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.

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