End Of Year Review 2013

It’s still January so not too late for our annual look back at the previous year. As is now traditional we tell you our favourite bands, LPs, gigs, books etc over the previous 12 months. You may agree, you may disagree. We will also spout loads of nonsense and bore you with trivia. As I live and work in Middlesbrough my choices are very Teesside-Centric if you want to tell us what has tickled your fancy then let us know your favourites from your part of The North. Everything will be considered for publication at The Northern Line. Here goes with mine………

BEST ALBUM:

2010: MITCHELL MUSEUM “The Peter’s Port Memorial Service”
2011: THE MINOTAURS ” Eat Yr Hate”
2012: THE WELLGREENS “Wellgreens”

Another great year for music and a host of great albums. Big selling superstars kept us intrigued like The National’s Trouble will Find me. How many great albums are these boys going to make? A truly wonderful album and very close to the album of the year despite not even being from the UK let alone the North. Other non-Ukers in the running were John Grant, a big giant of a man and voice. His latest offering Pale Green Ghosts released on the wonderful Bella Union Records which also supplied our winner. (big clues there!!!!). Prefab Sprout return with Red, a wonderful return to form. The best since Steve McQueen. The Arctic Monkeys continue to produce good, if not great, records. AM is a fine album and if not for their already high standards would probably be better thought of. I have to admit I love Jake Bugg. Shangri La is a great listen. Yes he sounds like The Las, yes he appeals to the pop kids but…. but….. he’s brilliant. A modern day Buddy Holly.
The Sound of Young Scotland wasn’t so prolific this year but one album did come very close to being our favourite and it was Washington Irving’s Palomides Vol I and II. Not since Guns and Roses have a band attempted to release two albums together. But unlike GNR this was brilliant. This is a magnificent study in Arthurian legend, sea shanties, folk rock, folk punk, folk for Folks sake, ok music!!! Edwyn Collins kept up the Old Sound of Young Scotland with his best solo album Understated. Local heroes By Toutatis delivered The Songs we sang to Death to great accolades.
And the winner is…… from the North-East Lanterns on the Lake and their beautiful long player Until the Colours Run. A truly wonderful set of songs. These boys and girls are destined for better things.

BEST TRACK:

2010: “Wreckin’ Bar”: THE VACCINES
2011: “Sold my Soul”: CATTLE & CANE
2012: “I Just Can’t Stop Thinking of You”: DEERHART

Probably the toughest category as there are 100s of great tracks and picking the best is almost impossible. I will simply list everything that tickled my fancy and pick the track that is my favourite today. It may well be different tomorrow!!
Rebecca by By Toutatis was an early contender from these Saltburn by the Sea mavericks. Wandering Wits by the mighty Washington Irving. Favourite track by Jake Bugg was Messed Up Kids an adrenalin rush of candy pop. Green & Gold by our album of the year winners Lanterns on the Lake. Fake Major Little Researcher. Frankie & the Heartstrings That Girl, That Scene. The whole of General Sherman’s debut EP Noddys House we described them as Malcolm Middleton fronting Godspeed You Black Emperor. Enough said. The Last Battle Perfecting the Art (of Saying Nothing). O’Messy Life Heat Shield. Lots and lots of wonderful stuff but my favourite track of the year is also probably the longest named track of the year; Sweet Baboo The Morse Code for Love is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code is One One. A track both infectiously catchy and wonderfully informative.

GIG OF THE YEAR:

2010: Woodenbox with a fistful of Fivers/Washington Irving/Cattle & Cane @ The Westgarth
2011: Stockton Calling (Various venues in Stockton)
2012: The Lake Poets/Union Choir/Natasha Haws @The Sage, Gateshead

Another tough category. We probably didn’t see as many gigs in 2013 as we did in previous years but we still saw some cracking shows. We saw those South London scamps Palma Violets twice; once at the Empire and also at a free show they did at The Westgarth, where carnage ensued. We saw the Wedding Present do the whole of George Best in Scarborough. What the audience lacked in hair they made up for in energy. Daughter at the Georgian in Stockton was a night of haunting beauty. Our old favourites Cattle & Cane treated us to an amazing night at Preston Park Museum. Washington Irving were seen at least 3 times. Best of which was their triumphant night at the Westgarth in November. Our friends The Kids are Solid Gold held a mini festival in May called Sumday. And excuse the pun but it was some day. Already mentioned Washington Irving with their Celtic brothers Woodenbox. But the day was made extra special by our first taste of Fake Major. Another band of Irn Bru drinking, haggis eating, caber tossing boys from Caledonia. By the end of the year we had managed to see them 3 times and it is fitting that they played at the gig of the year as support to the elder statesman of the Sound of Young Scotland; Edwyn Collins. His gig at the Westgarth just before Christmas was the live highlight of the year. In fact it could have been the live highlight of any year. From Falling & Laughing to Blueboy it was tremendous a proper throw your hands in the air rush of joy. He may be old, he may not be in the best of health but he rocks like a good un. It took 30 years to get to see him but it was certainly worth the wait.

BEST BOX SET:

2011: THE SMITHS: Complete.
2012: THE JAM: The Gift box set.

We only bought one box set this year and it was this;
“Still Mad At Me? 15 Years Firestation Records 1998-2013″. Released this year by Firestation Records in Germany. It contained not only two Nivens tunes but lots of examples of great indie music. Our favourites were Skint & Demoralised, The Honest Johns and Mighty Mighty.
Actually we didn’t buy it we got it for free but hey Box Set of the year regardless!!!

BEST TV PROGRAMME:

2011: This is England ’88
2012: The Olympics

We don’t watch much television here at The Northern Line. Basically we watch football, football and the odd football match. So picking our favourite TV show is somewhat difficult. But one series we did tune into and so therefore becomes our winner is this: The Wrong Mans a BBC Television comedy drama series. It premiered on BBC Two in September 2013. It was co-created and written by Gavin & Stacey alumni James Corden and Mathew Baynton. It was funny, exciting and apart from a bit of a poor ending (basically they left it hanging so they can do a second series) it was great. I look forward to the second series.

BEST BOOK:

2010: “No Redemption”: KEITH PATTISON
2011: “Clough & Revie: The Rivals who changed the face of English football”: ROGER HERMISTON
2012: “Kimberley’s Capital Punishment”: RICHARD MILLWARD

One book has dominated the news this year and as massive Smiths fans we certainly cannot deny that the book of the year is probably Morrissey’s autobiography. If you have been following events at The Northern Line you will know we have been plotting the 30 years since the greatest band ever graced these shores. May saw 30 years since the release of Hand in Glove. October we paid homage to This Charming Man. Next year will see a lot of new anniversary’s; their debut album and the first time we saw them to name but two. So it would be strange if his Mozship’s book wasn’t our favourite of the year wouldn’t it? Another book we looked at this year was “The Smiths” by Lawrence Watson. A book of superb photos of a superb band. Second favourite of the year? Actually that would be too easy and too predictable. Second favourite goes to “Skag Boys” by our most favourite author Irvine Welsh. A prequel to the brilliant Train Spotting. It covers the early years of Renton, Begbie et al. A great read from the greatest of writers. Now technically it was published in 2012 but seeing as we didn’t get round to reading it until 2013 we can include it in this round up.

FESTIVAL OF THE YEAR:

2011: DEERSHED 2011
2012: DEERSHED 2012

With 3 kids under 8 and a severe lack of finances our festival attendance has dwindled over the past few years. Special mention must still go to those who are providing excellent entertainment and value for money in the sunny summer months. Evolution Festival in Newcastle has gone from strength to strength. Galtres Festival, Bingley Music Live, the Ramsbottom Festival, Stockton Calling and Stockton Weekender continue to be great days out. But our winner and it looks like they’re going to get to keep the trophy; The Deershed festival. One of the best weekends of the year. The House of Love, King Creosote and Sweet Baboo were our musical highlights but this festival is so much more. Great talks from Tom Hingley and David Conn also loads of fun packed things for the kids. My girls are already looking forward to this year.

BEST VENUE:

2011: THE WESTGARTH SOCIAL CLUB in Middlesbrough
2012: THE WESTGARTH SOCIAL CLUB in Middlesbrough

As we spend the vast majority of our gig time in the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough it is bound to hold a special place in our hearts. It may sound boring and winning 3 years on the trot may seem like a lack of imagination but it is our best venue. It has cheap beer, a great crowd and you can stand virtually toe to toe with the acts. What more could you want? Best venue of 2013 by a mile.
Special mention must go to the Spa at Scarborough a beautiful Victorian building which we visited for the first time this summer. The Georgian in Stockton, the wonderful Empire in Middlesbrough and the Cluny in Newcastle. All great venues that we hope to visit more this year than we did last. Another venue we hope to see the inside of is the new Leeds Arena. We see it from the outside every 2 weeks as we travel to the match but we have yet to see what this magnificent building looks like on the inside. The Manics in March might fix this problem.

ARTIST OF THE YEAR:

2012: SAMUEL PEPE JEFFERIES

Only one artist featured on The Northern Line this year Karl Striker. A graffiti artist in the mould of Banksy. He’s the only one we’ve covered so he wins!!! Easy.

BAND OF THE YEAR:

2010: CATTLE & CANE
2011: WASHINGTON IRVING
2012: THE IMAGINEERS

The previous winners are all very much in the running again. Sadly, The Imagineers split up before we got to see them again. But we have some fantastic news; The Imagineers will be returning as The Carols and if the tracks they’ve put on SoundCloud are anything to go by they’re going to be even better!!!
As well as previous winners new bands came along this year to make us swoon with delight. Fake Major are amazing as we’ve already alluded to in the best track section. When they release their debut in 2014 they will be sure fire contenders for band of the year, album of the year and first band on the moon all rolled into one. Stornoway returned with a superb second album and a great gig at the Westgarth. The return of the House of love, a new found love for the Wedding Present and a surprising love rekindling for Prefab Sprout all surfaced this year.
Palma Violets were our guilty attempt to keep up with the kids. Cattle & Cane were quiet but their appearance at Preston Park alone put them in the running for band of the year. Lanterns on the Lake were very close to scooping up two awards but with no other gongs already in their possession there was only one band who were going to win this. For the second time, they were previous winners in 2011, Washington Irving are our band of the year. They finally released their debut album in two parts Palomides I and II, had one of our favourite tracks of the year in Wandering Wits and some brilliant gigs in both England and their home country North of the border to secure the win. The gig in Edinburgh in August was one of the highlights of our summer. Their appearance at Sumday in May was also a bit special. But what was our best memory of them this year was their triumphant return to the Westgarth in November. A night of great tunes, loads of drink and some great conversation afterwards. Washington Irving not only write great uplifting tunes, belt them out with passion but they are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet. A bottle of the best Whisky is on order for the next time we meet.

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR IN 2014:

The debut from Cattle & Cane!!!!!!! I have said this every year since 2010. It’s starting to look like Lee Mavers, Syd Barret and Lord Lucan are producing this long awaited debut. They say patience is a virtue well we all must be pretty virtuous waiting for this. Will it be worth it?? It bloody better be!!!!
The Last Battle have their second album out soon and judging by the snippets I’ve heard so far it’s going to be as good if not better than their debut. Morrissey has threatened us with a new album in 2014 but if it’s as poor as his last 2 or 3 I could probably live without it. He has promised a tour which is much more highly anticipated in this house.
Withered Hand has promised a follow up to the legendary Good News and if its half as good as his recent gigs it will be a contender for next year’s album of the year. Fake Major’s debut should be great and hopefully a new album from our friends Hope & Social.
On the gig front The Kids Are Solid Gold have plenty of things coming up in the next few months. We are also looking forward to Stockton Calling, the Deershed Festival and The World Cup, of course!!!

So that was 2013. If you agree nod enthusiastically, if you disagree let us know your views. 2014 is looking to be just as good if not better.

By peter on January 25, 2014


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