Thursday, December 17, 2009

Albums Of The Year 2009

Acoustic Ladyland - Living With A Tiger
A triumphant punky jazzy funky classic with teeth.

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions
No band can straddle heavy metal and pop like Scottish band Biffy Clyro.

Deadmau5 - For Lack Of A Better Name
Ushered in a brand new superstar DJ.

Fighting With Wire - Man Vs Monster
The Northern Irish band's debut reminded me why rock music rocks.

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
A meticulously beautiful and timeless classic.

Isis - Wavering Radient
Mesmeric sludge metal to sink into.

Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
The Leicester band are truly and madly in their groove.

Marmaduke Duke - Duke Pandamonium
Surprisingly good from start to finish.

Mr Hudson - Straight No Chaser
In 2009, Mr Hudson deservedly went supernova.

Vote for your favourites

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Albums Of The Year nearly here

YULE have been mad not to have noticed that, in the words of Shakin’ Stevens: “‘Tis the season.”
As my Christmas present to you, tomorrow I’ll unveil my Top 10 Albums Of The Year 2009, revealing who is following in the footsteps of acts behind previous Albums Of The Year such as System Of A Down, Portishead, The Libertines, The Beatles and Arcade Fire.
You’ll also find out if anyone can join Biffy Clyro as double winners - groups in the running this year include Prodigy, Acoustic Ladyland, Mr Hudson, Maccabees and Jamie T, while Biffy Clyro themselves could make it a record three Albums Of The Year with Only Revolutions.
Plus there’s local interest too - both Late Of The Pier and Young Knives made the top 10 for 2008, and this year Kerfuffle, Kelpe and Wave Pictures have had albums out, and Mr Hudson’s drummer, Wilkie Wilkinson, is from Loughborough too!
You’ll also have your chance to vote which of my shortlist should be crowned Isaac Ashe’s Sound Advice Album Of The Year, which last year was awarded to Portishead’s Third.
The vote runs until midnight on New Year’s Eve.
So until then, let me take this chance to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Late Of The Pier's year

POTTER of Castle Donington band Late Of The Pier has picked his top five Albums Of The Year for 2009 for website Drowned In Sound.
His selections are -

  • Bernard Fevre - The Strange World Of Bernard Fevre
  • Dorian Concept - When Planets Explode
  • Flying Lotus - Los Angeles
  • Michachu And The Shapes - Jewellery
  • Tune Yards - Bird Brain

Highway to Donington?

METAL overlords AC/DC have become the first act to be pencilled onto the Download bill for 2010.
In an early Christmas present for fans, the group self-confirmed themselves for June 11 on their website - a listing since retracted.
Castle Donington festival spokesman Andy Copping tweeted: "Not sure what to say about the AC/DC slip up tonight, it appears to have been taken off their site now.
"I think they may just want to play."
The news follows rumours that the 'big four' of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth will be gracing the home of metal, Donington Park.
The groups have this week confirmed two festivals,
the Sonisphere shows in Warsaw, Poland, and Prague, Czech Republic, with the mouth-watering proviso "you can be sure these shows won't be the only ones".
Metallica's Lars Ulrich said: "Who would have thought that more than 25 years after its inception, thrash metal's big four would not only still be around and more popular than ever, but will now play together for the first time - what a mindf*ck!
"Bring it on!"

Set Yourself On Fire in March

FORMER Loughborough University student Envy has announced her debut album Set Yourself On Fire will be released on March 22 next year.
A spokesman for StopStart Records said: "Please be patient just a little bit longer for this much awaited debut!"
And to celebrate, a new track from the rapper, a collaboration with brooklyn-based MC Devenom, titled Through The Day, is being offered for free.
Click here to grab the track.

Ericson's Xmas present

SWEDISH singer songwriter John Alexander Ericson has handed Sound Advice a gift from his excellent, understated LP Songs From The White Sea.
Click here to grab a copy of Always Leave Them Wanting More, Johanna.

Kelpe's picked

LOUGHBOROUGH electronica star Kelpe has compiled his own Albums Of The Decade, for website Ragged Words.
His choices are -

  • Beak> - Beak> (2009)
  • Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue (2009)
  • Bonnie “Prince” Billy - Master And Everyone (2003)
  • Lone - Lemurian (2008)
  • Manitoba - Start Breaking My Heart (2001)
  • Panda Bear - Person Pitch (2007)
  • Portishead - Third (2008)
  • Prefuse 73 - One Word Extinguisher (2003)
  • Tortoise - It's All Around You (2004)
  • Stars of The Lid - The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid (2001)

Everyone's listening


WORD on the street is, independent ivory tinklers Everyone's Talking's new album Dragonflies is available for, well, whatever you want to pay for it - and actually the piano rockers release is worth a few quid at least.
The Canadians' LP starts on a relatively low note, with the Keane-esque title track, but the main body of the album takes its pointers more from the likes of Muse and Queen, working in prog elements.
And after peaking with the two point War, if the album stopped at Between You And Me, we'd be talking about quite a prospect.
Sadly the rather wet ballad Lady and unexpected dance reworking of opener Dragonflies, closer Dragonflies II, mean the album is unlikely to take off quite yet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Join the Club

IF YOU like a lot of doom on your indie biscuit, join Club Smith.
The up-and-coming act release a new limited edition EP next March, titled The Loss - and it could be our gain.
Check out the group with this tasty free download of Courtyard by clicking here.

I tip Clipse


IF YOU'VE ever only heard the snippets of Clipse that make their way onto tracks like Justin Timberlake's Like I Love You, Kardinal Offishall's Set It Off or NERD's Truth Or Dare, then don't stand on ceremony.
Because the duo, of brothers Malice and Pusha T, real names Gene and Terrence Thornton, have dropped a top LP with Til The Casket Drops.
The likes of Kanye West, Pharrell, Cam'ron and Sean 'P Diddy' Coombs help out with what is one of the most accomplished and consistent hip hop albums to land on my desk for some time.
What make the album are the beats, always raw and hard-hitting, but never too much and the right amount of invention.
Atop these the pairs drawled vocals, while predictably entirely concerned with money, women, shooting people et al, manage to stay a step ahead of cliche.
Miss out on this one, it's your funeral.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Follow the Leddra


BRENTWOOD based singer songwriter Leddra Chapman releases Telling Tales in the lull between Christmas and New Year to hopefully justify the stories of her being a modern day answer to Alanis Morrissette or Joni Mitchell.
The youngster, full name Anna Leddra Chapman, does occasionally flirt with these lofty comparisons with her folky pop, especially on standout track A Little Easier.
But too often it all goes a bit Taylor Swift schmaltzy - like lead single Story and Picking Oranges.
This tendency makes Telling Tales a little sweet for my taste, but nevertheless Quicksilver sponsored singer Chapman should move into the New Year on the crest of a wave.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Can someone please chase Fox down a hole?


SHE'S a celebrity? Get out of here.
Topless model-turned-singer-turned-reality TV contestant Samantha Fox probably hoped to capitalise on renewed interest off the back of her visit to the Australian jungle with a new Greatest Hits.
But this compilation is a lot like her fleeting appearance on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here - there's about five minutes of retro kitsch appeal before it all gets grating.
That five minutes is of course her biggest hit Touch Me (I Want Your Body) - which is followed by an onslaught of dire '80s pop-by-numbers that just gets worse and worse.
By the forgotten likes of Naughty Girls (Need Love Too) and Love House I was losing the plot - yet this latest compilation has the option of a second disc of rarities and previously unreleased material.
Ultimately Fox will be remembered for two things - and neither of them are on show here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keys jangling


2009's charts have seen more women strutting around than Hugh Hefner's grotto - meaning established artists like Alicia Keys have to work harder than ever to stand out.
And there are some stunning moments on The Element Of Freedom, such as the evocative Jay-Z-less version of Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down and the stirring Doesn't Mean Anything.
But Keys soulful R&B tracks have tendency to merge into each other, leaving most of the album to pass the listener by.
You can't help but feel that, as accomplished as The Element Of Freedom is, Keys's game hasn't risen as fast as the likes of Put It In A Love Song guest Beyonce have raised the bar this year.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A toast to Beans On Toast


BEANS On Toast is value for money - the munch-monikered singer songwriter's debut album is a two-disc, 50-track collection of all his off-the-cuff songs crafted to date.
Standing On A Chair introduces Braintree bard Beans On Toast, and fans of simple pleasures will be simply delighted.
One man and his guitar act Beans On Toast, who sounds like Frank Turner on 40-a-day and moans like Billy Bragg during a general election, sings principally of sex, booze and drugs, as well as a smattering of foul-mouthed politics and social commentry.
Track titles like Binge Drinker, Junkfood Sex and I Fancy Laura Marling give you an insight.
The production is poor, the tracks are short, shallow and repetitive and Beans himself isn't exactly an endearing character throughout - but if you like cheap and cheerful, tuck in.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Polar Bear with them

KEEP 'em peeled for Peepers, the new album from post-jazz pioneers Polar Bear.
The group are set to release their fourth studio album in March next year.
A spokesman said: "Led by percussionist Sebastian Rochford, the London based band were Mercury nominated for 2005's album Held On The Tips Of Fingers.
"The band line up is completed by tenor saxophonists Pete Wareham, also in Acoustic Ladyland with Rochford, and Mark Lockheart, double bassist Tom Herbert of The Invisible and electronics/guitarist innovator Leafcutter John."
But if like me you get all grizzly at the prospect of waiting that long, you can click here to download the album's title track Peepers to tide you over.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Boyz II much


FIRSTLY, I have to say that there's a lot to love on Love, Boyz II Men's latest.
Because technically, the vocal group stand head and shoulders above their peers - it's like comparing boys to, err, men.
They harmonise and warble and embellish their singing in a way that shows why Boyz II Men became the most commercially successful R&B group of all time.
But despite this, and the fact that the subject matter is emotion, I doubt either sweat or tears were shed in the recording sessions.
No, this is a karaoke cover version tour, their third covers album in a row, through the sort of love songs that litter the FM dial - The Beatles' In My Life, Take That's Back For Good, Goo Goo Dolls' Iris, Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time...
The overall effect is with all the robotic vocal showcasing and beefed up production, they forgot to put the emotion into the tracks - kind of a shame for an album titled Love.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Food continues to fulfill


TEN years of famine followed by a feast - after a decade of absence DJ Food has put out two EPs this year.
Back in June DJ Food, also known as Strictly Kev, put out One Man's Weird Is Another Man's World, and as if our mouths weren't watering enough, he's made it a brace with The Shape Of Things That Hum.
And then next year, a full album, Stolen Moments, lands on our plates.
Because if the quality of turntablist hip hop on The Shape Of Things That Hum continues, we're in for a treat - and judging by the fact one of the five tracks here is called Extract From Stolen Moments, it will.
The latest effort takes the template of the first EP's atmospheric jazzy breaks, stretching them out with a more ambient, sinister feel - mixing brooding pianos into the rattling percussion, bass rumbles and eerie samples.
If The Shape Of Things That Hum doesn't get you excited about the prospect of Stolen Moments, then go whistle.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Back to Ape School


MONKEYING around with Ape School tracks for Remixes are a selection of class acts.
Yppah, Daedelus and Pop Levi are among the labelmates to go bananas with tracks from the one-man group's 'debut' album Ape School, which was released earlier this year.
And each remixer's individual hip hop and dance jiggery pokery works wonders with the original's MGMT-style psychedelic indie rock, each subtly adding to their composition rather than wholesale dissecting - which means the collection never has a too many cooks feel to it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Race Horsing around


RACE Horses have an EP Man In My Mind out on Monday, and a full album hot on its heels next year.
And their oddball indie sound could have the pedigree to be a smash - although the Welsh band could do with putting the rock blinkers on at times.
Because the group have the basis of a decent shtick here, a sort of Libertines, Super Furry Animals sound, which is saddled with the EP's 'concept' of a man's descent into madness.
As a result there's a lot of Willa Wonka weirdness, beeps and samples and general goofing around going on - some of the time to the detriment of the tunes.
On the whole, Race Horses fans shouldn't have long faces if they keep this form up in the new year.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Zephyr available from Monday

BASEMENT Jaxx's new album Zephyr - an ambient LP recorded concurrent to recent release Scars - will be available to download from December 7.
The album, described as "bathtime music" by the band, will feature legendary Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke and New York jazz vocalist Jose James.
Rumour has it the release will be free to download to boot.

Night Music snoresome


ELECTRONIC one-man band Etienne Jaumet's new album Night Music puts me to sleep - but not quite how it's meant to.
The Frenchman's synth-and-a-little-sax opener, the arduous 20 minute For Falling Asleep, is a Kraftwerk-soundtracked nightmare of a track that neither soothes nor stimulates.
And Jaumet - also one half of disco duo Zombie Zombie - continues to doze through the shorter tracks, such as plodding Kraftwerk continuation Mental Vortex, the looping groove of Entropy and the psychedelic bagpiping of Through The Strata and closer At The Crack Of Dawn.
If you're looking for a evening's entertainment with Night Music, you can dream on.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Classic forty two - Tuesday wonderful


ESBJORN Svensson - if that name doesn't ring a bell, then I'm telling you today is the day to listen to Tuesday Wonderland.
Because Svensson, the Swedish pianist who led Esbjorn Svensson Trio, should rightfully be up there with the likes of Hendrix, Buckley, Lennon et al.
In June last year, Svensson died in a scuba diving accident, shortly after completing uneasy listening album Leucocyte - a work also likely to go down as a cult classic.
But before branching out in challenging new directions, his 2006 album Tuesday Wonderland - the one before Leucocyte - drew a line underneath everything the group were about up until that point.
Melodic, meandering and masterful, the trio work subtle elements of rock and electronica into the mix to create one of the most accessible and enjoyable jazz albums of all time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reverend And The Makers in Loughborough

WORSHIP at the altar of indie rock when Reverend And The Makers take to the stage at Loughborough University.
The Sheffield band are playing the venue on December 5, supported by guerilla giggers Little Comets alongside local band and Charnwood’s Got Xmas Talent finalists Beneath City Lights.
A spokesman said: “Reverend and The Makers ‘s music is a mix of indie guitar pop, electronica and a touch of Madchester-esque funk, so definitely unique and something really new on the scene.
“However with the constant swaying of front man Jon McClure, and his constant threat to move on to new projects who knows how much longer this band will be around for.
“Do not miss your opportunity to see one of the biggest indie bands of today, and their anthems played out live to remind you what the ‘Madchester-esque funk’ sound is all about!”
Tickets cost £12 for students and £13.50 for non-students. For ticket information please contact 01509 635000.

Crack team


THE collaboration between composer Graeme Miller, AKA Cracks In The Concrete, and singer Louise McVey, AKA Louise McVey, is cracking stuff.
Unimaginative as the title Louise McVey And Cracks In The Concrete is, the Glaswegian duo are clearly brimming with inspiration.
McVey's aloof vocals, which carry a hint of Annie Lennox about them, are rested atop a handful of skeletal, unnerving, horror movie-soundtrack compositions.
It's frightfully good stuff at times, eerie and engaging - and a perfect foundation for a full album.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Cats For Perusal


FELINE indie? Then Cats For Peru is the band for you.
On their debut offering, Attack Of The Pitching Machine, the Sheffield group have crafted a perfectly passable collection.
With the rough feel of a demo at times, the group clearly take their cues from bands like Elbow and Radiohead - and I applaud them for aiming so high with their art.
But while there is clearly a surfeit of ideas bubbling away here, the LP does ultimately promise slightly more than it delivers - this is no surprise though, given that Cats For Peru may be one of the most promising bands to land on my lap in 2009.

Monday, November 30, 2009

So So good


TOURISM/Terrorism, the forthcoming album by The So So Glos, has brightened up the dark winter nights for me.
Because the Brooklyn-based punk band's second second studio effort is an entertaining, exuberant and enthralling, and possibly essential, LP.
The group condenses the punk ethos and attiitude of The Ramones with the pop nous of Love Me Do-era Beatles and the jangly guitar work of The Libertines, plus 101 other unexpected diversions from funky drummer outros to one-minute acoustic skits, into a half-hour of mayhem.
So So what are you waiting for, Glo and have a listen!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Classic forty one - Very good


VERY Fast, Very Dangerous is very Reuben.
It's very rock, it's very metal, and it's very good.
It's very much the sound of a band at the height of their powers - just listen to tracks like Kick In The Mouth and Every Time A Teenager Listens To Drum And Bass A Rockstar Dies - although that's now a thing of the past as far as Reuben are concerned.
It's also very underrated, and therefore very deserving of a place in the Classic Collection.
I very much recommend that you go and buy a copy, very soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wild waste


CATCH-up caught up, it's back to the everyday hum drum of having unreleased new music sent to me for free.
Ah well, mustn't grumble.
Then again...
Now perhaps unfairly, I made a dig at trans-atlantic trio Sparrow And The Workshop's six-track 'mini-album' Sleight Of Hand for being neither here nor there - not short enough yet not long enough.
But there can be no argument that, clocking in at just seven tracks and less than half an hour, their 'album' Into The Wild is not long enough.
Then again, with an alt-folk-meets-country sound so over-egged, maybe this is seven tracks too much...
It's not all bad - for example when they add a little Nick Cave-style rock to proceedings on Crossing Hearts.
But for the most part the sound is melodramatic, morose, and really not a lot of fun to listen to at all - Into The Wild? Into the bin, more like.

Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 Catch-up - IAMXcellent


IAMX, real name Chris Corner, and his 2009 album Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction was recommended on the Facebook page with the words "now THAT, THAT is an album of the year".
Now not being familiar with any of his solo work - but aware of him being a founding Sneaker Pimp - I welcomed the chance to be hooked by this, his third solo studio album.
And although I'll maybe hang back from declaring Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction one of my Albums Of The Year 2009, I will say it was a welcome suggestion.
Full of warm synth-driven electronica and thoughtful lyrics, the singer songwriter has bared his soul here.
It may not have me full-on addicted - but consider this his gateway album for me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Not Idlewild about it


I SUSPECT that frontman Roddy Woomble sort of reviews their previous album, Make Another World, on the sort of title track of Idlewild’s 2009 offering Post-Electric Blues.
“I’m bored for the first time,” he sings, “returning to a tried and tested method,” no doubt in reference to the band returning to the kind of straightforward indie rock that gathered them a Classic Collection inclusion for their debut 100 Broken Windows last time out.
Personally, I really enjoyed Make Another World.
But Post-Electric Blues, the Scottish group’s sixth studio outing, sees the band instead fusing Idlewild with Woomble’s folk-leaning solo streak on the better tracks like City Hall and Take Me Back To The Islands.
And, as Woomble explicitly states, the more traditional Idlewild tracks here do sound jaded.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Jamie T time


GOBBY rapper and songwriter Jamie T is fast becoming pop royalty with a string of catchy, original singles in 2009, and with a previous Album Of The Year under his belt he surely too has a chance of being crowned again this year.
But however great Kings And Queens is, it never quite reaches the heights of his 2007 debut Panic Prevention.
Vocally the distinctive T mixes the razor-sharp working class perception of the Arctic Monkeys with the swagger and lazy patter of The Streets, over bedroom-born beats that fuse elements of hip hop, electronica and rock.
And his original sound is as triumphant as ever on tracks like Sticks And Stones and Chaka Demus - the problem is, I suppose, that it was just that little bit more original first time out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Temper rapture


ANOTHER band touted by myself nearly 12 months ago, alongside acts like Mumford And Sons and Florence And The Machine that came good, was Australian act The Temper Trap.
And with their August release Conditions, they delivered on their promise.
Chock-full of pulsating basslines, jingling guitars and soaring vocals, the debut is as polished and epic as a band can hope for - with some hair-raising moments with the likes of Sweet Disposition and Love Lost.
Perhaps a little variety could be added - but nevertheless like the Coldplays and Kings Of Leons of this world, Temper Trap effortlessly produce the sort of music that stadiums were made for.
U2 take two anyone?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Radiant Dragon has LOTP collaboration

PRODUCER Radiant Dragon has teamed up with Late Of The Pier's Sam Eastgate for a new track.
You can download Ghosts, which was written and recorded by Radiant Dragon in Singapore and co-produced by the Castle Donington frontman, by clicking here.
Radiant Dragon said: "I've tried to blend electronic, ambient, psychedelic folk and rock sounds together to bring out the atmosphere and themes of the song, lamenting immigrants lost and stranded at sea."

2009 Catch-up - Skye's the limit


METAL mammoths Mastodon and their March LP Crack The Skye were suggested as a potential Album Of The Year across on the Sound Off forum, as well as being tipped by myself as one to watch in January.
And with critical plaudits for the album, a conceptual romp through Tsarist Russia, coupled with support on the forum and a previous album, Blood Mountain, that I fell head over heels in love with, it's fair to say my anticipation was high on approaching this record.
However I was left thoroughly disappointed.
Given the theme of the album, I shouldn't have been surprised by the prog rock approach here, but the elements of stoner rock and freeform jazz hinted at in Blood Mountain's brutal metal have been eradicated.
Instead plodding Ozzy Osbourne vocals over inpenetrably dense, introverted riffing pervades.
Both in scope and technically Crack The Skye is a truly awesome body of work, and worth experiencing - however I'm not sure whether Mastodon made this album for the listeners, or just for themselves.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fruity tune

CASTLE Donington band Late Of The Pier are set to make a mouth-watering return to the charts ahead of a new album next year.
The band will release a new single titled Blueberry as a digital download on December 17, and then as a double A-Side in February 2010 with Best In The Class.
The tracks are the first tasters of a follow-up to 2008's Fantasy Black Channel.

2009 Catch-up - Manson on a high


WITH a Classic Collection album under his belt, as well as coming highly recommended on the Facebook page, Marilyn Manson's May release The High End Of Low demands a shot at an Album Of The Year slot.
And following some toe-curling diversions into synthpop and emo, The High End Of Low sees Manson put his head down to produce a triumphant rock album in the vein of former glories Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals.
Of course the overblown showman side of Manson remains, a mixture of his own mythology, cliches and self-parody - exhibited on lines such as "everyone will come to my funeral/to make sure that I stay dead" as well as many more not printable on a family blog.
The album's standout track is called Arma-godd**n-motherf**kin-geddon, for Christ's sake.
But through all the pomp and parody, by returning to his roots with former songwriting partner Twiggy Ramirez, Manson has proved that after all this time he is still as close to a real life rock superstar as we have anymore.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Classics Spotified

AS YOU may have noticed, I compile a Classic Collection on this site, to promote overlooked or underrated albums.
So for your listening pleasure, here is a Spotify playlist of some of the best tracks from some of the Classic Collection albums.

2009 Catch-up - Have I got noose for you


HARDCORE punk band Gallows's second album Grey Britain, suggested as a possible Album Of The Year on the Facebook page, sees the group adding a splash of colour to their debut album's sound.
Don't get me wrong, Watford's Gallows are still the musical equivalent of having acid thrown in your eyes.
But where Orchestra Of Wolves was just angry and loud and raucous, Grey Britain has a focus.
Lyrical vitriol towards 'broken Britain' is matched by a musical expansiveness - as well as the group's established acerbic punk sound there are a surfeit of heavy metal dashes, acoustic guitars on the group's Stairway To Heaven, The Vulture (Acts I & II), and even piano and strings on album closer Crucif*$ks.
It's a thrilling progression, which promises as much as it delivers - you could say that with Grey Britain, Gallows are a band of hope and glory.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Looking back at Maccabees


AS THE Maccabees built on their 2007 Album Of The Year Colour It In this May with Wall Of Arms, I felt it was only right I consider them for a 2009 placing as well.
And the Brighton band's sophomore CD certainly cements their place as one of the UK's most accomplished indie bands.
As on their debut, emotive, driving, jangling guitar work, skittering drums and Orlando Weeks's distinctive vocals combine to create a dense tapestry of sound throughout.
If anything, the rich Wall Of Arms is a more rounded, consistant effort than before - and this lack of peaks and troughs, which led to superb singles such as X-Ray and Precious Time on Colour It In, may be it's downfall.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 Catch-up - Going Gaga?


ANOTHER release I feel I should give a crack at being an Album Of The Year 2009 to is The Fame, the debut offering from Lady Gaga.
For the LP is not only the UK's biggest-selling album released this year, according to The Official Charts Company, but Lady Gaga is also my three-year-old daughter's favourite artist.
Which kind of sums up how broad her appeal is - the former-DJ-turned-pop juggernaught wanted superstardom and she went for it, regardless of whether it's appropriate to sing about "loving with her muffin" or riding "disco sticks" over full throttle club pop to impressionable youngsters.
But you've got to admire her balls - tracks like Poker Face and Paparazzi may be base and vacuous, but they are still as infectious as ringworm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wave Pictures on the Brinks

HERMAN Dune’s Stanley Brinks has teamed up with Wymeswold band The Wave Pictures for his new solo single.
“Cowboy indie” track End Of The World, released on December 14, is the first taster of new album Stanley Brinks And The Wave Pictures, which is due for release next January.
A spokesman for the Hawaiian shirt-clad singer songwriter said: “The former member of French/Swedish anti-folk trio Herman Dune Stanley Brinks released his debut solo album Dank U last year.
“This time, alongside The Wave Pictures, Stan’s simple, memorable lyrics come punctuated by the unlikely guitar shredding of Dave Tattersall and is pushed along with the skiffling beats of rhythm section Jonny Helm and Franic Rozycki.”

The Very Most wish you a merry Christmas

FEELING festive yet?
The Very Most have been - for the Idaho-based band have followed up their EPs Spring, Summer and Autumn with Winter, which hit the shelves in November.
And as an early Christmas present the group have offered a free download of the track Away In A Manger, which is jingle all the way.

2009 Catch-up - Biffy Clyro's Revolution


ANOTHER band with a pedigree that puts them in the running are Biffy Clyro, as the only act to have two previous Albums Of The Year.
2004's Infinity Land and 2007's Puzzle are both previous selections on Sound Advice, plus the new album, Only Revolutions, was also suggested as a contender on Facebook.
And who am I to argue - because this month's release Only Revolutions is, ahem, genius.
Sure, the Scottish prog-pop-metal trio know how to hammer the listener with noise - such as on single That Golden Rule - but they also have other facets, such as a unique way with melody - Mountains - a mature use of strings and brass - The Captain - and an ability to constantly confound the listener's expectations.
And so many times here, such as on the incredible Many Of Horror, all of these elements combine.
Listening to Only Revolutions, it's clear that it's Biffy Clyro's well earned turn at the top.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Loughborough bands singled out

TWO Loughborough bands are targeting the charts with new singles.
Penfold Gate will be releasing a new track title Pirates on November 30, while Quartershade release Statues on December 14.
To celebrate the Penfold Gate release, a launch party is being held on November 29 at The Orange Tree pub in Ward’s End, Loughborough. Admission is £3.
Drummer Stephen Smith said: “Not only are we playing but we will also be exclusively showing the music video for Pirates.
“We are being supporting by the pretty incredible Sheffield electro-poppers Taka Pow and Loughborough’s party-favourites Kids With Sticks.
“Driven predominantly by front man Pete Flood’s acoustic guitar, the track is kick started by an explosive opening riff, which unleashes a wave of aggressive energy.
“With frequent changes in pace, the single is awash with catchy verses and a soaring chorus. As the climactic conclusion fades, you’re left feeling almost seasick, yet glad to be aboard and in possession of this obvious treasure.”
And after the Penfold Gate release, Quartershade put out Statues, the follow-up to Lights Out.
Matt Sisson said: “To keep ourselves busy while we add the finishing touches to next-year’s album we’re putting out one more single before Christmas.
“It’s called Statues and it will be available from Spotify and iTunes.
“Neither Lights Out nor Statues will be on the album so get them while you can. Take a listen, and if you like it, tell your friends!”

2009 Catch-up - Shining Star


I DON'T bandy the word 'genius' around lightly - I've used it just seven times in a year-and-a-half of Sound Advice.
But expect to hear it a few times in the next week or so, as I play catch-up on some of the best albums of 2009 I might have missed, to make sure my Albums Of The Year 2009 are as watertight as possible.
And first up is a March release from Easy Star All-Stars - chosen as the reggae supergroup are one of the few acts with a Classic Collection album, Dub Side Of The Moon, to put out an album this year.
In the vein of their Pink Floyd-covering debut and follow-up Radiodread, a reworking of OK Computer, East Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band is a dub reggae romp through some of The Beatles' best loved tracks.
And it's amazing how well tracks like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Getting Better and With A Little Help With My Friends translate, with just the right balance of fun and respect for the Fab Four.
Pure genius.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Dutchess And The Duke royally disappointing


AFTER listening to The Dutchess And The Duke's second album Sunset/Sunrise, I can't help but thinking 'lighten up'.
I can best describe the group's sound as country, but with the blues - this is song after song of heartbroken folk and raw Americana with no relent.
With nerves exposed so close to the groups' surface, they never need to go deep with their music, which is definitely more Sunset than Sunrise on tracks like Let It Die.
And according to the press release, this album is "definitely more hopeful than the last record" - not being familiar that's hard to imagine, given the depressing dirge that the Seattle group's latest LP quickly becomes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Amazing amaze


IF YOU decide to call your band The Amazing, you'd better be good.
And then if you decided to also call your debut album The Amazing as well, well you'd better be better than good.
Luckily, the Swedes are not bad at all.
The eponymous LP, the band's first studio outing, is a psyche-folk-rock collection that's as much Pink Floyd as Grizzly Bear, full of woozy acoustic grooves and ethereal hummed vocals.
Never undercooked, but never even close to the pomposity their name implies, The Amazing probably about sums it up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Frat lot of good


FRATELLIS frontman Jon Lawler makes up one half of Codeine Velvet Club, alongside Lou Hickey.
So as you can imagine there's a great deal of Fratelli flavour to the group's self-titled debut.
However the Glaswegian band's sound, which fell a little flat on their sophomore record Here We Stand, has been spruced up with a bit of glitz and glamour from Hickey.
The new LP sounds more like The Fratellis soundtracking a new James Bond West End musical - all pomp and sweeping cinematic production.
It's a similar situation to the Arctic Monkeys-Last Shadow Puppets scenario, an interesting diversion but ultimately unlikely to become the day job.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A plague of Paul Haig


RELIVE, the new album from former Josef K frontman Paul Haig, is the funkiest punk you'll hear this year.
Musically the songs are more like grooves, with tracks like Round And Round and Ambition sounding like a joyous head-on collision between Franz Ferdinand, The Smiths and The Pixies, with Grace Jones pulling up to the bumper for good measure.
Over these organic-sounding tracks Haig bathetically delivers a deadpan cross between Ian Curtis and Ian Dury.
And when the two strands are working in unison, Relive is an experience worth repeating.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Basement Jaxx under the hammer

BASEMENT Jaxx have lent their support to a charity art exhibition - by destroying their own portrait.
To celebrate Youth Music’s 10th Birthday, 70 of the world’s greatest musicians and visual artists - such as Kylie, Andre 3000 and U2 - have taken Rankin portraits of themselves and vandalised them for an exhibition and auction.
Former Loughborough schoolboy and one half of the group Felix Buxton said: "I started drawing various symbols for god, love, hate, infinity... then I took the picture to Simon, who started cutting away bits of his face.
"But Matt Maitland, who was designing our album artwork, told us we were being too reverential, and started adding new ‘Jaxx characters’, incorporating human and animal parts.
"What he did represents the Jaxx aesthetic, as our faces are all but removed, which is true when we create music – it doesn't focus on our personal images, and pulls in different characters, shapes, forms, dimensions, and isn't just human."
The artworks will be auctioned on November 14.

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