Archive | December, 2012

My Favourite Albums of 2012 – #60-40

29 Dec

60. Perfume Genius – Put Ur Back N 2 It

59. Race Horses – Furniture

58. Sea Lions – Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sea Lions

57. Beach House – Bloom

56. The 2 Bears – Be Strong

55. Hunx – Hairdresser Blues

54. Blonds – Blonds

53. The Maccabees – Given to the Wild

52. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

51. Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

50. Passion Pit – Gossamer

49. Django Django – Django Django

48. Memoryhouse – The Slideshow Effect

47. The Crookes – Hold Fast

46. The Futureheads – Rant

45. Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror

44. The view – Cheeky for a Reason

43. Lucy Rose – Like I Used To

42. Howler – America Give Up

41. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber

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My Favourite Singles of 2012 – #25-1

23 Dec

25. Five Seconds by Twin Shadow

24. Disconnected by Keane

23. Household Goods by TEED

22. Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware

21. Go Right Ahead by The Hives

20. Mid Air by Paul Buchanan

19. It Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala

18. True Romance by Citizens!

17. Split for the Coast by Little Racer

16. Hey Ho by The Lumineers

15. Someone Purer by Mystery Jets

14. Angels by The XX

13. Madness by Muse

12. Bad Religion by Frank Ocean

11. Sixteen Saltines by Jack White

10. Take Care by Drake ft. Rihanna

9. Chevvy Thunder by Spector

8. Runaways by The Killers

7. Backseat Freestyle by Kendrick Lamar

6. R U Mine by Arctic Monkeys

5. Greatest Hits by Mystery Jets

4. Best of Friends by Palma Violets

3. Simple Song by The Shins

2. Pyramids by Frank Ocean

1. 212 by Azelia Banks

My Favourite Singles of 2012 – #50-25

20 Dec

50. Hurry by Oh Minnows

 

49. Laura by Bat For Lashes

 

48. Night and Day by Hot Chip

 

47. Octopus by Bloc Party

 

46. Starships by Nicki Minaj

 

45. Ill Mannors by Plan B

 

44. Climax by Usher

 

43. No Hope by The Vaccines

 

42. We are Young by Fun

 

41. Pretend You Love Me by Sonny and the Sunsets

 

40. Your Love by Totlly Enourmous Extinct Dinosaurs

 

39. Deley Deley by The Heartbreaks

 

38. Husbands by Savages

 

37. Jasmine by Jai Paul

 

36. We are Never Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift

 

35. Princess of China by Coldplay and Rihanna

 

34. The Only Place by Best Coast

 

33. Losing You by Solange

 

32. Sex by The 1975

 

31. Niggas in Paris by Jay Z and Kanye West

 

30. Teenage Icon by The Vaccines

 

29. Blue Velvet by Childhood

 

28. Elephant by Tame Impala

 

27. Everything is Embarrasing by Sky Ferrara

 

26. Take Your Loving Back by Michelle Stodart

Mcfly ‘Memory Lane’ – Review

14 Dec

I can’t really remember why I gave Mcfly such a hard time when they first came along at the tail-end of 2003, but I did. Maybe it was because they seemed like Busted rip offs (who I never liked anyway), maybe it was because of their horibly affected Americanised accents, or maybe it was because they were so heavily marketed at a young female audience. Whatever the reason, the criticism was unfair and unjustified, and that’s even more apparent in 2012. I’m not saying 2004 was a golden year for pop music, but compare Kylie to Tulisa, Girls Aloud to Little Mix and Mcfly to One Direction, and you’ll realise that we’re currently living in a pop wasteland.

Where I once heard sticky teen gloop, I now hear some perfectly executed pop singles.’Five Colours in Her Hair’ is particularly good; It pays homage to The Beatles without treading on any toes (unlike their other well known Beatles tribute, ‘Room on the Third Floor’, which blatently steals ‘Hey Jude’s’ classic hook). It’s catchy, well produced and actually quite witty. ‘That Girl’ and ‘Obviously’ are equally superb,  and both pay homage to that other classic 60’s act, The Beach Boys. The surf riffs are spot on, the lyrics are funny and engaging and the harmonies are fantastic as well. Possibly my favourite song on here is ‘Star Girl’ – it’s unlikely you’ll ever find a better constructed pop single. Every element of this production pays off handsomely; from the horn section to the psychadelic bridge and every twist and turn of the melody. This is pure class.

The band aren’t always this successful though and some of these songs are pretty blatent rip offs of older, better tunes. ‘Do Ya’ borrows/steals more melodies than any other single song I can think of (Billy Joel and George Michael really should sue!), and the Michael Jackson apeing ‘Lies’ is far too bombastic to be enjoyable. It’s also Regrettable that, based on the evidence of the newer songs, Mcfly are lowering their standereds to appeal to a contemporary audience. ‘Party Girl’ makes a move to sound like Chris Brown or Neyo, with the club friendly beat and plastic synth sound. It’s easily the worst thing on here. Like ‘Party Girl’,  ‘Shine a Light’ is destroyed by modern pop excess but unlike ‘Party Girl’ there is a great tune hiding behind the production, which is really frustrating. New single ‘Love Is Easy’ sees the band entering Ed Sheeran territory with a little more success but it still doesn’t match their early run of singles. Because the song’s are ordered in reverse chornological order, it makes it even more obvious that Mcfly (who are still a young band) seem to be running out of steam. Unlike with most greatest hits, this is an album that gets much better towards the end.

Overall though there are more hits than misses, and even when the band fail, they fail with smiles on their faces, and melodies in their hearts – which makes them all the more likeable. it’s stunningly clear that they deserve a lot more credit than they get as ‘Memory Lane’ compares very favourably with  recent hits collections from the more credible Kaiser Chiefs and Coldplay. Let’s not forget that Mcfly wrote and performed these songs themselves; today’s boy bands could really leran a few tricks from them.

7.5/10

Review Roundup December

6 Dec

Grizzly Bear – ‘Shields’

I’ve always felt that a great band is struggling to get out of Grizzly Bear, they’ve just never quite managed to find a way through the darkness. We’ve glimpsed greatness of course, much of ‘Veckatimest’ was classic, but I’ve never  been wholly convinced by one of their albums. ‘Shields’ may well be their finest full length statement to date, but it still doesn’t wholly convert me. On the plus side it’s more tuneful and hits the mark more often than previous albums. I particularly like the atmospheric ‘Sleeping Ute’ and the arena rock stylings of ‘Yet Again.

Like the other Grizzly Bears albums, this is a stodgy record that feels frustratingly restrained and well behaved. Also, like the other Grizzly Bear albums, it’s  more impressive on a superficial level than an emotional one. The singing is pretty but not really moving. The lyrics sound interesting but they’re empty statements. The instrumentation is fragile and ornate but there’s nothing that hooks you. I’ve always wondered what one of their gigs would be like because it’s not music that elicits any type of visceral reaction in me. I can’t imagine being moved to dance or jump or sing along, nor could I imagine being sucked in and absorbed by what i was watching. Maybe it would be a nice experience, like this album is. Nothing more, nothing less.

6/10

Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’

Rihanna is only ever as good as her singles. Last year she had a couple of classics as well as a couple of dire (and I mean dire) ones. This time around she released ‘Diamonds’ as the lead single from her 7th record, ‘Unapologetic’, and it’s neither. It’s just the most inoffensive, bland slice of pop you’ll hear all year. And I think that’s more disappointing than if it were simply dire. The rest of the album is much the same; none of these songs would make a greatest hits and they would clog up a set list. The world has been saturated by Rihanna recently and by the sound of ‘Unapologetic’ she needs a year off as much as we need her to have one off.

3/10

Kendrick Lamar – ‘Good Kid, MAAd City’

Kendirck Lamar has been hyped to the heavens in the USA. Think of him as their Arctic Monkeys – the saviour of hip hop to our saviours of indie. And just as it’s a little hard for some Americans to understand what makes the Monkeys so great, it’s a little hard for me to understand what makes Kendrick stand out from the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Good Kid, Maaad City’ is a better than average hip hop album; the rapping is more than serviceable, the rags to riches story is cliched but engaging and the beats are exciting – but it’s hardly groundbreaking stuff. It strikes me that Lamar is popular for much the same reason Arctic Monkeys are popular – he reminds people of their favourite artists whilst still sounding fresh, young and interesting.

This is a good record, elevated to near greatness by a couple of outstanding songs. ‘Backseat Freestyle’ is just out of this world; it caries more mean hooks than any other record released this year. Just… wow. Then, once you get past the sheer ludicrousness of ‘Swimming Pools’  and allow yourself to indulge in the lush beats and swirling synths, you’ll enjoy the most thrilling few minutes of music you’ve probably heard in a while. ‘Good Kid Maaad City’ is a fun album – It’s almost impossible for me to relate to it in any way but I guess that’s why it’s been given the subtitle ‘A Short Film’. This is pure escapism and it’s written from the perspective of somebody with a fairly ‘out there’ perspective. The hype may be a little hard to swallow but Kendrick has just released the best out and out hip hop album of the year.

8/10

Johnny Pierce to release solo album

2 Dec

Johnny from The Drums is going solo! He’s releasing an album next year which he has written, recorded and produced all by himself. Here’s what he had to say on the subject.

“Some might say it’s strange for a man to bare his soul the way I do on this album, but I wanted to do something that exposed me for who I am even more so than anything I have done with The Drums… I wanted to be as self-indulgent as possible with this album. This is pop done the way I think it should be done”.