Thursday, December 31, 2009

So that was 2009...

I've just read through one of those glossy magazine top 150 albums of the decade and realised I didn't know very many of them! Whether this is due to my apathy when it comes to buying stuff eulogised over by the press ("Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't believe the hype") or because the last decade has been genuinely musically mundane is yet to be fully ascertained.

This particular top 150 of the "Noughties" featured an album by Fleet Foxes in the top 10. I heard them on the radio recently and I honestly thought I was listening to Crosby, Stills and Nash until the Disc Jockey informed me otherwise. So the Noughties seem to have returned us to the hippy heyday's of 1969...and that's progress the words of a man far more erudite than I "Did I Fight In The Punk Wars For This" ?

Anyway, not that anyone asked but, here's 5 that did it for me in 2009

Brakes - Touchdown

The third album from a band made up of members of some other bands whom I have forgotten (British Sea Power might be one of them but I may be wrong). Their first two albums contained songs that ran to only a few seconds long, covers of Johnny Cash hits and were a pleasure when I first had them recommended to me.
"Touchdown" appears to have taken all the best bits from the first two and honed the sound into a more focussed...errrr...thing.

Ade Edmondson & The Bad Shepherds - Yan, Tyan, Tethera, Methera!

Take some serious folk players, get them to arrange in a folk stylee some of the best songs of the Punk/New Wave period, get yourself a comedian to sing 'em all, surprisingly works very well!
Some of my favourite songs (Down In The Tubestation At Midnight, God Save The Queen (no, not the National Anthem) and Whole Wide World) done in a style more associated with beards and arran jumpers than drainpipes and skinny ties.

Rammstein - Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da

My guilty pleasure perhaps ?

Rammstein perform the Metal on an Industrial Germanic scale. All sung completely in German (well until the last couple of albums when a disconcerting amount of bad euro-English has reared it's head) with one of the greatest live shows I've ever seen, if you don't believe me check this out (that's the opening song from this record and is fast becoming my favourite Rammstein song).
Not the sort of thing I usually like at all but this stuff is played with such precision, played so loud and done with such an obvious sense of humour that I can't help liking it.
Myself and my son made another trip to the continent to see them last month and were not disappointed. We shall be seeing them again in February.

Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend

Another one that was recommended to me by a friend and has become a firm favourite over 3 solo albums. Only trouble is Brendan has spent the past couple of years neglecting his solo thang and moonlighting as one of The Raconteurs, which has left me subjected to the vocal screechings and pointless fret w@nking of one Jack White.
Thankfully he's found time to make another record of his own and for anyone who shares my penchant for US power-pop in a vaguely Jellyfish style, you'll like this.

Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls - Catching More Than We Miss

I guess I'm preaching to the converted with most of you who stop by here but from time to time people drop by and leave nice comments about things I've written here who I have never met, and so this is for them.
This is the best album Miles has made! A fabulous collection of songs, lyrically flawless, it features Erica's first vocal and is without doubt my album of the year.
Biased ? Youbetcha. Do I care that you think that ? Not for a second!
(Oh and if you're going to buy it, listen to the samples at Amazon but please buy it from here...thanx)

I'd also like to make a special case for Henry Priestman, Frank Turner and Dirty Ray.

Dirty Ray tells us "In a previous life I was the singer/songwriter with the band Immaculate Fools, but times change and so have I". Ray hasn't released an album this year but his contribution to the Shared project was quite simply breathtaking. "The Rain Song" is one of the finest songs of this, or any other decade for that matter, and if you've not heard it then I would urge you to pay a vist here and get yourself acquainted with it.

A bunch of us "discovered" Frank Turner while sitting on a grassy bank at the Beautiful Days festival, drinking Otter Ale while Frank entertained us in the background. He eventually managed to muscle his way into our conversation mainly due to the fantastic performance he was putting in onstage and partly due to his rather wonderful lyrics wedging themselves into our heads.
I ran off to the festival CD store as soon as he had finished and bought a copy of "Love, Ire & Song" which, as it was released in 2008, doesn't qualify for the above list but has definitely been the soundtrack to the second half of 2009. See this post for all the links you need to check out Frank. It's just a shame his album released this year wasn't really up to much but I'll stick with him for a while yet.

Henry Priestman has been with me for a long time but I've only recently rediscovered him (thanx to my brother). I well remember in 1979 buying the debut album by Yachts (you can hear them here) partly because I had some spare money and partly because I'd heard them mentioned on the John Peel show. This resulted in a private obsession with them which only culminated last year when I finally found a decent copy of their 2nd album, "Without Radar", to replace the all but dead cassette copy I owned. After Yachts split Henry went on to form It's Immaterial and then became the principal songwriter for The Christians, not really to my taste but then most of the 1980's wasn't.
My brother informed me a few months ago that Henry had released a solo album, "The Chronicles Of Modern Life", which I can heartily recommend to you for a listen. Witty songs about getting older is how I find it, which for me raises a wry smile at times. Again Henry's album was released in 2008 so doesn't qualify for this list but as I'm guessing that most of you that read my ramblings have similar tastes musically, I venture you'll like this.

We are apparently now into the "Teenies", who knows what delights lie ahead ? Good luck on the journey people x

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

He might pass by in the hour of need...

7 years today since Joe left us. Hells teeth, time flies. And right now we really need someone like him around.

I was lucky enough to meet him just before he went and, in that short time I spoke with him, he left a lasting impression on me.

Rest easy brother Joe...

"A Prince and man has left the earth
I can’t believe the news I heard
He so moved me
Amsterdam - Joe's Kiss