I hope everyone had a good year. As you have probably noticed, I do not have as much time for this site as I once did. As a result I have scaled back to only writing when major news breaks or when I have something important to say. I hope to continue this in 2014, especially in the first couple months with regards to CBC’s Olympics coverage. Thanks to everyone who has continued to visit this year despite the less frequent posts.
Every year during the Christmas holidays I like to catch up on any music from the past year that I may have missed. I’m certainly not alone in posting a list of my favourite music from the year, but I hope you’ll enjoy listening to some of these as the year comes to an end. For the most part these songs are considered rock or alternative. Some are familiar radio hits, while others are album tracks. I’ve come up with the list based mostly on my own opinion, but using the charts a bit as well.
13. “Slumville Sunrise” – Jake Bugg (Shangri La)
Bugg has traded in the sweet sounds of his acoustic guitar for a more electric sound on his sophomore release. His vocals really shine, especially on this song. It is the album’s second single and is currently climbing the British charts.
12. “Varsity” – Smith Westerns (Soft Will)
Their last release in 2011, Dye it Blonde, was one of my favourite albums of 2011. While Soft Will didn’t really live up the expectations I had, mostly because it lacked standout a song like “Weekend”, the lead singe “Varsity” is still worthy of inclusion as one of the best songs of the year.
11. “Voices” – Alice in Chains (The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here)
Alice in Chains are still alive and kicking. While their new album wasn’t the same quality as their last, single “Voices” came close. There still isn’t any band out there that does harmonies as well as them, even without Layne Staley.
10. “Flick of the Finger” – Beady Eye (BE)
Beady Eye had a rougher year than most bands. Just as they were picking up momentum with their sophomore release Liam Gallagher’s marriage fell apart after it was reported an affair of his resulted in a baby. Then guitarist Gem Archer fractured his skull. “Flick of the Finger” was a welcome change of direction for the band, with the horns really adding to the song.
9. “KV Crimes” – Kurt Vile (Wakin on a Pretty Daze)
This is one of those songs that I heard for the first time in the past week. And now I just can’t stop listening to it. While the song wasn’t released as a single, his album cracked the top 50 in both the US and Britain.
8. “Team” – Lorde (Pure Heroin)
Lorde was a much-needed breathe of fresh air for pop music this year. If grunge music was a revolt against the overproduced pop music of the 1980s, then maybe Lorde will lead the charge of a revolt against today’s pop music. While “Royals” was her massive hit, I preferred this song. Her delivery on the chorus is spectacular. It is currently at #4 on Billboard’s alternative chart.
7. “Normal Person” – Arcade Fire (Reflektor)
It was an odd year for Arcade Fire. Their new album was a little hit and miss, and they received bad press for asking fans to dress up for their gigs. But this song redeems all else.
6. “Sirens” – Pearl Jam (Lightning Bolt)
This was the second single off of Pearl Jam’s new album. It proves that Eddie Vedder is still one of the best vocalists in the world, more than twenty years on from Ten. Its probably my favourite song Pearl Jam have released in 15 years. Peaked at #4 on the rock charts in both Canada and the US.
5. “Recovery” – Frank Turner (Tape Deck Heart)
I had never heard of Turner before I heard this song on the radio a few months ago. I quickly became a fan, as this gets better and better with every listen. This album was one of my favourites from the year. Certainly worth listening to.
4. “Berzerk” – Eminem (Marshall Mathers LP 2)
Is it a stretch to call this rock? Maybe a bit. But, it does sample a couple rock songs. And its one of the best songs Eminem has released lately.
3. “If I Had a Tail” – Queens of the Stone Age (…Like Clockwork)
I hadn’t been a big fan of QOTSA before this album, but it is fantastic. This song is also one of the great guest collaborations of the year, with Dave Grohl on drums and Alex Turner providing backing vocals. “I Sat by the Ocean”, “Fairweather Friends” and “Smooth Sailing” are the other best songs on the album.
2. “New Town Velocity” – Johnny Marr (The Messenger)
Marr is one of the greatest guitar players in rock history, and in his first solo effort he’s shown he still has the brilliance that made The Smiths one of the biggest rock bands two decades ago. That jangly guitar makes this sound as though it could have came out of The Smiths’ songbook itself. Other standout tracks include “Generate Generate”, “The Right Thing Right” and “The Messenger”.
1. “Do I Wanna Know” – Arctic Monkeys (AM)
Best song off the best rock album released in 2013. An easy choice for me. The guitars, the bass, the vocals all just sounded perfect. AM proved that the Arctic Monkeys could do something completely different and still sound awesome as they blended desert rock with dance music. Listen to the whole album, but “R U Mine”, “Arabella”, “One for the Road”, “Fireside”, “Snap Out of It” and “Knee Socks” are all fantastic too.