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' 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…