No need for FOMO in 2014: let some of Standard Issue’s brilliant writers take you through their must-hear albums of the last year.
Our music boffin Liz Buckley just can’t get Jack White’s Lazaretto out of her head – and she is beyond fine with that.
You know that stupid statistic about how often men are meant to think about sex? That’s how often I think about the first four bars of Jack White’s Lazaretto. Every time my mind goes blank, every time I’m happy, every time the conversation stops. It’s been that way for six months now and I never want it to end. Although I should perhaps stop short of bursting into song in Tesco.
Everything about this album is perfect, and it has something the download-generation miss: a complete look. From the way the live stage is set, the videos are dressed, the artwork is pitched and the sound is mastered, this is the full package.
Something a fan can buy into wholesale, it has it all. In a flailing music industry, Jack White is flying the flag for owning and paying for music. The vinyl release has been a sales record breaker, and, as something that projects a hologram when spinning, has secret tracks under the label, and plays at two speeds, he’s making sure people don’t settle for Spotify.
I turned 40 this year and as my birthday present, my best mate Laney took us to Athens. We had a lovely, cultured time, seeing the sites, soaking up the history, seeing gigs, films and on one evening, drinking our own body weight in red wine while singing Lazaretto on a roof terrace opposite the Acropolis until four in the morning. It’s been my favourite ever holiday. We went to see Jack White play in London a few weeks ago and it was superb, from the five minutes in I spent the rest of the gig terrified it was going to end. It was also the night where we were able to look at one another and say, “Wait. These aren’t the lyrics we were singing when we were drunk at the Acropolis.” I’m so glad we got to do that.
Jack White: Lazaretto (XL Recordings)
Eternal rock chick Karen Campbell did some moshing to Mercury Music Prize-nominated Royal Blood’s debut LP, Royal Blood.
You know those tracks? You know – the ones that automatically get your knees snaking and have you reaching for your (sadly, pretend) electric guitar ready to rock out? Royal Blood’s self-titled debut is bloody full of them which is why it’s my album of the year.
After having my ears blown off when they supported Arctic Monkeys in the summer and then getting over the shock that there’s only two of them, I quickly made myself au fait with the Brighton twosome. They’re called Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher. Kerr is the chatty, funny one who plays bass (and is quite fit actually – he’s only 23 though *sigh*) and Thatcher wears hats and plays drums like a bastard.
Together they knock your socks off. Moody guitar with a huge nod to Queens of the Stone Age and the Zep, antagonistic lyrics (“there’s no god and I don’t really care” – alright, chill out, Mike) and absolute fist-in-the-air, knee-sliding, head-banging anthems: I defy anyone not to rock out to Ten Tonne Skeleton. There are obvious comparisons to The White Stripes (these two aren’t brother and sister/husband and wife as far as I can tell, mind), but that’s not a bad thing – I mean, how fucking good were The White Stripes?!
The whole album is tune after tune and makes me wish I was 10 (okay, maybe 20) years younger so I could buy the t-shirt, plaster my walls with posters, adorn my arm with leather bracelets and be at the front of every gig singing my heart out. Alas, these days, I’d probably get a stitch.
Royal Blood: Royal Blood (Warner Bros)
A live gig introduced Danielle Ward to Midlanders Sleaford Mods.
Full disclosure: I’d never heard of Sleaford Mods until I was offered a spare ticket to see them at the Lexington back in July by my married friends with impeccable music taste. It was the best gig I’ve been to for ages. Drunk on music (alright, double gin and tonics) I bought Divide and Exit as soon as I got home. Which was great, because as a teenager I would have had to wait at least a week for Our Price to get it in stock from the big store in Portsmouth.
Angry, political, charismatic and very funny, Sleaford Mods are everything you’d want from a musical comedy act, except vocalist Jason Williamson and beats guy Andrew Fearn are doing it 4 real. British hip-hop/post-punk/social commentary made by two 40-somethings from the Midlands, old enough to know that ‘working hard and keeping your head down’ doesn’t get you very far when the class system is stacked against you. This is light years away from the BRIT School media musicians, with rage-filled rants about unemployment, capitalism, pop culture and celebrity.
If you like The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit, and think the lyric “You fucking tit rifle” is funnier than anything you’ve seen on the last few series of Have I Got News For You, buy this. And then go and see them live. And then form a band of your own.
Sleaford Mods: Divide and Exit (Harbinger Sound)