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