Ok so we’ve been named in the Best Blog category at The Record of The Day Awards for the 4th year running. Now as we don’t have teams of writers to vote for us or our own PR company we thought we’d ask you, our dear readers, to help us out. You can register below ( don’t worry about company name if you don’t have one)- click on BLOG category on the left and find us on the drop down list click and vote -Presto! – All done. Plenty of other good blogs there too but remember if you don’t vote Von Pip fairies will die, angels will lose their wings, Bedford Falls becomes Pottersville and Cowell wins again – 🙂
The Kiara Elles, Suzuki Method, Standard Fare, Live at The Zanzibar, Liverpool 14th May 2010
“When are you going to grow up and stop pissing about with pop music, you big girl!, You wanna get back into footie, lad” said my sagacious acquaintance (to call him a friend would suggest we had things in common-like mutual respect.) He looked quite the dandy clad in a replica Everton shirt, stretched to breaking point across the leviathan girth of his capacious well stocked stomach, his absurd garb complimented by the accoutrements of the terminally stupid, the ubiquitous Homer Simpson novelty sock set. These pearls of wisdom came from a man, whom some minutes earlier, had been informing complete strangers via the medium of song that Everton were magic, whilst Liverpool were apparently tragic. As to the merits of his suggestion that I need to grow up in some shape or form, I addressed his metaphysical musings on the subject with a retort that, whilst not exactly Wildean in terms of wit and pithiness, certainly found its mark -‘ Maybe I’ll grow up when you stop talking utter bollocks you fat cretinous Neanderthal oaf’. Admittedly I felt a pang of guilt afterwards, feeling as if I’d just kicked a particularly docile Labrador, I had formed the opinion that this hapless miscreant couldn’t really help being an idiot, it kind of just came naturally to him, like breathing.
But really, is the removal of one’s brain now a pre-requisite for being granted entry to the nation’s football stadia? Sadly, it would appear so, if the mind numbingly inane communal singing that passes for wit at such occasions is anything to go by. Our friend in questions particular favourite ditty at present is ‘What’s that coming over the hill? It’s Jagielka, It’s Jagielka’ (sung with gusto to the tune of the Automatics ‘Monster’ no less). Sigh!… And so I follow music, he attends football and never the twain shall meet, horses for courses I guess….
He certainly wasn’t in attendance at our latest “Sick! music night” but fortunately some great bands were as well as the discerning music fan 😉 looking for something more than a Beatles tribute band or a karaoke warblefest. The first band of the evening were The Kiara Elles from Leeds , a band I have become rather smitten with in the aftermath of their ‘Odio Ep’ and their wonderful début album, ‘Slide Over’. I was obviously delighted that the band had agreed to make the perilous, Tolkienesque journey across the Pennines to Liverpool to play a set for us.
Prior to taking to the stage lead singer Chiara Lucchini leant forward conspiratorially and said ‘You probably won’t like us after this’, she couldn’t have been more wrong of course, and my legal team are now drawing up documents which will enable me legally adopt them all . They played a fantastic set and in Chiara they have a front person who is as charismatic and mesmeric a performer as you’re likely to see, totally committed, passionate and exuding such energy that I felt exhausted just watching her propel herself about the stage. She really is pure dynamite on legs and definitely has that certain special something about her, surrounded by that intangible aura that can only be defined as ‘star quality’. A fantastic performance and one can only hope that in the shallow money trench that is the music business a band this good can make its mark, they certainly deserve to.
The Kiara Elles may have been a tough act to follow but Manchester’s Suzuki Method certainly gave their all and pulled a great performance out of their musical hat. Their songs are a genre traversing mix of dance and Indie, mixing the old school Mancunian Hacienda vibe with hard edged guitar pop which they manage to pull off with great aplomb. With a debut EP due for release on Factory Foundation records in August and containing tracks such as “Purple Aki” (surely a ,“Can I Feel Your Muscles” remix is just begging to be released, as is Aki probably) and “What We Do Is Not A Secret , expect to hear much more from this outfit in 2010.
Final act of the night came from Thee SPC favourites, Standard Fare from Sheffield. Their début album “The Noyelle Beat” has become a firm favourite on the blogosphere and their set showcased their endearing boy/girl jangle guitar fretted tunes about love loss and regret. They have already been compared to the likes of Belle and Sebastian but have a more substantial overall sound and don’t go overboard on self indulgent tweeness or whimsy, they write songs that are as heartfelt as they are endearing.
Live they exude energy and melody and produced a set that was tighter than the rope I’m planning to garrotte Simon Cowell with given half a chance! (For clarity this is a joke and not an actual threat, in any case I’d probably use a gun for a cleaner kill J) ‘Philadelphia’ ‘Secret Little Sweetheart’ and ‘Love Just Doesn’t Stop ‘ all demonstrated the bands lyrical and musical dexterity and ability to produce bitter sweet, uplifting pop music. It’s a real shame that radio stations like 6 music, which purports to support new up coming bands doesn’t play more of this sort of music on a regular basis instead of it’s love of ‘archive classics’ . Mind you has it ever really been that supportive of new music, bar the odd DJ, or was that just part of the popular myth that grew up around the fact that it had a slightly more eclectic output than Radio 1 and 2 ? A shame because bands such as the ones on this bill really deserve to be heard!
But all in all a night of fantastic music from bands I have nothing but admiration for. Such a line-up may take some beating in the future; indeed one person commented that this line up was ‘perfection’, and its remarks like that, that really make all the effort worthwhile. Roll on October…if the Tories haven’t rendered us all destitute and unable to drown our sorrows with cheap booze from the supermarket 😉
Quite simply an amazing album of brutal honesty, wit and intelligence which cuts through the big label endorsed shite like a laser. Anybody who dismisses Emmy The Great as quirky or twee hasn’t been listening. This is an album that will still move me and make me cry when I’m old and infirm as much as it did when I first heard it. It’s timeless. (Review here)
“M.I.A.” By Emmy The Great
Emmy couldn’t be with us to collect her beautiful award, hand crafted from the finest pixels, she’s gone all Mariah Carey 😉 but via her I-phone she was able to send us this rather moving victory speech…..
EMMY: “I’d like to start my acceptance speech for this prestigious and important jpeg by saying thank you. However, I literally cannot remember who any of you people are. Ever since the album came out there has been considerable Von Pip buzz and I’m afraid the attention has gone right to my head. I’m currently to be found sitting at home waiting for confirmation of my MBE and overseeing plans for a giant gold bust of my head to replace the statue of Nelson Mandela or whatever in Trafalgar Square. It’s not yet been commissioned which is weird but I guess it’s just the hectic Christmas season. On the music front, I’ve been busy firing almost everybody I know and growing my hair to the point where I can plait it like a raver. My new album, ‘Half-Chinese Democracy’ will be out in about ten to fifteen years. Please leave me alone now. Bye.
Ps I’ve just had word from my manager, who I’ve fired, that this needs to be more grateful. Fine. Thanks. It’s a lovely trophy. I’ll put it on the mantelpiece next to all my other trophies*
*porcelain cats from Argos”
And EUEN from the band had this to say: “You know those moments when somebody says “I loved it when you.…” Or “remember that awesome moment when you …..” or “the way you dealt with that situation was so good …..” and you have no recollection of having involvment in said praises? Well that’s how I feel with this album “First Love” by “Emmy the Great”. I really enjoyed my supposed involvement, according to everyone who saw me there. And thanks to the Von Pip blog. If there are any other smash hit albums I’ve worked on, please, let me know.
Wolfs 4th album famously partly funded by donations from fans via the internet is a triumph on every level and it’s the album his obvious talent had always threatened to produce. Like a distant male relative of Kate Bush’s‘Hounds Of Love’ , Wolf has produced something of a Baroque masterpiece.
“Hard Times”-By Patrick Wolf
3. Metric- Fantasies
“Fantasies” is Metric’s fourth studio album and possibly their best work to date, the sleek production has given rise to a slightly more radio friendly feel but it’s done in such a way that is unobtrusive and merely serves to help the band achieve a sound that is bold and dramatic whilst still retaining their intrinsic “Metric-ness”. (interview with Emily Haineshere)
4. A Place To Bury Strangers -Exploding Head
An amazing album that combines sonic fury with an urgent adrenaline fuelled pop sensibility. They clearly don’t list bands who have influenced their sound merely to appear ‘hip’, nope these lads have a genuine understanding of and appreciation for, bands such as The Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. And it shows.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
5 .Howling Bells- Radio Wars
Listening to a Howling Bells album often feels like you’re being bewitched and slowly, subtly seduced, as they draw you into a world where beauty and nightmares are never far from the surface. Their songs are invariably haunting, menacing and unique, unique in the sense that you really couldn’t imagine anybody other than Juanita Stein singing them. She breaths life into each song, giving them depth, meaning and beauty, whilst the band provide the perfect stage upon which Juanita’s vocals can weave their subtle magic. (review here, interview with Juanita here
“Into The Chaos”-Howling Bells
6. The Xx- The Xx
The XX prove that less is more as their skeletal arrangements showcase songs of pristine pop beauty that need neither gimmick or the honking horns of Mark Ronson. It’s a subtle, shimmering album and may well be regarded in time as one of the great debuts.
“VCR” The XX
7.Raveonettes-In And Out Of Control
(Heart Of Stone-The Raveonettes-below)
8. The Yeah Yeah Yeah- Its Blitz
9. Charlotte Hatherley -New Worlds
10.The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning
(The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade-The Joy Formidable-below)
11.Florence & The Machine -Lungs
12.Fight Like Apes- And The Secret Of The Golden Medallion
13.Echo & The Bunnymen-The Fountain
14. The Boxer Rebellion-Union
15. Fanfarlo- Reservior
16.Morrissey–Years Of Refusal
17.Mumford And Sons-Sigh No More
18.Silver Sun Pickups-Swoon
19. Lisa Hannigan See-Sew
20.Bat For Lashes-Two Suns
21.Camera Obscura -My Maudlin Career
22.Biffy Cylro-Only Revolutions
24.The Pains of Being Pure at Heart-TPOBPH
25.Animal Kingdom-Signs & Wonders
28. The Dead Weather-Horehound
30.Kill It Kid -Kill It Kid
31. Paloma Faith- Do You Want The Truth or Something Beautiful?
32. Jarvis Cocker – Further Complications
33. Fever Ray- Fever Ray
34. The Thermals-Now We Can See
35. Spinnerette – Spinnerette
36. La Roux-La Roux
37. Sky Larkin-The Golden Spike
38.Bombay Bicycle Club-I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose
39. Richard Hawley-Truelove’s Gutter
40.Asobi Seksu – Hush
Single /Ep Track Of The Year 2009
1.Marina And The Diamonds-I am Not A Robot
Probably listened to this song more than any other this year, personal reasons make it very special but its also a f**king great pop song from a singer who doesn’t follow the conventional rules.
2. A Place To Bury -Strangers -Keep Slipping Away
4.Julian Casablancas-11th Dimension
5.The Raveonettes-The Last Dance
6.Marina And The Diamonds-Obsessions
8.Emmy The Great-Edward Is Dedward
9.The Joy Formidable-Whirring
10.Bat For Lashes-Daniel
11.Exlovers-You Forget So Easily
12.Echo & The Bunnymen-I Think I Need It Too
13.The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart-Young Adult Friction (below)
14.Yeah, Yeah Yeahs-Zero
15.Emmy The Great-First Love
16.Patrick Wolf – Damaris
17.Metric -Help I’m Alive
19.Isa & The Filthy Tongues-Big Star (below)
20.Marina And The Diamonds-Mowgli’s Road
21.Biffy Clyro-The Captain
22.Mumford & Sons-Little Lion Man (below)
25.Animal kingdom – Tin Man
Best Reissue/Compilation 2009
The Jesus & Mary Chain-The Power Of Negative Thinking
“The Hardest Walk “By The Jesus & Mary Chain
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Jesus & Mary Chain has always been that they were nothing more than dour nihilistic ‘noise terrorists’. What the “Power of Negative Thinking” clearly demonstrates is that simply wasn’t the case. It’s true The JAMC were often architects of their own downfall in a “business” sense but this retrospective offers proof positive that musically they have few equals. “The Power of Negative Thinking” provides 81 non Album “A side’s, plus the bands entire history of B-sides, demos, and covers. It showcases that the Reid Brothers were not only writers of melodious, pristine pop songs and true iconoclasts but also reveals their rich love and understanding of rock’n’roll history and its mythology. ‘Psychocandy’ regarded by many as their opus , may have taken Phil Spector’s musical template and beat the living shit out of it, fusing it with guitar distortion and effects but that was only part of the JAMC’s musical legacy. Forget the riots, forget the feedback and Jim and William’s punch ups, because these distractions should not be allowed to overshadow the Mary Chain’s music which has stood the test of time and furnished us with songs that can rightly be regarded as bona fide classics. They paved the way for bands like My Bloody Valentine , Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr et all to become media darlings and their influence is still apparent today in bands such as The Raveonettes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Gliss and a Place To Bury Strangers. The fact that they remain one of the most under-appreciated bands in music is still baffling but for me their songs were genuinely life changing. ‘The Power of Negative Thinking’ reveals what true fans of the band have always known and is something that is rather surprisingly so often overlooked- this band has soul. The Reid Brothers may never make it into the rock n roll hall of fame, they may have burnt too many bridges and that fact probably isn’t something they’d lose any sleep over but surely it’s about time their legend was afforded the respect it deserves. This is truly what Rock n’ Roll is all about.
Videos Of The Year
1.“I Say Fever” By Ramona Falls
Not just a great video, this is one of THE GREAT videos,we are talking of all time. Genius
2.” Mowgli’s Road” By Marina And The Diamonds
This is fantastic for many reasons but a big factor being that it was simply so unexpected. Just when you think Marina will do a straight pop video she comes up with something that is as bonkers as it is brilliant
3. “Do You Karate” By Fight like Apes
Maykay wrestling? has someone peeked inside my mind? A great video which encapsulates all the demented energy of their live performances. Great vid, great band.
A clearly overwhelmed and emotional Michael from Run Toto Run accepts his magnificent trophy on the bands behalf.
(Pop culture) Quotes Of the Year
Kevin Cecil “A campaign for Rage Against The Machine will not produce a non Cowell Xmas No1. Killing Paul McCartney, now that might work”
Marina Hyde (On how celebrities have infiltrated every sphere of life over the last ten years) “
“This is your world,Try not to choke on it. The saddest part is that you weren’t even in a coma for that period, so future generations are going to regard you as complicit.”
And “I find it hilarious when Paris Hilton takes a ferret on the red carpet.That’s what celebrity is about. But when she wanted to go to Rwanda, I had a bit of a problem with it. In the end she didn’t get around to going because she was too, like, busy with other stuff. And look, I yield to no one in my admiration for Sharon Stone’s body of work but I just wonder if she is the right person to sort out the Middle East.”
and on Simon Cowell
“Simon Cowell has created a system in which all possible outcomes benefit him. It is a sort of anti-chaos theory: a system wherein even vast differences in initial conditions have no real effect on the outcome. The system allows for them. You could run a million different variations of the show through a Los Alamos computer the size of a barn, and the end result would always be the same: Cowell wins. In the anti-chaos of The X Factor, a tsunami of votes for a rogue act would lead to the most butterfly-like of variations in his final scenario – the difference of about 37 pence in earnings of tens of millions. The house always wins. In fact, as a business model, it makes Las Vegas look bleeding-hearted.”
JK (Read The Fanzine) If I hear La Roux’s “Bulletproof” one more time I might just be tempted to test out her claim”
Ellie Goulding “Can I just say. I don’t take in the hype. EVER. I just like making music and running”
Not necessarily a list of who I think will be big, I mean let’s face it some of those lists do have a tendency to be a little “hipsterish”. “Look at me I predicted a band I’ve never actually heard will be HUGE in 2010! ” Of course I could study form and forecast who would do well in 2010 but it’s not rocket science. It roughly follows this formula “Do they have a big f**k off PR budget? Do they have media backing and essentially are they willing to sell their soul to Satan ?…Check ? Well logic dictates they could do very well in 2010. Easy-peasey, I’m a regular f**king pop Nostradamus. No, this list may contain some artists which do appear in the “ones to watch lists” but I have tried to actually pick bands I like, regardless whether they are tipped by the great and good. Cos I’ve got integrity, like. “Oh hello, Sony BMG ? Ah you want a flattering article on Mr Cowell, well I’m not sure if….HOW MUCH!…. Is that in pounds ?? ? Of course, of course , I’ll have it done by 10.30 am …No, not a problem and no don’t thank me , thank YOU!
Anyway -to the list ….(Not all are bands are brand spanking new but there are some whom I feel may not yet have got the recognition they deserve)
A Place To Bury Strangers
The Joy Formidable
The Boxer Rebellion
Marina And The Diamonds
Hook And The Twin
Run Toto Run
Rose Elinor Dougall
Sound Of Guns
The Bookhouse Boys
Everybody Was In The French Resistance Now
Polly Mackey And The Pleasure Principle
Tigers That Talked
Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea
Soft Toy Emergency
and new kids on the block The John Moore Rock N’ Roll Trio 😉
As somebody who really does believe that the cultural landscape would be a lesser place in this country without the BBC , I was delighted to be asked to join the panel of “taste-makers” to help predict“The BBC Sound Of 2010”.
The BBC Sound of 2010 list aims to highlight the best new music.
The acts on the list were chosen by 165 UK-based taste-makers, who each named their favourite three new artists, and the 15 acts with the most votes are on the long-list.
The top five will be ranked and revealed in reverse order in the week commencing 4 January 2010, with one act named each day until the winner is unveiled on 8 January.
Each act from the top five will be featured on the BBC News website entertainment section. BBC 6 Music will also feature the top five artists with live sessions and interviews on Lauren Laverne’s show.
The BBC’s Sound of… list is now in its eighth year. The previous winners are: Little Boots (Sound of 2009), Adele (Sound of 2008), Mika (Sound of 2007), Corinne Bailey Rae (Sound of 2006), The Bravery (Sound of 2005), Keane (Sound of 2004) and 50 Cent (Sound of 2003).
Other artists in the top five in previous years include Florence and the Machine and La Roux (Sound of 2009), Duffy and the Ting Tings (Sound of 2008), Klaxons (Sound of 2007).
A recent Q&A with the man the N.M.E. have bestowed the title “the coolest man in rock” revealed that Strokes front man Julian Casblancas may indeed be incredibly cool but he also gives interminably dull interviews. He offered precious little insight into his ‘creative process’ and the information he did proffer was the square root of f**k all. He came across as somebody who was either guarded to the point of paranoia or somebody who is about as interesting as Formica. The same cannot be said for our latest interviewee, Cosmo Jarvis. Cosmo, like the aforementioned Strokes front man was born in the USA ( New Jersey) before making the move to Devon, England as a child. However unlike Casablancas Cosmo is a young man who is rarely lost for words. Indeed some may say he has too many, that he’s a little too open and honest about life. Such candour may not exactly shroud Jarvis in a veil of mystery meaning he may never be considered the “coolest man in rock”, he may divide fans and critics alike but he could never, ever be described as “dull”. You feel Jarvis would heartily agree with Wilde when he stated “I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.”
A film-maker, songwriter, musician, storyteller, poet, visionary or is he just simply f**king with your head ? Will the real Cosmo Jarvis please stand up ? Cosmo first began making films at home on VHS when he was barely twelve. Even at that age it was apparent he had a unique talent in terms of storytelling and pretty soon he was channelling his creative energies into music. “There’s more to be done with film,” he muses. “Music’s just something that I do and making records sort of happens. Where some people write a diary, I just write songs.”
His songs may not be to everybody’s taste as he tackles subjects such as masturbation, Jessica Alba, family breakdown, paedophilia, alcoholism, and domestic violence with a brutal honesty that is unprecedented in the age of the sanitised squeaky clean vacuum packed pop star. His frankness however is not sensationalist and is not in the same vein as the bombastic, spiteful Jeremy Clarkeson “I speak as I find” school of boorishness. No, Cosmo’s prodigious output appears to be a genuine attempt to find truth, to work things out in his own mind and as a result can at times make for uneasy listening. His mission is not to obliterate knowledge by writing songs that reflect a distorted photoshopped ‘Hello’ magazine style reality but appears to be a genuine quest for answers to the questions people rarely ask. If that means holding a mirror up to himself and indeed society to reveal all the random ugliness and sordid reality that goes with the human condition, then so be it. We spoke to Cosmo about his music, his school days his film making and of course gay pirates…..
VP: Do you consider yourself to be a musician first and foremost or would you say you’re more of a social commentator, expressing yourself via whatever medium best suits the message?
COSMO: Maybe a commentator on whatever seems worth spending time making into something else. Something sticky and/or pleasant that will entertain, educate or alter someone, or just waste their time.
VP: Your eponymous début album contains 18 songs split over two discs with nine tracks on each . What was the thinking behind this? Are they two distinctly different groups of songs?
COSMO: Yes, one group ‘Humasyouhitch’ is mostly what I would call the ‘Chicken Korma’ of my music. It is easy. I think so anyway. It is not belligerent, ‘Easy Shaved Pop’, catchy I’m told…
‘Sonofabitch’is more all the other Indian food you would like to order but cant because you are in the Spar and tonight they are only selling the korma, because it is a low risk curry. ‘Sonofabitch ‘is less where I’m from and more where I’m headed I guess. No that’s bullshit but I’m not deleting it. If someone was to f*ck their girl friend to ‘Humasyouhitch’ I wouldn’t be all that offended. However, if the same was attempted whilst listening to ‘Sonofabitch’, I would feel as if I had failed slightly, especially if that persons first impression of my record was made during a ceremony that demands (in most cases) quite some attention.
VP: You’ve said in the past (with regard to the education system) “They make it sound like if you fail your exams, your existence is not worth living”.. Did you enjoy or endure your school days?
COSMO: Both at different times. I hated that to feel comfortable and increase your worth to other students, it was essential that you admit and stick to, your social class. I suppose at school I was weird, I used to sit in the library and draw naked women all lunch time. I enjoyed work and valued some of my student/teacher relationships. I saw the whole debacle as an opportunity to infiltrate and understand as many groups of different people as I could. After a while in year 8 I started to learn what made my class mates tick. I already knew the scum. They made it obvious to me that I was not welcome. Then there were many like me who I tried very hard to make my friends. Even today, some of those still remain. Teachers and authority were my biggest problem. The teachers who knew their jobs well, and wanted nothing more than to educate in a professional manner, were the ones I respected. There was also a new wave of younger teachers at my school, many of whom were very thick and loved their power a little too much. Those were the ones to fuck with. I hate that my school seemed to favour the stupid but local types, much like the police force. In fact it was being at school that got me ready for the police, the fickle way they operate, the unjustified favouritism, the loud voices asserting things they don’t even understand.
I was in trouble a lot but I loved it. As a scholar, I knew what subjects stimulated me and everything outside of these would soon act as battlefields for me to ruin lessons by pointing out important errors in the way that things were taught and, at the same time, make myself into something less of a joke to the other students. It was funny though that to achieve this I had to adopt and utilise, permanently, those exact natural, laughable, embarrassing and hopeless traits that had rendered me unfit for honest, social, human interaction. This coupled with my total disgust and lack of acceptance for the ‘syllabus’ made me fight harder for what I saw as being a very sick and at the very least, inconsiderate way of making young people’s minds thrive, thus increasing their tolerance (and in some hopeful cases interest) for the exploration of all knowledge. I could never see an adult as a superior purely because of their age, but this was never my argument. This was the argument of many other students whose interests reached no further than ‘tonight’ and their ‘girlfriend’s bust size’. I didn’t want to come across as an argumentative timber-head who was only that way because he was young and had a problem with the old. I did have a problem with the old. But one thing I had learned was to always give people the opportunity to offer you their respect. If they do then it is in your hands and you can prioritise and estimate it as you see fit. The same goes both ways of course. There were too many questions the teachers didn’t want to answer because 1. They didn’t think it was relevant information for someone studying at my level to seek. 2. They didn’t know the answers 3. The system that I was being taught in did not include debate, challenge or argument as a part of its operation. It was the same as everything in this unfortunate existence, if you don’t play the game (even if you know it’s bull) you don’t win. Now, every write up/essay (especially in sciences, art and music) was not to be considered as an exercise of one students mind and was certainly not to be marked in such a way either but was a test of how well that student retained information given to it with only this very essay in mind and nothing further. This method of teaching to me rendered any knowledge gained in lessons, pointless, because I knew I was only learning it for the purposes of measuring and recording how well I had learned it. It sounds obvious but unless a person can argue ‘what is there already’ or at least choose which part of ‘what is there already’, they can examine and develop, they will never create their own passion for ‘what is there already’.
Religious education was good though, Ms. Screech allowed written challenges, as long as they were justified and presented a clear argument/point.
So when I wasn’t being a c*nt to my teachers, I was drawing hundred foot penises in the astro-turf and getting suspended proudly.
VP: Your song “Gay Pirates” has attracted a fair bit of attention, what inspired you to write it ?
COSMO: Just thinking about gay pirates. And the difficulties they must have faced.
VP:Is it true that you have pretty much written your next two albums?
COSMO: Next 8 at least. And some instrumental albums. Not all of its gonna blow everybody away, but I always hope that an audience neglected by one record is an audience gained by another…maybe…. but yeah, I’m recoding new songs all the time. And have to brush up a few demos for album two but yeah should be cool. With the touring and pr shit I cant record as much as I used to but I still make a comfortable quota and have finish-able doodles filling up note books everywhere in my room. Yeah writing all the time.
VP: Another project you are working on is a video about a man who takes himself hostage in erm… a urinal. One imagines you’d have a hard job pitching that to Hollywood, but if you did… how would you explain the essence of the story? 😉
COSMO: Well that’s true, but it’s not gonna happen for a while, that’s gonna be a bigger film than any stuff I’ve made before. Bigger crew etc. It’s pretty distant, at the moment though, before that one, I’m writing a script based on a short I made but then scraped because it wasn’t good enough. It’s called ‘the naughty room’. It’s about a 20 year man who lives in a bath room, since the age of 4 he hasn’t been outside or exposed to anyone other than his mother (who keeps him there) he has a mind like a child and knows nothing of the severity of his circumstances. I am playing him: Todd. His mother blamed him since he was a child for the car accident that killed his father, because he was whining like a child and distracting his parents. Next door there lives a total kaner pot head. Unaware that more than just a grumpy woman lives next door. Eventually the two meet, through a wall, and some serious shit goes down. It’s kind of dark but also funny and weird. In the story you see the 20 year old boy discover masturbation over Jessica Rabbit. The story meanders between the two very different homes of these two boys. One who wants nothing more than to go outside and doesn’t understand why he is kept inside and another who f*cks his life away.
VP: Apart from the obvious charms of Jessica Alba what things really motivate you to write songs and poetry?
VP: What sort of music did you listen to as kid? And what new music have you discovered this year
COSMO: The Beatles, Tom Waits, Crash Test Dummies, Gerry Rafferty, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Frank Zappa, John Mayall, John Lee Hooker, Grateful Dead, Bowie, US3, Eminem, Beach Boys, the Stones, Canned Heat… everything.
VP: Will you be touring as a result of the album release?
COSMO: Yes England and Holland I’m told.
VP: Has the internet democratised music or made it more difficult for new bands to get record deals. Do you think labels play it even safer now than in the past and are unwilling to take risks?
COSMO: Yes, nobody takes risks now, The sad truth is the shit. The real shit, is the safest music for labels, the remixed crap put to beats and then some brain dead moron rapping about how he cheated on his baby. Because most people like shit and most people means the most money. So its a commendable business decision. Everyone likes shit. Radio one loves it. NME loves it. What I find astounding is that it is so easy for the shit to make it and hard for the slightly better shit to. There is no logic, only gimmicks. Magazines talk about what’s relevant and hip at one time as if it is stone cold fact. Even the crap thinks that it is better than the crap and so forth. I think of it like: I am someone else’s crap. It is a mindless cess-pit of fashion monkeys talking about music. The ones who should be on the radio, never are. Only fat mouthed shit wipers can be found there. So I guess it is down to a lucky break of some kind. There is no honour or content consistency among media companies. That’s fair enough though I guess. There is no reason why it can’t be just as powerful, which is why it’s great that there are so many online radio stations growing all the time. I can’t wait to start a real radio station with broadcasting capabilities greater than Radio One. That is one of many things, worth going to jail for. Real music. I know my faith in new music is fading, but I hear great things sometimes. Experimental things and even though they may not be to my taste, I value the intention behind them. but seriously, I was watching TV this morning and saw that one of those fools gold, click track only, rapping, singer, dicks had sampled ‘Hide and Seek’ by Imogen Heap. Not only sampled but written an entire excuse for a song around its original beauty. The result was a soulless, meaningless, waiting-to-be-set-as-your-ringtone insult. Yet, this dude was on daytime T.V. hell, everyone know that’s shit……………………………. Right?
VP: What five things would make the world a better place?
COSMO: A diabetes cure
A huge increase in the standard of basic education
For people to be brought into the world without being made to accept its rules as anything other than man-made systems of living and to be allowed to recognise and explore the primeval within everything they think and do under the notion that they can improve themselves by understanding it.
For religious indoctrination to miss at least two generations (to start with) as a test to see if people could just be people.
Someone to invent a more efficient way of wiping ones ass in a hurry (other than a bidet), and I mean spotless.
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.”
Thanks for your support in 2008. Too many to mention but Mark the tall man, Paul T and Ad, Laura, Ollie, Neal, Chris, Elz, Fran , Nicole, Julia, Simon, Rob Dobbs, Neil at Planting Seeds, Jim And Julie Reid, Saint Rachael, John Moore, Dave (pronounced Siadwell ), Emma, Miki, Emma, Phil, Kerry, Marcella, Dave Cromwell, Dogwood, Bethan Elfyn, Spencer, Czoe, Philippe, Linda, Ben, Nick, Sorcha, William, Dandelion Radio, Matt and Jason, Alistair, JK, Becki, Richard the Goth,Paisley & Charlie, Probe Records, Sally Shoegaze, the Holmlands Estate and all the good guys out there, you know who you are…And of course all the great f**king bands out there who keep doing it, despite the setbacks, the sh*t and the corporate bollocks that sometimes goes on , we salute you !…. Have a lovely Christmas folks…see you soon.
“Don’t Murder Hallelujah” By Mitch Benn
Xmas Greetings From the Von Pips and “Stay Another Day” – Glasvegas