Andy Close’s 10 Albums of 2013
As with last year, this wasn’t an easy one – maybe it’s just me but 2013 does seem to have been rather a good year for music. My initial list came to no less than 22 albums but after some very tough cuts (apologies to the Mission, the Black Spiders, the Cyanide Pills, the Hip Priests, Givvi Flynn, the Wonder Stuff, Goldblade, Obsessive Compulsive, Kill For Eden and the Quireboys, all of whom were very unlucky to miss out), I managed to whittle it down to ten. So here we go then, in ascending order (cue Fluff Freeman and the old Sunday chart rundown music).
The Italian glam-punks have actually already followed up this album and although I’ve not heard the new effort yet, if it’s anything like the quality of this debut then it should be a belter. Low-slung street punk with big epic glam bootboy choruses that sounds like the missing link between Hanoi Rocks, Slade and Generation X. If you’ve not given this lot a listen yet then you owe it to yourself to put that right asap.
Okay so technically this came out at the tail end of 2012 but it was too late to make my list last year so it’s going in this time. In a year where precious few bands have been willing to stick their necks out and try and rally the disaffected youth of this country as the government sends us to hell in a handcart, this debut offering from these Walthamstow firebrands was a real breath of fresh air. Mixing the fierce political polemic of the Clash with the best bits of ’80s goth rock (think the Sisters of Mercy, the Gun Club, the Cure etc), this was a truly unique and totally mesmerising album with killer tunes and choruses to boot. If they can consolidate on their second album then I think it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing a lot more from the November Five in the future.
In which various members of the Diamond Dogs, the Cockney Rejects, the Lords of the New Church and the Clash get together for a high energy knockabout jam session and come up with something pretty damn special. Mixing the Rejects’ fired up punk attitude with the Dogs’ laid back blues-rock demeanour, “Busy Making Noise” was the sound of four veterans kicking out the jams and making a good heart-warming album.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking that TCC’s best days were behind them given the long gap between albums and their recent line-up changes but no, back came Nottingham’s finest exports of pop-glam-punk with an album which not only reaffirmed everything that was great about them to begin with but actually eclipsed their previous efforts with its big arena-rock sound and irresistible singalong choruses. Go out and give it a listen for proof that you should never write these guys off.
Something of a curveball album from the former New York Dolls and current Michael Monroe guitarist, the “NYC Album” saw Mr Conte showing a more thoughtful and laid back side to his work. Owing a debt in its sound to the blue collar anthems of prime time Springsteen and the countrified rock of Jason & The Scorchers and Steve Earle, the result was an album that was as surprising as it was outstanding. Go visit the Pledge page and see for yourself.
This just in – that classic ’70s glam sound is alive and well and living in Camberwell. And it’s evolving all the time. The A-Grades’ second full album saw them taking the strongest elements of their debut “In Debt” and building on them to create a well-crafted and impressively varied effort ranging from full on stompers like “Blow Up” and “In The Woods” to the spellbinding glam-psychedelic epic “Sunset/Sunrise”. If they can keep this rate of improvement up then it’s scary to think of what they’ll be capable of come album number three.
Battling back from the brink, Chris Catalyst and his men came up with an excellent third album which was a good reminder of everything that’s made them one of the best bands of the last five or so years. From the dreamy “Good Guys Finish Last” through the pure frustration of “Break Stuff” to the instantly catchy single “Pop Star” (possibly one of the best things they’ve ever done), this was the sound of Leeds’ finest solidifying their legacy and proving that they’ve got plenty of fight left in them.
3. THE LOYALTIES – “Till The Death Of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Sadly, as I write this it would seem that the group who made living the Soho barfly life seem like the coolest thing ever are unfortunately no more. But at least they can content themselves with the knowledge that they went out with one hell of a bang in the form of this scuzz-punk concept album of sorts. Kicking in with the piledriving title track, it doesn’t let up for the whole of its 40-odd minute duration. Go give it a listen and raise a glass to the memory of this tragically overlooked group.
“Horns And Halos” did what any good second album should – consolidating the best bits of the Michael Monroe band’s first post-Hanoi album “Sensory Overdrive” and adding enough new tricks to the book to make Derren Brown look like he was proper lazing about. From punk through glam, dub and full on rock assaults, this proved that the group definitely weren’t missing Ginger as a songwriter and that the sky really is the limit for them. In fact it would’ve been a shoe-in for album of the year if it wasn’t for their former guitarist…
Never in any doubt this one in my opinion. Quite simply, the best set of songs that Ginger Wildheart has put his name to since “The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed!” way back in 2003 and proof that the man still has an undeniable way with a great riff and a catchy chorus that won’t let your brain go for several days. Just listen to “I’m Gonna Kiss You Every Day (Like I’m Going Away)” or the ultra-catchy “Swimwear” or the none-more-epic closer “We’re Outta Here” for proof. Seriously, if this album doesn’t put a smile on your face then you’re probably dead.