Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#2)

2. Bloc Party - Intimacy

This album takes a lot of getting used to, but when you do, it is absolutely outstanding.
Ares opens with some drumming which at first seems a bit out of place, but it sounds good after a while. Mercury, the single which took a LOT of getting used to - I was sure that a great band like Bloc Party wouldn't have ruined their career with such a bad song - but when you get down to it it's a fantastic song. This entire album is full of surprises.
Halo brings us back to Silent Alarm, and in a very good way, the fantastic guitar riffs are - well, fantastic. Biko is a slow song which I make out to be about cancer. It's sad, but it works. Trojan Horse is the epitome of the new sound, but is generally good.
Signs is another beautiful track which separates the two halves of the album. It gives you goosebumps at one point... Anyway, the seventh track is pure Bloc Party brilliance. One Month Off is raw, anthemic and even features a key change! (Rare for Bloc Party) It's amazing how Matt Tong can keep drumming through this entire song without a break.
Zephyrus, whilst a good song, is the worst on the album. Firstly, what's a Zephyrus? Secondly, it doesn't sound like Bloc Party entirely, but still attaches onto the album. I would have preferred it if they'd swapped this for Flux (the best Bloc Party song of all time).
Then we come to Talons, the second single. It took no getting used to - it was immediately brilliant. Better Than Heaven is the calm before the storm, and is quite sad and beautiful in its own little way. The storm I was referring to is Ion Square, one of the best closers of all time. A seven minute epic which is classic Bloc Party build-up, bringing in one instrument at a time until you have a mess of music which sounds so wonderful, and the great chorus "I carry your heart here with me..." makes this album finish in style.
SCORE: 10/10

Monday, 29 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#3)

3. The Killers - Day And Age

I love the new sound. Sam's Town brought them a bit off course, but this album compensates brilliantly.

Losing Touch really hits the spot as it comes in, straight in with the first chord, instead of build up, which makes this song so powerful. Then comes the lead single Human, a fantastic pop-sounding song which, despite its nonsensical chorus, "Are we human? Or are we dancer?", still shows the Killers are fantastic.

Spaceman, however, is even better than Human. A story about alien abductions - again, another odd topic, but the music's good - but the powerful chorus really gets to you. Joy Ride is an odd one. It has a sort of Caribbean sound to it (it's not the only one, but the other one works better) and the saxophone sound is unexpected, but after a while, it does turn out to be quite good.

The slow A Dustland Fairytale brings us back to the Sam's Town era (particularly with the lyrics) but it still is a good song. This Is Your Life starts oddly, with some chanting sounds before the bass kicks in, and it just goes uphill from there. I Can't Stay is the other Caribbean sounding song, but it works a lot better.

Following that is Neon Tiger, which should be the third single. It is pure Killers awesomeness. The World We Live In is a real Pet Shop Boys influenced song, and it shows that on this album, you have no idea what the Killers will come up with next. Especially when you consider the closing track. Goodnight, Travel Well is a seven minute song that starts off slow and boring and gets going towards the end, which saves it from being a bad song.

SCORE: 9/10

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#4)

4. Kings Of Leon - Only By The Night

I loved Because Of The Times, not so much their earlier work, but this new album is truly fantastic. After hearing Sex On Fire, I was hooked. From the slow opener, Closer, to the vocal-led Cold Desert, the album never lets up.

Closer is a rather odd song about vampires, but it's a good opener. The heavy Crawl follows it up, with the powerful guitar part really getting to you. Then comes the best song, Sex On Fire. It sounds so simplistic, yet is so catchy and brilliant. Congratulations to the Kings, they've created a masterpiece.

Use Somebody is equally as brilliant, with Caleb Followill's voice going really high while singing "You know that I could use somebody, someone like you..." and the oh-oh-oh sound afterwards really makes this a great Kings song. The fifth track, Manhattan, sounds quite sad, but every instrument does their job well on this song.

Revelry is a slow song, but is nevertheless brilliant, with Caleb's vocals execelling while singing "dreaming of revelry...." (NB. His vocals are brilliant, they're just even better here.) 17 follows up with a rather sexual story involving Spanish tongues... but still a good song.

Notion is one of my favourites, because its guitar part is really catchy, and again, the singing is great. I Want You is an odd one, and just doesn't seem like it's part of the album. It's nevertheless a good song.

Be Somebody is great, with the bass line really coming through, and changes to a higher pitch for the chorus which is a bit unexpected, which is what makes this song so good. Then the album ends with Cold Desert, a slow vocal-led song which really shines - and just when you think it's over as it fades away, it comes back ten seconds later to finish off again... odd but good.

SCORE: 9/10

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#5)

Now we move on to separate albums with fuller reviews. At number 5, it is:

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
The album sounds quite dark and dismal, but it is beyond brilliant. Tracks such as Grounds For Divorce and One Day Like This lift this album to exceptional heights, the former of which is approaching its 100th play in my iTunes.
The opener, Starlings, sounds quiet and then changes to quite loud so fast it makes you jump. It's an odd song, but it does its job as an opening song. The album moves onto The Bones Of You, which was the last single released from the album, and is quite good.
Mirrorball is a slow, six-minute song which is actually quite beautiful when you get down to it. Then comes the furious Grounds For Divorce, whose guitar riff is the best I've ever heard, it's so good they didn't need a chorus, they just stuck the riff in, and it sounds fantastic. The only truly fast song on the album is one of the best songs ever.
Then the album calms down with An Audience With The Pope and Weather To Fly. The first of which is a piano-led song which isn't bad at all, and the second is a bit different, with one person singing lines such as "Are we having the time of our lives?" in the background, while Guy Garvey goes through the lyrics and prompty starts them again halfway through.
Then comes the powerful Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver, whose drum part goes really well with the song, and Guy Garvey's vocals soar on this song. This should have been a single. Then comes the jaunty, upbeat The Fix, which sounds a bit like a folk song, but is quite catchy.
Then we come to the end of the album. Some Riot is a slow, dark song which really gets to you, and then we come to the next brilliant part of the album. The seven-minute epic One Day Like This has been proven to be one of the best songs to be played live. The first three minutes work well when not live, but all of it, especially the end where the line "Throw those curtains wide, one day like this a year would see me right" is just constantly repeated over and over, works brilliantly live. But it's still an absolutely extraordinary song.
I felt that the album should have stopped there. The end, Friend Of Ours, doesn't seem to work after we've already had a song that could close the album perfectly. The song in itself is quite good, however.
This album deserved the Nationwide Mercury Prize, and all of it is fantastic.

SCORE: 9/10

Friday, 26 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#10-#6)

10. The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of The Understatement

I knew this would be good as soon as I heard The Age Of The Understatement, the wonderful title track which opens this album. Almost every song is good or even better, but other than the fact that one or two don't interest me personally, I cannot think of any bad things to say. Brilliant.
SCORE: 8/10

9. The Pigeon Detectives - Emergency

The fantastic Wait For Me, their debut, was released less than a year before this one. All the songs are great Pigeon Detectives songs, but in some places it sounds a bit rushed. Nevertheless, the songs are all excellent. Highlights include This Is An Emergency, Keep On Your Dress, Say It Like You Mean It and the closer Everybody Wants Me.
SCORE: 8/10

8. Ladytron - Velocifero

After getting into this band, after hearing their third album, Witching Hour, I was sure that this one would be even better. Although I think that it's not, it's still a brilliant album. Black Cat sets the pace for the album and it never lets up. Ghosts follows it, an incredibly catchy song that made me want to listen again and again. But I think that it's not a huge improvement on Witching Hour, and I would have given that one 8/10. So:
SCORE: 8/10

7. Keane - Perfect Symmetry

This album is by far their best. The eighties sound on opening track Spiralling really gets me going, and then great songs such as Better Than This, the beautiful Perfect Symmetry or Black Burning Heart makes this well worth a listen.
SCORE: 9/10

6. One Night Only - Started A Fire

A great debut. Although most of the songs sound too much the same, they are all great. An odd one is Sweet Sugar, where George Craig mumbles on about the chemical formula for glucose in describing his lover. Seriously, why? (It's still a good song, it's just odd.) Also, what's with the three minutes of keyboard sounds at the end of Hide? These oddities aside, the album is still fantastic.
SCORE: 9/10

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#15-#11)

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE - The countdown continues...

15. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular

The first five songs are fantastic, the sixth is average, and I didn't like the last four, but in general, this album is good. Thrown in with the insanely brilliant Time To Pretend, followed up with single-worthy songs Weekend Wars and The Youth, and returning up for the brilliant Electric Feel and my personal favourite (after Time To Pretend), Kids. Then I just found it hard to like the rest.
SCORE: 6/10

14. Hadouken! - Music For An Accelerated Culture

I was unsure about this album - but I was pleasantly surprised after a few listens. A really heavy electric album, after a while it gets to you. An interesting new band. The pace never lets up, and every song is good, save for Game Over and What She Did, which are the only ones I didn't really like. But songs such as Liquid Lives and Crank It Up are insane.
SCORE: 7/10

13. Feeder - Silent Cry

After some fantastic albums, at first I was not best pleased with Feeder's sixth offering, but considering, it is actually a quite good album, just not in obvious ways. The opener We Are The People is great, a few hiccups follow, save for Itsumo, until the brilliant middle part of the album: Silent Cry through to Who's The Enemy, which saves the album from a bad score. Then I just didn't really find the ending tracks that interesting. But generally, good, despite being the worst from the band in a while.
SCORE: 7/10

12. OneRepublic - Dreaming Out Loud

After hearing Apologize and Stop And Stare, I was really looking forward to this album. And it is well worth it. The first five tracks are great, and the only three songs that don't keep up with the brilliance are All Fall Down, Tyrant and All We Are. But even they aren't bad. The closing pair, Someone To Save You (one of the best) and Come Home really gets you. If you count bonus tracks (as I've got) - Dreaming Out Loud is great, Something's Not Right Here is not.
SCORE: 8/10

11. Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns

Snow Patrol's albums have got gradually better, starting with the completely awful Songs For Polarbears, which I honestly thought was a B-side album at first, to the reasonable When It's All Over..., up to the absolutely fantastic albums Eyes Open and Final Straw. However, this new attempt is not quite up there. It has typically good Snow Patrol songs, mixed in with a new sound. The first four are good, then the fifth track just is out of place and not good at all. The sixth track is absolutely brilliant (Please Just Take These Photos...) and the following one isn't that good, but then it builds up from the slow Planets Bend Between Us to the great Engines, to the great rock song Disaster Button, and then closes with the sixteen minute epic (which is sort of a cheat considering it's three songs in one) The Lightning Strike, which is surprisingly good.
SCORE: 8/10

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#20-#16)

Christmas tomorrow. Can you wait???

20. The Ting Tings - We Started Nothing

The raw indie sound of the Ting Tings sounds good when you listen to their singles, and the album certainly didn't disappoint in that aspect. But once again, it's an album that just didn't work, in my opinion. However, Great DJ, That's Not My Name and Shut Up And Let Me Go are all brilliant.
SCORE: 6/10

19. Simple Plan - Simple Plan

Despite the uncreativity of naming their third album, this seems like quite a good album. It's one of the less common genres that I listen to, but nevertheless, it seems to catch on. When I'm Gone storms in to start off, followed up by the fantastic Take My Hand. A bit of dawdling, and then the occasional good track; Generation, Holding On and finally What If.
SCORE: 6/10

18. Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul

I have to admit, I have not really listened to Oasis aside from their Stop The Clocks greatest hits album, and I feel a little guilty in doing so, as this album probably deserves a lot more than what I'm using to base my review on. But I have heard the brilliant Shock Of The Lightning and I'm Outta Time, and that, coupled with the fact that Oasis are one of the best bands around according to most, made me buy the album. But as I can't really review it, I think we should ignore scoring for this one.

17. Kaiser Chiefs - Off With Their Heads

Oh dear. Is what I first thought on hearing this album. But it has grown on me a little bit. Good bits are Never Miss A Beat, Good Days Bad Days, Always Happens Like That and Addicted To Drugs, but there are also songs such as the downright odd opener Spanish Metal, and the distinctly dodgy Half The Truth. I'm sure Sway, who raps on the latter, is a good rapper, just not on a Kaiser Chiefs song. At least not that one. Nevertheless, the album generally doesn't disappoint, it just doesn't live up to the previous two albums.
SCORE: 6/10

16. Glasvegas - Glasvegas

This album, like the previously reviewed ones, has its ups and downs. But the ups are beyond brilliant in my opinion. Geraldine was on repeat on my iPod for God knows how long and I didn't get bored. Daddy's Gone is also a fantastic song. The album, however, hasn't really hit me that much. I can't understand the eighth track, Stabbed, at least why the band chose to put it on there. However, the two previously mentioned tracks are enough to get this band to the 6/10 score.
SCORE: 6/10

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Best Of 2008 (#25-#21)

After the annoying problem of having my entire blog from early 2008 deleted, I thought it was time to start afresh. What better than the top 25 albums (for me) of 2008, bearing in mind that according to my iTunes, I've only got 30, and the 5 that didn't make it are because I haven't really listened to them. These are:
  • Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
  • The Futureheads - This Is Not The World
  • Kanye West - 808s And Heartbreak
  • Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel
  • The Script - The Script
25. The Feeling - Join With Us
After the success of their debut, Twelve Stops And Home, this seems to be a fairly dismal follow-up. There are highs and lows on this album, but mainly lows.
Good tracks include I Thought It Was Over, Without You, Turn It Up and Loneliness, and practically everything else is awful.
It's a shame that it ended up the way it did, considering The Feeling's first venture would have received 10/10 had this site been running then.
SCORE: 3/10

24. Foals - Antidotes

The first album from Foals was a very tempting buy at first - of course I did buy it in the end - after hearing the fantastic Cassius and other songs such as Olympic Airways and Balloons, but the album, despite not having a bad song whatsoever, just doesn't get to me. Only Cassius is memorable, but it is a good attempt.
SCORE: 5/10

23. The Automatic - This Is A Fix

After the brilliant first album, Not Accepted Anywhere, which was one of the best albums of 2006, in my opinion, this new album is nowhere near as good as its predecessor. Whilst songs such as Steve McQueen, Magazines and In The Mountains all hit the spot perfectly, the others just don't. Especially the title track. Screaming "this is a fix" over and over again just ruins the entire song. But this is the only abysmal song on the album. There is good (Steve McQueen), bad (Sleepwalking) and downright ugly (This Is A Fix) on this album.
SCORE: 5/10

22. Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires

This is by no means a bad album, it just, like #24, doesn't quite hit the spot, aside from the astonishing opener Jump In The Pool and the sheer brilliance of Paris. There are no bad points, just not many very good songs.
SCORE: 5/10

21. The Verve - Forth

The opening three tracks of this album are absolutely brilliant, particularly Love Is Noise. But the album just goes downhill from there. I expected more from the Verve, this album is just not very memorable.
SCORE: 5/10