Tuesday 14 December 2010

Albums, songs and gigs of 2010

1. Shadows by Teenage Fanclub
See my previous blog

Others I have enjoyed this year in no real particular order, but maybe subconciously....

This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
James Murphy does it again. An eclectic, eccentric and electric selection of tunes from a man with impeccable taste. From the garage pop of 'Drunk Girls' through to the glorious 'I Can Change', 'Home' and 'Throw'; I live in hope that this isn't LCD's last album.

Plastic Beach by Gorillaz
Damon Albarn's most ambitious project with his cartoon band to date featuring Snoop, Lou Reed, Bobby Womack, Mark E Smith, Gruff Rhys, Mos Def and members of The Clash and a whole lot more beside. However it is Damon Albarn that shines through; his ambition and vision combine to create something truly spectacular. 'Stylo' blew my mind when I first heard it on the radio.

Broken Bells by Broken Bells
Released the same day as Gorillaz album this was never going to get the publicity received by 'Plastic Beach', despite it being a collaboration between Danger Mouse and James Mercer from The Shins. It is a stunning album and the opening track 'The High Road' is one of my tracks of the year.

Teen Dream by Beach House
Beautiful songs, harmonies and production combine to create an album that I have continued to return to throughout the year. 'Take Care' is another of my tracks of the year, while 'Zebra' is sublime.

Barking by Underworld
This album really took my by surprise. Losing Darren Emerson from production duties has only driven Karl Hyde and Rick Smith to create an album that is up there with the best work of their long career. Paul Van Dyk produces a couple of tracks, bringing the fifty somethings music to a younger audience. Every track is a winner on this but highlights would be; 'Scribble', 'Between Stars' and 'Diamond Jigsaw'. Underworld also feature in my gigs of the year.

One Life Stand by Hot Chip
Hot Chip are one of my favourite bands from recent years, combining harmonies, humour, pop and dance to create something special and unique. On this album with the title track they flip a commonly used phrase to create something romantic and heartfelt, 'Thieves In The Night' is uplifting and as always I just fall for Alexis' melancholy vocals. The trio of songs 'Slush', 'Alley Cats' and 'We Have Love' are laid back and soulful, highlighting the harmonies between Joe and Alexis, while the closing tune 'Take It In' is a blinder.

There Is A Love In You by Four Tet
An old mate of mine has long raved about Four Tet and their songs have constantly featured on mixes he has made me, however this was the first time I ventured out to buy one of their albums after the usual critical acclaim that it was granted upon release. Playing it in the car on the way home caused me to marvel at the range of music and ideas within the 9 (really 8) songs. The beautiful vocals on 'Angel Echoes' ensure that the song is suitably named, 'Love Cry' takes you on a trip, 'Sing' is funky and playful house and there are glorious moments on every track.

Black Light by Groove Armada
Another UK dance act producing some of the best work well into their career. The singles 'Paper Romance' and 'I Won't Kneel' are just outstanding. Euphoric electro-pop, following on from their previous single 'Song For Mutya'. Will Young even pops up on the track 'History'! The whole album has a sense of occasion with the band really going all out to produce something to remember. Possibly their last album.

The Promise by Bruce Springsteen
A collection of tracks recorded between Springsteen's breakthrough 'Born To Run' and 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town' albums. The Boss was so driven to record and release an album that would stand the test of time that he recorded over 40 songs. The lyrics are from the heart, telling about the man on the street, of dreams and of love and hope, the music from the E Street Band is pure at times, down and gritty at others. An amazing collection of songs from a singer-songwriter and a band at the top of their game.

When Boots Met My Face by Admiral Fallow
The care and attention that has gone into the writing, recording and production is evident from first listen to this album. I had dismissed Admiral Fallow when I first caught them supporting Pearl and the Puppets under their previous guise of Brother Louis Collective, although the sound wasn't great that night. However when I caught them under their new moniker they blew me away. Tight and confident, this is a celtic soul band to look out for. Capable of baring their heart and souls and winning others.

Does It Look Like I'm Here by Emeralds
As I only discovered this album (voted no 1 by Drowned in Sound) last week I'm still in the process of getting to know it, but gems like 'Candy Shoppe' ensure it is an album I will be listening to for some time to come.

Sex with an X by The Vaselines
20 plus years since a brief reformation to support Nirvana and The Vaselines were back. Their ear for a pop tune, cheeky sense of humour and innuendo and brilliant guitar pop tunes returned, a little more polished than their initial incarnation, but still with a nice raw feeling. The title track has the instant sing-a-long hook of 'feels so good, it must be bad for me' while 'I Hate The 80's' makes the most out of using Duran Duran as a hook. A welcome return.

Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian
One of Glasgow's favourite bands returned late in the year with yet another clever and consistent album to add to their discography. The opening song has a real northern soul feeling to it, with lead vocals by Sarah Martin before Stuart Murdoch comes in with the lovely refrain 'make me dance I want to surrender'. Their is an upbeat feeling throughout the album and another highlight is 'I'm Not Living In The Real World.' I look forward to catching them at the Barrowlands next week.

Boys Outside by Steve Mason
Steve's first release under his own name after many different guises. Is it because the album is a more personal collection of songs? Possibly, but what is important is that Steve's unique voice (almost sounds like harmonies) is to the fore, despite the fact that Richard X is on production duties. The title track is beautiful, as is much of the rest of the album. It would be interesting to hear the acoustic demos for this album.

Songs of the year (in no order)
Didn't Know What Love Was - Hot Chip with Bernard Sumner
Hang With Me - Robyn
I Won't Kneel - Groove Armada
Snow - Miaoux Miaoux
Jenna - Futuristic Retro Champions
I Hate The 80's - The Vaselines
All The Lovers -Kylie
Candy Shoppe - Emeralds
Darkness Descends - Laura Marling
Stylo - Gorillaz
Made of Magic - Sonny Marvello
Take It In - Hot Chip
The High Road - Broken Bells
Diamond Jigsaw - Underworld
Dead Against Smoking - Admiral Fallow
I Can Change - LCD Soundsystem
Take Care - Beach House
Knitted - Miaoux Miaoux
Subbuteo - Admiral Fallow
Sometimes I Don't Need To Believe In Anything - Teenage Fanclub
When I Still Have Thee - Teenage Fanclub
Racing In The Street (78) - Bruce Springsteen
Boys Outside - Steve Mason
You Make My Heart - Futuristic Retro Champions
Dream About You - MOPP
Born Again - Stevie and the Moon
Broken Heart Brigade - Little Eskimos
Warning Bells - Mitchell Museum
Pull Me Up -Sonny Marvello
Paper Romance - Groove Armada

Gigs of the year
Paul McCartney at Hampden
LCD Soundsystem at Glasgow Barrowlands (April)
Underworld at Glasgow Barrowlands
Groove Armada at Glasgow ABC
Teenage Fanclub and The Charlatans at Wickerman
Leftfield at Rock Ness
Futuristic Retro Champions at Mono, 13th Note and  The Hidden Lane Festival (couldn't choose)
Miaoux Miaoux at Captain's Rest and Camden Monarch
Sonny Marvello at Stereo (both times)
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas at The Arches

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