Archive for December, 2005

II

#2
Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

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NME’s album of the year comes in as the runner up…cant have them being right!”. This is a great album nonetheless which is musically, a cut above from the rest of the current brit rock revolution. These London boys show how its done with an amazing spectacle of an album. Right from the outset ‘Like Eating Glass’ which rocks the foundations for the following trail of anthems to come. Their Spiky guitar sound is original and with the duelling guitars on many tracks such as ‘Banquet’, this has an even greater effect.

Songs which you hear first time round and just listen in awe are aplenty here, ‘Helicopter’ beats the pants off any other rock track this year and ‘She’s Hearing Voices’ provide the years most intriguing lyrics (I gave up trying to understand them and resorted to the internet..tut tut). The Jewel in the crown is ‘Positive Tension’ a track which lulls you for 3/4 of its running time, them blasts into action with loud guitars and plenty of special effects makes this my album pick track.

Also to prove they are not totally one dimensional they can turn a deft hand to balladry too. ‘The Bluest Light’ and ‘So Here We Are’ can outdo Westlife at their own game given the opportunity. This album well deserves it’s place at the head of NME’s list but it seems so long ago since its release, it has slipped down ever so slightly in mine. Not Quite The Favourite Track: Banquet – Duelling guitar glory

III

#3
The Features – Exibit A

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I found this band a while back and i have been fanatical ever since I heard the intro to this album. The Features hail from Tennessee and live in similar circles to the blues rock of the White Stripes and 22-20’s, only they have such a greater essence of fun and rhythm over buzzing guitar noise. As with all albums on this list its mega contagious! I love the vocals on this over most else tho, the singer has such a light distinctive voice which seems out of place in between the heavy riffs. This is alleviated with some echo and the bunnymen style organs which provide a more down to earth setting for his voice to shine.

‘Exhibit A’ the album curtain raiser and the following track ‘The way it’s meant to be’ have such a simple white stripes’esque riff and melds it together with plenty of ‘OOhhh’s’ and ‘Aahhhs’ to make super blues/pop monsters. Tracks such as “There’s a million ways to sing the blues’ and ‘Me and the Skirts’ bring life into the album which will have you hopping around all evening. In fact The Features have a lot to credit Weezer for, the track ‘Blow It Out’ could be straight off the Green album. This doesn’t stop this track from being utterly superb. As all good albums it has a beautiful ballad, and this time it’s ‘The idea of growing old’.

Even though the album does play quite a lot on the same theme, the vocals keep the interest till the end. This is definitely my best new band of the year and the fully deserve the 3rd place for producing a great fun album from beginning to end. Not Quite The Favourite Track:The Idea Of Growing Old

IV

#4
Motion City Soundtrack – Commit This To Memory

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Ahh! Punk! How did that end up here! Well its simple, its got so many outstanding tracks which melt together synth and guitar with seamless ease. The Keyboard and synthesisers are used heavily throughout this album elevate these tracks above the run of the mill punk rock. Not to mention the superb semi falsetto voice which seems at times to be straight from a Warner Brothers production.

This is also a very thoughtful album which has a great sense of humour and is lyrically clever to this end, L.G. FUAD sings “Let’s get fucked up and die, I am speaking figuratively of course, like the last time that i committed suicide, social suicide” illustrates my point. There are plenty of mid tempo tracks here which do more dispel the punk rock influences even if the tracks are still under three and a half minutes in length. Punk aside, their poppy catchy hooks and chorus’s like on the fantastic “Everything is Alright”, “Revolution” or “When “You’re” Around” are so infectious they just burn themselves into your brain and you’ll be humming them all week. Yet another great track is the subtle ballad tinged with acoustic sensibilities “Together We’ll Ring In The New Yearâ€? which yet another step away from punk of their fellows.

Have to finish with my Track of the year! Its pop punk through and through band clocking in at 1:42 you have to savour its glory. “I am wrecked, I am overblown, I’m also fed up with the common cold” the lead singer croons before the guitars, keys, and falsetto all explode simultaneously. “Attractive Today”, if you haven’t heard it…your missing out. This album is awesome and me picking it shows how the Warped tour in the summer has changed my musical tastes into the world of punk, damn that Chris O! Not Quite The Favourite track: Resolution

Motion City Soundtrack

V

#5
Hot Hot Heat – Elevator

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What! A Pop Album You Say! Yup but what a cracking example of pure piano pop sublimity. This is a real feel good album with so many happy songs which provided the soundtrack to my summer. Even in the deepest of ruts, one listen to tracks like ‘You Owe Me An IOU’ and you can help but jump up and start bouncing off the ceiling. But this album is far from piano pop of Ben Folds, in fact the Hammond Organ music which Red Dwarfs Arnold Rimmer made famous makes a bold statement that its not for those in mid life crisis. The keys are pounded much harder than Chris Martin ever could and the guitar accompanyment’s not bad either. The singer could do with a new stylist, but that can be overlooked as hip these days. Other guitar driven songs such as ‘Running Out Of Time’ prove that this marriage of keys and amps is one built to last.

The lyrics on this album are far from conventional, “I was picked up and then dropped off in a culture counter clockwise turned around”. What does that mean? But more to the point who cares, this is a fun album which should not be taken seriously, and with lyrics like that…how can you?

Cant finish this without mentioning the other highlight tracks which are plentiful here, “Goodnight Goodnight” poptasic radio friendly catchy as hell track, “Island Of The Honest Man” hold so many crazy lyrics its worth more than a few plays and “Middle Of Nowhere” super singalong. But over all these, the ever so simple but so effective “Pickin’ It Up” is my track pick. It breathes so much life and fun its untrue and after one play you know the chorus, exactly how a infection tune should be. Oh did i mention that these guys are amazing live too, he he Live Review. Not Quite The Favourite Track: Middle Of Nowhere – Power Pop Piano Perfectionism

Hot Hot Heat

VI

#6
Eels – Blinking Lights and Other Revalations

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This is definatly not the most uplifting album on this countdown, but is the most emotional and imaginative. This album just oozes greatness, how each and every song seems to have as much care into its composition as each other is astounding. The songwriting is excellent and you can feel yourself relating to the lyrics in one way or another. The Consistancy of this album is amazing, how the orchestration is maintaned over the two full discs is excellent.

This album “is a two disc set about “God and all the questions related to the subject of God” says E himself and with song titles like ‘Theme for a Pretty Girl That Makes You Believe God Exists’ and ‘Mother Mary’ reflect this. This shines through in all aspects of the album and yet doesnt thrust itself on the casual listener. This is a thoughtful album which in it’s entirity make it great, this is not just a random collections of songs just slung together.

There are so many standout tracks but the uplifting ‘Hey Man (Now Your Really Living)’ and ‘Going Fetal’ are definatly the most catchy. Personally I prefer the majestic ‘Checkout Blues’ jammed full of poetic qualities and perfect arrangement. Not Quite The Favourite Track: Hey Man (Now Your Really Living) – Upbeat Classic

Eels

VII

Here comes the third installment of the epic adventure in HiFi

#7
We Are Scientists – With Love and Squalor

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A new band comes in at number 7, I have been following them since I heard a few mp3s from their SXSW perfomances early in the year. The final album was well worth the wait. It has a superb pop mentality with an eye for a super melody. The opening track ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt’ really sets the tone of the album, a fast paced rocker with fresh sounding guitars and driving bass which is bursting with energy. These New Yorkers are here to stay and if they keep up the standard if this album could shine for years to come. Favourite Track: The Great Escape – Super movie too… should be on tv soon, tis Christmas time!

We Are Scientists

VIII

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas Everybody…Its Christmas Day and what an appropriate fun album for this day.

#8
The Darkness – One way Ticket to Hell… and Back

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This one comes in as no surprise at all. I couldn’t leave it out, i tryed..but no! (Sorry Jing Kei…just too predictable) Justin and the gang after parting ways with Village people impersonator, Frankie have come up with the goods under enormous media pressure. Everyone labelling them as a novelty act which should be relegated to the pub circuit. Yet they have still managed to produce a super album wall to wall with squealling vocals and catchy melodies. Most people i know have shunned this album, what for? This album shows their talent as musicians, even though the songwriting hasnt come on much…but that’s what makes the darkness great.

The sounds on the album are so varied and different from their debut makes it seem quite one dimensional. Working with the Queen producer and the string arrangements on many track have added another dimension like on the great ‘Seemed Like Such A Good Idea’, but this has been taken slightly too far on tracks such as the Freddie Mecury ballad ‘Blind Man’. They havent lost any of their rocking prowess either as show on full out Cock-Rockers ‘Is It Just Me’, ‘Hazel Eyes’ and the uttlerly superb piano driven ‘English Country Garden’. Having heard some of these performed live on last winters arena tour probably give me a better idea of how fantastic these songs song blasting out a wall of Marshll Amps.

The album doesn’t provide the full on in your face sound of the first album, but it just creeps up on you and pounces its excellence on the you. The Darkness Still Rock!!! Favourite Track: English Country Garden – Genious Gui-board Glamming

The Darkness

What a Rockin’ Year: #IX

So i’ve read enough people’s ‘Best Albums 2005′ so i thought i’d jump on the bandwagon and post my own fav albums of the year…how rebellious! So what i have learned this year is that being away at university its hard to keep up with the latest music releases. So therefore no extremely obscure acts should crop up…although im sure a few will make it in. I am going to list my top 9 albums of 2005. Yes 9, i thought i’d be a bit strange! I Hope you disagree with my list, should start an interesting line of conversation at the pub. I’ll post one a day reaching its thrilling climax on new years day (you see why 9 now). Lets kick it off…

#9
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

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This album is a total reversal from Elephant which i absolutly love. Jacks sublime guitar genious is overtaken by a whole host of strange and hugely varying instruments. Yet the album still has the White Stripes aura all around it. Even though i was expecting a rip roaring skuzzy blue riff-o-rama on this release, i was amazed how catchy the songs were. Goes to show you dont need a guitar to produce a winning rock album. Favourite Track: My Doorbell – how can you not love it!

White Stripes

Whats in the Box?

I have recently been referred to the great music recommendation website. The Pandora project has been running now for 5 years and they have been analysing what seems like every track on earth, from classic’s to new indipendant music lookign for sets of commonalities. Through these they can reccommend you new music based on similarities to an artist you like. Setting this up is easy as you only need to specify an artist and it plays you a wide variety of excellent music! You can even tailor the station by giving your opinion on its selections making more accurate for future users.

Only drawback at the moment is that you have to be a resident in the USA with a valid Zip code can register. But even the free service is good and i can wait for it to be unleashed on the uk. This is one Box you really do want to open

Viva las Acceptance,

August 30, House Of Blues, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

I admit this Gig review has taken forever to arrive but finally ive got around to writing it. While I was on my travels around the USA, me and the gang took a night in Las Vegas to visit the House Of Blues and see a whole hoard of up and coming punk groups. Four bands were playing that evening. It all kicked off at around 7pm with Augustana. However due to female vanity and reluctance to move, coupled with the crazy journey down the strip from the Sahara to Mandalay Bay meant we didnt get their til nearly 8. Bugger…one down three more to go hey.

Up Second, grrr, was Panic at the Disco! These were a combination of elctrosynth punk with a dancy edge. I felt that their setup was a little shady. You could hardly hear the synth so it turned into a all out emo affair, which wasn’t bad. I enjoyed this as they had some good catchy chorus’s and driving riffs, plus the lead singer and guitarists both sported john lennon style mops on their heads. Even though PaTD were rewalking the path trod by manymany before, they livened the place up as more were filling towards the stage.

Up next was Receiving End of Sirens, this was a whole more professional performance which didn’t set the room alight. Plenty of guitars and screams, but hasd no where near the musical qualities of funeral for a friend or lost prophets. Just another punk band sadly.

The place had filled up nicely (by nicley i mean still room to get to the bar) when Acceptance took to the stage. In doing this i realised i saw these dudes in the bar the night before singing guns n’ roses at Rock Star Kareoke, it’s a small world vegas! I really enjoyed this set and it was perfect punk pop and balladry. The slow mellow tracks which they performed were excellent and caused a series of singalongs, even though i didn’t know the songs they werent hard to pick up…pop at its finest! They were not only this one dimensional band tho, their more upbeat and punky numbers sounded awesome with the lead singer prancing around like a pony on steriods. To round of a solid set they first not only payed tribute to the Beatles, but performed a strange piano/punk rework of Elanor Rigby, odd but full marks for performance.

So when all we done we retreated into the nights heat and worked out to get out of this damn casino, it did take 20 mins to find the exit and another 10 to find the tram station, blast those floor designers.

Panic! At The Disco – New album could be worth a listen

Receiving End Of Sirens – Recycled and it lol comes out the same

Acceptance – Great band keep your ears peeled for them.