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Music - Page 5

  • International Women's Day

    Hey, I haven't blogged in a while and its International Women's Day this shouts out to me that I should be writing a piece on my favourite women in music both old and new! If you don't agree then I would ask you to go elsewhere. 

    I was going to try and do a list of 10 singers/groups, a mixture of both old and new but that felt a bit constricted so I have decided to go for 15, they cover a variety of genres and eras but then that really does show a cross section of my musical taste.

    Regina+Spektor+p13lg_.jpg1. Regina Spektor - Born in Moscow in 1980, Spektor has been present on the world music scene since the early 2000's. To date she has released 5 studio albums the most recent being 2012's 'What we saw from the Cheap Seats'. Her most successful album to date though and the one which saw her become one of the most recognisable female voices in world music was the 2006 record 'Begin to Hope'. I really can't fault that album at all and that is why I would possibly regard her as my favourite all time female vocalist.. Big statement I know!


    2. CocknBullKid - North London's finest Anita Blay, born to Ghanaian parents, she has been active in the music biz since 2010 and already she has gone under a complete style shift. Before 2011 she was know as  theCocknBullKid and although dropping the 'the' seems trivial it saw her music shift from a very lo-fi electro sound to the pop masterpiece that was 2011's 'Adulthood'. I like both eras of Blay's work which unfortunately seems to have dried up of late but hopefully she will be back.


    Noisettes+Shingai+Shoniwa.jpg3. Noisettes - Although a 3 piece consisting of 2 men and a woman, Shingai Shoniwa is the member that really stands out and so justifies Noisettes place on this list. Noisettes first album, 2006's 'What's the time Mr. Wolf?' was a raucous Rock'n'Roll work which I was forced into purchasing after seeing the band at the 'Electric Gardens' festival in 2007. Despite this being what I regard as their best album the band did not find commercial success until 2009's 'Wild Young Hearts' which was good but like CocknBullKid saw them take on more of a Pop image. Last year the band released their 3rd studio album 'Contact' which was a bit of a dip in form but nevertheless worth a listen.


    4. HAIM - The next big thing in 2013 as described by the BBC and many others, HAIM are the most hyped band
     around despite only having 3 singles to their name so far. The band consists of 3 sisters from Los Angeles who used to tour with their parents in a family band but have since gained independence and a lot more credibility. The Single 'Don't Save Me' released at the tail end of 2012 was an instant classic and their Debut full length is eagerly anticipated by me and many others.


    The+Pipettes.jpg5. The Pipettes - This mid naughties 3 piece were everything that was good about pop music, dressed in 1950s attire and fun songs the epitome of which was their 2006 album 'We Are the Pipettes'. After this album unfortunately the 3 piece became a 2 and since then their music has suffered and although they did release a follow up album in 2010 it really was nothing to shout about and the band have faded into obscurity although theoretically they haven't broken up the band.


    Nina+Simone.jpg6. Nina Simone - A singer you wouldn't necessarily assume to be in a 25 year-old English blokes collection but after hearing her take on 'Feeling Good' I had to hear more of her work. Simone was much more than just a talented musician, she was also an ardent Civil Rights activist in her native USA. Simone passed away in 2003 but her music will forever be a lasting legacy of an incredible woman.


    Cur+de+Pirate+Screenshot20110912at95048AM.png7. Cœur de Pirate - English translation Pirate Heart is the stage name of Canadian singer songwriter Beatrice Matin. Despite my meagre knowledge of the French language and the fact that majority of the singer's back catalogue is sung in the language hasn't stopped me enjoying her piano led indie-pop works. To date she has released two studio albums 2009's self titled 'Cœur de Pirate' and 2011's 'Blonde'. Neither have been officially released in the UK but can be found if you look hard enough.

    Kimya+Dawson.jpg8. Kimya Dawson - Originally one half of the cult favourites 'The Moldy Peaches' she is known mostly for her work on the 'Juno' film soundtrack. Dawson though has released a large number of stripped back acoustic albums filled with extremely quirky, occasionally crude but always heart warming tracks  both before and since the film. Her most recent album 'Thunder Thighs'  was released very quietly in 2012, it is extremely honest and open and definitely something that I would recommend listening to.

    MIA.jpg9. M.I.A. - This list definitely would not be complete without Maya Arulpragasam, like the majority of people I only became familiar with her work after the 2008 single 'Paper Planes' but since I have gone back and listened to her previous works and enjoyed them thoroughly. It is hard to place M.I.A. into a genre, she fits somewhere between Indie, Hip-Hop and authentic Asian music which is what makes her truly unique. Her latest studio Album MAYA wasn't up to the standard of the previous two but she has since released the 'Vicki Leekx' mixtape which showed a resounding return to form.

    Grimes.jpg10. Grimes - Canadian Electronic Wizz-Kid Clare Boucher has been recording self produced records for years but only came to prominence in 2012 with her album 'Visions'. I wasn't overly enthralled by her live show but on record I do enjoy the chopping and changing beats and rhythms she produces and I was not on my own as Visions made its way to the higher end of a lot of 2012 Best of lists.

    Corinne+Bailey+Rae.jpg11. Corinne Bailey Rae - I was addicted to her debut, self-titled album when it came out in 2006 with tracks such as 'Put Your Records On' and 'Like a Star' having that ability to just make you smile when listening to them. Unfortunately since that record was released she suffered a staggering chain of personal problems which meant that her music took a back seat, she has released a full length and an EP since but nothing in comparison to her debut.

    Azealia+Banks+ABanks.png12. Azealia Banks - If you are easily offended look away now, this New York rapper knows how to shock people with her lyrics just listen to her debut single '212' if you don't believe me. She created a massive hype around her in 2012 despite only having released a few mixtapes, but the hysteria has died down somewhat as we are now well into 2013 and we still haven't received her debut album. Her influence is still very strong though with numerous copycat female rappers coming to prominence after her success.

    Stealing+Sheep+Stealing_Sheep.jpg13. Stealing Sheep - This Scouse 3 piece have released 2 studio albums although only gained recognition after last years 'Into the Diamond Sun'. Their sound has been described as lo-fi psych pop which I suppose does them justice with lots of swirling guitar and synthesisers. This band were one of my finds of 2012 and I look forward to hearing more from them.

    Patti+Smith+__.jpg14. Patti Smith - The Original Punk rock female, her raspy vocals really broke the mould of what was expected of female singers. I will be the first to admit I haven't listened to nearly enough of her vast back catalogue but she deserves a place on this list purely due to her brilliant debut album 'Horses'.

    The+Skints+tumblr_m2xrxx7emf1qjfm75o1_500.jpg15. The Skints - It was touch and go whether or not I would allow this female fronted Ska/Reggae band into this list as 3/4 of the band are men but I think Marcia Richards deserves it. She is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and singer and without her I believe the bands 2 albums to date would be far worse. The latest release 2012's 'Part & Parcel' gained the band a cult following across the UK and also a place on my personal best of 2012 albums list.

    So there you go, in no particular order a list of my favourite female artists! Happy International Women's Day everybody

  • Best of 2012 (albums)

    Its still just about relevant to talk about 2012 despite being all of a week into the new year and so I thought lets get my review on, what was the music that really hit the spot over the past twelve months and so I have created a top 10 list of my favourite albums released last year. It was a hard list to compile and not for the right reasons, last year was probably my most prolific of all time for going to see live music, in October alone I went to 9 separate shows but as far as albums went I found it pretty hard to find even 10 released in 2012 that I listened to enough to even contemplate putting on a list. Maybe it was lack of time or maybe that I listened to far too much old Irish music this year but whatever, I struggled. Here though is what I came up with in reverse order;

    uxb010_skints_part___parcel_600x600.jpg10. The Skints - Part & Parcel. This the 2nd full length from Kingston (London) based Reggae/Ska group The Skints in my opinion is better than their first release two years prior with a couple of real stand out tracks Rise Up, Rat-A-Tat and Lay you down but the problem with the album is that is has absolutely nothing of the feel of their live performances which I saw 3 of in 2012.




    into-the-diamond-sun.jpg9. Stealing Sheep - Into the Diamond Sun. This is a band that I hadn't even heard of until October and the release of the Libertines cover album. Their version of Boys in the Band (which isn't on the album) was so good I had to hear more. I fell immediately in love with Shut Eye and latest single Rearrange, I may love more but I haven't got around to listening to the whole intently as of yet





    8. Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon. For my inner teenager this was my most eagerly anticipated albums of the year and when I first listened to it when it was released back in September I was bitterly disappointed but with a steady few months of listening it has really grown on me with Sun being my personal highlight. I look forward to seeing them live in April this year.




    artworks-000023431565-j3iz03-original1.jpeg7. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave. The Mercury prize winning album and the no.1 album in many peoples 2012 lists. Another album that I took a while to get into but once I had given it a real chance I learned to love it despite secretly not wanting to. I unfortunately missed out on the chance on seeing these at In the Woods festival due to my sister inconveniently turning 21 and having a party.




    CitizensHereWeAre600Mg250512.jpg6. Citizens! - Here We Are. Citizens! are your everyday indie rock band who I had known of for a little while but didn't really get into until I saw  live at Field Day festival last year. From then on Here We Are became on of my most listened to albums with (I'm in Love with your) Girlfriend the stand out track for me. 





    28427562_700x700min_1.jpg5. King Charles - LoveBlood. King Charles was surprisingly one of the best live acts that I saw in 2012 when seeing them at New Slang, Kingston. Despite liking all of the songs on the album particularly Love Lust and Mississippi Isabel it didn't really flow the way a really top album should the layout felt more like a greatest hits compilation. Live he also performs a great cover of Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire




    MysteryJetsRadlands260412.jpg4. Mystery Jets - Radlands. There was always a good chance that this, the 4th studio album by one of my favourite bands would make the list. Radlands sees the band return to a more guitar driven sound than their last album Serotonin to good effect. Someone Purer, Greatest Hits and The Hale Bop are my favourites among 11 really good tracks.





    oberhoferpic.jpg3. Oberhofer - Time Capsules II. This one was a real surprise to me, Oberhofer is the brainchild of a 20 year old American pretentious twat. His twitter posts are among the most inane I have ever seen but despite this I like the album.. a lot. It is pure teen electro indie with my favourites being oOoO and Away Frm U. Even the track names are painful to write but they sound good, honest.




    Bellowhead-Broadside_2012_artwork.jpg2. Bellowhead - Broadside. About time some truly middle aged music made it onto the list. For those who don't know, Bellowhead are an eleven piece folk band. Broadside. the bands 4th full length album carries on where 2010s Hedonism left off, turning traditional folk music into something a lot bigger. I stick by my statement that they are the best band I have ever seen live and they aren't half bad on CD either.




    tfr.jpg1. The Futureheads - Rant. Definitely the bravest album on the list and for me the best. The Futureheads ditched the electric guitars used to record their first 4 albums and went A Capella to fine effect. A mixture of traditional, reworked versions of their own songs and covers it really is something very different. The Band accompanied the album with a live tour (which I saw twice in 2 days). If you only listen to a small part of it which truly would be heracy you should give Old Dun Cow or their cover of the Black Eyed Peas Meet me Halfway a listen, you won't regret it.




    Funnily enough the song Old Dun Cow appears on both my two favourite albums of the year but in very different guises. Albums which just missed out include Bloc Party's Four, Grimes' Visions and Zulu Winter's Language. Without a doubt the most dissapointing album of the year for me was Egyptian Hip Hop's GOOD DONT SLEEP (apostrophe removed on purpose), one of the most promising new bands I had seen in 2010 I was waiting for 2 years for this album and when it came it was a pile of pretentious tosh. And on that note



  • The Libertines - My Word That Was Fun

    The Libertines are and probably always will be my favourite band, they, in my eyes at least have the perfect mix of catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics something that it saddens me to say has never been recreated by either Doherty or Barat since the band split in 2004. The 2010 Reading performance was a wonderful moment but I would guess that it signalled a final end rather than a new beginning for the band.

    Anyway none of that was particularly relevant to what I am writing this for; October 14th 2012 marks exactly 10 years since the release of the Libertine's debut album and my favourite album of all time, Up the Bracket. As a tribute the NME has released an album of covers of every track by various artists from up and comers such as Birmingham's PEACE to more seasoned professionals such as The Charlatan's Tim Burgess. As Up The Bracket is closest thing I have ever come across to a 10/10 album I feel the urge to review this remake to find out whether or not it honours or insults the original piece. 

    1. Vertigo - PEACE

    Hailing from ever pleasant Birmingham, PEACE are one of the most exciting new bands of the moment having just released EP delicious to high acclaim. Unfortunately their take on the Up the Bracket opener is sub par. I had very high hopes for it but it brought none of the substance that has made their debut EP such a success. You can hear from the vocals that they are Libertines fans as one of the two leads almost identically impersonates Pete's drones but musically there just wasn't enough - 4/10

    2. Death on the Stairs - Spector

    I want to like Spector, Frederick Macpherson is a wonderful lead vocalist and I have followed him from his days as Les Incompetents but they've failed to grab me with the Spring 2012 release. Enjoy it While it Lasts. Therefore I wasn't expecting huge things and they delivered exactly that, I don't feel Macpherson's voice particularly suited and the lo-fi adaption of the melody didn't really work - 4/10

    3. Horrorshow - Eyes on Film

    I hadn't heard of Eyes on Film until about a week previous when I saw them listed as 'Carl Barat's new band' on a flyer. It is then no surprise that the style of this track was extremely similar to the original but again without any of the same passion. They're a band that I will no doubt look out for as Carl's new project but not really right for this - 5/10

    4. Time for Heroes - The Milk

    Right, this is pretty much my favourite song of all time so the Milk had a really tough task before they even started BUT I was pleasantly surprised. I've known about the Milk for a little while, seeing them live earlier in the year at the Stockton Weekender and didn't really think much of them but their take on this classic wasn't half bad, they made it their own. There were a lot of similarities with the original but enough of themselves to make it a good listen - 6/10

    5. Boys in the Band - Stealing Sheep

    This for me was the first track that really stood out. Stealing Sheep are a band who I had heard the name of but knew nothing about, turns out they are 3 scouse lasses who must be quite brave gaging by the way they did this track. And in my eyes at least it works, the song is completely reworked and sounds like a spacey dream, I love it - 9/10

    6. Radio America - Mystery Jets

    Back down to earth with a bang from another track that I had expected a lot from. I saw Mystery Jets along with this track and on paper it looks really good but in reality it gave me absolutely nothing apart from the odd change in word timing and a bit of harmonica. I love the bands latest Radlands but this had nothing of the Americana of that release nor the quirky charm of their earlier work - 4/10

    7. Up the Bracket - Howler

    Another dire Karaoke style attempt at a cover. The Minneapolis quintet are another band who I really enjoy on their own record, I rate America Give Up as one of the years better debuts but this rework of the title track sounds somehow more slurred than the original but with none of the passion - 3/10

    8. Tell the King - Tribes

    This Acoustic rework was surprisingly good. Tribes are a band who have been floating around for a while but that I had never given a chance too as I had just assumed they were one of these new electro inspired kid bands but this take on one of the more subtle tracks on the album is very bare an honest and feels like the band have made a real connection with the song which really can't be said for the majority of this album - 7/10

    9. The Boy Looked at Johnny - Marybell Katastrophy

    Another band that I had never heard of and thus had no idea what to expect from and like Stealing Sheep earlier, another complete rewrite of the entire song. The Boy looked at Johnny is one of the shorter, more raw songs from Up the Bracket but Marybell have turned it into a Scandinavian electro dance tune. It is so strange, I wasn't sure if I liked it at first but after a couple of listens it is now one of my favourites - 8/10

    10. Begging - The Cast of Cheers

    A Band that I have been watching closely since the release of their debut single Family was released earlier in the year. And for the first time on the album a track that I had high hopes for delivered, again I wasn't sure at first as the changes in this rework are more subtle than that of Marybell or Stealing Sheep but they are there and although it still sounds like an Indie rock guitar track it very much has its own personality - 8/10

    11. The Good Old Days - Tim Burgess

    After 3 good covers in a row it was too much to ask for another right? Well yes, Tim Burgess has managed to make it sound EXACTLY the same as the original. It doesn't sound bad but it just doesn't really deserve a place on a covers album. I can't say I am surprised though as Mr. Burgess is a long standing friend of Carl Barat and I wouldn't be surprised if they played it together as The Chavs - 4/10

    12. I Get Along - Splashh

    There is a lot of hype about this band at the moment, you might say they are making a big.. no I won't do it. The band had a very tough job adapting this track as it is two and a half minutes of near perfection and not to the bands discredit what they tried didn't really come off. Too similar to the original with a few more pedals and a bit of muffled conversation at the end didn't really do it for me - 4/10


    So there you have it, I've totted up the scores and averaged it out to give the album a very mediocre 5.5/10 overall rating and that is only brought up by a couple of really good tracks. I don't know if I am a good critic of the piece really though as I was never going to fairly compare it to the original and thus it is no surprise that my favourite tracks are the ones that sound least like the Libertines own material.