Saturday, January 31

And the winner is...

2008 saw some of the finest albums this decade has to offer. Some of the so called 'big groups' like Coldplay and Oasis produced albums which just followed on from previous efforts, without pushing any kind of creative barriers. New 'run of the mill' indie bands emerged, old artists, who fill your parents music collections, tried to secure come backs with many greatest hit albums being released and then a whole host of female artists were served up to us to rival Amy Winehouse's big drug filled boots.

Anyway, I thought I'd offer up my personal top five list of albums released in 2008, with a track from each for you to enjoy. However I hit a stumbling block as I just couldn't miss out naming Mr Scruff, so here are my top 6! Enjoy!

6) Mr Scruff 'Ninja Tuna'
This track, 'Music Takes Me Up' features the impressive Alice Russell on vocals. The jazzy, funk track, with cracking music video, is a good taster for the rest of the album which features lots of guest vocalists.

5) Beyond The Wizards Sleeve 'Wizards Sleeve'
Having previously only released vinyl this album is the first CD released from BTWS, who are super DJ/Producer Erol Alkan and DJ Richard Norris. The album samples lots of psychedelic rock and takes you on a journey from start to finish, with 'Get Ready' below, as a good example. I personally love the track 'Winter In June' as it samples Percy Thrower, old presenter of tv's Gardener World, talking about his garden over a dreamy soundscape. BTWS also DJ live and remix, fine example being Young Folks' by Peter Bjorn and John.

4) Neon Neon 'Stainless Style'
So what do you know about legendary car producer John DeLorean? ...erm, well he produced the car DeLorean, which is the car Marty McFly drives in Back To The Future, and.... well, nothing much more. So what you need to do is give this album a listen! This is a concept album by Super Furry Animals Gruff Rhys and producer Boom Bip who go about celebrating the life and times of John DeLorean. He, a legendary playboy of his time, got involved with selling drugs, exploiting workers, dating all of Hollywood's finest and I suggest you check out more here The album is really memorable with offerings such as Michael Douglas, Raquel and I Lust You, but checkout this...

Oh, and make sure you see them live!

3) Hot Chip 'Made in the Dark'
I started off saying, upon my first listen, that this is album of the year way back in Feb 2008. The end of January 2009 and it's still being played on my ipod and system. The album is really varied, with a bit of something for everyone, spanning from piano ballad 'Made In The Dark' to big single 'Ready For The Floor', which I enjoyed in my wellies at Bestival. The track, which I have up here, is called 'Shake A Fist' and features legend Paul Westerburg's voice. To me it would be awesome in a film, something like Batman, due to it's darkness and mayhem change in pace but maybe that will come. And I hope so. Anyway, until that time arrives this is a perfect driving song for me.

2) Bon Iver 'For Emma'
Just about everyone else has named this their album of 2009 and believe the hype! Man, it's amazing. I think for best results play it really late at night, with a few candles on the go and just enjoy it from start to finish. This track, 'Re Stacks' is just the most perfect way to end the album.

1) Elbow 'The Seldom Seen Kid'
The bands released solid album since way back in 1997 but just had a awful record of being dropped by labels which plighted their progress. Following the last album the band took time out, after yet being dropped from another label, to make an album without any interference which resulted in this masterpiece. The album works on so many levels, Garvey's voice is so raw, his song writing is perfect and takes you on journeys, the orchestral parts on 'On A Day Like This' are magical, there's rock and most of all, following in Bon Iver's write up, it's a album which has to be listened to from start to finish. I strongly recommend you to check out Guy's show on Sunday nights on BBC 6 Music. The track I have chosen is 'Weather To Fly', not the most obvious track from the album but one which sends shivers down my spine. Enjoy.

Other releases you should checkout are Friendly Fires, TV on the Radio and Quite Village...

Monday, January 19

Blue Monday: How does it feel?

So today, the 19th Jan, is defined by social critics as 'Blue Monday'. This is because right about now you're feeling the financial pinch of Christmas, getting back into the old routine after the festive period, an acre away from any holidays and the weather... well, let's not go there! Anyway, I thought as today has this name I'd take this opportunity and write about New Order's very own Blue Monday.

Barney, Hooky and drummer Stephen Morris went about writing a instrumental groove which could be played before the group walked on stage, now they had reformed, mid-eighties, after the death of Ian Curtis. At this time, the group, with producer Martin Hannett at the helm, were dabbling with blending the alternative guitars with electronic music... the song 'Everything's Gone Green' is a fine example. This direction was met with glee, and partly inspired by their record label, Factory Records. The head, Tony Wilson, after a trip to New York, decided a cold and wet Manchester needed a big apple style disco for the kids so The Hacienda was born.

The nightclub was losing money "hand over fist" as Wilson believed it had a social duty to the people of Manchester to be open seven nights a week. When I researched the Hacienda, and spoke to all the key people involved (which I will delve into in further blogs), there is the consensus the track Blue Monday was made purely for the club. The Hacienda building, a former tea warehouse then boat showroom, was big and open, with high ceilings and vast flat concrete areas. This played awful effects on the music as it caused a awful reverb sound that all bands hated. Blue Monday had the correct beat spacing which played with the reverb, making the track stand out and be considered the Hacienda's perfect record.

The 12" was pressed in a elaborate black sleeve, which had a centimeter's width of primary colours down the left, complete with two holes making the sleeve resemble a computer disc. This proved so expensive and the legend says with every sale the band and label combined would lose 12p. Funnily enough the record went on to become the biggest selling 12" inch record to date. Ouch.

Anyway, the record still lives on inspiring many artists from different generations. This is three examples of the record being covered by other artists in various styles. Enjoy!

Nouvelle Vague


Kurd Maverick's Vandalism Remix

Sunday, January 18

My first blog

Welcome to my blog. I thought I'd break my blog virginity by posting up one of my favourite songs for you to enjoy.... 

This, released on the legendary New York label 99 Records, is Konk with the 1984 track 'Your Life'...