Music 200 (and 13)

December 20th, 2013 by Dan

I’m  back on the blog! Had some time out to explore depression and medication and lots of talking about how we don’t talk about those things but now it’s time for the albums that my ears and brain approved of the most this year, with words and music.

Be that as it may, to be the best metal locator, you have to purchase the best metal identifier, and even that is not so clear.

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1 to 10

Autoheart: Punch
“When in Moscow I just want to fold you up and keep you warm.” The long-awaited debut album from The Artists Formerly Known As The Gadsdens finally arrived this year! Big hitters like The Sailor Song, Control, Agoraphobia Lent and Moscow alongside some quieter beautiful moments made this my favourite album of the year. Autoheart’s music comes from the (auto) heart and they have the tunes to match the atmospherics. Some of this album is brain shiver music, some of it is nod-along pop, all of it is an impressive debut long player.

Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob
“What you are is lonely.”
I was aware of Tegan and Sara before this album but they never really got into my head. Heartthrob is a nice simple old fashioned set of ten songs, no filler, all worthy of praise. Call me a cliche but it must be the Greg Kurstin influence on the project that got me hooked, he knows how to get the ‘ooomph’ out of T&S and the increased pop feel doesn’t compromise their integrity.

Slow Knights: Cosmos
“How do you feel better when you can see on my face I’m miles away?”
Slow Knights couldn’t possibly fail for me due to the calibre of the talent. It’s the follow-up to Del Marquis’ excellent series of solo EPs and his recent EP with Xavier, it also features Rod from Bright Light Bright Light and it’s a bit like a compilation of several new favourite bands. Stand-out track Under Attack certainly owes something to Madonna’s Holiday but this is no pastiche record.

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Alison Moyet: The Minutes
“When I was your girl I didn’t know that I would end where you begin.”
Alison Moyet + Guy Sigsworth = More than the sum of their parts. There was so much written about Alison’s comeback but she’s been making great albums for a long time now, luckily this one got a lot of attention. Delicious meaningful electropop, supported by an excellent live show that featured The Bloke From Artmagic on musical boffinry. Bloody fantastic!

Studio Killers: Studio Killers
“… Every night, they fall like dominoes. How he does it, only heaven knows. All the other men turn gay wherever he goes.”
I missed out on Studio Killers until suddenly lots of people whose taste I approve of online went mad for them. They were not wrong! A strange cartoon virtual band of non-specific gender making catchy quirky electropop. That’s my kind of music.

VV Brown: Samson and Deliliah
“I don’t really feel like trusting, It’s not worth it anymore. Like a knife overloving you, and you’re hurting me more and more.”
VV Brown’s second album was not what I expected at all. I loved the majority of her debut but the first single from this one did nothing for me… and then the whole thing appeared and it got into my brain. Atmospheric, complex and the kind of music that creeps up on you after a few plays: this is an excellent album.

Diane Birch: Speak A Little Louder
“Do you steal away when she’s asleep? Does she know that’s all the love you got?”
Another artist on album number two but I had no idea what to expect with Diane Birch (I bought the debut soon after hearing this one of course). A lazy comparison would be Stevie Nicks with more balls and less owls. I like lazy comparisons sometimes.

David Bowie: Next Day
“And they know just what we do. That we toss and turn at night. They’re waiting to make their moves on us. The stars are out tonight.”
Dame David returned. You may have heard about that. Luckily, it was a pretty amazing project with a wide range of Bowie styles and some amazing videos. Shame about the second special edition in a year but of course I bought it all over again because nerd etc.

Gabriella Cilmi: The Sting
“Why do good things happen to bad bad people? Why do bad things happen to good good people?”
The third album from Ms Cilmi is her best yet. It’s also her big independent moment, full of lovely sounds, big pounding beats, and that voice. Has a song about stealing honey from bees, which is clearly not going to end well.

Rebecca Ferguson: Freedom
“We are golden. We’ll be fine.”
Someone from the evil X-Factor made an album that I loved. I’m not ashamed. Great stuff, full of heartbreak and a bit of disco. She seems to be the new Gabrielle but the old Gabrielle (aka Gabrielle) has returned with a compilation that doesn’t count as a new album for my 2013 Albums list.

11 to 20

St. Lucia: When the Night
“Hold on to your heart.”
Sometimes you just need some sunny pop made by a band who seem to be having a lot of fun.

Jonny Cola and the A Grades: Spitfire
“I had it in my sights and then rain stopped play.”
Another solid collection of catchy slightly seedy tunes from the glam rock britpop pop fops.

Haim: Days Are Gone
“Never look back, never give up.”
California long hair sunny Fleetwood Mac Bangles-y pop gold. Marvellous!

Janelle Monae: Electric Lady
“Grandaddy, I think I wanna dance.”
She’s still a robot, with another impressive release. The skits are getting tired now but the music is as funky and energetic as ever.

Pet Shop Boys: Electric
“Searching for the soul of England, drinking tea like Tony Benn.”
The PSB dance music album was well received and it took a while for me to get into it. In the end it was a success to my ears with some very Pet Shop Boys songs but made me feel a bit old in places. Ooh me back.

Boy George: This Is What I Do
“What’s the word on the street? Have I lost my crown or will I be king again?”
A proper return for Boy George! None of this remix malarky or DJing, an actual album of good songs done with his band. This kept the reflective mood of his Mark Ronson collaboration and added lots of classic Boy George themes and sounds.

Fitz and the Tantrums: More Than Just A Dream
“A love song’s on the radio, but these words I hear, they’re not for me, no.”
We love Fitz & the Tantrums in our house. I don’t think they’re very well known in the UK but their second album has added an element of dance pop to their funky band-led soulful tunes. At first I was wary of the change but then I loved it.

Alice Smith: She
“He didn’t know he would get shot. Shot in the heart.”
Another second album! Another one of husband Jamie’s recommendations! The track which hooked me reminds me of a funkier Titiyo for some reason but this is one of those great reliable modern R&B – but- eclectic albums which is quite far from the current trend for autotune stripper music. Soulful!

Suede: Bloodsports
“Aniseed kisses and lipstick traces, Lemonade sipped in Belgian rooms.”
In a year of musical returns we had Suede making a new album, which was a pleasant surprise. Bloodsports is not their best album or their worst album but it sits happily in the middle of their catalogue. It does what it needs to by re-establishing them as a good band but the marketing and track allocation was a disaster across multiple special editions in different countries plus exclusives for here and there. Couldn’t we have just had all the songs together please?

Little Boots: Nocturnes
“Meet me on the motorway. Together we could make our great escape.”
It had been a while since Ms Boots was in the spotlight but her return was a welcome one. Some classy electropop growers on this album, especially the Saint Etienne – tinged Motorway.


Other formats that were not albums but deserved a mention:

Sky Ferreira: Night Time, My Time: B-Sides // Part 1
The album is not out in the UK but this ‘b-sides’ EP (do we even have b-sides anymore?) was released so represents Sky’s music. It’s been a Sky Ferreira year, what with the album and all of those unreleased songs that live on my ipod.

Gabrielle new tracks: Now and Always
Another musical return, the much-missed (by me) Gabrielle released a Best Of with some new songs that were all impressive, covering heartache, a trip to the disco and a bit of acid jazz.

Bright Light Bright Light: In Your Care EP
Rod Thomas released an EP to bridge his debut album and what comes next. It was exactly what you’d want from him: Emote-pop with drum pads and cracking tunes.

Rose Elinor Dougall: Future Vanishes EP
Rose is back! She’s still poppy with an atmospheric twist! New album please.

Betty who: The Movement EP
Betty Who is no relation to Doctor but managed to get a huge amount of attention with her free EP. Free! EP! It’s very good and poppy and smiley.

Solange True
This EP almost became a bit samey but took a while to get under my skin. Good stuff, but may need to be more varied next time.

Next year’s exciting things to come:

The return of (Dame) Lisa Stansfield!

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s collaboration  with Ed Harcourt!

James Vincent McMorrow’s excellent second album!

A new album from Sia?

Something long from Florrie?


now i sparke when i move

June 11th, 2013 by Dan

Music please:

Autoheart: Agoraphobia
The Autoheart album is almost with us so it’s time for another single! I have loved this song for a while now and enjoyed the video. Who doesn’t love a sad rabbit person? Great band who have released consistently excellent material: just poppy enough but with enough emotional depth to really grab me.

Charlotte Church: Glitterbombed.
Charlotte is a disembodied blue head going on about having glitter in her wounds. Scary stuff! This is from her new second EP from the current incarnation of The Church, called Two. Both this and EP One are rather special, interesting and challenging in a way that I appreciate. I’d love a full album of this sort of thing please.

B.E.F featuring Kim Wilde: Every Time I See You I Go Wild
B.E.F are back back back! It’s been a long time since their Volume Two so now it’s time for a third instalment of Music of Quality and Distinction. This one is more your dark throbbing electropop and stars Kim Wilde on the stand-out track, along with Sandie Shaw, Glenn Gregory, Green Gartside and some other people who do not have alliterative names. It’s great.

Betty Who: You’re In Love
No relation to the Doctor, another top pop track from that free EP that sane people would have paid good money for.

Dan Black feat. Kelis: Hearts
I like Dan Black, I like Kelis. I bloody love their collaboration as it has the best elements of both artists, a good beat and a video that I can’t stop watching.

Frankmusik: Map
So glad that Frankmusik‘s new album makes me all excited like his first one did! Poppy speedy uptempo sounds with sensitive man lyrics and some interesting little gimmicks make me pleased. The album ‘Between’ is out now for downloaders and I’m holding out for a CD option as I’m old-fashioned like that.

Alice Smith: Shot
Jamie played some of Alice Smith’s music in the car and now I own both of her albums. This song is my favourite from the new album ‘She’ and it reminds me a little bit of Titiyo, which is nice. If you crave proper R&B and not that autotune stripper music that’s popular now then Alice Smith is for you.

Bright Light Bright Light: Moves
The final song from the remarkable album and it comes with a couple of b-sides (is that even a real thing these days?) that easily equal the quality of the album. This video is a little bit saucy. Nice.

French Horn Rebellion: Dancing Out (feat. Jody Watley & Young Empires)
I know nothing about this artist except for it featuring Dame Jody Watley of Shalamar and I’ve listened to it 11 times in the last two weeks because it’s an addictive bit of funky dance pop music.

Mark Owen: Stars
It may be uncool to like Mark Owen but I’ve never been cool and this is a top tune. Bonus points for wandering around in a spacesuit FOR THE ART OF IT.

Alison Moyet: Love Reign Supreme
Alf is back! Yes I know she has never really been away (check out previous albums The Turn and Hometime if you like to be amazed) but this is one of my favourites on the new rather essential album ‘the minutes.’ Quite excited about seeing her live in October.

Information: The Village

May 11th, 2013 by Dan

Our latest road trip included a visit to The Village where I wanted to run around shouting and being a bit grumpy (not much of a change from my usual mode really) but managed to remain calm and take hundreds of photos instead. Here are a few of the best ones, followed by a soundtrack of some of the accompanying trip music…

The Village (aka Portmeirion) as seen from up in the woods where we managed to escape to / hopped off the little train tour. So much lovely architecture!

Welcome to your village. The sun was out for the beginning of our exploration but the wind was rather fierce at times.  I took dozens of photos of arches.

The village green, with its beautiful gardens. So much nicer than that messy area behind our house.

The green as seen from up near the dome.

Shops and cafes, formerly used as exteriors for various homes in The Prisoner.

Jamie and one of the many arches. This one is up near the shops.

On the beach, where Rover was nowhere to be seen. Bloody windy though!

Back up to the main village after beachy fun times.

Be seeing you.

Soundtrack time! Here are some of the new tunes making me do the approving nod:
David Bowie: The Next Day. The album is still on rotation in my ears and this new video has just been released. Suitably weird, pretentious and exciting:

Ronika: Rough n Soothe. The latest single, another smash:

Florrie: Live A Little. Florrie has never put a foot wrong, hopefully there will be a full album sometime soon:

Fitz and the Tantrums: More than Just A Dream. The title track from their second album which introduces some new styles but the band still rock:

The Cliks: Savanna. Another returning top band, album duly purchased once again:

Slow Knights: Shame and Sweet Harmony. The Del Marquis / Bright Light Bright Light and pals supergroup have made my favourite album of the year so far:

Little Boots: Motorway. The second album Nocturnes is here! Loving this:

Doctor .. huh?

April 13th, 2013 by Dan

For the last few years I’ve done little blogs about each new Doctor Who episode but since I’ve been busier and less inclined to waffle on here I’ve not done them. To make up for that I have left the house and taken some appropriately geeky photographs and done a round-up of New Who thoughts:
The five episode ‘Series 7 Part 1′ was underwhelming as it mostly didn’t have the magic that I love, the Ponds overstayed their welcome a little bit, the Dalek episode was great fun but seemed rushed (but love “eggggssss…”), the New York episode had more plot holes than Weeping Angels, I enjoyed the Christmas one and was not even drunk, ‘Series 7 Part 2′ has been good and Clara is what the series needs, I hope there are less dangly unresolved ideas this year as that kind of thing is starting to irritate me, can we just go back to basics please? OK. On with the images:

We stumbled across a familiar blue box...


I had to pose for a photo of course.

There were some strange noises nearby so I went for a look and was shocked...

The Dalek was getting on fabulously with the Cyberman, who was having an excellent time.

Strike a pose!

It's like Dimensions In Time all over again. With a Baby Dalek.

Preparing for the banner moment...

Happy birthday Dokkk - Torrrrr!

This was all in aid of the Generation to Generation Spring Fete at Christ Church, Barnet, to raise money for their Open Door Appeal to restore the building adjacent to the church into a community centre for older people.That building was where the TARDIS was. With all the Doctor Who-ness going on  outside I hope they had the opportunity to make lots of money.

Don’t be a fool! / And your big fat dog

March 17th, 2013 by Dan

It could be said that I’m a bit obsessed with the work of Claudia Brucken…

That was some of my Brucken stash, dating all the way back to my years as a strange child. I finally saw her perform live last night after being a fan for almost 30 years (am I really that old?) and it was an excellent celebration of a fine catalogue of work. This tour is to promote the latest album the Lost Are Found which is a ‘dreaded covers project that’ is thankfully not a sign of running out of ideas, and songs from that were interspersed with a greatest hits selection taken from her previous release Combined. In other words, a perfect set list!  Covers of mention included David Bowie’s Everyone Says Hi and Stina Nordenstam’s Memories of a Colour, mostly because they are songs that I bought by the original artists and are covered well. We had never been to the Borderline before and made the mistake of arriving too early so had a lot of standing around but we got a great view near the front and the achey legs / feet were only a temporary problem. The venue seemed to be 95% middle aged gay men which amused and fascinated me as I hadn’t realised the gay factor was quite so high with her fans but then I am a middle aged gay man so it makes sense. There’s probably an interesting study of music tastes and sexuality of fans somewhere but my media studies days are long behind me now despite finding this kind of thing worth pondering. Anyway…

Claudia was of course fantastic throughout and seemed to be having a thoroughly great time, and her band were impressive. Special mention for David Watson who excelled as co-lead vocalist on the Act songs Snobbery & Decay and Absolutely Immune, giving an energetic and entertaining performance. He shifted back into his other job of backing vocalist and occasional guitarist with a more subdued personality, getting it exactly right. The other Mr Watson (James Watson) provided several excellent guitar solos,  including the one during the old Propaganda song Dream Within A Dream which handily gave most of the band time to nip backstage for a comfort break. As expected, we had the joy of seeing three Propaganda singles performed and Duel was the slightly obvious but always appreciated encore moment where the crowd went wild (and we clapped a little bit more than usual).

As well as the Act and Propaganda singles we also enjoyed the nineties solo single Kiss Like Ether, some onetwo singles and the newish songs from Combined: Thank You and Night School. A faultless performance!

Specks In The Sky in a pub in Camden

January 28th, 2013 by Dan

We went out on Saturday night like what the young people do, or so I am told.  Off to that North London for a gig in a pub in Camden Town via a series of trains and buses and footsteps, which at times was a bit stressful (obligatory bus nutter screaming at the bus driver because the replacement tube line bus was “not clearly labelled” despite being clearly labelled) but definitely worth it. What was it? It was Specks in the Sky, which is a night described on its Facebook page as this:

Not-for-profit music events promoter in London. We only book acts we love. We look after our artists and we look after our audiences.

That’s pretty simple and the evening was all about good music. I’ll plug the elements of that night as they deserve it…

DJ Sina played some tunes that were probably related to his All-Girl Pop Rock Indie Disco club night Debbie that I’ve never been to because I don’t like clubs. It sounds interesting though and he’s on Tumblr where you can see his great diary comics and pictures. Bonus points for playing Tori Amos’s cover of Ring My Bell which I had completely forgotten all about and now have to rummage through old CD-Rs to find.

Samantha Ashleigh Hayhurst can play the keyboard and sing and say “thank you” in at least three languages. Her music is on Soundcloud here and an example of it should appear below this sentence.

Ghost Carriage Phantoms are not as scary as their name suggests although I was concerned about how close I was to their glockenspiel. They did an acoustic set and kept swapping instruments between songs which kept it interesting, including the glockenspiel, two guitars, a small drum, a foot, some hanging jangly vibes-y things, a powerful male voice (whoah! ) and one of those hand-held mini keyboards that you blow into which I can never remember the name of.  An odd fascinating musical experience that has led to me listening to their album that I bought just before I started typing this.

The final band of the night were The Melting Ice Caps who seem to be available in a series of limited editions. Past live versions have included Full Band,  CD Walkman and Vocals (plus umbrella) and Acoustic Band.  This time is was Three Piece With Occasional Flipchart. I’m a big fan and you may have noticed other blogs on this subject using words and phrases like “super singer songwriter” , “occasional indie disco” and “quite good” but the music speaks for  itself so here’s some ‘speaking’:

If you ‘Like’ Specks In The Sky on Facebook you can find out more.

Music and pictures (of Kew)

January 22nd, 2013 by Dan

New year and new format (for now): New exciting music plus new photographs of life.

We went to Kew over the holiday period and it was definitely worth the trip into Almost Suburbia. I’m not a big fan of plants but in a similar way to the old-fashioned Epping-Ongar train trip last year I found enough shapes and colours to keep me interested. The hothouse was most welcome in the bitter cold, not actually that hot inside but warm  enough to remove the woolly hat. You can find out actual facts if you look at the Kew website.

David Bowie: Where Are We Now?

Dame David Bowie returned! The internet went a bit mad and it turned out that everyone was a massive Bowie fan. A band I had not heard of before (Velvet Stream) did an excellent cover of his new song and everyone was oh so happy about everything.

MKS: Boys

MKS aka The Real Sugababes were busy in the studio in 2012 and put an acapella clip up on YouTube recently. It was good. I lost track of who the current Sugababes are about three regenerations ago, to be honest, but I’m a big fan of Siobhan’s albums so looking forward to hearing some great modern pop.

Suede: Barriers

January was Returns Month. Brett and co turned up with a new song that is not a single and an album coming soon. Barriers is rather nice and follows on from Mr Anderson’s last solo album which was a definite return to form. Hopefully the album will have some absurd rhyming couplets and a few AaaAAAh-a-hHooooahhhs.

Autoheart: Lent

Autoheart will be releasing their long-awaited album this year (honest. I think I said that this time last year) and Lent is an actual proper single except for not being on a shiny disc, quite soon. It will even have a remix by bright Light Bright Light.

Woman E: You Stole That Summer (Bright Light Bright Light remix)

Talking of Bright Light Bright Light, this is fun!

Tegan & Sara: Closer

I was never a big Tegan & Sara fan but their forthcoming album has been sprinkled with Greg Kurstin’s pop magic and what I’ve heard so far is a bunch of strong pop songs with sturdy writing plus hooks and tunes and that. Another one on pre-order.

Ghost Carriage Phantoms: Videotape

I heard about this band from the details of a gig we’re going to next week in Fancy London. I’m  glad they sound interesting : indie rock but with added bells and whistles plus this song goes a bit Cloudbusting at the end.

A couple more views from Kew:

Sadly no Krynoids.

Music 2012 : I feel love in digital stereo

December 27th, 2012 by Dan

Previously: The songs of the year, here.

Now: It may now be the future but albums still exist in this world of downloading individual tracks and all that. Lots of great songs this year where the album did not live up to it so I had to do a lot of brain  time working out my Top Albums list. Here it is, with music and pictures:

The Irrepressibles: Nude. I found them via a package of remixes for a single from their debut album which was nice enough but this second album is a work of art…. almost literally in this case with all the imagery, videos and bonus bits. Some orchestral slowies, some faster electropop plus strings tracks and everything in-between. Beautiful!  One of those albums that will get taken out and played for years to come.

Bright Light Bright Light: Make Me Believe In Hope. After a long lead time the album was released and it was everything the fans expected / wanted. Not a dud track on it and lots of extras like a vinyl edition, a remixes CD, some t-shirts (and a cassette that I cannot play!) and all sorts of other online bits and bobs. The quality is there so the quantity is a bonus. This album did well in a lot of end of year polls despite not having a massive commercial success which goes to show that the right music can get the attention.

Saint Etienne: Words and Music. A concept album about pop music that is one of the finest pop albums of recent years? Great idea. Perfect from start to finish, supported by an excellent live show and a tea towel. Saint Etienne never disappoint.

The Melting Ice Caps: Permissible Permutations. Another kind of concept album, from a man who, like Saint Etienne, never disappoints. The Melting Ice Caps are the best indie pop (and other things) one man band that you have not heard of and are hard to describe so how about “excellent songwriting with depth?”

No Doubt: Push and Shove. This comeback album apparently did pretty bad commercially and annoyed some of the older fans with its new sound. It has an extra layer of pop what with all those lovely synth riffs but I adored it as I go mad for  a bit of anthemic synth and guitars pop. Maybe it’s the fault of classic era Duran for imprinting that on me. Anyway, it’s a marvellous upbeat pop album that still has a No Doubt feel to it.

Jessie Ware: Devotion. So much has been said about this album already and it’s everything That Emeli Bloody Sande album is not. Jessie Ware can do ‘sophisticated’ as well as uptempo and this long player may occasionally veer into slightly baffling youthful sounds but I can cope with a bit of that.

Frank Ocean: Channel Orange. I eventually investigated this one. Oh yes.

Twin Shadow: Confess. An unknown to me until I heard a track in our car, loved it, bought this album and then their debut too. Very good mixed bag of sounds that come together to make a strong set of tunes. Strong creative vision, a bit like the old days when people seemed to try harder, or am I just a grumpy oldie?

Niki & the Dove: Instinct. I missed out on the initial hype but found myself loving a song or two via bloggy pals and then bought the album which was a big success in my ears. They’re from Europe and have a great brand of slightly freaky synthpop so perfect for me.

Gaz Coombes Presents Here Come The Bombs. Easy to love this album as it’s Gaz From Supergrass and it’s great.

Foxy Shazam: The Church of Rock and Roll. Ridiculous overblown American rock anthem cliches all  over the place and I like it. A lot.

Gigs of the year:

Fingersnap at Leicester Square Theatre on Valentine’s Day. Excellent music and banter, and I got my lurve dedication read out.
The Melting Ice Caps at that pub with the pint of chips with the CD Walkman.
Saint Etienne at the London Palladium. Music! Merchandise! Massive balloons!
Scritti Politti at Firestation in Windsor. Hypnotised.


All those lovely Jimmy Somerville reissues that included the first Bronski Beat album, both of the Communards ones and his first two solo releases.
Human League Dare/Fascination boxy thing, even though I had most of it already.
ZTT Reissues of all sorts of stuff from my childhood.
The four Everything But The Girl reissues because I never had them before and they were clearly made with love.

Sarah Cracknell’s album coming out in the Saint Etienne Deluxe format: lost semi-classic.


The Spiels & Autoheart : Northern Lad. Jody Gadsden and friends do one of my all time favourite Tori Amos songs and do it so very well.
Temper Trap: Love Is A Losing Game. From a cover mount CD with Q, this was a slightly raspy pleasant surprise.
Jonny Cola & the A-Grades: Ship Of Fools. I remembered how much I liked Jonny Cola and bought all their music. This cover is a joy!

Next time: Back to nerd whimsy some time soon.

Music 2012 : How melodic.

December 20th, 2012 by Dan

Another year draws to a close and my annual plan to spend less money on music due to my ever-increasing old git status has failed as usual. I found that this year had a much higher proportion of reissues than before, due to the boom in deluxe pretty thing reissues in lovely packaging full of hard to find old songs. Nice. I also got into my charity shop record hunts in a big way and the wad of vinyl LPs is expanding across the room. Anyway, this blog post is concerned with the new stuff, specifically the tracks of the year. Albums to follow, along with some other odds and sods.

“We could have made it but we didn’t have the stamina, we both lost out in the end. “ Autoheart: Control. This track has been around for a while but its official release this year meant it sneaked back into my end of year review. Autoheart’s forthcoming album is my most eagerly awaited music of 2013 due to the quality of their songs which have appeared in the usual places on the internet. Melodic heartfelt pop is their strength and that’s something that I adore!

“Once a passion filled your eyes, left me speechless , satisfied. Now tonight all we have is this darkening sky.” Jimmy Somerville: Taken Away. Listening to this song led me to buy the EP it comes from, then his two other recent EPs and then his entire back catalogue. Jimmy Somerville is in an imperial phase right now but is not really in the limelight as much as he should be.

“It’s getting louder and louder and louder and louder and louder.” The Irrespressibles: Two Men In Love. This choice could have been their electropop + orchestra song Ship, narrowly beaten by the beautiful epic slow-build of a song that will not surprise you when I say it is about two men in love. The album is pretty amazing.

“From the outside, from the outside. Everyone must be wondering why we try.” Jessie Ware: Wildest Moments. One of those artists who was tipped for the top that actually did some tipping (in my ears)! This has soul, which is sorely lacking in a lot of modern pop music. Smooooooth but not too glossy, just right.

“Patiently, I’m waiting. For you to give up everything. And say just what you mean.” Twin Shadow: Patient. I discovered this song in our car via Jamie’s iPod, loved it, bought the album, played it a lot. I like it when that happens! Twin Shadow is one to watch, great song writing and performing, and the videos are also excellent. This one has dance routines!

“Tell me the truth boy, am I losing you for good.” Solange: Losing You. She’s back! She’s still amazing! Phew. This song is both old-fashioned and new/exciting. Funky heartbreak, oh yes.

“I’ll be your warrior.” Mark Foster, Kimbra and A-Trak: Warrior. An unexpected crossover episode! This single with Mark Foster from Foster The People gave Kimbra’s album a further push, which was nice. I may be too old to know who A-Trak is but this is a super energetic pop number with the kind of offbeat video you’d expect from Mr Foster.

“You’re the reason there’s still hope in my heart.” Bright Light Bright Light: Feel It. Inspired by Laura Palmer’s diary and cheesy 90s dance pop, and featuring a great big diva voice : how could I not love this? Great single from an excellent album. Well done that man Rod Thomas.

“Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge, nobody wants to see your fingertips, detached from your piano fingers… At least not yet.” The Melting Ice Caps: Keep Both Hands Behind The Cutting Edge. This song is superficially a series of health and safety warning signs but actually something cleverer, as I would expect from the mind of David Shah (Mr Ice Caps). Another recommended album there.

“And when the music stops …” Little Boots: Headphones (Ronika remix). Yes, a remix! This version is better than the original, a peculiar old school dance sound about a disco with weird pitch changes to Ms Boots’ voice to make it just marvellously different and a bit non-specific gender. Hard to explain. Now where’s the album?

“She’s working at the pyramid tonight.” Frank Ocean: Pyramids. This one is also rather odd, in a great way. It’s not quite hip hop and not quite R&B either. When I got this album it was a priority playlist on the iPod for ages and deserving of all the hype it got.

“To you it’s just the same old story. Another fairy tale made of faded glory.” David Morales and Roisin Murphy: Golden Era. This Murphy / Morales collaboration was a lovely surprise and it was everything I hoped for in such a project. A deep housey disco number with regret in the lyrics, should have been a big hit.

“Get lost, you’re dancing to the beat of a different drum .” Gossip: Get Lost. The album may have annoyed some of their older fans (in loyalty, not in years) but this Xenomania collaboration was the first Gossip album I loved enough to buy. I’m weird but the vibes were right and this track is the highlight of a great pop long-player.

“… the dead don’t go away, They made us what we are, they’re with us every day.” Pet Shop Boys: Leaving. I loved this track immediately and recently the lyrics make me a bit too sad, which is not really a bad thing for a song to do when I think about it. A mixed album but I would compare it to a good b-sides compilation and we do love our b-sides.

“That’s why, the carols make you cry. Joy.” Tracey Thorn: Joy. Another weepy happy song, one of the original compositions on Tracey Thorn’s excellent (more than just a) Christmas album.

“No one should settle for a maybe, I’ll get an answer for you soon.” Saint Etienne: Answer Song. So many lovely songs on their Words and Music album but I had to choose one. I’ll go for the sad romantic one every time!

“I’m ready to learn what it tastes to burn, I’m gonna let you show me what it means to breathe fire.” Niki & the Dove: Tomorrow. I found this Swedish duo via a blog and was captivated by their atmospheric brand of slightly freaky big electropop.

“Honey get your hands off those boys. Honey put your arms around me.” Bearcraft: Honey. Another one of Jamie’s favourite artists and this single was definitely their best work yet. Bearcraft have been quiet recently as Dicky Moore (Mr Craft) has been busy playing guitar for Scritti Politti but they’ll be back with an album of this melodic synthpop soon.

“Sad, so sad.” Elton John vs Pnau: Sad. Not actually all that sad, mostly very pleasant and melodic. I think “melodic” is becoming one of my words. As well as this Pnau collaboration via a remix project I also finally bought Elton’s discoey Thom Bell Sessions on CD but didn’t get the urge for any other albums.

“I’m always trying to tell you, I’ve got problems, That I can’t work out.” Gaz Coombes: White Noise. The return of The Artist Formerly Known As Gaz From Supergrass was a big success for me and this track in particular showed him in fine form.

Next time: Albums of the Year, maybe some Gigs and Covers. The version type, not the images on the front of records although I do like those too.

Normal For Norfolk

December 4th, 2012 by Dan

We spent the weekend in Norfolk and I too quite a lot of photographs. Here are some of them and they don’t really need explaining. Great times: