My Year In Lists!


3 Ene 2009, 16:58


Top albums

So, my turn for reviewing the music of the past year. My all went a bit tits up when I was without the internet for a few months (losing me about 4,000 scrobbles) then it refused to update from my Ipod until I re-installed software. Anyway, it isn't much of an idea of what I've really thought of music this year, so here's my year in lists....

1. Johnny Foreigner - Waited Up 'Til It Was Light
An easy choice for first, its easily the album I've actually listened to most, of both new releases and old. I was pretty impressed and excited after hearing the Arcs Across The City EP and although it took a couple of listens to get use to the way in which it was recorded I've totally fallen in love with it.

2. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
One of the Albums I got in to just before starting my dissertation (and subsequent endless hours in the library with only my ipod for company) meaning I listened to this album A LOT for a good few weeks. Sounds so good turned up really loud and kept me sane through 15,000 words.

3. No Age - Nouns
The other album which got me through my dissertation. I could just put this on repeat and it kept me interested and drumming along for hours. After liking (although not being blown away) with what I'd heard before I was glad this exceeded my expectations of what I thought they'd come up with.

4. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now Youngster.../We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Ok, so strictly this is 2 albums. Or as the band have said WAD,WAD isn't an albums (though 10 tracks/9 songs in length) it's a pretty hefty 'EP', but they're both high up on my releases for this year so I might as well throw them in together. HON,Y... had all the dancable hits but WAB, WAD came at the right time for me, without it I might have tired of the first record too quickly and it's been WAB, WAD which I've gone for first each time when scrolling through my ipod since its realease.

5. Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Maybe a little bit geeky and biased to include a record ona label I work for, but as many people have already noted, this was easily one of the best releases of last year, and I'll include it in this list because this was the official UK release date of the record. Everythings pretty much been said about this album already, beautiful haunting vocals, intimate and personal, rousing and epic in places, just downright bloody great.

6. Why? - Alopecia
Quite a different sound from most of the albums in the rest of my list, but sadly quite a predicatable "i'm so indie cool I listen to trip-hop!" end of year list-topper for many. Although it's got elements of hip-hop (or 'trip-hop', whatever thats meant to be) its been years since I've been interested in hip-hop and perhaps what has interested me is the way in which this album blends a wider range of instruments (also played live) with some more heart-felt (less of the typical aggressive hip-hop) lyrics, much more like most of the other albums on my list. Fatalist Palmistry is also one of the best songs of the year, but there's no way I;m doing a separate list for those!

7. Slingshot Dakota - Their Dreams are Dead, But Ours is the Golden Ghost!
Finally, an album which I haven't seen on nearly every 'top of 08' list already! And also a band which I can only thank for reccommending to me. Having checked out Algernon Cadwallader's demos both thier myspace and featured Slingshot and on a whim I checked it out. It's really super-sweet upbeat indie pop, not unlike (what I know of) Mates of State, although that's a really lazy way to descibe a 2 piece, drums/keyboard, guy/girl band. Just about every song is a sing-a-long anthem if you let yourself get in to their proper pop hits.

8. Abe Vigoda - Skeleton
After putting No Age in the list already it feels like a bit of a cheat to throw in another band from the LA Small scene that seems to have been massive this year, but it's a top album in its own right.

9. Dartz - The Sad History of the Village of Alnerique
It almost feels like cheating, as it's a pretty well known love affair i have with Dartz! (or now Dartz, screwing up scrobbling for all), it's very different to the First album, focused around story-telling with a smaller emphasis on the catchiness which many found so accessible in the first album. A good second step in a slightly new direction, showing an evolving sound and not being afraid of trying new ideas. I could throw in some cliche about how it's a 'more mature' second album, but I won't. As it's an EP.

Sadly, I think thats all I can really vouch for this year. It's been a bit of a lazy year for me in terms of checking out new albums, instead opting to see more gigs than ever before (yet again) and looking backwards at older albums, or annoyingly getting in to great albums from 2007!
Below are albums which Just missed the grade or I've only heard recently, meaning I haven't had enough time to get in to them...

Algernon Cadwallader - loved the demos, slightly let down by the album, I really wanted to love it!
Atlas Sound - Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel - although a side project, I prefer this to the new Deerhunter record.
The Dodos - Visitor - after being dragged along to see them by a friend telling me it was one of her favourite albums of the year (that I had seen, but had dismissed because of the pretty terrible album artwork =/ ) I was interested in how they came across live and I'm liking the album more and more.
Fennesz - Black Sea - something I've only heard since seeing him at ATP, astonishingly sparse and quiet in places, really different to anything else I have.
Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life/Year of the Pig - a double hit from one of my favourite live bands, TCOCL really is pushing what a stereotypically hardcore band can produce, experimenting with more melody, instrumentation and a shit load of guitar tracks to give a really thick sound over some pretty awesome vocals, much more a band to see live first though.
Hot Club de Paris - Live At Dead Lake - really strong follow-up with loads more proper songs, some of which are quite average but a few are totally great.
The Mae Shi - HLLLYH - really upbeat record, full of energy which sadly seems to peter-out with the 11 minute track stuck in the middle of the album.
The Steal - Bright Grey - ok, so I've only had the album a matter of days, but I'm familiar with the songs from seeing them live a few times and it's super intsense and full of ideas (and great, short, sharp songs) which I should have gotten when it came out. Just the sort of thing a hardcore band should be doing. Great album artwork to boost!
Times New Viking - Rip It Off - love it or hate it album with distortion all over the place, for me it really took a while to like it, but i knew I would once i got around to ignoring other people telling me how bad it was and appreciating it for what it is.
Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances - so not officially released in the UK yet (coming out in 09 on XL), but a really good album from the couple of listends I've had so far.
Tubelord - ok, so they've only had a couple of EP's come out this year, but an albums being recorded right now and what they have released is good enough to make my list for me.
Vivian Girls - self titled album of lo-fi twee indie which I'm gutted to have missed live and although I totally missed the boat when it came out, I've been enjoying it loads since I found it. not a million miles away from the twee sound of Talulah Gosh.

Top gigs

So reckons I've been to 100 gigs in 2008, but I've actually been to loads more, meaning its a pretty tough choice for my top shows of the year, as so many have been so good, its a really tough choice.
Deep breath, here goes...

1. Maps & Atlases - @ Bardens Boudoir - this was just amazing, a band I'd been told to go along and see by quite a few people and they were just incredible, so tight, intricate and mindblowningly great live I was just left with my chin on the floor and full of happiness after seeing them.

2. Built to Spill @ Koko - I've been a fan of Built To Spill since researching them for ATP Vs the Fans last year. However, I stupidly thought this was for a don't look back of Keep It Like a Secret which I was muh more familiar with. So with 2 weeks to go I listened to Perfect From Now On a lot more and it was just incredible live. The Koko usually lets me down, but with a view from the balcony and the best sound I've ever heard at there it was just brilliant. Plus an encore of MIA's 'Paper Planes' to complete.

3. Johnny Foreigner/Dananananaykroyd @ Madame Jojo's - my first danan gig and I trusted a few friends in not bothering to check them out too much before seeing them live, as it was all about the live setting, and they were fucking great. a highlight being the 'wall of cuddles' , dividing the audience in half then having them run at eachother and hugging. It ended up with loads of sweating people kind of hugging/throwing eachother across the tiny, packed dance floor and was totally brilliant. JoFo did'nt disappoint either, with probably the best set I've seen them do, it probably didn't hurt that everyone was totally pumped for them after the show danan had put on.

4. Fucked Up @ Madame Jojo's - ok, the event's wrong but it was a secret 1am set they did at White Heat after that show. With them playing club nights they usually bash out a few cover songs after playing a few of their own. The 'few of their own' the did play first seemed to surprise the 'uber-cool' white heat kids, who didn't really notice them setting up til they started playing and Damian came on, half naked as usual (looking something like this) before mummifying his head with a roll of white tape he found lying around, before pulling kids up on stage/chasing them around the floor 'mummifying' their heads too. A few of their fans had come along for the show and were loving it, but when they started playign covers everyone got in to it. One of my highlights of 2008 will be my memory of seeing a couple of hundred of kids going nuts for Smalls Like Teen Spirit at about 1.30am on a tuesday night with Damian scaling the walls of Madame Jojo's kissing people not down on the floor.

5. Death Cab for Cutie @ Brixton Academy - after releasing a bit of a let-down with Narrow Stairs then playing a pretty lacklusture show just 3 days before (which I won tickets to), I wasn't expecting much. I show up to find an incredibly drunk ex, nearly getting in to a fight, then deciding to just go it alone of the gig, leaving my mates somewhere near the back. I'm glad I did, easily the best I've seen Death Cab with their most comprehensive set to date, playing loads of older stuff, the highlight being Styrofoam Plates, probably my favourite song of theirs and something I never, ever thought I'd see performed live. They played a couple of bars then stopped to re-tune and as soon as I realised what they were about to play my night was complete. I'm a pretty unemotinal person but this song means a lot to me and it really affected me to see it live.

6. Bon Iver @ St Giles Church - St Giles in the Fields provides the perfect setting for some bands, and it suited Bon Iver perfectly, a tall church with a small stage, akward seats (and so over crowded it meant having to sit on the floor of the aisle) but in the centre of London (right behind centre point) there's not a more peaceful place. The band were on top form and even played the last song in the middle of the crowd, unplugged. With all I said about he album being 'intimate and personal' it doesn't get much more personal than this: (I'm in the yellow t-shirt, the singer of Bon Iver is in the blue and white striped shirt) pic

7. Shearwater @ St Giles Church - another St Giles show, another perfectly suited band. I'd sene them at Rough Trade East a few months before and the sound was incredible for an instore and this show was just as good. I haven't listend to Rook too much but live there's great focus and attention to detail and delivered in a very delicate and effecting way, making it seem like it'd the only place worth being at that point in time.

8. Dartz! @ The Metro - a great night with loads of friends and a great atmosphere in a packed out Metro, loads of fun to see Dartz! again after a relative drought of thier shows, for me at least. Even if I was sick on the train on the way home, totally worth it.

9. Abe Vigoda @ The Old Blue Last - a fairly recent show and one of the much better packed out OBL shows I've been to, they also played a good set the next night with Mika Miko at the Tufnell Park Dome, but the small stage and room suited their sound much better, even with some peculiar crowd antics (lots of faux-gay men) it was great to see them live after hearing so much about them.

10. Sigur Ros@ Alexandra Palace - easily the biggest gig I went to last year and even with the ridiculous prices inside Ally Pally (plus it being so out of the way) and ot really having listened to Sigur Ros for a while I still managed to really enjoy it. The light show and general 'big budget'-ness of it make it different for me, with the artificial waterfall coming from the lighting rig (between the crowd and the stage) plus the confetti cannon at the end adding some extra special touches. I did find it quite amusing that although I havdn't seen them in a few years they pretty much played the same set (obviously with a couple of new songs thrown in) but it was still nice to see Ny batteri live and closing with Untitled 8 from ( ) still gives me goosebumps.


Other than Bestival(which was totally crap, with the exception of Santogold and Jeffery Lewis) and Field Day (again shit bar Efterklang and The Mae Shi 2008 was all about All Tomorrows PArties for me.

Atp Vs Pitchfork - a really, really close call in which ATP was better for me this year, though I think this one had the better acts, just. There was loads of great times, but I'll give the band highlights here:
The band of the weekend have to have been Man Man, a band I was totally unfamiliar with before hand but was blown away by live, a great mess of 5 guys dressed up going bezerk but never out of time with the show bieng as good as the music itself.
Other highlights were Dirty Projectors,Los Campesinos!,Les Savy Fav,Fuck Buttons,Bon Iver and No Age.

Atp Vs The Melvins and Mike Patton - this was different to Pitchfork in that I knew a lot less bands whch left me to explore new things and was probably just what I needed. Highlights include:
Fennesz was superb, but didn't play for long enough (only about 25mins, but was down for 40/45 mins), but at that point in the festival it was just what i needed, a set of consisting of a mix of noise and ambience with some guitar work over electronica. very slow paed for the most part, I've really enjoyed this record since returning.
Double Negative closed the festival and ended it perfectly, 4 older guys playing hardcore punk rock just as it should be, with the energry that would put just about every band full of 17 year old to shame.
Monotonix provided a thoroughly entertaining set, with the singer spending hardly a moment actually on the floor, instead being lofted above the crowds head, often standing on top of the bass drum and sometimes hanging upside down from the ceiling... (watch from about 1.40 in) though musucally they were nothing special at all.
The last real highlight for me would be an act I associate with the old hip-hop which I mentioned so long ago, Rhazel. Known as the 'human beatbox' he manages to make an astonishing array of sounds all at once using just his vocal chords, mouth and a microphone. I otally forgot he was even on the bill but it was ace to finally see live.


So I think (hope!) that just leaves me to mention a few bands I think'll be doing well over the next year of so.
Tubelord have already impressed me with the stuff they're released so far, and always seme to have something new to play and continue to expand their disjointed style with each show. The album's currently being recorded and rumours of Moshi Moshi and Best Before releasing it are around.
Pulled Apart By Horses have managed to get themselves a whole load of attenion since their first show in Feburary this year, having one single out on Big Scary Monsters this year with another on Too Pure early next year. Expect them to play just about everywhere and anywhere across the UK and release a craking debut in time for the festival season.
Titus Andronicus have already had their album out in the States but XL are bringing it over here for a proper UK release. Live dates are already being scheduled and you can easily see them getting the same sort of attention as Tapes 'n Tapes have in the past.

Excitement for 2009

Hopefully new records from.... Thursday, Cursive, Envy, The National, Beirut, The Thermals, Mono and Built to Spill

That leaves me to make my one musical resolution for the year - to buy more records! I think that a minimum of one every 2 weeks is fair, plus im off to buy myself a new turntable tomorrow as this Numark deck seem pretty ideal for my small room/having a headphone jack for my pc speakers.

I'd also like to add I reckon Pavement will reform, just a guess but one I'll run with.

It's taken me ages to write this and my eyes now hurt, sorry for any spelling mistakes! Please feel free to leave any comments on any of the above, or reccomendations!


  • andyejectorseat

    good work sir! makes mine look rather pathetic in comparison! Good to see that M&A topped the gigs list, I would have been mega jealous if you went to anything better than that this year! Not surprised to see JoFo, Los Camp, Slingshot Dakota and Dartz in the album lists - they are bands that could well be invented for your taste! Agreed on PABH too for being big in 2009, fucking class band.

    3 Ene 2009, 17:33
  • Rat_Out

    good read stu! i'm pretty damn jealous that you went to nightmare before christmas like. Melvins, Mastodon, Fanatomas, Locust, Torche phwoarrr. I also wish i'd got to see Bon Iver at the Sage in Newcastle but it sold out before i got myself into gear. I saw M&A in Leeds and it was pretty special, I didn't go to enough gigs last year so I'm trying to rectify that in 2009.

    4 Ene 2009, 21:48
  • fifibonbebe

    maps and atlases YES! such good times. :), I am going to do myself one of these methinks. I can't believe andy missed out abe vigoda on his lists. Pretty much agree with most of what you say here, and I'm mega jealous that I missed the dec atp. See you soon dude. x

    4 Ene 2009, 22:24
  • r-o-s-s

    That Bon Iver show looks amazing. I wish I had heard of him / got the album earlier in the year so that I could have experienced it in a smaller setting than what I most likely will have to settle for now. Ah well. It made number 10 on my list which I just posted. I am yet to elaborate on it yet though. I really need to check out Algernon Cadwallawallawallawhatever. Keep on hearing good things. Also you may have convinced me to give "JoFo" another shot. Couldn't get into them first time round but people keep on banging on about them!

    8 Ene 2009, 0:03
  • BarefootPilgrim

    Can't make my mind up about Titus Andronicus. I absolutely hate the production but some of the lyrics are pretty good.

    20 Ene 2009, 10:17
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