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My Top 10 Albums of 2007

 
By on Tuesday, 1st January 2008 at 7:29 pm
 

This is the time of year it seems just about every credible publication is doing a “best of 2007” albums, so I thought I’d join them and do a quick top 10 of my favourite albums this past year. I’ve chosen the top 10 from the 74 albums I’ve “acquired” (either downloaded / bought the CD of / been given the CD of). Disagree? Just say in the comments below.

  • Memorable-ness – Does it have you humming it for days after? Can you remember snippets of lyrics?
  • “Car factor” – Can you put it on play and leave it going without skipping any tracks / few tracks?
  • Irritability – Can you have tracks on repeat without wanting to throw the CD out of the window?
  • Musical quality – Is it likely to be a classic / seen as a highlight of the artist’s career?
  • Enjoy-ability – Is it fun? Get you going?
  • Innovation – How innovative is it?

10. Jack Peñate – Matinee
Jack Penate - MatineeHe may just be one man with a funny swirl over his name, but his album turned out to be one of the most consistent of the year. Many of the tracks are single-worthy, fun, danceable and just the sort of thing that goes down a storm at many end-of term parties.

Tales of bitterness, nights out, missed opportunities, and images of guys in smart suits akin to West Side Story make this album the first in my 2007 top ten.

Buy the CD on Amazon

9. Mika – Life in Cartoon Motion
Mika - Life In Cartoon MotionWho couldn’t have heard Mika’s first single, Grace Kelly, which bothered the top 10 for a few months at the start of the year. Fun, simple pop tunes that live are just quality party tunes.

Many people claimed Mika was trying to capture Freddie Mercury, and yes, he does sound a tiny bit like him, but is completely different: the tunes are quite possibly more girly than anything Freddie did, and his shows are far more like an acid trip than Queen could ever pull off.

His come down tunes, “Relax, Take it Easy,” “Any Other World” and “Happy Ending” are quality tunes in their own right, comedowns for the end of the party. All in all a quality mixture of pop, rock, and pure fun.

My Live Review | Buy the CD on Amazon

8.The Wombats – A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation
Wombats - A Guide To Love, Loss and DesperationI only really got into this a couple of weeks ago after the release of “Let’s Dance To Joy Division”, but it was on repeat all the way home from the US, with their amusing tales of urban English life. Songs like “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” celebrate English irony brilliantly, tunes that just have everyone dancing for the hills.

They’re knowledgeable, and the whole album is very tongue-in-cheek, which is just what modern indie-pop should be.

Buy the CD on Amazon

7. I’m From Barcelona – Let me Introduce My Friends
I'm From Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My FriendsI’ll admit it, I didn’t think I’d like this album. 29 people on a record sounds like a recipe for destruction if you ask me, but somehow they pull it off without sounding as chaotic as the Polyphonic Spree do at times.

Songs like “We’re From Barcelona” are fun, simple tunes which has all the vibe of a secondary-school band gone pro. EP song “Britney” unfortunately doesn’t make an appearance on this album, but if it did, the album would be even higher up my list.

Buy the CD on Amazon

6. Band of Horses – Cease To Begin
Band of Horses - Cease To BeginOpening song, “Is there a Ghost” is enough for Band of Horses to deserve their 6th place position on this list. A quality, haunting tune that just captures the whole vibe of the album – musically capable, listener – accessible.

The entire collection sounds far more polished and consistent than their debut, “Everything, All the Time”, which whilst had moments of brilliance, failed to capture the consistency of this collection.

Buy the CD on Amazon

5. Radiohead – In Rainbows
Radiohead - In RainbowsA suprise release, Radiohead seemed to garner more headlines for their “Music Industry ruining” way of release and letting people choose the price they wanted to pay for the download of the tracks as an MP3 file.

However, the album wa, in my opinion, one of their strongest yet. A distinctly electronic feel, they combined their solo efforts into a collection that was strong, consistent, and interesting. I wouldn’t be suprised if it turns out to be one of their strongest of their career.

My Review of In Rainbows | Buy the CD on Amazon

4. Stars – In our Bedroom After the War
Stars - In Our Bedroom After The WarI bought this one on a whim – I didn’t know much about Stars, but quickly grew to love them. Songs like the haunting “Barricade”, the danceable “The Night Starts Here” and the yearning “Bitches in Tokyo” make for a collection that builds on their previous albums (which I’ve since acquired), and makes a strong and consistent collection that I’ll be listening to for months to come no doubt.

Buy the CD on Amazon

3. Tegan and Sara – The Con
Tegan and Sara - The Con

They may be two lesbian identical twin sisters, but don’t let you think they’re a novelty act – far from it. They’re a quality duo, who make amazing short stories for the 00’s generation.

Produced by Death Cab For Cutie’s Chris Walla, The Con is their most accomplished yet, full of drama like their previous records, but a bit more believable, and a bit more stable now that they’re settled down with partners. They seem happier, if that’s possible, which is always good.

Buy the CD on Amazon

2. The National – Boxer
The National - BoxerThe National’s fourth album, Boxer is a very consistent record, though unfortunately not quite as good as their break-through “Alligator”.

They seem to be more at home with themselves, not quite as angry as standout songs on Alligator “Mr. November” or “Lit Up”. Instead, all of the songs are accomplished, but not as much emotion, which is a shame

The National @ The Astoria Live Review | The National – Boxer – My Review | Buy the CD on Amazon

1. Bloc Party – A Weekend in The City
Bloc Party - A Weekend In The CityI’ll admit it here. I wasn’t a big fan of their debut, Silent Alarm. I thought it was crap. However, once I listened to A Weekend in the City I “got” Bloc Party, and fell in love with both albums at once.

Songs such as “I Still Remember” and “Sunday” are the standouts for me, both quality songs that deserve the huge audience Bloc Party have garnered. I’ve possibly listened to this album more times than any other album, and will continue to do so for 2008 no doubt.
My Album Review | Buy the CD on Amazon

Continue reading My Top 10 Albums of 2007

 

Bloc Party – A Weekend in the City

 
By on Monday, 19th November 2007 at 2:06 am
 

Bloc Party - A Weekend in the CityOne of the strongest albums of the year, Bloc Party have just re-released their “A Weekend in the City” collection with the addition of “Flux”, their new single. The collection was originally released in February of this year, and quickly launched Kele Okereke, Russell Lissack, Gordon Moakes and Matt Tong to superstardom, building on their debut, “Silent Alarm”. A distinctly different sound, the lyrics have much more depth than the oblique nature of their debut, with Kele providing his view on the wrongs of 21st Century London, post September 11th and July 7th.

Starting off with “Song for the Clay (Disappear here)”, you initially worry that they’ve gone down the ever-increasingly popular “rock opera” route, with incredible theatrics akin to My Chemical Romance (though distinctly better pulled off). Thankfully though, “Hunting for Witches” soon appears which puts us into the right vein for the album. Electronic bleeps and interference make a return, akin to “Positive Tension” from “Silent Alarm”, and make the song much stronger, with a frantic strumming that reflects in the urgency of the lyrics: “The Daily Mail says the enemy’s among us, Taking our women and taking our jobs.”

“Waiting for the 7:18” rolls around, with the dreariness of the morning commute and a soul-destroying job morphing into plans to escape to Brighton for the weekend. Quickly followed by the disco-stomp of first single, “The Prayer”, which received some of Bloc Party’s first major US radio airplay, with its instantly memorable hook “Tonight make me unstoppable / I will charm, I will slice, I will dazzle with my wit”. Even a whole year after its initial release, it is still an amazing single that is sure to get everyone and anyone dancing.

“Uniform” is a rant against the growth of globalisation and lack of individualism: “All the young people looked the same / Wearing their masks of cool and indifference / Commerce dressed up as rebellion”, and is one of the stand out tracks of the album. The outspoken-ness of this is duplicated in “Where is home?”, which appears to be a rant about Kele’s heritage, and the growth of racism in the UK: “In every headline we are reminded that this is not home for us / Second generation blues or points of view not listened to / Different worlds and different rules of allegiance”. It soon grows into a stronger rant, with Kele commenting “I want to stamp on the face of every young policeman today / and break the fingers of every old judge”. These two songs formed much of the publicity around the album release, showing Bloc Party as a 21st Century force who are very much in touch with today’s issues.

Bloc Party's Kele OkerekeThis album re-release also includes a stunning DVD of their set at this year’s Reading Festival, which was held at the end of August and saw Bloc Party playing to around 160,000 people as the sun goes down. It was a homecoming of sorts, with much of the crowd holding out in blistering temperatures that was more akin to Arizona than central England as temperatures soared to close to 30C

Normally when a band re-releases an album with an extra track the whole collection suffers as a whole, however “A Weekend in the City” is much stronger for the addition of “Flux”. Fast paced, Kele is again agonising about the future of society: “We must talk about our problems / We are in a state of flux”. After this brutal disco-thump, “Sunday” brings the album to a slower pace, savouring a relaxing Sunday morning in central London, waking up next to someone loved and reflecting on the previous night’s adventures. “SXRT” starts off incredibly slowly; almost sleep-inducingly so before bringing the album to a crashing crescendo.

Kele sang “I will outshine them all” on “The Prayer”, and with this re-release of “A Weekend in the City” Bloc Party sure do an amazing job of outshining their competition, leaving them looking like pale imitations.

 

Motion City Soundtrack / Autumn UK tour

 
By on Sunday, 9th September 2007 at 7:58 pm
 

Motion City SondtrackThings have been a bit frantic these past few weeks, and in the chaos I’ve missed Motion City Soundtrack putting a tour on sale. They’ll be doing a quick jaunt around the country in late September + early October.

Tickets are on sale now at £12 each date with the exception of the Astoria gig at £13.50.

Monday 24th September – Manchester Uni
Tuesday 25th September – Manchester Uni (sold out)
Wednesday 26th September – Sheffield Leadmill
Thursday 27th September – Birmingham Academy
Saturday 29th September – Glasgow ABC
Sunday 30th September – Dublin Temple Bar Music Centre
Tuesday 2nd October – Exeter Lemon Grove
Thursday 4th October – Norwich Waterfront
Friday 5th October – London Astoria
Saturday 6th October – Portsmouth Pyramid
Sunday 7th October – Leeds Met Univ

Photo is taken from EnBee’s flickr stream under the creative commons license

 

Live: Delays – Oxford’s Zodiac – 19th December 2006

 
By on Wednesday, 20th December 2006 at 7:13 pm
 

Along with the Christmas party, another British institution of late appears to be the trend of bands doing a special one-off Christmas show in their hometown. This is the case with Southampton’s Delays, who played Oxford’s tiny Zodiac on Tuesday ahead of their hometown gig at Southampton’s Guildhall on Wednesday.

Their epic, summery songs are the perfect antidote to the freezing temperatures outside, adding some warmth to the audience. After a short intense set by Oxford based Fell City Girl for support, Delays walked on stage and burst right into “Lost in a Melody”, an electronic tinged stomper that is equally at home in the fields of festivals and the caverns of clubs. With this, Aaron, Greg, Colin and Rowly ran headlong into about 20 songs of pure quality that could convert even the most hardened of sceptics.

“On” has reminded me of Hot Chip’s “Over and Over” for a while now, with its catchy repetitiveness, and rather nice use of the strobes in the tiny Zodiac made for an entrancing song. “Bedroom Scene” was a chance for three quarters of Delays to take a break, as they left Greg to do the gentle strum with a lone light and a mass sing-along that didn’t quite work. The rest of Delays returned for new song “Girls on Fire”, which is tipped to be on their new album that’s going to be out next Summer reportedly, and if all goes to plan should set the festival scene on fire.

They closed their main set with “Long Time Coming” from their debut “Faded Seaside Glamour”, and Greg’s masterful footwork and over-excitability clearly made several girls at the front’s day. This was the song that got everybody going, having shaken off the winter blues and finally embraced the warmth they were giving off to the crowd.

When they came back for an encore we got a special version of “White Christmas” with Greg solo on his guitar, which was sublime and made my evening. We then got treated to two of Delays best songs from their last album, “Hideaway” and “Valentine”, both pop-classics in the making, and both failed to make much entry into the public’s mind.

Sometimes bands just don’t make as much impact into the public’s consciousness as they should, and Delays appear to have this misfortune. However, whilst this is the case they’ll continue to play small shows of people “in the know”.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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