Monday 2 December 2013


2013 has been a great year for music with many high points including a new Depeche Mode album that refuses to stop being great, my eyes being opened to fantastic Glasgow talent (hello Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree and Nevada Base) and much much more. The blog has really taken off this year thanks to you dear reader whoever you are and it's led to me discovering so much music and making a ton of new friends. My Depeche Mode adventure in November was a particular highlight for me and it will live long in the memory - I hope you enjoyed reading about it too. There's been more to music than Depeche Mode and electronic music generally this year though so this post will allow guitars in. I'm going to give you a highlights of my year kind of thing together with a convention defying Top 19 albums of the year with an entirely unsurprising number 1. I hope you like it. Next year you'll have more of the same from me if that's quite alright with you. There'll be more Depeche Mode retrospectives, more about the frankly incredible Glasgow scene and a few more things I'm working on now that I don't want to jinx by talking about. Thanks for all your support in 2013 you beautiful lot. It really does mean a lot to me. Anyway, enough ramble. It's time for 2013's Almost Predictables.

A tough category this one. There's been a lot to inspire me this year from a stunning Pixies gig at the Barras on 22 November, to seeing Depeche Mode return, to the Atom Tree/Machines in Heaven show in October. I am, as the blog title nearly says, almost predictable however so the Almost Predictable for musical moment of 2013 goes to Mr Martin Gore of Depeche Mode for moving me to tears by performing But Not Tonight in Dublin on 9 November. I still can't quite believe he did that. It was one of those moments where a band you love plays a song you love in a brand new way that totally changes the feeling of the song in a brilliant, brilliant way - watch the video linked in this paragraph and tell me I'm wrong. Thanks Martin.

For this award I'm ignoring Depeche Mode and in fact any of the more familiar bands that'll appear on this list. Ok, Alone by DM is great as are Pink Rabbits by the National, Before Your Very Eyes by Atoms For Peace, Lies by CHVRCHES, Came Back Haunted by NIN etc etc but as one of this blog's main tasks is looking at Glasgow's music scene, this Almost Predictable goes to Desired Effect by Atom Tree from the first class Tide Of Thorns ep. This ep really is one of this year's highlights and Desired Effect is the stand out track. If you haven't heard it you're missing out. Track of the year.

I think 2013 has been a record year for gig going as it feels like I've been to hundreds. Whenever I or my wife tell people we're off on holiday we're now routinely asked who we're going to see which is a bit harsh! We only saw two gigs on holiday this year which is surely a normal level (it IS a normal level right?). Anyway this year I've seen a lot of Depeche Mode (Munich being the highlight), CHVRCHES, Suede (a fantastic night at the Barras), Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree, Frightened Rabbit and many many more but the stand out was the Pixies at the Barras on 22 November. Unbelievable. 90 minutes and 34 songs of the utmost quality including Planet of Sound which nearly tore the roof off. They've still got it, in fact they've got much more of what it is than many other bands have.

A real joy this year was the Glasgow Jihad ep by Machines In Heaven who you've heard me bang on about a lot and with much justification. The promise shown by the ep is backed up by the new tracks the band are currently playing live and 2014 should hopefully see their much anticipated debut album arrive. The Almost Predictable for watch this lot goes therefore to Machines In Heaven. Watch them. A lot.

LoveMusic in Glasgow. Simple as that. Not only do they put up with me looking for Depeche Mode singles but they also tweet me to tell me when they're in. THAT is service. Plus Record Store Day there was a real treat with Sandy laying on coffees for those of us daft enough to queue from 7.30am. Loads of vinyl, regular in store live shows and a pinball machine - if you haven't been there go there immediately

The Almost Predictable for this goes to my mate Glen Hammarstrom for the frankly brilliant Breathing In Fumes which is a Depeche Mode podcast that provides rare tracks and interviews from Glen's personal stash adding them to classic tracks, live tracks and much more. If you have even the slightest interest in Depeche Mode you really want to get into this. Honourable mention in this category for the Scottish Fiction podcast which is a real joy for all lovers of new Scottish music.

Only 6 Almost Predictables but I hope you agree that they're all justified. If Martin Gore wants to get in touch I'll arrange to hand over his award personally ;) Anyway, to round off this mini review of the year here are my top 19 albums of the year in a vaguely proper order.

19:  Friends In America - What It Is To Be
A Glasgow based band channelling the spirit of Johnny Marr at his Smiths peak and The Sundays

18: David Bowie - The Next Day
After the majestic Where Are We Now it was something of a surprise to get such a rock based album. The fact it harked back to the likes of Lodger made it a real treat though. The surprise of learning Bowie was back was a highlight of the year in itself

17: Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away
A fairly minimalist album by Nick Cave's standards but a real beauty containing a genuine classic in Jubilee Street

16: British Sea Power - Machineries Of Joy
They never fail to disappoint. A less bombastic affair than usual but still a very very good album

15: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
Worth the hype? Perhaps not however there is still much to enjoy on this album. Get Lucky despite the fact it is easily this year's most overplayed track is a belter and whilst there are a few duffers on here there are enough solid tracks to make this one of the top 19.

14: Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
The mysterious electrobods returned with a typically cryptic promo campaign and a typically cryptic album. You really can lose yourself in this record. It was worth the hype.

13: Factory Floor - Factory Floor
Coming on like a lovechild of LCD Soundsystem and Low Life era New Order, Factory Floor's full length debut really is a danceable beast. I'm finding it very hard to (1) stop playing it and (2) stop grooving aroudn my kitchen when listening to it which believe it or not is a compliment

12: Atoms For Peace - Amok
Ah Thom you've done it again. My fear was that the inclusion of Flea would involve this sounding like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but that was soon dismissed. A really great album somewhere between The Eraser and Amnesiac which is very much no bad thing

11: Randolph's Leap - Real Anymore
This really was a great discovery this year. Randolph's Leap take the humour of The Smiths and the sound of Belle & Sebastian (albeit less smug) and turn out great song after great song. This mini album contains some real crackers such as the title track and the Derek Acora referencing Psychic. You have to check this out - you will love it

10: Sigur Ros - Kveikur
Sigur Ros decided to move away from the almost fully ambient feel of their last record and turn on their guitars making this a loud almost rock like in places album. It's one of those albums that really grabs you much their live show at the SECC this year which showcased the tracks perfectly.

9: Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Along with DM and Radiohead, Aracde Fire are a real favourite of mine. Reflektor is a great album although it is maybe a song too long. There's a lot to love on here though from the title track to the brilliant Afterlife. You can hear James Murphy's influence throughout too which is of course a very good thing

8: Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks
Trent's back and whilst he's not as angry as he used to be he's still pretty annoyed. Brilliant stuff

7: Pet Shop Boys - Electric
Well who was expecting that? Neil and Chris decided to head back to the Disco (deliberate pun ;) ) and it really worked. Electric zips by at a pace that belies the boys' age with the only drop out being the appearance of the hideous Example on Thursday. Other than that it's their best since Very

6: Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
This year saw Frightened Rabbit jump up a league or two thanks not only to Radio 1's patronage and a series of increasingly big sold out shows but due to Pedestrian Verse which is one of their strongest sets of songs to date. Backyard Skulls and The Oil Slick are particular stand outs for me and their live shows this year were fantastic.

5: Suede - Bloodsports
We all thought Suede were long gone and certainly their previous album A New Dawn was as far away from the beauty of Dog Man Star as you could get. Bloodsports is a hugely impressive comeback however and shows a band right back on form. A real treat.

4: Arctic Monkeys - AM
Fantastic. Simple as that!

3: The National - Trouble Will Find Me
What an album. Whilst it may not have the consistency of High Violet, Trouble Will Find Me is a fabulous collection of songs featuring a genuine classic in Pink Rabbits. The National really are developing into a fascinating band and they're only going to get better and better. Make time in your life for this album

2: CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe
I've already given this a full review ( see here ) and my opinion hasn't changed at all. A must have.

1: Depeche Mode - Delta Machine
What else was it going to be eh? After the mainly dull Sounds Of The Universe I was worried that Depeche's creative juices had run out - how wrong I was. Delta Machine is a fantastic record containing some of the band's best songs in a decade or more. They've no right to still be this good you know. The live shows this year were so impressive too. Bands half their age should take heed.

So that's that - 2013 in a nutshell. Thanks again for reading and see you next year!