31 December 2009

Tracks of the Year: Part Two

Time to conclude my little rundown...

5. Bat For Lashes - Pearl's Dream

Though overlooked a little in favour of "Daniel" and "Sleep Alone", "Pearl's Dream" was the quiet gem slap-bang in the middle of Natasha Khan's second album (once again hideously overlooked at the Mercury Prize). It showed all of Ms. Khan's pop credentials while still retaining that alluring mystique that shrouds her work.

4. Passion Pit - The Reeling

Okay, so I was a little dismissive about Passion Pit earlier in the year when the only track I'd really listened to by them was their first single "Sleepyhead". That all changed after I'd been exposed to the fluorescent explosion of joy that was "The Reeling" - the guys from Boston know how to put an infuriatingly catchy pop tune together.

3. Empire of the Sun - We Are The People

It must have been because their album was released in a particularly cold part of the year, but pretty much all of Empire of the Sun's ever-so-slightly bonkers album was enough to thaw the icicles that started forming every day going to and from work. Particularly sunny and heartwarming was "We Are The People". Well, acoustic guitars and dancy synths are enough to brighten anyone's day.

2. The Big Pink - Dominos

Now usually I wouldn't be attracted to slightly odd characters like Robbie and Milo, or slightly yobbish singing as displayed here. Or bad grammar for that matter (yes, for the purposes of this single there is no "e" in "dominos"). So what was so appealing about "Dominos"? Perhaps it's the simple and catchy chorus. Maybe it's that swirly synth sound going on in the background. Or possibly it's just the fact that The Big Pink proved they could do a storming rock tune, far away from "Velvet" or "Stop The World".

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll

So how did they do it? Somehow the YYYs managed to move into a more synth-pop direction witout losing any of their punk or art-rock credentials.... And the results were amazing. While everyone seems to think that "Zero" is the best track from "It's Blitz!", "Heads Will Roll", in my own humble opinion, shoved all the competition out of the way. The synths jar just enough to give a disconcerting feel, Karen O yelps madly and has never sounded better, Brian Chase provides dancy drums and Nick Zinner strums away at his electric guitar and gives it all that rocky feel. The YYYs have never been boring... but in comparison to this, their back catalogue is about as fascinating as watching paint dry.

30 December 2009

Tracks Of The Year: Part One

Ah it's that time of year again when I get to reflect on the good and the bad... well, mostly the good - I don't want to be less merry by thinking about some of the terrible tunes that I've endured in the name of research. I've compiled a list of the ten tracks that have stolen my heart this year - feel free to condemn, agree and possibly scratch your head saying "who?" (but hopefully that won't happen too often!).

10. The xx - Islands

Islands is a very rare thing - a quiet and tender track that is at the same time an exquisite single. The xx managed to turn it into a thing of pure beauty, with loving lyrics, a hushed boy-girl duet, simple melodies, a single plucked electric guitar... the year's best antidote to the dominance of chilly electro-pop.

9. Julian Casablancas - 11th Dimension

Who would've thought you could rip off "Rebel Rebel", make an unashamedly 80s-style pop single and yet still retain credibility? Well Strokes frontman Casablancas did it - and he did it so well that it was the ultimate grower. If the video below is your first taste of "11th Dimension" then don't let it put you off. In time you will learn to love it just as I did. It took me a whole month to realise that it was actually an amazingly good tune. Who needs The Strokes?

8. Little Dragon - Feather

Similarly to The xx, Little Dragon's "Feather" floats away dreamily into space and refuses to come back to us on dry land. Little Dragon are never in any hurry to actually get on and play their songs, and it takes a while for this wonderfully light tune to kick in. But if you're anything like me you'll fall for its charms after a single play. Enjoy.

7. Metric - Sick Muse

While their latest album "Fantasies" had its flaws, "Sick Muse" stood out as the best single on the album. Here it seemed to all fall into place for Metric, taking the angry noise that dominated their 2006 album "Live It Out" and taming it into just a little under 3 minutes and 20 seconds of rock bliss. And in a world now dominated by electro-pop, that's a big compliment.

6. Phoenix - Lisztomania

It's unfortunate that Phoenix are one of those bands who people seem to think have drifted into obscurity. Despite releasing albums constantly through the last decade, did anyone actually pay attention to anything apart from their first album "United"? "Lisztomania" helped to change all that. Their slightly dodgy, but nevertheless heartwarmingly odd, English, roots in both funky electro and rock plus Thomas Mars's smooth and appealing voice combined to make this, the first single from their really quite brilliant album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", a standout track.

06 December 2009


Just informing everyone that I've updated the playlist for the radio (link on sidebar), and it includes:

Asobi Seksu - Strawberries
Basement Jaxx- Cish Cash (featuring Siouxsie Sioux)
Bat For Lashes - Two Planets
Beck - Gamma Ray
Bjork - Declare Independence
Black Kids - Hit The Heartbrakes
Cajun Dance Party - The Firework
Chairlift - Make Your Mind Up
Charlotte Hatherley - Alexander
CSS -Off The Hook
Depeche Mode - Perfect
Editors - All Sparks
Empire of the Sun - Standing on the Shore
Roisin Murphy - You Know Me Better
New Young Pony Club - The Get Go
Friendly Fires - In The Hospital
Frou Frou - Flicks
Goldfrapp - Road to Somewhere
Grace Jones - Love You To Life
Hot Chip - Careful
Howling Bells - Treasure Hunt
Imogen Heap - Headlock
Kate Bush - Wow
Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
LCD Soundsystem - Two
Lykke Li - Little Bit
MIA - Hussel (featuring Afrikan Boy)
Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World
Martina Topley Bird - Razor Tongue
Metric - Sick Muse
MGMT - Of Moons, Birds and Monsters
Muse - Hyper Music
Neon Neon - Belfast
Passion Pit - The Reeling
Phoenix - 1901
Roxy Music - In Every Dream Home A Heartache
Royksopp - Vision One
Siouxsie and the Banshees - Cities In Dust
The Cribs - We Share The Same Skies
The Gossip - Love Long Distance
The Horrors - Who Can Say
The Raconteurs - Consoler of the Lonely
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Dragon Queen
Yeasayer - Forgiveness