Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Month I Will Mostly be Listening to...

Download here (large zipfile). Scroll down to the grey DOWNLOAD link, then on the blue 'Download 1209.zip' link

1 Muse – Undisclosed Desires
2 Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
3 The Rakes – The Light from your Mac
4 Raveonettes – Bang!
5 De Staat – The Fantastic Journey of the Underground Man
6 Wild Beasts – All The King’s Men
7 Peaches – I Feel Cream
8 Wolfmother – California Queen
9 Pearl Jam – Just Breathe
10 Biffy Clyro - Boooom, Blast & Run
11 Editors - Papillon
12 Bad Lieutenant – Sink or Swim
13 Skunk Anansie – Because of You
14 Ian Brown – Just Like You
15 Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over
16 Datarock – The Pretender
17 Kasabian - Underdog
18 Vampire Weekend – Horchata
19 Rammstein – Rammlied
20 Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn (feat. Stephen Hawking)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top 75 Albums of the Decade 2000-2009

Well it's that time of the decade again - eek! Ten years ago we were stocking up on tinned food and preparing for society to melt down after Y2K, as well as stocking up on champagne and party poppers ready for the party of the millennium. Sigh! Time, therefore, to take stock of the musical legacy of the decade. And thanks to blogs, filesharing, streaming, Youtube, the Hype Machine and specialist online radio stations, we've never had so much music at our fingertips before. So the job of distilling all these down to a small(ish) chart is by no means an easy one, but here goes...

1. War Stories by UNKLE (2007) Underrated stone-cold classic, featuring collaborations with the likes of Josh Homme and Ian Astbury. Dance grooves meet snarling guitars.

2. Kid A by Radiohead (2000) Groundbreaking follow-up to OK Computer

3. Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio (2006) In which TV On the Radio deliver on the promise of their debut album

4. Turn on the Bright Lights by Interpol (2002) Interpol's stunning debut channels Joy Division, Magazine and the Psychedelic Furs to create something dark, brooding and powerful

5. Blackbird by Alter Bridge (2007) This amazing album, by unreconstructed, devils-horn finger sign flashing heavy rockers Alter Bridge, manages to blend 70s hard rock with 90s grunge stylings, and features 14 classic tracks with no filler. Has been on heavy rotation here since its release

6. Is This It by The Strokes (2001) This album single-handedly kicked off the US hipster rock revival that brought us the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Kings of Leon

7. Attack Decay Sustain Release by Simian Mobile Disco (2007) Best dance album of the decade (although Justice runs it a close second)

8. In Rainbows by Radiohead (2007) The hype surrounding its unorthodox release distracted from the fact that it is a killer album

9. Fever To Tell by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2003) 'Maps' is arguably the anthem of the decade

10. Demon Days by Gorillaz (2005) Damon Albarn's music here transcends the cartoon-character focus of the debut

11. Youth & Young Manhood by Kings of Leon (2003) Outstanding raw bluesy debut

12. Cross by Justice (2007) Squelchy lo-fi dance with massive beats and hooks

13. Kasabian by Kasabian (2004) Britain's answer to the post-punk channelling of Interpol was a reinvention of Madchester, to great effect

14. Global a Go-Go by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros (2001) A slow-burn grower, that I only really grew to appreciate after Joe's early demise

15. The Dream by The Orb (2007) A massive return to form for The Orb, thanks partly to the input of Dreadzone's Tim Bran

16. Dear Science by TV on the Radio (2008) More accessible than 'Cookie Mountain', this is a mesmerising success

17. Myths Of The Near Future by Klaxons (2007) Manic dance-punk meets art-rock

18. Come with Us by The Chemical Brothers (2002) The hipsters had moved on, and the Chems have struggled to get a good album review this decade. This remains a classic dance album, however

19. Reality by David Bowie (2003) Bowie's second 'return to form' album in 2 years. Since then, nothing. Please, sir, can we have some more?

20. Think Tank by Blur (2003) The sound of Blur working through the loss of guitarist Graham Coxon is eclectic yet surprisingly coherent

21. Silent Alarm by Bloc Party (2005) A reinvention of sophisticated guitar pop

22. Gorillaz by Gorillaz (2001) The hype initially distracted from the songs, but these have shone through in the long run

23. Black Ice by AC/DC (2008) Finely crafted hard rock album, packed with hooks and the trademark Young brothers' riffs

24. Oracular Spectacular by MGMT (2008) Hyped to death by the music press, it's a good job this album lived up to expectations, and more

25. Antics by Interpol (2004) Somehow deemed a 'disappointment' on its release, this builds solidly on their debut

26. Church Mouth by Portugal. The Man (2007)
This band came out of nowhere (well, nearly - Alaska) and blew me away with this album 2 years ago

27. Alligator by The National (2005)
Downbeat and eloquent, for me this was the National at their best

28. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend (2008)
Audacious blend of preppy harmonies with African sounds

29. Push the Button by Chemical Brothers (2005)
It received another critical mauling, but this album starts with 3 classic dance-floor fillers and continues with one corker after another

30. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not by Arctic Monkeys (2006)
For those of us who had been playing their demos on repeat for most of 2005, the quality of this album was no surprise

31. Hail to the Thief by Radiohead (2003)
Another album that suffered a critical backlash at the time - undeservedly, as this is a solid addition to the Radiohead canon

32. Heathen by David Bowie (2002)
Bowie 'return to 70's hey day form' shock horror album

33. The Satanic Satanist by Portugal. The Man (2009)
Highest entry on this list from 2009, PTM reach maturity with this wistful, idyllic album

34. All Hour Cymbals by Yeasayer (2007)
Soaring harmonies that nod to Fleetwood Mac, simple yet complex pop melodies. If you haven't it heard it yet, do so

35. Amnesiac by Radiohead (2001)
A dense, dark album, recorded at the same time as Kid A

36. We Are the Night by The Chemical Brothers (2007)
The knockers continue to knock, but the Chems continue to deliver - this time the dance-floor fillers are leavened with more psychedelic fare

37. Songs For The Deaf by Queens Of The Stone Age (2002)
Acclaimed 3rd album by QOTSA. Features the track 'No One Knows'

38. Our Love to Admire by Interpol (2007)
The critics were sharpening their knives, but Interpol delivered a 3rd album which revealed progression, improved songwriting and heart-on-sleeve lyrics

39. Invaders Must Die by The Prodigy (2009)
The Prodigy are back, motherf***ers

40. The Back Room by Editors (2005)
'The British riposte to Interpol' - sums it up really. Their second album lost it a bit, but this was majestic

41. A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay (2002)
42. We Are the Physics Are OK At Music by We Are the Physics (2008)
43. Nite Versions by Soulwax (2005)
44. Era Vulgaris by Queens Of The Stone Age (2007)
45. Black Sheep by Julian Cope (2008)
46. You Have No Idea What Youre Getting Yourself Into by Does It Offend You Yeah? (2008)
47. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay (2008)
48. The Age Of Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets (2008)
49. Only by the Night by Kings of Leon (2008)
50. Censored Colors by Portugal The Man (2008)
51. As Heard on Radio Soulwax Vol.2 by 2 Many DJs (2003)
52. The Eraser by Thom Yorke (2006)
53. Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand (2004)
54. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum by Kasabian (2009)
55. Derdang Derdang by Archie Bronson Outfit (2006)
56. Acres of Dead Space Cadets by Elle Milano (2008)
57. Angles by Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip (2008)
58. Pocket Revolution by dEUS (2005)
59. The Loon by Tapes 'N Tapes (2006)
60. Crystal Castles by Crystal Castles (2008)
61. Colour It In by The Maccabees (2008)
62. LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem (2005)
63. Made in the Dark by Hot Chip (2008)
64. Hot Fuss by The Killers (2004)
65. Funeral by Arcade Fire (2005)
66. Voices of Animals and Men by The Young Knives (2006)
67. Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever by The Cribs (2007)
68. Favourite Worst Nightmare by Arctic Monkeys (2007)
69. Cuts Across The Land by The Duke Spirit (2005)
70. Guero by Beck (2005)
71. Show Your Bones by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2006)
72. The Warning by Hot Chip (2006)
73. Box of Secrets by Blood Red Shoes (2008)
74. Antidotes by Foals (2008)
75. Idealism by Digitalism

Also available as Amazon Listmania! lists here, here and here:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

This Month I Will Mostly be Listening To...

Download here (large zipfile). Scroll down to the blue Download button, which may or may not be sandwiched between two rows of adverts, then on the 'Download 0909.zip' link

Vol. 34 September 2009

1 Reverend and the Makers – Silence is Talking
2 Manic Street Preachers – Peeled Apples
3 Arctic Monkeys – Crying Lightning
4 Florence and the Machine – Drumming
5 Ian Brown – Marathon Man
6 The Dead Weather – Hang Me From the Heavens
7 Cornershop – Who Fingered Rock 'n Roll
8 Wolfmother – New Moon Rising
9 Simian Mobile Disco – Cruel Intentions
10 Pearl Jam – The Fixer
11 Julian Plenti – Only If You Run
12 Portugal. The Man – The Sun
13 Kasabian – Secret Alphabets
14 The XX - Crystalised
15 Biffy Clyro – That Golden Rule
16 Arctic Monkeys – My Propeller
17 Radiohead – These Are My Twisted Words
18 Ian Brown - Stellify
19 Calvin Harris – Dance Wiv Me (feat. Dizzee Rascal)
20 Modest Mouse – Autumn Beds

Monday, June 15, 2009

First 6 months of 2009

As we near the halfway mark in the year, I thought I'd make a list of my favourite albums of the year so far.

1. The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die - massive return to form
2. Portugal. The Man - Satanic Satanist - last minute addition to the list, leaked just in time, it's another masterpiece from Alaska's finest
3. Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!
5. White Lies - To Lose My Life
6. Franz Ferdinand - Tonight
7. Fever Ray - Fever Ray
8. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - Fruit
9. Emiliana Torrini - Me & Armini
10. Jarvis Cocker - Further Complications
11. The Maccabees - Wall of Arms
12. Morrissey - Years of Refusal
13. U2 - No Line on the Horizon
14. Doves - Kingdom of Rust
15. Bat for Lashes - Two Suns
16. Neil Young - Fork in the Road
17. Various - War Child presents Heroes
18. The BPA - I Think We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
19. The Veils - Sun Gangs
20. PJ Harvey and John Parish - A Woman A Man Walk By

This Month I Will Mostly Be Listening To...

Vol. 33 July 2009

Download here (large zipfile). Scroll down to the blue Download button, which may or may not be sandwiched between two rows of adverts, then on the 'Download 0709.zip' link

1 Placebo - For What It’s Worth
2 Gossip – Heavy Cross
3 Kasabian - Fire
4 Simian Mobile Disco – The Audacity of Huge (feat. Chris Keating)
5 Jarvis Cocker - Angela
6 Doves – The Greatest Denier
7 Little Boots – New in Town
8 The Dead Weather – Treat Me Like Your Mother
9 Hot Chip - Transmission
10 The Maccabees – No Kind Words
11 Franz Ferdinand – Can’t Stop Feeling
12 We Have Band – You Came Out
13 Ladyhawke – Back of the Van
14 White Lies - Death
15 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
16 Prodigy – Warrior’s Dance
17 Metric – Satellite Mind
18 Bombay Bicycle Club – Dust on the Ground
19 Graham Coxon – Sorrow’s Army
20 TV On the Radio – Heroes

My Albums of the Year 2008

Somehow I forgot to post this here in January. Silly me. So here it is now. AC/DC looks very unlikely at the top of the list, and I must admit it has faded from view in the first 6 months of 2009, but then again what hasn't? With the constant onslaught of new albums to listen to, there are very few that stay in heavy rotation for long. But it definitely did give me the most pleasure of any album last year, and I think it will be remembered as a classic rock album.

1. AC/DC - Black Ice
2. TV On the Radio - Dear Science
3. We Are the Physics - We Are the Physics Are OK At Music
4. Julian Cope - Black Sheep
5. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
6. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular
7. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
8. Hot Chip - Made in the Dark
9. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
10. Does It Offend You Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You Are Getting Yourself Into
11. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement
12. Portugal.The Man - Censored Colors
13. Late of the Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
14. Justice - Planisphère (EP but so what?)
15. These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
16. Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer
17. The Dandy Warhols - Earth to the Dandy Warhols
18. Tricky - Knowle West Boy
19. Asian Dub Foundation - Punkara
20. The Pretenders - Break Up the Concrete
21. O Fracas - Fits and Starts
22. Foals - Antidotes
23. The Kills - Midnight Boom
24. dEUS - Vantage Point
25. Elle Milano - Acres of Dead Space Cadets
26. Metronomy - Nights Out
27. Duels - The Barbarians Move In
28. Operator Please - Yes Yes Vindictive
29. Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip - Angles
30. Beck - Modern Guilt
31. Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
32. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!
33. Portishead - Third
34. Hercules & Love Affair
35. Various - Fabriclive 41 - Simian Mobile Disco
36. REM - Accelerate
37. The Whip - X Marks Destination
38. Ladytron - Velocifero
39. The Courteeners - St Jude
40. We Are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery
41. Soulwax - The Mashup Machine
42. I Am Kloot - Play Moolah Rouge
43. The Gutter Twins - Saturnalia
44. Correcto - Correcto
45. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
46. Fear of Music - Actor/Actress
47. Ghostland Observatory - Robotique Majestique
48. The Cure - 4.13 Dream
49. Was (Not Was) - Boo
50. The Rascals - Rascalize

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Final Vinyl - please

So Jack White thinks vinyl is going to save music, does he? Well as someone who was buying music before he was born (first single: Popcorn by Hot Butter, bought 2nd hand from a market in 1971, first album The Sweet’s Biggest Hits) I have plenty of history with vinyl. I spent my college years moving from one shared house to another, carefully packing my precious collection of records and cassettes in crates and lovingly transporting them to each new location. A collection which, with regular investment on an extremely limited budget, slowly grew to be something I was proud of at the time - a couple of hundred albums(!). So I think I know enough about it to list some of the down sides of Jack’s plan:

- Vinyl is heavy. Schlepping crates around is a pain and can easily result in damage to your back or to the records themselves
- Vinyl is fragile – albums can warp due to heat, due to their own weight or due to pressure during storage, and scratches can mysteriously appear on irreplaceable items.
- Album covers are vulnerable to damp and mould
- Music on vinyl is not exactly portable, you have to play it on specialized equipment in a specific location
- Vinyl offers a maximum of 25 minutes continuous music

Given my nomadic lifestyle at the time, the arrival of Walkmans and ghetto blasters in the early 80s already made me favour cassettes over vinyl for portability. But when CDs exploded in the late 80s, their low size, weight and fragility made them the perfect replacement of vinyl, and I stopped buying vinyl altogether. Then in the mid-90s, affordable PCs with CD-rom burners came along which made it possible to make perfect copies of audio CDs, and a worthy successor to the audio cassette had arrived. Suddenly you could make perfect copies of any CDs you could borrow off your friends or from a library. Finally, around the turn of the millennium, decent quality MP3 formats and software showed up, which allowed you to make your own compilations, and upload and download music.

Thanks to all these post-vinyl innovations, I and millions of people like me now have music collections running into the thousands of albums, rather than hundreds. We have discovered artists we would never have heard of and go to more concerts than ever – I, for example, went to 16 gigs and 2 festivals in the 3-year period 1996 - 1998, compared to 33 gigs and 6 festivals in 2006 - 2008.

Vinyl will never return to the mainstream. Vinyl is for music snobs with deep pockets. Vinyl is a fad. There’s another format for music which is also gaining a lot of popularity at the moment, and for which I foresee a much rosier future - on-demand streaming services such as Spotify. If I were Jack White, I would try to switch bandwagons as quickly and quietly as I could, before the vinyl fad passes and he's left looking rather foolish…

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Month I Will Mostly Be Listening To... Vol. 32 April 2009

This compilation has somehow slipped into a bi-monthly cycle in the last 6 months, but I think this schedule works ok. Maybe I should change the name to 'This Bi-month I will Mostly be Listening To'... or not, eh. Let me know what you think in the comments - should I make more of an effort to get one out every month like in the past, or are you happy with it like this? And if the latter, does it need a name change? Suggestions?

Download it here. (Scroll down to the blue Download button, which may be sandwiched between two rows of adverts)

1 Depeche Mode - Wrong
2 Bloc Party – One Month Off
3 Royksopp – Happy Up Here
4 The Maccabees – Love You Better
5 Pearl Jam - Brother
6 Fischerspooner – The Best Revenge
7 U2 - Magnificent
8 Maximo Park - Wraithlike
9 Peter, Bjorn & John- Nothing to Worry About
10 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
11 Calvin Harris – I’m Not Alone
12 PJ Harvey & John Parrish – Black Hearted Love
13 Noisettes – Don’t Upset the Rhythm
14 White Lies – Farewell to the Fairground
15 Thermals – When I Died
16 Oasis – Falling Down
17 The Rakes - 1989
18 The Horrors – Sea Within a Sea
19 Doves – Kingdom of Rust
20 Kings of Leon - Revelry

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Month I Will Mostly Be Listening To...

Vol. 31 February 2009
Download here - scroll down to blue Download button (in between the 2 rows of adverts)

1 Franz Ferdinand - Ulysses
2 The Prodigy - Omen
3 Morrissey – I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
4 Sky Larkin - Beeline
5 M.I.A. – Paper Planes
6 U2 – Get on Your Boots
7 Kaiser Chiefs – Good Days Bad Days
8 White Lies – To Lose My Life
9 The Brighton Port Authority – Toe Jam (feat. David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal)
10 Cut Off Your Hands – Oh Girl
11 Nirvana vs Destiny’s Child – Smells Like Booty (finally a proper release for this classic Soulwax mashup!)
12 CSS - Move
13 Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls
14 James Yuill – No Pins Allowed
15 Brakes – Hey Hey
16 Santogold – Say Aha
17 Morrissey – Something is Squeezing My Skull
18 Justice – The Party
19 Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
20 Pete & The Pirates – Blood Gets Thin
21 The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – The Sun Ain’t Shining No More
22 Late of the Pier – Random Firl
23 AC/DC – Big Jack
24 Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill (De La Edit)