Sunday, December 31, 2006


Well this may or may not be fun, but here we go. The "big" three are already decided but there are a number of other, less important, categories to consider. But just because they are less important, it doesn't make them any less important. Where explanation is deemed necessary, there is indeed some explanation.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Someone To Drive You Home (The Long Blondes)

SINGLE OF THE YEAR - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me (The Pipettes)

CONCERT OF THE YEAR - Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins (Salford Lowry)

WORST ALBUM OF THE YEAR - Back To Basics (Christina Aquilera)
There wasn't another album in 2006 that annoyed me so much. There were some albums which weren't very good and there were albums which were disappointing and then there was this. An album so up it's own arse that it's a wonder anyone could see well enough to put together the booklet. An absolute pain from start to finish.

WORST SINGLE OF THE YEAR - Message In A Bottle (Filterfunk)
Absolutely fucking terrible. Honourable mentions, of course, go to America by Razorlight and The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, anything Orson released, Laffy Taffy by DL4 and that awful thing where Santana teamed up with Joss Stone and Sean Paul.

SUPPORT ACT OF THE YEAR - The Hot Puppies (supporting The Pipettes)
For once this was a hard fought contest, even allowing for the fact that I disqualified The Like from this on two counts; a) I saw them as headliners at other times of the year and b) we'd actually gone only to see The Like so in essence they weren't the support as such. Anyway, there were other great supports in 2006, including The 1990's, Duke Special and Catherine Feeny but the Hot Puppies take the award as they were, well the best.

Jenny Lewis might have won it, even with the fact she wouldn't pose for a picture; The Like might have won it if Tennesse hadn't started ignoring me as the year went on (not that you can really blame her ;-D); Sandi Thom deserves credit for ignoring Kate swearing a lot because I couldn't work her phone....but in the end it's the Hedrons. Be it jokes about Paris Hilton, comparing trips to Wigan Pier or being offered strawberry's they were absolutely lovely.

The funniest simply because she recognised me before she recognised my best mate Alan, who absolutley loves her. Funny both for my winking and the sight, out of the corner of my eye, Alan desperately trying to make himself noticed without wanting to look like he's make too much effort to be noticed.

BEST MEAL WITH A CELEBRITY - Nerina Pallot at Pizza Express
If only the Pipettes hadn't been too late for food in that pub huh? But anyway, sharing a Lasagne with Nerina in Salford's Pizza Express was pretty funny. A deserving encore to having chicken with James Blunt back in 2005.

MUSIC VIDEO OF THE YEAR - Over & Over - Hot Chip
This was just funny as funk and I just couldn't stop watching it from the moment I saw it.
There have been some crackers this year and so here's a few of them, in alphabetical order in terms of the song...
Atlantis To Interzone - The Klaxons
Doctor Blind - Emily Haines
Gettin' Enough - Lil' Chris
I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab For Cutie
Judy - The Pipettes
Lets Make Love & Listen To Death From Above - CSS
Maneater - Nelly Furtado
Rise Up With Fists - Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
We're From Barcelona - I'm From Barcelona
White & Nerdy - Weird Al Yankovic

REISSIUE OF THE YEAR - Different Class (Pulp)
A classic album, lovingly reproduced with bonus tracks.

GREATEST HITS ALBUM OF THE YEAR - The Sound Of Girls Aloud (Girls Aloud)
Scoff if you will, but it's pop perfection housed on one CD...with 14 top 10 hits!

You probably have one of the other 37 compilations of their hits, so you either don't need this on that score, or don't need it because you don't like them. Still, it is a fantastic collection nevertheless.

A delight from start to finish.

MUSIC RELATED BOOK OF THE YEAR - Catalogue (Pet Shop Boys)
A stunning look through the stylistic career of the Pet Shop Boys

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Some points to consider. I obviously haven’t heard every half decent record of 2006 so this is naturally based on what I have heard. Anyone paying attention to my reviews over the year
might be surprised that some records appear to be ranked higher than you would have thought from the comments at the time or that an album has been bumped down – well opinions do change over the year. As ever, compilations and re-issues have not been considered for this list. Albums that made last year’s list, and we’re talking The Like and Nerina Pallot here, but got re-releases and/or UK releases this year were not eligible. Anything I’d previously ignored that got such a release this year was of course eligible. Needless to say, you’ll probably disagree with some, or all, of my choices and the order in which they are in – discussion is welcome; “why the f**k didn’t you put Razorlight in” is not welcome ;-D.

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25. Hurricane Glass – Catherine Feeny
“Indeed anyone who thinks Sandi Thom is the second coming of Jesus might like to check out what a really good album actually sounds like…”
It of course failed to sell a fraction of what the likes of Sandi Thom did, but that shouldn’t detract from the excellence on show. Still a delight six months on, this is a mature and somewhat melancholic album, but it’s never dull.
Mr Blue, Always Tonight

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24. Victorian English Gentlemens Club –
The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
“This is quite probably the best album this year that no-one will ever hear.”
I probably just about stand by that; even if some of the records that follow in this list never made the top 40 at least they got varying levels of acclaim. This one seems to have been largely ignored. The first 10 minutes or so of the album must be 10 of the best minutes of music committed to Compact Disc this year and if the rest can’t quite match up, it’s still brilliant.
My Son Spells Backwards, Tales Of Hermit Mark, Stupid As Wood

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23. B’day – Beyonce
“[an] album which has as many highlights as Dangerously In Love and, crucially, virtually none of the filler…against all the odds, I'm impressed with this.”
Her video’s have got more and more bizarre but song-wise Beyonce has never been better (and I include any Destiny’s Child collection in that). Clocking in at a mere 10 tracks this should be a lesson to the likes of Christina Aguilera that less can indeed be more. And you can say what you like about her on-going “dalliance” with Jay-Z, but he provides help on two of the best tracks here. There may be a backlash against Beyonce these days, but this is an album jam-packed with possible hit singles.
Upgrade U, Freakum Dress, Green Light

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22. Highway Companion – Tom Petty
“There are highlights aplenty; if this really is the last album Petty gives us, he's left on a high note.”
Petty is one of those unsung artists who, in this country at least, never gets the respect he deserves despite the great albums he almost constantly delivers. This is no exception…in both respects. It’s nothing astoundingly new, admittedly, but it is Tom Petty at his best. And that’s more than good enough for me.
Saving Grace, Flirting With Time, Down South

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21. The Warning – Hot Chip
“If there is one thing to take away from this album it may well be just how, well, fresh and original everything sounds.”
Over and Over maybe the most (or only) commercial thing on this album but not even the brilliance of that can prepare you for this album. Fresh, funky and original, it takes you to a million different places…and all of them are more than worth the visit.
Over And Over, Boy From School, Just Like We Breakdown

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20. Begin To Hope – Regina Spektor
“Newer fans may well have to take a few listens to really fall in love with her but no matter how long you have, or haven't, known of Regina, eventually this album will get you. It's that good.”
It’s always requires a leap of faith when a long-admired cult artists makes their stab at the mainstream, but we needn’t have worried that the quirkiness that made Regina such an essential artist would be lost in a stream of middle of the road arrangements. Yes, there is a more “radio-friendly” edge to things but it doesn’t hide what made you love Regina in the first place. So all in all, the old fans should have loved it as well as it acquiring new fans to the cause. I would say that was mission accomplished wouldn’t you?
Après Moi, Hotel Song, Better

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19. Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet
“…this, rather exhilarating, album is more concerned with those unimportant things that nevertheless take on great importance when you're young… a dynamic and exciting record which deserves to be heard.”
Clocking in at around half an hour, this is a riot from start to finish. Some have argued to me that its “just a lot of noise” but I think it’s more that that. It’s exciting, it’s exhilarating and it’s just a short sharp burst of punk-rock delight.
Adventure, October First Account, Bog

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18. Black Holes & Revelations – Muse
“Whether more ardent fans will agree I don't know, but for me this is Muse's most thrilling and complete collection yet.”
Some will no doubt be lambasting me now that this comes in at number 18, whilst others will no doubt be wondering why I’ve got this in at all given my “history”. Well what can I say? It’s not just a case of Supermassive Black Hole sounding like a Britney Spears song, this really is their best collection yet. It’s also quite unlike anything else you’ll will have heard all year.
Supermassive Black Hole, Soldier’s Poem, Map Of The Problematique

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17. Moon Over The Freeway – The Ditty Bops
“It’s perhaps a little too "off-the-wall" to gain any semblance of major success, but that shouldn't detract one iota from what is a really good record”
To be honest, I’m not sure if this ever got an official UK release or not. It certainly hadn’t had one at the time I reviewed it. But nevertheless it’s an album that deserves one. A little bit swing, a little bit vaudeville but a whole lot Ditty Bops, this is an album that defies categorisation. With a pair of female voices that contrast rather than merely blending into one and some of Mitchell Froom’s usual top-notch production this album is quite the hidden gem.
Fish To Fry, Get Up ‘N’ Go, Fall Awake

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16. Live It Out – Metric
“Whilst never quite as clever as it thinks it is, this is still a great album to, you know, dance to. A rock band not afraid to have fun...whatever next?”
Their first two albums weren’t bad (taking into effect that although their “debut” album will only get its official release in 2007 it was indeed their debut) but this was the one that set them apart from the pack. Is it rock? Is it disco? Is it an exhilarating blend of the two? At times they don’t even seem sure. They are probably at their best as an electronic act that rock out (rather than vice versa) but there is much to enjoy throughout this album no matter which side of the coin happens to be your cup of tea.
Poster Of A Girl, Glass Ceiling, Monster Hospital

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15. The Orange Album – Stefy
“The singer can sing, the band can play, and they have a knack for turning out catchy pop melodies that will stick in your brain for days.”
With a UK launch scheduled in 2007, I’ll get in now with my praise for this. Praise which becomes all the more relevant when one compares the Stefani-style leanings of this album with some of the awful stuff on the actual new Gwen Stefani album itself. It’s not high concept we’re dealing with here, just some great 80’s-twinged pop songs delivered with style and panache. With a little luck, Stefy could go quite a long way.
Chelsea, Cover Up, Orange Crush

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14. Other People’s Lives – Ray Davies
“Davies is legitimately one of Britain's greatest songwriters… you can't help but feel glad that [he] is finally back amongst us.”
You could make a case for this album being The Arctic Monkeys for the older generation; it shares the same wit and somewhat eccentric Englishness that makes the Monkeys what they are. The long wait for his first proper solo album was almost worth it. Tracks like Next Door Neighbours and Is There Life After Breakfast genuinely hark back to the glory days of the Kinks and if Ray can’t quite keep up that level for a whole album, this is still a delight. Simply put, if you like The Kinks, this album is one you should have in your collection.
Next Door Neighbours, Is There Life After Breakfast, The Tourist

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13. Hearts & Unicorns – Giant Drag
“They have the tunes, they have the lyrics and they have the front woman with oodles of star-quality to spare.”
Ok so Annie ISN’T Charlotte Froom’s sister (it was plausible though looking at them wasn’t it?) but that doesn’t make this any less of an album. Touches of My Bloody Valentine with shades of The Breeders and The Beach Boys, this is a barmy album for sure, but one that is underpinned by some killer tracks. Not least of all the essential cover of Chris Isaak’s wicked game. Rarely has something that sounds so wrong on paper sounded so good on record.
YFLMD, Wicked Game, Kevin Is Gay

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12. Voices Of Animals & Men – The Young Knives
“light-hearted is more the order of the day with The Young Knives…you could argue it's just XTC for the new generation, but then I would ask you...what would be wrong with that?”
Q magazine suggested that The Young Knives are the band that Mark from Peep Show wound front. And indeed, how can you fail to love a band who have a member called “The House Of Lords”, named so because he’s big and all the decisions have to go through him?
She’s Attracted To, Here Comes The Rumour Mill, The Decision

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11. Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not –
Arctic Monkeys

“It's an instant crowd-pleasing album and whilst it never quite totally lives up to the hype, there is enough here for you to see why the hype was forthcoming from certain circles.”
Ok, so I still say it didn’t quite live up to the hype, but that’s not to say that it isn’t a fantastic record in it’s own right. And crucially it sounds as fresh toady as it did back in January. It’s of course open to question as to what was more horrific in 2006; The Arctic Monkeys doing a cover of Love Machine or the Sugababes murdering I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.
The View From The Afternoon, Mardy Bum, I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor

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10. Black Cadillac – Rosanne Cash
“There is no over-sentimental navel-gazing on display here… instead Cash transposes the mournful with the redemptive. This is an album which will touch anyone who listens to it.”
Rosanne Cash could never really escape the shadow of the man in black, but on this superb collection she doesn’t try to. This is unabashedly, in parts at least, about her father but really this would work without the back story to speak of. Despite the spectre of death that hangs over this album (her mother and step-mother also died recently) this is never a depressing album. It’s uplifting and any listener can’t help but be touched by it.
Burn Down This Town, Radio Operator, World Without Sound

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9. 5:55 – Charlotte Gainsbourg
“On its own merits in this particular place in time you cannot help but become immersed in its beauty.”
The sheer talent of the workforce on this one singled it out as something special before it had even been released. Nigel Godrich…Air…Neil Hannon…Jarvis Cocker…you can’t see them getting together to work on the next McFly album can you? It doesn’t always come together, but for the most part it does and it’s very difficult indeed not to fall under it’s spell.
Everything I Cannot See, The Songs We Sing, The Operation

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8. Cansei De Ser Sexy – Cansei De Ser Sexy
“Ramshackle....bonkers...uplifting...smutty...infectious... a joyous and riotous album; if it doesn't get your hips shaking,[it] will get your head banging.”
It shouldn’t work should it? A group of Brazilians, most of whom didn’t know how to play music when they first got together and who came to prominence via a Brazilian myspace-style site…well it’s hardly the most promising set-up is it? Nevertheless it works, marrying a sense of humour onto some of the most danceable beats of the year. You simply can’t stop your toes from tapping when you listen to this one.
Lets Make Love & Listen To Death From Above, Music Is My Hot Hot Sex, Off The Hook

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7. American V – Johnny Cash
“If you've ever liked a Johnny Cash song in your life, this is something you just have to listen to.”
If the spectre of death hung over his daughter’s album, then Johnny Cash chose to meet it head on himself on this “final” (there is apparently enough material for a 6th volume of this in the vaults) chapter of the American Recordings. Cash was always aware of his own mortality, but to know that he recorded these songs knowing they would be his last adds an almost uncomfortable poignancy to the songs. It matters not though as right to the end the quality that has illuminated not only the American recordings, but his life in general shines though. It’s proof positive that whilst John R. Cash may be gone, he will never be forgotten.
The 309, God’s Gonna Cut You Down, On The Evening Train

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6. Fundamental – Pet Shop Boys
“Overall this is a triumph… in fact it's up there with the best they've ever done.”
The initial pleasure that the boys were back with something that wasn’t Release did briefly give way to thoughts that maybe the album wasn’t as good as it first seemed but further listening throughout the year confirmed that this was indeed the return to form it seemed to be. Musically it was a return to their heyday, and lyrically it was their best effort in years too. They maybe becoming ever more of an irrelevance in chart terms, but they are not going down without a fight.
Minimal, The Sodom & Gomorrah Show, Integral, Luna Park, I Made My Excuses And Left, (and Fugitive if you include the special bonus edition).

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5. The Greatest – Cat Power
“This is still a fantastic collection of songs, which certainly does live up there with her greatest work… She's pulled it off again.”
Even more moving in the wake of Chan Marshall’s alcohol and depression problems, this remains a musical tour de force. You never go to a Cat Power album for a laugh a minute atmosphere and this remains a dark work. But ultimately the power of the tracks hits home like few albums ever could. If there were any justice this would have been her huge breakthrough. Although with a recent re-release it may just yet do the trick on that score.
The Greatest, Could We, Willie, Love & Communication,Living Proof

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4. We Are The Pipettes – The Pipettes
“Something that could well have slipped into ill-advised pastiche has actually turned out to be one of the finds of the year. Crafted with serious intentions, but with a knowing wink, the album could well turn out to be the soundtrack of the summer.”
Ok, so it may not quite have been the soundtrack of my summer (the album that follows this in the list probably takes that honour) but this remains an absolutely wonderful pop record. And I still think this should have won the Mercury Music Prize!!!
Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, A B C, We Are The Pipettes, Pull Shapes, Judy

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3. Alright Still – Lily Allen
“Only one real duff track on such a highly hyped record? You can't beat that these days can you?”
The critical backlash came, to a certain degree anyway, even sooner than this seasoned reviewer would have thought possible, but all the myspace hype ignored one vital point; if someone doesn’t have the tracks, all the myspace friends in the world aren’t going to make the blindest bit of difference. And Lily proved she certainly has the tracks. Its one of those albums were almost every song could be a hit single. And as that is what Lily was apparently aiming for, she’s achieved that with distinction.
LDN, Alfie, Knock ‘Em Out, The Littlest Things, Friday Night

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2. Rabbit Fur Coat – Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins
“All in all this is a triumph. And who cares if it won't sell in it's millions, because at the end of the day, it's the millions who will be missing out.”
Well this may cause a modicum of surprise. But what can I say? It’s still a fantastic album and it was a difficult choice (I would have been more than happy with this at number one) but in the end it just missed out. And I mean just. It’s so good it makes you almost lament the fact that Jenny Lewis is returning to the Rilo Kiley day job in 2007! Hopefully this won’t be the last “solo” record she does.
Rise Up With Fists, Born Secular, Big Guns, Melt Your Heart, You Are What You Love, Rabbit Fur Coat

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1. Someone To Drive You Home – The Long Blondes
“Within two or three listens it feels like you're listening to a classic album that you've known for years… The Long Blondes are now my new favourite band!!!”
There is a danger sometimes that you can get carried away in the mechanics of music; you know, why something is a good album and all that. At the end of the day I had to give the number one spot to the one album this year that has been played the most (per capita – considering this only came out in November). The first time I put this in the CD player I listened to it three times in a row, which doesn’t happen often I can tell you. From that point on it has hardly left my player. And, ladies and gentlemen, I can’t give anything a higher recommendation than that can I?
Swallow Tattoo, Once And Never Again, You Could Have Both, Separated By Motorways, Weekend Without Makeup, Lust In The Movies,

Friday, December 29, 2006

Top 75 Singles of 2006

Some points to consider. I am bound to have forgotten something or other, despite my best efforts. However now that this list is in “publication” that’s it; I will make no changes to it. Even if some smart arse points out that a certain track was released last year or something. You might read this and think I am on crack or something, and that is understandable. Just bear in mind that I do occasionally (and quite arbitrarily) apply a different selection standard when considering singles. A great hit single can sometimes be better than a great song, if you get me. But like I say, this list can get pretty arbitrary at times! :-D

75. Never Be Lonely (The Feeling)
The album itself was a little too derivative to truly shine in my opinion, but this was a top-notch single that I’m sure we can all relate to.

74. Last Night I Nearly Died (Duke Special)
Duke Special are an awesome live act who don’t always transfer that to record, but this is one of the occasions when it all come together.

73. Rudebox (Robbie Williams)
I don’t care if you thought this was rubbish. I liked it. It’s the sound of Robbie having fun.

72. Weekends & Bleak Days (The Young Knives)
It’s not important, it’s not important. Class sing-a-long tune this one.

71. Sing It Out (Hope Of The States)
Not even the fact that Zane Lowe loved this could turn me against it; which proves how good it really must be.

70. I Feel It (Lorraine)
Sometimes you can understand a song getting criminally ignored despite the fact it’s excellent. This isn’t one of those times as I just can’t see why this didn’t hit the top 10.

69. Bossy (Kelis)
She lost the “poppy” sound of the last album (at least for this single) and I thought it worked well. It still retained the playfulness that makes Kelis such a star.

68. Monster (The Automatic)
Some critics, least of all Q and the NME, suggest that there’s more to the Automatic than this song…I don’t agree. But I won’t let the ordinariness of the album detract from this stomping single.

67. I Don’t Feel Like Dancing (Scissor Sisters)
I didn’t like this one at first, and indeed the album made little impression on me either, but this one slipped into the brain over time and it is a great one to sing and dance along to.

66. June Gloom (The Like)
Such lovely girls aren’t they? Anyways, this is a good song that flopped in the charts. But it’s the general record buying public who are wrong, not me.

65. Turn Into (The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s)
I’d always dismissed them as show ponies, but 2006 changed my mind.

64. Ice Cream (New Young Pony Club)
The sound of the future.

63. Excuse All The Blood (Betty Curse)
The premise behind Betty Curse is both a) a bit daft, and b) a bit limiting, but when the music is this good, who cares?

62. Man I Hate Your Band (Little Man Tate)
Normally MTV2’s hot tips leave me more than a little cold. This was one of the few exceptions of the year.

61. 9to5 (The Ordinary Boys Feat. Lady Sovereign)
Yeah, Preston is a bit of a cock-knob, and Lady Sov does seem to have decamped off to America whilst they knock every bit of individuality out of her that made her any good in the first place, but this was a good tune.

60. Gold Lion (The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s)
See the previous Yeah Yeah Yeah’s entry. This was just about the better of the two songs.

59. I Still Hear It (The Webb Sisters)
It’s doubtful whether we really needed someone attempting to be the “Fleetwood Mac of the 21st Century” but you can’t deny the charms of this cracking little tune.

58. All Time Love (Will Young)
Boring video, but an ace song. This is the sort of thing he should stick to. It tends to go wrong when he goes up-tempo.

57. Henrietta (The Fratellis)
I failed to fall under their spell overall I must say, but I did enjoy this one, well at least until overexposure soured me slightly.

56. Atlantis To Interzone (The Klaxons)
Mad crazy punk-Techno or something. This was one of those “2am in the morning on MTV2 moments.” You see the start of it and think “what in the hell was that?” but after a short while you realise it’s genius.

55. Touch The Sky (Kanye West)
I hope Mr West doesn’t read this list; we all know how upset he can get when he doesn’t get first place. Anyway, the guy still can’t rap very well in my opinion, but this is a corker.

54. Get Myself Into It (The Rapture)
Just put it on and dance.

53. I Will Follow You Into The Dark (Death Cab For Cutie)
A mellow and sombre song. It was just one of those that resonated for me in a personal way.

52. Changes (Chris Lake)
An all-out piano backed disco stomper!

51. The Decision (The Young Knives)
Worth it for the lyrics alone, this was another essential slice of the Young Knives.

50. Up All Night (Matt Willis)
Ok so what followed it was pretty crap, but this was a catchy number which I quickly found myself humming along to.

49. Everybody’s Going To War (Nerina Pallot)
It would probably have been higher in the list if it hadn’t had it’s life as a song from 2005 for me. I had to squueze it in somehow though.

48. Be My Friend (The Hedrons)
As of yet they haven’t quite been able to match their live power with their recorded output, but this is still a delightful slice of pop-rock.

47. Stripper (Soho Dolls)
If Kraftwerk were sleaze-balls and women, this is the kind of thing they’d come up with today.

46. Watching You (Rouge Traders)
Go on, laugh. But I liked this. Which, admittedly, is entirely down to the My Sharona sample, but some times the simple things work best.

45. Littlest Things (Lily Allen)
One of those “awww” songs. I hope Lily wasn’t being too serious when she said it would be the only “slow” song she would ever write.

44. Nothing In This World (Paris Hilton)
Yes, laugh again. But if Kylie had done this (not that Kylie ever would as this is far too outwardly and blatantly pop – believe me, Kylie likes to think she has cred these days. Maybe she does come to think of it) this would have been number one for weeks. Just don’t tell Soup I like this.

43. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
You’ll be all up in my grill with the “43? Crazy is only the 43rd best single of the year?” Well there you go. Oversaturation of this hurt it greatly. Still it surely was a magical moment when you first heard it.

42. The Fallen (Franz Ferdinand)
They may not be the “in vogue” act that they were once upon a time, but the Franz have still got it.

41. Undercover (Gemma Hayes)
Aww, this one makes me sad, but in a nice way if you get my drift. Very lovely.

40. To Die A Virgin (Divine Comedy)
There had to be at least one Divine Comedy song in the list and this was the one that made it. It’s funny, catchy and just all-round quite brilliant.

39. Monster Hospital (Metric)
I like to rock out, but in a nice kind of way. This did the trick for me. It’s why I’m a fan of Metric.

38. Beep (Pussycat Dolls)
This time last year I had no interest in the PCD. I still have little interest in them, but you have to admit that they have some cracking pop singles. Survives even having Will I Am on it.

37. We Are Your Friends (Justice Vs Simian)
Few “dance” tracks have grabbed my attention this year. This was one of the few that did.

36. Jump (Madonna)
Madge has still got it when she wants to you know.

35. Not A Crime (Googol Bordello)
Absolutely bonkers, but hear it once and you can’t get it out of your head.

34. Adventure (Be Your Own Pet)
The closest thing approaching a “proper melody” on the album, this is two and a half minutes of bliss.

33. Cellphone’s Dead (Beck)
I’m not what you could call a big Beck fan, but I quite like him when he’s in “slacker” mode, and this was a wonderfully eclectic catchy tune which I just loved.

32. I’m With Stupid (Pet Shop Boys)
It was great just to have them back in the charts but this was a delight in it’s own right. Delightful lyrics too.

31. This Isn’t It (Giant Drag)
Love, love love, this isn’t it. Sort of sums up my entire life really. All joking (or not) aside, this was one of those tracks this year that just grabbed me instantly.

30. Judy (The Pipettes)
The first of THREE Pipettes singles in this rundown. Yes, I do love them that much. Lovely video too.

29. Beware Of The Dog (Jamelia)
So what if its just a feminist Personal Jesus? So what if it just rips off the Depeche Mode tune? It’s fantastic.

28. Lovelight (Robbie Williams)
His best single in years (probably since Rock DJ). This really should have told everyone that the critics were overreacting to the Rudebox album. Folks, its actually quite good.

27. Checkin’ It Out (‘Lil Chris)
This should be rubbish. But it’s not. It eschews the normal reality TV style and is almost like Devo have started doing songs for kids. Oh, wait. There was that Devo Kids fiasco wasn’t there? Well this is better!

26. Sexyback (Justin Timberlake)
It grated as the year progressed for sure, and the album that followed it was pretty crap, but this was a great comeback single for sure.

25. The Songs That We Sing (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Breathlessly beautiful. This makes me cry if I’m in the wrong mood. In a nice way though.

24. Pull Shapes (The Pipettes)
You cannot listen to this one without doing the dance movements. Well, I suppose if you don’t know the dance movements you’d struggle, but you’d still do SOME form of dancing to it.

23. Once & Never Again (The Long Blondes)
I have no real idea quite what’s going on the lyrics to this song, but I love it all the same. I’d like to feel a girl your age indeed.

22. She’s Attracted To (The Young Knives)
Brilliant from the first line to the last. As soon as you hear “who are these people? They’re too stupid to be your real parents” you know you’re onto a winner here.

21. Hips Don’t Lie (Shakira)
IT STILL PISSES ME OFF THAT THIS WASN’T ON THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE ALBUM. But it’s so delightfully bonkers (as all Shakira songs should be) that it becomes irresistible.

20. Sophia (Nerina Pallot)
One of my album favourites, and a nice new single version was a welcome addition to the year.

19. Boyfriend (Ashlee Simpson)
I don’t care if YOU think she is rubbish, I love her. If Pink ever did anything this good the resulting acclaim would be monumental. But then Pink will never do anything this good.

18. I Don’t Need A Man (Pussycat Dolls)
Now this really was the moment I sat up and took notice of PCD. This is a fantastic pop tune.

17. Smile (Lily Allen)
The video was a bit classless, but that shouldn’t (and doesn’t) detract from a great number one single.

16. Getting Enough (‘Lil Chris)
Ok, so its heavily “influenced” by The Buzzcocks, but whatever the “inspiration” it still a stomping tune. The video is absolutely grade-A awesome as well .

15. When The Sun Goes Down (Arctic Monkeys)
What else is there to say about the Monkeys? This was just brilliant.

14. Supermassive Black Hole (Muse)
Muse do Britney! Well not literally. Although given the way things are going there’s a chance. Anyway, it was refreshing to hear a band like Muse come up with something like this.

13. Weekend Without Makeup (The Long Blondes)
Another superb Long Blondes track. Another one that I can’t help singing along to.

12. Rise Up With Fists (Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins)
As a single this was a bit of a non-starter chart wise, but it’s brilliant isn’t it?

11. Something Kinda Ooooh (Girls Aloud)
Yeah I know it’s not as good a song as some that have preceded it in this list, but it was a fantastic choice as a single. More like this please in 2007 (and less like Whole Lotta History).

10. Wait A Minute (Pussycat Dolls)
PCD TROUNCE GA SHOCKER! Ok, I know it’s not quite what you might expect from my list, but this is their best song yet.

9. We’re From Barcelona (I’m From Barcelona)
I wasn’t too keen on the album, but this remains an excellent song. Who can resist joining in on the sing-a-long chorus?

8. The Greatest (Cat Power)
This is everything a great Cat Power song should be.

7. Let’s Make Love & Listen Death From Above (Cansei De Ser Sexy)
Sometimes, you see, I do get it right. I bigged up Lily Allen, and I bigged up these guys. Sure CSS didn’t have HUGE success but this single was almost universally lauded…and rightly so.

6. Minimal (Pet Shop Boys)
Their best single since 1993’s Can You Forgive Her.

5. LDN (Lily Allen)
Despite Billy Bragg hating this one, I love it. Well there’s a surprise yes?

4. Over & Over (Hot Chip)
Perhaps the funkiest single of the year. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like this one.

3. Maneater (Nelly Furtado)
I dismissed this before I’d heard it simply because I don’t really like Furtado, but you can’t deny that this is an absolute foot-stomper.

2. SOS (Rhianna)
There are few things better than a shit artist doing a brilliant hit record. Who cares if everything else she’s ever done is shit? This is absolutely fantastic.

1. Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me (The Pipettes)
Well it may be a surprise choice, but at the end of the day no other single this year has brought me quite as much joy as this one. The Pip’s finest two and a half minutes, and the finest two and a half minutes of single joy this year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top 15 Concerts of 2006

Well those of you who had the foresight to subscribe to my mailing list will have had my traditional year-end brochure posted through your letterboxes this morning. Those of you who don't live in Wigan, well you won't have had them posted through your letterbox, but fear not because over the next couple of days or so all the interesting lists will be posted on here.

So we'll start off with the relatively boring one. My top 15 concerts of 2006. As ever there are certain rules; the concerts must have been attended by me, in person, in the year of 06 (ok so that was a pretty obvious rule) and every act can only chart once in this list. So if I saw an act more than once, you only get the best of those occasions in this list.

15. The Flaming Lips (Apollo, Manchester – 25th April)
I’m still not convinced entirely about the musical merits of Wayne Coyne and the boys but there is one thing that is beyond question…they sure do put on one hell of a show. This was the better of the two I saw in 2006, if only because second time around was just the same as this virtually. Still for an “experience” the Lips are a band you just have to see at least once in your lifetime.

14. Metric (Life Café, Manchester – 30th August)
Ok, so the Life Café does suck as a venue unless you queue up to get in at half past 4 the week before or something, but that shouldn’t detract from what was still a great concert. It seems as if mainstream success will elude them over here, but that’s not my fault is it?

13. Girls Aloud (MEN Arena, Manchester – 27th May)
Well it had to go in somewhere. I still think that in-between the songs the girls are pretty dull and mechanical but you can’t deny that there are some classic pop songs in the GA canon, and you got all of them here.

12. Giant Drag (Night & Day, Manchester – 20th April)
There’s no doubting that Annie is an odd-ball, (“Aids is so gnarly”) but Giant Drag are a pretty awesome outfit live. That two of them make so much noise would be amazing enough if the chap didn’t also manage to play the drums and the keyboard at the same time.

11. Gemma Hayes (Liverpool Academy 3 – 2nd March)
Slightly spoiled by that cock-knob who spent the whole evening shouting “I love you Gemma” at the top of his voice, this was nevertheless a great night. Not quite up to the superb Tunstall gig at the same venue in early 2005 but this was still well worth it.

10. Martha Wainwright (The Lowry, Salford – 31st May)
Well her 2005 effort made my concert of the year and whilst this wasn’t quite up to that standard it was still very good indeed. Mostly just Martha and her guitar this was a perfect example of the talent she has, and throw in a surprise Thea Gilmore spot (and an excellent support act in the form of Catherine Feeney) and not even the fact that I was ill during this could spoil it all that much.

9. Depeche Mode (MEN Arena, Manchester – 30th March)
I’ve always liked the Mode but it was only in 2006 that I felt the urge to go and see them. And boy am I glad I did. Yes it’s all a little faintly preposterous when you go and watch them, but you can’t deny that 20 years of hits give them a great back catalogue of tunes to plunder and the boys are on as good a form as they’ve ever been.

8. Divine Comedy (Carling Academy, Liverpool – 4th November)
Another act who we did the “double” with this year; this one was better than the earlier one for the facts that there wasn’t a really tall bloke stood in front of me in this one, Duke Special was the support act and Neil Hannon seemed on top of the world throughout this one. He might, sadly, be coming more and more of an irrelevance to the charts but form like this proves that it’s the general public’s loss, not his.

7. Nerina Pallot (The Lowry, Salford – 30th May)
It is no exaggeration to say that this year any of the top 7 could have taken the top spot. I mean that. Not that what preceded this one was rubbish, but that I would be completely happy with any of them topping the list. Of course that is a numerical impossibility so some tough decisions have to be made. This was great though, not least because I shared some Lasagne with Nerina prior to the concert. (Ok, so I just happened to be in the same restaurant as her, but we did both have lasagne). Much like in 2005 when Nerina went down such a storm in Warwick whilst supporting Suzanne Vega, I had a feeling of great pride. I know that seems a bit odd, but having been a fan of hers from back in the day it’s just nice to see someone who so obviously deserves it having success. And let’s face it, if I thought for sure the Suzanne Vega reference had been aimed at me this would have probably placed even higher. Hey I’m nothing if not biased.

6. The Hedrons (Night & Day, Manchester – 8th November)
It may seem a bit strange that a concert that was probably attended by about 20 people (at best) could make it so high in the list but this fully deserves it’s place. It’s a certifiable Matt-Fact™ that The Hedrons kick arse live and this was the best of the three times that I saw them in 2006. Our part in the “mad rush to the front of the stage” as The Hedrons kicked off their set even made it into a review on the BBC website. There, quite simply, wasn’t a duff song from start to finish and although there may indeed have been a small crowd I can’t imagine that anyone who was there left feeling anything other than elation. And Soup recognised me afterwards as well. So all in all another winner!

5. Lily Allen (Manchester Academy – 21st October)
Some people, and I am not in anyway at all whatsoever suggesting that Lauren Laverne is one of them, seem to have a thing against Lily for not “feeling it” or for not being “real”. Well if any of those people had been in the Manchester Academy for this concert they could not have failed to be convinced otherwise. Because Lily proved to be that good. Whirling through the album and adding in the choice B-sides, the only thing that really fell flat were the covers. She had the crowd eating out of the palms of her hands and sealed a wonderful night by telling her dad to “F**k off” and although I said it at the time, it bears repeating. Who hasn’t, at one time in their life, wanted to tell Keith Allen to f**k off?

4. The Pipettes (Manchester Academy 2 – 25th September)
We were so psyched for this one that we actually went early to get to the front (or at least within the first few rows of people); and for once that was rewarded in the form of the rather good support act The Hot Puppies. Barring the odd altercation with people who tried to push in front there was a carnival type atmosphere throughout this one. The anticipation was high, but the reality blew even the highest expectations away. I can quite honestly say that I have probably never danced like a loon quite as much at ANY other concert that I’ve ever been too. Rosay is just delightful “in the flesh” as well (although of course that has absolutely no bearing in my considerations at all). And everyone loved it. It’s no lie to say that I’ve been to concerts where much more famous and bigger-selling artists have failed to whip up even a fraction of the frenzy that the Pipettes did here.

3. The Like (Manchester Academy 3 – 9th March)
There were funnier meetings with The Like over the course of 2006 (my particular highlight being when the Gee’s favourite Z-Berg totally ignored him but recognised me instantly) but this was the best concert; not surprising considering it was a headline date. The atmosphere for this was so good that the aforementioned Elizabeth raved about the “awesome Manchester crowd” in various interviews in the weeks and months afterwards. They were having fun; we were having fun…what more do you really need?

2. Pet Shop Boys (Liverpool Summer Pops – 2nd July)
It will come as little surprise to you to find out that the Pet Shop Boys are my all-time favourite act; in fact it will probably come as more of a surprise that this isn’t my top pick of the year. But as I’ve said before, any of the top 7 could quite comfortably and this was certainly the best PSB show that I’ve seen live and in person yet. Those who say that the PSB aren’t a “live” act miss the point. They’re not a live act who will compromise their beliefs that’s for sure; the only musician who appears on stage at any time is Chris Lowe and whilst the pageantry of Performance has been scaled down this is still a fantastic show, and from a set list point of view would have to be their best yet. I could crow about this until the cows come home, but it was superb from start to finish. And just think, this wasn’t even quite the “best” of the year either.

1. Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins (The Lowry, Salford - 23rd April)
Well in the end it HAD to be didn’t it? I mean really it is fair to say that either of the Jenny Lewis shows I saw in 2006 could have been a worthy winner of this countdown but this was the better show. It would be easy to say that I’ve only picked this because of those special “moments” that me and Jenny shared both before the show and during it (even if I do say so myself, the front row tickets were just brilliant) but that would be to dismiss just what an excellent concert this truly was. This would have been number one without her touching my chest or saying hello to me a number of times throughout the concert. :-D

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Best Christmas Song EVER!

And for any of you who might give me that "oh, but that Pogues and Kirsty McColl one is the best Christmas tune ever" I'll also post the video....OF THE SONG THAT BEAT IT TO CHRISTMAS NUMBER ONE!!!!!

G'wan the PSB!!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 - The Year In Pictures...

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Single Releases 18/12/06

Oooh, what will be Christmas number one?

Well I think we can safely say it's probably going to be that X-Factor woman. But that shouldn't stop me reviewing the other contenders out this week.

All Angels - 'Angels' / 'Silent Night'
It was funny on Popworld at the weekend when one of the random bints from All Angels told the Crazy Frog he should have done "something different, something new. Not a cover version". At least that Zane fella took her to task over it. This is lazy "lets have a hit at Christmas" commercialism at it's worst.

Girls Aloud - 'I Think We're Alone Now'
Ok it's still a bit pants, but at least the single version is better than the album version. More like a Girls Aloud song. Albeit a bad one.

James Morrison - 'The Pieces Don't Fit Anymore'
Well I can't see his appeal, but dont' let that put you off.

McFly - 'Friday Night' / 'Sorry's Not Good Enough'
Is this the one where they dress like Ghostbusters in the video? I quite like that. It's not a very good song though is it? And credit must go to whomever thought up the "Up Close and Personal" Tour concept. It's one thing to have to play the smaller venues after a few years of the arena circuit, it's quite another to wrap up the fact that you can't fill arena's in such a brilliant promotional campaign.

Paul Carrack - 'What A Wonderful World'
Erm. He's got a great voice but is a version of this really neccessary?

Queen Vs The Miami Project - 'Another One Bites The Dust'
Oh joy! Nothing says Christmas like a novelty collaboration.

Razorlight - 'Before I Fall To Pieces '
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I am of course joking.

Tony Christie - 'God Only Knows'
God only knows how you keep going? That Peter Kay has a lot to answer for.

X Factor Winner - 'Whatever It's Called'
Well I do know that woman won (I'm right on top of the cultural issues of the day aren't I?) and I did catch a little bit of it which seemed to prove it was a ballad. But at the end of the day the quality doesn't matter does it?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Love Album - Westlife


Believe you me, if you have a worst enemy, play them Westlife's version of Total Eclipse of the Heart.

This album exists for one reason; as a Christmas present for your mother or your baby sister. They'll probably love it, but that fact doesn't make it any good whatsoever.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Five "Mido" albums

That is, five albums in 2006 that flattered to deceive or were downright disappointing. These are not the five worst albums of the year by any stretch, just one where I had hoped for so much more.

Again they are in no order except alphabetical by title.

Broken Boy Soldiers (The Raconteurs) - A supergroup? More like a super-dull group. No matter how many times I listen to this album it always astounds me how the creative force behind The White Stripes can have such a large hand in something as turgid as this.

Corinne Bailey Rae (Corinne Bailey Rae) - She has a great voice and occasionally that is matched by a great tune. However far too often the arrangements are bland and don't really give Corinne the chance to show what she can really do. Hopefully that will change next time around.

Futuresex/Lovesounds (Justin Timberlake) - Sexyback made you think he was going to come back with a the end it was nothing more than a whimper. He fell into the old pop trap; in an attempt to ride the "cool" bandwagon he forget about what made him so special in the first place.

Half The Perfect World (Madeleine Peyroux) - The previous album was very good, although it did drag in parts. So luckily enough, Peyroux concentrated on the dull parts of that album and served up a whole disc's worth of them here.

The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living (The Streets) - Oh Mike, where did it all go wrong. Sure the disappointment of this album is all the worse given that it was following a bona fide classic, but even without that baggage, this is average stuff all the way.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Five Pascal Chimbonda Albums

That is, 5 albums in 2006 that weren't as bad as you thought they were/should have been/were made out to be.

Not in any particular order other than alphabetical by title.

Devil's Got Your Gold (Frank) - It was hardly the second coming of Girls Aloud I know, but there were some catchy tunes on the album and there's a lot worse that gets released in the world of pop that gets much higher chart placings than the unfortunate "sold 13 copies" that this did.

Paris (Paris Hilton) - I'm not suggesting this was a BRILLIANT album, but neither was it the pile of old tosh that most had it pegged down for...before even hearing it! Of course I doubt many people who criticise it have even heard it yet. Paris' "talent" is indeed questionable, but roping in some of the best pop producers of the 21st century provided the kind of album a comeback-needing Britney would do well to replicate.

Rudebox (Robbie Williams) - So let's get this straight, we criticise him for doing the same old stuff all the time and then when he comes out with something different, we criticise him for not pandering to the "housewife" market. If you believed the critics, this was an awful mess. If you listened to it you actually heard that whilst some of the album was indeed laughable this contained some of Robbie's best work. A million miles from Angels, but that may well be the entire point.

Those Were The Days (Dolly Parton) - Dolly Parton...doing cover versions of her favourite 60's and 70's songs...and joined by a plethora of special guests such as Norah Jones and Keith Urban...hardly mouth watering was it? But this was actually quite an enjoyable album which did more than enough to warrant Dolly's ongoing critical renaissance.

Walk The Line OST (Various Artists) - A bunch of Hollywood stars playing karaoke shouldn't be any good, but with the help of some great work by producer T Bone Burnett and the actors themsleves this is a respectful and entertaining rattle through some of Johnny Cash's greatest. Hell, I actually prefer listening to Reese Withersppon than June Carter Cash!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Single Releases 11/12/06

Ah, Christmas time. And this week we get all the songs that the record company don't think are quite good enough to be the Christmas number one but that they still want to be "in the running" for promotional purposes. Let's crack on shall we?

Oh Lily Allen. Sure to be "front-running" on all my year end musical "best of" categories. Littlest Things is a lot more mellow than you would expect from her but, as ever, it's still fantastic. The "the first time that you introduced me to your friends and you could tell I was nervous, so you held my hand" bit almost makes me cry. Almost.

Lil' Chris' Getting Enough is also quite brilliant. Yes, it's just that Buzzcocks one with different lyrics and more modern tune, but that doesn't change the fact that it is bloody brilliant. And as for those saying "gettin' enough? He's only 16 for Christ's sake"...well isn't that what all 16 years olds think about these days anyway?

Late to the party considering the film has been out a month, Chris Cornell finally releases the Casino Royale tune, You Know My Name. It has a powerful chorus, but the verses are a bit on the boring side.

As if Savage Garden weren't a bad enough concept on their own, Cascada take Truly, Madly, Deeply and add an addictive techno beat. We can only hope that this abomination earns enough money to mean that Darren Hayes doesn't need to attempt another solo album. (Incidentally, his first solo album wasn't all that bad actually).

Wind It Up is still absolutely fucking terrible.

P Diddy teams up with Aguillera. I bet you're just as excited as me! Tell Me isn't bad though. True, it's not exactly good, but this is P Did we're talking about here so let's be thankful for small mercies. Snoop Dogg is better, with That's That being good, but "rap" honours have to go to Eminem (and all the rest of the people on the song - I'd list them but I am going out tonight) who's They Don't Know proves that the "retirement" may well have been the ideal tonic for his career.

Illegal it may be Shakira, but if that's the case, why is your new single so bad? Well, not bad. Just dull and uninteresting. Not one of her best...

Kate Price and Peter of the land of Andre hit us with A Whole New World...of pain mostly. Whether or not that dreadful "outtake" really was the former Jordan or not is immaterial when the single itself is dreadful. But ask yourself, is it really any worse than Westlife? At least this has the upside of being for charity.

In "novelty" terms it's also better than Cliff Richard's "21st Century Christmas". Cliff is an easy target I know but when he serves up something like this, he deserves all he gets. Still even that has marginally more going for it than Ricky Tomlinson's "Christmas My Arse". Only about five years behind the zeitgeist there Ricky.

But then again, even Ricky Tomlinson is preferable to El Chombo. Dreadful. And even if it is a "joke" that doesn't excuse it being so dreadful.

Matt Willis chooses this week to capitalise on the British public awarding him for chomping on a rat's penis by releasing Don't Let It Go To Waste. (There's a joke there isn't there?). But really, his solo singles have been getting worse as we go on. Still, he's not descended to Son Of Dork or Fightstar level just yet.

What makes all this all the more piontless in many ways is that the X-Factor winner is bound to get the Christmas number one anyway. Boo hiss, and all that.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tips for 2007

Yes, I'm willing to put what little of my reputation remains on the line to give you my HOT tips for musical success in 2007. Bear in mind that I will most likely be wrong, but I do this that on the off chance that someone on this list hits it big in 2007 I can point you back to this and say "I told you so". Naturally if all these artists sink without trace, this post will be deleted and we'll forget this ever happened.

These are not in any order other than the order I thought of them as I was doing this.


She's had three VERY limited vinyl single releases in 2006 (none of which I have my hands on sadly enough) but 2007 sees the big promotional push for Candie. Born in Liverpool, but whisked off to New York at a very early age, before returning to Liverpool in the early 90's. Some are calling her the new Dusty Springfield and whilst that may be over exaggerating a little bit at such an early stage of her career, it's not exaggerating it all that much. 60's tinged orchestral pop which will be huge in 2007.


Ok, so I do bang on a bit about them anyway, but a proper single release in January (the delightful Heatseeker) and the album (One More Might Kill Us) due in February and 2007 should see some more mainstream success for the girls.


Their next single, Same Jeans, is out in early 2007 and hopefully will be a huge hit. Don't let the fact that one of the band got "arrested" alongside renowned crack-whore Pete Doherty and concentrate on the music. Occasionally they may just be a little too square, but there has been enough evidence to suggest that they could be something very special indeed.


Already had a US release (of course, I've reviewed their album on here previously) but a UK launch in 2007 should see some good things. 80's tinged guitar electro pop and if the latest Stefani efforts left you cold you should find much to enjoy here.


Ok, so a strange choice in some ways considering she's had a top 10 single in the UK in 2006 (even if it was with The Ordinary Boys) but 2007 will see her album Public Warning gets it UK release. Hell, it's only about 12 months later than it should have been. But regardless, this will be somewhat of a new beginning and she should have some great success in 2007.


A Geordie foursome who specialise in incendiary disco-punk. New single Outwards is brilliant, and bodes well for the album, Not Enough Night, due in the new year. They've been banging about for a couple of years now and 2007 should hopefully be the big breakthrough.


Ok, so Popjustice got there first (the bastards) but there is no reason for me to ignore the Sounds just because of that. Think the electro-rock stylings of someone like Metric, but even better. The album, already doing the rounds in Europe, is out in March in the UK.


I'd been sent a 5 track EP of theirs earlier in the year, and was quite surprised to see them pop up on one of those recent "This Is What We Do" adverts on BBC. Fingers crossed for the record deal and album in 2007. I'd call them superb "power pop" but no doubt that would put some of you off.


If the White Stripes came from Brighton and had Meg singing, they might sound a little something like this. Noisy, but melodic.


Sensational indie-pop that really will bring a smile to your face. Touring the UK in January, you should really check them out before the world realises that Orson are crap and The Little Ones are fantastic.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lil' Chris - Lil' Chris

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Lil' Chris should by all rights rubbish. The "star" of some godforsaken reality show (Gene Simmons' Rock School) who has not long hit 16 puts out a record after unceremoniously parting with the band set up for said doesn't offer up much hope does it? Especially when one considers the album bears the hallmarks of writer/producer Ray Hedges. Sure his acts have racked up the hits over the years (Westlife, Ronan Keating, B*Witched, Emma Bunton to name but a few) but he's hardly up there with, say, Xenomania for producing any-one's idea of cutting edge 21st Century Pop. But check in your prejudices at the door and you will find a lot to enjoy here.

Yes it could be said that a lot of this album is derivative (which in a way proves my point about Hedges) but to be honest half the fun of the album is listening out for these "reference points". A little of the Buzzcocks here, some Sex Pistols over there, a dash of Elvis Costello over here....

It is fair to say though that whilst the two lead singles, Checkin It Out and Getting Enough??, were something special the rest of the album does tend to drift into "ordinary" a touch too often. Songs like Is There Anybody Out There and I've Been Had lack the manic charm of the singles and whilst they are catchy enough they are just a little too ordinary, musically, to stand out from the pack. Having said that though, the likes of Is She Ready? and Rachel (his paean to the former S-Club star, which is worth it for the mad lyrics alone) jump out of the stereo and lodge in your brain with great speed.

Yes, Lil' Chris' voice isn't the most soothing you'll ever hear, to be honest at times he sounds a LOT younger than 16, and over a prolonged period of time it does begin to grate. There is also a little too much here that seems to have been done by the numbers. But what the album lacks in the musical "merit" stakes, is more than made up for by the quality it has in the entertainment stakes. Frankly if listening to this doesn't bring a smile to your face somebody better check your pulse!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Technorati Update In Progress

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Single Releases 04/12/06

Ok, so last week's effort was a poor one, but I'll try and do a proper one this week.

It doesn't help of course when Richard Ashcroft, Paulo Nutini and Embrace all release singles in the same week. Is someone trying to dampen people's festive spirit?

Anyway, onto things I'm not so prejudiced against!

Scissor Sisters aim for the softies this Christmas with Land Of A Thousand Words. It's ok, but its not one of their best for sure. The video is lovely though. Well ok, Ana looks very nice in it.

Jamelia, who is actually quite dull in my opinion, releases the fantastic Beware Of The Dog this week. It's not quite in the same "shit artist releasing fantastic single" club as SOS by Rhianna (because Jameila is not as shit as Rhianna and Beware Of The Dog isn't quite as good as SOS) but it's brilliant. Yes, its only that Depeche Mode song given feminist lyrics really, but it's still fantastic. And let's hope she gets well soon as well.

Jay-Z asks us to Show Him What We've Got this week and the answer has to be that we quite clearly don't have Beyonce...or the multi-million dollar empire. Of course no-one really ever believed he'd retired, but it's good to have him back. Not quite his best, but he is one of my favourite rappers.

Morrissey hits us with I Just Want To See The Boy Happy. You know what this sounds like without me telling you, so make your mind up from there.

It's Christmas so there must be some novely tune banging about...oh, here comes Lazytown with Bang Bang. Under the influence of heavy (PRESCRIBED) pain medication I once was really drawn into the programme and hey, at least its trying to teach kids good stuff. It's just not in the class of Mr. Blobby though is it?

Also, as it's Christmas and the loveable little elf Peter Doherty needs some more money for crack, he releases The Blinding EP with his Babyshambles mates. It's a moot point whether you feel more sorry for him or Kate Moss. Or, like me, feel sorry for neither of them and believe they will reap what they sow. I heard a funny story which probably isn't true about Kate Moss. She was apparently at some "do" (see, I'm down with the lingo) and there were some kids running about making lots of noise. One kid in particular was really annoying her so she shouted something along the lines of "can someone please keep that little brat quiet." A nearby worker had to inform Miss Moss that the child in question was her own offspring. True? Probably not. But it did make me chuckle. Although really, it's not funny is it?

Nice to see AMG is branching out as he does some work under his Mr Gee moniker to team up with Outwork for Elektro. I've heard worse; lets leave it at that.

The Rapture give us another good, but not quite great, tune with Wayuh.

Operated On by Union of Knives is quite bloody good as well.

Pictures, by the delightful Sia, is bloody good too.

And as its now lunch time, that's where I finish.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Girls Aloud - Greatest Hits Live DVD

Ok, so it's techincally NOT the Greatest Hits Live and is actually the Chemistry tour, but Girls Aloud are nothing if not commercially sound.

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This is little more than the tour extravaganza with three bonus promo video's tacked on (Biology, See The Day, Whole Lotta History) but really if you are a fan of Girls Aloud you'll want this. If you're not then you probably would find chewing off your own feet more beneficial than watching this.

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STILL, I'm nothing if not impartial and this is entertaining, although as with the What Will The Neighbours Say tour DVD its no replacement for actually being there.

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But the salient points you need to know are handily reproduced below in bullet-point form;

* They can all sing live
* The ballad's aren't any better live than on record
* It STILL annoys me when a band who do pop records with mostly electronic backing go on tour and decide the first thing that they need to do is get a "proper" band behind them.
* I Predict A Riot is as ropey on the DVD as it is on the Bonus disk with the Greatest Hits album.
* Despite what you might otherwise think, Nicola is a mighty fine piece of ass.
* Sarah will get on your nerves with her "come on London", "sing along" and "ooh" bits.
* It still annoys me that they don't do all of Wild Horses.
* They REALLY REALLY have always dreamt of playing Wembley. Yes even when Cheryl was in those adverts for British Gas and Sarah was posing naked covered only in an England Flag for FHM honey's.
* Despite what it leads you to believe on the back cover, they do sing Wake Me Up.
* The "shit" in both No Good Advice and Models is blanked out.
* The promo video to Biology is completely awesome when watched on a 32 inch LCD television.
* It's a good job Nicola didn't do a "Britney".
* Nadine's accent is still the sexiest thing on two legs.
* They rather thankfully edit out most of the bits where that "Professor Mad" attempted to be funny. Sadly this also means that the backstage bit where you see them getting changed has been cut off too.

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One question of course remains; what are they going to call the DVD of the actual Greatest Hits tour?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Single Releases 27/11/06

Well thank you to the one person who asked me where this week's single reviews have got to. At least someone reads this page :D

My internet is being dodgy and I'm enjoying a week off work. So here is a VERY QUICK rundown on what you should/should not have bought this week.


Knights Of Cydonia - Muse
Bones - The Killers


Lonely Girl - Sandi Thom
101 - Albert Hammond Jnr
We Used To Vacation - Cold War Kids


Can't Catch Tomorrow - Lostphrophets
Girl In The War - Josh Ritter


We're All In This Together - High School Musical
So Excited - Janet Jackson.

And yes, I'm aware the Zutons and the Fratellis have singles out this week as well, but if I comment on them, some people will get very upset.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Fernando

Sadly not the Abba song. But hey, could any trio surpass the Gee, PJ and Parsons version?

It bears repeating that I love Jenny Lewis.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dreams: the Ultimate Collection - The Corrs

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JUST what the world needed, another Corrs compilation...ok, so that was sarcasm, and yes this is the SECOND Corrs Greatest Hits set and no, it doesn't come close to even being the "ultimate" in Corrs material.

What I don't understand is that unless you happen to be a Corrs fan who doesn't happen to own ANY of their records you will have absolute no need for this at all. I mean a live version of Ruby Tuesday is hardly essential (even if it does drag in Ronnie Wood as a helper). And if you really wanted to hear them sing All I Have To Do Is Dream then you might need to get out more.

That said, we can only disucss the mertis of the compilation itself. And some of it is very good indeed. I started as a fan with 1995's Forgiven Not Forgotten but only the title track and some good old Irish nonesense in the form of Toss The Feathers make it onto this CD. Which is a shame as The Right Time was a wonderful slice of meoldic pop which may still rank as the best thing they've ever done.

1997's Talk On Corners is well represented, which is fair enough really as that is a superb album. However even by 1999's Unplugged album I was losing interest, although the version of Radio which is on this album is a good one and is miles better than the abomination that surfaced on 2000's In Blue. And to be honest that album's attempt to be American mainstream turned me off for good. The handful of tracks from both 2004's Borrowed Heaven and 2005's Home hardly change my mind.

And therein lies the problem. I suppose a fan who's stopped at In Blue might be tempted by this collection to check out what followed, but if they do they are sure to be disappointed. If your music collection has a Corrs-size hole in it which you desire to be filled , then, in my opinion, you would be better off with either their first greatest hits collection or getting Forgiven Not Forgotten and Talk On Corners. This is mere superfluous padding.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Magic Of Boney M

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Ok, they were a bit naff, and yes this is the umpteenth Boney M collection on the market and is only being released no doubt to cash in on the Daddy Cool musical but I don't care.

I love Rasputin and EVERYONE should download that song alone. Especially History students.

And somewhere, Des Alker is weeping.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Very Best Of Gloria Estefan

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There was a brief time around 1989 when Gloria Estefan was, to my eyes, the sexiest thing alive; a title that was subsequently nicked by Cathy Dennis (again for a brief period). There is no real point to telling you that, but I thought I might as well share that with you given that a) we have this newly released VERY Best Of to contend with and b) it might explain the warm feeling that you might gauge from this review.

Of course by the time the 10 year old Icon was falling in love with her, she'd got 10 years of recordings behind her. Still, the triple whammy of the albums Anything For You, Cuts Both Ways and Into The Light will always bring back memories of those lazy days when the grass was greener and the sky was bluer and all that.

Even now the best tracks from those three albums can cheer me up. Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and 1-2-3 are the most memorable from Anything For You, Cuts Both Ways gave us Get On Your Feet and Oye Mi Canto whilst Into The Light served up the delightful Coming Out Of The Dark (which might, might, be the only track off that album on this collection).

Throw in the likes of Dr Beat (and yes, the Mylo version is tagged onto this collection too), Bad Boy and Turn The Beat Around you have an enjoyable run-through of her greatest hits. It's not really an essential album, but for anyone who ever liked her its a nice trip down memory lane. And it does mean I can finally put the cassette versions of her albums into the loft! :D