2008, international year of music, east Birmingham.


Dez 31 2008, 14h37

2008 is sure to go down in history as the year I was in touch with contemporary music. I seem to recall struggling to put together a top ten this time last year, and here I am juggling with more than double that number of albums I have an opinion on. What larks. Finger on the pulse, ish. I'm sure hanging out at a music festival, with an open mind, and a member of the yoof, didn't hurt.

Now I'm very much opposed to the putting of things into charts. Suggesting that one piece of art is 'better' than another is nonsense. On different days, for different purposes, in different moods EVERYTHING can change. But I do seem to have firm ideas about my top 3 at least, so I shall attempt to say something about some things I have had some thoughts about.

I've tried to like Glasvegas, ok not very hard, but I they've a fun name and lots of positive hype, but that man's voice is just too much for me. I don't CARE what he has to say, or how much it might resonate with me, that voice is vile to my ears. I'm a little concerned this might be racism so I'll reassure the world that I have LOTS of Scottish friends. I should wink there, yeah?

I tried to listen to British Sea Power, and had similar problems. I see what you're trying to do, but no, not for me, thanks.

Again with the hype, waiting forty three thousand years before releasing the album you've been taunting the music press with throughout that time, brought a little notoriety to Chinese Democracy. I happened to be in a rock bar on the eve of its launch, I won a G n R branded lighter no less! Kinda useless for me, but it's nice to get stuff. I can conclude on this one listening, while psyched up by adrenaline by my team's recent victory, some of this album is ok to have a little dance to. But really I don't care how good it is, if it is, Axl's a cock. That puts me off.

I'm a massive fan of punctuation, so welcoming another band with '!' in their name into my world was very satisfying this year. Hadouken!'s Music for an Accelerated Culture is bratty, aspartame n fluoride, moral-high-ground glee. Fabulous, but a bit tiring in large doses.

Yes, Metallica showed us an experienced hand that's still hungry to create something new, living in the moment, and yes Death Magnetic is the best thing they've released in many years, but it doesn't scrape the heavy beauty of the music they made in the eighties. And for a moaning minnie like me, this will get in the way. What is it I want then? No innovation, no change, a bunch of elderly gents endlessly harping back to the 'good old days', trying to rewrite the same old songs, endlessly? Is it? That doesn't sound good. In other words: there's no pleasing some people so you should just try to please yourself. I like this album, the guitars have me pulling ecstatic orgasm faces at certain points, I just don't have much hunger to devour it.

Similar praise for Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone. When you've loved an album as thoroughly and tenderly as I've loved Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), and I'm still finding new favourite songs from that, in fact I might possibly have died this year without the defiant survivalism of Opium of the People to steel me, it's hard to hear something new. And Slipknot's albums do tend to have distinctive flavours and textures distinguishing them. So it was a big ask for me to love All Hope Is Gone. Although with a title like that, with who I seem to be, was sure to be something of a hit. They were outstanding when I saw them live the other week, humble, grateful, proud, oh that's for another journal. There are many fantastic songs on this album and I'm looking forward to uncovering their nuances in the coming months of listening. Fair to say they make me a little peckish. I just love the lyric 'no one else can see/the preservation of the martyr in me', encapsulating what I love about Slipknot, the acceptance of the rubbish state of how things are, coupled with a rejection of this, even if the mode of rejection, of reclaiming an identity, is usually brutal and harmful. As if by naming it, shaming it in public, one can overcome what one has been forced to become. Knowledge is power.

Oh I'm losing patience with this, I want to get to my top five!

So, racing onwards a little, I learned that fancying the artist was enough of a prompt to download and album thanks to Estelle. I liked the shimmer, sway and sheen of Hercules and Love Affair. Adored the hippity-hoppity, literary, rockity anger of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, oh Reznor produced, I SEE. Didn't have much time for The Slip, it's ok, just not the gut wrenching, radiant salvation I know that man is capable of. Lights in the Sky does woo me, however. X Marks Destination didn't have the 'slipper wearing uncle is an electro god' vibe I suspected The Whip were capable of from their live personae. Santogold is great.Volume One is lovely.

And other things, now to my top five. Yay. We have:

In the shadow of much appreciated earlier work, Department of Eagles's In Ear Park is like a fortnight away on the Adriatic coast, being serenaded hourly by someone of unearthly beauty and unparalleled gentle tenderness, with whom you have not one word of shared language. Time, you have plenty of time to understand one another.

Velocifero I'd love to know how I survived without Ladytron in my life for so long. Like the windows of a show home. Only better to dance to. A cold because it's been hurt and can't risk being hurt again, devastating beauty for position number three.

Pendulum's In Silico is, I discovered, an ideal soundtrack for making christmas wreaths with a bunch of ten year olds. What IS it? I can't say, because I'm out of breath from the dancing. It just IS, and that has to be enough.

Mindless Self Indulgence's If is the number one album of the year in my book. By miles and miles and miles. This music makes me so happy. Self-deprecating, silly, wise. Is it dance music? Is it rock music? Is it industrial jungle pussy punk, yes it is, and what could be finer? I do so love those moments that happen so rarely in life, when your young offspring introduces you to music containing filthy, irressponsible words like 'she won't put out/let's go make out with her friends' and 'punch your lights out, hit the pavement/that's what I call entertainment' and excuses for erectile dysfunction 'if it ain't your face/then it's your body'. I have a new favourite song every other day, which is a good sign, and all of them make me feel a little bit sleazy, but entirely proud of that sleaziness because it's the grimy underside of a life fully lived, but never taken too seriously.

That was then and this is now, that was just nostalgia. Oh god what an album "Couples" is, triumphantly sitting in second place for me. Exploring the breadth of outsider-y loserdom, pain and rejection and sheer, absolute loneliness of a life gone wrong, but without any sense of off-putting victiminess. YES! The Long Blondes are a less self harmy Slipknot. Enjoying so much in spite of the abundant reasons to give up. 'I'm going to hell' fact, 'so I may as well enjoy myself...' What an absolutely timely lesson to learn. And it's all dressed up so much cuter, too. Each song with an identity of its own, so that by the time you've got to the end of the album, you're all invigorated, refreshed and ready to start back from the beginning. And Barry M has waited too long for a shout out in popular music. AND and, speech marks is like "Heroes", which is entirely wondrous.

In a world of its own, in a bedroom of its own, head in the technicolour clouds, eyes full of artificial stars, is Love To Make Music To. And since I'm usually in a bedroom, and a world, all on my own, we're rather well matched, me and Daedelus. Feels like sailing through blood vessels. Your own blood vessels. Perched in a chic little boat and sailing through your own blood vessels.

Made in the Dark a bit hit an miss for me, but I adore Hot Chip and this album was grown with such affectionate, joie de vivre, such disregard for what SHOULD be in favour of celebrating what IS. Because whatever you choose will be cool, if you believe in the power of your own right to be cool. And when it does hit, my insides go all gooey and nothing else seems to matter. Which is a sensation I like very much.

Which was nice.

Traditionally people issue thanks to those who've made such listening possible. So, thanks, people. 'tis appreciated.


  • Orange_Anubis

    What nice musics you like this year! I love what you have to say about the ones that are dear to my heart, and I think I ought to listen to If, wouldn't you say? By the way, there seem to be seven albums in your top five, but then there's nothing wrong with that. ;-)

    Dez 31 2008, 17h43
  • CvaldaVessalis

    "Suggesting that one piece of art is 'better' than another is nonsense." Errr... there's a blase witticism waiting to erupt from within me but its still dormant for all of the sambuca and beer. Ickh! A lovely list and, despite your fancying she of the immensely huge eyebrows, I'm tempted to let each of your choice lie unargued... Happy New Year! x

    Jan 1 2009, 13h55
  • zestyxcore

    Is self harmy the politically correct term? I shall be contacting my lawyers. Beware. I am glad you like my music taste thanks, but some of these albums seem a bit dodgy to me. Why you being such an idiot? Gosh.

    Jan 1 2009, 15h29
  • Mimey

    Well I'm glad someone noticed my top five's unconventional bulk. It was designed specifically to undermine the notion of putting art into an order of merit. Or lots of things were at number four. Plausible, but subversive, that's me! You want to listen to childish smut, B? I want my blasé witticism, G, and I shall stamp my little foot until I gets some. And yes, H, and you should know as leader of the emo generation, that self harmy is PRECISELY correct and moral and good.

    Jan 1 2009, 16h36
  • CvaldaVessalis

    Here's your witticism: "You're ugly and you smell!!" ;^) I was just putting forward the fact that compare/contrasting is unavoidable with regards to deducing the pros and cons of any system, be it politics, music or, indeed, wine gums. I wouldn't have signed up to this site if I didn't have the chance to earbash the likes of Cyrus, Jonas and Ashlee whilst honoring others more deserving of their success... Hmmph!

    Jan 2 2009, 14h31
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