Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Albums Of The Year 2008

Black Mountain - In The Future
Stoner rock from Canadians Black Mountain which sounded like an instant classic.

Evol Intent - Era Of Diversion
Dark drum and bass with inflections of metal and rap that matched the mood of 2008.

Get The Blessing - All Is Yes
Riff-driven post-jazz stompers from a group with "a pathological hatred of chords".

Kaki King - Dreaming Of Revenge
An other-worldly collection of songs from an impossibly talented guitarist and drummer.

Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
The sound of Gary Numan dancing to The Klaxons from Castle Donington's finest.

Neon Neon - Stainless Style
This '80s-tinged, unlikely collaboration based on an even more unlikely theme was a brilliant fusion of styles.

Portishead - Third
Work-shy Bristol-based trip-hoppers Portishead released their third album in 17 years - and it was worth the wait.

Stateless - Stateless
Carefully crafted indie songwriting given a turntablist makeover.

Thrice - The Alchemy Index vols. III and IV: Air & Earth
Completing a quadrology of four EPs, this album had all the elements of a rock classic.

Young Knives - Superabundance
Belton-based band The Young Knives released their most polished and potent arty punk to date in 2008.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Season's Greetings

YULE have been mad not to have noticed that, in the words of Slade's Noddy Holder: "It's Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiist, maaaaaaaaaaas!"
As my Christmas present to you, tomorrow I'll unveil my Top 10 Albums Of The Year 2008, revealing who is following in the footsteps of previous acts behind Albums Of The Year such as System Of A Down, The Libertines, The Beatles, Prodigy and Arcade Fire.
You'll also find out if anyone can join Biffy Clyro as double winners - groups in the running this year include The Kooks, The Killers, Hot Chip, Tokyo Police Club, Eagles Of Death Metal, Bloc Party and Seth Lakeman.
Then, on December 18, you'll have your chance to vote which of my shortlist should be crowned Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice Album Of The Year.
The vote runs until midnight on New Year's Eve.
However, until then I'll be taking a festive breather to play with my new toys.
So let me take this chance to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year - and I'll see you in January with some top tips for the year ahead.
Happy holidays.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A thing for you

METRONOMY'S new single, A Thing For Me, is available to buy from today.
The track, taken from his 2008 album Nights Out, is available to download, and you can also pick up an exclusive Sinden remix of the track free-of-charge by clicking here.

Star Fleet

DON'T be fooled by the title of Fleet Foxes - the music isn't especially fast-paced, and the men playing it are decidely average looking and a bit hairy for my taste.
That aside their eponymous debut offering, which is likely to top a hell of a lot of Best Of 2008 polls, is a brilliant body of work.
The Seattle group's album is a rich, evocative work, mixing the '60s pop harmonies of all-time classics such as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds with a classical twist.
If you haven't heard it yet. it might be time to catch up with Fleet Foxes.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Zomby attack


BOOYAKA booyaka! The junglist massive Where Were U In '92? is my next catch-up collection LP to highlight before the year end is nigh.
Harking back to the early days of rave, the debut album from Zomby - who according to his website "comes from nowhere and is already dead" - is a whistle-blowing concoction of jungle beats, keyboard stabs and whurring basslines lifted straight out of the '90s.
If you've ever been standing in a field full of people at 4am, this LP will be right up your street - or, as the case may be, your country lane.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elbowing in

WITH Christmas approaching new releases are a little thin on the ground, so playing end-of-year catch up I thought I'd pay tribute to Elbow's fantastic 2008 LP The Seldom Seen Kid.
The Mancunians' fourth studio album was the deserving winner of this year's Mercury Music Prize and will no doubt grace the majority of Best Of 2008 lists, so you probably don't need me to tell you it's a masterful work.
However I will anyway - it's a gorgeous, epic, beautiful, life-affirming album, with standout tracks including the driving Grounds For Divorce and the stirring One Day Like This, that should now be sitting in everyone's collections.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Classic twenty two - Mraz you like it


WITH his new single I'm Yours, Mechanicsville-born singer songwriter Jason Mraz is finally getting some deserved recognition in the UK.
And it's about time too.
I've been a massive advocate of reggae-tinged rap singer Mraz since his 2002 debut album Waiting For My Rocket To Come.
From the tender tracks like You And I and Boy's Gone to the cheeky patter of I'll Do Anything and Curbside Prophet, Waiting For My Rocket To Come was an assured launchpad for an artist hopefully about to explode.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Play At Play


DJ DE Jour Deadmau5 - pronounced "dead mouse" - follows up his 2008 debut album Random Album Title on Monday with At Play, a collection of early works.
Before moving to the Ministry Of Sound with his assured debut release, the progressive house producer, real name Joel Zimmerman, released a number of tracks for Play Records, based in his native Canada - and the pick of that particular crop are presented here, in extended, unmixed "DJ friendly" form.
Mixing fist-pumping fuzz basslines that would make Mr Oizo proud with sturdy house beats and subtley trancey melodies, were it not for the dubious choice of vocals on several tracks, this would be a minimalist dancefloor masterpiece.
Even with the dodgy vocals - such as the Stephen Hawking-style guide to DJing This Is The Hook - on At Play it's easy to see why Deadmau5 is one of the rising stars of clubland.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wymeswold Records

PROLIFIC local band The Wave Pictures have launched their own record label, Wymeswold Records, in order to release at a rate that suits them!
Not content with releasing a debut album, Instant Coffee Baby, and two EPs, Just Like A Drummer and Pigeon, in 2008, now the group have two side projects available.
A band spokesman said: "Dan Of Green Gables is the first release on Wymeswold Records.
"The band includes David Tattersall and Franic Rozycki of The Wave Pictures on guitar and mandolin, who are joined by violin master Dan Mayfield.
"The album was recorded in the first week of April 2008 in Leyton, and contains nine songs written by Dave Tattersall.
Jonny "Huddersfield" Helm is the debut solo album from The Wave Pictures' drummer Jonny Helm.
"The album features 12 covers of folk, blues and country songs by artists such as Elmore James, Bob Dylan and The Mountain Goats, each sung by Jonny and backed by a full band or occasionally an acoustic guitar."
You can buy the two albums direct from the band's website by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Evol overlord


DESPERATE music for desperate times - as far as zeitgeist-bottlers go, nothing released this year has been a better soundtrack to the global crisis that is 2009.
A claustrophobic concoction of speaker-ripping basslines, pounding drum and bass beats, minimalist melodies and paranoid samples, American hardstep drum and bass trio Evol Intent's debut album, Era Of Diversion, is no picnic.
However, released back in March, the standout LP is a feast of intelligent, eccentric, politicised, inventive and dark, dark drum and bass.
And importantly the 19-tracks flow as a whole, with nods to everything from IDM to metal - where other albums of the genre are largely presented as a random collection of tracks.
Era Of Diversion may not be a pleasant diversion - but it's nevertheless both enjoyable and neccesary in equal measures.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Classic twenty one - A long time ago, in a disco far, far away...


I AM eternally grateful to a former work colleague of mine for the discovery of this album, one of the strangest and most brilliant conceptions I have ever stumbled upon.
Up until the point that Bob Kent, typist at the Coalville Times, quizzed me over Meco's Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk, as far as knew his musical tastes didn't stretch beyond the confines of Al Jolson's back catalogue, let alone as far out as this hybrid of Star Wars and '70s disco.
Making over John Williams's classic film score in the style of Earth, Wind And Fire, it shouldn't work, but it does - in fact, it's out of this world.
Sadly, unlike in the movies, Meco's tale didn't have a happy ending - after all, when you've succesfully melded Star Wars and disco, two pinnacles of '70s culture, how do you top that?
The follow-up, a disco version of Close Encounters Of Third Kind, was a flop, and by the third LP, Meco Plays The Wizard Of Oz, things were getting a little wacky.
There was even a disco version of a Star Wars-themed Christmas album, which featured tracks such as What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?).
Nevertheless, Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk is a force to be reckoned with.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

An unexpected Findo


DON'T be put off Findo Gask's indie electronica EP One Eight Zero by the title track, which is quite frankly a shocking opener.
Sounding like Hot Chip fronted by Morrissey, the track has second rate production, laboured, lacklustre beats and an aimless vocal line.
But then, just as the Hot Chips are down for the group, the skittering beat of Jigsaw cuts through.
It's impossible to underestimate just what a difference this makes to the Glaswegians' sound, and coupled with the excellently brassy Nubo, there's two absolute gems bookended by the uninspiring opener and its poor Ripped Speakers Remix.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Issa new twist


MALIAN musician Issa Bagayogo's latest LP, Mali Koura, is the musical equivolent of Sicily or Sardinia.
A stepping stone between European and African culture, the album ties the traditional musical forms of his homeland - made famous by musicians such as legendary guitarist Ali Farka Toure and blind couple Amadou Et Mariam's pop crossover - with a European electronic dancefloor twist.
That said, tracks like Tcheni Tchemakan and N'Tana would be more at home in the chillout lounge than the main dance arena, with their subtle production and laid-back beats.
An easy 'in' to one of Africa's most vibrant and productive musical cultures, Mali Koura makes a welcome vacation from the UK scene.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Classic twenty - Coalisten


TAKING their name from George "Dubya" Bush's name for the countries he managed to rope into a war with Iraq, jazz drummer Bobby Previte's rotating supergroup The Coalition Of The Willing's eponymous 2006 album is a liberating listen.
Forging jazz with classic rock sensibilities, forceful militaristic drumming and a funky edge, this post-jazz masterpiece is a revolution.
Featuring talent such as saxophonist Skerik of Syncopated Taint Septet fame and mind-bogglingly talented jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, the tracks pay homage to jazz greats such as Miles Davis but sound more at home in the rock bracket.
So I urge you to be one of the willing too, to allow this maverick musical machine to ride roughshod over your expectations of a jazz record.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hit The Brakes

A QUICK freebie for you, my loyal readers.
Courtesy of FatCat Records, a new recording by their latest signing, Brighton supergroup The Brakes, is here for you to sample.
The track, Crystal Tunings, is a taster for their new album Touchdown, due to be released next spring.

Alphabeat route

DANISH pop sensation Alphabeat are beating a path to Loughborough on December 11.
The group, best known for hit Fascination, are playing the Loughborough University Students' Union End Of Term Party, supported by town band Indio Black.
Entry to concert, which is open to students only, costs £7, with half of the proceeds going towards RAG charities.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Praxis of evil


WHEN it comes to supergroups, Praxis are the supervillain.
Led by prolific experimentalist Bill Laswell and the simply bizarre guitarist de jour Buckethead, their brooding 2008 outing Profanation (Preparation For A Coming Darkness) - delayed since 2005 and even now only available on import from Japan - features input from Iggy Pop, Mike Patton, Serj Tankian and Killah Priest among others.
And this wealth of talent has created a deeply disturbing voyage through dub, metal, hip hop, ambient, experimental, jungle, rock, funk and anything else you can think of.
Although not for the faint-hearted, nevertheless it would be a crime for this murky masterpiece to pass people by.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Alessi's Ark - buy two, buy two


IN A world where Diana Vickers can repeatedly survive the The X-Factor vote, quirky young singer Alessi's Ark should do rather well for herself.
For a start, unlike Ms Vickers and her sub-Cranberries bleating, London teen Alessi's Ark is phenomenally talented.
Her debut LP, produced by the team behind Bright Eyes, is a four-track collection of lush folk pop that sounds more accomplished than a debut release from an 18-year-old should.
From the less-than-two minute wonder The Horse to the sumptuous Let's Race, The Horse should see Alessi's Ark jockeying for position with the likes of Laura Marling in no time at all.

● All blog posts published on this site are owned by myself, Isaac Ashe, and may not be reproduced without written permission. You have no right to copy.