Friday, 3 January 2014



My Duncan Bannatyne - m d b
If you were a lively new band with an exciting debut to plug in 2013, your chances were doomed to failure. With the marketplace saturated by the overdue return of countless yesteryear legends, 2013 was instantly heralded as “The Year of the Splashback”. The trend began in February as the music press went into hysterical, thigh-rubbing overdrive after a certain highly-influential recluse suddenly announced his return after several years of mysterious absence. The abrupt release of My Duncan Bannatyne’s third LP caused Twitter to crash, Amazon were forced to build a whole new warehouse to deal with the quantity of orders, and droves of music journalists had to cancel all immediate plans to stay up all night writing about something they hadn’t had any time to fully absorb. The Guardian wrote that with its “vocals half-buried beneath a mesh of guitars and samples so dense as to be unfathomable”, m d b “instils a kind of pleasurably baffled awe”. Pitchfork praised its unconventional, spookily timeless mixture of oceanic distortion, ethereal singing, and angry Scotch entrepreneurialism. And Paul Morley eulogized this cultural watershed on the BBC’s relaunched Review Show through the medium of a startlingly erotic interpretive dance wearing a black turtleneck and no trousers.

David Bowie - Remember Heroes? That was good wasn’t it? This isn’t Heroes
Another month, another return of some legend or other. This time, Lord David of Bowie cancelled dinner plans with Ricky “mong-basher” Gervais, threw a new LP into the trough of the grovelling public, and promptly naffed off again with one casual flap of his Goblin King cloak without even bothering to tour. Still, at least the record’s po-mo back-referencing artwork inspired many of us to dust off our copies of Heroes, book tickets for that V&A show and relive happier times. The Bowie show proved the most successful exhibition to hit London since David Hockney’s propagandist campaign to convince Southerners that there’s actually some colour in the North of England and that the trees are bright purple and everything (f.y.i. the reality up here remains very much dead monochrome kestrels and whippet-baiting gambling rings).

Primal Scream - More Shine A Light
Inspired by Primal Scream’s incendiary More Shine A Light record, in May 2013 the lower classes rose up against their pompous oppressors, stormed Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, beheaded Gideon Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and that one with the stoat’s face, tattooed Nick Clegg’s pink, wrinkled brow with the word “COLLABORATOR”, set fire to Amazon’s London offices, and quickly established a collective neo-Socialist utopia. Regrettably, Cameron The Unslayable managed to seize back power and restore the ancien regime when the newly-elected members of the National Convention were distracted by updating the nation’s facebook status to ‘Republic’ on their communal iPad4. As soon as the first eight episodes of the final series of Breaking Bad were released on DVD, the masses had forgotten all about More Shine A Light and the failed revolution of 2013 became just another footnote in the remarkable canon of English history. At least one good thing came out of the botched rebellion, however. Radical Trotskyite satirist Ben Elton’s hastily-penned musical Les Screamables sold out its entire West End run and is soon to be made into a feature film directed by Tobe ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Hooper and starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried as ‘Johnny Guitar’, ‘Kowalski’, ‘Velocity Girl’ and ‘Miss Lucifer’ respectively.

Frank Turder - Tape Deck Fart
Promoting his fifth solo album in August of this year, cack-bearded libertarian Frank Turder paid fitting tribute to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain by rolling onto the Reading Festival stage in a wheelchair, impregnating Courtney Love, shooting up a big old bag of heroin with his buddy Mark Lanegan, singing a few Meat Puppets covers instead of the hits, and then blowing his own cack-bearded head off with a shotgun. “A gutsy performance,” remarked a popular glossy metal mag, “but headliners Biffy Clyro were the true heroes of the weekend.”

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Two
“How can I make free-jazz-beat-poetry even more inaccessible? I know! I’ll put some opera singing on it!”
Wire just called, they want you for a cover feature.”

Quentin Blake - Overblown
Winner of the 2013 award for the best album by an act who paid money to be on the shortlist for the award for the best album by an act who paid money to be on the shortlist for the award for best album by an act who paid money to be on the shortlist for the best album by an act who paid money to be on the shortlist for the award for best album........

The Octogenarian Roald Dahl illustrator saw off stiff competition from several up-and-coming artists in dire need of the prize fund and resultant publicity boost such as Ricky “I’m being ironic, me” Gervais’ side-kick Lord David of Bowie. Also nominated were Arctic Monkeys for their album Well Howdy-doody Ya’ll, We’re From Lil’ Ol’ Sheffield, Yee-haa!, the debut record by pottery-loving kiln-enthusiast Bake Jugg, Savages, Villagers, Pillagers, Privileges, Suede’s Suede and probably something by PJ Harvey I imagine. Yet there were also several controversial absences from the shortlist. Critically acclaimed Leeds psych-rockers Hookworms were denied entry for being poor and Northern, while My Chicken Ballotine were banned because it isn’t 1991 anymore. Blake won a cheque for 20,000 shillings, a brand new set of watercolours, and a guaranteed appearance on the 2017 edition of Celebrity Masterchef.

Morrissey - Autobiography
Albums are sooooo last millennium. Words printed on paper are where it’s at these days, grandpa. Besides, reading the bitter, weirdly spelt rants of this quiffy vegan was infinitely more enjoyable than listening to Haim or Arcade Fire or those bloody French robots. Its publication under the Penguin Classics imprint caused outrage among literary purists. Indeed, with its overweight, self-obsessive, misanthropic protagonist who lives in a permanent state of aggravated despair at the repulsive vulgarity of British society while retaining a bigoted antipathy towards foreigners, Tobias Smollett’s Humphry Clinker has very little in common with Morrissey’s tome. The publication proved so repugnant to Lou Reed that he spontaneously keeled over and died simply to prevent himself from ever writing anything remotely similar.

Keane - The Best of Keane
Before Marcus Mumford and his dungareed troupe of illusory male offspring, it was posh boys Keane who attracted the ire of often equally middle-class culture critics. Not without good reason, of course. To describe Keane as wet is an insult all liquids. But in the same way that the repugnant atrocities committed by the New Labour regime no longer seem quite so villainous in light of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition or how one might have felt queasily nostalgic for John Major’s dull cone-hotline reign at the height of Blair’s megalomania, after hearing ‘I Will Wait’ for the 2,048th time, Keane don’t seem so sickening after all.

Keane’s reputation was also rejuvenated by chief songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley-Palmer-Tonkinson winning this year’s annual Bollockvember competition. Like Christians hijacking the winter solstice or the execution of Christ being usurped by choccy egg makers, the annual Festival of Testicular Wellbeing is barely recognisable from its Anglo-Saxon origins. What in ancient times was a pious, community-focussed event has transformed over the centuries into nothing more than grunting masculine exhibitionism. On the morn of the First of November, all British males are obliged to shave or wax every strand of hair from their genital regions. They must then spend the next thirty days with their bare knackers hanging out of their flies so that their fellow citizens and prospective sexual partners can observe the speed and thickness in the gradual daily growth of their pubic follicles. Naturally, most of the male populace are delighted to walk around for a month with their love pumpkins on dangling display while guzzling lager and singing Fat Les songs, but every year there are a small number of dissenting spoilsports. By law, all gentlemen too humble, timid, or stubborn to partake in the gonadular merriment are shipped to a penal colony in the darkest depths of Wales. Here, the deplorable goolie-hiders are chained to fenceposts and forced to watch manliness-incarnate Tom Jones spread-eagle on an emerald beanbag, stroking the silky white hair of his gargantuan sex orbs like a Bond villain with his cat.

The surprising victor of this year’s Most Hirsute Nadgers competition was indeed Keane’s previously-derided Tim Rice-Oxley-Rees-Moog-Bonham-Carter-Worrall-Thompson. Unfortunately, the victory of Tim Rice-Oxley-Ellis-Bextor-Lloyd-Webber-Fearnley-Whittingstall-Street-Preachers has had the unfortunate effect of throwing all rock journalism into flux which is traditionally based on the “[This aggressive metal band] HAS BALLS! / [This floppy-fringed fawning indie troupe] HAVE NO BALLS!” system of categorisation.

Johnny Borrell - Borrell one, Leyton Orient nil
July saw the much-anticipated release of foal-faced ex-Razorlight singer Johnny Borrell’s debut solo album. After Q Magazine hailed it “the greatest work of art by any human being since Adele’s 21 or that third Killers LP or something”, Borrell 1 became the biggest-selling record of all time, the singer was swiftly shunted to top of the V Festival bill where he was carried aloft by the crowd in a golden throne, and a polls-damaged David Cameron felt obliged to issue a fast-track knighthood. Meanwhile, in a cruel twist of fortunes, Sir Borrell’s old badminton partner Pete Doherty was forced to find new work as a toothless boot cobbler in Camden Town. He’ll also cut your keys if you can trust him with them.

Miley Cyrus - Bangerz ‘n’ Mash
The sex-trafficked Disney refugee’s stock rocketed this year thanks to her furiously sensual tongue-protruding duet with smarm lord Robin Thicke at an awards ceremony for music videos held by a music television channel that doesn’t show music videos. The reactions to this harmless bit of slap and tickle degradation were many and varied. Madonna was so appalled that she yoga-ed over to her magic looking glass to ask, “mirror, mirror, on the wall / who’s the most empowered of them all?” Shaken by the response “you, my Madge, are empowered, that’s true / but Cyrus is even more empowered than you”, Madonna yoga-ed back to her Kabbalah-phone to order a truckload of S&M gear, the tightest Victorian corset still in existence, and one of those intimidating sex-swing things for her next world tour stageshow. The management teams behind the likes of Rihanna and Gaga began scribbling down ways in which their own clients could up their sexual game and the putrefying dungpile we call civilisation slipped ever closer towards irreversible craptaculousness.

Thankfully, Lily Allen was on hand to condemn ‘Saucy Cyrus’ with her pungently twerk-centric anti-twerk video ‘Hard Out There’. The video was Britain’s greatest work of satire since Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. Unfortunately, like Waugh, it was also pretty racist. Allen was soon forced to release a statement refuting such allegations. “I do not objectify black things”, she protested, “some of my best things are black.”

Beyoncé - Beyoncé
In your face all you blogs, mags, and newspapers who churned out your end of year best-of lists in October/November/December! You weren’t expecting the Queen Bee to suddenly release an album on December 13 were you? See, it pays off to be too lazy to post a list before the first week of January, when list season is already officially over and nobody gives a shit about 2013 anymore. My list includes Beyonce! Yours didn’t! Ha. What does the album actually sound like? Erm... it includes... err... some of Knowles’ finest vocal performances to date... and... plenty of sass? Too many ballads, maybe? Some lyrics about how much she loves Jay-Z? I HAVE LISTENED TO IT I PROMISE.

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