Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Best Songs of 2013

I yet again apologise for being lazy. As a reward here are my fave songs of the last year.

20) Don't Say You Love Me - By The Rivers
19) Sixteen Saltines - Jack White
18) Best of Friends - Palma Violets
17) Latch - Disclosure
16) Analyser - AlunaGeorge
15) I'm God - Clams Casino
14) Cheap Beer - FIDLAR
13) Household Goods - Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
12) Toucan Surf - JAWS
11) The Full Retard - El-P
10) Honey - Swim Deep
9) Cough Cough - Everything Everything
8) Higher Ground - TNGHT
7) Breezeblocks - alt-J
6) Follow Baby - PEACE

5) Pink Matter (Ft. André 3000) - Frank Ocean

Not only was the most reflective and brilliantly introverted moment of Frank Oceans' album, but also the best rap verse of the entire year. Quick yet tender, it showed André has definitely still got it.

4) Oblivion - Grimes

Only someone as brilliantly fucked as Grimes could turn a simple synth loop into a blissed-out, trippy masterpiece. The swirling vocal combined with dark lyrics give it an edge and vulnerability others would have ruined.

3) Goldie - A$AP Rocky

One of the tasters for Rocky's long awaited début, this goes hard from beginning to end. From the chopped n screwed chorus to the seemingly effortless bars delivered in Rocky's nonchalant flow this is A$AP's mission statement.

2) Clique - Kanye West, Jay-Z & Big Sean

Oh Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, let me count the ways I love you. You make Big Sean seem decent, bring out the best verse Jay-Z has had all year, whilst delivering the best brag-rap song of the year. Only you, Kanye, could refer to your mates as a clique. Only you, Kanye, could rap "Pass me refreshment, a cool, cool beverage", and make it sound cool. Only you, Kanye, could go this HAM.

1) King City - Swim Deep

Easily the best track of the year by easily the best new band of this year. This is escapism at it's finest. From the opening, sparse synth line to the crescendo at the end, everything about this song is perfect.  It may not have much of a message, but I would definitely marry Jenny Lee-Lindberg.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

September 12 Playlist

IT'S BACK. I'm lazy and so haven't done this for a while, so excuse the long gap. Also found out that I can use posts n here for my degree portfolio. Since posting my last playlist, I've done many things, seen many places, matured. SRSLY. Anyway, here's my playlist for last month.

1) Clique- Kanye West, Jay Z & Big Sean
2) Hard In Da Paint- Waka Flocka Flame
3) Bugg'n- TNGHT
4) Never Never- SBTRKT
5) Stronger- Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
6) Syh- Egyptian Hip Hop
7) Bloodshake- PEACE
8) All I Wanna Do- Splashh
9) Toucan Surf- Jaws
10) Pink Matter (Ft. André 3000)- Frank Ocean
11) Hypocritical Kiss- Jack White
12) Police In Helicopter- John Holt
13) Shimmy Shimmy Ya- Prince Fatty
14) Professional Ganja Smoker- General Levy
15) The Full Retard- El-P
16) Bath Salt- A$AP Mob
17) Rapping 2 U- Das Racist
18) Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven)- Dexys Midnight Runners
19) I Can See Through You- The Horrors
20) Uptight (Everything's Alright)- Stevie Wonder

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Best of the 90's

Let's be brutally honest; the 90's were shit. It was literally the worst era for music. I mean ok, as a child I probably didn't experience all the "greats" of the period, but as a fully fledged man-child, I have since explored them. And seriously, the 90's were awful. Britpop? What was that? Grunge? Seriously? So with this in mind I have compiled a list of the best tunes of the 90's. So what they have no artistic merit, play any of these songs at a party and watch the room crumble like your 6th birthday all over again.

5) 5678 - Steps

Steps were definitely better than S Club. Seriously, no contest. S Club were sell outs and had their own TV show due to (probably) poor album sales, whereas Steps kept it real and never lost a member. Although apparently some really weird shit happened behind the scenes. Anyway, this is their best original song. I mean who DOESN'T love a good hoe down?

4) Cotton Eye Joe - Rednex

Continuing with the hoe down theme with this absolute banger. I'm not really sure what anyone's saying, don't understand why there's a banjo solo and don't even think their rednecks (watch for the very sterotypical cowboys video), but I don't think I care. With possibly some of the best violin work of any song, I challenge anyone not to dosey doe to this.

3) Two Princes - Spin Doctors

This song gets no where near the amount of respect it deserves. I mean, it's a college rock classic, taking all the shit, depressing bits out of grunge and making them fun. I mean, Kurt Cobain never sounded anywhere near this chirpy. Interestingly this song was released a year before his death, so maybe the realisation he'd never be this good drove him to suicide (just sayin'). Also the band performed this on Sesame Street, and you can't get better than that.

2) Three Lions (96) - The Lightening Seeds ft. Skinner and Baddiel

Not only is this the best football song ever written, it's just a brilliant song. The reminder of every defeat sends grown men into hysterics, whilst the chorus gives them the perfect lift. It just all pieces together so perfectly. When I first heard aged about 4, I had no idea what the lyrics meant, I just knew it was a great song. As I slowly pieced the lyrics together, me and my dad would put it on every time England played and belt it out together. If you haven't had an emotional moment to this song, you have not lived.

1) Livin La Vida Loca

This is the best song of the 90's, hands down. Nothing else really comes close. I posted it on Facebook a few days ago and the amount of love that came in for this song shows how loved it was/is. So what it turned out Ricky Martin was gay and all his songs had been a sham? HE WAS COOL. Also, just listen to the music! I would pay someone a lot of money to find a better trumpet riff and Latino guitar solo than the ones in this song. He was the king of cheese, and therefore king of the 90's. CHOON.

Obviously you'll disagree with me. But you're wrong so it doesn't matter. And obviously there are some other great songs, but these are definitely the best 5. THX 4 REEDIN

Monday, 14 May 2012

King City- Swim Deep

Realise this isn't the best picture, but the guitarist is playing my guitar so fuck you
About this time every year every music magazine tries to find the Song Of The Summer. Whether it's a stupidly happy sunshine inducing pop song (hello Vampire Weekend) or the anthem everyone will drunkenly yell along to come festivals, predicting it The Song is key to having a good summer. Well, I've found it. This is the song.

Swim Deep come as part of Birmingham's new indie vanguard and show clearly why B-Town is the place to be right now.Although this is not your typical summer song (more than three chords), it just has something undeniably summery about it. Chiming synths and a driving bassline carry the reverby vocals in 4 minutes of pure sun. This is not the soundtrack to intensive heat and barbecues, but instead that point after a few pints when everything is chilling and the sun starts going down. The lyrics could have been put to three chords and made to sound like every other "anthem", ("with the sun on my back it's a nice day"), but the melancholic, echoy vocal gives it a different dimension. Although you're not going to be hearing this blaring out every festival tent this summer, nor sound tracking every Magners ad, this song needs to soundtrack your summer.


Embedded the video so you don't even have to click a link anymore (this took me ages to work out how to do)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

April 12 Playlist

Another monthly installment of my crazy playlist. This has been another week where I've become obsessed with one sound. Last week it was reggae, this week it was really minimalist R&B and Soul. I'm musically schizophrenic.

1) Keep You - Wild Belle
2) Take Care - Drake
3) Initiation - The Weeknd
4) Superstition - Stevie Wonder
5) Null - Runaround Kids
6) 1993 - Dananananaykroyd
7) High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive - Pulled Apart By Horses
8) Tapes & Money - Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
9) BTSTU - Jai Paul
10) I've Seen Footage - Death Grips
11) Mercy - Kanye West
12) Soul Man - The Blues Brothers
13) I Heard It Through The Grape Vine - Marvin Gaye
14) Bright Copper Noon - Willis Earl Beal
15) Thursday - The Futureheads
16) Bury My Bones - Pure Love
17) Liiiines - Ghostpoet
18) Rolling In The Deep (Jamie XX Shuffle) - Adele
19) Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
20) Summer Nights - Grease

I have been thinking about actually releasing this as a free mix every week if enough people want it. But it depends whether I can be bothered.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

March 2012 Playlist

Again, I have been lazy so am making up for it with 2 posts in a day. MENTAL. Here's my playlist for last month.

1) Songs About Your Girlfriend - Los Campesinos
2) Red, Red Wine - Tony Tribe
3) Dynamic Pressure - The Music Specialists
4) Lose My Breath - Destiny's Child
5) Nothing To Do - Bleeding Knees Club
6) Born To Lose - Sleigh Bells
7) Why I Love You - Jay-Z & Kanye West
8) Fitzpleasure - alt-J (∆)
9) Uptown Top Ranking - Althea & Donna
10) Girlfriend - The Beautiful South
11) Shield Your Eyes - Dry The River
12) Perth - Bon Iver
13) My Door Is Always Open - Noah And The Whale
14) Anxious - The Housemartins
15) T=0 - Tall Ships
16) Compass Points - NZCA/LINES
17) Wicked Games - The Weeknd
18) Everybody Needs Love - Slim Smith
19) Walking Down King Street - Theophilus Beckford
20) No Regrets - Robbie Williams

I got into reggae a lot this month. Like loads

Band Crush - Runaround Kids

Note: I have been awful at posting recently. There is no reason apart from that I'm really lazy. Sorry faithful readers

So recently I was trawling through my Twitter, when I saw a link from This Many Boyfriends to a band they loved. After closer inspection I saw that Los Campesinos! followed them and so I obviously had to give them a look. I followed the link onto their Bandcamp and went and listened to their latest single "You'd Feel The Same". And from then on I was in love. It's a song that makes no apologies, jumping straight in with fuzzed guitar and shouty vocals, but then all of a sudden...it's calm and mellow. Oh but then straight back into the shouting. So basically it's brilliant. The band, residing from Wakefield, have been around for a while, releasing EP's and an album to a small but dedicated fan base. Like Johnny Foreigner if they'd been more lo-fi, the mix of noisey fuzzed guitar balances perfectly with their frustrated lyrics and slower, calmer moments. Fitting right in with bands such as Los Campesinos and Johnny Foreigner, they may not be massive, but you will love them.

Find the band at: @runaroundkids or at their bandcamp

Friday, 9 March 2012

Album Review: Dry The River - Shallow Bed

I'm going to start this with a warning. I will be using the words "massive" and "chorus" in conjunction with each other a lot during this review. I'm sorry, but it is totally necessary.

Nearly one year ago exactly, Dry The River released their first proper single, "New Ceremony". It wasn't the largest or pompous single release, but those that bought it new they had some thing special. The bands mix of delicate folk, harmonious vocals and catchy writing. One year on and the bands constant gigging and stream of singles mean they have quickly gained adoration both from fans and critics. "Shallow Bed" is not exactly a collection of new songs. Of the 11 tracks on the album, only 3 have been previously unreleased. Several versions have been re-recorded, but it is largely made up of old tracks. This is no bad thing. Opening with "Animal Skins" pounding drums and bassline, the band show they mean business and step away from the constant Mumford comparisons. It quickly sets the blueprint for the album: Delicate acoustic guitar, distorted guitar lines, harmonies and (sorry) massive chorus'. And they really know their way round a chorus. Lines like "I loved you in the best, I loved you in the BEST WAY POSSSIBBLLLLEEEE" were literally built for stadiums. The re-recorded songs are also heavier and bolstered by extra orchestration. The single trumpet rise at the end of "History Book" is brilliant, as is the new version of "Lions Den". The heavier, messier, intense ending reflects the bands live working of the song and is far better than the original. The album pounds you with sing-a-long chorus after sing-a-long chorus all carried by lead singer Pete Liddle's beautiful voice. The band has set their sights high with such a massive sounding album, and managed to pull it off with ease.

(Only said massive chorus once. Surprised myself)


February 2012 Playlist

I'll start off by apologising at how incredibly late this playlist is. It has been sitting on my i-tunes for ages but I am just very lazy. So, sorry faithful fans. Also I have been playing around with the idea of starting a monthly online podcast/radio show to give you THE READER the chance to hear all my genius selections. Anyway, the playlist is as follows:

1) Comeback Kid - Sleigh Bells
2) Nothing's Gonna Stop Us - The Darkness
3) That's My Bitch - Jay-Z & Kanye West
4) Sappho - Tribes
5) Teenage Girls - Bleeding Knees Club
6) School Spirit - Kanye West
7) We Are All Accelerated Readers - Los Campesinos!
8) The Chambers & The Valves - Dry The River
9) No One Lied - Jack Penate
10) Holocene - Bon Iver
11) Evening's Kiss - Willis Earl Beal
12) Life Of The Party - The Weeknd
13) 212 - Azealia Banks
14) Filia - Islet
15) Told You Once - Howler
16) Infinity Milk - Dananananaykroyd
17) Old Red Eyes Is Back - The Beautiful South
18) Lucifer - Jay-Z
19) Club Tropicana - Wham!
20) Catch - The Cure

Friday, 17 February 2012

Modern Gems

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about great albums that never got the recognition they deserved. The sort of album you cherish, but no one else gives a shit about. The one that blew you away whilst everyone else was only slightly ruffled. You get the idea. Well here are the 5 top albums that no one cared about, but were totally awesome.

N.B This is most definitely in no way inspired by NME's "100 Albums You've Never Heard Of" article. Promise

1) Dananananaykroyd - Hey Everyone (2009)

For a band with such an awful name, this album was brilliant. The Scottish band seemed to take in all things that would make a bad album, (two drummers, mashing together of genres, shouting) and make a master piece that combined math-rock and hardcore. Bolstered by two drummer and two singers, it's a loud album that doesn't need to hide behind a fuzz of distortion. "Black Wax" is definitely the highlight, and is one of my favorite songs ever. Intricate guitar lines mesh with the hyperactive yelps of the lead "singers" to create this "fight-pop" explosion.

2) Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel (2008)

In the hazy days of nu-rave (2007), the entire music press was watching Klaxons every move. However, if they'd managed to tear their eyes away for a second, they would have realised that this album was, to be honest, better. Where Klaxons made drug-fueled party anthems, Late Of The Pier made...well the same thing really. But their's were more controlled, more clear. Their lyrics are more understandable, and actually kind of make sense, but still retain that mysticism. They use the disco drum patterns and fun synths synonymous with nu-rave, but also Thin Lizzy-esque guitar lines. Each track explores a different genre, but you're still able to dance to it. And that's what music should be like.

3) Jack Peñate - Everything Is New (2009)

Poor old Jack Peñate. After ditching his cockney scamp sound of his first album, he was lost in the musical wilderness. Luckily, he came bounding back two years later with his brilliant new sound, inspired by calypso rhythms... only to be beaten by Friendly Fires. Panned by critics, Jack was left looking very silly. But if you actually listen to the album, you'll find one full of original ideas and one that takes a massive leap from his first. The thing is, Jack just has a brilliant voice. And so whatever he sings, it sounds brilliant. Not to say that the music sn't great. Dancey, yet emotional, the songs are drenched in reverb and samba rhythms. Lyrically much better, the songs have more depth, yet he still knows his way round a chorus. Every song should have been a single, and in a better world, each one would have been a chart topper.

4) Noah And The Whale - The First Days Of Spring (2009)

Heartbreak is always the best subject for an album, and this is definitely one of the best heartbreak albums going. Often over looked due to the twee-folk of the first album and stadium-aiming third, Noah And The Whale's second is written enitrely about singer Charlie Finks break up with fellow folkie, Laura Marling. And boy was he sad about it. The bleak imagery of new beginnings finds love-lorn Charlie hoping that "one day you may come back". The silence and sparseness of the album juxta-poses with the bands other work. The tenderness and pain in Charlies voice is so overwhelming and you know he means every word he sings. Accompany this with single violin lines and bursts of orchestra, and it's enough to bring a grown man to tears. Take that Laura, you bitch! 

5) Harlem - Hippies (2010)

This is what all punk would sound like if no one found a distortion pedal and were slightly upbeat all the time. And it's totally awesome. Their clean, reverby take on garage rock is minimal and fun. The Austin trio write simple and stupid three chord songs. Garage rock doesn't have much room for experimentation, but Harlem just sound more fresh and exciting than many of their peers. Although the album got good reviews, the band have remained fairly underground and the better for it.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Single Review: The Darkness - Nothing's Gonna Stop Us

The Darkness were always a band that used their own self-belief and cockiness to carve their own section in musical history that, to be honest, probably shouldn't have existed. It is therefore completely fitting that their comeback single after 6 years absence has all the subtlety of Akon's attempts to get women into bed. Even the album artwork speaks of their ridiculous confidence, with a cartoon Justin Hawkings proudly wheelying a Chopper whilst wearing an American flag pattered cat suit. But it all just seems to work. I mean this is no "I Believe In A Thing Called Love", but the song could easily sit on the bands first album. They seem to have followed their old song check list: Big riff? Check. High Falsetto bit? Check. Big overblown solo? Check. Dodgy euphemisms? Check. None of this is a bad thing. It won't be able to sit up there with their classic songs, but at least it shows that they're back on the right track. It is a good song, far more catchy and listenable than most the tracks on the ill-fated "One Way Ticket To Hell" album. The Darkness are most definitely back and hopefully for good.


Download the song here

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January 2012 Playlist

Hooray for the new year! Boo for the impending doom of the Mayan apocalypse! In the mean time, this is my January playlist to cheer you all up.

1) High For This - The Weeknd
2) Clint Eastwood - Gorillaz
3) Default - Django Django
4) CMYK - James Blake
5) Breezeblocks - Alt-J (∆)
6) Where Is My Mind? - Pixies
7) Himalaya - Tribes
8) Together Forever - Two Wounded Birds
9) Fun, Fun, Fun - The Beach Boys
10) Back Of Your Neck - Howler
11) Dreams Don't Become You (With Zac Pennington) - Los Campesinos
12) I Want You - One Room
13) Heartless - Kanye West
14) Never Look Back - Slow Club
15) Shaker Hymns (Shallow Bed Live Sessions) - Dry The River
16)Young Lovers Go Pop! - This Many Boyfriends
17) New Brigade - Iceage
18) Niggas In Paris - Jay-Z & Kanye West
19) Night Boat To Cairo - Madness
20) Take On Me - a-ha

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Tribes - Baby Album Review

You should never judge a book by it's cover. This is definitely the case with Tribes. Aesthetically they look like a band who play dirty lo-fi and have been dressed themselves in a Urban Outfitters range called "Dirty Camden Urchins". However, they are much more than this. "Baby" is an album of surprises and much more complex than some of the more back to basics rock'n'roll going on at the moment. Tribes have moved one decade on from their competitors and the album bursts with bits of Bowie as well as the Pixies. But if you've actually heard them, you'll already known this.

 They were tipped at the beginning of last year as one of the bands to watch, but clearly 2012 is going to be their year. Where Tribes differ from most other guitar bands right now is their championing of actual melodies. It's all very well being able to blast out a chorus, but if you only know 3 chords, where else are you going to go? Tribes lyrics also seem to have more grandeur about them. Instead of writing about girls and drink, they appeal to a higher power asking "what use is God if you can't see him?" ("Nightdriving") and even a lament about the state of the country in "Corner of an English Field". Tribes just seem to be a step ahead of the competition and seem to be reaching for something higher, yet still appeal. They still have the raw passion of other bands, but they seem have channelled it into something more polished. That's not to say this is a slick over-produced album devoid of emotion, it's in fact exactly the opposite. The emotion and passion that seeps through the guitar-line in "Himalaya" could make a grown man cry. This is a big album and one that doesn't care anything about trends, and is all the more original for it.


Listen to Himalaya  

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Album Review: Howler - America Give Up.

Ok, so Howler aren't exactly doing anything new. Their "last gang in town" image, their guitar-wielding-saviors-of -rock bravado and out spoken lead singer are all things we've seen in a hundred other bands. The resurgence of guitar music last year thanks to bands like The Vaccines means there isn't even much for them to save. However, none of this matter if they have good songs. And they do, in abundance. Howler are the brain-child of lead singer  Jordan Gatesmith, and from every interview they give, he's clearly in charge. He writes the songs, he plays the solos, he dictates the bands direction. A months ago he stated that the album consisted of "dirty rock 'n' roll songs" and that it clearly does. Their label, Rough Trade, describes them as a Strokes-Drums-Vaccines hybrid, and if that isn't enough to get you excited, you're not going to like Howler. Every song is drenched in fuzz with Jordan's recognisable drawl bringing the songs to life. His almost lazy approach drips with cool, but not as much as his lyrics. Old favourite "You Like White Woman I Like Cigarettes" is given a re-write, heavier bassline, new title ("Wailing (Making Out)") but still keeps the key line "I want a girl and a new car, I want a drink and a guitar". It's with lyrics like these, simple but intimate, that Howler prove their worth. They even have a song called "America" which helps you to nearly forget the crank-rock anthem by Razorlight a few years back. Howler look set to continue down the same path the Vaccines took only last year, only a little more bad-ass. And this is what makes them exciting and needed.

Best Track: Back Of Your Neck


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

New Band- Alt-J (∆)

Now is around the time of year when every music magazine/blog goes crazy with "the next big thing". However, I already kinda did that, but I thought I'd share this little music-nugget I found.

Four piece Alt-J (∆) don't seem to have much of an internet presence, and finding anything by them is a struggle at first. But with some careful keywording, you can finally get to their soundcloud. This doesn't give much away about the band apart from (probably the most important thing about them) their sound. After some more digging, you'll stumble across their BBC sessions. These show a four-piece band with two guitarists, drummer and keyboard player. But again little is said, and the songs do their own work. Alt-J mash together, delicate folk guitar lines, a distinctive vocals and um hip hop drums. And weirdly, it works brilliantly. "Breezeblocks" is a highlight and the singers nasal voice mixes well with folk-worthy harmonies and a beat Kanye would be chuffed with. Elsewhere the songs range from really delicate quiet folk numbers (Hand-made) to nearly complete hip-hop (Fitzpleasure). Oh and if you're wondering why triangles are plastered on everything they do, it's because "Triangles are my favorite shape".


Download their demos here and watch their BBC sessions here