Photos by G. Autographs obtained in person by me. Thanks to the artists!
2013 was a year where debut albums sounded much better to me than new releases by veteran acts. It was also the year that British singer Jessie Ware rocked my world, I “discovered” the music of 6 year old band White Lies and Pet Shop Boys made a return to brilliance. See below for 10 albums you need to own, according 2 G.
1. “Devotion” by Jessie Ware. When I heard the music of Jessie Ware for the first time, it was love at first listen. Most of Jessie Ware’s songs are mid-tempo tracks and her silky smooth voice is the missing link between Sade and Adele. I will not lie, in 2013, I wore this album out, and yet, I am not sick of it. On my iPod alone, I’ve heard the record over 200 times and I know I’ve listened to the actual CD probably as many times. There is not a bad song on the album. Jessie Ware has scored a trifecta on According2g.com by having the number one spot for my favorite song, my favorite debut album and my favorite overall album of 2013. If you need a slow jam, you’ve got the title track “Devotion.” If you want a mid-tempo song to groove to, you’ve got “Sweet Talk.” If you want a dance floor jam, you’ve got “If You’re Never Gonna Move.” If you need an introspective song, you’ve got “Something Inside,” and all the songs in between are equally as good. And let us not forget my #1 song of 2013 – “Running.” It’s good for chillin’, working out (running – ha!), and pretty much any other activity that ends in “-ing” if you know what I mean! I have seen almost every New York area show that Jessie Ware has performed (which is over 5) in 2013 and I cannot get enough. At one of the most recent shows, I told Jessie about how much I love her and she recorded a special message! Thanks Jessie and needless to say, but I will say it anyway, I am ecstatic for what the future holds for you and I cannot wait for album #2!
2. “Electric” by Pet Shop Boys. It’s not that I disliked the last Pet Shop Boys album “Elysium,” it’s just that they recorded their “Los Angeles” album and to me it’s so un-LA. Overall, the tracks were slow, melancholy and introspective, and as a Los Angeles native, we all know LA is anything but those 3 things. It started making me think that maybe the Pet Shop Boys had peaked and after a good 30 year run. Well, I was wrong. You’d never know the Boys are well over 50 as “Electric” is a straight up dance record, that can out bang any modern club track. Tracks like “Fluorescent” and “Inside a Dream” are not only two of the best tracks on the album, but they are two of the best Pet Shop Boys songs ever. The track “Thursday” which features a guest rap from Example sounds on paper like a disaster waiting to happen, and instead, it’s also one of the strongest tracks on the album. I find it odd because I typically don’t care for Stuart Price’s production, but he really hit it out of the park with “Electric.” Turn it up!
3. “Big TV” by White Lies. Even though I know a lot about music, sometimes there are just bands that slip through the cracks. White Lies was one of those bands. “Big TV” is their third album, but I only “discovered” them this year. A friend recommended that I go see them live and as we have a lot of similar music tastes, I took his word. Glad I did. I waited until the show to actually hear their music and as song after song were played, I found myself saying “I love that song!” Even funnier to me is that the songs I identified with the most are nearly all from “Big TV.” Their music, if they are ‘new’ to you, has elements of Ultravox, Joy Division and The Killers. That is definitely a good thing! Highlights are “Mother Tongue” and “Be Your Man” (no relation to the Jesse Johnson track of the same name), however, for their tour EP “Small TV,” Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” is covered.
4. “Evil Friends” by Portugal. The Man. While “Evil Friends” is nowhere near as epic as their last release “In The Mountain In The Cloud,” it is still a fabulously great album. PTM made a run for mainstream success by working with uber-producer Danger Mouse. No offense to DM, but I think Portugal. The Man are quite capable of making it sound awesome on their own. Songs like “Creep In A T-Shirt” and “Hip Hop Kids” are anti-hipster themes, but ironically a large portion of PTM’s growing fan base are hipsters. Hey, hey, what can you do?
5. “Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action” by Franz Ferdinand. Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand returned to the music scene this year with another excellent album. The record doesn’t particularly break new ground, but it showcases what Franz Ferdinand do best – write 4 minute rock jams that are catchy as hell. My favorite track on the record is the funky “Evil Eye.” Also, you should check out the deluxe edition of this album which comes with the bonus disc “Right Notes Right Words Wrong Order” which is an live in the studio run through of a lot of tracks on the new album as well as a few classic FF tracks such as “Ulysses” and “No You Girls.”
6. “More Than Just A Dream” by Fitz and the Tantrums. It’s been so awesome to watch the rise of Fitz and the Tantrums. I’ve seen them perform in small clubs and Central Park. Their second album “More Than Just a Dream” is a bit poppier than their debut but it works. The song “Out of My League” has been on repeat more than a few times for me this year and “Last Raindrop” and “Spark” are songs that you will not be able to still still as you listen. Test it out!
7. “Modern Vampires of the City” by Vampire Weekend. I don’t know why I have resisted Vampire Weekend for a long time. They come off like hipster assholes in interviews, but I’ve met them a few times and lead singer Ezra Koenig is really nice especially. I finally gave in to Vampire Weekend and I found that I really like their music. I still think of them as a “hipster Paul Simon” as their music is worldly, but with very frat-boy/bourgeois/hipster lyrics and that definitely holds true for the songs on this record. But there are many catchy little ditties such as “Diane Young” that show this group is definitely one of the more interesting bands of the alt rock scene these days.
8. “One Breath” by Anna Calvi. There is no sophomore slump when it comes to Anna Calvi’s music. If you’ve never heard her music, she’s got an operatic voice and she is not afraid to rock. When you see her live, she is sexy as hell (and coming from a gay guy, that’s a double compliment), looking like she could be conducting a business meeting and then she whips out her electric guitar and rocks! “One Breath” is an uphill step for Anna as her first album is very dark and noir sounding with this one having epic rock tracks such as “Eliza” and the extremely rockin’ “Love of My Life.” Definitely check out this album, and definitely go on youtube and watch her cover of Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel.” It will slay you!
9. “Waking on a Pretty Daze” by Kurt Vile. The internet says Kurt Vile is the new Tom Petty. I can’t speak to that, but what I can say is that Kurt Vile is a great singer songwriter and his music seems to be getting better and better with each album. One of the highlights is the nine and a half minute title track. Don’t let his name fool you. His name might be Vile, but his music is awesome!
10. “The Haunted Man” by Bat For Lashes. Since Bjork refuses to make a proper Bjork album, thank the creator for Natasha Khan, better known as Bat For Lashes. Her songs are magical, mystical and quirky and she’s got a voice that blends Bjorkishness with Florence and the Machine. Key tracks are “Laura” and “All Your Gold.”
Thanks to these artists for rocking my world!!!!