Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank you for the music

One of my projects for 2010 was to record some more of my music/songs and as a result there are now 12 songs on my MySpace site. It’s a mixed bag musically (including a couple of instrumentals), but it has, for the most part, been fun playing around and putting them online. In the words of a wise man – don’t quit your day job.

More songs are planned for 2011 and maybe some better production values as I get a bit more savvy with the software I use. But until then, if you’d like to experience my ‘unique’ vocal styling’s and musicianship, then you can have a listen here. [Oh that’s such a bit of bad Internet-ing there, having a click here link essentially. ]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To be honest, I don’t think 2010 will be remembered as a ‘great’ year music-wise, although some good stuff did get released. It was a year when the hip and happening people told me I should be listening to Tame Impala, Gold Panda, Deerhunter, Beach House and others. And, I did. All were perfectly fine, but none really grabbed me, and I can’t help feeling that tame Impala sounded much better in the context of a Soundtrack album than they did on a full album of their own.

So leaving those aside, was there one album that stood head and shoulders above all else this year? Not for me. There were several albums that held my attention at different parts of the year but only a few which didn’t fall away, and less still that made last gasp dashes to improve with time. So, what follows are 20 albums I have enjoyed for various reasons during 2010. If I were doing it another week, maybe O Children, She and Him, Warpaint, Pull in Emergency, Thea Gilmore, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Liz Phair may have got a look in, but for now, this is my list.

The list is not in any particular order , although I will say if pushed, that the 3 albums I have gone back to the most this year, I have listed first. For your added pleasure I have included a link to a youtube clip of a track off each album. Roll on 2011.

1. Drive by Truckers – The Big To Do [Check out: Drag the Lake ] I came to the party a bit late with DBT, but I loved this album from first listen, and is probably my most played record of 2011.
2. Laura Marling – I Speak Because I can [ Check out: Devils Spoke ] Marling’s talent is actually quite frightening. Still only 20, this album and her debut album feature songwriter ability well beyond her years. Ryan Adams was in awe, and I’m with him totally. She’s also a fantastic live performer.
3. Dan le Sac V Scroobius Pip – The Logic of Chance [ Check out: Get Better ] The Americans maybe better at doing mainstream rap, but when it comes to more inventive and heartfelt stuff, I think we are unmatched. Taking a similar ’spoken’ approach used by Mike Skinner, Scroobius Pip weaves inventive and meaningful stories in his raps. I love it.
4. Robert Plant - Band of Joy [Check out: Angel Dance ] In danger of becoming a bit of a national treasure musically is old Percy. After years of indifference along came the third album in a row that was really rather splendid, and the second taking a more country blues lilt, and featuring the pairing of his voice with a country great. A joy indeed.
5. The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever [ Check out: Rock Problems ] I really do think THS are truely starting to find themselves as a band. Returning to a more straight ahead sound, this record also saw a bit more musical development, and in the song We Can Get Together, they had the finest song of 2011.
6. Grinderman – Grinderman2 [ Check out: Palaces Of Montezuma ] Could they top the majesty of the debut album ? – a previous album of the year for me – Not quite. But not quite still meant it was a great record.
7. Stone Temple Pilots - Stone Temple Pilots [ Check Out: Behind the Lines ] Been away for far too long, but with Scott Weiland back in his rightful place, they delivered the most enjoyable ‘big rock’ record of the year.
8. The National – High Violet [ Check out: Bloodbuzz Ohio ] The album from 2011 that probably snuck up on me the most. I pretty much dismissed it out of hand after buying earlier in the year, but it crept up on me, and turned out to be one of the highlights of the year.
9. Sleigh Bells - Treats [Check out: Infinity Guitars ] This is ‘noise pop’ apparently. Whatever it is, I like it and I like it a lot.
10. The Divine Comedy - Bang Goes the Knighthood [Check out: At the Indie Disco ] Still turning out quirky quintessentially English music. I smile when I play this album.
11. Bettie Serveert – Pharmacy of Love [Check out: The Pharmacy ] Dutch rock bands? Anyone? Golden Earing …ok, and another? Thought so. So, let me point you in the direction of this band. Another record that I ignored for a while and then found myself humming tunes from. One to watch.
12. Midlake – The Courage of Others [ Rulers, ruling all things ] The ‘mellow’ album of the year. David Hepworth famously said they only have one tune (he may even be right), but I like the tune.
13. The Weakerthans - Live at the Burton Cummings Theatre [check out: Tournament of Hearts ] A greta live album from a great live band. Period.
14. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs [ Check out: Modern Man ] It is kind of compulsory to like this, isn’t it? What can I say. A great band and another great record. Does it have the legs to be a ‘classic’? I’m not sure.
15. The Pretty Reckless - Light me Up [ Check out: Miss Nothing ] I know. I should be ashamed. Bubble gum rock music. And yes, she is trying way to hard to be ‘a rock chick’, but she is only 17, so I think we can give her a break. I also have a soft spot for this kind of pop/rock stuff, and I actually do like Taylor Momsen’s voice. If she doesn’t crash and burn, I think she may prove the doubters wrong and have a bright musical future ahead.
16. Jesse Malin and St Marks Social – Love it to Life [Check out: All the Way from Moscow ] I wasn’t too fussed with this album when it came out, despite being a JM fan, but I have to say it has come into its own in the last few months. More straight ahead rock than usual, and it works.
17. Ryan Adams – III/IV [ Check out: Breakdown Into the Resolve (no actual video)] Only came out last week. Recorded back in 2007, and sees Ryan and the boys rocking out. This easily sailed into what would have been my top 10 list.
18. Yea-sayer – Odd Blood [Check out: Ambling Alp ] One of the stand out albums from thr start of the year. A mix of 80s throwback and modern invention. Whilst it did start the fade away as the year progressed, it still has hidden delights.
19. Loudon Wainwright III - 10 Songs for the New Depression [Check out: Times is Hard ] I don’t think Loudon has ever really got the respect he deserves as a songwriter – perhaps because he songs have often contained elements of humour (a skill he shows off again in this collection) but songs such as House show why anyone who does write songs can find a lot to learn and appreciate in his songwriting skills.
20. Marina and the Diamonds – Family Jewels [ Check out: Hollywood ] This is one of the most enjoyable pop records of 2011. Some nice lyrics, fun tunes, and a very engaging live performer.