”), but interspersed are moments of slow, muddy thuds (“Morals”), and even the odd Hüsker Du-influenced riff (“In Haze”).  Iceage are lads of impeccable taste, whose energy elevates them out of the mire of influences that so often burdens hardcore bands. The “New Way of Danish Fuck You” might not be so new any more, but with any luck, it is far from over.

 

 –

Vampire Weekend

4. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires Of The City

With this album, Ezra Koenig and his gang have progressed from the afro-pop elements of earlier days to a more diverse soundscape. Evident in the infectious pop tune ‘Step’, the playful ‘Ya Hey’ with manipulated chipmunk-voices and the beautiful vocal harmonies on ‘Obvious Bicycle’. The different textures are quite seductive and ‘MVotC’ has been a recurrent visitor on my record player. On top of that Ezra Koenig has a way with lyrics that really enthrals me: ”The harpsichord is broken/The television’s fried/The city’s getting hotter than a country in decline” from ‘Finger Snap’ is a line you don’t hear everyday. A great album that showcases a great band’s development.

 

 –

factory floor

5. Factory FloorFactory Floor

“Turn it up”. Take their advice: Factory Floor’s first album is a commanding blend of instinct and control, the human and mechanical. The trio’s double LP draws as much on minimalist, New York disco as it does on Throbbing Gristle, resulting in tracks whose power lies in the combination of cold synth lines, ghostly voices, and infectious beats (drummer Gabe respects, as we should all do, the mythical cowbell).

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away

6. Nick Cave and The Bad SeedsPush The Sky Away

Push The Sky Away is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 15th studio album. The first album, where Nick Cave is the only remaining member of the original line-up, and also a masterful example of the growing collaboration between multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis and Nick Cave. After the end of the loud and noisy Grinderman, which in large parts consists of the same people as The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away can be seen as return to a more quiet expression that makes you recall albums like The Boatmans Call. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds was formed thirty years ago; Push The Sky Away is a promise of many more years of great music to come.

juliaholterlcs

7. Julia HolterLoud City Song

Loud City Song is the third album in as many years by LA-based Julia Holter. As with her earlier albums, the classically trained artists has found inspiration in artworks from the past – this time the 1958 musical Gigi. The album is diverse, yet very coherent, and Julia Holter manages to breed new life and sounds into a classical instrumentation of horns, strings, piano and drums. Loud City Song is atmospheric; it feels more accessible than her earlier albums (that are also great) without losing the playfulness and experimentation.

As she explains Loud City Song began with the end of her second album Ekstasis; more precisely the song Maxim’s III. The song need it’s own album, she thought, and what an album it got!

national-trouble-will-find-me

8. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me

High Violet was always going to be a tough album to follow up for the Cincinnati quintet, however, I had the same thought with some of their previous albums Alligator and Boxer, they seem to effortlessly write albums start to finish that are hard hitting and grab you in a way no other band can. Trouble Will Find Me gives us an insight into the life Matt Berninger has settled into in his more mature years having admitting “…I didn’t care what the songs were going to be about, or if they were going to seem depressing, or cool, or whatever”, even so, they still manage to roll out the hits with tracks such as, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “Sea Of Love” and “Graceless”. 

 

Ed Harcourt

9. Ed HarcourtBack Into The Woods

In the 12 years since Ed Harcourt released his Mercury Prize-nominated debut, he’s explored all complexities for the conveyance of his baroque pop style. So if he decides to strip things back, he must be certain of himself. Recorded in just six hours at Abbey Road Studios in London, Back Into the Woods is the kind of natural, unadorned performance you can only get away with if the songs are really that strong.

At its core, most of the album is just Harcourt at his piano or guitar, and a natural warmth that emanates from the instruments, in lovely contrast to the husky timbre of his voice.

queens-of-the-stone-age-like-clockwork

10. Queens Of The Stone Age….Like Clockwork

Frontman Josh Homme was sidelined for months after complications from a routine surgery, and …Like Clockwork is the manifestation of him literally getting back on his feet. If a little strife provides good inspiration, then it’s no wonder this is QOTSA’s strongest album in years. It’s equal parts brutal and creepy, with tracks like “If I Had a Tail” marking Homme as heir apparent to Scott Walker. Dave Grohl plays a bulk of the drums, and there are guest spots from Trent Reznor, Mark Lanegan, and Elton John. If you haven’t paid much attention to QOTSA in recent years, …Like Clockwork will make you regret ever counting them out.

kanyewestyeezus

11. Kanye WestYeezus

Yeezus‘ bookends feel like a follow on from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a time when he was going through darker periods of his life after the death of his mother and a break up, to his current life with Kim Kardashian with “Bound 2”. If this is anything to go by we can expect the follow-up to Yeezus to be an R’n’B love album…….yeah right! The album contains unmatched production qualities with tracks that will make Kanye’s live set for years to come as he rolls out the albums other hits, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”.

Sigur Ros

12. Sigur RósKveikur

In tribute to Jonsi’s made up language, “hopelandic”, I have retranslated my review in six different languages, resulting in some nonsense they can be proud of:

“Finally ROS Sigur dark, interesting bass lines and shiny surfaces with just the ignition Mogwai album in Iceland felt a huge area, sounds more and more electronic sound plan. Browse all Vacuum guitar violin, or Jónsi is much better able to withstand it.”

In English, Sigur Rós have returned with a power that had largely dispersed in their later recordings. The tweeness has been replaced by darker and heavier electronic sounds, undercut by Jonsi’s distinctive vocal style.

 –

09-18-Discs-Trentemoller-Lost-1024x1024

13. TrentemøllerLost

Trentemøller has gradually shifted away from the more overt, techno style of electronica towards grander, more cinematic compositions. Lost is a sweeping, sometimes broody, cinematic work that prioritizes subtlety. It’s definitely an album made more for headphones than stereos, and maybe it’s most conducive to quiet moments of reflection, but ultimately, it is beautiful. And with appearances from Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Low’s Mimi Parker, and the Drum’s Jonny Pierce, Lost might prove to be one of those gateway albums that lures unsuspecting rockists into the dark underbelly of electronic music.

Blood Orange

14. Blood OrangeCupid Deluxe

There is a good reason why Devonté Hynes is the producer in quest these days. The Englishman’s musical sensibilities are as sophisticated as a cat walking through a dollhouse, knowing exactly where to place the paws without compromising the arrangements, that is perfectly balanced between the cheesy and the chic – just as if the aesthetic of the 80’s was taken to contemporary society. Exactly the 80’s are along with New York the main point of reference for the album, which combines the best of the decade (New Romanticism, Golden Age Hip-Hop and New Jack Swing) with a who’s who of Brooklyn-socialites such as David Longstreith (Dirty Projectors) and his fiancé Samantha Urbani (Friends). Cupid Deluxe is in many ways the preliminary redemption of Hynes’ vast talent.

 –

These-New-Puritans-Field-of-Reeds

15. These New Puritans – Fields Of Reeds

Taking inspiration from classical and experimental composers of the 20th century, Benjamin Britten foremost among them, These New Puritans may not be the most light-hearted or humorous of bands, but Fields of Reeds is the culmination of the band’s unique and exacting approach to music. Singling out songs from this tightly woven work may be counterproductive, but “Organ Eternal” signals the power TNP can generate from a simple, “Tubular Bells”-like riff. Don’t think progressive, Fields of Reeds has the best claim this year on the title of “timeless”.

 

overgrown

16. James Blake – Overgrown

Last year, when I told people James Blake was Dubstep, they refused to accept the fact. Whilst ‘Overgrown’ is hardly at Skrillex’s level on the ‘drop the beat’ scale (yuck), it’s a lot closer than the artist’s debut. Blake’s talent means one can never tire of ‘Overgrown”s multiple layers; it has an extraordinary power to be at once very personal, whilst the electronic framework makes it like the grown up echo of a dance album. It’s about when the songs bite, just like a “Digital Lion”. See “Retrograde” for reference. What that boy does with a piano, a vocal warble and a computer is just insane. No wonder that Mercury Prize ended up in his hands.

 –

Arcade Fire (2013) Reflektor LP Vinyl Record Album 1

17. Arcade FireReflektor

Alongside countless other fans, I was impatiently awaiting the release of the fourth album by the Canadian seven-piece. A release that consolidates Arcade Fire’s position as one of the greatest indie bands on the planet. ‘Reflektor’ shows a more up-beat side to the band, in the disco-tinged title track, ‘We Exist’ and ‘It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)’, alongside rock anthems like ‘Normal Person’ and ‘Joan of Arc’. Utter magnificence that keeps growing on me, fuelled by Win Butler’s intense vocal delivery.

With a playing span of 75 minutes the band’s typical epic scope remains constant and this album is another brilliant addition to an awe-inspiring catalogue.

 –

Darkside Psychic

(18) DarksidePsychic 

Described as “rock’s cosmic outer edges through the immersive, body-moving framework of 21st-century house and techno”, upon the release of Psychic, Nicolas Jarr and Dave Harrington’s debut album brought a breath of fresh air to the electronic music scene in 2013, just as Jarr has previously done with his solo venture. Post-rock riffs and downbeat electronica dominates Psychic. Tracks such as “Paper Trails” has glimpses of Jarr’s solo work vocally, although admittedly containing a denser and more textured sound. Darkside have left us hungry for more as they continue to take the album on the road in 2014.

cate le bon

19. Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

The always-evolving Cate Le Bon found sunshine in California and a more stripped-back sound for her third full length. The Velvet Underground influence on Mug Museum should smack anyone over the head, even if s/he hasn’t gone on a Lou Reed listening binge following his death. Le Bon’s sparse, minimally-produced album has easy sing alongs, a few moments of total chaos, a duet with Perfume Genius, and stays just on the right side of that vaguely surfy vibe to distinguish her from every other band that has hit the reverb a little too hard. Mug Museum is 2013’s best palate cleanser.

arcticam

20. Arctic Monkeys – AM

“Who the F*ck are the Arctic Monkeys?” Only kidding! Perhaps you didn’t see enough of the Arctic Monkeys on every music magazine’s front page and website this summer? Never fear, they’re gonna be on every end of year list. With very good reason. The Sheffield band’s fifth studio album was an absolute masterpiece from those first two drum whacks of “Do I Wanna Know?”, (a song which also possesses one of the best rock riffs of all time), to the dreamy, track twelve cover of John Cooper Clark’s poem, “I Wanna Be Yours”. The pace is sickingly fluctuating, but the adrenaline is never wavering. It also produced a video of Alex Turner wandering around London pretending to be drunk and hallucinating about kebab salesmen humping, so who can complain?

Go to Top