For me, 2013 kick-started in a grimy rock club on the outskirts of Birmingham. I remember grabbing a friend and dancing through the streets to a pub on the opposite side of town, where I’m told I spent most of the night talking to a guy who looked a lot like Richard Ayoade. Amidst the blur into the morning that followed, I distinctly remember him taking my number in a taxi, then asking for my name. Classy. Drunk, sprawled out on a friend’s sofa, I couldn’t stop smiling. It was the start of 2013, and I just knew this year was going to be special. And it most certainly has been – these past seven months especially. I’ve fallen head-over-heels into a world of music and mayhem: from being deafened by My Bloody Valentine, to crowd-surfing at house parties, seeing my friends get engaged at a Peace gig, through Weezer sing-a-longs in a friend’s garage, seeing mates support The Cribs, singing my heart out at a Suede show, being awestruck by an acoustic Wolf Alice set in a stranger’s flate, and a whole lot besides. Music has become a part of my life that I value over money, food, and sleep. I haven’t gone a week without seeing a live band since late-May. And as 2014 dawns ever closer, and we look back over and reflect upon the last twelve months, all I have to say is: long may it continue… My Top 5 Albums Of The Year #1: Drenge // Drenge I feel slightly cheated when a band release an album and 50% of it has already seen release as singles or b-sides. Despite this, ‘Drenge’ is still my favourite album of the year. I was sent a pre-release copy for review the evening before they supported The Cribs alongside my friends’ band – with the house to myself I blasted it at top volume, dancing through the rooms with reckless abandon. I don’t think I listened to anything else for weeks. ‘Nothing’ is nearing four minutes of delicious destructive energy, ‘Let’s Pretend’ is edging over eight minutes of captivating controlled chaos, and before the first five seconds of album closer ‘Fuckabout’ had passed, I knew I was in love. #2: Peace // In Love #3: Troumaca // The Grace #4: Jagwar Ma // Howlin’ #5: Foals // Holy Fire My Top 10 Songs of the Year #1: Leather Jacket Love Song // The Cribs Take one look at this music video and ask again why this song is at the top of my list. It’s simple, it’s infectious, it packs a punch, and it rocks as hard as it rolls. And it’s The Cribs. Any questions? No, didn’t think so. #2: Let’s Pretend // Drenge #3: Uncertainty // Jagwar Ma #6: Stop The World I Wanna Get Off With You // Arctic Monkeys #5: You’ve Got It All Wrong // Drowners #6: Bros // Wolf Alice #7: I Wanna Dance (But I Don’t Know How) // SKATERS #8: The Wire // HAIM #9: Delicious // Peace #10: Gold, Women & Wine // Troumaca Picking just ten tracks from a whole years worth of music was close to heart-wrenching. So, to make myself feel a little better about everything, here is a bonus list of my favourite five tracks to come from deep within the Birmingham music scene over the course of the past twelve months. #1: Dangle Like Skeletons // God Damn They are, undisputably, the best band in Birmingham. Their live shows are capable of blowing your mind and changing your life. You might think a lot of this is exaggeration, but you’re wrong. When you see them, you will fall in love. This is the anthem they’ve taken to ending their shows with – equal part raucous and steady beauty. #2: Still // Wide Eyed #3: How Are You Now? // Curb #4: Dive // Dumb #5: Honeydripper // Swerve My Top 5(6) Gigs of the Year #1: Wide Eyed, Dumb, God Damn, Bad Moon, Laced – Hamstead Road, 15th March One living room, five bands, and more people than could safely fit into one house – more Friday nights should be spent like this. Looking back, I find it insane the number of people who I didn’t know crammed into that living room who I now class as my closest friends. There was definite sense of being in exactly the right place at the right time, revelling in the moment. And what better way to do so? The house parties that followed have all been stellar, but this was the one that started everything off. Props to Jacky P and co for ruining their humble abode in the process – you know how much we all appreciated it. #2: Johnny Marr – Glastonbury, 29th June #3: Tame Impala – Reading Festival, 24th August #4: The Cribs, Drenge, Wide Eyed – Kasbah, Coventry, 2nd August #5: Peace, Drenge, Superfood – O2 Academy, Birmingham, 13th December (I’m fully aware this hasn’t happened yet, but I don’t care, it’s gonna be up there.) #6: Juice, Curb, Victor – TALK, Birmingham, 30th November . Things I’m Excited For In 2014 #1: BANDS The most exciting thing about music in 2014 (for me) is that I might get to witness different bands take off. Wide Eyed, JUICE, Curb… All bands with bucket loads of potential and promise. I want to see them soar. Add to that the excitement of new releases from already established groups (Drowners, Cheatahs, Skaters…), and you’ve got a party. Sorta. #2: GIGS I think the first only gig I’ve so far made plans to be at next year is a Kate Bush tribute act. And I’m still not sure if that was a joke arrangement or not (though I hope not). But regardless of how little I might have penned on the calendar, I know that I’m going to witness some brilliance on stage – bands I’ve always loved, bands I’ve just started to fall for, and probably bands that haven’t formed yet. I can’t wait. #3: JOURNALISM In 2014, I will finish my final year at university. It’s make or break time. I’m excited to write about new music in a new year, review the releases and shows that make me want to shout to everyone I hold dear (as well as reviewing some that don’t, no doubt). I’m excited to see where this path takes me, and terrified to find out how much all of this will be a part of my life in twelve months. Fingers crossed, ay?