Archive for the ‘Music 2012’ Category

Music 2012 : I feel love in digital stereo

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

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.

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

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.

Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah–ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhh That’s how you sang it

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Don’t worry, I’m not going to blog every single record I buy this year, I’m  not insane! (besides, I have an Excel spreadsheet for that sort of thing now). I do like to share sounds and rambles though, such as after about a dozen plays of That Lana Del Rey Sound I’ve decided the tracks done with The Songwriter Rick Nowells are the best (Dark Paradise and Lucky Ones especially) due to their calming-yet-also-melodramatic aspects, ridiculously self important lyrics, Twin Peaks-y musical glares and general catchiness.

Overall I really love this album and the whole Name/Lips/Father/Background/Live nonsense is not registering with me as the music says it all. It mostly says things about red dresses but that’s alright with me. Talking of that sort of thing, my friend Bert did a blog about it which is marvelous…



Most of my CDs from 2012 so far are releases from the past. Foxy Shazam‘s new one is a rare exception, and ironically they sound like they ate a whole load of the past when making it. We loved their previous album and this was eagerly awaited, with no disppointment involved. It’s all hooks and riffs:

I do indeed Like It.

You know what else is great? Sam Sparro’s return. Big happy poppy joy and a snappy new image:

2012 should be the year of the Sparro. Love the disco noises.

Talking of disco noises there are some on this too:

This may sound and look familiar due to the De La Soul sound of two members of that Daisy Age group. It’s a good choice for a debut single: very radio friendly, poppy and with a colourful video. There’s also a remix for people who like that sort of thing:

Mr Stephen ‘Taste Maker XO London’ Sears (to give him his full name)  blogged about Jessie Ware and was totally correct to love her new song:

This is how you do downtempo! It’s lovely and not boring or ‘beige’ unlike some of the current popular tunes. There is also a remix as everyone loves a remix:

I think that’ll do for now.