• Os 10 Mais de 2012

    Dez 14 2012, 21h41 por alysson-coelho

    Chromatics - Kill for Love
    Damien Jurado - Maroqopa
    DIIV - Oshin
    Father John Misty - Fear Fun
    First Aid Kit - The Lion´s Roar
    Lee Fields - Faithful Man
    Lee Ranaldo - Between The Times and The Tides
    Porcelain Raft - Stange Weekend
    Sennen - Lost Harmony
    The Walkmen - Heaven
  • My Top 10 Albums of 2011 + Review

    Dez 30 2011, 4h14 por Al_73

    It was another spectacular year for music & another hard fought battle to make it into my year end Top 10, not least because a slew of my fave artists returned with new albums. A lot of painstaking decision making later, I've finally arrived at my ultimate Top 10! The hardest fought battle was between two of my musical heavyweights - namely two of my three fave artists in the world & it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out which two they are! It was a straight fight between the UK & the USA & this time, the USA have come out on top. Most of this Top 10 is made up of well established acts, but there's space for a couple of great shiny new bands too! Enough preamble, on with the review!

    1) DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - CODES & KEYS

    Coming out on top are the mighty DCFC & this stellar album. Three years in the making & well worth the wait as Ben Gibbard & co gave us another lesson in literate, intelligent songwriting with bags of hooks & wonderful melodies. The relatively straightforward You Are a Tourist was the lead single & lyrically is less oblique than a lot of their songs - about feeling like a stranger in your home town. Its blessed with a beautifully simple yet effective melody with Ben's voice chiming like a bell & the most ridiculously catchy as ebola guitar hook that worms its way into your head & refuses to leave. This is a more electronic based album than previous albums, maybe a nod to Ben's side project, The Postal Service & this is most evident on the lovely Unobstructed Views which has an epic woozy intro & is as warm as a hug under a fluffy blanket - its a treasure of a song! Also blessed with a sweet warmth is the cute Monday Morning. There's also the defiantly joyous Stay Young Go Dancing, the ramshackle sweetness of Portable Television, the anthemic Underneath The Sycamore, the lyrically downbeat but curiously uplifting St Peter's Cathedral, the hypnotic beat that underpins Some Boys & the classic Death Cab of Doors Unlocked & Open. A simply breathtaking album & deservedly taking the top spot in my year end, ladies & gentlemen, I give you my favourite American band, DCFC! :)

    2) ELBOW - BUILD A ROCKET, BOYS!

    In 2008, Elbow were the bride with the all conquering The Seldom Seen Kid, but this year they have to make do with being the bridesmaid! Any other year, this would have been my album of the year, but not this time! For me, Elbow are one of those bands that when they release a new album, its a huge event & this new album is no exception. It picks up where The Seldom Seen Kid left off, with more beautiful epic songs & stunning songwriting with Guy Garvey's peerless vocals at the forefront. First single Neat Little Rows is jagged & in your face - atypical of the album, much like Grounds For Divorce was with the previous album. Opener The Birds is epic & beautifully slow-burning, High Ideals is gently danceable with a skittering beat, Dear Friends is a close relative of the previous album's Friend Of Ours & for anyone looking for another One Day Like This, look no further than Open Arms, that manages to be almost as euphoric & life affirming & is possessed of a glorious soaring choral chorus. Just another stunning album from one of THE best bands in the world! :)

    3) FOSTER THE PEOPLE - TORCHES

    Every so often, a new band appears seemingly out of nowhere & release a debut album that is so completely lovely that you wonder what you ever did without it. Just such a band are Foster The People & just such an album is Torches. I fell in love with it on first listen & I knew then, that it was going to feature very high in my year end top 10 & here it is at the dizzy heights of #3! The lead single Pumped Up Kicks was the song that inspired me to get the album.Its a curious, mellow song underpinned by an insidious beat & has slightly muffled vocals in the verses before bursting into a simple but glorious chorus. It was a real sleeper hit single - hanging around the charts for ages. The whole album is filled with songs that sound so simple & effortless & all the songs have razor sharp hooklines & killer choruses. Helena Beat, Waste, Don't Stop, Call It What You Want....I could go on...& I will, about one song in particular which hit me like some divine hammer the first time I heard it. The song in question is I Would Do Anything For You & its the sweetest, sunshiniest & just most downright adorable song you could hope to hear. Angelic vocals sing achingly sweet words in the verses & kick into a chorus that is so simple & so completely & utterly joyful, you can't help but bounce around the room. Its about the joys of being in love & oh my, the song just perfectly conveys the wonderful feeling of having someone in your life that you love more than anything. I adore that song, I adore this album & I adore this band! Buy it NOW & bring some perfect indie-pop sunshine into your life! :D

    4) FRIENDLY FIRES - PALA

    These guys kicked up a dust storm of wonderfulness with their debut, self-titled album & this second album is even bigger, even better & is a huge starburst of kaleidoscopic colours. The beautiful brightly coloured bird on the cover is an apt metaphor for an album that soars high & is drenched in colour. Opener Live Those Days Tonight is a barnstorming opener & the pace barely slows throughout the album. The title track is slower & utterly beautiful & apart from all that, it serves as a chance to catch your breath & is expertly placed right in the middle of the album. Hawaiian Air is another highlight, with its curious electronic 'whoop-whoop' hook & conjures up images of a hula party on a Hawaiian beach at sunset, its glorious. True Love is another divine slab of danceability with the pseudo-falsetto vocals in the chorus & there's Show Me Lights, Running Away, Hurting, Helpless.... A simply wonderful album that blew me away & is hugely deserving of its place at #4 in my year end chart! :)

    5) KASABIAN - VELOCIRAPTOR!

    Kasabian just seem to get better & better with every album. After the mayhem of the West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album, this is actually a pretty straightforward album by their standards & it gives a nod to all their previous albums. It has the classic ballsy Kasabian anthems such as Rewired, Days Are Forgotten & Switchblade Smiles. The title track is playful, cartoonish chaos & there's even a relatively straightforward ballad in the shape of Goodbye Kiss. There's a nod to their electronica based side on I Hear Voices.The most adventurous song here is Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm) that is smart & complex & laden with Turkish strings. The band are one of the best & most consistently great bands of the moment & in singer Tom Meighan & guitarist Serge Pizzorno, they have a brilliant & charismatic double figurehead. A brilliant album from a brilliant band, put simply! :)

    6) DEUS - KEEP YOU CLOSE

    The words 'Belgian' & 'legends' probably aren't words that go together that often, but in the case of dEUS, they go together like strawberries & cream! For the last 20 years or so, they've been consistently wowing the alternative scene with their curious, quirky & glorious music & on 6th album Keep You Close, they continue the trend spectacularly. Title track is quintessential dEUS - slow burning with a quirky edge & an insidious melody that hooks you in. Ghost starts off all jangly & great much like Instant Street from their Ideal Crash album, but then descends gradually into a chaotic & wonderful shambles. The End Of Romance is mostly spoken word with a hushed & beautiful melody & is easily the softest moment on the album. Usually the mellowest track would be my favourite (as frequent visitors to my profile will already know!), but for once its a more umtempo track that takes that honour. Constant Now is an insistent, clanging track that is possessed of a curiously danceable chorus & is probably the most instant track here. Another stunning album from true Belgian legends! :)

    7) WHITE LIES - RITUAL

    With their debut album, White Lies asserted themselves as consummate purveyors of dark, epic indie in the Editors vein. On this second album, the epicness is multiplied tenfold & has electronic touches to broaden the soundscapes - these are more than just mere 'songs'. Also Harry Mc Veigh's voice seems to have grown in stature & sounds less like an Ian Curtis/ Tom Smith impressionist & more like he has found his comfort zone. The songs are huge - opener Is Love is mighty, Strangers is blessed with a massive chorus, Bigger Than Us is simply stunning, closer, Come Down is more pared back but no less powerful & my highlight Peace & Quiet is just breathtaking. A consummate second album from a band seriously in touch with their inner epic! :)

    8) SNOW PATROL - FALLEN EMPIRES

    On their 6th album, Snow Patrol consolidate their position as purveyors of beautiful, slow-burning mid-paced epicness. Lead single Called Out In The Dark is bold & brassy, second single This Isn't Everything You Are is everything that is great about SP in a single song - low slung, quietly epic & in possession of a huge chest-beating chorus & is probably the closest they get to a Chasing Cars on here. Songs such as New York & In The End are immense stadium-filling songs & of course there's a sprinkling of beautiful ballads - Those Distant Bells & The Garden Rules are sparklingly warm & utterly lovely & possibly the best of all is Life-ning - a stripped back wish list of hopes & dreams that no-one but Gary Lightbody could sing so openly, so heart-on-sleeve - just beautiful. A lot of music journalists single out Snow Patrol as bywords for boring & unimaginative, but this is so heartbreakingly to miss the point. They make beautiful music that people can identify with. Another wonderful album, put simply! :)

    9) GUILLEMOTS - WALK THE RIVER

    On their debut album, Guillemots gave us a beautiful masterclass in blending perfect pop songs, with heart-wrenching emotion, minimal beauty & stunning epicness. It was a hard act to follow, but they managed it on their second album Red, with a consolidation of their sound while simaultaneously broadening their already considerable musical horizons. Their 3rd album finds them effortlessly blending the sound of both their previous albums, while maintaining their unmistakeable sound & always with Fyfe Dangerfield's glorious, soaring voice flying high. Title track & album opener is a lovely statement of intent with its lyrical imagery of walking the river "like a hunted animal", Vermillion grows into a glorious crescendo, Ice Room is more aggressive, but invigoratingly so & I Don't Feel Amazing Now is simply beautiful with Fyfe's fractured, pleading vocals. Lead single The Basket is classic Guillemots with Fyfe's trademark soaring wordless vocalising at the forefront & just for good measure there are a couple of truly epic songs that clock in around the 9 minute mark - neither reach the unassailable peak of the near 12 minute Sao Paulo from the debut album - but they are both beautiful & unmistakeably Guillemots. A beautiful album from a unique & beautiful band! :)

    10) THE VACCINES - WHAT DID YOU EXPECT FROM THE VACCINES?

    Occasionally, you just need a dose of invigorating good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll to blow away the cobwebs & The Vaccines duly obliged with their breezy & cockily titled debut album. There's a rich vein of breathlessly brilliant songs here - Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra), the blink & you'll miss it Norgaard & of course the immediate If You Wanna with its effortlessly simple but enormously catchy chorus. Its a measure of their confidence that they can balance the blistering songs with slower, more controlled & even beautiful songs. Wetsuit is slower & more reined in, All In White is possibly the best track here, with a tangible vulnerability on show & the hidden bonus track Somebody Else's Child is stark, minimal & truly beautiful & shows that this band have far more than just one string to their bow. An immensely confident & endearing debut album that was fully deserving of the hype & equally deserving of a place in my year end chart! :)

    So there you go! As ever it was a tough bout of decision making to arrive at this Top 10 & it shows that 2011 was just as wonderful, rich & varied a year for music as there's ever been! To give an idea of the size of the task, there were also albums this year from Arctic Monkeys, Beady Eye, Bjork, The Boxer Rebellion, Bright Eyes, Chapel Club, Coldplay, Cold War Kids, CSS, Cults, The Decemberists, The Drums, Ed Sheeran, Fleet Foxes, Foo Fighters, Glasvegas, Iron & Wine, Kaiser Chiefs, Kate Bush, Lamb, Madina Lake, Manchester Orchestra, The Mountain Goats, My Morning Jacket, Noah & The Whale, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Peter Gabriel, REM, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers & TV On The Radio!!! An immense year of musical riches, I'm sure you agree! Can 2012 live up to the gauntlet that 2011 threw down? Only time will tell!

    Hope you enjoyed this little review, hope you all had a wonderful 2011 & here's to an equally wonderful 2012!!! :D
  • Os Melhores Albuns de 2011

    Nov 29 2011, 18h39 por alysson-coelho

  • Death Cab for Cutie @ Brixton Academy, London - 7th July 2011

    Jul 19 2011, 1h29 por Al_73

    It had been a loooong time since I last saw DCFC, a whole three years almost to the day, so I had a huge amount of expectation for this Brixton Academy gig. Incidentally, this seems to be the default venue of choice for the band when they come to London - including this gig, the last three times I've seen them have all been here & that's a very good thing as, happily Brixton Academy is one of my favourite venues! :) I know they have grown in popularity since their last visit here, but I was staggered to see the ENORMOUS queue, several people wide, snaking all the way down the outside of the venue right to the end of the street & around the corner - it was amazing! Happily, the queue was pretty fast moving & within about 15 minutes I was inside.

    I hadn't looked at my ticket, so I assumed I was in the usual stalls standing part of the place, but was told that actually, I was upstairs, in the unreserved circle seating. That was fine by me. I grabbed a drink & headed right to the very top at the back with a spectacular view looking directly at centre stage. Even up here, the place was absolutely heaving & alive with the buzz of anticipation. Just after 9pm, the lights dimmed, to deafening cheers & these four, unassuming softly-spoken guys from Washington State walked on stage. I knew this was gonna be good, but I didn't realise quite HOW good...

    As far as set openers go, the epic, rumbling I Will Possess Your Heart, with its ominous extended intro, was simply spectacluar. To follow it with two more of the strongest songs in their considerable back catalogue - the crash-bang wake up call of The New Year & the insidious fan fave We Laugh Indoors, complete with its explosive midsection, where Ben truly let's rip - is nothing short of genius & makes you realise just how many spectacular songs they have that they can start a gig with three crackers like those.

    This was truly the gig where they threw their entire back catalogue in the air & plucked out songs randomly as they fluttered back down to earth. We were treated to a who's-who of the very best of their back catalogue with songs from almost all their studio albums, as well as a soundtrack song & a completely unexpected cover version, but more of that later.

    Earlier songs were blended seamlessly with later ones & it was about 30 minutes into the gig before we got a song from the new album Codes & Key - the pulsating Doors Unlocked & Open. Partway through the gig, there was a pared down section, that included the insidious & insufferably sad Summer Skin, complete with its militarily precise drumming & from that same beautiful album (Plans - naturally!) came the highlight of the gig so far. I wasn't up until now, too sure as to what was the British DCFC fans fave song of them, but going on this gig, I'd say that its probably one of their simplest & sweetly saddest songs - I Will Follow You Into The Dark. The stage darkened, leaving Ben alone in a spotlight with an acoustic guitar. He made a little speech about the support band & dedicated the song to them & as soon as that simple acoustic melody started echoing around, HUGE cheers skyscraped the venue & then - beautifully - as Ben softly sang, EVERY person in the place quietly sang along to EVERY word. It was simply jaw droppingly, spine tinglingly, goosebump-inducingly lovely in every way & as Ben strummed the final chord, the cheers were DEAFENING. I had to wipe away a few tears at the time & even now as I type this & think about that moment once again, I can feel the corners of my eyes getting damp.

    Other mellow songs were also given an airing tonight. Ben told us that he'd heard that British gig-goers liked to jump up & down & then said that the next song was kinda slow to jump around to so maybe we could sway along instead! We did & the song in question was Grapevine Fires & it was utterly lovely. To act as a counterpoint to the slower songs there was a scattering of their glorious uptempo anthems - Crooked Teeth, a stunningly pretty Soul Meets Body & a deliriously joyful Sound Of Settling - to name but three.

    Half a dozen songs from the new album were played tonight, my faves of which were the aforementioned Doors Unlocked... , the title track, the sweetly swaying & cute Stay Young Go Dancing & best of all, the glorious lead single You Are a Tourist - complete with a false start! - with Ben's voice ringing out like the chiming of some divine bell & that furiously catchy & joyously bouncy guitar hook rebouunding off the walls of the Academy - it was simply wonderful!

    This was also a gig of firsts for me, the first time I'd heard the often overlooked non-album track Photobooth live, the first time I'd heard the simple & naively lovely 405 from the We Have The Facts... album, live & the first time I'd heard their wonderful ominous & anthemic contribution to the Twilight Saga soundtrack, Meet Me On The Equinox, live - a song that Ben introduced as a song from a scary film about vampires! All just amazing.

    There were more highlights - the pounding & driving Cath..., the curiously playful Long Division, the sad & lovely Title & Regstration & more besides. After over 1 & a half hours of musical wonderfulness, they finally left the stage. Deafening cheering, whistling & clapping followed for a few minutes before they returned to the stage for a four song encore.

    It started with the scratchy & woozy Home Is a Fire from the new album. After this, Ben made a little speech about how much they owe to British music - greeted by big cheers - followed by a tribute to one of those bands in the shape of a swooning & swooping jangly cover of Twisterella from Ride. Time was ticking on & they had two more songs to play & while I was certain about which song they would end with, I had no idea what the penultimate song would be & how happy I was to discover that it was Marching Bands Of Manhattan - my favourite song from my favourite album ever & my second fave song ever of them! Oh my, it was just lovely - & once again I had to wipe away a little dampness from around my eyes.

    Before they launched into the inevitable final song, Ben got behind the piano, not for the first time tonight, & announced that this really was the end but then sweetly added, "but only for tonight!" Then the opening bars of Transatlanticism rang out, a wave of goosebumps swept all over me, my eyes dampened once again & we were treated to, what is now, for me, THE most beautiful song EVER. Its a song I can never talk about without rambling & I always say the same things about it every time I write about it, so this time I want to say something a little different to add to my considerable collection of rambling superlatives when it comes to this song - in my head, I've unofficially renamed this song Transcendentalism, because this song, put simply, is a religious experience & hearing it & hearing it LIVE, transports you onto a higher plane. Simply WONDERFUL - I & practically everyone else sang every word & I clapped along & waved my arms & when it had finished, I cheered & clapped until my throat was sore & my hands were practically bleeding...a jaw dropping finale to a simply spectacular gig! Ben thanked us all for coming out & wished us a safe journey home & they waved & trooped offstage to cheers, clapping & whistling.

    WOW - how good was that??? How can I sum it up in simple non-babbling words??? They played a pretty much flawless set of 25 songs, including pretty much all my favourites. They played for TWO hours. They covered pretty much every album in their back catalogue, played over half the new album, plus some less-often played songs & a completely unexpected cover version. In short, they absolutely nailed it tonight. They seemed to have the time of their lives out there tonight & it showed - this is the sound of a band at the absolute peak of their powers & my favourite American band ever delivered in style & over 3,000 people left very happy. There may be bigger & more successful American bands than DCFC, but, IMHO, none of them can touch these guys when it comes to giving you everything you could want in a band - huge anthemics, epic songs on epic scales, simple short sweet & bouncy songs, stripped back & heartstring-tuggingly, tear-inducingly beautiful songs, & always intelligent, literate, immaculately crafted music & lyrics that are clever without ever being smug. Some bands might be able to claim some of the above, but very few can honestly claim to do all that. DCFC can....

    Oh nearly forgot, here's the epic setlist -

    http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/death-cab-for-cutie/2011/o2-academy-brixton-london-england-23d35c03.html

    If you think I'm typing out that entire setlist, you must be joking, haha!! :P

    THANK YOU as always, DCFC - you scaled new heights tonight & we were happy to soar with you - beautifully happy! This has to be in my Top 10 gigs ever - enough said!

    =DDD
  • My Top 10 Albums of 2010 + Review

    Dez 22 2010, 4h47 por Al_73

    So finally, the year is at an end & the annual agonising (but pleasant!) decisions as to which albums of all those released in 2010 made it to my Top 10 albums of the year have finally been made! :) It's been a truly vintage year for music once again & this was the toughest Top 10 I've had to compile. At the end of this review, I'll give out some honourable mentions to albums that didn't quite make the cut & also, for the first time will be naming my favourite artist best of compilation of the year! So take the phone off the hook, sit back & enjoy my shamelessly self-indulgent rundown!! :D

    Well it was surely the worst kept secret ever that my album of the year would be Delays' Star Tiger Star Ariel! Really, it couldn't fail to top my charts - one of my fave bands ever releasing probably the best album of their career so far. Everything there is to love about this band is on this album. You have beautiful, heartfelt ballads (Hold Fire, Find a Home), glorious blasts of life-affirming pop (In Brilliant Sunshine), moments of aching sadness (Moment Gone) & sublime perfect songs that they do better than anyone (Unsung) & everything in between was also stunning. I've played this album about 35 times this year & it was only released in June & it has a whopping 10 hearts out of 11 tracks - making it a pretty damn near perfect album from a definitely perfect band! Thank you, Delays, for everything so far & in my eyes, this beautiful album is a worthy winner of my album of the year award! :D

    I adored Aereogramme, especially their last album, so when I heard that two members of the band (including the singer) had formed a new band - The Unwinding Hours - I was delighted! Their self-titled debut album finds itself in second place & what a breathtakingly gorgeous album it is. The last Aereogramme album was string soaked & full of plaintive vocals & achingly lovely melodies & this album picked up where that album left off. Musically, its stark & pretty minimal & combined with the lyrics & that fragile voice, its an album that is, put simply, a work of art. My fave is the tender acoustic lullaby Solstice, but practically every song is a highlight - the delicate Little One, the atmospheric Peaceful Liquid Shell, the hypnotic Knut, the ominous & eerie Child, the so quiet its hardly there closing track The Final Hour that suddenly bursts into life...its an utterly staggering album of delicate beauty. :)

    When I first heard about Freelance Whales, it was in an article that compared them to DCFC & The Decemberists. Those being two bands I adore, I was curious & I snapped up their debut album Weathervanes as soon as it was released. Now this album has found itself at #3 in my year end chart, for the simple reason that this is just a lovely album! There's no rough edges, no sinister undertones, just song after song of simple uncluttered loveliness. The songs either gallop along sweetly or are slow & stark but no less lovely. Hannah is my fave track, but I could equally pick out Starring, Generator First Floor, We Could Be Friends, Kilojoules, Broken Horse or basically any track on this simply lovely album. If you love sweet & simple pop songs that wrap themselves around you, then this is surely the band & the album for you!! Simply wonderful! :)

    I've loved The National for a while now - drawn in by their spellbinding brand of melancholia - & on their 5th album High Violet, the rest of the world finally woke up & smelled the coffee! It was a Top 5 entry on both sides of the Atlantic. What is especially great about this sudden success is that they have done it without compromising their sound or style or anything at all & just patiently waited for the world to recognise their sheer awesomeness. High Violet is no great departure from previous albums - the same propulsive & beautiful melancholia topped with the beautiful baritone of Matt Berninger. Highlights are many - best of all is the low-slung but breathtaking Conversation 16 - one of the very best songs they've ever recorded, but there's also the curious headrush of Bloodbuzz Ohio, the tender & stately ballad Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks & Terrible Love, England, Lemonworld, Afraid Of Everyone... Trying to explain why The National are so special is like trying to describe your favourite painting - trying to describe it can never do justice to it - you have to experience it for yourself. Please do!! :)

    Whenever The New Pornographers release a new album, its a certainty that it will appear somewhere in my year end Top 10 & this year is no exception, although maybe a little lower than you'd expect. But still, to be in 5th place is no mean feat & their 5th album Together was once again the perfect fusion of everything that makes them such a great band. You had the stomping great songs - Moves, Crash Years & (Your Hands) Together especially & a nice sprinkling of mellower & more measured songs & two especially come to mind. Silver Jenny Dollar is a gentle stomp sung in Dan Bejar's trademark unique, expressive & sleepy, laidback drawl of a voice. But my highlight of the whole album has to be the spectacularly pretty & delicate Valkyrie In The Roller Disco. Its gentle & lovely & has some beautiful harmonised singing & shared vocals & a simple & beautiful chorus. When I first reviewed this album, I likened this song to a warm blanket & its still true - its a song that is warm & comforting & Together is another great album from one of the best bands in the world IMHO! :)

    Another band that is always assured of a place in my year end chart when they release an album are Band Of Horses & third album Infinite Arms finds itself in 6th place, again a little lower than you'd normally expect, but that's just down to the sheer quality of the albums released this year. Its another simply beautiful album right down to the artwork & packaging which is my fave of the year - a beautiful cover of a night sky with one of those clever photos where the stars appear as curved lines & inside, their trademark style of sleevenotes - an individual sheet for each song, with a lovely photo on one side & handwritten extracts from the lyrics of that song with a little sketch - its this attention to detail that is the reason why I still love buying CD's. The album itself is once again, warm & lovely - from the swooping & swaying opener Factory, to more uptempo tracks such as Laredo & a trio of beautiful songs that are among the best they've ever done - Blue Beard, Evening Kitchen & the title track. That title track is the best song here - achingly simple, sweet & utterly spelbinding in its beauty & is a distant cousin of my fave song of theirs, the heartbreakingly lovely Detlef Schrempf from the previous album. This is another wonderful album from a wonderful band! :)

    After their bleaker & distinctly un-commercial previous album, Manic Street Preachers came roaring back with their 10th album Postcards From a Young Man & its here in 7th place in my year end chart. This is the Manics sounding their most upbeat & uptempo since the Everything Must Go album & is also lyrically, their least political album to date. They sound so fresh & invigorated & the music is an utter delight, from the barnstorming lead single Its Not War (Just The End Of Love), to the sheer headrush of A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun complete with one of James Dean Bradfield's most brilliant hollering choruses, to the sweet & optimistic I Think I Found It, to the lamenting of the death of British industry on All We Make Is Entertainment (about as political as this album ever gets), to the simply stunning Golden Platitudes & the beautiful cascading Hazelton Avenue, which is my fave song here. Its so wonderful to hear a band so far into their careers, sounding so fresh & full of life & this album was a triumphant return! :)

    After their debut album hinged on the death of various family members & their second album was an apocalyptically bleak affair, it was always gonna be interesting to see where Arcade Fire went next & the answer was the stunning 16 track sprawl of The Suburbs that finds itself at #8 in my chart. Lyrically, the bleakness is still there, but musically this is their bravest & most diverse album to date. Highlights are many - the loping bar room swagger of the title track, the ominous & driving Ready To Start, the punky rush of Month Of May, the clanging guitars of City With No Children & best & most surprisingly of all, the purely joyous, danceable & 70's disco-infused rush of Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains). This is an album that surprises & delights as it twists & turns on its epic journey & begs the question, what comes next? This is a staggering, bleak, brilliant, brave & hugely diverse album from a band that are continually evolving with every release. A draining but breathtaking album! :)

    Fyfe Dangerfield is, of course the frontman with the glorious Guillemots, but this year he took time out from his band & released a lovely solo album - Fly Yellow Moon, that is at #9 in my Top 10. When you have such an expressive voice as he does, listening to this album is, in everything but name, like listening to a Guillemots album & that's a very good thing! So many highlights - opener When You Walk In The Room is one of the best songs here - a giddying, gleeful, shamelessly happy song. So Brand New is a hazy, summery 60's sounding track that sounds like nothing so much as The Byrds at their dreamy best. Faster Than The Setting Sun is another uptempo song with a magnificent hollering chorus, She Needs Me is lovely & shamelessly commercial, Livewire (my fave from the album) is acoustic, stark & really rather lovely & of course, the reissued album featured his simple piano-led cover of the Billy Joel song She's Always a Woman, that was used in an ad campaign in the UK & showed Fyfe to a wider audience & gave him a deserved Top 10 hit in the UK. A sweet album indeed & here's hoping this is a taster of the next Guillemots album! :)

    Rounding off my Top 10 are Yeasayer & their 2nd album Odd Blood. I knew absolutely nothing about them at all & was only convinced to get the album after reading rave reviews all over the music press. Well, what a wonderful surprise this album turned out to be! The curious, doomy, droning clank of opening track The Children aside, this is a cracking album of great electronic-based pure pop songs. Ambling Alp is defiant & optimistic, O.N.E. is hugely danceable, as is the frenetic Rome that sounds like an explosion in a robot factory. Madder Red is slower & elegant with some great wordless harmonising & my stand out I Remember is simply gorgeous - slowly pulsing along with little wobbly electronic shimmers thrown in & the most beautiful, heartfelt, pure, almost falestto vocals & a beautiful repeated refrain. I was so glad I read those reviews & picked up this album & its a lovely album full of gleaming musical gems! :)

    So that's my Top 10 - hope you liked! :) Now as promised, a few honourable mentions to albums that just missed out. LOSTPROPHETS super heavy new album The Betrayed blew me away & for a while was assured of a place in my Top 10. Standout is the epic & simply stunning The Light That Shines Twice As Bright. STARS are a fave band of mine & their new album The Five Ghosts also seemed certain of a place in my year end Top 10, but missed out. It doesn't quite scale the heights of their previous albums but there's still plenty here to love, especially We Don't Want Your Body, Dead Hearts, Fixed & He Dreams He's Awake. STORNOWAY kept the folk flag flying with a sweet & lovely debut album Beachcomber's Windowsill, bursting with lovely songs, best of all the carefree Zorbing & the defiant & stirring Fuel Up. THE DRUMS this year gave us a debut self-titled album of sunny 60's pop melodies married to sad stories, most notably on Best Friend about a mate who died too young. Down By The Water is hushed & dreamy & utterly lovely & Let's Go Surfing is a giddy, shamelessly grin inducing pop song. ELLIE GOULDING also burst onto the scene with her debut album Lights that fused electronica & acoustica with thoughtful & poetic lyrics topped by a cute warbling voice & single Starry-Eyed was undoubtedly one of the best pure pop songs of the year. EELS released not one but two albums this year - the bleak End Times about the end of a relationship & Tomorrow Morning about the start of a new one. Both albums were contenders at one time but the latter album came closest to making my Top 10. LCD SOUNDSYSTEM released supposedly his last album This Is Happening & if it is indeed his swansong, what a way to go! Drunk Girls, Pow Pow & I Can Change are just a few of many highlights! PETER GABRIEL came back with a beautiful covers album, unlke any covers album you'd ever heard. All the songs were reworked for orchestra & the effect was simply beautiful. Special mentions especially for his covers of Bowie's Heroes, Elbow's Mirrorball, Lou Reed's The Power Of The Heart & Magnetic Fields' The Book Of Love, but the whole album is just staggeringly beautiful! :) VAMPIRE WEEKEND blew away the myth of the 'difficult' second album with Contra, that saw them expand their musical range while remaining unmistakeably VW. There was more joyous Afrobeat on the frantic Cousins & California English. Horchata is unashamedly cute & there were some lovely mellower moments, my faves being the gentle thrum of Taxi Cab & the lovely Run, that bursts every now & then into a shimmering starburst! Lovely! :)

    All those & I haven't even mentioned albums by David Ford, Tunng, Nada Surf, Broken Social Scene, Massive Attack, Delphic, Frightened Rabbit, Scouting For Girls, Midlake, Broken Bells, Joanna Newsom, Lightspeed Champion, I Am Kloot, Tired Pony, The Coral, Klaxons, Feeder, Jimmy Eat World, Brandon Flowers, Here We Go Magic, Broken Records & Kings Of Leon!!! :D

    Also, an honorary mention to Suede who reformed this year & reminded us of what an astonishing band they were & are by playing comeback gigs & releasing a stunning two disc best of compilation - one disc that is a masterclass in the art of classic singles & the second a carefully selected pick & mix of the best of their album tracks & B-sides & it really was stunning to hear all these spectacular songs again! :)

    So, finally, that concludes my review of the year! Hope you enjoyed it! :) It was truly another monumental year in music & once again I ask the question - how can next year top this one??? It bodes well that there are certain to be new albums due out in the first few months of the year from Elbow, The Decemberists & DCFC, so bring it on, I say!!! :D

    Thank you for the music! :DDD
  • The New Pornographers @ Electric Ballroom, London - 19th May 2010

    Jun 1 2010, 2h16 por Al_73

    Well, this review is a little late in coming, but I hope it's worth the wait :)

    I got to the Electric Ballroom in plenty of time & was greeted by the usual bunch of touts hanging around outside - quite worrying when they can't even pronounce the band's name right!! Also, plenty of people buzzing around the entrance like moths to a light & I was happy to be drawn into the light that is a gig of TNP! :D

    Got inside with the minimum of security checks, got a drink & watched a little of support band Here We Go Magic. If the few songs I heard are anything to go by, then I should really check out more of their stuff. I remember chiming guitars, anthemic songs & great boy/girl vocals. I'm always a sucker for bands with male & female singers & it sounded like TNP had chosen their support band well! They were very popular with the packed crowd in this cosy venue - always nice to see the support band having the attention of the crowd rather than them being treated as mere background music until the main act comes on & HWGM fully deserved the attention :)

    They went off to big cheers & then my mind turned its attention to the three questions that I always ask myself before a TNP gig - 1) What song will they open with? 2) Will they play The Bleeding Heart Show? & 3) Is Neko here? I thought they'd open with a song from the new album but I went for the wrong song as we shall see! TBHS is always gonna be the highlight of any TNP gig for me - if they didn't play it, it wouldn't be a disaster but it would be such a shame if they didn't. Scanning the stage, I noticed four microphones at the front of the stage & as they have four main vocalists (Carl, Neko, Dan & Kathryn) this was very promising!

    A couple of drinks later, I made my way to as close as I could get & got chatting to a happy little group of peeps & we exchanged hopes & wishes for what we wanted to hear them play tonight. Then around 9.30pm, the lights dimmed, everyone cheered & my favourite band in the world walked onstage & my spine tingled in anticipation! Oooh, who's that onstage? Is that Neko? It is!! Yay! :D You have to understand that the reason I was so glad that Neko was there is because I have never seen TNP with Neko before & also that she is an integral part of what makes TBHS such a special song :)

    The first thing Carl said to us was about the volcanic ash cloud that had recently caused travel chaos - "That ash cloud was so.....ash cloud" - whatever that's supposed to mean!! Then someone behind me shouted out "How 'ash cloud' was it?", haha! The last time I saw them, there wasn't much in the way of talking between songs, but there was plenty of between song chat this time & it helped to give the whole gig the air of a celebration & a lovely warm feeling that made it feel like they were talking to you individually - like they were playing in your front room! :)

    They kicked off with the joyful bounce of Up In The Dark from the new album - I thought they'd start with Your Hands (Together) but this was a great set opener & had peeps jumping around happily. Now before I go any further, you have to forgive me for not having a setlist. I remember the set opener & the last three songs but the rest of the setlist is a bit of a blur. I can remember pretty much everything that they played but not the order! So I'll just give you my highlights where I can & give you a rough idea of what they played at the end of the review.

    What I do remember is that they played songs from all five of their albums & the single song played from Mass Romantic (the title track), was a euphoric stomp & I happily sang along to its unmistakeable "radio, radio" refrain :) I was also extremely happy to hear Testament To Youth In Verse again - its one of my faves of them & was one of the highlights the last time I saw them - its a lovely gentle stomp of a song & I adore that midsection where they vocalise the sound of bells ringing :) Fan favourite Use It was greeted like an old friend & there was a lot of jumping & bouncing around & hands in the air for this one!

    The songs from the new album all went down very well especially Crash Years, Your Hands Together, a lovely turn from Neko on the gentler My Shepherd & the new album's most playful & bounce-along moment A Bite Out Of My Bed. But it was always gonna be the older songs that got the best reception & I was very happy to hear a lot of my faves tonight :) As well as the previously mentioned songs, it was great to hear the insidious & curiously danceable All The Old Showstoppers, the gentle & lovely title track from Challengers & the just wonderful The Laws Have Changed scattered into the set like magic dust :)

    We approached the end of the pre-encore part of the gig & there was a sense that something truly special was about to happen. A colony of goosebumps sprouted all over me, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, my heart beat a little faster & a shimmering wave of euphoria swept over me as the opening & gently strummed bars of The Bleeding Heart Show rang out around the venue & my gig mates turned to me & just smiled & I smiled back :D Well, what can I say? Its my favourite song in the world & it was just indescribably wonderful! This most perfect of songs slowly unwound before our eyes & ears, the pace picked up & peeps started jumping around but I stayed still, quietly singing every word & completely transfixed. Then we approached the crescendo with that short instrumental section & then it plunged headlong into the most glorious soundclash you could ever hope to hear, guitars rang out, drums pounded & that "hey la, hey la" section came in over the top & then the moment I was waiting for more than anything- the sound of Neko singing "We have arrived too late to play the bleeding heart show" over & over while the band crashed & thrashed around behind her. It was whatever is beyond perfect & I really can't explain how I felt other than to say that this song means more to me than any other & so you can probably only guess how I felt, but it was a beautiful, beautiful feeling :D

    Well, what can you say? Massive cheers all around & I clapped & shouted & cheered my little heart out. My hands were sore & this was the last song before the encore but I carried on clapping & didn't stop until they came back onstage & launched into the short & anthemic From Blown Speakers. There was time for one more song before they had to go & they saved their most joyful & bouncy song for last. It was, of course, Sing Me Spanish Techno & it was pure happiness & had everyone jumping like we were all on a massive trampoline. We clapped & sang along & I sang extra loud, even though my vocal chords were starting to beg for mercy! It was just spectacular & a perfect & utterly joyous way to end a perfect & utterly joyous gig from my favourite band in the world :D

    This is usually the part of the review where I mention the songs that wish they'd played - Valkyrie In The Roller Disco, Unguided, These Are The Fables, Adventures In Solitude to name but four - but really its pointless to bitch about the songs you didn't get - just look at the songs you did, for goodness sake!! Oh & talking of that, here's what they played, album by album -

    From Mass Romantic we got the title track. From Electric Version - From Blown Speakers, The Laws Have Changed & Testament To Youth In Verse. From Twin Cinema - Use It, The Bleeding Heart Show & Sing Me Spanish Techno. From Challengers - My Rights Versus Yours, All The Old Showstoppers & Challengers & from Together - Moves, Crash Years, Your Hands (Together), Sweet Talk Sweet Talk, My Shepherd, Up In The Dark & A Bite Out Of My Bed.

    A great 17 song set from, for me, the best band in the world. I heard a whisper that they might be playing in London again towards the end of the year - I sooo hope those whispers are right! But for now it was just wonderful to see this beautiful band live again! :D

    Finally, thank you to some lovely friends of mine that weren't able to be here, but were there in spirit & sang along with me!! :)

    Oh & finally, finally, thank you TNP for being here & giving the world the most wonderful music & come back soon! :D

    "We have arrived..."
  • Peter Gabriel @ The O2 Arena, London - 28th March 2010

    Abr 17 2010, 2h10 por Al_73

    So, my second gig in four days with my newest gig buddy again! :D This couldn't have been more different. The massive O2 arena had a very good crowd in for a Sunday night gig, but then again - how often do you get the chance to see a reclusive & true musical legend live? This promised to be spectacular & beautiful & it was all that & more. If you didn't know, Peter Gabriel has recently released an album of orchestral cover versions & this gig was the second of two consecutive nights here. The gig was divided into two parts - the first part was the new album played in sequence, in its entirety, then a break, then the second part were his own songs arranged for orchestra.

    The reclusive genius himself came onstage & welcomed us to an evening of New Blood - for they are the orchestra who provided the music on these dates. But before the main act, we were introduced to Belgian singer Ane Brun, who played a couple of beautiful songs. She was visibly humbled to be performing in front of such a massive number of people & she thanked us for listening to her - we were happy to! :)

    Then, via some elaborate effects, the orchestra was revealed & opening track from the new album, a cover of Bowie's Heroes, slowly swelled & soared to the roof. Let me just say, right now, that Gabriel's voice was just sublime throughout the gig - at times, gentle & soothing & then piercing & utterly skyscraping - astonishing for a guy who's 60+!!

    In such a huge venue & even given the fact that we had a very nice view from where we were, there needs to be visual effects & these were just incredible throughout the show. On some of the songs, the visual effects told the story of the song & nowhere was this more beautiful than during the gorgeous The Book Of Love (a Magnetic Fields song). Two stick figures - a man & a woman - recreated the lyrics. The part I loved the most was when we got to the part about singing & on the screen, the male stick figure was holding a microphone & serenading the female stick figure, who had her hands clasped together & between them, musical notes floated up - it was just beautiful, touching & goosebump inducing. Simply lovely! :)

    The Power Of The Heart was another beautifully illustrated song, with outlines of human figures & a bright red light to signify the heart. After the hushed & simple Randy Newman cover I Think Its Going To Rain Today, my friend & I collectively jumped as the frightening & ominous intro to the Regina Spektor cover Apres Moi burst out of the stage! Truly astonishing. Closing with the Radiohead cover of Street Spirit, which was all edgy & almost spoken word but with some beautiful & soulful singing of the "fade out again" line, there was rapturous applause & an annoncement from Gabriel that they would be back in 15 minutes.

    This, as we found out, wasn't nearly long enough!! We stepped out for a comfort break & only just made it back in time for the second part!

    We settled down again & the wonderful & epic San Jacinto slowly unwound before our eyes & ears. It was simply breathtaking & his voice as he sang the song's centrepiece "I'll hold the line" just soared to unimaginable heights. The song reached its crescendo, them went into its hushed & gentle coda & got quieter & quieter & one of the simplest visual effects occured. A single beam of light swept around & across the crowd like a searchlight & it was strangely beautiful & soothing.

    His classic from the Us album, Digging In The Dirt was next & sounded wonderfully sprightly. Rhythm Of The Heat was hypnotic with its insistent pounding rhythm & simple visual effect of the sun working its way across the sky & Blood Of Eden was, put simply, one of the most touchingly lovely gig moments ever & I had a lump in my throat throughout as this gorgeously gentle & tender song swirled around us.

    Throughout the gig, Gabriel repeatedly thanked the New Blood orchestra & we were happy to show our appreciation as the whole orchestra were complete stars throughout & at one point, he started listing every member of the orchestra & when he realised we weren't cheering after every individual name, he stopped & said "let's do this properly!" & we duly cheered as he announced the name of every member of the orchestra!

    We were also regaled with little anecdotes & stories & at one point, he talked about a place that he grew up near. That place was Solsbury Hill! :D Cue the biggest cheer of the evening & the galloping melody swept us up & carried us along on a tidal wave of euphoria. Everyone clapped along & sang the "my heart going boom boom boom" line & it was a musical rush & utter wonderfulness of the highest order! A large colony of goosebumps took residence in my spine throughout the song. It was frantic, celebratory, mesmerising & the absolute highpoint of the gig & at the end, the place was a storm of delighted clapping & cheering - wonderful! :D

    They then disappeared from the stage & an electronic safety curtain came down. A couple of minutes passed, then on the two smaller screens either side of the stage, a hand suddenly appeared & scribbled the word 'more?' on a blackboard - cue huge cheers! :)

    The 'curtain' came back up & we were treated to glorious colourful visual effects & the beautiful In Your Eyes, that is sad & full of longing during the verses but then burst into the most wonderful life-affirming chorus & it was simply lovely! :) Next up, Ane Brun reappeared on the stage & we were treated to the beautiful hopeful ballad Don't Give Up that was jaw droppingly lovely & I found myself having to wipe away a few tears to this touchingly beautiful & affecting song.

    One more track to go & there were shouts of 'Sledgehammer' from the crowd, but instead we got a simple & beautiful instrumental track. It was a shame to see large parts of the crowd leave at this point, but the majority of us stayed where we were & enjoyed the beautiful finale to this spectacularly lovely gig.

    My friend & I didn't want to leave!! We waited a little while & let the crowd disperse then we finally made our way out of the arena.

    Yeah, sorry - no setlist again, but hey, what are you gonna do?! :P

    I could add the odd quibble that there were some blindingly obvious songs that he didn't play - the aforementioned Sledghammer, Games Without Frontiers, Shock The Monkey... but how can you honestly complain when you've just been treated to over two hours of the most beautiful music, orchestral work & visual effects? It was just a feast for the senses & my friend & I had a lovely evening! :D
  • yep!

    Out 30 2009, 4h55 por ben23speed

  • Take a Listen

    Mai 25 2009, 0h45 por ben23speed

    The Strokes
    Camera Obscura
    french Kicks
    Animal Collective
    Jeff Mangum
    Neutral Milk Hotel
    Modest mouse
    Page France
    Cotton Jones
    Oh No! Oh My!
    Cold Wark Kids
    Interpol
    Julian Plenti
    Sparkle Horse
    Danger Mouse
    Albert hammond jr
    Nickel Eye
    Little joy


    Do Indeed Listen To these Bands :D
  • paul banks solo album

    Mai 14 2009, 20h39 por ben23speed

    Paul is set to release an album of his own under the name "Julian Plenti"!!
    The album is called "Skyscraper" or "Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper".