XWHY XMAS Guestlist – #3 James

XWHY Musical Guestlist – the experts select the best of 2013 music…

It’s day three of our Christmas playlist series. And to get us over the midweek hump we’ve got resident XWHY columnist and all round irreverent wit James Barton with his best of the year.

He takes us on a journey through pre-thirties angst and his attempts to stoke the fires of friendship with Clean Bandit. Read on Macduff…


Pixies – Indie Cindy

Seeing as this is the only song this year that has inspired me to write an XWHY article, it had to go in. It’s a nigh-on perfect return to form for a band that have been around since the eighties, but have had a fairly lengthy creative hiatus. It has all of the Pixies’ trademark accessible simplicity, yet packs a ton of depth and even more charm. The stark honesty of its refrain is enough to win over even the most dubious critic.

Considering bands that deserve absolutely no nostalgia are now staging comebacks – I’m looking at you, McBusted – this is a rare reminder that band reunions can offer the fan a hitherto untapped reserve of creativity. Y’know, rather than just offering the artist a hitherto untapped stream of revenue.

London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years

This song is a fresh anthem for the quarter-life crisis generation, capturing the zeitgeist better than anything else this year. Its sparseness underlines its fragility; its melancholy its tenderness. And then that chorus creeps up on you out of nowhere and before you know it your cynical, embittered exterior has melted into the overpowering beauty of Hannah Reid’s vocals. I’ve seen this band live several times this year and their ability to reach into your soul and touch it is about as close to a quasi-religious experience as I’m likely to get.

And lest you think that their appeal is limited to their generational relevance, I’d like to point out that my mum loves them as much as I do.

Clean Bandit – Rihanna

My year in music has been defined by my love affair with this band. They’re consistently inventive, talented, cool, and above all immensely fun. Seriously, pop this track on at a party and see if anyone complains. Also, they’re absolutely lovely, and consistently tolerate me and my friends clumsily attempting to befriend them at pretty much every gig they play.

Their marquee single this year was actually the equally brilliant Dust Clears, but I’m going with this track because it was the first tune I ever saw them play live so it holds a special place in my heart. That, and it’s more of a booty-grinder – no one can resist those marimbas.

The Correspondents – Fear and Delight

I generally disapprove of hyperbole, but Mr Bruce might just be the best live entertainer I have ever seen. That video gives you a pretty good idea of how this guy is basically the coolest bloke in literally all of music, but you still can’t quite appreciate it until you’ve seen them live.

This track is the most recent single off their upcoming album, and just sums up why these guys deserve your attention. That pounding bassline alone is enough to get you onto the dancefloor, but the beats are, as ever, complimented by surprisingly heartfelt lyrics – who hasn’t felt that self-destructive lust tugging you inexorably towards someone who’s a worse idea than a liquid dinner on a Sunday night?

Disclosure – Latch

Obvious choice ahoy! But shut up, you clearly love this song as well. And why not? It’s a full-blown EDM tune that somehow effortlessly touches base with the best of its genre’s tropes while simultaneously managing to be a perfectly structured pop song. Meandering between the guiding march of its pounding drumbeat and the ethereal floatiness of its pre-chorus, it finally crescendos into that glorious sing-along hook. Of course, you could never actually hope to sing along with it – Sam Smith’s vocal performance is way out of your league.



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