So, how was 2013 for you?  The Riot Squad have had a brilliant year bringing you the best in contemporary music wherever we find it.  Allan, John, Klare and Louie have reviewed some exceptional live and recorded music throughout the year and we all thank you for reading our reviews and looking at our photos.  We couldn’t resist this opportunity to remind you of some of the artists we reviewed for the first time in 2013.

We saw live performances by the Emile Gerber Band (which became Stoneface Travellers), Henrik Freischlader, Josephine, Marcus Bonfanti (solo and with his band), The Kennedys, Federal Charm (twice), Black Casino & The Ghost, Coco and the Butterfields (several times), The Dirt Tracks, Carrie Rodriguez, Aynsley Lister, Civil Protection, Wheatus, Dean Owens and Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion.  Quite a selection, really.

We reviewed albums and singles by Henrik Freischlader, Marcus Bonfanti, Sally Shapiro, Tomorrow’s World, Black Casino & The Ghost, Jimmy Livingstone, Austra, Tess of the Circle, Aynsley Lister, The Nyco Project, The Dirt Tracks, Nadine Shah, Sullivn,  Radio (in my) Head, Tal National, Layla Zoe, Kinver, Au Revoir Simone, DENA, Hartebeest, Polly Scattergood, Glasser, Annie, Emika and John Grant and probably a few others as well.  Along the way we had some great fun and met some lovely people; you all know who you are, and we’re hoping to meet most of you again this year.

Looking forward to 2014, we’re hoping for more of the same.  The review copies are already coming in and it’s starting to look pretty good already.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our predictions for 2014 from the Riot Squad and possibly from a few guest contributors as well.  And, while we’re on the subject of guest contributions, many thanks to Aynsley Lister, Steve Jenner, Marcus Bonfanti and Billie Ray Martin for their contributions to our High Fives feature last year.

HartebeestI’ve had this track for a little while now, waiting for something else to appear that will reveal a little more about the upper case admiring duo and this much I do know; there are apparently two of them. But they have proved to be admirably elusive. Once based in London and now they live on unspecified island, allegedly, in order for them to create the very man-made sounding “Death”.

A glacial and spinning electronic synth riff carries a tune which combines a male vocal reminiscent of Kele Okereke from Bloc Party at his most reflective and a soulful aesthetic similar to that of The Beloved’s late eighties chill-house anthem “The Sun Rising”. The lyrics are also oddly uplifting given the song’s title and when the vocal reassures ‘I’ll hold you in my hand when you cross over to the other side’; it all sounds quite lovely.

Whether HARTEBEEST turn out to be artists that we already know but have taken another route musically, and this could be a real option I feel, or if they are a new band which just wants to create some old fashioned mystery surrounding their identity remains to be seen. This would be an interesting introduction to either, not quite strong enough to lead an album campaign and more than an album track, “Death” sits somewhere in between. Can the real HARTEBEEST please come forward; we are interested to hear more.