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Music - Page 4

  • Best Albums 2014

    So here I am nearly at the end of May 2015 and I have only just got around to doing my best of 2014 list. I managed to get my best of tracks before the New Year but the albums I struggled with. Maybe this was because I had such a busy year and didn't get to listen to as many albums as I would have liked or maybe as I unfortunately think it wasn't a wonderful year for music. Nevertheless I have produced my list, better late than never.

    619ff170567b613a77e673cc586d984c.jpg10. Tune-Yards - Nikki Nack

    Tune-Yards is the brain child of New England musician Merrill Garbus, she records much of her music in very minimalist ways looping a drum, playing a ukulele and singing but manages somehow to create a big sound. Nikki Nack is Garbus' 3rd release, I first heard of her after her second, Whokill and have not looked back since. 'Water Fountain' is my favourite track on the album but the whole thing is filled with quirky little gems, definitely worth a listen.

     

     

    aa66daf9592070dc1808f1ce2664379a.jpg9. Spring Offensive - Young Animal Hearts

    I can't remember how I came to hear from Spring Offensive but once I heard 'Speak' I knew I was onto a winner. Spring Offensive were an Oxford based five piece and when I first listened the vocals reminded me of early tracks by frYars who himself made a bit of a comeback this year. Along with 'Speak', other stand outs on the album include 'Bodylifting' and Hengelo, expect sombre lyrics and a gentle electronic sound, a band that only through writing this list I realise have already split up, alas I will never see them play.

     

    b59502fc530a97b27cf7e35a34965b59.jpg8. Conor Oberst - Upside Down Mountain 

    I have been following the career of Mr. Oberst since I first heard Bright Eyes' 'First Day of my Life' back in 2003. 'I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning' is one of my favourite all time albums and was therefore near impossible that anything Conor Oberst would release after to compete. Unfortunately with each Bright Eyes release the quality was decreasing but this solo effort from Conor Oberst is the best thing he has done in ages. There is no one stand out track on this album but it works nicely as a playthrough, whether giving it full attention or just having it on in the background it's a good'un

     

    edfd289e38642d84bca1a9d09597bb01.jpg7. Milky Chance - Sadnecessary  

    This band I found completely by accident, when watching music TV in my room in Venice with my newly married wife. 'Flashed Junk Mind' came on and it was one of those moments where we both just looked at each other and knew we liked it and in the end we used it for our wedding video. I bumped into the band again on the FIFA 15 soundtrack with the song 'Down By The River' which gave the band some mainstream fame. Milky Chance are a two-piece indie band from Germany who have produced a very listenable debut album. 

     

    25b726d89de20b396f328808caa4c615.jpg6. Azealia Banks - Broke with Expensive Taste

    Now this album should have been released about two years previous. Ms. Banks' single '212', you know that really filthy not too subtle rap came out in 2012 to mass praise from both critics and the general public, she was to be the next big thing but delays begot delays and publicised arguments with her production company meant that the album didn't come out until 2014. It was though worth the wait though with tracks like 'Nude Beach a-go go' she proves she still has a cheeky edge and 'Chasing Time' was an instant banger. Unfortunately for Azealia though not everyone shared my enthusiasm and it fell a bit flat in the public eye.

     

    edcdd0774171a16059bc750bb49bf358.jpg5. Drowners - Drowners

    This was one of the first albums I listened to in 2014 being released in early 2014. I was awaiting this fairly eagerly having come across their single 'Luv, Hold me down' in the NME's On Repeat section in mid 2013. The band and that song especially have a very strong The Strokes vibe which can only be a good thing in my book. Hailing from the USA this is the bands 1st album and it is a very solid and listenable debut.

     

     

    09c922427b035866a311a2bd8e2298bc.jpg4. Jack White - Lazaretto

    The maestro returns with a superb album, although good I never really got into his first solo effort in the same way that I did The White Stripes but with this album I was reunited with a love of this man. Now more than just a musician, Jack is now the founder and head of Third Man Records who have a number of impressive bands under their guidance including the impressive Alabama Shakes. Lazaretto is as rawkus as anything that Jack White has done previously, the title track my particular highlight but from start to finish it is more than enjoyable.

     

    50404685da8b640ab34b96aedd0f1c76.jpg3. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow

    When I first heard BBC they were a bunch of 16 year olds about to undertake their GCSE's and played in a band at the weekends. The best part of 10 years later they are still recording and as this high entry shows, still making good music. The band's sound has changed a lot since those early days but this, their 4th album, retains all the elements that enticed me in the first place whilst keeping it fresh for a new audience. I wasn't a huge fan of their previous album, 2011's A Different Kind of Fix, that I felt was a step too far into a dancier sound but I think that they have now found the right balance.

     

    a4c43603d8f1cf5048613884b7d55fe7.jpg2. Beaty Heart - Mixed Blessings

    Every year there is an entry near the top of my list that appeared from nowhere and this year it is this, Beaty Heart's Mixed Blessings. Early in the year I heard Lekka Freakout and enjoyed it thoroughly but on first listen to the album it went straight over my head but when I saw the band supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen later in the year I really began to appreciate them and for about a month after I couldn't stop listening to the likes of Seafood and Banana Bread. An indie electro 3-piece their music has a surreal element as do their videos, which are made especially strange for me as the lead singer does have a striking resemblance to my cousin. Mixed Blessings is the bands first album although the band have been around for a few years, hopefully it won't be too long until their next.

    36bc554f9334254d7bf4001fdb1a25d6.jpg1. Jamie T - Carry on the Grudge

    No surprises at number one it is one of my favourite artists, Jamie T, with his 3rd album. The release itself was a bit of a surprise as nothing much had been heard of from the Wimbledon troubador in more than 5 years but when he released the single 'Don't You Find' from nowhere in the middle of the year, it was clear that he was back. This record sees Jamie taking a huge step from the style of music that originally brought him fame in the late 2000s, on the whole it has a fairly slow and lo-fi sound with a few faster paced snippets such as 'Zombie' thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately I missed out on the initial ticket release for his shows as they sold out in minutes but was lucky enough to see him play locally later in the year and although it wasn't my favourite live performance it is one performer I can cross off from my bucket list. The album though blew my mind and hence here it is as my number one album of 2014.

     

    Honourable mentions go to FKA Twigs whose LP1 was only just pipped out of the top 10 and Fuse ODG who would have made this list had it been based just on singles but his album tracks just weren't strong enough. The wooden spoon goes to my beloved Bellowhead, like Akala last year I think I was almost expecting too much from their latest album and it did not come up to scratch. Maybe if I was listening to the album objectively I would have enjoyed it more but unfortunately for them I can't and they do not make my list this time. 

    So there you have it, as I said on the whole not a tremendous year for music but the bonus of writing this half way through 2015 is that I have already heard a lot of what  has come out in 2015 and it has already proved to be a bit of a belter. Hopefully I will be able to get 2015's list out in a more punctual fashion!

     

    END. 

     

  • Top 25 Tracks of 2014

    Me again, with my top 25 tracks of 2014. As always its a good mix of genres and will almost certainly not coincide with anyone else's. This is not to say mine is correct but I do think it is rather splendid. 

    Rules are the same as last year, 25 tracks, not more than one per artist and all have to have been released as either a single or part of an album in the past 12 months.

    25. Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk

    24. FKA Twigs - Two Weeks

    23. Peace - Lost on Me

    22. Bipolar Sunshine - Daydreamer

    21. Hozier - Take me to Church

    20. Maximo Park - Leave this Island

    19. Superfood - Mood Bomb

    18. Royal Blood - Figure it Out

    17. Azealia Banks - Chasing Time

    16. Bellowhead - Gosport Nancy

    15. The Rusty Suns - Lover Not a Fighter

    14. Jack White - Lazaretto

    13. Sigma - Nobody to Love

    12. Circa Waves - Stuck in my Teeth

    11. Eugene Quell - Weird Purr

    10. Milky Chance - Flashed Junk Mind

    9. Native Sun - Solei

    8. Dominique Young Unique - Throw it Down

    7. The Holloways - Goodnight Irene

    6. Spring Offensive - Speak

    5. John Legend - All of Me

    4. Bombay Bicycle Club - Carry Me

    3. Beaty Heart - Lekka Freakout

    2. Jamie T - Zombie

    1. Many Things - Dear One

    Number 7 technically breaks the rules as it wasn't officially released, it was actually an unreleased demo that became available to the public shortly after The Holloways former member Rob Skipper died earlier this year. And as it is my list I will allow it!

    You can listen to most of it should you wish at the following Link; Ant D's 2014 Singles Playlist
    To hear the Holloways and Native Sun you'll have to dig a little deeper as they aren't available on Spotify.

    And so we have another 12 months gone. They are getting ever quicker

     

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  • Best Albums 2013 Edition

    2013 has been over for all of two hours and rather than being in an alcohol induced stupor parading my dancing skills (or lack thereof) on the dance floor, I find myself sodden and sober after a fairly tedious work shift. When better then to discuss in length my favourite albums of the previous year. This year unlike the last I made sure I listened to as many new albums as I could so that I could compile as comprehensive a list as I could and I've got to say I am not displeased with it. So in reverse order;

     

    43a9bec07b9bde0b576ca83329ad4e24.jpg10. HAIM - Days Are Gone.  This entry by the Californian Family Trio squeezed into the top ten, relegating the likes of Kanye and Laura Marling to the outcast pile. A solid début from the much hyped Haim sisters is fuelled by four top quality singles and a number of album tracks that aren't too shabby either. For me the stand out track is Don't save me which was released as a single towards the end of 2012 but still holds strong into 2014.

     

     

     

    bcf2bf4ab81649366a8f21ddc271cb9c.jpg9. Frankie & The Heartstrings - The Days Run Away. A favourite of mine since 2011, this Mackem four piece have had a busy year. Not only have the band released their 2nd full length album and toured extensively throughout the UK, they have also opened their own multi-purpose store Pop Recs Ltd. The flamboyant front-man Frankie Francis lays his vocals over tracks which aren't ground breaking (in fact they often sound dangerously close to plagiarism) but provide an easy to listen to fun half hour of indie pop.

     

     

    3a85e4add0cc21132699b0d1cf970848.jpg8. Death Grips - Government Plates.  The Controversial Dance/Rap act released what they call a mixtape but to all extents feels like an album proper as a free download in mid November. Despite being their third album in 2 years it feels like it has been worked on in great detail and is possibly their most fluid sounding to date. This release will by no means be to everyone's taste but it is certainly different to most things that I listened to over the past 12 months, I would recommend This is Violence Now (Don't get me wrong) as a track to ease yourself in to their world but in truth it needs to be listened to in full to provide the desired effect.  



    684770a2caf2e7c109a40437624f39d4.jpg7. The Strokes - Comedown Machine. 2013 was the year of surprise releases and this effort from The Strokes was no different. After releasing comeback single One Way Trigger in early March, the New York bands 5th studio album came shortly after. What was seen by many as a return to form after 2011's Angles is still not their best but is yet very listenable and deserves its place in the top 10. Track 50/50 is one of the highlights despite sounding like something that The Paddingtons (anyone remember them?) would have released in the early 2000s 



    f2b71366fff63f5cb7039eb00c70a717.jpg6. Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. This 4th Album by the Glasgow four piece unlike the above two was very much expected having not released an album for more than 4 years. Unsurprisingly this did not disappoint, I was lucky enough to see this band twice in a week in August this year which really helped cement the album as one of my favourites of the year. The final track on the album, Goodbye Lovers and Friends, provides a great end not only to this release but most likely every Franz show for the foreseeable future with the last line stating "This really is the End". Either that or they have announced the end of the band which I really hope isn't the case.


    bf8e67a60f67ed280f06bed3efb30ba0.jpg5. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories. From the 10 second advert during the Super bowl to the slightly longer advert at Coachella Festival to the rumours of its first full play being at a farmer's festival in Australia the PR team working on Daft Punk's 4th album got everything right. By the time Random Access Memories was released it was the only thing that anyone in the world was talking about and what it provided was a completely new sound from the band, a sound that at first I wasn't too sure about but quickly became accustomed to. Having ditched their previous sample heavy melodies in favour of real instruments they may have lost a couple of their original fans but seemed to have gained an a whole lot of new ones. The stand out track for me is the initial release, Get Lucky featuring Pharrell Williams but again the piece works best for me when listened to in full.

    fa03a1fc6f99e41d8f545b4c9432f517.jpg4. M.I.A. - Matangi. Very much a make or break album for this local hero of mine and for me it hit all the right chords. Maya Arulpragasam's last album MAYA was without putting too fine a point on it terrible but with Matangi she has got the balance right between her political message and making good music to listen to. The Track that really got me into this album was Come Walk with me which immediately has a much more listenable quality than some of her previous work and this is echoed across the album but it doesn't take anything away from the personality that she has built up across her previous three studio and numerous mixtape releases.



    e998572c8521fe15b26d3c1635c1e0d6.jpg3. Drenge - Drenge. For me this is the most surprising entry into my list as it doesn't really fit into any category of music that I tend to like. Sure if you listen closely you can hear that it has influences of The White Stripes and Nirvana but at its most basic it is a straight out rock album, something which doesn't usually interest me. Nevertheless in Bloodsports you find my top track of the year and in all its self-titled glory this début from a couple of posh brothers from Derby have made one of my favourite albums. Having seen the band twice this year I do unfortunately have to say I think they are better on CD than they are live but this said I am not rating live performances so top marks to this effort.


    8327e22b734d465bf08141d6d1e63d9c.jpg2. David Bowie - The Next Day. Probably the biggest surprise to hit the music world this year was the release of the single Where are we now? on Bowie's 66th Birthday. I had heard rumours of ill health for the ageing star, so to see that he was in fact thriving and writing some of the best music that he'd released in years was an extremely pleasant turn of events. For me this really was the year of Bowie, this released spawned a new found desire for me to listen to all things the Essex wordsmith had made and this coupled with the exhibit in the V&A has enlightened me further to his talent and made him one of my all time favourite artists. Title track The Next Day as well as being one of my favourites on the album became one of the most controversial singles of the year with its video being banned from a number of TV and Internet channels for its less than favourable religious imagery.

    2012PalmaViolets180Press171212.jpg1. Palma Violets - 180. So we come to my number 1 and it is the début release from Lambeth Four-Piece Palma Violets. 180 is without doubt one of the shoddiest recordings on this list but in this it tries to keep the raw emotion and energy produced by the bands live performances. Unfortunately for me having seen the band three times this year and once in 2012 I have to say that it doesn't quite catch that but nevertheless it has enough to it to make my number one spot. It is obvious to me why I rate this band so highly as they embody all the good things that make the Libertines my favourite all time band and with that is the worry for me that their shelf life could be as short as my Arcadian heroes. I fear that this album could well be a fleeting moment which will soon be gone to soon which makes it that little bit more special. Unsurprisingly for an album that I have rated as my favourite of the year I like every track even the ones that on first listen I was unsure about but if I had to name a couple Best of Friends and Tom the Drum would probably just about pip it.


    Other honourable mentions go to Kanye West and Laura Marling as mentioned briefly above as well as the likes of CHVRCHES, Billy Bragg, Earl Sweatshirt and Peace to name but a few who only just missed out on a place in the top 10.

    The wooden spoon this year unfortunately is handed to the writer of of one my all time favourite albums, Akala. In his 'Thieves Banquet' album that he released in May this year I'm sad to say he shot and missed quite badly.

    And so we have it another year over, another year just beginning. Scary really how fast these things are going these days. By the end of 2014 I will be married and it will have been 10 years since the greatest year in my musical life. Crazy. Here's to another 12 months of great releases!

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