Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - Top tracks

For me 2009 has been more about individual tracks than full albums, it's probably to be expected with the download era. Yet, I love Long Players and it frustrates me a little bit when a band is capable of creating a peach of a song only to fail to write 10 decents tracks. Anyhow here are some of my favorites songs of the past 12 months:

**Eels: That Look You Give That Guy**

Eels came back in sinister form this year with Hombre Lobo: 12 songs about desire. This first single is deffinitely one of the best songs written this year: the lyrics, the music, E's voice, everything is perfect and fits with the other elements seamlessly.Unrequited love has never sounded

**Jack Penate: Tonight's The Day**

**Bony King Of Nowhere: The Sunset**

**Andrew Bird: The Giant of Illinois**

If we talk about 2009, I have to mention Dark Was The Night, the best compilation of the year. A double CD filled with probably the best indie artists around doing covers, collaborations etc... As is always the case with such work, it's a little bit hit and miss but even its worse moments are worthy of some admiration.

And I just LOVE Andrew bird's cover of 'The Giant Of Illinois'

**Death Cab For Cutie: I Will Possess Your Heart**

I know I know, it's from 2008 but I bend the rules, ok? Thing is I listened to this song non stop from January until about May so to me it's on my 2009 soundtrack...come on allow me this one...pretty please?
The long version is just amazing with the slow progression on the intro and then the bittersweet, slightly stalkerish lyrics kick in, once against the balance is right between every element

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009: Top albums, part 2

Here we go again, we are back for part 2, probably filled with albums already mentioned by many a critic. I love thinking independently and disagree with the general opinion but some albums were just excellent and appreciated by the (relative) masses. And I refuse to compromise just for the sake of being different :-)

**The Horrors: Primary Colours**

I'll admit it, I liked The Horrors before, I remember their punky set at Dour many moons ago, I thought they were fantastic! I was therefore excited to hear their new material. I remember as well hearing the first 20 seconds of Sea Within a Sea and thinking 'OH MY GOD this is going to be one hell of record' I hoped the rest of the LP would reach the heights of that track and it did. I totally agree with Mike Diver when he said Primary Colours was "wholly worth all the hype that's attracted to its unexpected brilliance."

**The Arctic Monkeys: Humbug**

We're so accustomed to hearing great quality music from the Sheffield Boys that an excellent album without filler or false note seems a given, we don't even feel like acknowledging
Humbug is a superb album, Turner has learned to pose his voice in a more menacing way and his lyrics are as sharp as ever. It's been a steady learning process for the Monkeys and with each album they go a step further. I can't find any fault in Humbug and I get much pleasure hearing it over and over again.
My favourite track is probably the opening one: My Propeller

**The XX: XX**

Sometimes the hype has good reasons behind it, I feel it's the case for The XX, subtle music that improves with every listen. I have no idea how they'll top that on their next output but for now I'll keep playing that CD for months and years to come.

**Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse present: Dark Night Of The Soul **

Musically, nothing upset me more than the non-physical release of that masterpiece. Dammit EMI, sort it out! I love it when an album manages to be different from the rest by creating its own little world. The songs are different from each other in style [and by the presence of many guest musicians] but yet they manage to create a body of work homogenous and exciting!
You can find MP3 streaming online and download the album for free, which is what Danger Mouse intended when the actual release was aborted so fo once go and download Dark Night Of The Soul, your life will be better for it.
Everytime I'm With you, with Jason Lytle

**Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix**

This is probably the album I've listened to the most since its release. There have been many times when I played Lisztomania or 1901 loudly in my flat to just jump up and down or when I was doing chores, feelgood music and after all, that what's it's all about: pleasure!
Phoenix have given me lots of pleasure on CD or live over the years and with W.A.P. they were back in great pop spirit, just writing about it makes me smile

**the runners-up**

I can't decide which of the other contenders to choose so here's their names:

Fever Ray: Fever Ray
Blakroc: Blakroc
Jamie T: Kings & Queens
Soulsavers: Broken

For the next 2 days, I'll compile some of my favourite singles of the year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 - Top albums

I hope you all had a great Christmas!
It's that time of the year when we all make lists of our best and worse moments of the past 12 months. An exercise often done in the cultural fields so I'll comply and give you my best albums of 2009. Obviously, nobody else will agree with that choice so we'll have to agree to disagree on that one or start a great banter about music [we all love those]

In no particlar order, and most of my highlights have been present in this blog on way or the other:

**Wild Beast: "Two Dancers"**

Lovely balance between the voices, great songs and generally a very original album with slight touches of camp that make the whole experience not as pretentious as it could easily have been.
There's a chance tat most of you will hate Hayden Thorpe's falsetto, but if you dig it then this album will reveal itself as a very modern and flamboyant indie rock album.

**Soap& Skin: Lovetune For Vacuum**

Oh my, when I first heard 'Spiracle' at the end of last winter I was smitten straight away, the full album didn't disappoint either. It's not for the faint hearted, 19 yr Anja sings about pain like no-one else. Her noire atmosphere and depressing piano haunted by touches of electronica form an exquisite foil for her voice, a voice that betrays a fragile and probably excentric persona.
Again, I think her work is very original and in my opinion she has the talent to become an artist as venerated and personal as PJ harvey in years to come.

**Noah & The Whale: The First Days of Spring**

This one is a late comer on the list. At first listen I thought 'yeah, pretty record' but then it's a grower of an album, after a few listens I became enthralled in its world. The lyrics are touching and the delivery worthy or old alt-country masters like Oldham or Callahan. Charlie Fink is fast becoming a fine singer and the music is dreamier than on its predecessor, on the opening tracks it's nearly Sigur Ros-esque. It's a post break-up album and we all know what it's like, yet they manage to express the whole range of emotion in 11 well crafted songs. It won't change the world, but this ia lovely album, well made, full of sentiments that will stand the test of time.

**Richard Hawley: Truelove Gutter**

I opened this blog with Mr Hawley and yeah I'm a sucker for that type of music so he has to be in my top albums of the year. He doesn't take any risks on this album but he keeps on improving his recipe which is fine by me. I can't even explain the why and how, it speaks to me and it touches me.

the rest tomorrow kids

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fairytale of New York

You have to hand it to the BBC, they really do try to be creative and bring quality entertainment to their audience. This year they've asked two of the most hyped female singer in the country to sing Xmas classic "Fairytale of New York", depiste the results, the initiative is to be applauded

First stop: Florence Welch of Flor & The Machine fame with none other than Billy Bragg

I'm not a big Florence fan and it doesn't exactly win me over, it lacks the tension, what do you think?

Next Paloma Faith with the singer from Scouting For Girls. Incidentally, Faith first got noticed for her track "It's Christmas (and I hate you)". The 24 yr old Londoner has an album to her name rel earlier this year.
As mentioned before, I find the 'look at me I'm soooo crazy' stick rather tiresome, but here goes nothing

Oh this is a bit depressing... let's listen to the original by The Pogues & Kirsty McColl [1987] and forget those meh! covers

It's more like it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Erland Oye "Last Christmas"

Ha Norway! Great Country and great music. One of the most prolific Norwegian artist is probablly Erland Oye.
We got to know him thanks to his delicate project Kings Of Convenience and more recently The Whitest Boy Alive.
To me, Oye represents soothing sounds and calming melodies, even in his more electronic ventures. It was only fitting for him to reprise Wham!'s Last Christmas and give the song some pathos.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tom Waits: 'Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis'

The next few days we'll have a look at some Xmas covers or roiginal as performed by some interesting artits, you know, to get in the mood for Christmas.

Today, one of the best and most versatile artist ever in my opinion, mister Tom Waits. His Christmas Car From A hooker in Minneapolis is now a classic and what a classy way to start our countdown until the big day.

Enjoy the holidays, drink plenty of Eggnog and have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy : Death To Everyone

Last post of the week [thanks for the reminder, Alain] is dedicated to mister Will Oldham aka Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, aka, Palace Brothers, aka Palace...

He has been known since the early 90s for a sort of punk attitude within the Americana and folk genres. Who else would write such lyrics as 'She is a fine looking lady and she likes to go down on me and I like to down on her too" ['A King at Night' on Ease Down The Road, 2001]

Here's one of my favourite tracks of his in his usual witty and tongue-in-cheek style...

Earlier this year he released a 17th album 'BEWARE'
To know more about this amazing musician and all his albums and projects, try his website

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Portishead ' Chase The Tear"

Tis the season of goodwill and all so here's the video from the new Portishead, go and buy the download and the money goes to Amnesty International.

I don't need to tell you anything about the band, you probably already know everything there is to know!

Be careful in the snow, now

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Angus & Julia Stone "And The Boys"

Today it's snowing a bit so let's go and warm ourselves up in Australia with the siblings Stone. Angus & Julia started their carreer in their natal Sidney in 2006 with the relesea of a first EP "chocolates and cigarettes"
before delivering a lovely first album "A Book Like This" a year later.

Their music is just lovely pop folk, as mister @Francoish will attest. So to please him and you here's their new single which will feature on their forthcoming album "Down The Way" to be releaes in 2010.

Stay warm kids!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beth Jeans Houghton "Golden"

oooh that song has a sort of christmassy melody with the harmonies and little's also warm and feels familiar, like an old friend.
Prefect to stay inside in this cold, cold weather.

Beth Jeans Houghton is a new artist on the scene, she has 2 EPs and a single to her name. The Observer Music Monthly mentionned her with trepidation back in July.
Let's see what she does in the future but in the meantime, we have this joyful 'Golden' to whet our appetites

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bill Callahan " My Friend"

Bill Callahan, also known as Smog, has been making lo-fi music since 1990. He has a very distinctive voice, deep yet somewhat cold. He has released 11 albums under the Smog moniker and 2 as Bill Callahan.
I completely fell in love with his Red Apple Falls album in 97, with his "Dress Sexy At My Funeral" song in 2000, and have always been touched by his music, consitently good, simple musical structure with thought-provoking lyrics.

I'm ashamed to say that I missed his last album: Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle but it's still streaming on youtube so here a track called "My Friend"

Now if you like him and don't know much about him, you've got some catching up to do!
Here's his full discography, ready?

As Smog
And As Bill Callahan:

More info HERE

Friday, December 11, 2009

Labradford '5'

Back in the archives today withe the ever so atmospheric Labradford. This trio is from Virginia and existed from 1992 until 2001, releasing 6 albums.
Musically, it's a sort of quiet post rock, mostly instrumental with drips of drone rock and veering into ambiant.
Perfect foil for a cosy evening at home, try it and you won't regret it.
Their most acclaimed albums are the last 3: 'Mi Media Naranja [1998], 'E Luxo So' [1999] and 'Fixed::Context' [2001]

Here is '5' which features on 'E Luxo So', 7 minutes of peace, quiet and reverie...

Have a great weekend

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Grave With No Name: 'The Underpass'

I read about A Grave With No Name on the Clash website and it made me want to check them out.

Their album is called Mountain Debris and their music is kinda dreamy and woozy with a guitar edge and it sounds like this:

I don't know much about them apart from the fact that they're from the uk and there's 3 of them in the band. It's a start, right?

Their Myspace is here

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blakroc ' Coochie'

When I started this blog, I wanted to share some tracks, mainly the softer tones of singer songwriters who don't get that much airplay anymore. However rules have to be broken now and again.
It's the case today because this track truly blew me away.
I've always loved the blues rock of duo The Black Keys and when I heard they were teaming up with Damon Dash and some of the best US hip hop artists for the Blakroc project I wasn't sure what to expect...

I got the album 2 days ago and it has barely left my a word WAOW!
Forget 'Walk This Way' or anything Linkin Park have ever done, Hip hop and rock CAN work together.

'Coochie' packs a tune with the voice of ODB and Ludacris

Play it as loud as you can and let the groove do the rest

Back to normal tomorrow guys!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fuck 'Monkey Doll'

For some reason yesterday's song made me listen to my old Fuck CDs. There is something in their music that just makes me go through all the spectrum of feelings in 40 minutes.
I saw them live a couple of times back in the days and it was just the same. Short songs that don't overstay their welcome, simple melodies with a bric-a-brac side, sweet voices and then bursts of fury before calming down again and cuddling the listener with a cheeky grin, all very child-like.

The band met in California, in a police holding cell. They wrote a couple of songs and the rest is history. According to their website they're still together but there is not much activity at the moment.

Pardon my French (1997) and Conduct (1998) are my favourite albums. Obviously because of their silly name it's very difficult to find anything online about this band. I wish I could have found a version of 'Drinking Artist' which would be in my top 10 tracks of all time (Never Comin' Back would maybe make that list too).
After many searches I managed to find this 'Monkey Doll' video from Conduct, an album you should get if you don't know it yet, playful, yet full of emotions.

Their discography

* Fuck (cassette) - Rhesus - 1994
* Pretty...Slow - Rhesus - 1996
* Baby Loves a Funny Bunny - Rhesus - 1996
* Pardon My French - Matador - 1997
* Conduct (CD) - Matador - 1998
* Cupid's Cactus - Smells Like Records - 2001
* Gold Bricks - Homesleep Records - 2001
* Those Are Not My Bongos - Homesleep Records - 2003

and their official site is HERE

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cymbals Eat Guitars ' What Dogs see'

Cymbals Eat Guitars is a quatuor from New York. Indie press Pitchfork got an instant hard on for them including the band in their best new act category. Their first album Why There Are Mountains was released in the spring. During its quieter moments, it sounds like this:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Florian Horwath 'Baby You Got Me'

And now we're off to Austria to meet probably the sweetest man in pop Florian Horwath. He has released 2 lovely albums: We Are All Gold in 2005 and Sleepyhead in 2007.
His next output 'Speak To Me Know' will be out in Jan 2010, on his website, you can listen to some tracks already.

For now, on this blog, we'll content ourselves with his duet with Cardigan's Nina Person.

If you ever cross path with Florian, make sure to say hello, you own't regret it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taken By Trees 'Sweet Child Of Mine"

Victoria Bergsman is a Swedish singer-songwriter who used to be in The Concretes. In 2007 she released her first album "Open Field" and the follow up "East of Eden" was out in September.

As is often the case for folk-ish artists she got the media's attention by makeing a soulful cover of a popular track, in this case Guns & Roses' Sweet Child Of Mine. It's so good it was even used in an ad synch. Oh yeah.

I actually do like the original a lot...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

She & Him "You Really Got A Hold On Me"

Great news: She & HIm have finished recording their new album, Volume 2, and it will be released in 2010. Hurrah! The first one, Volume1, was such a breath of fresh air that it has barely left my stereo.
She is Zooey Deschenel, Mrs Ben Gibbard, the indie actress with a 60s fashion sense and Him is M.Ward a regular in this blog with his various projects.

They met on film shoot and she showed him her texts, he liked them and decided to help her make a record.Easy as...
The result is kooky, sweet and damn good! On top of her orginal songs they have covered some old classics like this Smokey Robinson "You Really Got A Hold On Me" they sing this song live here:

This time around they will be touring the new album and hopefully come to Europe!

for more, try their myspace

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Michael J. Sheehy

Back in 1997 I heard a band called Dream City Film Club and I fell in love straight away with the sexyness and the darkness of their self titled debut record. I then interviewed the band and worked with them when I was at PIAS. They recorded 2 more albums on Beggars Banquet before splitting.

The guys became friends and Michael J Sheehy, the singer, was a great help when I moved to London. In 2000 he released his first solo album, Sweet Blue Genes. Michael's voice is recognisable by its warmth in total contrast with some of the debauched lyrical content.
Michael is a big Elvis fan and that side of him brings a sort of lightness and humour into his compositions.

Loose Variations on a Near Miss is his latest solo output [his 6th] and a best off of sorts. With his new backing band he has re-recorded some of his past songs to give them a 2010 facelift.

Here is his singing an old blues track for Resonnance FM

And for those who missed DCFC, 'If I Die, I Die' back in 97 when it all began...

More on Michael here