Delingpole on Friday – Your soundtrack for 2013

Hello Bogpaper. Happy New Year! I did think about kicking off with my predictions for the year. But then I realised that this would only make you want to top yourselves (Basically: buy gold! Buy ammo! Stock up on baked beans and barbed wire!) so instead I’m going copy what our political class has been doing in the current global economic crisis – distract you with baubles instead.

Actually, I’m being harsh on myself. For some people – well over half a dozen, at least – my annual Albums of the Year column has proved, for nigh on 20 years now, the most reliable and tasteful guide to music anywhere in the print media or on the internet. This is because I do not, generally, go with the herd. And because I don’t like shit music. That Channel Orange album, for example, by that rapper Frank Ocean which is on everyone’s best of lists this year. Well it’s not on mine. Why? Because it’s boring and shite.

In the old days I used to wax lyrical and long about my album choices. This year, however, I shan’t bother. Partly this is because I’m too busy and too lazy, but mainly because of the technical development which has completely transformed the business of music criticism and rendered it all but redundant: Spotify.

Think about it. Once upon a time, it really was quite important knowing whether an album was good or not before you bought it. Not only was there a cost – but also an opportunity cost, involved: if you made the wrong choice, you might well be denying yourself the chance to own a much better record you might have really enjoyed and which – in the way music has – might even have transformed your life, making you wiser, more successful, better-paid and more attractive to women (or men). So clearly, you were highly dependent on your favourite record critic’s sound judgement.

Now though, all you need do is pay Spotify about a fiver a month and you have instant access to pretty much every new release there is, without having to go to the shops and without having to suffer the indignity of forking out for a record you hate. Where’s the need for a professional record reviewer when you can do the job yourself – with the added bonus of knowing better what sort of music you like than any other person on the planet?

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here is my top 10:

Lana Del Rey – Born To Die (Polydor)

Apparently Lana Del Rey is contrived. Fabricated, even. Well if those are deal-breakers that would also rule out Ziggy Stardust. And the Pet Shop Boys. And post-George-Martin The Beatles. Here’s the truth though: this is by far the year’s most perfect pop album – superb songwriting, great tunes, exquisitely performed, by a sultry chick with bee-stung lips who makes very cool videos.

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar (Wichita)

This would be my other main contender for album of the year. They’re Swedish sisters (though the harmonies are so sweet and with such a country twang they could almost be Nashville) with voices so lovely it’s like having honey and ambrosia licked off your naked body by the flickering tongues of a dozen nubiles. Great folky melodies; achingly lovely arrangements. YOU TOTALLY HAVE TO GET THIS RECORD.

Grasscut – Unearth (Ninja Tune)

Listening to Grasscut is like watching an old Powell and Pressburger film on a damp Autumn Sunday afternoon: comforting, warmly nostalgic, quintessentially English, tinged with melancholy and a sense of loss. God knows how you’d actually describe the music, though: Vaughan Williams collaborates with Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt and Gavin Bryars and a breakbeat DJ on the soundtrack

Alt J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)

“Who are this band? I love them already,” I decided within the first few bars of their debut on Later With Jools. They met at Leeds University. They sound like they could be American. It’s arty but accessible: “folk-step” or “boffin-rock”, apparently.

Django Django – Django Django (Because Music)

“The group has been lazily compared to the Beta Band” says Pitchfork. Bollocks to that “lazily”: they’re compared to the Beta Band because they do sound like the Beta Band. A lot. But also like early Eno meets surf guitar meets psychedelic rock meets Can. Spaced out bits, pastoral bits, nice tunes. Just don’t, for God’s sake, if you listen on Spotify let it go to the bit where they wank on about their album track by track or it’ll put you off completely.

Grimes – Visions (4AD)

Grimes – aka Claire Boucher – is from Canada and named after the outsider artist Ken Grimes best known for his drawings of aliens. But don’t let that put you off: this is good. Weirdy, waily, haunting baby-voice vocals on top of phat, squelchy, techno basslines. Think mid-period Kate Bush collaborating with John Carpenter and Kraftwerk.

Crystal Castles – III (Fiction)

This was NME’s numero uno album of the year which amazes me, not because I think it’s crap, but because this is the kind of dark, shimmery, portentous, epic trance topped with ethereal girlie vocals which I thought only appealed to fortysomething rave casualties like me, not groovy young kids. Anyway, NME are right: it’s bloody great. Another Canadian band. Go Canucks!

Purity Ring – Shrines (4AD)

Bloody hell, can this really be a third Canadian outfit in my top 10? It most surely can. This one sounds a bit like Bjork doing  Ryuichi Sakamato’s Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. Otherworldly with some gloriously, bowel-shakingly wobbly bass. Belispeak is the stand-out track.

The XX – Coexist (XL)

More downer music to slit your wrists to, from the sensitive, depressed South Londoners. Stripped down, minimal, bleak – but for all that very nice tunes, beautiful singing and exquisite arrangements. I particularly like the soft steel drums on Reunion.

Simian Mobile Disco – Unpatterns (Wichita)

I thought they’d split up. But here they are – producer/remix duo James Ford and James Shaw – back with possibly their best album yet. This is basically the most perfect, chin-stroking, melodic coffee-table dance music you could hope for – and is ideal for lounging around at home coming down off Es or getting stoned to. It’s like Leftfield never left us.

  • Robert Edwards

    Simply stick with anything by Warren Zevon – it works for me. ‘Life’ll kill ya’ is particularly apposite at present…

  • Pingback: Donnagate – Telegraph Blogs

  • David Penglase

    Simian Mobile Disco……………Brilliant

  • http://jdseanjd.wordpress.com jdseanjd

    Happy New Year James.

    Thanks for your stalwart work on the environment, & the global warming scam, oh & on music tips :).

    Looks like 2013 will be, unlucky for some, the year the pants come off the Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Panic
    scare story.

    Here’s a nail for the coffin lid of the traitorous BBC.

    I was laughing with my 7 year old niece recently, at a BBC childrens’ comedy programme. She proudly showed me a book based on the series: “A Horrible History of the World”, by Terry Deary, the chap who produces the series.

    I was horrified to read it.

    The theme of this work is the denigration of every foundation stone of our Western Civilisation.

    Targets include God & religion, of all denominations, the law & History itself.

    “We learn nothing from history”

    “We cannot escape history!”

    “…God will either be a) very angry because we said his Bible told lies or b) laughing her socks off and saying ‘I told you so!’ because her Bible was right all along..”

    These are all direct quotes.

    The rule of law is thoroughly belittled, from Hammurabi’s Code,
    Through The Ten Commandments & including the Twelve Tablets of Roman Law.

    Catholics are torturers, Christians are Cruel, Protestants are silly, Criminals are Cruel, & so on & on for 90+ pages ad nauseam.

    Why is the BBC popularising a work which can only raise doubts in young minds about the foundations of our society?

    Why indeed.

    Why, in 90+ pages of unrelieved gore, murder, torture & betrayal, is there praise only for China, which has never managed a democratic system in it’s 5000+ year life?

    Why indeed.

    Published in 2003, this filth has been corrupting our childrens’ minds for nearly 10 years. It is, in my opinion, unsuitable for impressionable young minds. It is aimed at 7- 13 year olds.

    I’ve shown this sinister product to some parish priests, & a vicar’s assistant so far, & intend to do what I can to get this taken off our public library shelves, if I can, & the BBC shut down, if I can.

    Please get down to your local library, & verify what I’ve said.
    The shelves are crammed with similar insidious works, & endless propaganda re Global Warming. Which hasn’t been happening for ~16 years.

    I urge you to raise as loud a stink as far & wide as you can.

    Where people have been horrified that the BBC has sheltered the vile Jimmy Savile for 40 years, nothing substantial has happened.

    Where the BBC have most disgracefully smeared Lord McAlpine as a paedophile, without a single shred of evidence, all that’s happened is that the incompetent at the top has been rewarded with a golden handshake of £450,000 & an huge inflation proof pension.

    Where the BBC have lied to us about the panel of “experts & scientists”, who turned out to be ‘warmist activists’, including, interestingly, a female CofE vicar, & cost this country billions, pushing the Global Warming Scare, again nothing has been done.

    I am fervently hoping that when people realise the BBC have been messing with their kids’ minds for at least 10 years, there will be an uproar.

    If we do not protect our society & our children, we do not deserve to survive.

    I’ll repeat that.

    If we do not protect our society & our childrens’ minds, we do not deserve to survive.

    I’ve posted this already on Anthony Watts site:

    http://www.wattsupwiththat.com as a reply to Lord Monckton’s simply majestic demolition of the Global Warmist Alarmists:
    “The Logical Case Against Climate Panic”, along with some speculations regarding UN Agenda 21.
    jdseanjd says: Jan 7, 2013 at 3.50 am, & markx was kind enough to help me out : markx says: Jan 7 2013 at 5.24 am.

    I’ve posted this as a reply to Lord Tebbit on his blog because I know he reads his replies, & he might take up the cudgels, or he will know somone who can.

    Please blow this sky high James.

    As the wise man said: “For evil to triumph, it requires only that the good man say nothing”

    JD.

    PS: I would be grateful if this site could email this back to me
    to save me typing it all again.
    Cheers.

    JD.