Tuesday, December 30, 2008


It's Christmastime (one word or two) so that means celebrity versions of normal people shows. Yesterday I watch Celebrity Mastermind, and I although there were two specialist subjects I thought I knew a lot about, I did better on the general knowledge. So it got me thinking, what could I have as specialist subject on Mastermind? 

Now, I'm not expecting to get through round 1, when I'll have to think of a new one but what I have at the moment is:

90s Britpop
90s Pop music
Something to do with football, but nothing so broad that I won't know anything
Henry Rollins, if I read that book again
90s rock music

It's a pretty poor list

Not this Mastermind

Monday, December 29, 2008


Best of 2008

Song: Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
Album: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago
Gig: Bon Iver at St Giles In The Field Church
Film: There Will Be Blood
TV Show: Mad Men
Book: Bright Shiny Morning - James Frey
Reissue: Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac (Deluxe Edition)
Discovery (new): The Twilight Sad - Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters
Discovery (old): Randy Newman - Sail Away

Sunday, December 28, 2008


A quick rundown before the number 1.

Bubbling under (read, I forgot about these)

Friendly Fires - Jump In The Pool
Nada Surf - See These Bones
Take That - Greatest Day
Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss A Beat
The Verve - Love Is Noise
Flo Rida - Low
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Come On Over (Turn Me On)
Laura Marling - Cross Your Fingers

So here's the 20. I make no apologies for being so mainstream. It takes a long time to trawl through every blog and indie release, so sometimes you just go with what you know and what you're given. It's no Pitchfork. But I don't understand their list. It's this indie heaven with TV On The Radio, Fleet Foxes and No Age in the top 10 but then has two of the biggest selling rap albums in the top 20. So mainstream rock is no good? That site is the biggest hypocrite in music journalism.

The Top 20 (mp3s available where the song has a link)

20. Weezer - Everybody Get Dangerous
19. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Sink Ships
17. Alkaline Trio - Over And Out
16. The Bronx - Six Days A Week
15. Oasis - The Turning
14. Mystery Jets - Young Love
13. Wintersleep - Archaeologists
11. My Morning Jacket - Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2
10. Ladyhawke - My Delirium
9. Slipknot - Pyschosocial
8. Paramore - Decode
7. Coldplay - Lovers In Japan
6. The Last Shadow Puppets - Standing Next To Me
5. Panic At The Disco - Northern Downpour
3. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
2. Metallica - The Unforgiven III

1. Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire

I don't think I really need to say anything here. The Kings' first foray into stadium rock was a just a fantastic rock song, followed up by their most U2-esque effort, Use Somebody. Although the album tailed off in the second half, Sex On Fire is a new high point for the Followills. The chorus is the most soaring you've heard all year and it's just that length that as soon as the song is over, you want to hear it again. Live last week it was the highlight of the set and got the biggest singalong of the night. And to add to all that, the band look the best they have all career.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


3. Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart

What did I say before about long songs? I can't remember but I like them. This eight and a half minuter builds slowly for 5 minutes before the song starts (perfect for a radio edit). It almost hits a crescendo before everything drop back for the vocals. Again, I listened to this for a long time when I first got it. The live show didn't disappoint too, so much more rocking than I expected. A word on the lyrics. This is not a warm song. It does not mean that if you hang out with someone they'll like you. It's a stalker song. It's a song about someone so deluded that they think that the more they persist the more someone will like them. If you think it's a stalker song then you are said stalker. Maybe. Sort of. Anyway, if someone doesn't like you then they probably won't see the potential if they spend some time with you.

Watch it live on Dave.

2. Metallica - The Unforgiven III

Metallica came back this year and they needed to. Let's face it, St. Anger wasn't good. It was far too long and had no real melody. It was billed as this smash in the face of hardcore aggression but every part in each song was repeated 2 or 3 times. I actually edited St. Anger down to a concise 45 minutes and I think it sounds a lot better. 

But enough of St. Anger and more of Death Magnetic. We won't speak of levels and mixing, but I was a little disappointed by the Day That Never Comes. After a few listens however I grew to love it. The solos, the building riffs and the twin guitar attack. Death Magnetic is what a Metallica album  should be like (and I do like Load).  I was always going to be drawn to The Unforgiven III, as I liked The Unforgiven and The Unforgiven II, so how could I not like The Unforgiven III. It has a Morricone feel and a fantastic part when the vocals merge with the solo. I also like that in The Unforgiven, Hetfield dubs someone unforgiven, in The Unforgiven II he says that someone is unforgiven too, but in The Unforgiven III it's him who he can't forgive, making him the unforgiven. The only thing we need now is them to play the Unforgiven trilogy live as a fantastic encore, but I doubt that will happen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


5. Panic At The Disco - Northern Downpour

I love reinventions, both in sound and image. Ones that come to light are Radiohead from Pablo Honey to The Bends, Brand New from Your Favourite Weapon to Deja Entendu and every other Beatles album. Which brings us to Panic At The Disco. No !, so keyboard beeps and no huge song titles. Panic changed from emo posterboys to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and they're all only 12! If any other band had tried to channel the spirit of the Fab Four circa 67 or had a record cover similar to Ogden's Nut Flake they would have been laughed away (and many people probably did) but not everyone has Ryan Ross writing their songs. For someone who is at the tender age of 22, the songs on this album show an incredible amount of maturity and knowledge, although his lyrics could need a little more work,  'Paul Cates bought him self a trumpet...' Actually they have been well received what with an NME cover and headlining the second stage at Glastonbury. Northern Downpour has ended up being the 3rd single from this album which is great. It was my favourite song on the album from the beginning and still is. The video is really nice but I don't think Spencer should have worn a t-shirt for this one.....

4. Bon Iver - Skinny Love

What can we say about Bon Iver? Without a doubt the album of the year, Justin Vernon's haunting little album is a perfect example of less is more. But if you think the album is good, you should see them live. I saw them in a church in central London earlier this year and never have I finished watching a concert and I wanted it to start all over again. The highlights of that show were For Emma, un-amplified in the centre of the church and Skinny Love. The drums were awe inspiring, everyone was silent and the applause at the end was immense. A truly wonderful moment and one which makes you realise why you're into music and why we go to live shows. I'll never forget it.

Dave introduces Bon.

Monday, December 22, 2008


7. Coldplay - Lovers In Japan

Reasons I love Coldplay:
1. They are unashamedly massive
2. They went with the French Revolutionary outfits for this album
3. I'm too old to care about being cool anymore
4. The songs are great

When I first heard Viva La Vida, the album, I was asked what it sounded like by my sister. I said, 'you'd like it, it sounds like Peter Gabriel.' I think that Lovers In Japan is the most Gabrielsque song on the album. I also love 42, Violet Hill and Lost! but Lovers In Japan has that fantastic uplifting feel that you need from stadium bands. Live, the album is amazing and Lovers is a high point of the set with butterfly shaped confetti falling from the rafters, and a great montage on the big screen behind.

6. The Last Shadow Puppets - Standing Next To Me

This is almost an anomaly for me to have this Last Shadow Puppets song here because I played The Age Of The Understatement, the song, to within an inch of its life. Or I should say the video. The video blew me away. They always said that they'd be dressed up like Scott Walker in polo necks and chelsea boots and then you saw them standing by the tank singing in unison. But I suppose it was the video to Standing Next To Me, directed by the IT Crowd and Garth Marenghi's Richard Ayoade that makes this song. Miles Kane is wearing the polo neck and Alex Turner is decked in Beatles suit. One plays guitar, the other tambourine, some dancing girls appear and then the boys return in Wayfarers. The harmonies are great and the song is wonderful. Better than the Monkeys. Maybe.

And while we're at it, here's my favourite clip from Man To Man with Dean Learner.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


9. Slipknot - Psychosocial

Ever since Slipknot went mainstream, or in other words started singing, I love them. I quite like them before, Left Behind, Spit It Out etc but it was Vol. III Subliminal Verses which got me. Almost a perfect metal album, and the best of its ilk since Vulgar Display Of Power. All Hope Is Gone is good, but not a patch on Vol. III. The singing songs are perhaps a little too melodic, more akin to the sound of Stone Sour (who for some reason I do not like) that to the Slipknot sound. Psychosocial was the first single from All Hope Is Gone and is great. It has shouty verses and a melodic chorus and a riff to tear your face off. And with all new masks. It also reminds me of a drive to West Wales where Adrian and I knew no words at the start and by the end knew a lot of words, and were bellowing out the chorus. Of course it's all pantomime but what's the harm in that?

8. Paramore - Decode

I can almost describe Paramore as a guilty pleasure, but I refuse to. Riot! was my joint album of the year last year and I still listen to it. So maybe I like Decode, from emo vampire film Twilight, so much is because it's the only new thing I've got from this year. I like it because it sounds a bit like the live version of Let The Flames Begin which has a great ending. I also like the line  'But you think that I can't see what kind a man that you are if you're a man at all'. Hayley gets feisty! Or she's just talking about vampires and werewolves.

The Decode video seems to be not allowed on YouTube. So just have the song.

Also watch Decode from Jimmy Kimmel.

And this amazing live version of Let The Flames Begin.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


11. My Morning Jacket - Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part 2

I only really liked 2 songs on It Still Moves and I never really got Z until I heard the live album, but Evil Urges was a fantastic album this year. Before it seemed very Country Rock based, but this album had a great all over 70s sound. Touch Me.... was the first single I think and my favourite song on the album. I love an 8-minuter and the intro really makes the song, but the best bit is when the first snare hits in after the intro and you're truly in the bowels of good music.

Below is them doing it for Black Cab sessions. It has the intro.

Here's the official video but it's the edited version

10. Ladyhawke - My Delirium

The problem with the Ladyhawke album is that it's all verse chorus verse chorus chorus chorus chorus with no change anywhere, maybe just a key change. Luckily My Delirium doesn't need it (neither did Paris Is Burning but it gets a bit tired after three songs). It's got a great 80s sound and a very catchy chorus. When that first Hey! comes in, it's time to hit the floor.

Friday, December 19, 2008


13. Wintersleep - Archaeologists

I first heard this song back in April. James had made me a massive 2 'disc' compilation and I spent a train ride up to Chesterfield to Iain's wedding devouring it. It was all good, as with most music James gives me, but then one song jumped out and I had to listen to it again. I thought not much of it until about October when this song came through the post. I've heard it before. Then I got the album. Then I saw them live. Good god. Amazing, wonderful, incredible. The drummer is just incredible and the codas take you somewhere else. This, Archaeologists, is one of their more poppy numbers, although not as much as Weighty Ghost (see below) but as it was the first song of theirs I heard, it makes the list.

Watch the video for Weighty Ghost if you need some more.

12. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound

Another band who came to my attention this year. When I was first given the CD I thought they were a ska-punk band, I'm not sure why. I played it, tentatively, but what I heard was this punked up New Jersey sound. Straight up rock, but with an edge. I especially like the album because it references Counting Crows in one song. But The '59 Sound, the song, invokes Springsteen if was brought up on hardcore and punk rather than soul. I can't tell you what this song is about (probably death) but the lyrics have some good imagery - grandfather's radio, hospital wards, your favourite song. For a few weeks this year, this was my favourite song. Download courtesy of Spin

There a video for Old White Lincoln now as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


15. Oasis - The Turning

Oasis release and album, everyone says it's a return to form, it's the best since Definitely Maybe, it's groove based, it's........ ok. When I first heard the initial snippet from The Shock Of The Lightning I have to say I was a little excited. It seemed raucous and edgy. What would the rest of the album sound like? What was going on with Liam's hair? The rest of the album is, as I said, ok. On first listen it sounds great (because it's Oasis and for 4 years of my life they were everything) but after a few listens it doesn't sound as good. Apart from 3 songs. Everybody else is going with I'm Outta Time and Falling Down, but it's all about The Turning for me. Liam snarls his way through it, the chorus seems to have some sort of gospel harmony and let's be fair, yes the beginning does sound like Devil Woman.

It's not a single and they've never played it live.

14. Mystery Jets - Young Love

I never like Mystery Jets before. I though the whole having your Dad in the band was just a gimmick and how many times do magazines have to mention Eel Pie Island? Then this song came out. It features the wonderful Laura Marling, whose album I thought was released last year but apparently it wasn't so it's in the best 10 albums of this year (list not published). Young Love is a lovely, but not twee like Belle & Sebastian, song about, well, young love. The video isn't bad either. And the line 'you wrote your number on my hand but it came off in the rain' is majestic.

Not to leave out Laura Marling, watch Cross Your Fingers

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


17. Alkaline Trio - Over And Out

Alkaline Trio are pretty consistent, and I think their albums have got better every time (although the live gigs were never as good as the first one I saw). From Here To Infirmary was better than Godammit and Maybe I'll Catch Fire. Good Mourning was better than From Here To Infirmary. Crimson was better than Good Mourning and now Agony & Irony is better than Crimson. Why? I'm not sure. The songs are better, especially Dan Andriano's. They've obviously grown up as it's no longer balls to the walls, but the choruses now lift the songs to a new place. Over And Out seems to be a song about dying, so it's certainly not a happy song, but when the 'Run for cover' chorus comes in you just want to sing along. 

There seems to be an acoustic version floating around but below is the original (with added lyrics)

16. The Bronx - Six Days A Week

What can we say about the Bronx? It's just proper hardcore, but the songs extend beyond the Fuck You days of the early 80s. Reasons they are great: 1. All their albums are called The Bronx. 2. The video for History's Stranglers (watch here) 3. The beginning of the last London show, and I quote "The drinkers can drink, the moshers can mosh and the stage divers, well you know what to do" as Matt Caughthran throws himself head first into the crowd on the very first note of the first song.

This song, 6 Days A Week, is basically two hardcore songs melded together. The singing is bordering on shouting, but always in tune. This is hardcore for now and it's fantastic.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


19. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Sink Ships

The Cardinals are a strange bunch, not least because their leader is David Ryan Adams. Since forming the Cardinals they've made 4 albums together but had 8 different members. The one you see above is from Easy Tiger but the lineup has remained for Cardinology. The strange thing about them is that live show is incendiary. Wailing guitar wigouts, jams bridge one song to the next and the harmonies between Adams and Casal are spine tingling. On record, however, it's all a bit light. But the songs are good because they transfer to the live stage so well. I think it may be to do with the fact that there are no acoustic guitars live with them. Anyway, the one song on Cardinology that shows some blood is Sink Ships. Yes, Magick is the balls to the wall rocker but there's something about Sink Ships that makes you go wow. I think it's the part when he almost wails 'the war is over'. That middle eight part makes the song. And it's a classic Adams heartbreaker - "this position is not open to applicants." God, I could write all day about Ryan Adams.

Listen to the studio version below (woohoo I got embedding to work)

18. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

I know nothing about Blitzen Trapper. I saw that a lot of people were posting things about them on their blogs (whoever they are) and I didn't read any of them. I saw the album cover and the way the name was written I thought they were a metal band. See what I mean. Then I listened to the song Furr and was blown away. A fantastic little woodland folk ditty about becoming some sort of wolfman for 6 years. Apparently Fleet Foxes are a bit like this too but I wasn't that taken with them. 

There's some impressive beards on show and the man on the right seems to be playing the lectern.

Download the studio version here (right click save as etc) Free music.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Sort of. It's the Top 20 songs that I've got on my iTunes that I could remember being released this year by bands I like.

Counting down day by day, if I remember.

20. Weezer - Everybody Get Dangerous

The Weezer album 'Weezer (The Red Album)' was a little underwhelming and a bit of a disappointment with the first half being pretty good and the second half being poor (that gag is now ruined). What I love about this song is imagining Rivers with his middle aged moustache singing about causing trouble. Which he obviously didn't do. It's almost Weezer's rap rock track. It has a storming drum beat and the riff kicks too. Pork and Beans had the video, but I think this song is much more fun.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Alexis Petridis (or whoever) is talking about brogues and fancy socks. That's what I'm doing at the moment. Not with Argyle socks like he says. I don't want to be fully fashionable, just not looking like a teenager. Am I that in fashion? Damn.

Apparently the Sunday Times Style has a big spread about how cool it is to like puzzles and not have a girlfriend.

This week Alex asked me for my top 5 albums ever. What a question! 

First draft was:
Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Mansun - Six
At The Drive-in - Relationship Of Command
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Second draft is:
Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden
Cave In - Jupiter
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac
Fleetwood Mac - Rumours 

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


What do you do when the shirt you had lined up for your big night out suddenly has light red stripes on it? 

Or is a more prescient question, what is a grown man doing planning his wardrobe two days in advance?

I don't have many clothes, not in my view, and I go through phases of trends. Sometimes I need to adapt my combinations to suit a certain look, and sometimes I keep it classic. When I started to approach 30 I wanted to find a look I could take into later life. No more baggy jeans, fewer trainers, more shirts. I'd love to be the man who always wears a jacket and tie, like the old man you see. Whatever the weather, jacket and tie. When Nick Cave was in his tie phase (pre-dyed tache) he was asked what he would do to his look if he wanted to wind down, or if he was doing the dishes. He replied - I undo my top button, loosen my tie and maybe roll up my sleeves.

So now the shirt is not going to be worn. Maybe it's ruined. Can I wear a white shirt, or do I need a light stripe or check for what I'm intending? So many questions. 4/5 years ago it would have been the denim get up, 3 years ago a t-shirt and coat, but now I think not. If I am to take this into later life it needs to be more refined. Brogues. A hat?

But let's be fair, we all know my look depends on one person. I try and be original, but I'm just copying.

Underrated song. I'm always hoping an X Factor will do it. Actually I was describing it to a friend and I thought Kevin had left by then. Not so. If his name is Kevin.

Buy. Listen. Love.
A 'Gwai High.

Monday, December 08, 2008

MY LITTLE ......

So when did the voting public fall out of love with 'My Little Diana Vickers'? Probably when she was ill and got through to the next round. Even more so when she was seen 'shouting and screaming' at a fireworks party. Diana was my favourite, but then I wasn't that bothered when she went. 

For me it was a cross between when we found out there was some sort of teenage tryst with baby-faced Eoghan (pronounced Ee-oh-gan) and when she sung the blandest version of the blandest Coldplay song. Before we go on, I like Coldplay, alot. 

I don't understand how they can allow Alexandra et al to perform these unheard of Mary J Bilge/Beyonce songs and then give Diana the most well known Coldplay song. I think Cheryl's music knowledge is very RnB based and her Coldplay knowledge stretches to the big singles. In my opinion, a more apt song for her to sing would have been Trouble. I know it is not as well known, but the people voting for her were the ones who were a bit off the usual X Factor crowd. And the lyrics rang true. 'I never meant to cause you trouble, I never meant to.... go to a fireworks party and scream when I'm meant to have laryngitis'.

Didn't Rik Waller drop out when he had throat problems a few years back? Even though that was probably just an excuse so he wouldn't win. You can't let a big fatso win! Until the year after that is. Just think Rik, you may have gone on Celebrity Fit Club but at least Gillian McKeith has never seen your turds. Oh maybe she has, what do we know?

And don't get me started on White Flag.

Now I'm not that bothered who wins, as long as it isn't Eoghan. 

Vickers, possibly screaming, possibly at a fireworks party

Sunday, December 07, 2008


It's been almost a month since a drunken post about my band. Why has it been so long? Because it's hard work.

Starting a completely new profession from scratch is hard. It's especially hard because for the first 30 years of my life I have deliberately shied away from anything that I didn't take to immediately. I worked in music because it was easy. I liked bands because it was easy to like them. I have friends who are easy to get on with and it's not hard to keep in contact with them, or to maintain the friendships.

Things I didn't do because they were hard:
Learn an instrument
Do something worthwhile
Have girlfriends

Now I am completely changing my life but not really the way I live my life. I'd like to be somebody a little better than who I am. And I could use somebody to help me do that. But in the age old catch 22 scenario, I can't get somebody unless I change, but I need somebody to help me change.


But hey, at least the new Mogwai album is good.

Fuck it, this may all be to do with going to ANOTHER wedding. 

Circa '65

Making a beeline for this as soon as term is over.

Such a sweetheart

The music may not be as amazing as it used to be, but the live show is even better now.