Our Favourite Albums of 2013

Our Favourite Albums of 2013

There's only a few days left until the end of 2013, so we're pretty sure there's not going to be any last-minute gems released in the next couple of days. 2013 has been a fantastic year for Guitar Lessons London; we've gone from pretty much nowhere to a fully-functioning business, so we thought we'd share the albums that have made our year.

Arctic Monkeys - AM

You almost wonder what Alex Turner puts on his toast in the morning. I reckon it’s probably diesel or fairy dust, because I’m not sure it’s humanly possible to write five consecutive albums that are as good as he has. The pre-released ‘R U Mine’ gave us an early taster of what was to come: weighty R&B beats, weighty guitar grooves and Alex’s new-found silky American vocals, all combining to create a product that is addictive as licking kittens. The stand-out tune has to be ‘Arabella’ - for the majority of the track, instrumentation is bravely sparse, with vocals and drums making up most of the interest, Jamie’s guitar ostinatos merely a side-thought. This makes the chorus and succeeding solo all the more emphatic. But there isn’t a weak track on ‘AM’ and the Monkeys know it. When I went to see them this November, the majority of the album got an airing. And sounded fantastic. 

Johnny Marr - The Messenger

Johnny Marr has had a pretty good year. He’s been given the NME ‘Godlike Genius’ award, toured around the world, completed a world-beating set at Glastonbury, reunited with his old mates the Jarman’s at ‘Cribsmas’ in Leeds AND released his first solo album. Pretty good for a man who’s just celebrated his 50th birthday. And ‘The Messenger’ isn’t too bad either. It’s pretty quintessential Johnny Marr, for anyone who knows his earlier stuff. His fondness for alternate picking and a major 7th still remains and the licks aren’t too dissimilar to ‘We Share the Same Skies’ on ‘Ignore the Ignorant’ with The Cribs. Yet, there is a feeling that Johnny has made this album on his own terms - ‘New Town Velocity’ and ‘The Messenger’ seems to have a purposeful sense of direction that many have missed since Marr’s work with the Smiths.

'Here is Johnny looking cool as in black & white. 

Foals - Holy Fire

This year foals finally got the festival headline spot at Latitude that they’ve had their eyes on for a while. Arguably it is ‘Holy Fire’ which got them this spot. ‘Inhaler’ and ‘My Number’ have got more radio play than any of their previous releases, possibly understandable considering the experimental and introspective approaches of their first two albums. It is maybe Foals’ fresh embrace of BIG, accessible tunes that has allowed this to happen, but they are far from selling out and still stay true to their ‘math rock’ roots. ‘Late Night’ stays closest to the early-Foals that we know and love and is probably the best track on the album. ‘Holy Fire’ has shocked many with its success, and it’s pretty certain that there are more big things in store for Foals.

Peace - In Love

One of a few new Birmingham lad-bands who dress like girls, Peace (maybe along with Temples) have stood out from the crowd. Their early track ‘Bloodshake’ really got everyone’s attention, bit ‘In Love’ cemented their reputation. In hindsight, it really was a brave move by them to leave ‘Bloodshake’ off the album because it remains a fan-favourite in their set list, but the tracks on the album more than make up for this.

Peace bring good, conscientious guitar pop to the table which dips into many different palettes: you won't listen to many albums this year with tracks as different as ‘Summer Daze’ and ‘Follow Baby’, the former vulnerable with only a single guitar and melody line sufficing, the latter with as many pedal effects as you can throw a cat at and a menacing fuzz riff kicking in when things threaten to get tender. All in all, the album has been a great hit, marking Peace as Britain’s biggest new hopes for guitar music. 

Drenge - Drenge

Drenge brought something back to music that we’ve missed a little recently - teenage anger. And what better medium than blues-infused punk rock? Only a guitar, drum kit and some vocal chords are needed. Drenge have found a highly successful formula to vent this anger with drop-d tunings, fast tempos and a handful of power chords. The joy of this simplicity is that it comes across well at live shows, and trust me, Drenge have some of the liveliest I’ve been to this year. Lines such as ‘make you run to the hills’ and ‘I want to break you in half’ could be mistaken for metal lyrics and it is this association that Drenge’s secret lies. They’ve managed to encapsulate the anger of metal, trash of punk and simplicity of blues in a way that is not only threatening, but relatable. Two brothers from Sheffield making a go of things with the simplest of tools; a drum kit and guitar, it’s hard not to love the romance of that.

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I cover all styles on both electric and acoustic guitar, enabling my guitar students to learn through the playing the songs that they love. Whether that is rock, pop, jazz, funk, blues, folk or anything in between we can cover it in our lessons. I have taught many beginner students over the years, developing a fantastic course of foundation lessons to enable my students to learn how to play the guitar at a pace that suits them. 

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