23 December 2008

The 10 Best Singles of 2008: Part 1

I've decided to split this into two because between me, my ramblings and the Youtube videos that should be accompanying all of these songs, it's gonna take up a lot of room just to do 5 on each post - the top 5 singles will be displayed tomorrow, but for the time being here's the countdown from 10 to 6:

10. Hot Chip - Ready For the Floor

For their first and dominating single from their third album "Made in the Dark", Hot Chip employed one of Daft Punk's best (and sometimes worst) qualities. Repetition. And repetition that would hang around like a bad rash until you scratched it so much that you just had to go out and buy the single. That's probably what makes this song work so well - it may be more accessible and simplistic in style than "One Pure Thought" or "Shake A Fist" but at the same time it allows you to dance. Oh, and that line about "You're my number one guy" isn't a homosexual comment - as Alexis Taylor's outfit might suggest, it's a line that the Joker says to Batman (I forget which one the line's in though, sorry.... I've failed you....)

9. Neon Neon - Belfast

These guys have practically released every song on their album as a single - which is good because I get to pick my favourite song (although maybe I could've plumped for "Raquel".... ho hum...) You do get a slight shock with how fast the song starts and how aggressive it sounds at the beginning and then there's this whole gothic vibe going on in the middle where it sounds like someone's going a bit bananas with a suped-up harpsichord but Gruff Rhys' delicate vocals turn this into a dark love song to the Northern Ireland capital.

8. Friendly Fires - Paris

First entry for Friendly Fires (we'll be seeing them later, mark my words) and it happens to be their first single, originally released late last year but then re-released after the success of their second single, slightly revamped and with a shiny new video to top it all off. There couldn't have been a more aspirational song this year as Ed McFarlane lovingly sang of running away to France as soon as he brought some money home to lead a better life, watch the stars and find love. Their passion for samba is not as prominent here, but the percussion manages to give the airy, dreamy synths a slightly serrated edge. I know a song is good when it goes by in a flash despite it being nearly 4 minutes long.... this one passes at the speed of light.
Video (I've chosen the old one because the sound is better):

7. Ladyhawke - Dusk Til Dawn

Inspired by a nightmare, sang like a dream (oh God, I think these cheesy things I write are getting worse). The video showed how our heroine Pip Brown was woken in the night by strange noises only to be attacked by strange men in masks. And one with a Rubik's Cube on his head. Lovely. Why everyone keeps saying that "Paris Is Burning" is her best single, I have no idea.... The fact is, "Dusk Til Dawn" showed us that you can make a great pop song without having to make it overly long... or even three minutes long, for that matter. It had a kind of swaggering simplicity that you wouldn't find from someone who is really so shy. We love you, Pip!

6. M.I.A. - Paper Planes

She re-released it. But the only reason it didn't score higher was because someone must have told her to fool around with the sound effects on the record because now everyone is playing the "censored" version. Now, she doesn't swear but they seem to think that she does, and the power is lost with the covering up of the chorus with some weedy sound effects. But for your pleasure I've tracked down the original version complete with video! It's the only version you need - take delight in this comment on working just to pay off debt, dead-end jobs and getting pushed into crime. If anything it condemns guns and violence, and as she nicely put it in a an interview earlier this year: "the intelligent 5% will now that it's ironic". Indeed.
Video (not the awful tampered one):

22 December 2008

The 5 To Watch For 2009!

Wayhey! I like doing this kind of thing - listing people who've done well/ should/ will do well in the future. By the future I mean next year, and this is the list of the 5 bands and artists I'd love to see do well in 2009!

All the bands shown here are compiled by a simple system: great bands and artists who haven't released an album yet! Enjoy!

5. White Lies

Funny that a few months ago I wouldn't have even considered these guys for a list like this. Simply put, I hated their first single! It was worse than Glasvegas (sorry Glasvegas fans, no offense meant)! But then "Death" came along. And I slowly turned on to their almost Interpol-esque feel and dramatic arrangements. And then "To Lose My Life" burst around and suddenly they were all dancey and I was struck in a major artery to bleed happiness every time I heard the song. I hope they don't go back to their roots - but until they do, long may they prosper on the list!
Video for "To Lose My Life":

4. Magistrates

Went off the boil slightly in late 2008 but I can only assume they're up to something good - I hope! Their music is like a British Prince colliding with A Tribe Called Quest and back to some good old fashioned indie disco. For some reason they don't want to put up any more tracks on their MySpace (secretive so-and-sos) but I could listen to "Make This Work", "The Inbetweens" and "Colour Co-Ordination" forever amen! Not bad for a guy who used to work as a butcher in Morrisons....
Video for "Make This Work":

3. Florence and the Machine

This would be taking the tempo down a notch if it wasn't for one factor - Florence Welch's booming, omnipotent voice that makes her songs sound so much more dramatic and imposing than they really are. "Dog Days Are Over" is a burst of sunshine where you can scream along with Florence about letting go and forgetting your worries. And watching horses run along. Then we have the completely misunderstood single. "Kiss With A Fist" is not about domestic violence, no matter how much you hear about the "abuse" that happens between the two lovers. No, Florence's reactions may lead you down that route but it's not true. And she's the winner of this year's Critic's Choice award at the Brits.... Just be mesmerised.
Video for "Kiss With A Fist":

2. La Roux

Elly Jackson claims to make pop music that isn't as accessible as say, Girls Aloud. And she definitely gets there. We could well say that her blend of pop and electro is different - in fact, very different. A one-woman stab at being a more dangerous Hot Chip perhaps? Well, unlike Alexis Taylor she's got a marmite-styled voice that you'll either love or hate. And a distinctly retro form of production behind her. Oh, and don't forget the fact that she'll be terrifying twee Lily Allen fans when she tours with her early next year.... Bravo!
Video to "Quicksand":

1. Thecocknbullkid

Pop doesn't come much better than this. It can't if I'm in to it anyway. I'm not a fan of the whole pop scene right now - everyone has followed the Americans in making either R'n'B tinged ballads or Diva-tinged ballads (here's looking at you, Leona) but here is a British girl who's making sweet music with awesome hooks and simple backdrops that are so effective it's unbelievable. Okay, so I know some people who aren't impressed but... LIKE I CARE!!!! I would much rather have thecocknbullkid singing to me about her thick ex than another completely shallow attempt at sales. I don't need her to wail at a cover version of one of the dirgiest songs for ages to make me feel like pop is reborn. We need more like her. And we need the other people on this list to get their acts together and reclaim the pop banner - let's rebel against the soulless ones!
Video for "On My Own":

21 December 2008

The New List

Just uploaded the new playlist on live365. And here it is! Hope you like it. Not quite it alphabetical order but I did my best and failed miserably while trying to put it on the website but I hope you like the fairly christmassy feel! Here it is:

1. Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy Hey Girl
2. Faithless - God Is A DJ
3. Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
4. Koll and the Gang - Celebration
5. Air - Cherry Blossom Girl
6. Arcade Fire - Neighbourhood 2 (Laika)
7. Basement Jaxx - Oh My Gosh
8. Bat For Lashes - Trophy
9. Beck - Milk and Honey
10. Bjork - Army of Me (Live)
11. Black Kids - Hurricane Jane
12. Cajun Dance Party - The Race
13. Camille - Money Note
14. The Clash - Rock the Casbah
15. CSS - Rat Is Dead (Rage)
16. Daft Punk - High Life
17. Editors - Lights
18. Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool
19. Goldfrapp - Twist
20. Hercules and Love Affair - You Belong
21. Hot Chip - Hold On
22. Howling Bells - Across the Avenue
23. Ida Maria - Drive Away My Heart
24. Interpol - Narc
25. Kate Bush - James And The Cold Gun
26. Kings of Leon - Fans
27. Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow
28. Ladyhawke - Manipulating Woman
29. LCD Soundsystem - North American Scum
30. M.I.A. - Paper Planes
31. Fleet Foxes - Mykanos
32. Elbow - Fallen Angel
33. MGMT - Future Reflections
34. Mystery Jets - Young Love
35. Neon Neon - Steel Your Girl
36. PJ Harvey - The Sky Lit Up
37. Roisin Murphy - Leaving the City
38. Roxy Music - Editions of You
39. Royksopp - Circuit Breaker
40. Santogold - You'll Find A Way
41. Siouxsie and the Banshees - Painted Bird
42. The Go! Team - Doing It Right
43. The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful
44. The Long Blondes - Weekend Without Makeup
45. The Raconteurs - Many Shades of Black
46. Yeasayer - 2080

Oh, and stay tuned because tomorrow I'll be counting down the five best bands to watch next year.... the first of my "End of 08" lists on JJS!!

16 December 2008


It's getting round to that time of ear when I'll be announcing my special awards to go to bands and artists that have achieved so much over the past year!

Before that though I want as many people as possible to leave a comment saying what their favourite SINGLE, ALBUM and BAND were this year - even if it's an old band who haven't released anything, if you've got a good reason then put 'em down!

I'll be interested to hear from you all before I release some xmas cheer on some very lucky bands!

Although.... as a slight teaser I think one band in particular are running away with all the accolades... Oooh, mysterious....!