May Kay and the boys are back and ‘Hoo Ha Henry,’ is the new single from Fight Like Apes’ forthcomimg album , the wonderfully named ‘The Body Of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner’ (pre-order HERE). Cue mayhem…..!!
Jonny Fox AKA Itch: vocals and ukulele
Jamie Jazz: vocals and guitar
Fruitbag: vocals and guitar Plus
Johnny Rich: vocals and bass
Jim Parmley: percussion
Al Gunby: drums
Many bands are formed purely to entertain you, to enable you to dance and boogie your cares away, whilst lightening your mood as well as your wallet. This is all well and good and everything has its place, but in the grand scheme of musical history do any of these bands really matter? You get the impression that when such groups reach the end of their shelf life its members will inevitably seek out careers presenting kids TV, acting and, if all else fails, pop up on “Celebrity Big Brother”. Possibly in a final ironic twist, they may become a judge on the “talent” show which spawned the band in the first place. (Now I know exactly what “Pop Will Eat Itself” means!)
Other bands are formed by people who really love music, who share a common goal, people who exist to write something a little more real and something of value. They write about things which you can relate to, things which move you and ultimately, can encourage you to look at the world in which you live, a little differently. They give you hope and can inspire you. Because the best bands, the bands that matter, are the bands that write from the heart, not the wallet, they don’t have a “formula” designed to grab themselves a No 1 single, they don’t regard what they create as simply a “product” or seek fame for fames sake. They do it because they love it and because they have something worthwhile to express.
The King Blues are one such band, a band who follow in the grand tradition of political troubadours such as Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Elvis Costello and Ewan McColl They write with openness and honesty mixing their own potent ideologies with the dirty romantic urban poetry of say, Shane McGowan, or Mike Skinner. At times conjuring up the ghosts of the Clash, The Pogues and The Specials, the King Blues shout from the roof tops about things that matter, and about what they see as wrong with society but never appear preachy or pious. In fact they sound like they are having a ball putting the world to rights. Their stories are told with cheek, warmth, compassion and humour, there are no simulated causes here, they are indeed the real deal, and prove the one thing you can’t manufacture is soul !
“Save The World, Get The Girl”, The King Blues follow up to “Under The Fog” kind of blind-sided me, it seemed to come from nowhere and successfully hijacked my CD player for the latter part of 2008. It is now quite rightly the VPME’s (joint) record of the year, an accolade it richly deserves, for it is an album full of passion, heart, fire, anger empathy and wit. We spoke to the bands front man Itch about the King Blues adventures in 2008
VP: What’s the story behind the bands formation?
ITCH: We formed around 4 years ago. It started off as a solo project but more and more people started getting involved and we eventually evolved into a 6-piece band. The first few years were spent as an acoustic 2 piece, trying to play in the punk scene which wasn’t easy as most people were put off by the words acoustic and ska. So we started opening up our own squats, hooking up the electrics and wheeling in a PA so we were throwing these massive free parties just to get people to see us. Once they saw us and realised we weren’t your usual shoe gazing acoustic band it became instantly easier. We then took the idea one step further and strapped the PA to the back of a giant tricycle so we could play while moving which we did at various protests and marches which got us noticed by a lot more people. Having been accepted and championed in the punk scene we ventured out of our comfort zones again and started playing hip hop nights, reggae nights, acoustic nights and just started spreading it round. We released our first album independently after support at Radio 1 and re-released it along with our latest album on Field Recordings/Island.
VP: Where did the name come from?
ITCH: The name comes from king size blue rizzla, smoking paraphernalia
VP: Billy Bragg once sang “Mixing pop and politics he asks me what the use is…”you’re obviously a band with a social conscience with something to say. how would you address that question?
ITCH: Music has the power to touch people like nothing else, it has the power to unite, to breakdown borders and boundaries and to make us realise that we are all the same. Every generation has had artists that reflect what is happening socially and politically at the time, songs become anthems of movements and help to educate, inspire, unite and motivate people. Music touches the heart, which is where our politics should grow from.
VP: Your latest album “Save The World, Get The Girl” is full of great tunes and razor sharp lyrics. It also contains one of my songs of the year “What If Punk Never Happened”. What inspired that song? What do you think punks’ legacy has been?
ITCH: I wanted to pay tribute to a lifestyle and culture that I’ve made my own for most of my life. The pure, tribal, primitive values of punk rock are important and powerful. That 30 years later, scenes have sprung up literally all over the world, not just the first world, is testament to its underlying truth. Punk’s legacy for me personally, has been to empower myself, make the best of what I got and to unite with others. I truly believe it has the power to affect real social change.
VP: What would you say are the five most important songs ever written?
ITCH: Jamie assures me the 5 most important songs are
Prince – 1999
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?
Aretha Franklin – Respect
Bob Marley – One Love
Little Richard – Tutti Frutti
VP: The “Credit Crunch”, Hello Obama, bye bye Bush. What have been your highlights and lowlights of 2008?
ITCH:Personal Highlights of ’08:
Releasing 2 albums and 2 ep’s, getting rid of Bush, literally smashing EDO (Brighton based arms manufacturer), playing outside Tony Blair’s speech and drowning him out, Reading/Leeds & Glastonbury for a 3rd year in a row, playing the world against war march. As a band we had a pretty good year, I can’t think of too many lowlights.
VP: You recently wrote on open letter to Gordon Brown on a Billboard in Shoreditch, what was the thinking behind that?
ITCH: We were basically given an early Christmas present by our label which was a blank billboard in central London . We were told we could put whatever we wanted on it, whether it be details of the album, or the single, or anything else. So we decided to write an end of year letter to our unelected leader for all to see. It took us 3 hours to do on a freezing cold morning and I only finished writing the words literally on the morning we did it because it was all very last minute. We expected it to get covered up, or graffed over as soon as it went up, we thought people would take it as a free for all, but it went completely untouched for the entire 2 weeks it was up there. It stuck out like a particularly sore thumb so everyone was stopping to read it, I was really proud of that.
VP: How life in London under Boris, worse? Better? No change?
ITCH: I try to have the mentality that the government doesn’t exist, neither does authority and I therefore have free reign to do what I want, so I just pretend Boris isn’t really in charge and live happily.
VP: What bands have caught your ears in 2008?
ITCH: The Gaslight Anthem, The Skints, Dirty Revolution, Jimmy The Squirrel, Sabac, it’s been a good year for music.
VP: The internet has changed the face of music forever, but has it changed it for the better?
ITCH: Personally I don’t think so, I think it’s just too easy to get music now, so if someone doesn’t like an album straight away it gets deleted, rather than having the time to grow on them, I’d have missed out on London Calling and Ziggy Stardust if I’d downloaded them free and given them one spin. It really cheapens music which is sad, there was something tribal about being passed a tape of some band it was really hard to get, there was a feeling of being a part of something, now you’re just another myspace friend, maybe I’m old and cynical.
VP: What would be your five wishes for 2009?
1. A never ending plate of pancakes
2. Bottomless banana milkshake
3. To be able to drive without having to learn anything
2008 has been a strange year, and one I’ll generally be glad to see the back of. I guess in global terms it’ll be defined as the year of Obama and the year those gung-ho laissez-faire capitalists decided that actually state intervention is actually a jolly good idea after all. They think it only fair that whilst profits are privatised, losses really should be socialised. Suddenly the shrill bleating about the mythical “nanny state” or” letting the market decide” from dullards who subscribe to the Daily Mail’s paranoid right wing hysteria has been inexplicably silenced. 2008 has seen the biggest government intervention and nationalisation in recent economic history, purely for the benefit of the rich and the well connected…..
However musically there have been some great moments so without further ado here are The VPME 2008 Awards………
Who will follow last year’s winners The Raveonettes ( Lust Lust Lust)?
The Indelicates are unlike anything another band around at the moment. “American Demo” is an, intelligent, disturbing, witty and, thought provoking album, and every right thinking person should own a copy.
3. Thomas Tantrum- Thomas Tantrum
TT came up with a fantastic debut album, hopefully they will build an even bigger fan base in 2009.
4. “ Neptune City ”- Nicole Atkins
There have been many pretenders to the thrown, but Nicole is the real deal. A timeless voice, a classic album, genius.
Glasgow ’s finest, prove, that the hype appears to be completely justified.
6. The Bookhouse Boys-The Bookhouse Boys
The Bookhouse Boys combine surf guitar, spaghetti western, even elements of gospel, and at times sound like Nick Cave fronting The Last Shadow Puppets. Only one small gripe, would like to hear Catherine Turner’s vocals utilised to greater effect, still, a great debut.
7. “Alas I Cannot Swim” -Laura Marling
Maybe she can’t swim but she can certainly sing; mature lyrics, dark themes and beautiful melodies equal a remarkable debut album.
8. “This Gift” –Sons & Daughters
Bernard Butler’s production may have given S&D a new sense of tattered glamour but underneath the surface the fire the passion and the menace burn as brightly as ever. A fabulous band and an album that sees them scale new heights.
9. “O” Tilly And The Wall
When an album contains shouted terrace chants, girl group harmony vocals, a sonic 60’s organ, Punk Rock guitar riffs and erm… tap dance- you must ponder the inevitable question “what’s not to like?
“Pot Kettle Black” By Tilly And The Wall
10.” Velocifero”- Ladytron
The enigmatic goth-pop purveyors of layered synths and pounding drums come back with a driving, relentless blend of lush electronica and icy pop hooks. “Velocifero” draws on many influences yet still sounds unique and original.
11. “CSI Ambleside”- Half man Half Biscuit
Oft described as one of pops greatest satirists, Mr. Blackwell and his merry men produce another album that provides enough laughs, home truths and wisdom to satisfy die heard fans and maybe gain some new ones. As ever the songs also have the greatest pop song titles known to man.
“Lord Herefords Knob” By Halfman Half Biscuit
12. “The Colourful Life” – Cajun Dance Party
A debut from a band who at times conjure up a slightly more upbeat Robert Smith, or a sunnier Morrissey. It’s an album that maybe short on length but doesn’t skimp on genuine excitement and is impossible to listen to without lightening your mood. A band with a big future.
13. “Dig Lazarus Dig”- Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
His moustache may be big enough to support its own weather system, he may look like some sort of demented preacher from Tombstone , and it may be his 14th studio album but on “Dig Lazarus Dig” Mr. Cave sounds reinvigorated and surprisingly upbeat. Where as many middle aged rock stars would be content to amble around the golf course, Mr. Cave is still wrestling his favorite obsessions, sex, scarlet women, death, literature, religion, fidelity and creates a world which is burrowing its way to hell, and appears to be having quite a time getting there.
14. “Do You Like Rock Music?” – British Sea Power
Yes I do, and I also like this album, it has a HUGE sound, which retains the Psychedelic Furs /Joy Division vibe of their earlier work, and has been compared by many to The Arcade Fire. The big difference here is that British Sea Power has produced a better and a more consistent album than their Canadian brethren’s rather laboured efforts thus far.
“No Lucifer” By British Sea Power
15 “In Our Space Hero Suits”- Those Dancing Days
Their now trade mark pounding Hammond organ underpins Linnea Jonsson’s soulful voice on an album that provides pop hooks a plenty and proves the Swedish teen-sensations have a precocious talent for writing punky poppy C-86 Northern soul inspired tracks.
16 “The Age Of The Understatement”-The Last Shadow Puppets
Yes we know it’s a project hugely influenced By Scott Walker, that sounds comfortably familiar, yet conversely is a breath of fresh air. What saves this record from being merely a swirling symphonic -pop pastiche is the lyrics and the swashbuckling attitude that runs through the entire project, which manages to step outside of its obvious limitations and is prepared to take risks… Sadly for Miles Kane it also exacerbates the obvious short comings of The Rascals debut album…ouch!
17. “A Larum”-Johnny Flynn
The ex violin player with Emmy The Great and former choirboy’s debut is an album that shines like a light house in the sea of so called, “British folk.” He’s also a Shakespearian actor. Oh and ladies, he’s not exactly been hit with the ugly stick either ! It’s just not fair is it?
“The Box” By Johnny Flynn
18. Santogold- Santogold
Santi Whites genre hopping album covers everything from RnB to surf punk to sounding like Karen O fronting the B-52’s. Eclectic is the word. Here’s another two, “Top Banana”, and it really is.
19. “Fleet Foxes- Fleet Foxes
One of the more stupid statements of 2008 has to be “I’m too young to like The Fleet Foxes” …Pfft! …contrast that retarded remark with what Fleet Foxes Singer and chief songwriter Robin Pecknold said “All we strove for with this record was to make something that was an honest reflection of who we are, citizens of the western United States who love all kinds of music and above all else love singing.” – Enough said eh?
20. “Blue Hands”- The Hot Puppies
Initially I found this a disappointment, possibly due to the timescales between the single releases and the eventual album release date. When the album finally came into the public arena I felt I’d already heard it. Then I decided to listen to it with new ears as a whole and not skipping past the singles and tracks I was on more than nodding terms with. . It was only then I had my Boo Radley moment of clarity and understood…The Puppies are still Hot.
Single Of The Year
1. Swan Lake- Thomas Tantrum
4. America –The Indelicates
5. Beat Control- Tilly And The Wall
8. Darling- Sons & Daughters
9. Six And Three Quarters-Ipso Facto
10. Colourful Life-Cajun Dance Party
11. Somewhere-the Hot Puppies
12. Another Version Of Pop Song –Rose Elinor Dougall
13. Let It Slip-The School
14. We Almost had A Baby-Emmy The Great
15. Five Years Time- Noah And The Whale
Quotes Of The Year:
Gordon Brown: “We not only saved the world… “
Mark Radcliff : “ these top dogs who are obviously worth the millions they’re paid to run these companies, when they were raking in huge profits, didn’t it cross their minds to, you know, put a bit by for when things aren’t so rosy? But it turns out they were right not to put a bit by, because now things are turning sour, everybody chips in to see them right”
Monster Bobby (On the many departures from The Pipettes); Nobody held a gun to Rose and Becki’s head and forced them to leave”
Von Pip: “So you’re no Phil Spector then?”
Frankie Boyle, referring to Michael Jackson; “He has to live the life of a Scooby Doo villain, hanging around in a deserted fairground with a plastic face”;
And questioning plans to give Margaret Thatcher a £3m state funeral
“For that money you could buy every person in Glasgow a shovel so they can dig a hole so deep they can hand her to Satan personally”
Gigs Of The Year
1. Jesus And Mary Chain /Black Box Recorder/British Sea Power The Forum London 27/10/2008
2. Glasvegas Liverpool Barfly
3. Sons and Daughters/ Eugene McGuiness/ Lightspeed Champion- Academy 2 Liverpool
4. Laura Marling – Zanzibar Club Liverpool
5. Billy Bragg- Liverpool Philharmonic.
Ones To Watch 2009
Ipso Facto, Sound Of Guns, Stickboy, Thomas Tantrum, Little Boots, Wintersleep, Emmy The Great, Paloma Faith, Vote Show Pony , Mumford and Sons, The Tamborines, Eugene McGuiness, Doll And The Kicks, Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies,The King Blues, The Bookhouse Boys, Skint And Demoralised, Howling Bells, Catherine AD and Fight Like Apes
These lads have caused moistness a-plenty in the pants of A&R men this year, they’ve also been getting rave reviews for their live performances andhave a lead singerwhose been compared to everybody from Jim Morrison to Ian McCulloch.
Howling Bells will be releasing their second album in 09, and if it’s as good as 2006’s darkly brooding first offering we’re in for a treat. Juanita Stein’s gorgeous vocals could well be haunting your dreams this year.
Mad as F**k!! Unpretentious electro-punk fun, their debut album””And The Mystery Of The Golden Medallion” released in the UK on 26th January, should see them breakthrough to the big time in 2009
Video Of The Year
The Indelicates – America
Proof that you can capture the essence and atmosphere of a song without flashy CGI effects or Simon Le Bon clamping his flabby thighs around the reinforced hull of some champagne Charlie’s yacht. Just raid Stuart Goddard’s wardrobe for costumes, mix in some decent editing, a bit of passion and sing like you mean it!
“There’s a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets…
I try to put everything into perspective,
Set it against the scale of human suffering
And I thought of the Mugabe government
And the children of the Calcutta railways
This works for a while
But then I encounter Primark FM
Overhead a rainbow appears
In black and white
I guess this must be National Shite Day“
Dr Who, Heroes, Dexter, Gavin And Stacey, Mock The Week.
Borrell, Alpha*f**kin”Beat, Kaiser Chiefs, guilty pleasure pop (wow, a new way to market “SHITE” !)
Highlight Of The Year
Bye Bye Bush, hello Obama
But what of our chums, contributors, collaborators and supporters? How was 2008 for them?
JOHN MOORE: (Black Box Recorder, The Jesus And Mary Chain, The Expressway):
Rather bad news on the record of the year front I’m afraid. It appears that I haven’t brought any, and have successfully avoided almost everything – it’s the way to be! However, I have been listening “To Raindrops Keeps Falling On My Head” By Sacha Distel, “ Dessert Shore ” By Nico, Hank Williams, The Cramps, Laughing Lenny Cohen, and the great works of the legendary Black Box Recorder – for pleasure and professional purposes.
Were I to come up with a list of records I’d like to have seen made in 2008, I’d have paid good money to hear Gordon Brown cover “I’ve Got Cocaine, Running Around My Brain,” Karen Matthews doing “Material Girl”, and Osama Bin Laden doing the Ink Spot’s “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire – I Just Want To Start A Flame In Your Heart.” That concludes the voting from London .
MATHEW HORNE– (Probably best known at present as Gavin, from one of our fave TV shows Gavin And Stacy, as well as The Catherine Tate Show, 20 Things To Do Before You’re 30, and Teachers. In 2009 he ‘ll be appearing on the West End in Joe Orton’s “Entertaining Mr Sloane” and starring with James Corden in their movie “Lesbian Vampire Killers”)
“My Top Five are
Foals – Antidotes
British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
The Whip – X-Marks Destination
Black Kids – Partie Traumatic
Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel”
JULIA INDELICATE: (The Indelicates)
“Dance and Walk” (album) by No Bra. they did that Munchausen’s song, and are quite cool shit…who came out this year? I keep getting asking this question, and I can’t for the life of me say… argh. erm…Goldfrapp’s one I suppose I like that… and err…”Songs In A and E” by Spiritualized, though these are really just ones I might like if I actually listened to music, so I probably shouldn’t be playing really…how many have I got? … one more… um…Jesus, it’s been a TERRIBLE year for albums. I’ve just been looking at the Amazon list… lord god they’re terrible…I suppose we should put the Thlyds album ‘I Dun Lewis’s Mum’. that’s a cracker. Highlights of the year, Obama becoming president, Heroes TV series, the Caged Virgin (book) by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, The Dark Knight, Germaine Greer on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks,” and my album “American Demo.” Oh and the stage version of Cabaret in London was probably one of my favourite things of the year. It has one of the hardest endings to witness ever, and resulted in me being unable to leave the theatre due to UNCONTROLLABLE sobbing
SIMON INDELICATE: (The Indelicates) “My favourite album of the year was by Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, because it doesn’t exist.”
Master Von Pip has asked me to voice opinion on my five favourite albums of the year and other highlights. I suppose it has to be this year doesn’t it? Yes? Thought so, otherwise I would have included my self-made C60 cassette compilation of Lancastrian marching songs which I put together in the summer of 1974. Strange summer 1974, full of Zairean footballers doing ludicrous things and girls in Hayley Mills tank tops. That’s the year I discovered bri-nylon that is.
Back to the present, 2008 was hardly a vintage year for albums in my book although I made some interesting discoveries like those lasses in Ipso Facto. There’s a lot of things that I don’t “do” but among the things that I do “do” (dooby doo) are sulky looking young lasses in Mary Quant tops. I also “do” Diana Rigg in a leather cat suit, Jenny Agutter in a next to nothing slip in “Logan’s Run” and Joan Sim’s gym teacher in “Carry On Teacher.”
No, 2008 left me most of the time in a state of audio confusion, a fog of bewildered thoughts with the occasional torch beam that illuminated a way out. One such beam was that lot, Glasvegas. I have nowt but admiration for a well sculptured quif and a motorbike jacket these days, anyone who can strut thus in a sea of track suits and skinny jeans has got to have true grit. I also like the fusion of Glasgow and Johnny Vegas, it suggests hard drinking surreal comedy with a rock’n’roll edge. But then someone said it was Glasgow and Las Vegas which brings a whole “Siegfried and Roy” element to the game. But I’m in a tolerant mood so let’s overlook any potential tendency towards camp Germanic magic glitz. In fact, there’s no such evidence to suggest that Glasvegas incorporate this kind of coco. No, if anything Glasvegas look like The Clash and sound like The Shangri-la’s, which can only be a good thing. The album is full of ‘boom-BA-boom-tssh’ Phil Spector moments but with pithy stories of everyday folk. It is a logbook of the dirt underneath the tenements of Glasgow , the burger burp of a weedgie drunk in your face, a wee swally of Tennants Superbrew. In other words, rough but real.
Having found that particular oasis, I looked for another oasis. Not that one, not the one with the feller that looks like Parker from Thundercats and badmouths everyone else and thinks that he’s Bingo Starr. Why would I want to listen to Status bloody Quo? No the next Preston in a sea of Burnley ’s is the Portishead album. Portishead are an old feller, a blonde attractive middle aged lass and a younger beardy bloke and they hadn’t recorded an album for ten years – if only the same could be said for Oasis. Now I don’t normally do German machine shop noises and all that, Kraftwerk were the reason I spent a night in the cells in Haltwhistle in 1975. ‘Third’ so called because they wanted to do a tribute to Thora Hird (T-hird = Third) is like listening to a computer booting up as if it had been programmed by Vaughn Williams. In other words, rather lovely. There’s a few sprightly tunes that put me in a the mood to walk up to the likes of Wilmot-Bwona (our local council diversity champion) and those other self-appointed politically correct do gooders who cancel Christmas and force us to celebrate Kwanza and get a wedge of Stollen and shove it where the sun don’t shine. Empowerment, that’s what this album delivers.
Sir Timothy Of Burgess
My third Valhalla of the year is The Charlatans album which I downloaded for nowt from XFM and which makes it the best VFM album this year. I mentioned elsewhere on the VPME reviews that I very much admired Tim Burgess and his medieval Henry V hair-do. My female friend Sandra-Joyce plays an Abbess in these medieval dressing up re-enactment type things and she says that The Charlatans are the first band since Jethro Tull to provide an authentic medieval soundtrack to their middle-aged gadding about. For that reason and also because they’re a bloody decent bunch of fellers, I like very much.
My fourth Penny Smith (one of a quintet of TV lovelies – Her, Lorraine Kelly, Jane MacDonald, Linda Bellingham and the other Mrs Herriot, Carol Drinkwater – who is the best of the lot – who shine light on my life) is “Monkey Journey To The West.” An odd choice you may think, especially for someone who doesn’t like Chinese food – bloody birds nest soup. But not so odd see, I like Albarn and the other feller and I’d much rather watch their cartoon characters than Ed, Edd and Eddy or whatever animated claptrap exists in this day and age. The music is pleasant, it plinkety plonks along, tells a story which is more than can be said about Phil Collins who can just sing laments about being left because of his premature baldness. What’s more it has the holy trinity of a monkey, a pig and a fish plus a monk called Tripataka, now that’s class that is. I’ve had a lot of trouble with monkeys down the years and I’m a bit undecided on whether it’s their comedic value or ability to rip your face off that I find most appealing. Pigs are delicious and fish are…well…aquatic creatures. Less said the better there.
My last choice is Beck. Now Beck is American. Don’t know if you knew that but he is, so there. He makes the sort of racket that the bohemians next door to me practise their surf dancing to, at 2am in the morning, suffice to say that drives me up the wall but when you hear something enough times you fall in love with it. I love this album, not in a sexy way, but a kind of peck on the cheek sort of way. It’s like a pair of Farah’s, functional and yet a design classic that holds shape during the most vigorous shakedown at the local discothèque. That’s French, by the way, for disco.
As for other annual highlights, here’s a few thoughts:
Last episode of Dr Who, when that bloody harridan Catherine Tate lost her memory and was written out. Hoorah I cried but what a waste of a bloody series having her inane chavness ruin what should be a chav free zone. I’ve come to trust Russell T Grant less and less as time goes by; I think the fellers obsessed with celebrity. He’s like a more subdued Alan Carr only without the Banana Splits face. “Dogwood Who and The Faerie,” my own effort, was much better.
Being voted Cheambeat Communications Thinking Woman’s Crumpet for 2008. Apparently, the fact that I make absolutely no attempt to exude any charm whatsoever makes me the man that woman of a certain age want to tame. Tame? What am I a bloody feral cat? Still it’s nice to know that I can have my pick of the Darby and Jones Club. I’ve had exactly 3.2 sexual experiences this year, that’s enough for any Tom, Dick or Damian Hirst.
Sandra Faerie – she’s my best female mate although she probably doesn’t think that I’m her best male mate. Despite the fact that she causes me no end of grief with her sarcastic interjections and stand-offishness, she is a worthy sparring partner and I would say that the current score is all level at half-time with Dogwood having a goal disallowed. She is a creative lass and her work on ‘Dogwood Who’, ‘Hotel’ and the latest bonanza ‘Gibson and Rubnut’, a kind of Professionals for the 21st century is actually very good.
VPME – Becoming a regular contributor to this fine epistle has been one of my highlights. Getting recognised as one of the best bloody online music blogs is well deserved.
Well that’s enough High Cockalorum from me, time to bed down for Christmas and New Year.
My New Years resolution is more lace brassieres on women.
Havilah – The Drones
Dear Science – TV on the Radio
Lie Down in the light – Bonnie Prince Billy
A Larum – Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit
Instant Coffee Baby – The Wave Pictures
With special mentions to The Walkmen, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, MGMT and Laura Marling.
Personal Bookhouse Boys highlights have been:
Getting the album out into the world
Recording a live session for Radio 1 at BBC Maida Vale
Selling out the ICA
Playing our biggest show at Latitude Festival
And last but not least, having a great time playing music with my friends and family.
Personal Musical Highlights:
The Minotaur – The Drones
Brown Trout Blues – Johnny Flynn
Love Song – Lesley Duncan
Walk Don’t Run – Herman Dune
Sigur Ros Live at Latitude
Feist at the Royal Albert Hall”
MISTER LION: (VPME Illustrator and East Anglian Correspondent)
“I’d like to begin by saying that I don’t really truck with this list-making malarkey; competition between works of artistic endeavour is like asking whether air is better than water. However, I’ve been asked for my “top five”, so I’ll dutifully comply. I would just like it noted that, in what has been a genuinely top year for music (as long as you haven’t been watching X Factor), there are at the very least a dozen other albums from 2008 which I love as much as any of those listed here. Ask me on another day, the list would be different. Anyway, here goes, in no particular order…
Blue Hands by the Hot Puppies
It gets into your head, under your skin and you wake up in the middle of the night with the lyrics preying on your mind. If Under The Crooked Moon was just the beginning of a mystery story, then this second chapter sucks us further into that world. The metaphors and iconography resonate with a contemporary urgency, told as they are in powerful, haunting vocals and engaging, otherworldly sounds, and one can only hope that this album finds a wider audience over time considering the tragic lack of fanfare that accompanied its release.
Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp
Never ones to adhere to formula or trends, Goldfrapp this year muted the electro-pop image in favour of a much more earthy look and sound which would sit quite comfortably alongside the soundtrack to The Wicker Man. It’s undeniably them, but they’ve successfully pushed their pop machine forward by drawing on the folk sounds of the past. You can get lost in this album, so keep a wary eye out for Britt Ekland and ChristopherLee.
Stainless Style by Neon Neon
Throwbacks to the eighties are everywhere at the moment, with mixed results – the excellent debut from Ladyhawke being one of the positive ones – but Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals and experimental producer Boom Bip managed to ably justify their homage to the era with this collaboration. The concept album is an awkward creature, but this retelling of the rise and fall of visionary, delusional car-maker John DeLorean strikes a perfect balance of genres, tempos and moods, even proving that rap – a field I’m usually averse to on account of its commonly negative subject matter – works exceptionally well when employed as a narrative tool.
American Demo by the Indelicates
If all the angst, dreams, discovery, speculation, yearning and disillusionment one feels as a student of the arts (I’ve been there, so bear with me) could be poured into musical form, it would sound like the Indelicates. Hopping genres, telling stories and shouting the truth – however ugly it may be – from the rooftops, my year would have been a quieter, sadder, duller place without this album.
Way To Normal by Ben Folds
Fears that Ben Folds had finally settled down with his pipe and slippers, depleted of the energy to fill entire albums anymore were thankfully not borne out in his latest LP. Sadly it appears from many of the lyrics that his divorce from the mother of his children has been the primary fuel for the fire, but the result flies off this CD with all the vigour of the earliest Ben Folds Five material. One assumes the overt misogyny is ironic – he hasn’t wasted any time in marrying again – but this album manages to couple the expected heartfelt melancholy and observational wit with some nice musical surprises.”
“1. Skeletal Lamping by Of Montreal
2. Kala by M.I.A.
3. Third by Portishead
4. Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust by Sigur Ros
5. Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp
6. Harps and Angels by Randy Newman.
My personal highlight of the year (aside from the obvious presidential elections and turning eighteen) was Rich Kid, Poor Kid on Channel 4. I still haven’t decided whether it was hilariously tragic or just tragically tragic.”
“1. Fleet Foxes “Fleet Foxes” (Subpop)
2. M83 “Saturdays=Youth” (Mute)Explorers Club “Freedom Wind” ( Dead Ocean )
3. The Last Shadow Puppets “The Age Of The Understatement” (Domino)
4. Blitzen Trapper “Furr” (Subpop)
5. Explorers Club “Freedom Wind” ( Dead Ocean )
1. International Jetsetters “Heart Is Black” EP (Planting Seeds)
2. International Jetsetters acoustic live sets in New York/New Jersey ( Brooklyn , NYC, WFMU)
3. The Jesus And Mary Chain’s “Power Of Negative Thinking” Box + ” All Things Must Pass ” track
4. The Jesus And Mary Chain live London (The Roundhouse) and in Los Angeles (Gibson Amphitheatre)
5. There are way too many highlights but 2008 was all good…”
DAVID HEULUN ( VPME London Correspondent)
“1. BARRY ADAMSON ‘Back to the Cat’
The master of dark cinematic soul delivers his ‘pop’ album – and it was
2. EAGLES OF DEATH METAL ‘Heart On’
These guys get better with every release. With ‘Heart On’ they reach new levels of boogie-tastic raunchy rock n’ roll deliciousness! Brings a
smile to the lips and a lump to the pants!
3. JENNY LEWIS ‘Acid Tongue’
More quality from the fabulous Ms Lewis. A raw ‘live-in-the-studio’ country-rock album. She makes proper albums where every track matters-and puts on a hell of a live show.
4. DENGUE FEVER ‘Venus on Earth’
Cambodian psychedelic pop-rock anyone? Yes please! This magical album will delight even the most jaded, bitter and twisted music lovers!
5. THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS ‘The Age of the Understatement’
To be honest the album’s galloping pace kinda runs out of steam near the end but the first three quarters are so utterly fantastic it makes my top five. And I will officially join the throngs proclaiming Alex Turner one of the finest lyricists of our time.”
Utterly bonkers, of course, but what else would you expect from the Mael Brothers? Their 21st album is packed with the usual humour, wit and clever orchestrations found on all the previous 20 although unlike bands like Oasis who just never seem to change, the songs are never repetetive and there’s always a surprise gem or two hidden inside one of Ron Mael’s beautiful, multi-layered arrangements. Oh, and with a single entitled ‘Lighten Up Morrissey’ it surely sends out a message to all those rock stars who take themseleves far too seriously. Yes, Chris Martin, this means you!
Flight of the Conchords “Flight of the Conchords”
Ah, the old song parody routine! Never fear listeners, these ain’t no Hale and Pace, nor even more thankfully French and Saunders! Sheer comic delight backed up with the kind of musical dexterity last seen and heard coming from Neil Innes’s piano on the Rutles’ DVD. These are decent songs in their own right, never mind the fact that they’re also hilariously funny, without resorting to stupidity – a lazy trait often used by the aforementioned F&S. Marvellous.
Acid House Kings “Sings Along With The Acid House Kings”
Ok, this came out last year but I only discovered it this year – bright, bouncy, overtly commercial Swedish pop done as only the Swedes know how – that is, they know they’re poppy and not angsty, indie with serious faces and they don’t care. It’s music to be enjoyed, pure and simple.
Other highlights: The Shout Out Louds, Ladyhawke, The Cure (the fact that they’re still going), Oasis failing in America again ha ha ha and Take That continuing to piss off Robbie Williams for being better than him.
Lowlights: Cowell, Razorlite continuing to have a career, anyone in the music business demanding money.”