- The tracks are in no particular order.
- They are not even my favourite tracks of the year.
- They are simply the top 5 tracks of 2013 that have inspired me and make me want to reach for the nearest guitar, mic, synth or pen.
1. Midlake – The Old And The Young
Bittersweet vocal melody, CAN-esque looping drums, exceptional choice of synths, with a bass line that glues it all together beautifully. Sonically harmonious, spacious and textured. This tracks makes me want to be in a band, but for now I’ll attempt to create such soaring choruses, driving riffs and hypnotic grooves on my own.
2. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal
Eight minutes of fragile, yet savage, immersive sound-scapes. It is a reminder that music is at it’s best when it’s conceived to transport a listener, instead of simply pleasing. This track isn’t just a wave of electronic sound. It’s a passport to a far away place. In my mind, a place that is as inhospitable as the Himalayas. Where the mountains are replaced with crystal shards, and the clouds above are fragments of shattered frost. As pretentious as this may sound, there’s something about this track that makes me want to create worlds, and not adhere to the exhausted format of ‘song’.
3. James Blake – Retrograde
Spacious, ambient, haunting and vocally stunning. It’s not the Mercury Award that puts him on my inspiring list, it’s not even my favourite track/album of the year, but there’s something utterly captivating about the way he performs this live and utilises much of the same musical equipment that I own (OK, maybe not the £1000 synths). Non-gimicky loops, built to serve the song, under a backdrop of tasteful percussive samples. Sublime.
4. John Grant – GMF
John Grant has a voice that could entertain any funeral. He inspires me to continue flirting with deeper vocal tones, and write lyrics that balance intensity with humour. He has an ability to choose effortless vocal scales and toplines, which is done exquisitely here on ‘GMF’.
5. Arcade Fire – Reflecktor
Perhaps an obvious choice from an unconditional lover of David Bowie and James Murphy. Arcade Fire have created a seven minute epic that combines some fantastic elements: LCD inspired percussion, minimal bass accenting the off-beat, cryptic lyrics, euphoric choruses, Robert Fripp styled guitar (Bowie’s guitarist on ‘Scary Monsters’), mild pretentiousness, all arranged flamboyantly to excess. The track inspires me to never attempt such things, in a good way.
Please feel free to leave a comment or let me know what tracks have got your creative juices flowing.